BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 28, 2018)
Texas Supreme Court Denies Challenges To Two Ballot Items For Austin Voters This Fall (KUT)
The Texas Supreme Court has denied petitions from two Austin residents asking that the city rewrite a pair of November ballot measures.
Attorney Bill Aleshire filed challenges earlier this month with the court over the wording of a citizen-initiated petition that asked whether the city should hire a third-party auditor to scrutinize the efficiency of all city departments. A second challenge came over the wording of a petition asking whether citizens should have the right to vote on every land-use rewrite, like the now-defunct CodeNEXT.
In the case of the land-use ballot item, Aleshire argued the city “lacks discretion” to craft its own question to voters. In the case of the efficiency audit, he argued the language approved by City Council discouraged voters from approving the measure.
“With this denial, the Texas Supreme Court has confirmed that our ballot language conforms to the legal requirements and represents the key features of both citizen initiated petitions,” a city spokesman said...
Familiar Austin faces buy Sweetish Hill, announce plans for bakery’s future (Austin American-Statesman)
A new school titan of the Austin restaurant world is taking over an old-school classic. The McGuire Moorman Hospitality group has purchased beloved Clarksville-area Sweetish Hill Bakery (1120 W. Sixth St.) from Jim Murphy, with the sale slated to close in early September.
The owners of Jeffrey’s, Clark’s, Perla’s (and more) will close the doors for remodeling on September 8and plan to fully reopen by Christmas under the moniker Swedish Hill Bakery Cafe & Deli. The new spelling is a slight rebrand and nod to the Swede’s Hill neighborhood where Patricia Bauer-Slate and Tom Neuhaus originally opened the business at 14th and Waller streets in 1975...
Council to consider changes to Community Development Commission (Austin Monitor)
The city of Austin may be dealing with yet another headache over who gets to sit on a city commission and who should or can be removed.
The Community Development Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of projects funded by two federal programs: the Community Development Block Grant and the Community Service Block Grant.
Unlike every other city board and commission, the CDC’s membership is partially dictated by federal law, which requires seven of the members to be appointed by City Council and eight to be “democratically elected” by an organization representing low-income communities.
It’s up to city staff to pick an organization that it believes best represents a neighborhood; often it chooses either the neighborhood association or the neighborhood plan contact team...
Nightlife vet takes the lead of music venue district on Red River (Austin Monitor)
With the appointment of the first executive director for the Red River Cultural District, changes are pretty much guaranteed for the downtown stretch that includes more than a dozen live music venues and represents one of the city’s most renowned cultural hot spots.
Change has been dramatic for businesses there for the past decade as Austin’s rising property values and development pressures have put the financial squeeze on the notoriously narrow-margined businesses that took root during a previous era of low rents.
But Cody Cowan, longtime general manager of the Mohawk nightclub and the district’s new executive director, said he and other business operators in the area look forward to working with the city, Austin Police Department and other groups to take an active role in improving the area. As an example, he pointed to an alley just north of Seventh Street that has long been a hot spot for drug dealing and an open restroom for the local homeless population but has been difficult to get routinely cleaned or closed off...
Valdez agrees to debate Abbott on Sept. 28 in Austin (Texas Tribune)
Lupe Valdez, the Democratic candidate for governor, has agreed to debate the Republican incumbent, Greg Abbott, on Sept. 28 in Austin, ending weeks of uncertainty over whether the two would face off.
Earlier this summer, Abbott announced his RSVP for the Austin debate, which is being hosted by Nexstar Media Group. A week later, Valdez accepted an invitation to a different debate — Oct. 8 in Houston — balking at the timing of the Austin debate, which falls on a Friday evening in the middle of high school football season.
While the timing of the Austin debate has not changed, Valdez claimed victory Monday in getting a Spanish-language media partner — Telemundo — for the debate. Valdez's campaign said Telemundo "will broadcast the debate live across the state on television and online, and provide a moderator and instantaneous Spanish translation for their viewers."...
UT System regents officially name James Milliken next chancellor (Texas Tribune)
The incoming chancellor of the University of Texas System is new to Texas politics. But minutes after he was officially hired and then shuttled down the hall to address reporters Monday, he made clear he understood the political nature of his new job.
"You can't do anything important in public higher education without a partnership, a close partnership, with the leadership of state government, and frankly a partnership with the philanthropic community," said James Milliken, a longtime higher education administrator, who will take the reins of the 14-institution UT System on Sept. 17.
"It is one of the essential roles of the job," he said. "I've been successful at that in other places; I certainly hope that I'm successful at it in Texas."...
U.S. And Mexico Reach Trade Deal; Trump Wants To Drop NAFTA Name (KUT)
The United States and Mexico have reached an "understanding" on several critical trade issues following bilateral talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. They will now likely re-engage with Canada to reach a final deal on NAFTA, a primary goal of the Trump administration.
Speaking at the White House on Monday, President Trump said he wanted to change the NAFTA name to the U.S. Mexico Free Trade Agreement. He also reframed the negotiations as two bilateral trade deals.
"We've made a deal with Mexico, and we'll get started with Canada immediately," Trump said. He also said he would "be terminating the existing [NAFTA] deal very soon" because NAFTA has "a lot of bad connotations" and has been a "bad deal" for the United States...
Trump’s border wall boast runs into budget maw (Houston Chronicle)
Rallying cheering supporters in West Virginia, President Donald Trump called border security the “beating heart” of this election and suggested to the faithful that he has $3.2 billion for his long-promised border wall. “The wall — right now, that wall is coming along. We’re over $3 billion, it’s moving along very nicely. Very nicely,” Trump told a packed arena in Charleston on Tuesday night. Left unsaid was that Congress has approved only half that amount, and that the battle for more money comes amid the threat of another government shutdown — possibly at the end of September, scarcely a month before the November midterm elections which could serve as a referendum on his first two years in office. Of the $1.6 billion Congress allocated for border security this year, almost all was to reinforce and expand existing barriers — not the wall that Trump campaigned on...
Judge Blocks Austin Company's Plans To Post 3D-Printed Gun Files (KUT)
A federal judge in Seattle has agreed to extend an order blocking an Austin-based company from publishing 3D-printable gun designs on the internet.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia had sued the U.S. State Department to block a deal it reached with Defense Distributed that carved out an exception to federal arms export rules — expressly allowing the company to publish plans for the guns. The states argue their residents will be endangered by allowing untraceable gun designs to be distributed online and that the State Department didn't follow proper procedures in creating an exception for the files.
Defense Distributed argues its First Amendment rights are being infringed.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik today issued a temporary injunction, blocking the deal until the states' complaints can be heard in full...