BG Reads | News You Need to Know (August 28, 2019)



$2.8M earmarked for land use rewrite (Austin Monitor)

The rewrite of the city’s Land Development Code is expected to account for approximately $2.8 million in the next budget, all of it coming from funds put on hold when City Council canceled the process known as CodeNEXT last year.

Consultants connected to the Opticos firm that led the canceled effort – specifically Peter J. Park City Planning and Design Consulting, ECONorthwest and Cascadia Partners LLC – are under contract to help complete the new code that is expected to be adopted early next year.

A budget question from Council Member Kathie Tovo and the response from staff show the clerk’s office was expected to spend $120,000 to update and rewrite criteria manuals, though that figure is expected to be lower since staff members told the Austin Monitor that budgeted copyediting work will be completed internally rather than with outside contractors… (LINK TO STORY)

No, not that Austin: Minnesota councilman says angry residents are sending ‘blistering emails’ to the wrong guy (Austin American-Statesman)

Austin residents are so eager to share their thoughts on local issues that it seems a few have neglected to check just which state the councilman they’re directing said thoughts to works in. Jason Baskin, a city councilman in Austin, Minnesota, tweeted about “blistering emails” received by Austin, Texas residents Tuesday:

"The group of angry Austin, TEXAS residents who keep sending me blistering emails are going to be really disappointed when they find out I’m actually on the City Council in Austin, MINNESOTA"… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin company helped Popeyes fried chicken sandwich go viral (Austin American-Statesman)

One tweet is all it took to launch one of the biggest marketing coups of the year, and Austin had a hand in the viral success. Advertising powerhouse GSD&M is the agency of record in North America for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and oversees the chain’ social media strategies, so a great fried chicken sandwich battle that raged on Twitter last week actually took flight in Austin.

For those who were not logged onto the internet the past few days, a brief recap. Popeyes posted a fairly innocuous tweet Aug. 12, letting customers know about its new offering. Then the battle got going. Chick-fil-A must have had their feathers ruffled by the new sandwich on the block, because a week after the tweet went out from Popeyes, the leader of the fast-food fried chicken sandwich world clapped back with a subtweet, or a way of calling someone out on Twitter without actually mentioning their name… (LINK TO STORY)

Central Health presents 2020 draft budget with substantial structural changes (Austin Monitor)

Central Health, the Travis County health care district that provides medical care to indigent residents, unveiled its preliminary 2020 budget on Monday evening at a community discussion held at its headquarters in East Austin.

This year’s budget incorporates a 6.9 percent tax increase over Fiscal Year 2019, estimated to cost the average property owner an additional $23 per year. Additionally, Central Health has expanded its health care delivery budget by 12.4 percent for FY 2020 in response to growing demand for services from low-income residents. Of the five Travis County entities that levy property taxes, Central Health constitutes the smallest piece of a consumer’s tax bill, accounting for 4.3 percent of total property tax to be paid in FY 2020, the same as FY 2019… (LINK TO STORY)


Dennis Bonnen's Allies Call For Release Of Secret Meeting Tape (KUT)

The scandal involving House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and a secretly recorded conversation with conservative blogger and activist Michael Quinn Sullivan continues to roil the statehouse.

On Aug. 12, a House committee voted unanimously to ask the Texas Rangers to investigate reports of a closed-door meeting between Bonnen, Republican Caucus Chair Dustin Burrows and Sullivan. Sullivan alleges Bonnen offered his organization media credentials in exchange for his targeting of certain Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives.

On Monday, several Republican Caucus leaders publicly called for the release of a tape of the meeting that Sullivan says exists. The tape has not been released publicly. (LINK TO STORY)

Amid Bay Area exodus, high-growth companies are courted by Texas, Idaho, others (Austin Business Journal)

There was a time when the Bay Area felt it had a lock on tech talent. There was the impression that fast-growing companies moving out of the region risked missing out on the best and brightest. But no more.

Now some of the Bay Area’s most promising companies are finding themselves heavily courted by cities and states eager to lure the high-paying jobs and growth aura that these companies can bring with them.

And it’s not just Uber, (NYSE: UBER) which won almost $36 million in incentives this week to build a major hub in Dallas, where it expects to hire as many as 3,000 people. The huge incentive package spurred speculation that the company could one day move its headquarters to the Texas city, which Uber denied.

The Bay Area’s smaller high-growth companies are also on economic-recruiting radar screens, hearing pitches on why various cities and states are the perfect place for a company’s expansion — or even the headquarters.

“Texas is definitely the most aggressive,” said Thomas Sponholtz, CEO of Unison, which at first glance might not be seen as much of an economic catch. The company has just 200 employees at its headquarters in San Francisco’s Financial District, where it’s adding another floor to accommodate growth. Unison, which pioneered the business of buying stakes in homeowners’ equity, grew its investments 300 percent last year… (LINK TO STORY)

Dallas mayor secures new job as partner at major law firm Locke Lord (Dallas Morning News)

Eric Johnson is Dallas' newly elected mayor and, officially as of Monday, a partner at one of the largest law firms in the city he leads. Locke Lord on Monday announced Johnson as a new partner at its Dallas office. The firm's deputy managing partner Whit Roberts said Johnson's background in public finance will make him "invaluable" to the firm.

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News on Monday afternoon, Roberts said Johnson will work as a bond lawyer and have his own office at its location at the Chase Tower on Ross Avenue, one mile from City Hall. Locke Lord declined to say what his salary or work hours will be. In Locke Lord's press release, Johnson said his mayoral duties "will always come first," but that he wants to continue to practice law. He will abide by the city's ethics code, he said, and consulted the city attorney's office before taking the job… (LINK TO STORY)


Trump blames Fed for manufacturing slowdown (The Hill)

President Trump on Tuesday blamed the Federal Reserve for a recent slowdown in manufacturing, a key sector he promised to revive as a candidate. "The Federal Reserve loves watching our manufacturers struggle with their exports to the benefit of other parts of the world," he tweeted. "Our Fed has been calling it wrong for too long!" The manufacturing sector's output has shrunk for two consecutive quarters, meeting the widely accepted definition of a recession. It has been among the hardest-hit sectors from Trump's escalating trade war with China… (LINK TO STORY)


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

Episode 36: Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P., Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department, on Austin Strategic Mobility Plan

“A good land use plan is also a good transportation plan, and so they have to work hand in hand.” - Annick Beaudet

On today’s episode we speak with Annick Beaudet, A.I.C.P. - Assistant Director at the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) over Transportation Engineering, Transportation Systms Development Division, Special Events and the Active Transportation Division.

Annick and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP), Austin’s new city-wide transportation plan... (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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