Texas politicians have started embracing crypto.
But first, they have to understand what it is. Local crypto group ATX DAO is trying to get them up to speed.
“The problem is that because they have no familiarity with this technology; they automatically want to apply it in a very strange way,” ATX DAO member Roberto Talamas said.
ATX DAO hosted a handful of political candidates and elected representatives last week at the Mexic-Arte museum as a way to build a first relationship with them.
A DAO, or a decentralized autonomous organization, is a group that pools together capital and makes investments or does other blockchain-related projects. For DAOs in particular, involvement from lawmakers would help them end the current state of operations under a murky legal status.
A friendly strategy is attempting to be applied locally for now as scrutiny is lower in the state than in other areas of government. Crypto giant Binance, for example, is reportedly dealing with an SEC investigation. Local crypto users are trying to teach politicians so that they can move forward with laws that advance their interests.
Other states have made moves on this front. Talamas pointed to California as having a “slight edge” and said Wyoming, where DAOs have the legal power that a limited liability company would, “is just killing everyone else.” At a major crypto conference last week known as ETHDenver, Colorado’s governor talked about a plan to have the state become the first in the U.S. to accept crypto for tax payments.
So, while Talamas thinks Texas is in a good position to attract crypto talent, there’s still room for Texas politicians to grow in their understanding.
“I don’t think they have any clue what this technology is doing, purely based on my conversations with them,” Talamas said. “I mean it’s not their fault; they have no real incentive to learn it.”
One incentive, however, is to carry on the business-friendly reputation that has attracted companies like Samsung, Tesla and more to Texas.
Sen. Ted Cruz has mentioned his hope for the state to become “the center of the universe for Bitcoin and crypto” and Gov. Greg Abbott has tweeted he aims to make Texas #1 for blockchain and crypto. At ATX DAO’s event, others appeared to be following suit.
State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) asked attendees to reach out to her and tell her what they can “bring to our state’s table to innovate.”
“Crypto is so important because it forces us to imagine our value system and prioritize it using a crowdsourcing technique that is available to us for the first time in human history,” Eckhardt said.
Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) just briefly alluded to people being more involved in crypto.
“That’s what’s exciting about this movement, this movement of people,” Hinojosa said. “People who create power by organizing and so yes please teach me.”
With early voting for the March primaries underway, others, including city council member turned congressional candidate Greg Casar spoke about the election, rather than crypto.
Had a great time yesterday learning about cryptocurrency and connecting with @ATXDAOpic.twitter.com/t7u5jxy9wI— Vanessa Fuentes \ud83d\udc83\ud83c\udffd (@Vanessa Fuentes \ud83d\udc83\ud83c\udffd) 1645230258
Still, ATX DAO seems to think slow and steady will get them where they want to be.
“It’s gonna require a little bit of understanding of what is feasible now and what will be feasible in the future,” Talamas said. “But I think we could start that conversation right now and then see where it takes us.”
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Flyers are less satisfied with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport than a year ago, a new study shows.
Research firm J.D. Power placed ABIA at No. 15 on a list ranking overall customer satisfaction at large airports, a slip from last year’s spot at No. 7. Other Texas airports secured rankings ahead of Austin, with Dallas Love Field at third, Houston Hobby at eight, and San Antonio International Airport at ninth.
Dallas/Ft. Worth ranked eight in the "mega airport" category.
The study examined airports based on the following factors: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
On a 1,000-point scale, Austin-Bergstrom received 785 points this year compared to its score of 819 in 2021.
Passenger experiences at Austin-Bergstrom have been influenced by population growth in Central Texas, which has brought record traffic and longer wait times at TSA. And a recent power outage at Austin-Bergstrom caused flight delays. Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power., said that consumer satisfaction with flying has decreased overall.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” Taylor said.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, commented on the ranking.
“We're grateful that AUS customers continue to rank our airport above average, especially during this year that saw air travel disruption here in Austin and across the globe as airports, airlines and the air travel industry continued navigating the impacts of the pandemic,” Grimmett said. “We look forward to delivering near-term and long-term improvements through our Journey With AUS program to improve the passenger experience.”
That program is slated to bring a new midfield concourse to increase gates and connect to the Barbara Jordan Terminal through an underground connector tunnel.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.