BG Reads + Podcast | News You Need to Know (August 22, 2018)


[BG Podcast]

Episode 11: Meet James Hines, SVP of Advocacy and In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business

Today's podcast was originally recorded on July 2, 2018 and features a discussion with James Hines, Senior Vice-President of Advocacy & In-House for the Texas Association of Business (TAB).
TAB is Texas's largest business association, representing over 2, 800 businesses, from major corporations to small start-ups. Combined those businesses employ over 2.5 million Texans and drive the economic engine of the state. The association influences policy development and drives legislative decisions in Texas and Washington, D.C. advocating for members’ bottom line. One example was its instrumental charge against the "bathroom bill" during the 85th legislative session in 2017.
James, hired in June of 2018, is TAB's lead lobbyist at the Texas Capitol. He and A.J. discussed the development of TAB's policy positions, current priorities including Austin's paid sick leave ordinance (TAB is the lead co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city), his path to a career in lobbying and more...
Link to BG Podcast Episode 11


The Austin City Clerk Is No Longer Challenging Lewis Conway Jr.'s City Council Bid (KUT)

The Austin City Clerk has reversed her decision to challenge Lewis Conway Jr.'s candidacy for Austin City Council.

Conway, a candidate for District 1, has a felony record, and Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall requested clarification on his eligibility to run for public office late last week. Conway has maintained that he is legally allowed to be on the ballot. A city spokesperson tells KUT that Goodall has dropped her request for clarification and will honor Conway's assertion that he is eligible to run.
In a statement to KUT, Conway said he's pleased with Goodall's decision. "I have been released from parole and my voting rights have been restored," Conway said. "I have served my time and now I am ready to serve my community.”...
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Travis County to challenge tax-exempt status of MLS stadium (Austin American-Statesman)

Travis County isn’t giving up on collecting tax dollars on a potential Major League Soccer stadium that the Austin City Council waived in a deal approved last week.
As part of the agreement struck Wednesday to build a $200 million stadium in North Austin, the City Council and Precourt Sports Ventures agreed the facility would not produce property tax revenue. Under the deal, the city would own the land and stadium and lease it back to Precourt.
Travis County commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to “authorize the county attorney to preserve the county’s right to challenge the tax-exempt status of the stadium company’s use of city property.”
They also voted to “pursue negotiations with the city and other local taxing entities on expectations for preserving taxable value in the redevelopment of publicly owned real estate.”...
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North Shoal Creek plan prompts debate over density (Austin Monitor)

City Council may have given up on CodeNEXT, the proposed comprehensive rewrite of the city’s Land Development Code, but the debate over growth and development is certainly not going away.
On Thursday, Council will take up the North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Plan, which lays out the principles of development for the area bounded by U.S. Highway 183 on the north, MoPac Expressway on the west, Burnet Road on the east, and Anderson Lane on the south.
The proposed plan has prompted familiar divisions on Council over the amount of density that should be allowed in certain neighborhoods. In particular, the plan declares that single-family homes should remain “the most dominant building type” in the interior of the neighborhood...
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Report clears Equity Office leaders of wrongdoing, questions judgment (Austin American-Statesman)

Leaders of Austin’s Equity Office did not discriminate or create a hostile work environment, an independent investigation has concluded, though they might have made inappropriate comments about some co-workers and city volunteers.
The inquiry came after former Equity Office employee Nadia Kalinchuk alleged that Brion Oaks, director of the office, and Kellee Coleman, its business process consultant, were dismissive of and hostile to certain employees and community members, particularly Latinas.
The investigation, before it was completed, led to a dispute within the Hispanic-Latino Quality of Life Commission, as well as statements from the NAACP that the accusations amounted to harassment of African-American leaders in the city.
“The investigation was unable to substantiate (Kalinchuk’s) allegation that Mr. Oaks engaged in discrimination or created a hostile work environment for Hispanic and Latino employees,” the report stated. “It has, however, served to expose a chasm in the relationship which exists between certain members of the Hispanic-Latino Quality of Life Commission and the Equity Office, potentially harming its effectiveness.”...
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So far, there’s not much to handicap in the race for Texas House Speaker (Texas Tribune)

Clardy, party of one.
That’s not a shot at state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, who filed to run for speaker of the House earlier this week. He’s the latest to leave the unofficial herd of candidates to join the official herd, which now numbers five.
So it’s not just Clardy who thinks he’s seeing the next speaker in the mirror when he shaves every morning. The “party of one” business is more about the state of play.
Put anyone’s name in the blank and it still works.
Nobody has the momentum in the race to replace Joe Straus, the current speaker, or even any certain pledges of support (at least publicly). The field of candidates isn’t complete. Heck, we don’t even know who all the voters will be; the composition of the House will be set by voters in November...
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UT System pick for chancellor is new to Texas, but not to the challenges he'll face here (Texas Tribune)

In the last few weeks of 2017, the chancellor of a major public university system announced his plans to step down.
He mentioned health issues and the new perspective they had given him. He suggested he’d take a teaching position within the system he’d led. And he planned his departure for May, after four years in the job.
The chancellor wasn't Bill McRaven, the former head of the University of Texas System, who cited similar reasons when he stepped down in May, but the man tapped to replace him: James Milliken, who goes by “J.B.,” the former chancellor of the City University of New York. Unlike McRaven, a UT-Austin alum and a retired Navy admiral, Milliken was largely unknown to the state's politicos when he was named, on Aug. 4, the sole finalist to become the next chancellor of the UT System. A Nebraska native, Milliken has the resume of a consummate higher education administrator and has helped lead university systems in three states, including New York.
In Texas, a state where former lawmakers head three of the other five major university systems, Milliken's status as a newcomer is unusual — but his experience at CUNY bears academic and political hallmarks that will sound familiar to those involved in higher education here...
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Everyone caught up in the Trump investigations (Axios)

The latest flood of legal news about President Trump's associates — the conviction of Paul Manafort and guilty plea by Michael Cohen — makes it easy to lose track of the broader storyline of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Here's a map to help you keep every move straight...
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Giuliani tries to explain what he meant by ‘truth isn’t truth' (Washington Post)

President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani on Monday sought to clarify his head-scratching assertion over the weekend that “truth isn’t truth,” writing in a morning tweet that he was referring to instances where two people make contradictory statements. “My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic ‘he said she said’ puzzle,” Giuliani said. “Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn’t.” Giuliani’s attempt at clarification was prompted by an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” during which he and host Chuck Todd discussed the circumstances under which Trump would submit to an interview by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Giuliani continued to argue that Mueller is trying to trap Trump into committing perjury as part of an investigation into whether the president has obstructed the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election...
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