Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Nashville mayor’s affair leads to new scrutiny; federal judge’s Yellowstone bison decision; N.Y. state’s 11th-most-polluted waterway; and Colorado’s increase in traffic deaths.
STATE LOTTERIES | Lottery officials in South Carolina told an oversight panel on Thursday that the state may end up paying $33 million due to a glitch in December where 42,000 winning Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets were accidentally printed. If South Carolina proceeds with paying the prize money, lottery officials say the state will likely face lawsuits over paying winnings on erroneous tickets. The exact error is still being pinpointed, but Intralot, the state’s lottery vendor, has handed its software code over to outside investigators. [The State;The Post and Courier; National Public Radio]
CITY HALLS | Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who apologized this week for an extramarital affair she had with a police sergeant who leads her security detail, is facing additional scrutiny. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, at the request of the local district attorney, has launched an inquiry to determine whether the mayor’s affair led to any public funds being misused or constitutes official misconduct. Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said the romantic relationship, which began in spring 2016, was improper but didn’t violate any department rules. [USA Today; Nashville Public Radio; The Tennessean]
Facing some opposition to his proposed meals tax increase to raise revenue for local schools, Richmond, Virginia Mayor Levar Stoney had lunch with restaurant owners on Thursday to pitch his proposal, which would bring the combined city and state meals tax in Richmond to 12.8 percent. [WTRV-TV]
Local officials in Santa Fe Springs, California, southeast of downtown Los Angeles, have hired a new city manager—the city’s sixth city manager in 61 years. [San Gabriel Valley Tribune via Whittier Daily News]
PUBLIC SAFETY | Colorado is continuing to see more traffic-related fatalities, an increase of 29 percent since 2014, according to new state data. There were 630 traffic fatalities in 2017. [Westword]
ENVIRONMENT | A U.S. District Court judge ruled this week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to reconsider its 2015 decision that denied Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone bison. A lawsuit brought by a coalition of conservation groups accused the agency of ignoring a scientific study, something that U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper agreed with. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]
Explore Scajaquada Creek in the Buffalo area, New York state’s 11th-most-polluted waterway according to a new state study. It starts out clean, but as the Scajaquada watershed drains more suburban and urban areas, runoff from lawns, roadways and unauthorized downspout connections quickly create a sick creek, colored red on water quality maps. [The Buffalo News]
PUBLIC HEALTH | The ongoing flu season continues to test public health agencies across the nation. New Jersey has seen 7,300 confirmed influenza cases. According to the most recent data, this year’s flu season in the Garden State has eclipsed the three strongest seasons on record. Some emergency rooms and clinics are at capacity dealing with the flu. [NJ.com]
The Ohio state government has awarded $3.6 million to a public health coalition in Columbus, Ohio that works to reduce infant mortality in the area through nurse home visits during a mother’s pregnancy and a newborn’s first year. [The Columbus Dispatch]
INFRASTRUCTURE | State and local transportation officials in the Kansas City area are gearing up for the start of a two-year project to reconstruct the Lewis and Clark Viaduct in Kansas, which carries Interstate 70 between downtown Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. Demolition work is slated to start in March and westbound traffic on I-70 will be detoured to adjacent expressways. [The Kansas City Star; MoDOT]
SUPER BOWL | Although the governors of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have a friendly bet going over whether the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl on Sunday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, like in previous years, hasn’t joined in the cross-jurisdictional wagers. “The reason? Walsh doesn’t want to jinx the Patriots, since his last few sports wagers didn’t turn out so well for the home team—or, for that matter, him.” [Boston Herald; Boston.com]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.