Dockless scooter company takes flight in Austin (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
For the third time in four years, a brand-new technology-enabled transportation company has set up shop on Austin’s streets without seeking the city’s official blessing.
On Thursday morning, the California-based company known as Bird released what one company official described as “a relatively small number” of its dockless electric scooters in parts of South and East Austin. David Estrada, Bird’s chief legal officer, would not disclose the exact amount but told the Austin Monitor, “There’s not thousands and not hundreds.”
Like the dockless bike-sharing model that was the focus of an Austin Transportation Department-sponsored community forum just one day before, Bird’s dockless scooters are free-floating vehicles that riders can unlock using their smartphones and rent by the minute...
Landmark commission drills down on CodeNEXT (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
As the final draft of CodeNEXT inches ever closer to City Council, city commissions are compiling their recommendations in preparation. This week, the Historic Landmark Commission took a look at the third draft of the Land Development Code rewrite at a special called meeting on the subject.
In addition to the meeting, commissioners got answers to some of the recommendations that they had forwarded in October. Those answers, and a presentation by Planning and Zoning Director Greg Guernsey, will be reviewed by a committee of the commission, with an aim of the commission articulating its recommendations at its April 23 meeting...
Austin’s only historically black legislative seat at risk in run-off (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
As a half-dozen pastors of black churches picked at eggs and sausage in a small back room at Denny’s, Sheryl Cole told them that she might lose the Democratic run-off for Texas House District 46 to Jose “Chito” Vela III.
The ministers didn’t need to be reminded of the stakes, but Cole and her campaign team drove it home: If she comes up short, there will be no African-American from the Austin area in the Legislature.
“We are not going down like this,” said Cole, a former Austin City Council member. “Our people know how to do this.”...
Greg Abbott declares Lupe Valdez his November foe ahead of her runoff with Andrew White (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
Gov. Greg Abbott, breaking a self-imposed silence while Democrats Lupe Valdez and Andrew White tussle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has begun treating Valdez as his fall opponent.
Valdez, former sheriff of Dallas County, apparently ticked off the Republican governor late Wednesday afternoon when she issued a statement deriding Abbott and President Donald Trump's border security policy as a "boys and their toys" gambit doomed to fail. On Thursday, an Abbott spokesman declined to comment on the governor's late-night tweet...
McCaul, Cuellar urge Texas universities to cut China ties (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
In an unusual intervention, U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, are pressing four Texas universities — Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas Southern University — to cut ties with Chinese government-supported academic organizations.
McCaul and Cuellar said in a joint statement Thursday: “We strongly urge these universities to consider terminating their partnerships with Confucius Institutes and other Chinese government supported organizations. These organizations are a threat to our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda. We have a responsibility to uphold our American values of free expression, and to do whatever is necessary to counter any behavior that poses a threat to our democracy.”
Texas agriculture chief Sid Miller asks Trump officials for more foreign workers (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller on Thursday asked the Trump administration to open the H-2B visa petition program to allow more temporary foreign laborers to work in the Texas shrimp industry and other agricultural fields. “As Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of Texas, I am encouraging the Trump Administration to take immediate action and open the petition process under the H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program,” Miller said. “This is critical for our agricultural economy, as well as the small and seasonal businesses that rely on the temporary workers provided through the H-2B program in Texas.”...
Trump: 2,000 to 4,000 troops expected along U.S.-Mexico border (Politico) LINK TO STORY
Anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard troops could be sent to the southern U.S. border, President Donald Trump said on Thursday. The president’s comments were made on Air Force One, according to a White House pool report. Trump said that all the troops “or a large portion of them,” would be kept along the border until a wall is built, according to the report.
The president this week directed officials to deploy the National Guard as part of a push to curb illegal immigration, to which most governors of border states — except Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat — have agreed to do. The move seems to be prompted by a caravan of immigrants, mostly from Honduras, that had been making its way north through Mexico...
Front-runner in Mexican presidential race bashes Trump (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
Presidential front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador told cheering supporters here Thursday that “there’s more crime in Washington than Laredo.” His voice hoarse from nonstop campaigning, López Obrador dismissed President Donald Trump’s order to deploy National Guard troops along the border as propaganda, a political ploy designed to stir xenophobia. “What (Trump) says, that there’s a great threat on the southern border of the United States, that threat doesn’t exist,” López Obrador told the crowd. What he said about crime was true; FBI crime statistics put the crime rate in Washington at 20.4 per 100,000 and Laredo at 4.6 per 100,000 in 2016, the last year for which complete figures are available...
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