BG Reads | News You Need to Know (November 27, 2018)



We're are happy to announce the newest addition to our BG Advisors, Joel Lang!

Joel comes to Bingham Group with deep experience in public sector business development. With a particular focus on technology, he has crafted and executed strategies for companies to sell millions of dollars to state and federal government agencies.

BG Advisors is The Bingham Group's outside consultant program. These experienced individuals enhance our core practice areas with curated technical and policy expertise, as well as community and governmental reach.


10 in running for Austin assistant city manager hires (Austin American-Statesman)

The new Austin executive team roles will oversee particular categories of city goals. The first two hires will oversee economic opportunity/affordability and health/environment/culture. The mix of 10 includes finalists from around the country and three internal candidates, including both interim assistant city managers. See details on the group below.

The Economic Opportunity and Affordability assistant city manager finalists are:

• Joe Pantalion, Austin interim assistant city manager and former director of the Watershed Protection Department;

• Rodney Gonzales, Austin Development Services Department director;

•  Theresa O'Donnell, head of Dallas' Neighborhood Plus and Resilient Dallas plans and former Dallas planning director;

• Sylvia Carrillo-Trevino, Corpus Christi assistant city manager; and

• Paul Jardin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership in Wisconsin.

The Health & Environment and Culture & Lifelong Learning assistant city manager finalists are:
• Sara Hensley, Austin interim assistant city manager and former director of the Parks and Recreation Department;

• Daniel Betts, director of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission;

• Noelia Rodriguez, former managing director of communications for the Port of Long Beach and former White House Press Secretary for First Lady Laura Bush;

• Chris Shorter, director of the Washington D.C. Department of Public Works; and

• Siobhan Reardon, president of the Free Library of Philadelphia;

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Austin, TravCo leaders brace for state laws targeting revenue, local control (Austin Monitor)

Austin leaders have started gaming out the budget cuts and possible staffing and service reductions that would come from possible state caps on property tax increases.

At last week’s meeting of the Austin Regional Affordability Committee, city staff briefed a consortium of city, county and education officials on what to expect from the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature, including a proposed plan from Gov. Greg Abbott that could cap yearly property tax increases at 2.5 percent for all taxing entities, with some rare exceptions for public safety and critical infrastructure needs.

While the exact impacts of such a tight revenue cap haven’t been calculated, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo told committee members that a 4 percent cap proposed in the 2017 Legislature would have resulted in a $45 million decrease in city revenue. That’s equivalent to 480 police officer positions or 90 percent of the city’s annual library budget, with annual increases calculated at 3.3 percent.

“Our base cost drivers … just the cost of doing business as normal, wages go up, cost of labor goes up, health insurance cost goes up, workers’ comp cost goes up, just the cost of doing business as normal generally grows about 4 percent per year,” he said. “Then if you want to do new policy initiatives it’s on top of that, but just your basic cost drivers are about 4 percent per year.”

Brie Franco, intergovernmental relations officer for the city, said the property tax caps are one of the most significant legislative priorities focused on local control measures. She said the start of early bill filing this month suggests the Legislature could surpass the more than 2,500 local-focused bills filed in 2017, which exceeded the 1,900 local bills filed in the 2015 session…

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See also:

BG Podcast - Episode 2: The sharing economy, local control, and state preemption with Rob Henneke

BG Podcast - Episode 10: Policy Discussion Rob Henneke on Paid Sick Leave and Local Control

BG Podcast - Episode 11: Meet James Hines, SVP of Advocacy and In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business

BG Podcast - Episode 20: Talking Local Control and Paid Sick Leave with State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio)

People Living On The Streets Can Now Clean Up Austin's Parks For An Hourly Wage (KUT)

People experiencing homelessness can now work for the City of Austin.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department, along with the Austin Public Health Department, The Other Ones Foundation and Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair highlighted the pilot program Monday in South Austin.

Joe Pacheco, 51, who's been living on the streets, is currently working for the program. At Mabel Davis Park Monday, he picked up pieces of plastic and paper strewn about the park.

Pacheco said he makes $15 cleaning up local parks as part of the City of Austin program. Since Oct. 15, a local nonprofit has hired 49 people experiencing homelessness to work for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“They’re helping us clean up our parks or remove graffiti and really beautifying our city,” said Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who brought the idea to the full council in 2017. “And in return, they receive cash payment.”…

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'The whole world is looking' at Dallas as grand jury hears evidence in Botham Jean case (Dallas Morning News)

A Dallas County grand jury heard evidence Monday against a Dallas police officer who shot and killed a 26-year accountant in his own home while he was watching a football game, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case.

