BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 18, 2019)



NEW -> Episode 53 - Budget and Policy Talk with Austin Council Member Jimmy Flannigan (LINK TO SHOW)


Council Members Offer Revised Plan That Phases In Restrictions On Camping Or Resting In Public (KUT)

City leaders have a new proposal to regulate behavior related to homelessness ahead of a possible City Council vote that could happen as soon as Wednesday.

The proposal comes after roughly a week of infighting among council members. Kathie Tovo and Ann Kitchen put out one plan last Tuesday, then Greg Casar and Mayor Steve Adler offered their own takes on how to regulate camping or sitting or lying down in public.

Council members Alison Alter and Leslie Pool supported the Kitchen-Tovo plan, while Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza and Natasha Harper-Madison and Pio Renteria sided with Casar and the mayor. Paige Ellis and Jimmy Flannigan didn't expressly support any of the proposals, but suggested more clarity regarding enforcement and said the city should lean on its newly hired homelessness strategy officer to determine how to restrict where people can camp, sit or lie down… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin ISD Will Begin Public Meetings On School Closures Next Week (KUT)

The Austin Independent School District will begin a series of public meetings next week at schools affected by its proposal to close and consolidate 12 campuses across the district.

These are the first meetings AISD is hosting with parents after it proposed dramatic changes throughout the district, including closings, consolidations and program expansions… (LINK TO STORY)

As Austin continues to tackle its land-use and mobility issues, leaders in sister cities share their own experience (Community Impact)

As leaders in Austin work to manage the city’s continued growth and the pressure it places on issues such as housing and mobility, there are lessons to be learned and wisdom to be gained from how other cities have approached their own issues brought on by growth.

With a land-development code rewrite still underway to determine new rules around what is built in Austin and where, questions remain around how Austin will address its need for more housing and more affordable housing. In Minneapolis the City Council in December approved the dissolution of zoning categories that only allow detached single-family homes and began allowing duplexes and triplexes—housing stock typically referred to as “missing middle”—in every neighborhood… (LINK TO STORY)

Travis County commissioners fine-tune FY 2019-20 budget, add Palm School rule and census funding (Community Impact)

Travis County commissioners approved a series of rule updates and expenses to include in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-20, which they are scheduled to approve Sept. 24.

The changes include a rule for how to use proceeds from a future sale or lease of the Palm School and a one-time investment of $200,000 in the 2020 Census effort. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve them at a Sept. 17 meeting… (LINK TO STORY)

City facing challenges in changing sidewalks (Austin Monitor)

When Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health, sent out a memo last Friday explaining improvements the city was making to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, she underlined one sentence: “Please note the sidewalk construction is scheduled to begin Monday, September 16 and is estimated to last two weeks.”

Although the announcement just three days before the start of construction seemed rushed to Eric Goff, a member of the city’s Zoning and Platting Commission and an advocate for the homeless, changes at the ARCH, including the sidewalk changes, have been in the works for several years.

The Austin Public Works Department is managing the project on Seventh Street from Neches Street halfway down the block toward Red River Street and the eastern portion of Neches halfway down the block toward Eighth Street. The cost of the project is approximately $54,000 and comes out of the Austin Public Health budget for this fiscal year… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to Empower Texans' Michael Quinn Sullivan: “You are destroying our party” (Texas Tribune)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist long aligned with the head of the Texas Senate, publicly accused each other of "destroying" the Republican Party on Tuesday — seeming to further a rift that has emerged between the two longtime conservative allies.

The dust-up on Twitter started over gun rights, specifically Patrick's recent support of requiring background checks for private person-to-person gun sales — an idea Sullivan opposes. But the most aggressive sparring came over a recording Sullivan secretly made of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen during a June 12 meeting at the Capitol. Sullivan has said he caught Bonnen and one of the speaker's top allies on tape asking Sullivan to target 10 GOP lawmakers in the 2020 primaries, but Sullivan hasn't made the recording public… (LINK TO STORY)

In Texas, a surprise fight for control of the state House (Wall Street Journal)

A scandal at the heart of the Texas House of Representatives has thrown Republicans in the state into turmoil and led to jitters over whether it could be the straw that breaks the party’s longstanding hold on power here. Democrats, who have been gaining in popularity as demographics in the state shift, need to win nine seats to gain a majority in the Texas House for the first time since 2001.

A pickup of those seats would give them a say in redrawing district lines for the state legislature and U.S. Congress after the 2020 census—potentially realigning the balance of power in the nation’s second most populous state for a decade. Democrats’ hopes of taking back the state House have grown as Republican leadership deals with intraparty fights and fallout over a scandal involving House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. The scandal has some Republicans airing worries that they could lose House seats next year. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a recent radio interview that “2020 is going to be a tough year, politically.”… (LINK TO STORY)


Corey Lewandowski stonewalls House Democrats in impeachment hearing (AXIOS)

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski refused to answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee that involved conversations with President Trump not referenced in the Mueller report, dealing a blow to Democrats hoping for new revelations in what the committee has labeled its first "impeachment hearing."… (LINK TO STORY)


Economic Development: Opportunity Zones

The term “Opportunity Zone” has been buzzing around for a little while but it seems like things could be ramping up. While the tax benefits associated with the program accrue at the federal level, the City of Austin is also exploring how they might be able to leverage City resources to realize greater benefits… (LINK TO STORY)

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