BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 11, 2019)
NEW -> Episode 56: Catching up with Chris Shorter, Austin Assistant City Manager (LINK TO SHOW)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demands Austin reinstate its ban on public camping (Community Impact)
In a second letter in as many weeks to Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demanded Austin reinstate its ban on public camping as a means to address the city’s growing homelessness challenge.
Last week, in a letter to Adler, Abbott said Austin must show “consequential improvement” in addressing its homelessness situation by Nov. 1. Failure to do so, Abbott said, would result in state intervention. Although some City Council members criticized the governor, Adler said he welcomed a state partnership, as it would help in rapidly addressing the issue.
In his Oct. 10 letter, Abbott repeated his warnings to Adler about protecting the health and safety of Texans and again touched on the growth in human feces, hypodermic needles and garbage on Austin’s streets. Such claims without citation have been challenged by city leaders who blame hyperbole and social media for much of the bedlam surrounding Austin’s homelessness challenges.
Although last week’s letter failed to clarify what “consequential improvement” meant, Abbott’s latest letter provided more specificity. He said Austin’s decision to repeal its public camping bans on June 20 “demonstrably exacerbated” the severity of the city’s homelessness problem. Abbott demanded the reinstatement of the bans and doubled down on his Nov. 1 deadline… (LINK TO STORY)
Austin’s homelessness czar steps down a month after her first day (Austin Monitor)
A month after her first official day on the job, Austin’s homeless strategy officer, Lori Pampilo Harris, is quitting.
In a letter to Austin City Council on Wednesday, Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales said Pampilo Harris is transitioning to a role as a consultant, rather than a full-time employee. In a statement Thursday, Pampilo Harris said the transition will allow her to spend more time with her family and that she looks forward to continuing to work with the city.
“This was not a decision I made lightly and I’ve had previous conversations with my immediate supervisor,” she said. “I’m deeply appreciative of their understanding and willingness to work with me in a way that allows me to meet my family obligations and continue the work we’ve started.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Cities of Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto increase budgets, adjust tax rates to manage growth (Community Impact)
As Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto experience rapid population growth, city staff and local leaders are adjusting budgets to meet resident demands.
Round Rock City Council adopted a fiscal year 2019-20 budget Sept. 12 that is $87.8 million more than last year’s budget, an increase of 24.6%.
“Most of this [increase]is funding police, fire, roads,” Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan said. “This is going back to protecting and benefiting our citizens. I can’t stress that enough.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Patrick Crusius pleads not guilty in Aug. 3 El Paso Walmart mass shooting (NPR)
The 21-year-old white man accused of driving more than 11 hours through Texas to kill Hispanics at an El Paso Walmart in August pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges on Thursday, contradicting a confession he made following the shooting, according to police documents.
In his first public court appearance, Patrick Crusius remained calm, speaking only twice in response to the judge's questions. The hearing lasted for three minutes.
Crusius was indicted last month and charged with capital murder in the Aug. 3 attack that left 22 people dead and injured 26 others. If convicted he could face the death penalty… (LINK TO STORY)
Google, Amazon, Twitter among companies berated for skipping Texas panel on preventing mass shootings (Dallas Morning News)
Texas lawmakers berated several Big Tech companies Thursday for being no-shows at a legislative panel aimed at detecting, assessing and preventing mass violence attacks and online threats.
Lawmakers from the Texas House Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety, which was created after the August mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa, invited Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Google and Facebook to testify about their efforts to prevent the spread of online threats and extremism. Only Facebook sent a representative… (LINK TO STORY)
Analysis: Michael Quinn Sullivan’s torment of Dennis Bonnen could end next week (Texas Tribune)
Maybe Dennis Bonnen’s long summer of bad dreams is coming to an end.
Michael Quinn Sullivan, a political provocateur and a burr in the saddles of establishment Republicans, alleges Bonnen, the speaker of the Texas House, and state Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock offered his organization House floor access during legislative sessions in return for help beating some incumbent Republicans in next year’s primaries. Now, Sullivan says (via an email newsletter to supporters) that he’s finally going to let the public hear his recording of the meeting where that took place.
That might well prove to be bad news for one or more of the three participants. Maybe for all of them. But it will end the innuendo and constant speculation fueled by Sullivan’s drip-drip-drip disclosures over the summer. He’s been playing the recording for select politicians and activists and leaving them to tell others what they heard, relying on his engineered hearsay to sow doubt among state representatives about their speaker’s trustworthiness… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas' $7 billion plan to remake Houston highways once again targets homes, businesses in communities of color (Texas Tribune)
Joseph Lewis is 62, but has no trouble remembering the address where he spent the first years of his life: 1221 East 30th St. But if you head to that Independence Heights neighborhood address today, you won’t find his home.
Only one block of East 30th Street, with a handful of houses, remains before the road dead ends near a Whole Foods. Lewis’ home, as many others in this neighborhood north of downtown, long ago gave way to the 610 Loop and its feeder roads.
“I remember that we didn’t like it as boys, because we were already settled there,” Lewis said.
Before the road opened, they tried to make the most of its growing construction site. That was especially true on Sundays, when Lewis and his brothers wanted to go to the neighboring St. Anne De Beaupre Catholic Church… (LINK TO STORY)
House Democrats Subpoena Energy Secretary Rick Perry (KUT)
House Democrats have subpoenaed Energy Secretary Rick Perry as part of their impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees sent Perry a subpoena Thursday asking him to provide documents related to a Ukrainian state-owned energy company as well as his involvement in a July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The committees set a deadline for Oct. 18.
Trump has said Perry teed up the July 25 call, in which Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, who was employed by a Ukrainian gas company… (LINK TO STORY)
Pete Sessions is “Congressman 1” in indictment of Rudy Giuliani associates, reports say (Texas Tribune)
WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions is an unnamed member of Congress mentioned in an indictment against two business associates of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, according to NBC News.
The two Soviet-born men, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were arrested late Wednesday night at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C, per ABC News. The Wall Street Journal reported that the two men are accused of “violating campaign finance rules, including funneling Russian money into President Trump’s campaign.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Proposed Changes to the 2020 COA Calendar and FY21 Budget Timeline
Changes could be coming to the Austin City Council’s 2020 meeting calendar. Such was the discussion last week at Council’s October 1 work session. City staff’s goal is to have a version prepared for Council vote at their October 17 meeting... (LINK TO STORY)