BG Reads + Podcast | News You Need to Know (August 29, 2018)



Episode 12: Policy Discussion RE Austin's Chapter 380 Economic Incentive Agreements

Today's podcast was originally recorded on July 25, 2018 and features a discussion with David A. Colligan, Acting Assistant Director Economic Development Department, City of Austin.
David and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discussed the nature and misconceptions about Chapter 380 Agreements, part of the Local Government Code authorizing municipalities to offer incentives designed to promote economic development such as commercial and retail projects.
These agreements specifically provide for offering loans and grants of city funds or services at little or no cost to promote state and local economic development and to stimulate business and commercial activity.
The Austin City Council is expected to discuss and take possible action on Chapter 380 economic incentive agreements at its August 30 (2018) meeting. Potential changes will include some provisions involving real estate deals that could shape the makeup and business model of some developments...
Link to BG Podcast Episode 12


Council considers which strings to attach to corporate incentives (Austin Monitor)

After postponing action earlier this month, on Thursday City Council will again consider establishing new rules regarding economic incentives for businesses. Council members plan on considering a number of amendments to the proposal aimed at ensuring that public dollars are only used to support good corporate citizens.
The proposed new policy seeks to refocus city subsidies on economic development that favors small, local businesses and middle-skill, middle-wage jobs.
Critics have said that the city’s current business expansion program has focused too much on competing to get multinational corporations, such as Facebook or Merck, to set up in Austin. Proponents of those deals have pointed to the high-wage employment that accompanies those employers, while others have said that they don’t create high-wage jobs for current residents as much as they attract high-wage earners to the city.
At Tuesday’s work session, Council Member Greg Casar reiterated that the private market in Austin is already attracting plenty of high-paying jobs for those with advanced skills. City incentives, he said, would be better used to create middle-wage jobs that can lift those currently toiling in low-wage employment out of poverty...
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ZAP boosts West Austin historic zoning (Austin Monitor)

Going against the wishes of the property’s owners and their neighbors, the Zoning and Platting Commission endorsed a bid for historic zoning in Old West Austin at its most recent meeting.
Commissioners voted in favor of the zoning change for the 1923 Bryson-Krueger-Critz House at 1602 West Lynn St. in a vote of 5-3-1 with commissioners Jim Duncan, Bruce Evans and Nadia Barrera-Ramirez voting against and Commissioner Abigail Tatkow abstaining. Commissioners Sunil Lavani and Ann Denkler were absent.
The house is a contributing structure in the Old West Austin National Register District, and the city’s Historic Preservation Office and Historic Landmark Commission also supported making the home an individual landmark. Opposing the change, however, were the homeowners and neighbors, who have two valid petitions against it.
Homeowner Jay Riskind told the commission that he met his wife in Beijing, though he is from Texas and had always intended to return.
“We chose not to buy property in China because we knew, as foreigners, we would be up against a system that was totally unfair. We didn’t expect to come to Austin, invest in the property of our dreams, and sort of be on the same end of that process. But that’s how it feels right now,” he said...
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Publisher, editor announce departures from Statesman (Austin American-Statesman)

Publisher Susie Biehle and Editor Debbie Hiott announced Monday that they are leaving the American-Statesman. Biehle has been the newspaper’s publisher since November 2012, and Hiott has been editor since November 2011. The announcement of their departures comes five months after GateHouse Media finalized its purchase of the Statesman from Cox Enterprises, which had owned the paper for 41 years. The newspaper had recently announced that it was extending voluntary buyout offers to all of its employees, and Biehle and Hiott told employees Monday that they had chosen to take the separation offer. The newspaper did not disclose how many other employees also had decided to take buyouts. “I’ve been thinking for a while about the right time to retire, and it simply felt like the right time to allow new leadership to take the reins,” Biehle told employees...
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Police officers are almost never convicted of murder. Body cameras may have made the difference in this Texas case. (Texas Tribune)

The body camera footage changed everything from the beginning.
The day after police officer Roy Oliver fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in April 2017, the Balch Springs police said the car of unarmed teens leaving a party was moving aggressively toward officers when Oliver fired into it. But the next day, after the chief saw the video, he walked back the statement and acknowledged that the car was moving away from police.
Oliver was quickly fired and charged with murder. During his eight-day trial, which held closing arguments Monday, the footage from the cameras clipped to the chests of Oliver and his partner was played repeatedly and touched almost every piece of evidence brought forward by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office...
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Blocked from giving away 3D-printed gun blueprints, Texas man says he's selling them instead (Texas Tribune)

An Austin resident and self-described “crypto-anarchist” said Tuesday he’ll begin selling blueprints that would allow users to 3D print their own plastic guns — a day after a federal judge extended a temporary block preventing him from making the plans available on the web for free.
In other words: If he can’t be the “Napster” of crypto-guns, he’ll be the “iTunes,” Wilson told reporters at a press conference Tuesday in Austin.
The decision could put Wilson, currently at the center of a slew of court disputes across the country, on shaky legal footing.
Wilson has argued in court that preventing him from publishing the blueprints infringes on his First Amendment rights. But Monday’s injunction said the potential harms to Wilson’s First Amendment rights “are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the States are likely to suffer” if he was permitted to post the blueprints for free. Nearly two dozen states that lined up against Wilson in court have said the untraceable plastic guns made using the blueprints would pose an enormous security risk...
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John McCain issues subtle rebuke of Trump in farewell letter before his death (Washington Post)

In his final words to the nation before his passing, Sen. John McCain delivered a veiled rebuke of President Trump, calling on Americans to rally behind the country’s founding ideals rather than hiding behind walls and succumbing to political tribalism. Rick Davis, a McCain family spokesman who was also the Arizona Republican’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, read the letter in full at an emotional news conference Monday at which he also outlined plans for funeral and memorial services in honor of McCain, who died at age 81 on Saturday. “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe,” McCain wrote in the letter. “We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”...
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