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



Flannigan reflects on ‘crazy, crazy year’ (Austin Monitor)

Council Member Jimmy Flannigan believes City Council had a lot more to deal with in 2018 than it should have.

Council welcomed a new city manager, found new chiefs for the police and fire departments, engaged in an extended dispute with the police union over oversight and pay, and tried and failed to overhaul the city’s land development code.

“It was a crazy, crazy year,” he said during an interview in his City Hall office.

Some of those issues were resolved. Flannigan was delighted by how smoothly the budget process went; Council made minimal changes to the budget presented by City Manager Spencer Cronk and took less than a day to approve the budget, a feat that appeared impossible as recently as a year ago. Granted, Flannigan said, Council was probably lucky to have “more financial flexibility than we can rely on in the future.”…

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Ann Kitchen focused on ‘fixing people’s problems’ (Austin Monitor)

City Council Member Ann Kitchen is the first member of the 10-1 Council to win re-election unopposed.

“I was surprised,” Kitchen said of her lack of opponent in this year’s election. “But I was certainly happy about that. I’m pleased that the folks in the district trusted me enough to continue in a second term.”

Kitchen sees the past year as one of significant success. At the top of the list of achievements is the $925 million bond program that voters overwhelmingly approved in November…

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Pool proud of progress at all levels in 2018 (Austin Monitor)

Leslie Pool doesn’t restate Tip O’Neill’s legendary adage “All politics is local” when looking back at 2018 and ahead to 2019. Still, when reviewing the policy and on-the-ground actions that have mattered to her the most, the small neighborhood moves get as much time as the larger issues that have grabbed headlines.

The District 7 Council member points to neighborhood park pavilion openings, a new plan for the North Shoal Creek neighborhood, progress on water quality initiatives and a long-brewing push to address quality-of-life issues in local boarding houses as successes that matter to those living in North Central Austin yet might have escaped larger attention.

Of course, Pool did wind up getting plenty of public attention in 2018 when she became the most vocal critic of bargaining between city leaders and owners of a professional soccer club intending to build a 20,000-seat stadium on city property in her district. She and other detractors wound up on the other end of a 7-4 vote in August to approve the lease terms (the final agreement was approved Dec. 18), but she touts the questioning of the process as essential to getting a better deal for the city and its taxpayers…

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Richard Overton, country’s oldest veteran, released from hospital (Austin American-Statesman)

Richard Overton, an Austin resident and America’s oldest veteran at 112 years old, was released from the hospital Monday morning after his pneumonia cleared up, according to family members…

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A Texas Tent City Holding Thousands of Teenage Migrants Will Stay Open Into the New Year (TIME)

The Trump administration said Wednesday it will keep open through early 2019 a tent city in Texas that now holds more than 2,000 migrant teenagers, and also will increase the number of beds at another temporary detention center for children in Florida.

The Tornillo facility opened in June in an isolated corner of the Texas desert with capacity for up to 360 children. It eventually grew into a highly guarded detention camp where, on Christmas, some 2,300 largely Central American boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 slept in more than 150 canvas tents.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber said Tornillo, which originally was slated to close Dec. 31, has stopped receiving new referrals of migrant youth…

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UT endowment second-largest in the nation, according to Bloomberg data (Texas Tribune)

Bolstered by booming oil prices, the University of Texas' endowment hit $31 billion in value this summer, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News — making UT's endowment second only to Harvard University's in size among the country's institutions of higher education.

Harvard's endowment had a value of $39.2 billion, according to Bloomberg's data. Yale University, whose endowment often tops UT's in value, was at $29.4 billion, though the Texas system's more than 235,000 students dwarf Yale's 12,300.

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O'Rourke and Castro on collision course in Texas (Politico)

The Democratic Party’s dream of a resurgence in Texas has long run squarely through San Antonio and the Castro brothers — Joaquin, the third-term congressman, and Julián, the city’s ambitious former mayor.

But that was before Beto O’Rourke catapulted himself into the party’s national consciousness this year.

Now, O’Rourke and Julián Castro are both inching toward presidential campaigns, an unlikely bounty for Texas Democrats accustomed to near-irrelevance at the statewide and national levels. O’Rourke and Castro would likely run on different platforms and rely on different donors, limiting the likelihood of direct combat…

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Released From Hospital (KUT)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from the hospital on Christmas Day following surgery for early stage lung cancer, according to a Supreme Court spokesperson.

Ginsburg is now "recuperating at home," after doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York performed surgery on Ginsburg to remove cancerous growths found on her left lung.

The cancer was initially discovered after Ginsburg fell and fractured three ribs in November.

Shortly after her surgery, Ginsburg cast a decisive vote in a 5-4 decision that blocked the Trump administration from prohibiting people from seeking asylum if they cross the border illegally…

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Department Of Homeland Security Promises Changes To Protect Migrant Children (KUT)

In the wake of the death of a second migrant child in U.S. custody within the last two weeks, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Wednesday the government is calling on a several federal agencies to help Customs and Border Protection implement a host of new directives intended to improve how it cares for children and adults held in federal facilities.

"In response to the unprecedented surge of children into our custody, I have directed a series of extraordinary protective measures," Nielsen said in a statement.

She explained the changes had been enacted as a result of the "heartbreaking" death of Guatemalan 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonso, who died after being diagnosed with a cold and a high fever in New Mexico on Monday night…

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BG Podcast - Episode 27: Community Conversation with Pastor Joseph C. Parker, Jr.

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Joseph C. Parker, Jr., Esq., D. Min., the Senior Pastor of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in East Austin.

A respected community leader, he has been described as “called by God, shaped by experience, a man of action, and a Renaissance man.”

A respected voice and bridge builder on many key Austin issues, including civil rights and gentrification, Pastor Parker has been described as “called by God, shaped by experience, a man of action, and a Renaissance man.”….

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