BG Reads | News - What We're Reading + Bonus Podcast (July 20, 2018)
CodeNext election solidifies as campaign issue for candidates (Austin American-Statesman)
The question of whether the court ruling a week ago that ordered the Austin City Council to put the CodeNext petition ordinance on November’s ballot would affect campaign rhetoric was answered within hours.
The anti-CodeNext political action committee IndyAustin made it clear three hours after the ruling was handed down July 16. Yes, the PAC said, supporters of the petition should remember which candidates voted to keep it off the ballot when they go to the polls in November.
“Whether Mayor Steve Adler or Ann Kitchen get re-elected … is totally up to the voters,” said an emailed newsletter from the PAC, naming two council members up for election this year who voted against putting the ordinance on the ballot. “Whether you will have good choices in all council races up in November is a very serious question.”
Opinions vary on what real impact the CodeNext petition ordinance will have on local races. The rewrite of the city’s land use code and zoning maps was going to be an issue no matter what, according to several candidates and political consultants.
And while mayoral hopeful Laura Morrison said after the ruling that the initiative would ratchet up the election a bit, local political consultant Mark Littlefield said it will not drive voter turnout...
Nuckols takes parting shot (Austin Monitor)
Assistant County Attorney Tom Nuckols has stepped down from the Planning Commission, but in a statement provided to the Austin Monitor, he made it clear that he was not leaving the commission because Attorney General Ken Paxton sued him.A staunch Democrat, Nuckols wrote, “I’m glad I stayed long enough to be sued by Paxton. What a badge of honor! If Ken Paxton is suing me, I know I must be doing something good!”Nuckols is one of eight members of the commission named as defendants in the suit alleging that they were serving unlawfully. The city charter prohibits the commission from having more than one-third of its 13 members who are “directly or indirectly connected with real estate and land development.”...
Brandywine sets out to fulfill vision for IBM Broadmoor Campus in North Austin (Community Impact)
Work is already underway on the early phases to transform the IBM Broadmoor Campus into a 6 million-square-foot mixed-use development.
The existing 1 million-square-foot campus was built in the early 1990s, and on June 28, Austin City Council approved the zoning change to allow for more uses on the site, including retail, residential and hospitality.
About half of the space could be new office space in an additional seven to 10 buildings, adding to the existing seven buildings on the site located on 66 acres at 11501 Burnet Road.
“Retail will play a big role in trying to tie the blocks together,” said Bill Redd, executive vice president and senior managing partner of Brandywine Realty Trust, which wholly owns the campus. “If you think about Second Street in downtown, we’re trying to achieve that neighborhood feel on the first level and additional uses above.”...
State lawmaker to Trump: Don't overlook Mexican water treaty (Texas Tribune)
With a single musing, Dallas GOP Sen. Don Huffines on Wednesday crystallized what Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is after in a hurry-up study of school safety after the massacre at Santa Fe High in southeast Texas. Huffines recalled that when he was in high school in North Texas in the 1970s, kids were unruly. Many even brought guns in their trucks to school. He was one, as he liked to duck hunt at dawn before first period, he said. Despite the proximity of firearms, though, there weren’t mass shootings, Huffines noted.
“What has changed since then?” he asked a panel of mental health and education experts. The experts and the nine members of Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security could not pinpoint how or why society has changed since Huffines, 60, was a teen. Participants agreed, though, that things have changed -- and that improving students’ mental health is necessary to keep schools safe...
No matter the outcome of the midterms, Texas delegation in Congress poised to lose clout (Texas Tribune)
After years as the dominant state delegation on Capitol Hill, Texans in Congress are bracing for a marked decline in political clout in Washington.
For the past two terms, Texas Republicans wielded an unmatched seven committee gavels within the U.S. House and saw U.S. Sen. John Cornyn become the highest-ranking Texas senator since Lyndon Baines Johnson. But that power will begin to wane in the coming months, even if Republicans manage to keep control of both chambers...
More, younger families are choosing not to vaccinate in Texas (KXAN)
Four thousand more families chose not to vaccinate their school children this year than last, according to a new state report. In all, 56,738 kindergarten through 12th-grade students have a conscientious objector file in Texas schools. Compare that to 52,736 in the 2016-2017 school year.
The rise in objectors is attributed to younger families filing conscientious exemption affidavit forms in kindergarten. Staff for the Texas Health and Human Services Department wrote, "Overall, Texas schools reported high rates of coverage for each vaccine. Compared to the 2016-2017 school year, however, kindergarten students have slightly lower coverage as reports of conscientious exemptions, provisional enrollment, and delinquencies all increased slightly in 2017- 2018.”
Poll: Huge GOP majority backs Trump's Putin performance (Axios)
Americans are split on whether the allegations of Russian interference are a serious issue (50%) or a distraction (47%). This breaks cleanly along party lines, with 85 percent of Republicans seeing it as a distraction and 85 percent of Democrats seeing it as a serious issue. Among Independents, 56 percent see it as a serious issue. More than half of Americans (55%) don't trust the Trump administration to take steps to prevent foreign interference in November's midterms. This poll foreshadows the coming national drama. Every piece of data, and virtually every public action of elected Republican officials, shows Trump will have overwhelming and probably unbreakable party support, regardless of what Robert Mueller finds with his Russia probe...
BG Podcast: Policy Conversation - Austin 10-1 District Disparities in Campaign Contributions
Today's episode features BG Advisor Andy Cates, J.D. and his analysis of the recent Texans For Public Justice Report, "Fault Lines."
The report breaks down disparities in campaign contributions under Austin's nascent ten one Council district system.
The Austin-based group timed the report to try to boost the prospects of a proposed City Charter amendment that would create a new voucher-based public campaign finance system.
See also: Report: Most donations to 2016 council races from outside districts (Austin American Statesman)