BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (August 10, 2018)
Austin City Council officially kills CodeNEXT, city manager to bring back plan by early 2019 (Community Impact)
CodeNEXT, the city’s controversial five-year, $8.5 million project to rewrite its land development code, was officially dropped by Austin City Council on Thursday.
Council voted unanimously to kill the project and task new City Manager Spencer Cronk with carving out a new path forward on how to update the city’s land use code. Cronk committed to bringing back a plan by early 2019.
The decision follows Mayor Steve Adler’s surprise suggestion last week that City Council should consider dropping the project that he said had become infected by hyperbole and misinformation.
The resolution passed by City Council Thursday cited “significant disruptions” to the process, which has seen a change to district representation for City Council, three city managers, several project managers and the death of John Fregonese, a lead data analyst on the project.
More recently, anti-CodeNEXT groups successfully petitioned the city to ask residents whether they wanted voting power over the implementation of the new land use code. Council is due to vote on the ballot language late Thursday night...
Amendments push Council decision on soccer stadium into overtime City (Austin Monitor)
City Council’s expected decision on a soccer stadium deal at McKalla Place was delayed Thursday, with the 11 members agreeing to make a final vote by noon at a special meeting on Wednesday.
The delay was caused in large part because of an assortment of 24 amendments submitted by six Council members – Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council members Leslie Pool, Alison Alter, Ellen Troxclair, Greg Casar and Delia Garza – in the 24 hours preceding Thursday’s meeting, with many of them crafted on the dais and distributed during the course of the meeting.
The amendments addressed issues such as the rent paid by the owners of the professional soccer team, a cap on the city’s costs for environmental remediation, discounted ticketing programs, and the funds team ownership would be required to pay toward Austin’s transportation programs.
Together they drastically altered the city’s most recent term sheet with Precourt Sports Ventures, which itself was updated on Wednesday night to include strengthened legal language and stipulations such as a relocation penalty of $1 million per year for every year remaining on the lease...
Revealed texts and racial tension prompt Austin office probe (Austin American-Statesman)
An investigation centered on the city of Austin’s Equity Office has sparked strife in City Hall circles, with groups representing minorities strongly weighing in with different viewpoints.
The city used an outside firm to investigate a complaint filed last spring by former employee Nadia Kalinchuk, who alleged that the Equity Office’s leaders were dismissive of and hostile to certain staffers and community members, particularly Latinas and those affiliated with the city’s Hispanic-Latino Quality of Life Commission.
The city’s investigation is expected to be closed next week. The probe led to a spat last month during a Hispanic-Latino Quality of Life Commission meeting and a pre-emptive reaction from the Austin branch of the NAACP. On Thursday, the NAACP announced at City Hall that it’s investigating “harassment of African-American employees at the city of Austin,” including those involved in the Equity Office inquiry.
Leaders of the Equity Office, the commission members named in the complaint and Kalinchuk declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation...
UT Austin to help Uber with its 'flying car' concept (Houston Chronicle)
Researchers at UT Austin will help develop new rotor technology for Uber's proposed aviation ride-share network, called uberAIR. The Cockrell School of Engineering announced Thursday that it will work with the U.S. Army Research Labs and Uber Elevate to develop this technology.
Last year, Uber announced that the first Uber Elevate cities would be Dallas and Los Angeles, with a goal of flight demonstrations in 2020 and plans to make uberAIR commercially available to riders in those cities by 2023. The uberAIR vehicles will be designed to take off and land vertically. It will be a fully electric vehicle with cruising speeds of 150 mph to 200 mph, cruising altitudes of 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet, and the ability to fly up to 60 miles on a single charge.
The UT team leader on the project is Jayant Sirohi, associate professor in UT's Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. He is an expert in unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, and fixed- and rotary-wing aeroelasticity. He and his team will explore the efficiency and noise level of stacked co-rotating rotors, or propellers, for vertical take off and landing. This technology has two rotor systems stacked on top of each other and rotating in the same direction...
