BG Reads | News You Need to Know (March 21, 2019)



With new hiring, city adds focus to issues of growing senior population (Austin Monitor)

The city’s recent hiring of a program coordinator for issues related to the local senior population, and a community session next week on possible future budget needs for senior services, have elevated the attention paid to one of Austin’s fastest-growing populations.

Last month, Tabitha Taylor, the city’s age-friendly program coordinator, began her role that is housed within the Austin Public Health department. The hiring is part of Austin’s qualification as an international age-friendly city by the World Health Organization.

Taylor’s role will be guided in large part by the city’s Age-Friendly Action Plan, which was adopted by City Council last May. The plan identifies six areas of concentration for Austin’s aging population: outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, social inclusion and employment.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Austin-Round Rock metro area has the country’s second-fastest-growing population of adults over the age of 65. The area ranked first in the growth of those aged 55 to 64…

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JLL to buy HFF in $2B deal, combining two major players in Austin (Austin Business Journal)

Commercial real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. announced March 19 that it will acquire Dallas-based competitor HFF Inc. — bringing together two firms with significant market share in Austin.

Chicago-based JLL (NYSE: JLL) plans to acquire outstanding shares of HFF (NYSE: HFF) in a cash and stock transaction worth about $2 billion, according to the announcement. HFF shareholders will receive $24.63 in cash and 0.1505 JLL shares for each HFF share. JLL plans to fund the purchase through a combination of cash reserves and its existing syndicated credit facility.

The deal is expected to close in to third quarter of this year.

Upon the deal's close, JLL shareholders are expected to own about 87 percent of the combined company, with HFF shareholders owning about 13 percent…

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Chase Tower in downtown Austin to hit market (Austin American-Statesman)

The 21-story Chase Tower in downtown Austin will go on the sales block starting next week.

The building, which has been renovated since the current owners acquired it in 2017, is on a full city block at 221 W. Sixth St. The tower is 90 percent leased, with tenants including WeWork, Facebook and Procore Technologies.

The tower was completed in 1974 and has about 390,000 square feet of space.

“We are hitting the market next week,” said Mike McDonald, vice chairman in Cushman & Wakefield’s Dallas office, which is taking the lead in marketing the building.

McDonald said the building could command a price of $240 million, or about $625 per square foot. At $240 million, the sale price would be $65 million more than the $175 million ($449 per square foot) that Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Lincoln Property Co. paid in early 2017…

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Texas lawmakers eye a record-breaking rainy day fund withdrawal (Texas Tribune)

To pay for the costs of Hurricane Harvey recovery, a massive IOU leftover from the last legislative session and an ambitious agenda this year to invest in public schools and property tax relief, Texas lawmakers are likely to make a record-breaking withdrawal from the state’s savings account.

A pair of proposals in the Texas House would spend a whopping $6.6 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy day fund, from now through 2021. In addition to Hurricane Harvey recovery, the proposals would fund a laundry list of items, including a “13th check” paid to retired teachers with state pensions and a $183 million research incentive program for public universities. Taken together, the House proposals would leave about $8.4 billion in the savings account at the end of the two-year budget cycle, compared with the roughly $11 billion the account holds today…

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Deer Park Terminal Fire Extinguished After Three Days Of Burning (KUT)

A fire that broke out at a petrochemical storage facility over the weekend in the industrial Houston suburb of Deer Park has been extinguished, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday morning.

The fire burned through Tuesday after intensifying Monday night. Despite a tall black plume that billowed over the nation's fourth-largest city for three days, state and local officials emphasized that monitoring data show the air is still safe to breathe…

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A loophole helped McAllen hide how much it paid Enrique Iglesias. The Texas House on Wednesday moved to patch it. (Texas Tribune)

Looking to close a loophole in Texas public records laws that was made infamous by the pop singer Enrique Iglesias, the Texas House on Wednesday gave unanimous preliminary approval to a proposal that would require governmental entities to disclose certain information about concerts and other public events that were funded, at least in part, by taxpayer dollars.

House Bill 81 by state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, aims to prevent headlines like the ones that surfaced in 2015 after the city of McAllen refused to disclose how much it paid Iglesias for a concert appearance at a Christmas parade. At the time, the city argued that publicizing his paycheck would jeopardize future negotiations with performers — and the Texas Attorney General's Office agreed, allowing the city to keep the information secret.

Though it eventually surfaced that the city lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the concert, McAllen residents still don't know how much McAllen paid Iglesias to perform for an hour.

"This bill is about freedom and transparency," Canales said on the floor Wednesday before lawmakers approved an amended HB 81 with no debate…

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Trump Carries On Criticism Of McCain, As A Republican Calls His Words 'Deplorable (KUT)

President Trump continues to pile on criticism of the late Sen. John McCain, complaining on Wednesday during a speech in Ohio that the Arizona senator's family never thanked him for the Vietnam War hero's funeral, which involved large ceremonies in Washington, D.C.

"I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve," Trump told a crowd at an Army tank manufacturing plant in Lima. "I don't care about this. I didn't get [a] thank you. That's okay. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain."

Trump was the only living president not to attend McCain's September 2018 service at the National Cathedral, during which several speakers made not-so-veiled comparisons between the current commander-in-chief and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who had been tortured for over five years after his plane was shot down over Vietnam. McCain's daughter Meghan said during her emotional eulogy that "the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great" — an allusion to the president's campaign slogan…

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Episode 39: Brand Building and Entrepreneurship with Drew Hanish, Principal and Co-Founder, Pravo Construction

(Run time - 15:57)

On today’s episode we speak with Drew Hanish, Principal and Co-Founder of PRAVO Construction, and Austin-based general contracting firm.

Nearly three years old, PRAVO came to our attention through its innovative thinking about its brand. This includes hiring a Head of Brand and Content Creation, as well as its their white papers and employee investment through PRAVO University.

Drew and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss some of the issues and policy concerns relevant to general contractors in Austin, and also delve into defining a firm’s brand and its importance, particularly with relatively new to a market.

The latter portion of their discussion is applicable to entrepreneurs, new businesses, and even established firms looking for market differentiation…

Link to Episode 39


Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham featured on The Lobbyist Show Podcast

Posted on Monday, Episode 39 of THE LOBBYING SHOW featured our CEO, A.J. Bingham. Recorded in November 2018 at a pivotal time for the firm, A.J. discusses his path to lobbying, working at the state and municipal level, and the drive to launch Bingham Group…


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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