BG Note | News - What We're Reading (August 7, 2017)


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blames city governments for "all our problems in America" (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

City governments, particularly those led by Democrats, are to blame for problems nationwide, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said during a nationally televised interview Friday. 
"People are happy with their governments at their state level, they're not with the city," said Patrick, a Republican, in an interview with Fox Business Network. He was responding to a question about gubernatorial races. 
"Our cities are still controlled by Democrats," he added. "And where do we have all our problems in America? Not at the state level run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city council men and women. That's where you see liberal policies. That's where you see high taxes. That's where you see street crime."

Texas House Members Have Their Own Priorities – And They're Not The Governor's (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The rules of a special legislative session are pretty simple: The governor rules. Only the governor can call a special session, and only the governor can set the agenda. That's why it was a little curious when three bills dealing with groundwater popped up in the Texas House on Thursday.
Groundwater, in case you were wondering, is not on Gov. Greg Abbott's ambitious agenda of 20 items for the special session. But lawmakers who consider it a priority think they can link it to an item aimed at reforming municipal permitting – because, hey, shifting around groundwater requires a permit. 

Some Texas House members explore new move to try to oust Straus (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

Some conservative Republicans are again trying to lay the groundwork to oust House Speaker Joe Straus, who they accused on Friday of blocking some of Gov. Greg Abbott's top priorities during the special session.

The San Antonio Republican has been able to overcome previous attempts by conservative groups to unseat him over the years. In 2015, he defeated then-Rep. Scott Turner by a 128-19 margin among House members to earn his fifth term as leader of the House.

Regardless, the newly formed Texas Freedom Caucus is taking the first steps to rewrite rules for how speakers are chosen to give them a better shot at getting a more conservative leader than what they believe Straus is. On Friday they held a conference call with supporters outlining their plan to force a meeting on a rule change that would require future House speakers to first get nominated from the Republicans in the House before Democrats get a chance to vote.

Judge tosses challenge to Texas 45 Southwest, South MoPac toll lanes (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

An Austin federal judge has rejected a legal challenge to three Southwest Austin road projects, according to transportation officials.

The upshot, according to Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, is that the agency can continue construction of the Texas 45 Southwest toll road, which began in November, and resume planning for toll lanes that would be added to eight miles of South MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).

Heiligenstein also said that the ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel gives the Texas Department of Transportation clearance to build the South MoPac underpasses planned at Slaughter Lane and La Crosse Avenue.


Hispanic Chamber’s new CEO focused on education, business development (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Luis Rodriguez is trying to adjust.
As the newest CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he is beginning to experience the differences here from his native San Antonio, where as the second-in-command he helped lead the Hispanic chamber of commerce there to record membership (1,400) and national recognition.
Austin, he says, has a different business culture. The city’s challenges, he adds, will be unique.
On a recent afternoon at his office tucked inside a Wells Fargo building in North Austin, he explained his goals for his new role — the first being to fully understand the Capitol’s business scene.

Council to consider changes for waste disposal contracts (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

A series of recommendations made by a City Council working group seeks to address concerns from environmentalists and private waste haulers about how the city chooses the companies it pays to pick up and dispose of waste generated by its own employees and departments, from wastepaper bins at City Hall to giant piles of sludge created by wastewater treatment facilities.
For now, the main outcome of the Waste Management Policy Working Group, which included four Council members and a number of industry stakeholders and environmental activists, is a proposal to make changes to the city’s Anti-Lobbying Ordinance.


LINK to Recommendations of the Waste Management Policy Working Group

Mayor Adler wants a task force on gentrification. We’ve had plenty of those (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

For five weeks in 2001, Karen Paup spent her afternoons with other Austin residents talking about the city’s changing east side. The group included a pastor, a developer and a now-professor at New York University.
“We shared anecdotes, we looked at data,” said Paup, who works for Texas Housers, a nonprofit focused on low-income housing. “We felt that there was a sense of urgency expressed by the Council in setting up the committee and a short time frame for getting an answer.”
Eventually the committee came up with a dozen recommendations, many of which found their way into current discussions about ways to ease the effects of gentrification: community land trusts, homestead preservation districts and a moratorium on new development.