Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Code for America turns ten and looks for a new leader … New mayor says Chicago suburb’s bureaucracy in shambles … Louisiana braces as Midwest flood waters flow south.
After months of negotiations, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan bill to distribute more than $19 billion to regions of the country recovering from recent hurricanes, flooding and forest fires. The deal came after a series of fraught, stop-and-start discussions over whether to include any funding for border-wall construction and promised funding to a Puerto Rico still struggling with the ravages dealt out by Hurricane Maria in 2017. President Trump for months has insisted that any disaster-relief proposal include funding for the border wall with Mexico he made the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign. He also has resisted sending any more money to Puerto Rico, including $9 billion already put aside for the island but held up by the administration. According to multiple news sources, the Senate bill would release those billions and include $900 million more prioritized by Senate Democrats for nutrition assistance and community development. "The president said OK," Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters. "I'm sure he wanted the border ... but we took that all out and we're going to try to push that separately." The House is expected to pass the bill quickly before the Memorial Day weekend. "I totally support [the legislation]," Trump told reporters at a White House event on Thursday. [NBC, NPR]
CIVIC TECH | Code for America will celebrate its tenth anniversary next week at its Code for America Summit in Oakland. In advance of the summit, Jennifer Pahlka, the group’s founder and executive director, has announced she’s launching a search for her replacement, someone to take the reins and help “run the play 50 times faster and a 100 times bigger” over the next decade. Code for America expects the summit to draw 1,200 public servants and civic technologists. [Medium]
CITY ADMINISTRATION | When Christopher Clark took over as the mayor of Harvey, Illinois, in south Chicagoland last week he said he knew things were bad. But Clark said he is now reeling with the mess he has waded through the last few days. City Hall looks ransacked. Boxes of records piled to the ceiling burst at the seams. Other records lie stacked in closets and strewn across floors. “I’m very concerned there are ghosts on the [city] payroll,” Clark said. His predecessor, Eric Kellogg, who ran the town for 16 years, left just after federal agents raided city buildings and netted some of Kellogg’s relatives in an extortion and bribery scheme. Kellogg was not charged. “There are problems in Harvey,” Clark said. “Now I’m in a position to do something about it.” [WGN]
PHOENIX COUNCIL | Phoenix residents elected labor and immigrant rights activist leaders to the City Council in this week’s elections. Councilor-elect Betty Guardado is a housekeeper-turned-union organizer. Councilor-elect Carlos Garcia made a name in the state by leading protests against the racial-profiling policies of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. [AZCentral]
HOUSING | A new law in Washington state has established a $51 million sales-tax fund that cities and counties can tap to build and maintain low-income housing. Counties with populations under 400,000 and cities with populations under 100,000 can also use the money to provide rental assistance to low-income residents. [Crosscut]
MISSISSIPPI RISING | The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is warning home and business owners along the Morganza Spillway in central Louisiana that it might have to release water into the community in June. The Mississippi River has been running above flood stage for months and heavy rains have recently saturated the Midwest. [The Advocate]
ELECTIONS SECURITY | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called on state elections administrators to perform a major security review in response to revelations that Russian hackers infiltrated elections systems in two counties in 2016. [Orlando Sentinel]
John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Seattle.