BG Reads | News You Need to Know (November 2, 2018)



Episode 21: Community and Non-Profit Leadership with Jerry Davis, President and CEO, Goodwill Central Texas

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Jerry Davis, President and CEO, Goodwill Central Texas. Jerry and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss his unconventional path to the C-Suite, community and professional leadership.

Goodwill Central Texas has nearly 1,600 employees, making it the 17th largest business in Central Texas. The non-profit serves over 14,000 unique clients every year, whose disability, criminal background, lack of education, or housing situation result in unemployment and poverty.

This discussion was recorded on September 13, 2018.

Link to Episode 21


Dozens walk out of Google’s Austin office in protest, joining coworkers protesting around the nation responding to sexual assault mishandling (Austin American-Statesman)

Following the lead of co-workers around the world, dozens of employees at Google’s corporate office in downtown Austin staged a walkout Thursday in protest of how the company has handled episodes of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Both male and female employees gathered at about 11 a.m. in the lobby of the West Second Street office to share stories of sexual misconduct they had experienced at Google and call for change. Their actions, which followed similar demonstrations in New York, Singapore, Tokyo, London and other cities, were part of a coordinated response to a story published last week in the New York Times that reported the lengths the California-based company went to protect executives accused of sexual misconduct, including Andy Rubin, the creator of the mobile operating system Android. The New York Times reported that Google chose not to make allegations about Rubin and other executives public, and paid Rubin a $90 million exit package. Rubin has denied any misconduct. Organizers of the walkout have called for changes at the company, including for it to end pay and opportunity inequity, to form a clear process for reporting sexual misconduct and to promote the chief diversity officer to answer directly to CEO Sundar Pichai. More than 1,500 Google workers were reported to plan a walkout at almost two dozen of the company’s offices on Thursday, with pictures of employees walking out flooding social media websites such as Twitter and #GoogleWalkout trending. “When we band together, we can’t be silenced,” Jennifer Tollar, a 35-year-old Google employee in Austin, said Thursday. “Senior executives at the top may not feel the pain of woman who have been harassed, but articles hurt the perception of Google and encourage change.” Tollar was one of a handful of employees to share their stories of sexual misconduct in front of those gathered in the lobby. Employees discussed incidents where their allegations were not taken seriously enough and dismissed because of where they stood among the company’s ranks…

Link to story

Camelback PUD project receives final approval from Council (Austin Monitor)

When it comes to approving a highly visible planned unit development on an iconic piece of Austin property, it’s not going to be an easy decision. After all, the devil is in the details.

On Thursday night, after several hours of discussion to parse out the legal language associated with the Camelback PUD and Champion tract 3, the City Council approved both projects. The approval came quickly on the heels of the first reading in October.

Although unusual, the reason for this compressed timeline was that Jonathan Coon, the owner and developer of Camelback, a 145-acre property located just to the north of the Austin 360 bridge, had also put in an offer on the nearby Champion tract. In order for many concessions made for the Camelback tract to be honored, Coon said that it was imperative that he purchase the second tract of land.

“The funds to acquire Champion’s tract are sitting in escrow,” Jeff Howard, Coon’s lawyer on the project reminded Council. The option period for the Champion tract expires Nov. 2, just hours after the final approval vote…

Link to story

Activist investor Icahn sues Dell over IPO plan (Austin American-Statesman)

Activist investor Carl Icahn sued Dell Technologies on Thursday, alleging that the computer maker did not disclose financial information related to its plans to go public by buying back its tracking stock

Icahn, who owns 9.3 percent of Dell, called the proposed deal a “conflicted transaction that benefits the controlling stockholders, at the expense of the DVMT stockholders”…

Link to story

At long last, Council approves biosolids contract (Austin Monitor)

On Thursday, City Council put an end to two and a half years of squabbling over a lucrative contract to manage biosolid waste generated by the city water utility.

