BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (July 24, 2018)
Mystery conservative, ex-felon and mayor file first for city elections (Austin American-Statesman)
A community organizer with a felony conviction looking to defy Texas law and run for office. A newly minted candidate intent on replacing the only conservative on the Austin City Council. Oh, and the mayor.
All three formally applied for a place on the November ballot as filing for the latest municipal election began Monday at City Hall.
Outgoing Council Member Ellen Troxclair accompanied the mystery candidate she said she will endorse to replace her: Frank Ward. A 36-year-old corporate communications strategist, Ward formerly worked for the Republican National Committee and as an aide to former state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. He serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Ward said he hopes to pick up the mantle of fiscal conservatism from Troxclair, who decided not to run for a second term as the District 8 representative from Southwest Austin.
“There’s a lot that’s right about this place — there’s nowhere else in America like Austin — but there are things we can address for the betterment of the whole,” he said. “I strongly believe that we need a voice of reason at City Hall, and I want to be that voice of reason.”...
Economic development corp. stands out as answer to creative space crunch (Austin Monitor)
A long-burgeoning effort to have the city create an economic development corporation that would help public and private entities to partner on ambitious development projects may be the best solution to help Austin’s creative community address a rapidly worsening space crunch.
The effectiveness of economic development corporations in other major cities facing affordability issues for their artist and music sectors was one of the key takeaways of a June summit in Toronto that saw government leaders from Austin, New York City, San Francisco, London and other destination cities gather to address creative space problems and how to solve them.
The World Cities Culture Forum’s leadership exchange program used the 14 spaces in Toronto managed or in some way developed by that city’s Artscape nonprofit collective, which helps creative groups obtain and financially manage galleries, studios and other spaces that tend to get crowded out of areas by rising real estate prices...
Fourth candidate enters race for District 8 (Austin Monitor)
Frank Ward, 36, threw his hat in the ring for the District 8 City Council seat on Monday with the endorsement of the current occupant of that seat, Council Member Ellen Troxclair. Troxclair, the only Republican on the dais, recently announced that she would not run for a second term. Ward joins three other candidates, all of them Democrats, in vying for the opportunity to represent Southwest Austin.
Ward is the vice president and director of client services for the Mach 1 Group, a public affairs firm. Ward said the company has numerous clients who are trade associations and nonprofits. He has previously worked for the public relations firm Public Strategies and for the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He noted that he had also worked for Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, during her career in the Texas Senate...
Citizen police oversight did not create change at APD, audit finds (Austin American-Statesman)
A recent city audit of the civilian bodies with oversight of the Austin Police Department paints a picture of an ineffective program incapable of creating substantive change.
The report, completed in June by the city auditor’s office, looked into the effectiveness of the Citizen Review Panel and the police monitor’s office.
The Citizen Review Panel was a volunteer board of community members charged with examining cases of police misconduct and complaints. It was established in 2001 under a labor contract between the city and the police labor union. After an updated version of that contract was nixed in late 2017, the panel was suspended by the former interim city manager...
Statewide data shows Texas anti-vaccine movement is growing (Houston Chronicle)
Four Texas cities, including Houston, rank among the 15 metropolitan "hotspots" of vaccine exemptions, more than any other state, according to a new study. The study found Austin, Fort Worth and Plano also are among the nation's cities with the highest number of kindergartners not getting vaccinated for non-medical reasons. Since 2009, the proportion of children opting out of such recommended vaccines increased in Texas and 11 other states, the study showed.
"There are some scary trends we were able to identify," said Dr. Peter Hotez, a Houston vaccine scientist and one of the study authors. "They're a sign that anti-vaccine groups, such as Texans for Vaccine Choice, have been very successful at lobbying efforts – both of the Texas legislature and through social media and other advocacy -- to convince parents not to vaccinate their kids."...
State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Democratic nominee for Congress, announces she's resigning from the Legislature (Texas Tribune)
State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, a Houston Democrat likely on her way to Congress in the fall, has announced formal plans to resign after months of speculation about the timing of her decision.
When Garcia won a crowded congressional primary election in March, all but guaranteeing her election to represent a Democratic-leaning district in November, she immediately set off speculation about when she would resign her seat in the Texas Senate. The timing of the special election to replace her will have important implications for the upper chamber’s Democratic caucus, given that a seat usually held by the minority is up for grabs...
Dozens of groups ask Trump administration for more time to comment on border wall (Texas Tribune)
More than three dozen environmental, faith-based and immigrant rights groups are urging the federal government to extend the public-comment period for construction of the border wall, arguing that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security isn’t acting in good faith.
The allegations come as the Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to build at least 33 miles of wall or other barriers in the Rio Grande Valley...