BG Note | News - What We're Reading (September 5, 2017)


Abbott says Texas will need $150B to $180B in federal Harvey aid (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Gov. Greg Abbott estimated Sunday that Texas will ultimately need between $150 billion and $180 billion in federal aid to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In appearances on FOX News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union, the governor said the destruction wrought by Harvey far exceeds, in geographic scope and in numbers of people and homes affected, both Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which he said cost the federal government $40 billion to $50 billion, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which he said cost more than $120 billion. “I think this will cost well over $120 billion, probably $150 (billion) to $180 billion,” Abbott said on FOX.

Texas officials see long road to recovery for transportation network (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Alongside thousands of Texas homes and businesses impacted by Hurricane Harvey, floodwaters also damaged hundreds of roads and highways across the region.
Prolonged flooding can wash out bridges, knock down traffic signals and signs and cause asphalt to buckle. Last week, the federal government directed $25 million to the Texas Department of Transportation to help the agency begin repairing the region’s vast transportation system.
But that funding won’t last very long, said TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams.

Single-family occupancy limits drop back to four in CodeNEXT second draft (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

There is a two-sided nature of the CodeNEXT drafting process. On the one hand, staff and third-party consultants meticulously work through the details of the new land use code on a daily basis. And, on the other, the land use commissions receive updates and weigh in every couple of weeks, resulting in some significant changes between drafts popping up as surprises at meetings.
Such was the case at the last joint land use meeting on Tuesday, when Planning and Zoning Director Greg Guernsey revealed that the occupancy limit of six unrelated adults per single-family home proposed in the first draft of CodeNEXT had been dropped back down to four unrelated adults in the second draft, in line with the ordinance passed by City Council in March. 

Fred Lewis appointment stirs controversy (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Fred Lewis, an attorney who served as the main architect of the city’s new lobbying ordinance, surprisingly became the center of an ethics controversy on Thursday when City Council appointed him to serve on the 2018 Charter Review Commission.
Lewis worked for many months on an ordinance specifically aimed at preventing lobbyists from serving on city commissions. One of the industry representatives who worked with Lewis on that ordinance was Nick Moulinet, board chair of the Real Estate Council of Austin.

Council supports reducing HOT funds for convention center, visitors bureau (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

After a lengthy public hearing featuring scores of public speakers on all sides of the issue, City Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday night in support of diverting millions of dollars generated by hotel occupancy taxes from the Austin Convention Center and Visit Austin (formerly the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau) to historic preservation efforts.
The measure, sponsored by Council Member Ellen Troxclair, initially faced opposition from Mayor Steve Adler as well as the hotel industry, which views the diversion of funds as a threat to a potential future expansion of the convention center.

Aquatic Master Plan Task Force moves forward (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

It’s no secret that Austin city pools are on life support. Last month, City Council put off a vote on the dense and troubling Aquatic Master Plan. Instead, Council members created a task force to take a closer look at a plan that was nearly four years in the making.
The task force will be composed of four members of the Parks and Recreation Board. At the board’s most recent meeting, Chair Jane Rivera nominated herself along with board members Rick Cofer, Richard DePalma and Dawn Lewis to the task force. The nominations were voted into appointments with no opposition.

Audit: Health inspectors found napping on job (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

Investigators from the Office of the City Auditor found that three restaurant inspectors were wasting city resources by exercising, shopping, napping and misstating the times they actually spent inspecting restaurants.
According to the audit, in January, the auditor’s office received an allegation that several employees of the section of Austin Public Health that inspects restaurants were misusing city resources – their time on the job – and that their supervisors were not adequately holding them accountable. There was also an allegation that the restaurants might not have been inspected properly, putting the public at risk.


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