BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 27, 2019)



NEW -> Episode 54: Austin Market Perspective with Zach Cannon of The Burt Group (LINK TO SHOW)


Early data suggests progress on city, county workforce development goals (Austin Monitor)

Some early returns on the two-year workforce development plan unveiled by city and county leaders in 2017 suggest progress is being made at improving the earning power of the area’s residents who are living in poverty.

Those findings were among the discussion points Wednesday at the grand opening of the new North Career Center for Workforce Solutions Capital Area, a nonprofit that is leading local efforts to place local workers in steady, middle-class jobs in part to counteract the economic pressures leading to gentrification in sections of Austin’s north and eastern regions.

The data compiled from the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the University of Texas show an 80 percent increase in completion rates for those entering postsecondary job training programs, and a small increase in the rate of trainees securing a new job. The primary goal of the 2017 plan was to help 10,000 area residents escape poverty levels by 2021, with the first full year of analysis showing 517 people meeting that metric.

Tamara Atkinson, CEO of Workforce Solutions, said there has been a decrease in the number of people enrolling in job training programs since the plan was unveiled… (LINK TO STORY)

Mayor Adler Suggests Council Doesn't Need To Revise Its New Homelessness Rules (KUT)

Mayor Steve Adler says the Austin City Council doesn't necessarily need to revise rules passed in June that effectively legalized camping, siting and lying down in public.

The rules, which went into effect July 1, allow camping and resting in public in areas outside private and public parkland, as long as a person isn't completely blocking a sidewalk or isn't a public health or safety hazard.

Last week, City Council was set to add some restrictions on those rules, but opted to hold off, as many members didn't feel comfortable with the timeline and wanted to wait until the city's new homeless strategy officer could weigh in.

Adler said in a post to the city's message board Thursday that the meeting showed there was "a very strong consensus for some level of ordinance clarification and corrective action following from existing laws, and would indicate that the Manager, without any further action by council could" clear up confusion on the part of the public and police… (LINK TO STORY)

Austin incomes rise, yet again, while poverty rate sees surprising uptick (Austin American-Statesman)

More than 39 percent of rental units in the region cost more than a third of the household’s income, a percentage that increased by a statistically significant amount compared with the previous year, according to the latest American Community Survey results released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data continues to show a trend seen in years past in the Austin area: a soldiering economy supported by rising incomes and good job growth but plagued by growing affordability concerns and income inequality.

The poverty rate for the five-county metro area, which includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties, rose for the first time in four years, from 10.4% in 2017 to 11.2% last year. The Census Bureau does not consider the increase statistically significant. However, it’s something Austin demographer Ryan Robinson said is worth noting… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas Republicans defend Trump as impeachment movement continues to roil the U.S. Capitol (Texas Tribune)

During a day of confusion, umbrage and new levels of discord at the U.S. Capitol, Republicans in Texas’ congressional delegation joined their party in closing ranks around President Donald Trump.

GOP lawmakers launched a full-throated offensive on Wednesday to beat back the Democratic push to impeach Trump, as the Congress processed new disclosures about the president’s July phone call with the leader of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. A record of the call released by the White House early Wednesday detailed how Trump implored Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Meanwhile, support for an impeachment inquiry continued to solidify among Democrats from Texas.

“I don’t think asking another country to do an investigation into corruption concerns is objectionable,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in a conference call with reporters. “Obviously, the ‘Biden’ name was mentioned. That’s too narrow a construction of what’s actually going on here.”… (LINK TO STORY)

Mobile home communities thrive as housing costs rise (Houston Chronicle)

The need for affordable housing has fueled demand for mobile homes, according to commercial real estate firm Marcus and Millichap.

In the region encompassing Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Louisiana, vacancy rates in mobile home parks has fallen to 4 percent, down from 24 percent in 2007. In the Houston region, average monthly rent for spots rate in mobile home communities is $393, plus the cost of the trailer. The average rent for an apartment is pegged by HotPads at $1,605… (LINK TO STORY)

Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd says he’s considering running for president in 2024 (Texas Tribune)

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd said Thursday he is considering a run for president in 2024.

The third-term Republican congressman from Helotes is leaving the House at the end of this term, and his retirement announcement sent shockwaves throughout national politics.

In an interview Thursday with The Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, Hurd addressed a slew of issues, including background checks and redistricting.

"If they're still not being addressed in a macro way, if I'm still the only person that's still talking about these things, if I'm put in a position in order to evaluate that, then I will do what I have always done when I've had the opportunity to serve my country," he said when asked if he's considering a run for the presidency. "I will think about it."… (LINK TO STORY)


Whistleblower painstakingly gathered material and almost single-handedly set impeachment in motion (Washington Post)

The whistleblower’s identity remains obscured, the details of his work for the CIA cloaked in secrecy. But the document he delivered reveals almost as much about the investigative mission he carried out in stealth as it does about the alleged abuses of power by the president.

From the moment he learned about President Trump’s attempts to extract political dirt on former vice president Joe Biden from the newly elected leader of Ukraine on July 25, the CIA officer behind the whistleblower report moved swiftly behind the scenes to assemble material from at least a half-dozen highly placed — and equally dismayed — U.S. officials. He wove their accounts with other painstakingly gathered material on everything from the intervention of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship to alleged efforts by American diplomats sent to Kiev and attorneys in the Office of the White House Counsel to contain or suppress the accruing damage… (LINK TO STORY)

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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