Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Super Typhoon Yutu’s destruction … Missing vote-by-mail applications in Ga. … Wis.’s slipping DMV performance … and Philly City Council honors Gritty mascot.
Good morning, it’s Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Leading Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup is something at the intersection of tax policy and real estate. But scroll down for more news from places like Baltimore, Maryland (where city schools got some unwelcome audit news); New Orleans, Louisiana (where there’s a new meditation room at City Hall); and Columbus, Ohio (where there are upcoming state-hosted rare bourbon raffles).
FINANCE | The impacts of the GOP-led tax reform on Capitol Hill last year, including sweeping changes to the state and local tax deduction, are starting to be felt in the U.S. housing market and not in a good way, especially in the northeastern U.S.: The “New York area (which includes suburban counties in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) the worst performer this year to date among the 20 metro areas tracked by S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.” [Bloomberg Opinion; S&P Dow Jones Indices]
ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION | Democratic Party officials in Georgia say that 4,700 vote-by-mail applications submitted weeks ago are missing in DeKalb County in the Atlanta area. “Our message to voters is this: If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot from your county and your county did not send you a ballot, go in-person if you are able to an early voting site,” Seth Bringman, a state party spokesman told The New York Times. “We will not allow [Georgia Secretary of State and GOP gubernatorial nominee] Brian Kemp’s voter suppression or mistakes by election officials to take away your right to vote.” [The New York Times] … Los Angeles Metro will be offering free public transit on Election Day. [Curbed LA]
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | Super Typhoon Yutu, which ripped through the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific as a Category 5 storm with 180 mph winds, has killed at least one person on the island of Saipan when a building collapsed on her. Saipan and the neighboring island of Tinian have been devastated by Yutu, and “if a structure wasn’t made of concrete, one resident said, it was probably wiped out by the most powerful tropical cyclone to hit any part of the United States since 1935.” U.S. Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in the CNMI following President Trump approved a federal emergency declaration ahead of the storm’s arrival in the U.S. territory. “We are working closely with territory health authorities, the local hospital and other healthcare facilities to save lives and protect health after this catastrophic storm,” Azar said in a statement. [The Washington Post; Guam Daily Post]
AUDITS | Looking at the books of the Baltimore city schools, the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits found that administrators “failed to bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars that the school system was owed by outside organizations that it loaned its employees out to.” [Baltimore Brew]
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT | In September 2014, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s administration set a goals for the Department of Motor Vehicles where “at least 80 percent of its phone calls within 2 minutes and serve at least 80 percent of customers at DMV centers within 20 minutes.” How’d things go? “The efforts started on the right track, but since then it's been a fiasco.” [Appleton Post-Crescent]
CRIME PREVENTION | As part of her Cure Violence initiative that’s focused on her city’s youth, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is rolling out a new meditation room at City Hall. [WVUE]
LIQUOR CONTROL | Attention bourbon lovers: The Ohio Division of Liquor Control will be hosting “five raffles in November for hard-to-get bottles of America’s favorite brown liquor.” [Columbus Dispatch]
MASCOTS | The Philadelphia City Council on Thursday passed a resolution honoring Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot, a "ghastly, empty-eyed Muppet with a Delco beard." One of the Whereas clauses: “Gritty's storied arrival into Philadelphia was met with all the expected magnanimity of a city with a reputation for colorful and ardent fans and a creative, if skeptical, media, but as soon as Philadelphians realized non-Philadelphians were also mocking Gritty, we rose immediately to his defense and irrevocably claimed him as our own.” [Billy Penn]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route FIfty and is based in Seattle.