BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (August 9, 2018)



Austin becomes latest city to grapple with scooter safety after crash (Austin American-Statesman) 

A serious crash involving a woman on a motorized Lime stand-up scooter Sunday night on South Congress Avenue has put a new spotlight on issues that Austin and other cities hosting the scooters have started to struggle with, including how safe the rides are, where the scooters are allowed, and liability after crashes.
Scooters began popping up in Austin in early April before the city could approve them. Austin tweaked city rules to impose a $200 fine if the scooters are left on a city right-of-way and companies must now apply for a permit to operate the scooters here. The city is now home to 2,000 rental bikes and scooters, with at least four companies in the area.
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Council seeks to steer incentives from big business to local business (Austin Monitor)

In Austin, the city’s practice of providing financial incentives for companies to relocate or move operations here has garnered plenty of criticism, ranging from outright opposition to the practice to concerns about whether the incentives are leading to jobs for those most in need and whether the city is favoring large international corporations over local businesses.
Such incentives are typically paid to companies over a multiyear period. The only incentive that has been authorized since the creation of the 10-1 Council in 2015 was an $856,000 subsidy to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., paid over 10 years, that Council approved last year.
In June, City Council approved a resolution creating a new “guiding principles” for economic development. It highlighted creating jobs for “hard-to-employ” populations, such as those with criminal records or mental disabilities; creating middle-skill jobs; providing key services to underserved communities, such as healthy food in food deserts; and supporting small local businesses or arts organizations that are struggling to find affordable space...
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Travis County delays approval of extended hours for Waterloo Music Festival (Austin Monitor)

Waterloo Music Festival is scheduled for Sept. 7-10 this year at Carson Creek Ranch. The new festival will have camping and music five minutes north of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Event promoter David Machinist with Jam Fest LLC appeared in the Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday to provide new updates and information for the upcoming festival with the hope that the permit would be finalized and approved. As part of working toward that approval, Jam Fest had reduced the maximum number of attendees allowed at the festival from 10,000 to 7,500.
However, representatives from Jam Fest also requested an extension of live music hours: Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. and Sunday until 11:59 p.m. The Waterloo Music Festival website already has acts listed to go on until those times on their lineup.
Commissioner Margaret Gómez, whose Precinct 4 includes the Carson Creek Ranch area, said she had heard opposition from her constituents about outdoor music festivals. She stated that while she personally is not fond of music festivals, she has tried to remain neutral up until this point. However, she said, the request to extend the hours moved her from neutrality to opposition.
Commissioner Gerald Daugherty was concerned that the county may be heading toward not having any outside music anywhere unless a commissioner was willing to let it happen within their precinct...
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Ted Cruz asks Trump to campaign for him in Texas (Houston Chronicle)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has asked President Donald Trump to come to Texas to campaign for him.
During a campaign stop in Seguin late Monday, Cruz said he has reached out to his former rival for the White House to help him with his re-election effort against Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
“I would certainly welcome his support, and I hope to see him in Texas,” Cruz said, standing outside the Dixie Grill in Seguin. “I think we are likely to see the president down in Texas before the election.”...
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FourWinds official gets four years’ probation (San Antonio Express-News)

The first person to plead guilty in the criminal scheme that led to the downfall of former San Antonio lawmaker Carlos Uresti won’t have to serve any prison time.
Eric Nelson, the former FourWinds Logistics e-commerce and marketing director who admitted to doctoring a bank record to make it appear it had more money than it did, was sentenced to four years of probation Tuesday in San Antonio federal court.
“You got a pretty generous sentence, but I think you earned it,” Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra told Nelson, 33. Ezra credited Nelson’s “candid and honest testimony” during a 2016 bankruptcy court proceeding for providing a “blueprint” for the government in its investigation of the FourWinds scheme...
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2 Texas congressmen bought stock in company at center of insider trading case against New York congressman (Texas Tribune)

Two members of Congress from Texas — Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway of Midland and John Culberson of Houston — purchased stock in a company last year that is now at the center of insider trading charges against one of their colleagues, U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York.
Collins, best known as the first congressman to back Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid, was indicted Wednesday by federal prosecutors and charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. The indictment stems from his involvement in an Australian biotech firm called Innate Immunotherapeutics, and it alleges he passed non-public information about the company to his son, Cameron, who then used it to purchase stock and tip off others.
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West Virginia to introduce mobile phone voting for midterm elections (CNN)

West Virginians serving overseas will be the first in the country to cast federal election ballots using a smartphone app, a move designed to make voting in November's election easier for troops living abroad. But election integrity and computer security experts expressed alarm at the prospect of voting by phone, and one went so far as to call it "a horrific idea."
The state's decision to pioneer mobile voting comes even as the United States grapples with Russian interference in its elections. A recent federal indictment outlined Russia's attempts to hack US voting infrastructure during the 2016 presidential race, and US intelligence agencies have warned of Russian attempts to interfere with the upcoming midterm election...
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GOP fears steep losses in state legislatures (The Hill) 

Republicans hoping to hold on to their majorities in state legislative chambers across the country are nervously eying President Trump’s anemic approval rating, concerned that a wave of voter anger could undo years of gains.
In interviews at the National Conference of State Legislators' annual meetings last week, Republican leaders from purple and red states said they were worried that their members — most of whom are little-known even inside their own districts — are most vulnerable to an electoral atmosphere that even slightly benefits Democrats. “There is more Democratic enthusiasm than I have seen in the last few cycles. That’s a reality I can’t ignore,” said Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly. “Almost everybody has an opinion on national politics today. Even if you’re totally uninformed, you still have an opinion.”...
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Congress weighs airline bill that affects leg room, seat size and more (Chicago Tribune)

As summer vacationers start to pack up and head home, Congress is considering a sweeping tally of proposals that could affect travelers, from dictating seat size and legroom to rolling back rules that require airlines to advertise the full price of a ticket.
The current law authorizing operations of the Federal Aviation Administration expires on Sept. 30. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is working to bring his panel's bill for a five-year reauthorization to the Senate floor after a series of delays. The House passed its version of the same bill in April. Consumer advocates see victories and setbacks among the provisions in the two bills...
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[BG Podcast] 

Episode 9: A Discussion with Luis A. Rodriguez, President & CEO, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Today's BG Podcast features a discussion between Luis A. Rodriguez, President & CEO, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Bingham Group CEO AJ Bingham. 
Luis is a Texas native of the city of San Antonio.  Throughout his academic and professional career Luis has been strongly committed to business development, strategic relationship building and economic development by working with organizations dedicated to these various endeavors.
Prior to joining the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Luis was the Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Economic Development for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC), the nation’s first and oldest Hispanic Chamber.
Originally recorded on July, 13, 2018 the two discuss a range of topics including collaboration between Austin's five Chambers of Commerce, Major League Soccer, and importance of Hispanics to the City of Austin's future.
Link to Podcast

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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