Housing bond forces tough decisions for Council members (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
While three City Council members say they want to present an affordable housing bond to voters worth between $250 million and $300 million, it is unclear how many others on the dais are in favor of such a large figure.
First, some Council members are reluctant to support spending increases that will lead to tax hikes.
“I have concerns about any bond package that will raise the tax rate,” said Council Member Jimmy Flannigan in a recent interview with the Austin Monitor.
City staff has estimated that the city could take on up to $325 million of additional bond debt without raising taxes, while a $575 million bond would lead to a 1-cent increase and an $825 million bond would lead to a 2-cent increase...
People’s Plan to combat gentrification headed to Council (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Ahead of its planned fall release of recommendations to combat gentrification in Austin, the city’s Anti-Displacement Task Force has endorsed a broad plan created by community organizers.
At its meeting last week the task force voted 12-1 to recommend City Council consider and take action on the People’s Plan, which is intended to specifically keep residents living in the city’s “eastern crescent” from being priced out of their longtime homes. The People’s Plan is made up of six resolutions addressing different facets of the problems associated with and possible solutions to displacement, with more than a dozen action steps for Council and city staff to enact...
City proposes ways to reduce permitting costs for homeowners (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
In November of last year, City Council approved a resolution aimed at making it easier and cheaper for homeowners to repair or renovate their houses.
The resolution asked the Development Services Department to consider setting up a separate, simpler permitting process for homeowners, including a dedicated team of city staff that could help property owners jump through the hoops necessary to build a second unit on their property or make necessary renovations.
Council Member Delia Garza, the resolution’s lead author, described the effort as a way to reduce costs for middle-income homeowners who are at risk of getting priced out of the city...
Search For Motive In Austin Bombings Continues, U.S. Attorney Says (KUT) LINK TO STORY
A judge has dismissed a complaint against confessed Austin bomber Mark Conditt now that his body has been identified and released to his family, U.S. Attorney John Bash said today. The investigation into a motive is ongoing, he added.
At an afternoon news conference with other law enforcement officials, Bash said there is no other suspect in last month's bombings, which killed two people and seriously injured four others.
“We are looking through very voluminous computer records to examine his intent and motivations," Bash said, "and so there is still an ongoing investigation, and we do urge the public to remain vigilant about suspicious packages and to contact the APD if you notice a suspicious package.”...
El Paso Border Patrol sector kicks off construction of Trump's wall on border (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
A groundbreaking Monday for a new border barrier in New Mexico signals the beginning of the fulfillment of President Donald Trump’s best-known campaign promise, federal officials said. “The president has started his project,” Agent Aaron A. Hull, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol's El Paso sector, said as he stood a few feet from the existing fence that will be replaced by the new barrier.
“This is the beginning, in this sector, of the president’s border wall – very much so.” The project will include 20 miles of new bollard-style wall up to 30 feet tall, including five feet of climb-resistant material, Hull said. The new barrier will extend west from Santa Teresa, New Mexico — a town located about 13 miles northwest of El Paso — and will replace shorter vehicle barriers, which agents said are not effective to deter illegal crossers or drug smuggling...
Abbott says Texas boosting number of troops to border to 1,000 (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says his state will commit at least 1,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico border in response to President Donald Trump's call. Abbott told San Antonio radio station KTSA on Monday that the state will add around 300 Guard members a week. The Texas National Guard said Friday that it would send an initial deployment of 250 members. Abbott says there's no fixed date on their deployment and that "we may be in this for the long haul."...
Menéndez takes over as leader of Texas Hispanic Caucus (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, is the new chairman of the Texas Hispanic Caucus as the state heads into the 2018 elections. “When I look at issues that are critical to the Latino community, the real issues are important to all Texans,” said Menéndez. As chairman, he plans to focus on improving education for children statewide and increasing the number of minority-owned businesses competing for state contracts, he said. “Allowing every child to maximize their potential, regardless of what neighborhood they live in, that’s critically important,” he said...
F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’ (New York Times) LINK TO STORY
The F.B.I. raided the Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Monday morning, seizing business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including a payment to a pornographic film actress. Mr. Trump, in an extraordinarily angry response, lashed out hours later at what a person briefed on the matter said was an investigation into possible bank fraud by Mr. Cohen. Mr. Trump accused his own Justice Department of perpetrating a “witch hunt” and asserted that the F.B.I. “broke in to” Mr. Cohen’s office. The president, who spoke at the White House before meeting with senior military commanders about a potential missile strike on Syria, called the F.B.I. raid a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.”...