BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 9, 2019)



Episode 51 - Austin's Land Development Code Revision with Team Lead Annick Beaudet (LINK TO SHOW)


Proposed AISD plans could lead to broad changes in Central Austin public schools (Community Impact)

Ten schools located in Central Austin could close and five high schools located in the area could offer new programs through Austin ISD’s school changes plan.

Director of Community Engagement Celso Beaz told Community Impact Newspaper that some scenario options “address systemic changes to the district as a whole,” while others are campus specific or community based, but “ultimately they all impact the student.”

Scenarios released Sept. 5 show that Brooke, Dawson, Maplewood, Metz, Pease, Pecan Springs, Ridgetop and Sims elementary schools could close along with Sadler Means Young Women’s Academy and Webb primary and middle schools if approved by the board on Nov. 18… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 38: Nicole Conley, Austin ISD CFO, on AISD’s current fiscal position

Parks board to reconsider request to OK parkland for Dove Springs health center (Austin Monitor)

The city’s Parks and Recreation Board will hold a special meeting Tuesday to reconsider a request to use city parkland in Southeast Austin for the site of a new community health center.

The special session is a follow-up to last month’s meeting where concerns over giving up 2.6 acres of Dove Springs District Park, and questions over how much money will be set aside for the future purchase of replacement parkland, caused the board to vote to delay its approval. Staff from the Public Works Department and Austin Health Department said the delay could add months to the delivery schedule for the $12 million facility, which is expected to open in 2023 and has become a priority for leaders in the underserved community.

Since the last meeting, the city has increased the amount of land mitigation funding to $388,000 from the $181,000 figure that drew questions over the methods Parks and Recreation Department staff used to calculate property values in the area… (LINK TO STORY)

Facebook headcount swells as social media giant opens new Austin office (Austin Business Journal)

Facebook Inc. has a lot of room to grow in Austin.

The social media company's newest offices in the Third + Shoal tower downtown have room for more than 1,550 employees.

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) has about 1,200 employees currently in the capital city across multiple offices, said Katherine Shappley, head of the Austin office and vice president of Facebook's North American Global Business Group.

“As you look at Silicon Valley, all companies I think are looking to other prime locations like Austin — center of the country, vibrant community and great talent pool,” she said. “So the company is very invested in continuing the growth here in Austin.”… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and NRA feud over gun background checks (Texas Tribune)

Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Calling his support for the background checks a “political gambit,” the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement that Patrick’s “‘proposals’ would resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration.”

“The NRA remains at the forefront of legitimate efforts to combat crime in our country,” the group wrote. “We encourage Lt. Gov. Patrick to join us in support of the same.”… (LINK TO STORY)

San Antonio gets sued under new 'Save Chick-fil-A' law for booting restaurant from airport (Dallas Morning News)

A group of San Antonio-area residents is suing the city over council members' March decision to ban Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio airport for what one councilman called "a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior."

The lawsuit, filed Thursday and announced Friday in a news release, charges the city with discriminating against the Atlanta-based fast-food chain under the "Save Chick-fil-A" law, which went into effect on Sept. 1. The law allows Texans to sue government entities taking "adverse action" based on donations to religious organizations. Supporters praised the law for protecting religious freedoms, while opponents said it would welcome discrimination against the LGBT community… (LINK TO STORY)

Fewer Americans are moving to Texas. What does that mean for the state’s economy? (San Antonio Express-News)

Texas may be losing one of its biggest bragging rights. While the state’s population is still the biggest, it’s not the same bastion of economic growth it once was. In fact, it’s no longer much different from any other state.

Texas remains one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., but a report published by the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank showed a significant reduction in the number of people moving to Texas since 2015. That’s left employers — who are already having a difficult time finding workers amid historically low unemployment rates — in an even tougher position… (LINK TO STORY)

Texas Democrats plot path to flipping state in 2020 (Texas Tribune)

The Texas Democratic Party is pulling back the curtain on its 2020 strategy ahead of the Houston presidential debate, releasing a plan to flip the state that targets 2.6 million potential Democratic voters who are not registered yet and commits to deploying over 1,000 organizers by the end of the election cycle.

The 10-page proposal, shared first with The Texas Tribune, primarily focuses on dramatically expanding the Democratic vote in Texas while building a massive coordinated campaign. Both are ambitious undertakings for a party that has long been out of power — no Democrat has won statewide since 1994 — but has seen its prospects brighten over the last two election cycles, especially in 2018.

"At the Texas Democratic Party, we know that to win we must build a state party infrastructure larger than anyone has ever seen," the party's deputy executive director, Cliff Walker, says in a statement accompanying the plan. "Change is coming to Texas — a new wave of activists and progressive candidates demand it."… (LINK TO STORY)


Town avoids paying massive $5 million ransom in cyberattack (NPR)

When the city of New Bedford, Mass., was hit by a ransomware attack in July, with hackers demanding $5.3 million in bitcoin to release the city's data, town officials tried an old law enforcement tactic to deal with hostage-takers: open dialogue and stall for time.

New Bedford's computer network was attacked with Ryuk ransomware on the night of July 4, Mayor John Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday. Because the attack occurred over a holiday and most computers were shut off, the malware spread to just 4% of the city's more than 3,500 computers. That was the first lucky break. After IT personnel discovered the attack the next day, city officials contacted the anonymous hacker through an email address provided and were told to pay the ransom — one of the largest-ever known demands for such an attack — in exchange for a decryption key to unlock the city's data… (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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