BG Note | News - What We're Reading (August 14, 2017)

White nationalist rally at Texas A&M to feature Richard Spencer; counter protest planned (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

As the nation watched tension between white nationalists and counter protestors turn violent Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, worries began to emerge that the discord would come to a Texas college town next. 

Richard Spencer, an infamous white nationalist who brought major unrest to Texas A&M University once already, will be coming to College Station again, according to the man who brought him to the university the first time. This time, the event will take place on Sept. 11 at a "White Lives Matter Rally" hosted by Preston Wiginton, a Texan with deep ties to white nationalist movements. 

Wiginton announced plans for the rally Saturday afternoon, saying he had invited Spencer. On Sunday, Wiginton said Spencer confirmed plans to attend. 


Counter protests planned for Sept. 11 white nationalist rally at Texas A&M (Bryan-College Station Eagle) LINK TO STORY

Legislature advances annexation bill to Gov. Abbott (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

The Texas Senate advanced a municipal annexation bill to Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday, the fifth bill sent to the governor’s desk during the special legislative session that ends in three days. The measure’s author, state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, moved to accept amendments made in the lower chamber – which passed the bill, with changes, on Friday. “Members, this is a great deal," Campbell said Sunday. "... It is a huge victory for property rights of Texans." The legislation allows Texans to vote on whether cities in large counties can annex areas outside of their limits — a contentious issue that prompted a filibuster from state Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, in May.


SB 6 (Relating to municipal annexation) by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels

In his special session, Abbott will fall short of 20, but how short? (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Sunset legislation will reach Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk Friday in what, appropriately enough, is the gathering dusk of a 30-day special session that concludes at the stroke of midnight Wednesday.

That the two sunset bills — one to extend the life of the Texas Medical Board and four other agencies for two years, and the other to fund them — will be the first to reach the finish line says much about the difficult slog it’s been to convert the governor’s wide-ranging conservative agenda into law.

Planning Commission endorses east side plan to replace auto salvage yard with mixed-use project (Austin Monitor)

Despite the unambiguous vote, commissioners openly sympathized with the neighborhood’s contact team, who opposed the zoning change. The commission had previously postponed the case in an attempt to make it more appealing to families. Members of the contact team told the commission that the proposed mixed-use project, which will include 321 multifamily units and 4,400 square feet of retail space, was not in line with what they wanted for their neighborhood.

Candice Fox spoke against the zoning change as a member of the Govalle Neighborhood Association and Govalle/Johnston Terrace Contact Team. “We are looking for projects to come into our neighborhood that will home the elderly, young families, the working class and the artisan community. This is at the heart of what concerns us about this project. We see the incoming wave of gentrification coming down the East Cesar Chavez, East Sixth Street and East Seventh Street Corridors. These units come with high price tags for residents and are built for mostly singles or couples.”

City puts environmental inequity under the lens (Austin Monitor)

Austin’s first chief equity officer has hit the ground running. Last year, Brion Oaks took the position as head of the new Equity Office, and he is now hard at work introducing an “equity lens” intended to focus city departments and commissions on serving all of Austin’s populations effectively and fairly.
In April, when the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities made its report, it painted Austin as a tale of two cities. Even national publications told two disparate stories. In 2017, U.S. World and News recognized Austin as the best U.S. city in which to live. At the same time, it remained the most economically segregated city in the U.S

Potential HISD takeover has roots in widely supported 2015 state law (Houston Chronicle) LINK TO STORY

The news seemed to come out of nowhere this past week: If about a dozen Houston ISD schools don't improve by next year, the state will close campuses or take over the district's operations.

Board trustees scrambled to defend their district in the aftermath of the state's warning, arguing that progress was already underway. District administrators pledged more resources for the failing campuses. Superintendent Richard Carranza, completing his first year, acknowledged that he only recently learned of the possibility of a state takeover and promised a "robust intervention program."