BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (July 19, 2018)

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[AUSTIN METRO]

So, what happens to CodeNEXT now? (Austin Monitor)

Last month, a majority of City Council members, including Mayor Steve Adler, said they did not believe that a ballot initiative proposed by anti-CodeNEXT activists could be put before voters this November.
While the initiative had received more than enough signatures to qualify to be on the ballot, city attorneys and outside legal experts that Council consulted said that the initiative, which would require that CodeNEXT or any other major Land Development Code rewrite be approved by voters, conflicts with state law.
A provision of state law states that zoning cannot be subjected to the initiative process, unless the question is simply whether or not to have zoning regulations.
And yet on Monday, Travis County District Judge Orlinda Naranjo ordered the city to put the initiative on the ballot. Does that suggest that Council erred in its legal analysis?
The answer remains unclear because Naranjo’s ruling did not address the city’s legal reasoning or comment on whether the initiative, if enacted, would conflict with state law. Instead, she ruled that the city’s position was not yet “ripe” to assess because “neither the proposed initiative nor the underlying land development code has been passed as ordinances.”
Last month, a majority of City Council members, including Mayor Steve Adler, said they did not believe that a ballot initiative proposed by anti-CodeNEXT activists could be put before voters this November.
While the initiative had received more than enough signatures to qualify to be on the ballot, city attorneys and outside legal experts that Council consulted said that the initiative, which would require that CodeNEXT or any other major Land Development Code rewrite be approved by voters, conflicts with state law.
A provision of state law states that zoning cannot be subjected to the initiative process, unless the question is simply whether or not to have zoning regulations...
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Oyervides passes arts program concerns to his MACC board replacement (Austin Monitor) 

A several-year legal fight to stop construction of two highway projects in Southwest Austin came to an end Tuesday when a federal appellate court ruled against the challenge from environmental activists.
Texas 45 Southwest and the “MoPac intersections” project, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, received proper environmental clearance from the two agencies building them, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation. The 5th Circuit upheld the August 2017 ruling of Austin-based U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel rejecting the lawsuit by the SOS Alliance, Save Barton Creek Association, Clean Water Action and nine other plaintiffs, including two former Austin mayors and country singer Jerry Jeff Walker...
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[TEXAS]

Beto O’Rourke vs Ted Cruz is the most expensive U.S. Senate race in America (Houston Chronicle)

The battle in Texas is now the most expensive race for the U.S. Senate in the nation — by a long shot. Almost $47 million has been amassed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke — nearly $8 million more than any other U.S. Senate race in the nation and more than double the amount built up in other super competitive races in Missouri, Florida and Indiana. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics, no other race in the nation has seen more than $40 million raised, and only two (Massachusetts and Ohio) have surpassed $30 million. And the Cruz vs O’Rourke numbers do not include millions of dollars being amassed by so-called Super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates indirectly.
For instance, past Cruz donors have helped build up more than $2.7 million in a Super PAC called Texans Are. The battle in Texas is also nearly dead even when it comes to fundraising. Cruz, who is seeking his second 6-year term, has raised $23.4 million compared to O’Rourke who has raised $23.3 million. It makes Cruz the biggest fundraiser of all the Republicans running for the Senate, and O’Rourke ranks No. 2 among Democrats, trailing only U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat frequently mentioned as a presidential contender in 2020 who has raised almost $27 million for her re-election campaign...
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John Sharp Says Los Alamos Is Safe In A&M’s Hands (KUT) 

The national weapons lab that gave the world the atomic bomb will soon be under the management of the Texas A&M University System, and its partners. The annual contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory is worth $2.5 billion. The New Mexico facility is the country's top center for nuclear research, and A&M takes over with its partners after its previous managers made some security missteps.
This is the first time a Texas university will become a co-equal partner of any of the United States’ national labs. While the partnership will give A&M researchers access to the Los Alamos labs, it also provides a unique opportunity for A&M to give back to the country, according to Texas A&M Chancellor, John Sharp.  
“One of the core values of Texas A&M, as a land grant institution, is service to the country,” Sharp says. “And so, I may sound trite, but that’s what we believe in, and I think this is certainly one way we can be of great service to our country.”...
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Surge of candidates leaves Texas Democrats struggling to recruit qualified staffers (Texas Tribune) 

Jana Lynne Sanchez had a surprise waiting for her when she returned home from a business trip last July.
Sitting in her office were boxes filled with supplies for her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives: 5,000 push cards, 5,000 door hangers and a banner — all with her name misspelled. A staffer working for the fledgling campaign in Texas’ 6th District, which covers an area south of Dallas, had spent $1,500 — around 15 percent of the campaign’s monthly budget — on unusable merchandise that added an extra “n” to Sanchez’s first name.
The staffer who made the mistake had no experience working on a congressional campaign, said Sanchez, a first-time candidate herself. She hired that employee and another inexperienced staffer — both of whom she declined to name — out of desperation, she said, unable to find anyone more qualified to run her campaign...
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[NATION]

Gov. Abbott staffer Andrew Oldham confirmed to 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (Houston Chronicle) 

Andrew Oldham, the 39-year-old general counsel to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, was narrowly confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday to the powerful Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, giving President Donald Trump a record number of circuit judges installed during a president's first two years in office. Oldham, one of Trump’s youngest judicial nominees, would be the fourth jurist with Texan roots that the administration has put on the New Orleans-based court, helping make it one of the most conservative in the nation for decades to come. No Democrats voted for Oldham, a sign of the contentiousness surrounding Republicans’ efforts to speed the process for filling federal judicial vacancies under Trump - including on the Supreme Court - and shifting the courts’ ideological orientation to the right. Oldham’s confirmation - approved on a 50-49 party-line vote - also is being seen as a prelude to the upcoming showdown over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, cut out of the same mold of young, conservative legal minds favored by Trump.
Oldham, who worked as a lawyer in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, came under intense fire from Democrats, some questioning his judicial independence after a career advocating for partisan causes. Nationally, he is probably best known for writing a legal brief in 2015 backing Abbott's challenge to Obama’s executive order protecting immigrant “Dreamers” brought into the country illegally as children. Democrats also criticized him for not clearly endorsing the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, a landmark desegregation case. Republican defenders, notably Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, called it a “phony, made-up issue” designed to discredit a nominee who sought to avoid saying how he would rule on specific cases...
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