BG Note | News - What We're Reading (August 4, 2017)


Robot car revolution could usurp tens of millions of dollars from city coffers (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

With no cars to park, whither the parking fees? That question is one of many that the city of Austin will have to answer as it prepares for a possible future where personal car ownership is replaced by shared fleets of fully automated electric vehicles.                                            
“This is not a problem tomorrow,” Austin Transportation Director Rob Spillar told the Austin Monitor on Thursday. “But I would argue that within the next 10 years it will become an issue we need to be watchful of.”
According to numbers recently compiled by Governing Magazine, the city collects more than $36.6 million in receipts from parking fees, fines, traffic citations and other vehicle-related assessments.


Council struggles against displacement and segregation (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

“I believe that part of our role as a community and as a government is to provide protections against immoral market forces,” said Council Member Greg Casar (District 4), describing his efforts to increase affordable housing and fight economic segregation.
If Casar sees some market forces as immoral, however, he doesn’t argue that city government’s duty is to fight them so much as to step in and provide what the market isn’t offering: housing for Austin’s poor and working class.


Bio of Council Member Greg Casar (City of Austin page) 

Crowd demands answers from AISD trustee at east side rally (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Austin Independent School District Trustee Jayme Mathias (District 2) struggled to find common ground with parents, teacher assistants and other community members at the Save East Austin Schools rally Wednesday night. The event was organized by Bertha Delgado and Monica Sanchez, who asked attendees to sign up for a political action committee that would lobby Austinites to vote “no” this November for a school bond that they feel neglects the needs of their community’s schools.

Organizers informed the crowd gathered in front of the Metz Recreation Center on Canterbury Street that Sanchez, Brooke, Metz and Norman elementary schools as well as the Sadler Means Young Women’s Academy were all up for closure if the $1.05 billion bond proposition passed at the end of the year.


Uber, PepsiCo, PayPal and JPMorgan Chase are latest businesses to oppose Texas bathroom bill (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Several more Fortune 500 companies have added their names to a growing list of businesses opposed the so-called Texas "bathroom bill." CEOs from 10 corporations — including Uber, Lyft, Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, JPMorgan Chase, PayPal, Plano-based Frito-Lay, PepsiCo and Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes — sent Gov. Greg Abbott a letter Thursday urging him to drop his support for the legislation.

‘PUSH! PUSH!’ How a bungled private contract cost Texans $130 million (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A dozen years ago, Texas health care administrators hired a company to help determine when taxpayers should cover the cost of dental care for the state’s poorer residents, particularly children.

The company, later acquired by the giant corporation Xerox, deployed a team of medical specialists to review the tens of thousands of requests for dental and orthodontic care that flowed in every year. After evaluating each record, including X-rays and molds of the patient’s mouth, the experts rendered a professional opinion as to whether a procedure was medically necessary, the standard to earn Medicaid coverage. The system ensured that public money was responsibly spent.

That’s how it was supposed to work, anyway. What happened instead was a case of epic mismanagement that threatens to leave Texas taxpayers on the hook for more than $130 million.

Voting machine maker sues to block rival companies’ paper-using devices (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The manufacturer of the digital voting machines used across the state filed suit in Travis County district court this week, seeking to block the Texas secretary of state from certifying rival machine makers whose devices produce a paper receipt of votes cast.
The lawsuit adds to the growing controversy surrounding the security of voting systems across the country — prompted, in part, by fears of potential hacking and by unsubstantiated claims by President Donald Trump that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election.
The lawsuit filed by Hart InterCivic — the manufacturer of the eSlate voting machines used in Travis County — asks a district court judge to preemptively rule that voting machines that produce a paper record do not comply with state laws requiring the use of electronic voting machines for all countywide elections.