BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 23, 2019)



State court calls city’s convention center ballot language ‘misleading’ (Austin Monitor)

The 3rd Court of Appeals has ruled that the city must make two changes to recently approved ballot language related to an attempt to limit city spending on the Austin Convention Center. In a ruling issued Thursday, the court of appeals for the third district of Texas issued an opinion that City Council omitted a key portion of a proposed ordinance that was the result of a petition drive by the Unconventional Austin political action committee, while also adding misleading language.

Specifically, the opinion found the statement that the city would have to bear the cost of future elections over capital projects on the convention center costing more than $20 million to be misleading. This is because the city could position the question during general elections at little if any additional cost. The court said in part: “the City’s statement is misleading because it suggests that the proposed ordinance necessitates additional election costs and because it does not accurately reflect that it would be the City’s choice to incur additional election costs by setting the issue outside an otherwise-occurring election.”… (LINK TO STORY)

East Riverside mixed-use project will return to Austin City Council in search of zoning changes (Community Impact)

The developer seeking zoning changes for a 97-acre mixed-use project planned at the intersection of East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley Road will have to return to Austin City Council for a third time, after council members voted 6-5 to approve their request on second reading.

Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and Council Members Alison Alter, Greg Casar, Leslie Pool and Kathie Tovo voted against.

Council members expressed appreciation that the developer had heeded their earlier suggestions, but some still feel that the development—called 4700 East Riverside—will exacerbate displacement in an urban core neighborhood that remains relatively affordable.

“It is a large enough tract in an area that has not gentrified yet that this really can be a cause or an accelerator of gentrification,” Council Member Greg Casar said… (LINK TO STORY)

Divided Council puts off Rainey funding decision (Austin Monitor)

Council Member Kathie Tovo tried mightily on Thursday to convince her colleagues to appropriate funding for projects within the Rainey Street Historic District, as Council promised when it passed a resolution to that effect in 2013.

The 2013 resolution directed staff to take money from fees generated within the district and put it into a special fund, in order to pay for relocation of historic houses being displaced by high-rises. The fund would also pay for projects emphasizing the historic nature of Rainey Street as a Latino neighborhood, and help create affordable housing.

But the resolution staff prepared would have created an entirely new fund and that caused pushback, not only from staff who worried that money from the Austin Transportation Department and Public Works might be reallocated, but also from Council… (LINK TO STORY)


State Rep. Dustin Burrows calls for release of secret recording of meeting with Michael Quinn Sullivan (Texas Tribune)

State Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican who was silent for weeks amid allegations that he, along with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, planned to politically target GOP members in 2020, finally went public Thursday — and joined the calls for a secret recording of a controversial meeting to be released.

“I think that the issue will most likely get behind us when the tapes are released,” Burrows told Lubbock radio host Chad Hasty, adding that he wanted the “full, unedited, complete, immediate release of the tapes.”

About a month ago, Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist who heads Empower Texans, alleged that Burrows and Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, had offered Sullivan’s group long-denied House media credentials if its well-funded political action committee went after 10 GOP members in the 2021 primaries. Bonnen left the room, Sullivan alleged, before Burrows listed off the members. Sullivan later revealed he had secretly recorded the meeting and has since allowed a number of Republicans to listen to it privately… (LINK TO STORY)

As Texas Suburbs Diversify, Democrats See An Opportunity For 2020 (KUT)

Looking around the inaugural meeting of the Fort Bend County Young Democrats, there's clear evidence that the face of Texas is changing.

About 60 young adults — almost all minorities — are crammed into a side room of a bubble tea cafe in the Houston suburbs on a steamy August evening. As local and congressional candidates make their pitch to the new group, there are roaring cheers — and a sense of optimism that wasn't here even a decade ago.

Ali Hasanali, a 30-year-old assistant district attorney, has been involved in local politics in his hometown since 2010, and he remembers a much lonelier scenario back then… (LINK TO STORY)

Wind developers, once keen on Mexico, losing heart as energy reforms stall (Houston Chronicle)

Mannti Cummins, a Corpus Christi wind developer, has spent the last 17 years building wind energy projects in the Rio Grande Valley, from Brownsville to Baffin Bay. So, when Mexico deregulated its power markets as part of the nation’s landmark energy reforms six years ago, he saw a golden opportunity. His small company could profit from new laws that encouraged international renewable generators to set up shop, while helping Mexico improve the reliability of its power system and reach its climate change goals.

But four years after striking a deal to develop a 50-megawatt wind plant in Baja California Sur, Cummins has yet to break ground, still waiting for environmental permits and an interconnection contract from the Mexican government. His prospects dimmed further with last year’s election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning populist who has slowed the market reforms enacted under his predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, and created uncertainty for companies that had hoped to get a piece of the country’s huge energy market… (LINK TO STORY)


Joe Biden’s poll numbers mask an enthusiasm challenge (New York Times)

Joseph R. Biden Jr. is coasting in the national polls. Surveys show him ahead of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups against President Trump. He has maintained a lead in Iowa all summer, despite facing months of controversies over his record and his campaign missteps.

But less than two weeks before Labor Day, when presidential campaigns traditionally kick into high gear, there are signs of a disconnect between his relatively rosy poll numbers and excitement for his campaign on the ground here, in the state that begins the presidential nominating process… (LINK TO STORY)


We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:

BG Podcast Episode 46: Austin FC Updates from Club President Andy Loughnane

On today's episode Austin FC President Andy Loughnane sits down for club updates with the Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña and CEO A.J. Bingham.

Andy was named president of the Major League Soccer (MLS) club on January 3, 2019. Most recently he was president of business operations for MLS’ Columbus Crew SC. 

Andy provided Bingham Group with the latest updates on Austin FC, including hiring for front office and coaching staff, groundbreaking, season tickets, and its development academy, among others.

Austin FC will be the 27th team to enter Major League Soccer, and will begin play in Spring 2021… (LINK TO SHOW)

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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