BG Reads | News You Need to Know (March 13, 2019)



UT Austin Tennis Coach Accepted Nearly $100,000 In College Admission Scheme, Authorities Say (KUT)

UT Austin men's tennis coach Michael Center has been arrested and charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar college admissions scandal.

Center was paid nearly $100,000 in 2015 to recruit a California student who didn't play tennis, securing his admission to UT, according to a criminal complaint.

The long-time coach will enter a plea of not guilty, his attorney, Dan Cogdell, said. The judge released Center on his own recognizance with a $5,000 cash bond…

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See also:

U.S. Charges Dozens Of Parents, Coaches In Massive College Admissions Scandal

Lessons for Austin abound in cities where crises produced affordable housing (Austin Monitor)

The good news about Austin’s growing housing affordability crisis – if there can be such a thing – is that the city hasn’t suffered a natural disaster or a financial meltdown that would serve as the impetus to build new homes for low-income residents.

But Austin and other growing cities can still learn from New Orleans’ response to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and from Detroit’s movement to add mixed-income housing to the city in the aftermath of a historic bankruptcy filing. In both cases, strong nonprofit organizations that were modeled in many ways like traditional real estate development companies emerged and stepped forward to build partnerships and determine how to add the right mix of housing stock and community services to help residents recover.

The successes and challenges of those organizations – Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and Develop Detroit – were the subject of a March 8 panel at South by Southwest titled “The Collaborative Approach to Affordable Housing.” Those groups have many similarities with Austin-based Foundation Communities, which has 3,500 affordable housing units in Austin and is almost certain to be heavily involved in adding to the city’s affordable stock as City Council goes about deploying the $250 million approved by voters in November for that purpose…

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Chamber expands to add business council focused on Northwest Austin (Community Impact)

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has started a new group called the Northwest Austin Business Council.

The group’s mission is to provide a more tailored chamber experience to chamber member businesses in North and Northwest Austin.

The first meeting of the Northwest Austin Business Council is March 13 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Archer Hotel Austin in Domain Northside, 3121 Palm Way, Austin. Mayor Steve Adler and District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan are guest speakers. Interested attendees can register here.

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Dems pick Milwaukee over Houston for 2020 convention in part because of firefighter dispute (Houston Chronicle)

Houston's bid to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention fell short Monday as the party announced it would hold its quadrennial presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee.

Though Houston officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, had courted the Democratic Party by pitching Texas as a battleground state and Houston as a proven host of large events, Perez chose to hold the convention in Wisconsin, a key state won by President Trump in 2016. Miami was the third finalist city in the running for the convention…

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DPS Director Takes 'Full Responsibility' For Data Errors In Texas Voter Citizenship Review (KUT)

After being rebuked by Gov. Greg Abbott for the state’s botched review of the voter rolls, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety took “full responsibility” Tuesday for providing data to the secretary of state’s office that included thousands of individuals whose citizenship should never have been in question.

Testifying before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Steve McCraw offered a mea culpa for the role his agency played in transmitting flawed data to the secretary of state. That data led state officials to mistakenly challenge the eligibility of almost 25,000 registered voters who had already proved their citizenship status to DPS.

McCraw explained that DPS lacked a “senior-level person in position” at the beginning of the review process, which dates back to last March, to help explain the data to other state officials…

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Space (Force) City? Abbott urges Trump to name Ellington as Space Force HQ (Houston Chronicle)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is urging President Donald Trump to name Houston's Ellington Field as United States Space Command headquarters.

In a letter to the president dates March 4, Abbott argues that Houston is the best spot for the new Space Command headquarters, particularly Ellington Field with its spaceport designation from the Federal Aviation Administration and proximity to NASA's Johnson Space Center. "As you know, Texas has a long and proud history of supporting our military," Abbott said. "We also have the resources, universities, and human capital to support something as important to the Nation's future as the Space Command and Space Force."…

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Property tax proposal piles one more worry on Texas' rural hospital districts (Texas Tribune)

Squeezed by Medicare cuts and a growing number of uninsured patients, rural hospital districts in Texas are worried that the Legislature’s property tax reform package could rock small health care providers or force them to scale back services.

Some hospital executives see the legislation — which aims to slow the rate of property tax revenue growth — as potentially the latest in a series of government-inflicted blows that has left many of the state’s rural providers insolvent or with precarious balance sheets. Since 2010, Texas has led the nation in rural hospital closures — more than a dozen in the last decade — and the state simultaneously has the country’s greatest population of uninsured residents.

“We're the only hospital in the county and have an adjacent county that doesn't even have a hospital. We're critical to providing services to this part of Texas,” said Ted Matthews, chief executive of Eastland Memorial Hospital nearly 100 miles west of Fort Worth. “When you truly get to the rural areas of Texas and you have financial limitations on what we can do out here,” he said, the property tax reform efforts “could very well close some rural hospitals.”…

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Incendiary NRA videos find new critics: NRA leaders (New York Times)

Last September, the National Rifle Association’s famously combative spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, provoked widespread outrage when she took to the gun group’s streaming service to mock ethnic diversity on the popular children’s program “Thomas & Friends,” portraying the show’s talking trains in Ku Klux Klan hoods. Now, growing unease over the site’s inflammatory rhetoric, and whether it has strayed too far from the N.R.A.’s core gun-rights mission, has put its future in doubt.

The site, NRATV, is a central part of the organization’s messaging apparatus. Since its creation in 2016, it has adopted an increasingly apocalyptic, hard-right tone, warning of race wars, describing Barack Obama as a “fresh-faced flower-child president,” calling for a march on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and comparing journalists to rodents. In recent weeks, in a rare airing of internal debate at the N.R.A., two prominent board members expressed concerns about NRATV to The New York Times. Their statements were released through the N.R.A. itself, amid what was described as an internal review of NRATV and its future…

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U.S. Rep. Al Green of Texas will force Trump impeachment vote, defying Nancy Pelosi (Texas Tribune)

A day after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a clear message to her Democratic caucus that she would not support the impeachment of President Donald Trump., U.S. Rep. Al Green responded with a message of his own: Another impeachment vote is coming to the House floor anyway.

At issue is a long-sought-after cause for the Houston Democrat that, for more than a year, has isolated him from the party's leadership, which has advocated for holding off on the issue. Pelosi appeared to cut the debate off even further in an interview with The Washington Post Magazine published online Monday…

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Episode 38: Texas School Finance with Austin ISD CFO Nicole Conley

(Run time - 25:35)

On today’s episode we speak with Nicole Conley, Chief Financial Officer for the Austin Independent School District (AISD). In this role Nicole is responsible for AISD’s $1 billion+ annual operating funds and the over $800 million Bond program.

She and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss AISD’s current fiscal position, the significant state mandated recapture (or Robin Hood) plays, and the what that means for the district. Under this system local tax dollars from property-rich districts, like Austin, are redistributed to property-poor districts. In Fiscal Year 2019, AISD anticipates the district will submit $669.6 million to the state in recapture funds. This amount is expected to increase by $115 million in Fiscal Year 2020…

Link to Episode 38

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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