BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 10, 2018)



Music groups take aim at the ballot box with new nonprofit (Austin Monitor)

Two months before the November midterm elections, a consortium of businesses and nonprofits involved in Austin’s music industry have banded together with the goal of having a greater influence at the ballot box.

The new Music Moves Austin 501(c)4 nonprofit has joined together representatives from Austin Music People, the Red River Merchants Association, the Urban Artist Alliance, the Music Venue Alliance, EQ Austin, C3 Presents, and South by Southwest. The group’s short-term plans include registering 2,500 new voters in time for the fall election, and hosting candidate forums in early October for the city’s mayoral and four contested City Council seat races.

Funded by an unnamed private donor, the group is the latest to try to marshal Austin’s large but diffuse community of musicians and creatives, who have been singled out as being especially threatened by the city’s rising cost of living.

Austin Music People was the most recent nonprofit to act as a political organizing and local lobbying entity for the music community, but that group reorganized and recently changed its focus to furthering the interests of the city’s events and festivals economy.

Nick Shuley, president of Music Moves Austin, said he’s hopeful a strong push into the November election will create urgency for Austin’s musicians around the races and ballot issues that could impact them...

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MLS to Austins: Precourt, city progressing toward contract (Austin American-Statesman)

Lawyers for Precourt Sports Ventures and the city of Austin are rolling along in turning the term sheet the City Council approved last month into a full-fledged contract that will result in a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place.

A lot of fine-tuning was required because there were so many changes to the original term sheet presented to council members.

“We have begun drafting the lease and development agreement,” said David Green, media relations manager for the city. “Thanks to the approved term sheet being so detailed, we anticipate making good progress on it during the month of September.”

MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle, who works for PSV, said there have not been any significant hang-ups.

“The drafting schedule is on target, and I think we may see something by the 18th, and then we’ll look to red-line it,” Suttle said. “We hope it can all be wrapped up by early October.”...

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City doesn’t want Austin Rowing Club’s special deal to be too sweet (Austin Monitor)

City Council voted in June to grant the Austin Rowing Club the unusual privilege of negotiating a contract renewal with the city without going through the typical bidding process.

ARC and Council members argued that the special deal was warranted because the club, which had a five-year contract to operate the city-owned Waller Creek Boathouse from 2012 to 2017 and was later awarded a two-year contract extension, has not yet had a chance to prove its potential due to the delayed construction of the Waller Creek Tunnel. The tunnel was supposed to be complete in late 2013, but it dragged on for another four years, leaving the boathouse neighbor to a noisy, unsightly construction site.

But while ARC doesn’t have to compete with other vendors for the coveted spot on Lady Bird Lake, it will likely have to submit to a more stringent contract with the city if city staff and the Parks and Recreation Board get their way.

Under the current contract, the city agreed that if the contract ended, the city would “work in good faith to identify and make available alternative locations on Ladybird Lake for ARC.” Both staff and the Parks and Recreation Board have recommended removing that language in the new contract...

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Dallas mayor denies officials argued over whether to charge Officer Amber Guyger with murder (Dallas Morning News)

As public debate raged over what criminal charge a Dallas police officer should face after she shot a man in his own apartment, a City Council member has suggested a similar fight was playing out in the Police Department.

Council member Philip Kingston posted Sunday on Facebook that a judge had refused to sign a warrant that would have allowed police to arrest Officer Amber Guyger on a manslaughter charge. Kingston wrote that the judge, whom he did not identify, would not sign the warrant because murder was the appropriate charge...

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Cruz, O'Rourke rev up post-Labor Day campaigns in battleground Harris County (Texas Tribune)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke kicked off their post-Labor Day campaigns Saturday in Harris County, rallying supporters for the two-month home stretch of their race in the state’s biggest battleground county.

Cruz made two boisterous stops in the Republican-friendly suburbs of Houston, while O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman, staged a massive rally in the city. The events were the first in Texas by Cruz and O’Rourke since Labor Day, the traditional ramp-up time ahead of the November elections.

“Whatever you’re doing do, please do more of it,” O’Rourke told supporters packed in to the Houston Stampede Event Center, a 12-mile drive from where Cruz first campaigned Saturday in the area. “Not a single one of us wants to wake up with anything other than a hangover from celebrating a victory on the 7th of November."...

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Before Robert Duncan resigned, tensions simmered with Texas Tech regents for months (Texas Tribune)

A widely respected former state lawmaker, Robert Duncan, now has another “former” position to his name: As of Sept. 1, he’s officially out as chancellor of the Texas Tech University System.

Duncan abruptly announced on Aug. 13 that he would retire, explaining only that at 65, it was time to “move on and begin to tackle new challenges.” The surprise decision sent reverberations across Tech System campuses and down Austin’s Congress Avenue — and a cloud of confusion has lingered for weeks over his departure.

Former colleagues and Tech supporters, who view Duncan’s ethics as beyond reproach, wondered why he left so suddenly, and whether he had been forced out...

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States loom as a regulatory threat to tech giants (Wall Street Journal)

State attorneys general are emerging as a new regulatory threat to the U.S. companies that dominate the internet. State officials are raising risks for companies such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google as the states begin piecing together a coordinated legal strategy for confronting the firms over alleged antitrust violations and data-privacy abuses, and over what some Republicans say is a suppression of conservative speech. Tensions have been simmering for months, but they surfaced publicly last week when the Justice Department said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would meet with several state attorneys general later this month to discuss a “growing concern” that the companies are hurting competition and “stifling the free exchange of ideas” on their platforms.

The announcement—released amid last week’s congressional hearings into the practices of Facebook and Twitter—shed little light on who was raising the concerns or what remedies might be under consideration. But recent comments by several of the state attorneys general suggest they are actively exploring an antitrust investigation and hope to enlist Washington. “I think the companies are too big, and they need to be broken up,” Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Thursday in a radio interview. Twenty years ago, Microsoft Corp. faced lengthy antitrust litigation brought by about 20 state attorneys general, along with the Justice Department. So far, the current generation of internet giants have largely avoided antitrust enforcement action in the U.S., even as the European Union has imposed multibillion-dollar fines on Google for alleged abuses involving its search function and Android mobile-phone system. And yet, the U.S. regulatory environment is growing considerably less friendly to tech...

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The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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