Council voted 10-1 to award the contract to Synagro of Texas-CDR Inc., which has been providing the service to the city for years. The contract is for an initial term of five years with five possible one-year extensions, for a total of $19.3 million. Only Council Member Ellen Troxclair voted against.

The process has been delayed due to fierce opposition from Texas Disposal Systems, a competing waste management company whose landfill in Creedmoor has a 40-year contract to receive residential trash collected by city garbage trucks.

TDS initially refused to submit a bid in 2016, arguing that the city’s anti-lobbying ordinance, which prohibits bidders from communicating with city staff while the bid is under consideration, would put TDS in legal jeopardy due to its regular communications with staff about its existing city contracts…

Link to story


Texas legislative races coming down to the wire, will set tone for business issues at the State Capitol (Construction Citizen)

Most of the headlines about this year’s elections in Texas revolve around the highly contentious – and expensive – race for the US Senate pitting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz against Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso. It is without a doubt the marquee race of the season in this state and one to keep an eye on, particularly if the Democrat can close the gap for his party in a state where they finished 21 points behind Republicans in the last midterm election.

Most of the headlines about this year’s elections in Texas revolve around the highly contentious – and expensive – race for the US Senate pitting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz against Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso. It is without a doubt the marquee race of the season in this state and one to keep an eye on, particularly if the Democrat can close the gap for his party in a state where they finished 21 points behind Republicans in the last midterm election. That race, and the overall tone set by President Donald Trump in his campaign rallies and his message to voters that the races up and down the ballot are a referendum on his presidency, may create opportunities for Democrats in contests for the Texas Legislature as well. One thing that’s perhaps unfortunately true is that many voters tend to punish the party that controls the White House even in races for offices that are not federal. Since the Legislature decides many of the policies that business interests, including the construction industry, will have to deal with, it is appropriate to take a look at which races are particularly competitive heading into Tuesday’s election. We have already seen record shattering numbers during the first days of early voting in Texas, but there’s an open question as to whether those numbers will hold through election day…

Link to story

Cruz amplifies Trump’s caravan warnings (Austin American-Statesman)

In the closing days of his closer-than-expected re-election race against U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is depending on fear of the migrant caravan and anxiety about border security to carry him across the finish line against a congressman who lives along a border he considers a strength to be celebrated and not a threat to be militarized. “We’re either going to be defined by our fears and paranoia or be who we are,” O’Rourke said after a rally Thursday in Raymondville in the Rio Grande Valley.

Cruz’s joke was re-enforced by a grim ad launched Wednesday from Texans Are, a pro-Cruz super PAC assailing “Open Borders O’Rourke” as “recklessly radical” — “running for Senate, pushing free health care, even lawyers for illegals, fighting deportation,” and it was stoked by President Donald Trump, who, in a tweeted video Wednesday, and in midafternoon remarks Thursday to reporters, placed the border dead center for the few remaining days of the midterm election that will determine control of Congress. The video ad Trump tweeted featured footage of a leering, unrepentant “illegal immigrant” who “killed our people!” — “Democrats let him into our country ... Democrats let him stay” — and footage of an unspecified throng of people on the march, and brown-skinned men trying to breach a barrier, akin to what Trump described to reporters as multiple caravans replete with tough and menacing people, headed toward the U.S. border. “It’s an invasion,” said Trump, who said Wednesday he would send as many as 15,000 troops to the border. “They should turn back now.” Before Trump, there was no major American politician hewing a harder line on immigration than Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, who said his philosophy of immigration is simple: “Legal, good. Illegal bad.” For a Texas Republican, it seems a fool-proof issue. According to results from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune released this week, 30 percent of Texas Republicans think the president’s approach to immigration is about right, and 57 percent say it doesn’t go far enough. Eighty-one percent of Republicans back the immediate deportation of all immigrants living in the country without legal permission. Cruz played the issue to the hilt in the 2016 contest for the Republican presidential nomination, enabling him to secure the strong support of U.S. Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican who was indispensable to Cruz’s narrow triumph over Trump in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses and led Cruz to name King co-chairman of his national campaign. King is a rare member of Congress who speaks in explicitly racial terms about the perils of immigration bringing an unhealthy diversity to the United States that threatens its white, European cultural heritage. Of late, King has gone further, endorsing a far-right candidate for Toronto mayor who had appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast and meeting in October with members of an Austrian far-right party with Nazis in its political pedigree…

