BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 16, 2019)
Audit finds ongoing delays, data problems for Development Services Department (Austin Monitor)
The Office of the City Auditor has found that the city’s Development Services Department is still failing to meet on-time and customer satisfaction goals in its permitting process, even after making changes suggested in a 2015 report that found profound problems with local planning and development processes.
The audit also found that Development Services still has issues with its data collection methods for building plans, which made it unable to track review times or identify what parts of the review contribute to delays that have become a frequent complaint in the building and development community. The Zucker report produced 462 recommendations for how to improve customer satisfaction by shortening the review process and addressing portions of the city code that are seen as prolonging the plan reviews most often. The bulk of those recommendations were directed toward Development Services, which was split off from the Planning and Zoning Department in a reorganization that followed the Zucker report… (LINK TO STORY)
Austin ISD Gets B Overall From TEA, Sees Failing Grades At Some Middle And Elementary Schools (KUT)
Report cards are out, and the Austin Independent School District received a preliminary grade of B for the 2018-19 school year from the Texas Education Agency. But the district also received failing grades at elementary and middle schools in the TEA's first-ever evaluation of individual schools… (LINK TO STORY)
100-plus Central Texas companies land on Inc. 5000 for 2019 (Austin Business Journal)
More than 100 companies headquartered in the Austin area were featured on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list released Aug. 14.
Cece's Veggie Co. was the clear frontrunner, clocking in at No. 3 nationally on the magazine's list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America. Cece's, which makes noodles and rice from vegetables such as zucchini and cauliflower, raked in nearly $25 million in revenue in 2018 — up 23,880% from 2015.
Founder Mason Arnold conceived of the company after learning that his children couldn't eat gluten, according to Inc. The company moved into expanded production space in 2017 in far East Austin — at the time, Arnold said Cece's Veggie Co. processed hundreds of pounds of produce a week at the facility… (LINK TO STORY)
Donald Trump is spending more money on Facebook ads in Texas than in any other state (Texas Tribune)
Beginning in June, thousands of voters across the country saw a fundraising plea in the form of a Facebook ad from the president’s official social media page. It described how the “fake news media” would bolster Donald Trump’s reelection bid.
“The Fake News Media broadcasted the 2020 Crazy Dem Debate and showed the American People just how insane the Democratic candidates really are,” it said.
“They’re practically doing our job for us.”
While the rhetoric contained in the ad may not surprise anyone, the people on the receiving end could raise eyebrows. According to Facebook’s ad library, more Texans saw the ad than residents of any other state… (LINK TO STORY)
Allen West launches bid for Texas GOP chair (Texas Tribune)
Allen West, a former congressman from Florida, announced Thursday he is running for Texas GOP chair, challenging current party leader James Dickey for the position.
“I’m jumping back into this fray,” West said in a Facebook live Thursday. “We need to have strong, principled voices — constitutional conservatives.”
Delegates are scheduled to elect the next state party chair at the Texas GOP convention in May 2020.
In July, West told supporters he was exploring a run for the position. Afterward, Dickey, who has served as chair since 2017, said he was running for reelection — and stressed the importance of party unity ahead of a competitive election cycle… (LINK TO STORY)
O’Rourke returning to presidential race, but not the traditional one (Houston Chronicle)
Beto O’Rourke is returning to the campaign trail, but you won’t find him in Iowa with the rest of the Democratic pack. Moved by the shooting at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso to “take the fight directly to the source of this problem,” O’Rourke said Thursday he will instead be heading to the places where he says President Donald Trump has been “terrorizing and terrifying our fellow Americans.”
“Anyone this president puts down, we are going to do our best to lift up,” O’Rourke said during a speech in El Paso on Thursday. The address was meant to jumpstart his campaign after he spent 11 days after the shooting in his hometown, which has redefined the message of his campaign — along with that of Julián Castro, the other Texan in the race, who has also more aggressively gone after Trump after the shooting… (LINK TO STORY)
San Antonio’s Julián Castro aims at the rich with ‘wealth inequality tax’ (San Antonio Express-News)
Julian Castro offered an economic plan Thursday in his pursuit of the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, proposing to end the GOP-drawn income tax system passed in 2017 and restore an inherited wealth tax that strikes at the concentration of economic and political power held by the richest Americans.
Castro’s left-leaning set of policy proposals includes a “wealth inequality tax” on the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. His plan hikes capital gains taxes, reduces taxes on low-income and middle-income families via tax credits and raises the minimum wage to $15 — a plan currently stalled in the Senate. The economic package also calls for federal grants to states and local entities ensuring that families would pay no more than 7 percent of their income for child care… (LINK TO STORY)
Trump says 'you have no choice but to vote for me' at New Hampshire rally (The Hill)
President Trump said at a campaign rally on Thursday Americans "have no choice" but to vote for him, warning that "everything" would be "down the tubes" if he does not win reelection in 2020.said at a campaign rally on Thursday Americans "have no choice" but to vote for him, warning that "everything" would be "down the tubes" if he does not win reelection in 2020.
The president made the statement while hailing the economy's performance during his tenure in the White House, claiming that the U.S. had the best economy in the world right now. He later predicted that the markets would crash if he were to lose the 2020 election to the Democratic presidential nominee… (LINK TO STORY)
Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham appointed to Rosewood Community Development Corporation (LINK TO POST)
On Thursday Austin City Council approved the appointment six new members to the Austin Rosewood Community Development Corporation including CEO and Founder A.J. Bingham. A.J. was nominated by District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison for this position.
The Corporation is charged with overseeing the operation of Millennium Youth Entertainment Center (MYEC), a 55,000 sq. ft. entertainment facility located in East Austin. MYEC’s mission is to provide a safe, secure, and comfortable environment (free from drugs, gangs, crime, and violence) where families can enjoy a wide range of affordable, high quality recreational and entertainment activities and attractions… (LINK TO POST)
We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:
BG Podcast Episode 13: Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, Ed.D., President/CEO at Huston-Tillotson University, on Community Engagement in East Austin
Today's podcast was originally recorded on August 27, 2018 and features a discussion Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, Ed.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Huston-Tillotson University (HT), a private historically black university located in Austin’s East Side.
The East Side is one of the most active areas for commercial and residential development in Austin. Our conversation covers Dr. Burnette’s vision for how HT (which owns several blocks) will navigate the wave, as well as connections to the Austin community overall… (LINK TO SHOW)