BG Reads + BG Podcast | News You Need to Know (October 17, 2018)



BG Podcast - Episode 19: Savannah L. Barker Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Capital Factory

Today's BG Podcast features conversation with Savannah L. Barker, Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator at Austin-based Capital Factory. Joining in August 2018, her first major project was the Second Annual Women in Tech Summit (held on October 1).

Among other topics she and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss her role, as well as the need for intentional recruitment and outreach (to persons of color), and collaboration with area businesses and organizations…

Link to Episode 19


Property taxes, Austin Energy top city’s worry list (Austin Monitor)

Once again, the city of Austin, along with other large Texas cities, will face a grueling task as the 2019 legislative session begins in January.

Intergovernmental Relations Officer Brie Franco told City Council during Tuesday’s work session that she and the city’s outside lobbyists would be concentrating on protecting Austin Energy and preventing passage of legislation that would reduce the amount of revenue the city can bring in from property taxes.

After last session’s failure to enact new property tax rollback rates for cities, Gov. Greg Abbott has indicated that he wants to see passage of a 2.5 percent rollback rate for all taxing jurisdictions, including school districts. That cap could only be exceeded for what he termed “public safety and critical infrastructure,” Franco reported, although those terms have not been defined…

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‘Prop A’ could bring unprecedented investment in affordable housing in Austin (Austin Monitor)

Austin voters will decide this November on the fate of seven bond propositions totaling $925 million. Proposition A asks voters to decide on a $250 million bond for affordable housing.

If approved, the proposition would provide money for the city to build, repair and maintain existing affordable housing throughout Austin. Here’s the breakdown of how that money potentially would be spent:

$100 million for land acquisition: The city would use this money to buy and hold land that would ultimately be used to build new affordable housing. The land may be developed by the city’s Austin Housing Finance Corporation, nonprofits or private affordable housing developers.

$94 million for rental housing development assistance projects: This money would go toward a program that improves and maintains existing rental housing, as well as adding new affordable rental units.

$28 million for the Acquisition & Development Homeownership Program: This money would fund a program to help residents who meet certain income requirements find a home they can afford.

$28 million for a home repair program: This money would go toward completing minor home repairs throughout the city for residents who make below a certain income.

The affordable housing bond was championed by Council members Pio Renteria, Delia Garza and Greg Casar as part of what they call the Housing Justice Agenda, a set of policies that support affordable housing. The $250 million proposition is larger than any housing bond Austin voters have approved in the past…

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Austin off the rails? Train supporters blast Capital Metro's new long-term plan (Austin Business Journal)

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials want the transit agency's long-term infrastructure plan, called Project Connect, to foster a community conversation.

They can expect that conversation to include a fair share of skeptics and critics.

A rebranded group of advocates called the Austin Coalition for Transit believes that the current Project Connect plan senselessly neglects light rail in the city's busiest corridors and relies too heavily on technology that could take years to develop…

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We fact check Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke’s second debate (Texas Tribune)

During their second — and perhaps last — U.S. Senate debate, Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, went back and forth on a number of issues Tuesday night in San Antonio, including the economy, the impact of the #MeToo movement and civility in politics. The debate got heated at times, and both candidates slung attacks at one another throughout the night. But how much of what they said was true?…

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How Money Is Making Polling In The Texas Senate Race Less Reliable (KUT)

Texans got two very different snapshots last week of the Senate race between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and his challenger, Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

Earlier in the week, a poll showed Cruz had gained a slightly wider lead in the race. The next day, however, the O’Rourke campaign announced it had raised a record-breaking $38 million in three months – more than three times the money Cruz’s campaign had raised in the same timeframe.

All this money has translated into a lot of ads – and a lot of people knocking on doors. Texans could be getting a lot more visits from people working for the O’Rourke campaign, in particular. That’s because his team has a lot of money to spend and has set its sights on nonvoters…

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Trump sets 'major rally' with Ted Cruz for Houston on Oct. 22 at arena that seats 8,000 (Dallas Morning News)

President Donald Trump will star at a rally in Houston on Oct. 22 to help Sen. Ted Cruz, the president's campaign announced Monday night. The president announced last month that he would hold a "major rally" for Cruz at "the biggest stadium in Texas we can find." That turned out to be the 8,000-seat NRG Arena, which isn't close to the biggest event site even in Houston.

Nearby NRG Stadium, home to the NFL Houston Texans, and tops out at around 80,000 people. The Toyota Center, home to the Houston Rockets basketball franchise, seats 18,000. Those seemed to be the sorts of venues Trump had in mind when he announced that he would come to the rescue of a man he derided as "Lyin' Ted" during the 2016 presidential campaign. "I'm picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find…

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Sullivan: Nate Silver will make one firm prediction about the midterms. Most journalists won’t want to hear it. (Washington Post)

After the roller-coaster ride of 2016’s election night, have journalists and political junkies learned not to let conventional wisdom substitute for hard knowledge? Nate Silver — the closest thing there is to a celebrity in the arcane field of statistical journalism — is not wildly optimistic about that.

“Media understanding about probability, margin of error and uncertainty is very poor,” Silver said Monday afternoon when I stopped by the Manhattan office of his for a pre-election chat. “That led them to be more surprised than they should have been,” he said, based on the quite accurate polling numbers that were available. Silver, who turned 40 this year, was in jeans and sneakers, his hair unruly, as he sat in his office before a whiteboard of incomprehensible — at least to this visitor — phrases and calculations. Now that we’re three weeks away from the midterm elections, Silver is seeing some of the same tendencies in media coverage and social-media chatter that plagued 2016’s coverage…

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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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