BG Note | News - What We're Reading (August 24, 2017)


U.S. judge tosses out Texas voter ID law (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

A federal judge Wednesday tossed out the Texas voter ID law, granting a permanent injunction barring the state from enforcing the original 2011 law as well as a version with looser restrictions that was signed into law this summer. U.S. District Judge Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi ruled that the law violates the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution because it was “enacted with discriminatory intent — knowingly placing additional burdens on a disproportionate number of Hispanic and African-American voters.” The changes recently adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott were insufficient to cure the discriminatory intent and effect of the original law even though it allowed voters to present an expanded list of IDs, Ramos ruled. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he will appeal the ruling, calling it “outrageous.”

FTC Lets Amazon Deal To Buy Whole Foods Move Forward (KUT) LINK TO STORY

The Federal Trade Commission has cleared the way for Amazon to buy Whole Foods. The decision came just hours after shareholders of the Austin-based grocery chain approved the sale.
Bruce Hoffman, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement that the agency found no reason for the deal not to move forward.

Council debates best use of HOT dollars (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Some City Council members are clearly more convinced of the role that the Austin Convention Center plays in driving the city’s tourism industry and economy than others.

The day after several Council members signaled support for a proposal by Council Member Ellen Troxclair that would slightly reduce the amount of Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue dedicated to the convention center and Visit Austin (formerly the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau), Mayor Steve Adler reiterated his belief that the publicly funded conference and events venue is a key driver of the city’s economy.

“We have the convention center in this city because it drives jobs,” he said at Wednesday’s budget work session. “It enables restaurants and hotels to fill up during the week.”

Elaborating, Adler described downtown Austin as the “boiler room” that fuels economic activity and produces tax revenue that the rest of the city benefits from. He made a point of highlighting its effect on parks, the primary beneficiary of Troxclair’s proposal.


Troxclair: Hotel tax plan separate from Adler’s ‘downtown puzzle’ (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Austin district shifts to fewer school nurses, more telemedicine (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Austin district this year is launching virtual health care throughout its schools, though skeptics question whether the move, while it promises to be more quick and convenient, is better for kids. The telemedicine will increase and quicken access to health care during school hours, district officials say, but it also means fewer registered nurses who help oversee the district’s youngest students. Every elementary school is assigned a full-time health assistant, who must have served for six months in a medical clinic, doctor’s office or similar setting. Registered nurses oversee five or six campuses, up from two or three last year.

Central Health discussion once again dominates Commissioners Court meeting (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Central Health’s annual budget presentation to the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday brought with it a fresh round of familiar complaints from activists about the level of transparency displayed by the hospital district.

Freshly installed President and CEO Mike Geeslin kicked off what later became a drawn-out discussion by obliquely acknowledging the critics who claim that Central Health has strayed from its obligation to provide health care for the county’s uninsured.

“This budget is about people,” Geeslin asserted. “And today, you’re going to be presented with a lot of financial numbers, statistics and system measures. But at the end of the day, behind each one of those numbers is a person sitting in a clinic waiting for services or waiting at a bus stop to get to a clinic.”

EAST AUSTIN: Jumpolin piñata store returns 2 years after controversial demolition (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Jumpolin, the piñata store whose demolition two years agosparked protests and debate about gentrification’s effects on East Austin neighborhoods, held its grand reopening on Saturday at its new location, about a mile east from where the old one once stood.
The store, now at 2605 E. Cesar Chavez St., celebrated last weekend but has been serving customers since the end of July.
“When bad things happen, good things can sometimes come from it,” said owner Sergio Lejarazu. “We’ve come back with more energy, more ambition, more hope.”

Six Austin recreation centers being considered for temporary homeless shelters (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

If you’re looking for a place to temporarily house people who are homeless, you’d start by looking for facilities that have plenty of room to set up bedding, with the benefit of showers, industrial-grade kitchens and computer resources already on site. 
Austin’s recreation centers check all of those boxes.
So when the City Council recently asked staff to come up with five city-owned facilities that could temporarily divert people from the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless downtown, where overcrowding and nearby drug use have complicated efforts to help people line up the long-term housing they need, city parks officials identified a half-dozen recreation centers: Austin, Givens, Gus Garcia, Northwest, Parque Zaragoza and South Austin.