Dwaine Caraway resigns from Dallas City Council, pleads guilty to federal corruption charges (Dallas Morning News)
Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, according to documents filed in Dallas federal court Thursday morning. He has also resigned from the Dallas City Council.
The 66-year-old Caraway, who has also served as the city's interim mayor, admitted to accepting $450,000 in bribes and kickbacks from two key figures in the scandal that last year brought down the school bus agency Dallas County Schools; Bob Leonard, who owned the stop-arm camera company that took millions from DCS; and Slater Swartwood Sr., an associate of Leonard's. "Over the past several weeks, through a lot of prayer and soul searching, I have decided that I must take responsibility for my actions," Caraway wrote in his resignation letter, addressed to City Secretary Bilirae Johnson...
Texas education chief suggests paying higher-performing teachers more (Austin American-Statesman)
Paying quality teachers significantly more could go a long way in recruiting top college graduates and retaining educators at the state’s neediest campuses, Education Commissioner Mike Morath told Texas lawmakers Wednesday. But Morath proposed an approach — paying some teachers more based on their performance — that was panned by teacher union representatives if tied to student test scores. Morath said pay is the No. 1 reason why top college graduates are not becoming teachers.
“We know we have to love on those who love on our kids,” Morath told the House Committee on Public Education. “We know the teacher is the single most important … factor that impacts student outcomes.” Less than a quarter of new teachers in the U.S. come from the top third of their classes and just 14 percent of new teachers in high-poverty schools graduated in the top third of their class, Morath said, citing a 2010 report from consulting group McKinsey & Company. “Our system is not working to bring the absolute cream of the crop into the profession,” Morath said...
Drone privacy falling through regulatory cracks (Bloomberg)
The growing popularity of drones among hobbyists, businesses, and law enforcement is exposing a gap in privacy regulation that threatens to leave Americans vulnerable to nosy neighbors and data-harvesting technology companies.
States and localities that have traditionally protected people from peeping toms and unwanted surveillance are hampered, analysts say, by the federal government’s “exclusive sovereignty” over the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration, meanwhile, says its regulatory jurisdiction is limited to safety concerns and doesn’t extend to privacy.
Privacy concerns have become more urgent, with total U.S. drone shipments projected to increase to a record 3.4 million in 2018, worth $1.1 billion in revenue, according to a report by the Consumer Technology Association.'...
Uber hit with cap as New York City takes lead in crackdown (New York Times)
Even as Uber has become one of Silicon Valley’s biggest success stories and changed the way people across the globe get around, the company has faced increased scrutiny from government regulators. It has also struggled to overcome its image as a company determined to grow at all costs with little regard for its impact on cities. On Wednesday, the tech giant was dealt a major setback in its largest American market after the New York City Council voted to cap Uber vehicles and other ride-hail services, providing a model for other cities that are trying find ways to rein in the company.
The City Council approved a package of bills that will halt new licenses for Uber and other ride-hail vehicles for a year while the city studies the booming industry. The legislation also allows the city to set a minimum pay rate for drivers. The new rules will make New York the first major American city to restrict the number of ride-hail vehicles and to establish pay rules for drivers. New York’s aggressive stance raises questions over Uber’s growth as the company, which has been valued at $62 billion, plans to move toward an initial public offering next year...
As deadline passes, federal government presents no plan for reuniting kids with deported parents (Texas Tribune)
Weeks ago, a federal judge ordered immigration officials to issue a plan for reuniting migrant children with parents who had already been deported.
On Friday, when the government failed to provide one, the federal district judge, Dana Sabraw of San Diego, called it “disappointing” and “unacceptable.” He gave the government until 3 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday to lay out a plan.
But when that deadline passed, the government said the procedure was “still undergoing final review, and will be filed with the Court shortly.”
The plan, lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice said, would involve “efforts to gather and identify information.” Then, that information would be given to the American Civil Liberties Union — which successfully took the government to court earlier this year to order the reunifications — to contact the parents and ultimately reunify them. Critics argue that in doing so, the government is asking the ACLU to solve a crisis that it created...
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.