The jurors will hear more evidence when they reconvene Wednesday, the official said. The jurors can vote to indict ex-officer Amber Guyger on a charge of manslaughter, murder or another charge in the shooting death of Botham Jean. They can also decide that Guyger should face no charges. Attorneys for the the family of Jean, who was shot Sept. 6 by the former officer, confirmed that grand jury proceedings were underway Monday. Guyger, 30, was arrested on a manslaughter charge Sept. 9, three days after killing Jean. She told authorities that she mistook his apartment for hers and thought he was a burglar. Jean's slaying set off protests for weeks in Dallas. Rallies and vigils were held around the country and in St. Lucia, where Jean is from. Guyger is white and Jean was black. A spokeswoman for the Dallas County District Attorney's office, Kimberlee Leach, declined to comment about whether the grand jury was hearing the case Monday. "The case is ready for a grand jury," she said. In Texas, manslaughter is considered a reckless act. If Guyger intended to shoot Jean, even if she wrongly thought he was a burglar, murder is the more appropriate charge, Dallas defense attorneys have said. Grand juries typically hear evidence about whether to indict in a particular case for one day, but on rare occasions, that process can stretch longer. Guyger shot and killed Jean Sept. 6 after she finished her shift. She was off-duty but still in uniform, and said the door to Jean's apartment was unlocked and ajar. His family disputes that and says Jean wouldn't have left his door open…

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Beto O'Rourke no longer ruling out 2020 presidential run (Texas Tribune)

Beto O'Rourke, coming off a closer-than-expected race against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is no longer ruling out a 2020 presidential run.

During his Senate campaign, the El Paso congressman declared he would "not be a candidate for president in 2020" regardless of the outcome. But on Monday, O'Rourke kept the door open to a White House bid during a town hall in El Paso and admitted his resistance to higher office was no longer as unequivocal.

During the town hall, an audience member asked O'Rourke if he was running in 2020. In response, O'Rourke said he is currently focused on spending time with his family and finishing his term in the House, which ends Jan. 3. "And then," O'Rourke added, "Amy and I will think about what we can do next to contribute to the best of our ability to this community."…

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Trump defends use of tear gas against migrants, including children, as Beto O'Rourke and others condemn tactic (Dallas Morning News)

Rep. Beto O'Rourke and other Texas Democrats erupted in outrage after U.S. Border Patrol used tear gas on Sunday to repel migrants seeking asylum near San Diego, appalled by the images of children and young mothers fleeing the clouds.

"It should tell us something about her home country that a mother is willing to travel 2,000 miles with her 4-month old son to come here," the El Paso Democrat posted online. "Should tell us something about our country that we only respond to this desperate need once she is at our border. So far, in this administration, that response has included taking kids from their parents, locking them up in cages, and now tear gassing them at the border." The clash Sunday came at the San Ysidro crossing from Tijuana, one of the world's busiest international bridges. The Trump administration has refused to allow migrants seeking asylum into the United States, although U.S. law provides that opportunity and Trump's critics say he lacks the authority to disregard that law. "They had to use [tear gas] because they were being rushed by some very tough people. Here's the bottom line: Nobody's coming into our country unless they come in legally," President Donald Trump said Monday afternoon at the White House as he headed to Mississippi. Trump has deployed nearly 6,000 U.S. military personnel to the border. They have been used to install concertina wire and provide transportation and other support, but Trump has also said that he would authorize troops to use deadly force to defend law enforcement if rocks are thrown at them. "I am very concerned. I do have faith in the military that they know their role. I don't have faith in this administration that wants to push them and prod them into actions that would be unsafe for everyone," Veronica Escobar, elected to succeed O'Rourke in Congress, said by phone on Monday. The former El Paso County judge, a Democrat, noted that the Trump administration spent months warning migrants that asylum requests would only be reviewed if they arrive at a port of entry. But once there, they've been turned away. "It is a crisis that has been manufactured by this administration," Escobar said. "I'm not excusing the way that they stormed the port," she said, but "shooting tear gas at toddlers and mothers and people who are in their most desperate moments is reprehensible."…

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Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, violated his plea deal by lying to investigators, Robert Mueller says (New York Times)

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, repeatedly lied to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement he signed two months ago, the special counsel’s office said in a court filing late on Monday.

Mr. Manafort’s “crimes and lies” during a series of interviews with prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and the F.B.I. relieve them of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement reached in mid-September, investigators wrote in the filing. Defense lawyers disagreed. Mr. Manafort has been truthful with the special counsel’s office and has abided by the agreement, they argued in the same status report to Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Given the impasse between the two sides, Mr. Manafort asked that Judge Jackson set a sentencing date. The dramatic development in the 11th hour of Mr. Manafort’s case means, at a minimum, that prosecutors will not ask for a lighter punishment in return for his cooperation. They could also conceivably seek to refile bank fraud charges that they agreed to dismiss as part of the plea agreement. The prosecutors did not describe what Mr. Manafort lied about, promising to file a sentencing memo that sets forth “the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies.” A jury in Northern Virginia convicted Mr. Manafort, 69, of eight counts of financial fraud in August stemming from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. Faced with a second trial in the District of Columbia on related charges in September, he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts and to an open-ended arrangement requiring him to answer “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” of interest to the government…

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