BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 26, 2018)



Austin Officials Aim To Lift Boil-Water Order On Sunday (KUT)

Austin Water officials say they hope to call off the citywide notice to boil water by Sunday.

"We're hopeful that Sunday we can get there, and that's what we're targeting," Ginny Guerrero, Austin Water's public information officer, told KUT.

The boil-water order was issued Monday, along with an urgent call for residents to reduce water usage, after historic flooding in Central Texas overwhelmed the city's water-treatment plants. Drinking water reservoir levels were dropping as demand for water exceeded the plants' ability to process dirty floodwater from Lake Travis…

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Uber launches Jump scooter service in Austin (Austin Business Journal)

Uber Technologies Inc. is entering Austin's scooter fray.

The transportation disruptor announced on Thursday it was launching Jump rental scooters in Austin. The city confirmed Thursday afternoon that 1,000 Jump scooters are now licensed to operate.

Uber already has bikes for rent, also under the Jump brand, scattered across Austin. They arrived over the summer.

Like other so-called "dockless mobility" services, Jump bikes and scooters are unlocked with a smartphone, rented for a few dollars and parked at a rider's destination.

San Francisco-based Uber is now touting its status as the only company to offer both dockless bikes and scooters in Austin.

“Riders have told us they like having multiple transportation options available within a single app to fit their various needs,” Jump General Manager David Brightman said in a statement…

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See also:

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

BG Podcast - Episode 14: Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director, Smart Mobility, Austin Transportation Department

Austin’s homegrown Yeti goes public, trading on NYSE (Austin American-Statesman)

In 2006, brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders walked into McBride’s outdoor specialty store in hopes of landing the first retail account for their rugged, hard-case Yeti coolers. The Seiders, Dripping Springs natives who grew up hunting and fishing, got the idea after becoming frustrated by cheap coolers that broke too easily. But it wasn’t an easy sell to McBride’s.

“I was reluctant to stock them at first because of the price of them,” said Jim McBride, who runs the fishing department at the store in Central Austin, told the American-Statesman in a previous interview. “Through persistence, they got me to put a couple in to try, and they sold within just a couple of days. We reordered a few more, and they were gone within the week.” Twelve years later, what the Seiders started with that small order is now Austin’s newest publicly traded company. Yeti Holdings pushed priced its initial public offering of stock Wednesday night and started trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “YETI.”…

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Ted Cruz leads Beto O’Rourke by 6 in Texas Senate race, UT/TT poll finds(Texas Tribune)

Republican Ted Cruz leads Democrat Beto O’Rourke 51 percent to 45 percent in the Texas race for the U.S. Senate, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Libertarian Neal Dikeman was the choice of 2 percent of likely voters and another 2 percent said they would vote for someone else.

Democratic and Republican voters, as might be expected, lined up strongly behind their respective party’s candidates. But independent voters, a group that often leans to the Republicans in statewide elections, broke for O’Rourke, 51 percent to Cruz’s 39 percent.

“The major Senate candidates were trying to mobilize their partisans, without a lot of attempt to get voters to cross over. And it looks like they’ve done that,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you look for Republican defections to Beto O’Rourke, they’re not there. But the independents break to the Democrat instead of the Republican in that race.”…

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Senate race tops $100 million with latest filings from Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke (Texas Tribune)

More than $100 million has now been raised for the U.S. Senate race in Texas.

Thursday was the deadline for the candidates to report their fundraising numbers for the first 17 days of October, and their figures pushed the total fundraising for the race into nine-figure territory. The Democratic nominee, Beto O'Rourke, raked in $8.5 million — another enormous haul — while Republican incumbent Ted Cruz brought in $5.2 million.

At the end of the previous fundraising period — Sept. 30 — O'Rourke and Cruz had raised a total of $89.9 million, with O'Rourke responsible for roughly two-thirds of that, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. Their latest hauls bring that tally to $103.6 million.

