BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 23, 2018)
U.S. Senate confirms Army Future Command’s commanding general (Community Impact)
Just ahead of the official activation ceremony to open the U.S. Army Futures Command on Aug. 24 in Austin, the U.S. Senate has confirmed the general who will lead the command.
Lt. Gen. John M. Murray, formerly Deputy Chief of Staff for programs in Washington, was confirmed as the commander by the Senate on Monday.
Murray is an Kenton, Ohio, native who, according to the Association of the United States Army, began his military career as an Infantry officer upon graduation from Ohio State University in 1982 and has served in various leadership positions at the highest levels of the Army.
Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley will serve as the Army Futures Command’s integration management officer, leading the command’s futures and concepts sub-organization, according to the Army News Service.
On July 13, the U.S. Army announced Austin as the home of its new Army Futures Command, which will be tasked with leading the Army’s modernization effort...
How can Austin incentivize affordable housing? (Austin Monitor)
Members of City Council believe it’s time for a change to the city’s density bonus programs.
Currently, Austin has 13 “development incentive programs” that offer developers additional building entitlements if they provide a certain amount of housing that is affordable to lower-income people.
State law does not allow the city to mandate a certain number of affordable units in a development. It must structure the deal as an incentive. Hence, a program may offer a developer with plans to build a high-rise apartment complex the opportunity to build an additional floor of units beyond what would typically be allowed if the developer agrees that a certain number of the units will be reserved for those at a certain income level – typically 60 percent of the median family income for rental units and 80 percent MFI for owner-occupied units...
City’s MLS franchise to be dubbed Austin FC (Austin American-Statesman)
Major League Soccer in Austin took another step toward reality Wednesday night when the franchise that could begin playing here next spring announced its team name, colors and branding.
Austin FC, with a bright green, black and white badge featuring the name “Austin” above a pair of intertwined live oaks , was shown to approximately 300 fans gathered at The North Door downtown.
Anthony Precourt, the Columbus Crew SC investor-operator who intends to relocate that MLS team from Ohio, was present at the event. Last week, the Austin City Council voted 7-4 to allow Precourt Sports Ventures to build a stadium on city-owned land near the Domain.
Memo points toward cultural trust to save arts spaces (Austin Monitor)
It appears City Council will move ahead with the creation of a cultural land trust and an economic development corporation in the coming months, both attempts to combat the rising cost of real estate for residents and local artists.
A new memo from the Economic Development Department details the options for the possible structure of a cultural land trust, which has been promoted by local artists and Council Member Ann Kitchen as a way to preserve arts and music venues that are gradually being priced out of business by rent increases. In most cases a land trust takes some combination of donated land or property purchased using a combination of public dollars or donated funds to buy land or existing buildings.
They are in some ways akin to economic development corporations, which have greater latitude in their mission but largely exist to facilitate business deals between public bodies and private business interests, frequently involving real estate...
Imagining a future for Austin's F1 racetrack; hotels, helipads, luxurious condos brimming with supercars (Austin Business Journal)
A sprawling 1,037-acre sports and entertainment complex could one day rise around the Circuit of The Americas Formula One racetrack in Southeast Austin.
Helipads, a hotel, condo towers, a water park, a soccer stadium, indoor sports facilities and restaurants are all possibilities under an ambitious vision from Circuit of The Americas LLC executives.
They have started a major rezoning effort that will pave the way for developers to transform the site around the car-racing track and concert venue.
Circuit of The Americas wouldn’t be the developer; the company would seek long-term tenants to sign leases to run projects surrounding the track.
The updated zoning would come as Circuit of The Americas enters its last five years in its contract with Formula One to host the annual U.S. Grand Prix, currently the only race in the country for one of the world's premier motorsports — however, a Miami Grand Prix is possible in 2019...
Gov. Abbott’s call for more Texas teachers making $100k draws surprise, skepticism (Houston Chronicle)
Gov. Greg Abbott called this week for top teachers in Texas to earn six-figure salaries, a wage that less than 1 percent of the state’s educators are currently earning. About 400 teachers in Texas earned more than $100,000 in the 2017-2018 school year, a Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News analysis of teacher salary data shows. That’s less than 1 percent of the state’s 363,000 teachers. Records show the teachers making six figures average about 19 years of experience and are loading up on extracurricular activities, coaching sports teams or leading the high school orchestra or band. State lawmakers, including the Texas education commissioner, have repeatedly said that school districts should reward high-quality teachers with higher salaries, especially those who teach at struggling schools. The state’s average teacher pay was estimated at $53,000 this year — about $7,000 below the national average...
As bad news mounts, Texas Republicans fret about 2018 elections (Texas Tribune)
It was the worst day of the worst month of the worst season in years for Republicans hoping to mitigate political damage in this fall’s midterm elections. And Texas political operatives were left stunned as they processed the ramifications.
In one Tuesday afternoon, a Virginia jury found President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of financial crimes, Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to his own financial and campaign law violations, and a GOP congressman – U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California – found himself indicted on a slew of charges.
But instead of serving as some sort of seminal turning point of the 2018 cycle, operatives from both parties interviewed by The Texas Tribune viewed these events as merely a further deterioration of an already grim situation for Republicans. The damage to the GOP brand is now at a crisis point, and many in politics wonder if the party might salvage its control of the U.S. House...
Down-ballot Texas Democrats are in Beto O’Rourke’s shadow. Will his campaign still help their chances? (Texas Tribune)
“Your Beto sign looks lonely.”
Joanna Cattanach texted those five words and a link to her campaign website to hundreds of voters — whose numbers she’d received from the Texas Democratic Party — in her Dallas-area state House district last month. The first-time candidate said she was motivated by the sea of distinctive black-and-white signs for El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke popping up in lawns all around her.
The gambit worked. Her campaign received 200 sign orders in the 24 hours after the text was sent out, she said.
It was just the latest example of the double-edged sword Cattanach and other Democrats running in down-ballot races — particularly those for state Legislature — are confronting amid the fervor O’Rourke’s bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has sparked among the party’s base...
Sen. Susan Collins says Kavanaugh sees Roe v. Wade as ‘settled law (Washington Post)
Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh told Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday that Roe v. Wade was “settled law,” the Maine Republican told reporters after their meeting. Collins, a supporter of abortion rights, said she raised the issue with Kavanaugh, who is meeting with senators ahead of his confirmation hearings next month. “We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law,” Collins said, referring to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. Collins said Kavanaugh told her that he agreed with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who said during his 2005 confirmation hearing that Roe was “settled as a precedent of the court.”...
Fewer American uproot themselves for new jobs (Wall Street Journal)
Fewer U.S. workers are moving around the country to seek new job opportunities, as changing family ties and more openings near home make people less willing to uproot their lives for work. About 3.5 million people relocated for a new job last year, according to U.S. census data, a 10% drop from 3.8 million in 2015. The numbers have fluctuated between 2.8 million and 4.5 million since the government started tracking annual job-related relocations in 1999—but have been trending lower overall, even as the U.S. population grew by nearly 20% over that stretch. Experts cite a number of factors that in some periods have kept people in one place, including a depressed value for their home or limited job openings. In the current strong economy, real-estate values have rebounded, but that has made housing costs prohibitively high in some regions where jobs are abundant, such as major East and West Coast cities...