BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (July 30, 2018)



Austin city manager will replace executive team after open recruitment (Austin American-Statesman) 

Austin’s new city manager, Spencer Cronk, will eliminate the positions that form his executive team and replace those with five new roles oriented to City Council-endorsed goals, he said Friday.
As part of the changes, the existing five assistant city managers will have to join other candidates in applying for the new positions.
Cronk, who started at the city in February, called the move the next logical step during a year when the city has shifted its emphasis away from such individual departments as police and housing to strategic outcomes such as public safety and affordability. In short: The city is trying to organize its operations around overall goals, not traditional divisions of labor.
“It’s really a structural shift in how I’m thinking about this office,” Cronk said...
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Equity Office proposes renaming 7 Confederate streets – and even the city itself (Austin Monitor)

The Equity Office is recommending the city remove or change the names of streets, parks and markers in Austin that honor the Confederate States of America and slavery.
The office also suggests eschewing the name “Austin” altogether, as Stephen F. Austin fought to defend slavery in the Texas Revolution and supported the institution after the state gained its independence from Mexico. In a memo, it states:
(Austin) fought to defend slavery in spite of Mexico’s effort to ban it; believed slave labor indispensable for Texas to flourish in its production of sugar and cotton; believed that if slaves were emancipated they would turn into “vagabonds, a nuisance and a menace.” Wanted slaveowners to be compensated if their slaves were emancipated.
The Equity Office released its recommendations today after City Council asked it to examine the issue in October. It labels seven streets as “high priority” for renaming:
  • Littlefield Street
  • Tom Green Street
  • Sneed Cove
  • Reagan Hill Drive
  • Dixie Drive
  • Plantation Road
  • Confederate Avenue...
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Under Proposed Terms, Precourt Would Rent Soccer Stadium From City, Pay No Property Taxes (KUT)

The City of Austin late Friday released the terms of its deal with Precourt Sports Venture for construction and management of a Major League Soccer stadium in Austin. Precourt owns the Columbus Crew soccer team and wants to move the Crew from Ohio to Texas.
Under the terms of the agreement, Precourt would be "solely responsible for securing the financing and other funding sources required for the planning, development, and construction of the Stadium Project," which would cost around $190 million. The city would not be responsible for financing any part of the project, including waiving any fees or taxes. The stadium would be exempt from property taxes, however, because the city would own the stadium and lease it back to the team.
The lease agreement calls for Precourt to pay no rent for six years, then an annual rent of $550,000. The initial lease would stand for 20 years, with three subsequent 10-year renewal options. The term sheet also includes a provision that bars the team from relocating...
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Despite promise to debate ‘anybody,’ AG Ken Paxton will debate no one in re-election campaign (Houston Chronicle)

Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a TV interview that he would be “happy to debate anybody on the issues” as he seeks re-election this fall, but he is now backing off that offer by refusing to debate Democrat Justin Nelson as voters decide who to hire as the state's top lawyer. Paxton instead “will communicate directly with the voters,” his campaign spokesman, Matt Welch, wrote in an emailed statement Thursday in rejecting Nelson’s invitation to debate. Welch did not respond when asked if Paxton’s previous offer to debate was sincere. “I’m happy to debate anybody on the issues and I look forward to it,” Paxton said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program in November...
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Can Frisco's new fleet of autonomous vehicles help people get used to idea of a driverless future? (Dallas Morning News)

Pedestrians and drivers in Frisco will be among the first in Texas to see a strange and potentially startling sight: A van traveling beside them with no driver at the wheel. On Monday, bright orange autonomous vehicles from Silicon Valley-based will begin rolling along streets near office buildings in Hall Park and shops and restaurants near The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters. At first, a person will sit in the driver’s seat of the van, hovering near the steering wheel to brake if necessary. But over the six-month period, the company plans to move that person to the passenger seat and then out of the car entirely. will have operators who watch the car and can remotely intervene. The autonomous vehicle pilot, which marks the first self-driving car service on public roads in Texas, is small in scope. The route is just a few miles. Ridership is limited to the approximately 10,000 people who work in Hall Park...
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Capitol staffers expressed worries about suspect months before shooting rampage, records show (Austin American-Statesman)

Several months before Austin police identified 29-year-old Charles Curry as the suspect in a series of random shootings that left one dead and two wounded across South Austin in mid-July, Texas Capitol staffers had expressed concerns about his mental health after he was fired from his job at state Sen. Joan Huffman’s office. Records from the Texas Department of Public Safety obtained by the American-Statesman show that Curry was terminated from his job in Huffman’s office on May 5, 2017. In late March this year, DPS troopers at the Capitol exchanged emails that discussed how to deal with Curry...

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Trump sends campaign cash boost to 6 Texans in fight for control of Congress (Texas Tribune)

Six Texas Republican in Congress received a show of financial support from their party's leader this week. President Donald Trump's re-election campaign announced Thursday that it was donating the maximum contribution possible to around 100 House and Senate Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections in which multiple polls suggest Democrats could be poised for big wins. Republican National Committee spokesperson Christiana Purves confirmed Friday that six of those candidates are incumbents from Texas: U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess of Lewisville, John Carter of Round Rock, Michael Cloud of Victoria, Mike Conaway of Midland, John Culberson of Houston and Pete Sessions of Dallas...

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Trump threatens again to shut down federal government over border-wall funding (Washington Post)

President Trump threatened Sunday to shut down the federal government this fall if Congress does not pass sweeping changes to immigration laws, including appropriating more public money to build his long-promised border wall. “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” Trump tweeted. “Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump’s shutdown warning — which he has made before — escalates the stakes ahead of a Sept. 30 government funding deadline, a political showdown before the November midterm elections that Republican congressional leaders had hoped to avoid... 
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