With the latest period, O'Rourke, an El Paso congressman, continued to easily outpace Cruz in the money race. O'Rourke has now outraised Cruz for seven out of eight reporting periods since entering the race in March 2017…

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San Antonio’s Frost Bank plans Houston expansion (San Antonio Express-News)

Frost Bank plans to nearly double its bank-branch presence in the Houston area over the next two years. The largest regional bank based in San Antonio announced Thursday it will open 25 branches and create more than 200 jobs in the Houston region by the end of 2020.

Frost, a subsidiary of Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc., already has 32 branches and about 600 employees in Houston. The expansion represents a nearly 19 percent increase in Frost’s 133-branch network in the state.

Frost is going against the trend of banks closing branches because of too much capacity and more customers banking remotely with cellphones and computers. Even Frost last year closed about 3 percent of its locations, which it deemed old or inefficient. “While many other banks are reducing their presence, Frost is growing,” Cullen/Frost Chairman and CEO Phil Green said.

“We’ve just got more opportunity, I believe, to leverage what we are in Houston, where we’ve been for 40 years or so.”…

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Trump to order 800 Army troops to help secure the border with Mexico (New York Times)

President Trump is preparing to order at least 800 United States Army troops to help secure the southern border, a Defense Department official said on Thursday, intensifying efforts to block immigrants from entering the United States amid an election-season push by the president to stoke fears of what he has called an “onslaught” of migrants.

They will include engineers to help with the construction of tents and fencing, doctors for medical support, and potentially some personnel to operate drones along the border, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment about the deployment before it is finalized. The White House referred questions about the deployment to the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department. But Mr. Trump has made it clear in recent days that he is angry and frustrated about his administration’s inability to gain firmer control of the United States border with Mexico at a time when a large group of Central American migrants has amassed hundreds of miles south and is making its way north…

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New York state sues Exxon Mobil for deceiving investors on climate-regulation risk (Market Watch)

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has filed a lawsuit against energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp., alleging that it misled investors about the true risks to its business posed by climate-change regulations.

The suit comes after a roughly three-year probe and does not charge the company XOM, +0.89% with contributing to climate change as a major emitter of greenhouse gases, or with suppressing climate science, as has been alleged in the past. Instead, the suit alleges that Exxon deceived investors in public presentations on what regulation would mean for its balance sheet, earnings, and the value of oil and gas reserves and other assets. The suit is being brought under the Martin Act, New York’s antifraud law, which is viewed as one of the most severe blue-sky laws in the country.

“This is a very serious allegation of fraud, and the implication is that they have documents to support it,” said lawyer Daniel Riesel, a partner at Sive, Paget & Riesel, which specializes in environmental law…

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Scientists push for a crash program to scrub carbon from the air (New York Times)

With time running out to avoid dangerous global warming, the nation’s leading scientific body on Wednesday urged the federal government to begin a research program focused on developing technologies that can remove vast quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in order to help slow climate change.

The 369-page report, written by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, underscores an important shift. For decades, experts said that nations could prevent large temperature increases mainly by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and moving to cleaner sources like solar, wind and nuclear power. But at this point, nations have delayed so long in cutting their carbon dioxide emissions that even a breakneck shift toward clean energy would most likely not be enough. According to a landmark scientific report issued by the United Nations this month, taking out a big chunk of the carbon dioxide already loaded into the atmosphere may be necessary to avoid significant further warming, even though researchers haven’t yet figured out how to do so economically, or at sufficient scale. And we’ll have to do it fast. To meet the climate goals laid out under the Paris Agreement, humanity may have to start removing around 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year by midcentury, in addition to reducing industrial emissions, said Stephen W. Pacala, a Princeton climate scientist who led the panel…

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Episode 20: Talking Local Control and Paid Sick Leave with State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio)

This week’s BG Podcast features a conversation with State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) on the upcoming Texas legislative session, in particular brewing battles around local control, one being municipal paid sick leave ordinances.

This discussion was recorded on September 24, 2018.


BG Podcast - Episode 10: Policy Discussion Rob Henneke on Paid Sick Leave and Local Control

BG Podcast - Episode 11: Meet James Hines, SVP of Advocacy and In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business

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