Minnesota’s Largest Homeless Camp Is in a Race Against Colder Weather

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Outflanking New York state’s stubborn legislature … an independent auditing office for Mass. State Police … and L.A.’s new golden Gold tribute.

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. Homelessness leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more stories from places like Columbus, Ohio; Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; and Joplin, Missouri.

HOMELESSNESS | Social service agencies and providers are working to connect residents of what is likely the largest homeless camp in Minnesota with more stable housing ahead of colder fall weather in the North Star State. The camp, southeast of downtown Minneapolis along Hiawatha Avenue, is home to at least 120 people—many are Native American—and includes families with children. City, county and state agencies are hoping to clear the camp by the end of September and are also considering an effort to vaccinate as many homeless residents for hepatitis A to prevent an outbreak. [MinnPost]

  • San José, California: Homeless advocates think that San José’s former city hall building, which has stood vacant for 12 years, could be used as temporary housing for those who are unsheltered, but local officials say the cost of rehabbing the building are cost prohibitive. [KGO]  
  • Daytona Beach, Florida: Work on a new 140-bed homeless shelter is scheduled to wrap up next April, with an opening date likely in June. [The Daytona Beach News-Journal]

TRANSPORTATION | Procurement problems have been big pain points for transportation officials in Seattle, delaying progress on the long-planning $120 million RapidRide G bus line along Madison Street. The Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro had originally planned on using 60-foot articulated buses powered by overhead trolleywire, but the vehicles that were to be manufactured by Canada’s New Flyer Industries can’t currently climb the route’s steep hills. Those problems have prompted the Federal Transit Administration to not release $60 million in funding that had been approved for the project. If the federal funding doesn’t come through by spring, SDOT may have to consider scaling back the RapidRide G, including possibly shifting to hybrid diesel vehicles. [The Seattle Times; Seattle Transit Blog]

  • New York City, New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council President Corey Johnson on Tuesday announced that they had figured out a complex multi-step way to outflank the state legislature’s inaction to reauthorize automated speed enforcement cameras in school zones and get the cameras turned back on in time for the start of the school year. [amNY; Curbed NY]
  • Columbus, Ohio: Due to an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles vendor glitch, a small number of motorists in the Buckeye State mistakenly received a second driver’s license, which led to confusion. [WCPO]
  • Boise, Idaho: A vendor for the Idaho Transportation Department on Monday reported “a multi-state outage” with the system that issues driver’s licenses. Earlier this month the Division of Motor Vehicles upgraded “a very old system” that dates to the 1980s. [Boise Weekly]
The Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston (Shutterstock)

STATE GOVERNMENT | Bay State state officials have launched an independent auditing office to oversee the scandal-tarred Massachusetts State Police, which will be "responsible for monitoring the quality, efficiency and integrity of MSP's operations, organizational structure and management functions." [The Boston Globe; MassLive]

  • Peoria, Illinois: The interim director of the Illinois Department of Corrections testified in federal court on Monday that many inmates won’t receive improved mental health care until 1,200 new beds are available in treatment facilities. [Bloomington Pantagraph]
  • Augusta, Maine: Gov. Paul LePage is home after a weekend hospitalization for “discomfort,” but awaiting him is a new conflict, this time with state Attorney General Janet Mills who is threatening to sue LePage to force him to release nearly $5 million in funding that she says her office is owed. [WGME; Press Herald]
  • Jefferson City, Missouri: Gov. Mike Parson is considering calling legislators back to the State Capitol for special session next month. [KSDK]

LOCAL GOVERNMENT | The Justice Department wants more records from Atlanta City Hall related to the administration of former Mayor Kasim Reed, “asking to see how members of his executive staff justified their P-card and travel expenses.” [WXIA / 11Alive]

  • Rochester, New York: Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced Monday that the county government will spend $2.6 million on a multi-pronged strategy to ease the opioid abuse crisis, including boosting funds for Rochester’s “drug court,” expand access to Narcan and connect addicts with long-term rehabilitation services. [Democrat and Chronicle]
  • Joplin, Missouri: A city council panel on Monday approved an action “to raise wage levels for firefighters and police officers to make Joplin more competitive” with departments in the region, including Springfield and in northwest Arkansas. [Joplin Globe]
  • Los Angeles, California: City officials on Monday dedicated a section of Broadway outside Grand Central Market in honor of beloved Los Angeles Times food writer Jonathan Gold, who died in June. A plaque quotes Gold: “The huge number of multiple cultures that live in this city … and the fault lines between them are where you find the most beautiful things.” A golden silhouette of Gold is now affixed to a golden light post outside the market. [Curbed LA; @MayorofLA]

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

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