BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 11, 2018)



One month from election, candidates report fundraising figures (Austin Monitor)

District 1

In the seven-person race to succeed retiring Council Member Ora Houston, Vincent Harding is way ahead of the pack, reporting over $25,200 raised, almost exactly the same amount he raised during the previous three-month reporting period. Due to the two periods of hefty fundraising, Harding’s campaign was able to spend $29,661 during the most recent period and still have $29,858 left for the final five weeks of the campaign.

The next biggest haul came from Reedy Spigner, who jumped in the race on Aug. 10, long after most of the other candidates. In the first month and a half of his campaign, Spigner raised $9,167. He only spent $1,962 and had $5,518 on hand at the end.

In third place was Natasha Harper-Madison, who raised $7,489, bringing her total for the year to just under $19,000. In the most recent period she spent $14,878, leaving her with $3,574 on hand…

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Project Connect: Cap Metro insists everything is on the table (Austin Monitor)

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Randy Clarke insists that nothing is set in stone. He has cautioned the community to view the vision document for Project Connect, the long-term plan for high-capacity transit that Capital Metro released last week, as nothing more than the starting point of a lengthy community conversation about how to bring game-changing public transportation to the Austin metropolitan area.

The draft map that Capital Metro released includes seven new routes featuring three distinct modes of transit.

One of the routes is another commuter rail line, similar to the existing Red Line, that would travel from Manor to downtown Austin…

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IndyAustin raises funds to fight Precourt, Adler (Austin Monitor)

IndyAustin’s specific-purpose political action committee reported raising nearly $30,000 in their campaign finance report filed on Tuesday.

IndyAustin recently started gathering signatures for a petition to trigger an election on the city’s deal with Precourt Sports Ventures, which plans to bring a professional soccer team to city-owned property at McKalla place.

The largest contributors to the campaign are Irving Kessler, who gave IndyAustin $20,000, and Joel Hechler, who donated $5,000. Kessler, who lists his occupation as “former investment manager,” has been identified as an investor in the Circuit of the Americas.

David Butts, a political consultant with ties to both Mayor Steve Adler and Precourt, told the Austin Monitor that Hechler is a friend of Circuit of the Americas founder and chairman Bobby Epstein. Hechler lists his occupation as “former investor.” Epstein worked in the financial industry before becoming involved with Circuit of the Americas…

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Ted Cruz leads Beto O'Rourke in new poll by nine points (Texas Tribune)

A new poll released Thursday morning showed Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has stabilized his lead over his Democrat challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso.

Fifty-four percent of Texans backed Cruz, while 45 percent backed O'Rourke in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

As for each candidate's images, 52 percent of Texans surveyed had a favorable view of Cruz, with 44 percent viewing him unfavorably. O'Rourke, however, was slightly under water in how Texans viewed him: 45 percent of respondents had a favorable view of O'Rourke, compared to 47 percent who view him unfavorably…

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Bishops In Texas Say They Will Reveal The Names Of Clergy Accused Of Abuse (KUT)

The Diocese of Austin says it will release the names of clergy who have been accused of molestation.

In a statement this afternoon, Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez announced his diocese's decision to release the names of clergy accused of abuse as far back as 1950. He joined the bishops of the 15 other Texas dioceses in announcing they will identify priests with "credible" accusations by Jan. 31.

"Our hope was, by releasing names, we will contribute to healing and restoring trust," Vásquez told KUT…

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As oil and gas exports surge, West Texas becomes the world’s “extraction colony” (Texas Tribune)

Drilling booms have come and gone in this oil town for nearly a century. But the frenzy gripping it now is different. Overwhelming. Drilling rigs tower over suburban backyards. There’s a housing crunch so severe that rents are up 30 percent in the last year alone. Tax-averse city officials raised fees this spring just to keep basic services afloat.

This boom is engulfing the rest of West Texas, too, extending to areas that drilling hasn’t touched before. As communities welcome the jobs and the new business, they’re struggling with an onslaught of problems that include spikes in traffic accidents and homelessness.

What’s happening is unprecedented. In December, companies in the Permian Basin — an ancient, oil-rich seabed that spans West Texas and southeastern New Mexico — were producing twice as much oil as they had four years earlier, during the last boom. Forecasters expect production to double again by 2023…

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NASA’s Orion launch faces further delays as new problems emerge with rocket development (Houston Chronicle)

The long-awaited launch of Orion — the spacecraft being built by NASA to take Americans back to the moon — likely won't be ready for the planned mid-2020 lift-off because of cost and scheduling problems with the rocket that will send it into space.

The delay, described Wednesday in a report from NASA's Office of Inspector General, is the second setback this week for the space agency, which reported Monday that the Hubble Space Telescope had been temporarily shut down because of a mechanical failure that crippled the groundbreaking observatory. The report concluded that NASA would need to spend an additional $1.2 billion if it wants Orion to launch in June 2020 as planned. The report did not provide a new launch date for the Space Launch System rocket, which has already been delayed multiple times…

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Episode 18: Talking Scooter Share with Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director, Smart Mobility, Austin Transportation

Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham and BG Advisor Andy Cates discuss dark money, funds given to nonprofit organizations, including 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) groups, that can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions.

The issue of dark money is a current topic of interest at Austin’s City Hall, related to the November 6th bond election. In particular, Proposition K.

That measure would require the city of Austin to hire an outside firm to do an “efficiency study” of the city’s operations and finances. The city already has its own internal auditing office and uses outside auditors, as well. This measure calls for a brand-new audit — done by someone the city does not currently work with…

Link to Episode 18

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