State Official in Mich. Will Face Trial for Involuntary Manslaughter in Flint Deaths

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Trump vs. Portland’s mayor … pathway to six-figure teacher salaries in Texas … and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. scrambles after City Hall fire.

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2018. Some big legal news from the Flint water crisis leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup. But scroll down for more stories from places like New Braunfels, Texas; Saratoga Springs, New York; and Portland, Oregon.

STATE GOVERNMENT | In a ruling Genesee County District Judge David Goggins made on Monday, Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will face trial for two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of two Flint men who died of Legionnaires’ disease during the city’s water crisis in addition to one misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty. It’s “the first time a judge has weighed in on the evidence against a city or state worker charged with criminal wrongdoing related to the water crisis.” [Michigan RadioThe Flint Journal / MLive.com]

  • Montgomery, Alabama: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed an executive order on Monday establishing “a state-level committee designed to prepare Alabama for maximum participation in the 2020 U.S. Census.” [Gov. Ivey’s Office]
  • New Braunfels, Texas: During a roundtable discussion with teachers and school administrators, Gov. Greg Abbott said he wanted to put “the very best educators on the pathway to earning a six-figure salary.” [KXAN]
  • San Diego, California: Despite Gov. Jerry Brown saying this spring that the California National Guard would not assist federal Border Patrol agents to arrest immigrants, court documents in two federal criminal cases shows state National Guard troops “playing a role in apprehending unauthorized immigrants.” [Voice of San Diego]
  • Brickeys, Arkansas: The Arkansas Department of Corrections says that discolored water at some of the state’s prisons is safe and is tied to mineral content. [Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
  • Madison County, Montana: State officials say that as of Aug. 10, there have been 42 cases of exposure to bats in Montana this year that have led to precautionary treatments. [Billings Gazette]
City Hall in Portland, Oregon (Shutterstock)

LOCAL GOVERNMENT | President Trump blasted Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon for his decision to have local police stand down during recent anti-ICE protests. Wheeler’s decision, the president tweeted, left federal officers “to face an angry mob of violent people.” [Oregonian / OregonLive; Willamette Week]

  • Charleston, South Carolina: Bad news for low-lying jurisdictions: “[T]hree studies have found evidence that the threat of higher seas is also undermining coastal property values, as home buyers—particularly investors—begin the retreat to higher ground.” [The Washington Post]
  • San Francisco, California: Mayor London Breed is displeased with the director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency “for insufficient vetting of construction contractors and a scooter permitting process that seems to blackball Uber and Lyft,” plus recent service delays related to the rehabilitation of the Twin Peaks light-rail tunnel. [San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate; Mission Local]
  • Springfield, Massachusetts: Members of the Springfield City Council have postponed a final vote on a measure that would ban the use of e-cigarettes inside public facilities and in workplaces. [MassLive]
  • Seattle, Washington: Bus-only hours on Third Avenue, an important north-south thoroughfare through downtown Seattle, have been extended beyond the morning and evening peak travel periods to include middays and weekends. [City of Seattle]
  • Saratoga Springs, New York: City leaders are scrambling to set up temporary city offices after lightning struck Saratoga Springs City Hall and sparked a fire in the attic late last week. [The Post-Star]
  • Norman, Oklahoma: The Norman City Council will meet on Tuesday to not only discuss the appointment “an interim and permanent city manager” but also “directing the city manager to investigate ‘possible misconduct or incompetence’” by the city attorney. [Norman Transcript]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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