BG Reads | News You Need to Know (October 2, 2019)
NEW -> Episode 55: Exploring Austin's Commercial Tenant Market with JLL's Bre Brown (LINK TO SHOW)
There's A Nearly 20-Year Difference In Life Expectancy Between Parts Of West And East Austin (KUT)
There are vast differences when it comes to life expectancies between neighborhoods in Austin, according to new research from the Episcopal Health Foundation.
Researchers found, for example, that some neighborhoods in western Travis County have life expectancies as high as 88.9 years of age – while some neighborhoods in East Austin have life expectancies as low as 71.5. The median life expectancy in Texas is 77.8 years.
The study compiled six years of mortality and population data for areas across Texas from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What researchers found is that neighborhoods relatively close to each other in one county have very different health outcomes among residents… (LINK TO STORY)
Hey, Austin Voters, Here Are The Propositions On The Ballot This November. (KUT)
There's an election this November. You'll have a slew of state constitutional propositions to decide on, but at the city level you'll have just two.
Here's what they'll do… (LINK TO STORY)
State law leaves the Historic Landmark Commission in gridlock (Austin Monitor)
Getting a property zoned historic when the owner opposes it requires a supermajority vote at City Council. Yet even getting such a case before Council is an endeavor that requires the support of the Historical Landmark and Planning commissions.
Prior to September of this year, that support could come in the form of a simple majority. Now, changes from the state Legislature have made it necessary for either the Planning Commission or the Historic Landmark Commission to have a supermajority vote when recommending that Council considers zoning a home historic against an owner’s wishes.
A supermajority vote is a vote with two-thirds of the voices on a board or commission. This requirement is not variable based on the number of commissioners in attendance; instead, the required number of votes is based on how many commissioners are nominated to sit on the dais… (LINK TO STORY)
With eye on transit decisions, nonprofit wants to amplify marginalized voices (Austin Monitor)
For the second time in a week, a group organized around one of Austin’s key civic issues has made a public bow with the goal of empowering traditionally overlooked communities. People United for Mobility Action, or PUMA, held its public kickoff event Tuesday at the George Washington Carver Museum, announcing plans to hold pop-up community listening events in areas of the city with high populations of working-class residents, ethnic minorities and other groups that have historically not had a large role in the city’s transit decisions.
PUMA’s public launch came six days after the advocacy group Planning Our Communities held a press conference announcing its intention to organize around the city’s land use policies.
Organizers of PUMA, which is legally filed as a nonprofit group, began meeting in January after years of seeing a need for more diversity in public conversations around transportation. That issue is becoming increasingly high-stakes since it is expected voters will decide on a large public-transit bond next year, and state transportation officials appear to be moving ahead with the eventual multibillion-dollar reconfiguration of Interstate 35… (LINK TO STORY)
For Austin police, encrypting radio chatter means weighing transparency vs. safety (Austin American-Statesman)
Austin police are wrestling with the idea of encrypting radio traffic on most, if not all, of the department’s radio channels, potentially by the end of the year. Police leaders say the move is a way of protecting officers and denying criminals the advantage of knowing where police are or when they might be coming.
Some of the department’s specialty channels, like those of the special operations and intelligence units, are already off public airwaves, but police are now looking to expand those protections to a wider array of channels that could include those used by officers on patrol. Each of the nine sectors in which Austin police officers work — Adam, Baker, Charlie, David, Edward, Frank, George, Henry and Ida — gets its own radio channel, and police have carved out several other channels for specific units or tactical operations… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas economic sectors still growing, but more slowly, Dallas Fed says (Austin American-Statesman)
Growth has slipped in some major sectors of the Texas economy from a year ago but remains positive, according to the latest measures of business activity in the state, bucking recent signs of a bigger slowdown nationally as the ongoing U.S.-China trade war saps exports.
The Texas manufacturing production index, a barometer of factory output compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas through a monthly survey of industry executives, came in at to 13.9 in September, down from 17.9 in August and 22.7 in September 2018. Still, the positive reading in the most recent survey indicates a majority of executives who responded said growth is continuing… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas A&M University System To Ban Vaping Across All Its Campuses (KUT)
A ban on vaping will soon extend to "every inch" of the Texas A&M University System, according to a Tuesday memorandum from Chancellor John Sharp that cites recent revelations about how electronic cigarette use or vaping can lead to lung illnesses.
"I do not want to take any unnecessary chances with the health of our students, faculty and staff," wrote Sharp, in a memo sent to the heads of the system's 11 universities and eight state agencies. "This health threat is serious enough that I want to see the ban include every building, outside space, parking lot, garage and laboratory within the Texas A&M System," as well as research facilities and other properties.
Sharp said the ban should be instituted "as soon as is practical" and that it would be "appropriate and responsible to stop selling any e-cigarette products or vaping paraphernalia, if there are any points of sale at any place within our vast system."…(LINK TO STORY)
Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger found guilty of murder in shooting of Botham Jean (Texas Tribune)
A Dallas County jury found former police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder Tuesday morning in the shooting death of 26-year-old Botham Jean in his own apartment. Jurors began hearing testimony in the punishment phase of the trial Tuesday afternoon. Both the Jean and Guyger families will be allowed to testify.
Guyger was off-duty but still in uniform when she shot and killed Jean, an unarmed black man, after she said she mistook his apartment as her own and thought he was a burglar. Guyger, who is white, lived one floor directly below Jean… (LINK TO STORY)
Pete Sessions expected to announce a run for open Bill Flores seat (Texas Tribune)
Former Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions appears poised to make a comeback attempt — but not in his old Dallas-based district.
Sessions, who lost reelection last year, plans to announce Thursday he's running for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, according to McLennan County GOP Chairman Jon R. Ker. The announcement will be at the county party headquarters in Waco, added Ker, who said he spoke with Sessions on Tuesday.
Sessions' anticipated run is a surprise development after he spent months publicly flirting with running for his previous 32nd District seat, which is about 80 miles north of Flores' more Republican 17th District. The initial reaction "has not been positive," Flores told The Texas Tribune late Tuesday… (LINK TO STORY)
Mark Zuckerberg vows to fight Warren plan to break up Big Tech (Financial Times)
Mark Zuckerberg has promised to “go to the mat and fight” Elizabeth Warren over her pledge to break up Facebook and other large technology companies if she becomes president, warning that such a plan would pose an “existential” threat to the company.
Mr Zuckerberg made the remarks in July during an open staff meeting at which the Facebook chief executive spoke candidly about a range of political issues confronting the company. They were recorded by someone attending the meeting and published on Tuesday by The Verge website.
The recordings show the level of unease caused by Ms Warren’s promise to break up Google, Facebook and Amazon if she wins the 2020 presidential election… (LINK TO STORY)