BG Reads | News You Need to Know (December 11, 2018)



Waller Creek taxes ID’d to possibly fund $30M in housing for homeless (Austin Monitor)

City staff members have recommended that City Council consider using funds from the tax increment refinancing zone (TIRZ) created for the Waller Creek improvement project and system of parks as the biggest funding source for providing housing and services for the growing homeless population downtown.

In a memo issued last week, Interim Assistant City Manager Sara Hensley lays out a scenario in which City Council could opt to issue around $30 million in bond debt related to the Waller Creek TIRZ to pay for some combination of transitional and permanent supportive housing, respite care centers, emergency shelter space, and navigation centers to help the homeless.

That money for capital expenses would be in addition to what the city spends annually on contracts with a variety of social services contractors to address homelessness issues, most of which are related to the growing population outside downtown’s Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.
The city’s 2018-19 budget includes $26 million in homelessness funding, plus an additional $2.5 million that was allocated to pay for a variety of short-term programs to address health and other issues at the ARCH…

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At Threadgill’s auction, a wealth in art and memories (Austin American-Statesman)

The Armadillo World Headquarters has been closed for almost four decades, but on Saturday, Eddie Wilson saw the audience seated shoulder to shoulder again, waiting eagerly for Freddie King and Commander Cody and Doug Sahm and many more to be announced onstage.

This time, though, the crowds came for the memories, not the music. In the nearly 38 years the Armadillo has been gone, a lot has changed. Threadgill’s World Headquarters — the demise of which spurred Saturday’s auction — arrived 22 years ago and left just last weekend. Now cleared of tables and vegetables, hundreds of bidders packed the former restaurant’s main dining room to clear the walls as well. Alas, prices have changed a lot, too. Posters that could have been pulled from walls back in the days of the Armadillo sold in for $300 (B.W. Stevenson), $500 (Frank Zappa), $800 (New Riders of the Purple Sage) and much more ($2,200 for a large March concert calendar for the Armadillo). Wilson — who was founder of the Armadillo in 1970 and who is known these days as the man behind Threadgill’s restaurant — spoke to the audience before the auction began, at times letting the emotion of the day bubble to the top…

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Home Builders Association CEO stepping down to join another trade group in town (Austin Business Journal)

The head honcho at the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin is leaving to lead another group that plays a big role in discussions around affordability and housing.

Emily Blair is stepping down as CEO of the HBA, effective Dec. 28, to become to become the executive director of the Austin Apartment Association. She starts her new job Jan. 7.

Lee Whitaker, the Home Builders Association's board president, informed members of Blair's departure in a Nov. 29 message provided to Austin Business Journal.

"Emily is leaving the HBA better than she found it," Whitaker wrote. "Under her leadership, new programs have been launched, existing programs have expanded, membership has grown [and] cash assets have increased."

"She was instrumental in building and adding incredible staff," he added. "Emily’s leadership and steady hand will be missed."…

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Powerful Dallas business leaders will no longer endorse candidates for mayor, City Council elections (Dallas Morning News)

Dallas' business elite may not have a unified voice in next spring's mayoral and council elections. Leaders of the Dallas Citizens Council, a group of powerful business executives, will not endorse candidates in local elections for the first time in decades.

The decision means the group will no longer direct members to pour money into Dallas mayoral and council races, particularly in neighborhoods where they don't live. "We're not going to be in the endorsement business," said Jere Thompson Jr., chairman of the Citizens Council and CEO of Ambit Energy. He said the group's opposition to candidates who then became Dallas City Council members stifled its ability to advance an ambitious agenda. "When you alienate people sitting around the horseshoe, it makes our role in making Dallas a better place to live, work and play very challenging," he said. The 81-year-old Citizens Council has been involved in massive infrastructure projects like Central Expressway, the desegregation of schools, the arts community and the construction of arenas and D/FW Airport. Such goals require support from elected officials, and board members believed backing like-minded candidates would help their efforts. But in recent years, many of the candidates they backed, including some incumbents, lost their races. "Dallas is changing," Thompson said of the experience…

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Texas parks department, advocates pushing Congress to reauthorize key conservation fund (Texas Tribune)

With Congress set to adjourn next week, parks advocates are pushing for lawmakers to revive a half-century-old program that has pumped more than a half-billion dollars into Texas' parks and natural areas.

Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expire on Sept. 30. The fund — established in 1964 to support the maintenance of national parks, wildlife refuges and trails, as well as state and local parks — has supplied Texas with more than $577 million.

Popular destinations like San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, Devils River State Natural Area, Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabine National Forest have all benefited…

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Supreme Court Ducks Effort To Defund Planned Parenthood (KUT)

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by Republican-led states that were seeking to defund Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide women's reproductive health services.

The case does not involve federal money for abortion-related services. That is barred by federal law. Rather, it involves an effort by two states to block Medicaid funding for some abortion providers that, like Planned Parenthood, get Medicaid funding for providing other services to low-income women, services like cancer screenings, prenatal services, birth control and ultrasounds.

Three conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito — dissented and would have heard the challenges brought by Kansas and Louisiana…

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Trump considering House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows for chief of staff (Axios)

Over the past 24 hours, President Trump has been privately asking many people who they think should be his new chief of staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Trump has asked confidants what they think about the idea of installing Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, as John Kelly's permanent replacement, according to these three sources. Trump has also mentioned three other candidates besides Meadows, according to a source with direct knowledge. Nick Ayers, previously considered the favorite, is out of the running to be Kelly's replacement. Between the lines: Trump doesn't know what he's going to do…

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BG Podcast - Episode 25: Austin Police Department's New Labor Agreement feat. Chas Moore, Austin Justice Coalition

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with with return guest, Chas Moore, President and Founder, Austin Justice Coalition (AJC).

He and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss the Austin Council’s November approval of a labor contract for the Austin Police Department.

Negotiations over the contract took nearly a year, involving not only the city and Austin Police Association, but community stakeholders like AJC.

Why Austinities should care?

The new contract provides greater level of transparency and public accountability.
Link to BG Podcast Episode 25


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