BG Reads | News You Need to Know (November 30, 2018)



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Renteria, Almanza show stark differences in D3 runoff forum (Austin Monitor)

A recent forum between District 3 City Council candidates Pio Renteria and Susana Almanza – who are siblings – showed that the runoff election may center on how much one of Austin’s fastest-growing areas should change in the years to come.

In Monday’s forum hosted by Austin’s League of Women Voters and the city of Austin’s Ethics Review Commission, the incumbent, Renteria, returned to the work he’s done to institute policies around housing affordability, transportation and economic empowerment, and said he hopes to make more incremental changes to address homelessness and loss of families in the district…

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City cracks down on Lime scooters (Austin Monitor)

In the same week that Parks and Recreation announced a controversial pilot program allowing electric bikes and scooters on several of the city’s most popular trails, the Austin Transportation Department has temporarily subtracted 1,000 scooters from the number of Lime’s authorized units due to violation of the city’s dockless mobility rules.

In a memo sent to City Council on Thursday, ATD Director Robert Spillar cited a safety issue created by an excess of 624 Lime scooters documented in addition to the 500 scooters permitted in the downtown Austin project coordination zone between Nov. 14 and Nov. 20 as the reason for the penalty.

Spillar said there is currently a sufficient number of scooters to meet demand and that the action should not negatively impact Austin residents.

After Lime failed to respond to warnings from ATD about the violations, the company received a Notice of Fleet Reduction from ATD on Tuesday, Nov. 27, immediately cutting its fleet allowance from 5,000 to 4,000 for a minimum of 30 days. ATD says it may lift the suspension after 30 days if Lime is in good standing with the city…

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See also:

BG Podcast - Episode 18: Talking Scooter Share with Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director, Smart Mobility, Austin Transportation

Manchaca Is (Again) Still Manchaca – For Now (KUT)

A Travis County district judge has paused the city's attempt to change Manchaca Road to Menchaca – again.

Business owners from a group called Leave Manchaca Alone sued to block the Austin City Council's October decision to change the name of the 8-mile South Austin road earlier this month on grounds that the city failed to give public notice and that the name-change would be cost prohibitive for businesses along the road who would have to alter signs and other branding.

Nine business owners and neighbors got a temporary restraining order against the city's attempt to rollout the new signage earlier this month. Judge Dustin Howell's decision today extended that order until Dec. 13…

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Analysis: All Texas politics is national (Texas Tribune)

This time two years ago, America had just elected Donald Trump and Republicans in Texas were preparing for the 85th legislative session with visions of a conservative mandate dancing in their heads.

The 2016 campaigns were loaded with the sort of voter feedback that politicians read as operating instructions, and the result was a red-meat session for the GOP, complete with a tight budget, a stringent sanctuary cities law that included a “show-us-your-papers” provision that many lawmakers say was unneeded, punitive and even racist. There was a fight among the Republicans about a “bathroom bill,” followed by another about how much the state should restrict local governments’ ability to set local property tax rates.

The pre-game routine for this session is quite a bit different…

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GOP lawmaker who fought school vouchers says voters proved his point (Houston Chronicle)

One of the biggest opponents of private school vouchers in the Texas Senate says the Nov. 6 election results show voters agree with him. State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said a key lesson from the midterms for Republicans should be to listen better to the people in their districts.

He reminded the audience at a legislative preview forum in Austin that he was one of only two Republicans to vote against private school voucher legislation in the Texas Senate in 2017, and yet was easily re-elected. “I got 88 percent voter feedback,” Seliger said, referring to his margin of victory — the highest of any Republican elected to the State Senate this year. Seliger in 2017 voted against a school voucher plan that would have allowed public school funding to be used to pay for children to attend private schools, a top priority of Senate Republican leaders in 2017. That vote has not been without consequence for Seliger. Two Republicans opposed him in the primaries, but he defeated both handily in March. In November he easily defeated Libertarian Jack Westbrook. He had no Democratic opposition. Seliger said when he meets new members of the Legislature, he warns them to stay focused on their districts no matter the pressure they may feel around the Texas Capitol. “What I tell them is first and foremost represent your district,” he said. “No matter what you are told by other people here or third-party groups, listen to the people in your districts.” Two Republican incumbents in the Senate lost their re-elections in November, dropping the number of Republicans in the Senate from 21 to 19. They still outnumber Democrats 19 to 12. Seliger said he hopes the election results and the narrowing margin in the Senate will “maybe, just maybe” require more bipartisanship and cooperation overall…

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U.S. Rep. Kay Granger tapped to be top Republican member of powerful Appropriations Committee (Texas Tribune)

An influential group of U.S. House Republicans recommended U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth as the party's next top member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The group, the Republican Steering Committee, is a leadership-aligned council of members who issue recommendations for top committee posts. This guidance is rarely ever overruled in a larger conference vote, but the appropriations fight was contentious.

Granger's appointment will put her in a rarefied league as one of the few Republican women to ever reach such a high position in any of the House's major committees. The appropriations committee is tasked with deciding how the government spends its money. It is one of the two most powerful committees in the House, along with the Ways and Means panel, which is currently chaired by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands.

Brady and John Carter of Round Rock both serve on the GOP steering committee and were strong Granger backers…

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As Trump signs new NAFTA, opposition rises in Washington (Houston Chronicle)

President Donald Trump is set to sign a new North American free trade deal at the G-20 Summit in Argentina Friday following a more than a year of fraught negotiations, but the deal to continue to almost three decades of close trade with Canada and Mexico faces new hurdles — starting with the shifting political dynamic in Washington following the midterm elections.

With both Democrats and Republicans unhappy with aspects of the 1,800-page agreement, and special interests from labor unions to oil companies pressing for changes, the Trump administration has an uncertain path to winning congressional ratification of what is known as the in what is known United State Mexico Canada Agreement. “It’s going to be a heck of a fight,” said Josh Zive, a Washington trade attorney. “This is a difficult issue that does not break cleanly along party lines. It’s a free trade agreement but its less free trade than the existing agreement. There’s so many variables in motion, anyone trying to make a prediction, it’s rank speculation at this point.” Free trade pacts, once an area of bipartisan agreement, have become increasingly difficult to pass in Washington in recent years, amidst rising criticism from the more dogmatic wings of the Republican and Democratic parties, which view the agreements as encouraging companies to move operations overseas and costing American jobs. Trump himself called NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever made.”…

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BG Podcast Episode 24: Tech Talk - 5G and the City

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Bob Digneo, Assistant Vice President - External and Regulatory Affairs, AT&T, on the 5G wireless standard and its potential impact on cities and consumers.

What is 5G?

5G, which stands for "fifth generation," is an upcoming standard for mobile telecommunications service that promises to be significantly faster than today's 4G technology.

Austin connection.

AT&T recently opened what it calls a 5G testing lab in North Austin. The lab, one of several AT&T has throughout the country, is a testing ground for 5G signal transmitters and how they handle certain conditions

Why you should care?

It will allow users to browse the internet, upload or download videos, and use data-intensive apps or features such as virtual reality much more quickly and smoothly than is possible now.

What it means for cities?

"Almost any function that a city performs has the potential of being enhanced and being smarter and better, and more efficient with a better more robust wireless network.” - Bob Digneo

Link to BG Podcast Episode 24

Reference links


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