BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 23, 2019)
Meet Fayez Kazi, Austin’s new chair of Planning Commission, renaissance man (ATX Real Estate News)
Fayez Kazi, the new chair the city of Austin’s Planning Commission, is a fascinating business person — a renaissance man of sorts — who I’ve gotten to know over the past 18 months.
Having served on the commission since July 2015, most recently as vice chair, Kazi was unanimously elected chair at the April 9 meeting. He brings technical acumen, entrepreneurial success and ethnic diversity to the 15-member board.
Kazi will perform an important role as chair — City Council, business people and residents await a new land use code that is desperately needed after a five-year “CodeNext” process faltered and died, as the Statesman reported.
How will Council and new City Manager Spencer Cronk handle the quagmire? Kazi intends to help, not hinder, the process… (LINK TO STORY)
Cap Metro Says This Lot Will House The Electric Bus Facility 'Of The Future' (KUT)
Capital Metro took a step Monday toward electrifying its bus fleet with the announcement of the location of a new bus-charging facility under construction in North Austin.
“This is it!” Cap Metro CEO Randy Clark said as a demolition crew tore down the site’s previous tenant, an old mattress factory. “We’re knocking down an old facility … to build the bus fleet facility of the future.”
Clark said the charging station, which will be able to house 200 electric buses, will be highly automated.
“A bus can pull in, sit in the charge facility, determine when it’s the cheapest or most sustainable to charge, and then leave to go park itself,” he said… (LINK TO STORY)
Scooter fees added more than $750,000 to Austin coffers in past year, documents show (Austin American-Statesman)
For all the grief scooters have brought some Austin residents — in the form of injuries, lawsuits or complaints — the devices helped the city pocket more than $750,000 in the last year, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman.
The money, collected through permit application fees and fines levied on impounded dockless electric scooters and bikes, replenishes the city’s parking enterprise fund, which pays for sidewalk fixes and cleanup, engineering work, downtown initiatives and parking enforcement, Transportation Department officials say.
Most of the money comes from permit application fees, which generated $723,090 between May 17, 2018, and March 29, according to a payment spreadsheet from the city’s Transportation Department.
When a company applies to deploy devices in Austin, it pays $30 for each device, according to the application. The city holds onto that payment while the devices are inspected as part of the approval process, Transportation Department spokeswoman Mary Vo said. When a company is denied an operating permit, it gets its money back, she said… (LINK TO STORY)
Lively Houston mayoral race, longer terms spark early activity in council contests (Houston Chronicle)
Election season has arrived in Houston. More than six months remain until Nov. 5, when voters will cast ballots in the races for mayor, controller and 16 city council seats, but challengers already are taking swings at incumbents and candidates are lining up to replace term-limited office-holders.
Activity on the campaign trail has started earlier than ever, prompted by a pace-setting mayoral race that has seen candidates Tony Buzbee and Bill King repeatedly lambast incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner, saying he has mismanaged the long-running Proposition B firefighter pay parity feud and accusing him of failing to adequately distance City Hall from campaign donors. Turner has denied both charges… (LINK TO STORY)
San Antonio to remain neutral on state's paid sick leave preemption ordinance (Rivard Report)
District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña’s attempt to get the City of San Antonio to signal opposition to State legislation aimed at overruling the City’s paid sick leave ordinance split City Council’s vote on Thursday. His motion failed 6-5.
Advocates for workers and LGBTQIA rights have been lobbying City Council to oppose Senate Bill 15 and other related bills for weeks. If passed, the bill would prohibit cities from requiring private employers to offer paid sick leave. Some say San Antonio’s nondiscrimination law would be largely left intact but that the legislation could threaten several major cities’ ability to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
The City passed its paid sick leave ordinance in August and agreed to a “thoughtful” process to adjust it as needed, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “We should allow that process to continue in the event we still have the authority.”… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas Removes Thousands Of Children From Medicaid Each Month Due To Red Tape, Records Show (KUT)
Katherine Edmundson didn’t know her 7-year-old son was off Medicaid until she took him to the dentist for his annual cleaning in February. An employee at the front desk told her that his coverage was invalid and that her son couldn’t be seen that day.
“At that time, he was already needing to be seen,” said Edmundson, a receptionist at a public school in Edinburg. “I was going to be charged over $100 just for a cleaning and it was time for him to have X-rays done.”
After leaving the dentist with her son's teeth still in need of a cleaning, Edmundson said she went home and immediately started another Medicaid application. She said she doesn't remember receiving any notice from the state's Health and Human Service Commission that her son lost coverage and her income hadn't changed since it was last renewed. Commission spokeswoman Carrie Williams said confidentiality laws prevented her from discussing individual cases… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas labor force tops 14 million as monthly job growth continues (Dallas Morning News)
Texas marked its 107th consecutive month of job gains in March, according to data released Friday by the state's workforce commission. The state added 22,600 jobs in March, up from the 17,700 it added in February. Much of the state's job growth was driven by the private sector in March, though it continues to grow at a slower rate than in the past.
"Our labor force is thriving," said Julian Alvarez, a TWC commissioner who represents labor. He noted that the state's labor force also topped 14 million for the first time. Alvarez, in prepared remarks, credited the state's focus on skills training and career options as partly responsible for drawing more Texans into the work force… (LINK TO STORY)
Buttigieg steals Beto's thunder (The Hill)
Pete Buttigieg’s fast-rising 2020 campaign is cutting into Beto O’Rourke’s viral mojo. O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman who became a media phenomenon when he nearly toppled Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last year, has been eclipsed in recent weeks by Buttigieg, the upstart South Bend, Ind. mayor who has won headline after headline and changed national perceptions about his candidacy.
As white men and two of the youngest candidates in the field, Buttigieg, 39, and O’Rourke, 46, are natural competitors. Both candidates are seeking to convince Democrats that the party needs a generational change as they chase former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are both in their seventies… (LINK TO STORY)
BG Podcast Episode 42: A Startup Conversation with Easy Expunctions CEO Yousef Kassim
On today’s episode we speak with Easy Expunctions CEO and Founder Yousef Kassim.
Easy Expunctions is a San Antonio-based legal technology start up providing background check and expunction/nondisclosure services.
Their legal records search algorithms allow clients to know what (if any) charges they have against them, and what can be expunged.
Additionally, they provide the necessary legal forms and filing instructions directly to the client. The overall process provides a significant savings to the client (in the thousands) as well as empowering people who may not have experience with the court system.
In April 2018 they won Austin-based Capital Factory's $100,000 Startup Challenge. As part of the package, the firm received space at Capital Factory (located in downtown Austin)...