BG Reads | News - What We're Reading (August 14, 2018)



Attorney sues Austin over wording of ballot question for city audit (Austin Monitor) 

An Austin attorney is suing the city over the wording of a November ballot measure about a citywide audit.
Activists collected more than 30,000 signatures asking the city to hire a third party to conduct an efficiency audit of all its departments. City Council members voted Thursday to put the question to voters.
But supporters of the audit said the city’s ballot language is biased and would cause people to vote against the measure...
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Four city parcels ID’d for redevelopment focus in next budget (Austin Monitor)

The Economic Development Department is recommending City Council spend the next budget year focusing on putting four pieces of city-owned property into higher use with mixtures of housing, commercial space, parklands and more.
A recent memo detailed the department’s efforts since April to shift to a “portfolio approach” in selecting the city properties that can be used to address persistent issues such as food scarcity, economic opportunity and availability of affordable housing.
That shift followed a March Council work session presentation where staff highlighted 12 city-owned properties and solicited feedback on how to move forward with development efforts, since Council members and members of various boards and commissions have pushed for more than a year to make those spaces into greater community assets...
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Reagan going to court over sign rule secrecy (Austin Monitor)

Billy Reagan, the owner of Reagan Signs, the best-known billboard company in the city of Austin, is looking forward to going to court later this month to try to find out why the city won’t let him see communications between CodeNEXT consultants and members of the city’s Law Department. And more importantly, what’s in those communications.
Attorney Bill Aleshire, who represents Reagan, filed suit against the city in June when the city refused to release records related to changes proposed for billboards in the third and final draft of CodeNEXT...
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Abbott sets runoff to replace state Sen. Carlos Uresti for Sept. 18 (Texas Tribune)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has picked Sept. 18 as the date of the special election runoff to replace convicted former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio.
Early voting will run Sept. 10-14.
The runoff pits Republican Pete Flores against Democrat Pete Gallego. They were the top two finishers in the first round of the special election, which was held July 31 and included six other candidates...
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Texas oil industry experts say Mexico's plan to halt fuel imports won't have immediate impact (Texas Tribune) 

After a dramatic spike in gasoline prices incited widespread protests in Mexico last year, then-presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador made a promise that caught the attention of Texas officials and the state’s oil and gas industry: The veteran left-wing politician vowed, if elected, to halt the import of gasoline and diesel from the United States and other countries by 2021.
The promise — which López Obrador had previously mentioned and which he reiterated one week after winning in a historic landslide last month — was a key component of his national development platform in his third run for the presidency...
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Fast-growing charter school network making Houston inroads (Houston Chronicle)

Houston’s newest charter school emerges like an oasis on East Orem Drive, a freshly constructed four-columned Georgian-style building on a sparse stretch of the city’s southeast side.
An estimated 1,200 students on Thursday will fill the campus, home to International Leadership of Texas’ newest outpost. Each day, students will speak Spanish, learn Mandarin Chinese and get 45 minutes of physical education from “fitness coaches” resembling personal trainers. They will learn from educators driving home messages about character, civic duty and servant leadership, echoing a military-style ethos pushed by charter founder and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Eddie Conger...
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Ben Carson Moves Forward With Push To Change Fair Housing Rule (Washington Post)

Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, proposed on Monday new changes to an Obama-era rule aimed at combating segregation in housing policy.
Carson wants the rule to focus more on reducing the regulatory burdens of local jurisdictions and giving them more control, while encouraging actions that bolster housing choice and increase housing supply.
In a statement, Carson said the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, enacted during the previous administration, "often dictated unworkable requirements," adding that the rule was also "suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods."
"We do not have to abandon communities in need. Instead we believe we can craft a new, fairer rule that creates choices for quality housing across all communities," Carson said.
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For voters sick of money in politics, a new Pitch: No PAC money accepted (New York Times) 

Like many political candidates, Dean Phillips spends hours each day fund-raising and thanking his donors. But because he refuses to accept PAC money from corporations, unions or other politicians, he has adopted a unique approach.
“Norbert?” he asked on the doorstep of a man who’d donated $25 to his campaign. “I’m here with goodies!”
Mr. Phillips, who is running for Congress in the suburbs of Minneapolis, handed over a gift bag containing a T-shirt and bumper sticker. The exchange was recorded in a video that was shared later with his supporters to encourage them to contribute as well. Norbert Gernes, an 80-year-old retiree, was impressed.
“We desperately need to get the money out of the political system,” he said in an interview afterward. “Because I don’t think we have a Congress that’s representing the people any more.”...
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