Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Iowa decides against spending Covid funds on IT upgrades … Utah university votes to drop “Dixie” from name … New York governor accused of sexual harassment.
Former mayor Pete Buttigieg will be nominated as President-elect Joe Biden’s transportation secretary, multiple news outlets reported Tuesday. Buttigieg, who served eight years as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the first candidate from the 2020 Democratic field to be nominated as part of Biden’s cabinet. If approved by the Senate, Buttigieg would also become the first Senate-confirmed openly LGBTQ cabinet secretary. During his own campaign, Buttigieg made infrastructure investment a key platform plank and as transportation secretary would be expected to play a role in trying to move a Biden public works plan. Buttigieg’s transportation plan featured a huge expansion of transit funding (including in rural areas), more rail, more highway funding and a switch to a vehicle miles traveled tax, according to Streetsblog USA. The sprawling transportation department has about 55,000 employees with jurisdiction not only over highway and transit spending, but also the nation’s air traffic control system and agencies regulating railroads and trucking. Earlier reported contenders for the transportation secretary position included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has overseen major transit investments in that city, and New York City transit leaders Sarah Feinberg and Polly Trottenberg. [Washington Post; Wall Street Journal; CNN]
RELIEF FUNDING REVERSAL | The state of Iowa decided against spending $21 million in federal coronavirus relief dollars on upgrades to the state’s IT system, returning the dollars to the state’s Covid-19 fund. State auditor Rob Sand this fall had questioned whether federal regulations would allow using those dollars on computer upgrades. [KCRG]
DIXIE NO MORE | A Utah public university voted to drop the name “Dixie” after a study found that the name on resumes has damaged graduates’ employability because of the association with the Confederacy. Dixie State University in St. George got its name from the 19th Century Southern transplants to the area who tried to farm cotton there. The recommendation needs to be approved by the state legislature and Board of Higher Education. [Associated Press]
SEXUAL HARASSMENT | A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused him of sexual harassment, writing on Twitter that he would make comments about her appearance. “I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks,” wrote Lindsey Boylan, who is now running for Manhattan borough president. Cuomo denied the allegation. “Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has. But it’s just not true,” Cuomo said. [New York Times; City & State]
NYC SHUTDOWN | New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested the city’s surging coronavirus caseload could necessitate a shutdown, like during the spring, after Christmas. Gov. Andrew Cuomo would make the call on any new restrictions, which the mayor discussed with him on Tuesday. "Clearly these numbers are going in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, and I don't say it with anything but sorrow, but I do think it's needed. We're going to need to do some kind of shutdown in the weeks ahead, something that resembles the PAUSE we were in in the spring,” de Blasio said. [NBC New York]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty.