BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (August 13, 2018)



Council faces legal action over wording of two ballot initiatives (Austin Monitor) 

Supporters of two ballot initiatives are threatening legal action against the city of Austin over ballot language that they claim City Council crafted to mislead voters.
Just after midnight on Friday, Council approved language for 11 separate propositions that voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject in November. One of those is a measure sought by opponents of CodeNEXT that would require a waiting period and voter approval whenever the city does a “comprehensive revision” of the Land Development Code. Another proposition, which garnered 33,000 signatures on its petition, would require the city to hire an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive “efficiency audit” of city departments.
Council initially declined to put the CodeNEXT measure on the ballot based on advice from city attorneys, who pointed to a state statute that says zoning cannot be subjected to citizen initiatives. However, a judge earlier this month ruled that the city had to put the initiative on the ballot.
As for the efficiency audit, nobody tried to block it from going on the ballot, but most Council members are clearly skeptical of the proposition, particularly since the campaign was entirely funded by a group run by conservative activists that did not disclose its donors.
However, Council has considerable discretion in the language that describes the proposition on the ballot...
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Tech takeover: Arrival of industry giants remaking downtown Austin (Austin American-Statesman)

Social media giants, internet companies, the world’s largest retailer and the U.S. military. That’s just a short list of the players moving into or expanding their operations in downtown Austin in a race to attract tech workers. The result, experts say, could be a transformation of the city’s core into a technology center similar to San Francisco and Seattle, both of which have seen backlash due to the rising costs and congestion that have ensued. Downtown Austin’s tech roster includes major players such as Facebook, Google and Indeed, which already have sizable workforces downtown and combined have added, or will add hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space to accommodate their growth. Newcomers include Walmart, which this year opened an engineering hub downtown that features all the perks you’d find at a young, cutting-edge startup...
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The Mayor Wants All Of Austin To Attend This Diversity Training (KUT)

“What prevents you from talking about race?” The trainer offered the group of nearly 90 people seated in a room on the 10th floor of the LBJ Presidential Library some suggestions: Was it fear? Maybe fatigue? Ignorance? Whatever their reasons, this group of executive directors, educators and local government employees had gathered to do just that: spend two days talking about race. Madge Vasquez, the CEO of Mission Capital, says talking about race is complicated.
“Talking about race is tough,” Madge Vasquez said. The CEO of Mission Capital was among the group gathered for the diversity training led by San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group. (As part of the agreement to let KUT observe the training, the reporter was required to participate in it.)...
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Texas' hot economy expected to cool, says Dallas Fed (Houston Chronicle)

The Texas economy is likely to cool down during the second half of the year as export growth slows and wage pressures rise, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The slowdown comes at a time when the Texas economy has been adding jobs at a "blistering" 3.6 percent annualized rate during the first six months of the year, making Texas the No. 1 state for job growth. Last year, Texas was No. 9...
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Legendary San Antonio banker, civic leader Tom Frost dies (San Antonio Express-News) 

Legendary banker Tom C. Frost Jr., a towering figure in San Antonio’s business and civic communities for decades, died Friday. He was 90. Frost, chairman emeritus of Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc., the holding company for Frost Bank, had been in the hospital after suffering a stroke July 13. His death was confirmed by the bank his great-grandfather started 150 years ago. Frost was one of the most influential men in San Antonio and South Texas. He played a leadership role in HemisFair, the 1968 World’s Fair that made San Antonio a major tourist destination; the South Texas Medical Center; and the Cancer Therapy and Research Center. He also oversaw the 1977 merger of the bank with Houston’s Cullen Bank. Cullen/Frost Bankers has become one of the largest financial institutions based in Texas. “This is the passing of a giant and a person who quite literally built, invested, inspired the modern San Antonio,” former Mayor Henry Cisneros said...
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How an $890,000, taxpayer-funded chicken shack sums up Dwaine Caraway in Dallas (Dallas Morning News)

Dwaine Caraway might have hoped his legacy would be the renaissance of the Oak Cliff neighborhoods he knew as a boy, where he grew up, where he seemed to know everybody and where he spent his adult life crafting a reputation as a crusader for the people. He loved to point to what he had changed, shutting down hot sheet motels, calling on kids to pull up their pants, and, most of all, rejuvenating the Lancaster/Kiest corridor. But even there, along streets where Caraway did bring new and heavily subsidized development - his work is questioned. And nowhere so much as it is at Rudy’s Chicken.
Rudolph Edwards, the man behind the beloved chicken shack, sat outside his business on Lancaster Road Thursday afternoon shaking his head at the news that Caraway pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. Edwards and Caraway have a complicated relationship. It was Caraway who led the push for an $890,000 city grant to build Edwards a brand new restaurant to replace the rundown, walk-up chicken shack he became famous for in southern Dallas. But it was a favor Edwards never wanted and that came to symbolize Caraway’s dominance in the area to some. Today, Edwards won’t accuse Caraway of any wrongdoing toward him, but the way the council member handled the deal still doesn’t sit right with him...
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Democrats all but acknowledge Kavanaugh is headed toward confirmation to Supreme Court (Washington Post)

Democrats have all but acknowledged that they are unable to stop the Senate from confirming Trump nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court this fall. Moderate Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine, the most closely watched GOP swing vote, are sending strong signals that they will back Kavanaugh. Several Democrats facing difficult reelections this year have indicated they are open to voting for the judge. And leaders of the resistance are already delivering post-mortem assessments and blaming fellow Democrats for a looming failure. Barring a major revelation, the Senate is poised to install the 53-year-old Kavanaugh on the high court and take the next step toward fulfilling President Trump’s pledge to remake the Supreme Court — and the wider federal judiciary, potentially for decades. “There were too many Democrats who decided out of the gate that this was an unwinnable fight,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a leading anti-Kavanaugh group that will continue to battle the nomination...
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In California, fed-up locals are setting electric scooters on fire and burying them at sea (Los Angeles Times) 

They've been crammed into toilets, tossed off balconies and set on fire. They’ve even been adorned with dangling bags of dog droppings. As cities like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills struggle to control a rapid proliferation of electric pay-per-minute scooters, some residents are taking matters into their own hands and waging a guerrilla war against the devices. These vandals are destroying or desecrating the vehicles in disturbingly imaginative ways, and celebrating their illegal deeds on social media — in full view of authorities and the public. “They throw them everywhere: in the ocean, in the sand, in the trash can,” said Robert Johnson Bey, a Venice Beach maintenance worker who regularly comes across scooter parts on the Venice Beach boardwalk, Speedway and adjoining alleys. “Sunday, I was finding kickstands everywhere,” Bey said. “Looked like they were snapped off.”...
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