Link to story

With U.S. House GOP majority in the balance, Culberson and Fletcher battle in West Houston (Texas Tribune)

Whether the geography was intentional or not, U.S. Rep. John Culberson marvels at the view from his west Houston campaign office. From the strip mall office where he is waging the fight of his political life, he can gaze at his legislative baby: the Katy Freeway, otherwise known as a busy commuter strip of Interstate 10.

“One of my greatest pride and joys [is that] I get to look at every single day there, the Katy Freeway,” he boasts, pointing to the massive road several hundred yards to the north of his campaign office. “If the district had not elected me, that freeway would not look the way it does. It would not have been done.”

That freeway forms the transportation artery that residents of the district’s most noteworthy neighborhoods and suburbs — Katy, Memorial, Jersey Village, Bellaire and River Oaks — use to commute and shop, and Culberson is betting his political future that voters in Texas' 7th Congressional district will grasp the value of his prized committee assignment that allowed him to bring such projects home…

Link to story


Offering few details, Trump asserts end to "catch and release" and promises tent cities to hold migrants (Texas Tribune)

President Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on his intent to militarize and fortify the border against a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers slowly making their way toward the United States, saying his administration recently did away with "catch and release" for undocumented immigrants and plans to erect tents to hold future border crossers — including their children — until their immigration cases are resolved.

Trump offered no details on how his administration would be able to indefinitely hold families for long periods and still comply with a court settlement known as the Flores agreement that limits how long undocumented minors can be detained by the government. He also didn't provide details on the number or location of the tents but said they're necessary to stop a coming "invasion" of migrants.

"These illegal caravans will not be allowed into the United States and they should turn back now," Trump said. "We're putting up massive cities of tents, the military is helping us incredibly well."…

Link to story

Trump’s 15,000 border troops would top the number stationed in 160 countries (Washington Post)

Troops have begun to deploy to the U.S. border with Mexico to meet a caravan of immigrants making its way north primarily by foot. As of Tuesday, the caravan was about 870 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, a 10-day walk. American armed forces, traveling by plane, will probably arrive well before the caravan

President Trump announced this week, with midterms looming, that the initial deployment would include a little more than 5,000 troops. In a conversation with reporters Wednesday evening, though, he floated a higher number: Maybe 10,000. Maybe even 15,000. In the abstract, that seems like a fairly subtle distinction. If you’re going to send 5,000 troops to await however many of the estimated 4,000 members of the caravan make it to the border, why not just turn that dial up to 11? Trump pledged a “wall of people” barring entry to the United States. Figure that each person is about two feet wide, and 5,000 troops standing shoulder to-shoulder covers only a bit less than two miles. Put 15,000 people down there, and you’ve got a 5.7-mile human wall. Much more effective, at least as a wall. But in the scale of deployment of forces internationally, 15,000 is a big commitment. There are only three countries where there are more than 15,000 active-duty U.S. troops deployed: Japan, Germany and South Korea. Data for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are no longer released biannually, but the most recent Defense Department data released suggests that there would be more troops at the border than serving on active duty in any of those countries. Side note: The United States has a lot of troops positioned around the world. If we count all members of the military, the number Trump has floated putting at the border is now surpassed by Afghanistan (at least as of 2017). Otherwise, it’s more members of the military than are deployed in any other country, including in Europe or the Middle East…

Link to story

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


Twitter #binghamgp 

Instagram #binghamgp