City leaders: No local incentives dollars included in Austin’s pitch for Amazon HQ2 (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Austin officials said Wednesday that no local financial incentives were included in the city’s proposal for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters project.
More than 230 cities and counties submitted bids for the project, which Amazon is calling its “HQ2.” Amazon announced in September that it would accept bids from North American cities that want to be home to the project.
Council members question free parking for Second Street stores (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo isn’t sure whether shoppers on Second Street should get free parking courtesy of the city of Austin anymore.
At a City Council meeting last week, Tovo questioned city staff about its recommendation that Council renew contracts with several properties that house a number of small retail businesses and restaurants on Second and Third streets, from Lamberts Downtown Barbecue to Ballet Austin and Rae Cosmetics. Under the deal, which has been in place since 2005, employees and patrons of those businesses get two hours of free parking at the City Hall parking garage as long as they get their ticket validated by a store employee.
What will CodeNEXT mean for Austin’s neighborhood plans? (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
At a CodeNEXT meeting earlier this month, residents from across Austin raised concerns about one perceived change: that the city’s new Land Development Code would scrap their neighborhood plans.
Jorge Rousselin, the city’s project manager on CodeNEXT, said that’s just not true.
“There has been no change to how we are addressing neighborhood plans through CodeNEXT,” he said.
The neighborhood planning process allows residents of a given area to weigh in on its future development. Rousselin said the plans can only be changed through action by City Council – CodeNEXT can’t just do away with them. In fact, he said, those neighborhood plans have helped to inform the CodeNEXT maps, which show how the new zoning regulations would apply across the city.
Rick Cofer ends bid for Travis County Democratic Party chairman (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Longtime Democratic Party activist Rick Cofer announced Wednesday night that he is ending his campaign to become chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party to make room for “strong female candidates” for the post.
“I have absolutely loved running for this position, and would’ve loved to serve you in this role,” Cofer said in a statement to supporters and friends, “but the very best thing I can do for our party is to step aside for incredible women leaders.” Cofer would not reveal the names of the replacement candidates he had in mind. But he said Wednesday night that an announcement was imminent.
Straus earthquake could shake up Texas politics for years (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
House Speaker Joe Straus unleashed a political earthquake Wednesday when he announced he would not seek re-election next year.
The policy aftershocks could be felt for years.
"This is really an earth-shattering event for politics,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “It's tough to overstate the relevance of this for Texas politics. The political center of the state collapsed today."
Video - Speaker Straus discusses why he decided it was time to step down (Texas Tribune)
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