County IT Director Fired Over Ethical Lapses; Coal Executive Delivers Bad News to W.Va.

A West Virginia coal mine.

A West Virginia coal mine. Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also: South Florida’s electric grid is at risk and New Jersey bans unsolicited text message advertisements.

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today …

LANSING, Michigan: The information technology director for the county that includes Michigan’s capital city has been fired for ethics violations after Lansing alt-weekly City Pulse revealed emails showing that Michael Ashton, who also served as Ingham County’s chief information officer, had accepted sports tickets and junkets from contractors. “There are thresholds that were crossed in this case that we felt rose to the level of requiring termination,” Tim Dolehanty, the county administrator, told City Pulse. [Lansing City Pulse]

ROANOKE, West Virginia: In coal country, there is often a complaint that the federal government, through environmental regulations, has been waging a “War on Coal,” and those battles are to blame for the dwindling economic fortunes of the coal mining industry and the communities that serve it. But a leading electric utility president in West Virginia, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, told a group of coal industry executives that with or without tighter environmental regulations, economic forces are making coal extraction uncompetitive. “Americans believe there is a problem, and while we in West Virginia believe that’s ludicrous and we have our view on coal, it’s really important to understand, if you’re not in a coal-producing state, your affinity for coal is not there,” Appalachian Power President Charles Patton said. “The debate largely, at this point in time, has been lost.” [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

MIAMI, Florida: Is the electric utility network in South Florida ready for future hurricanes and sea-level rise associated with climate change? The answer is not really. As The Miami Herald reports, a study from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows storm surge from a Category 3 hurricane could cause severe disruptions to one-sixth of electrical substations in the southeastern portion of the state. [The Miami Herald]

TRENTON, New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie approved legislation on Tuesday that would ban unsolicited advertisements sent via text messages. “What we're trying to do here is assist consumers in avoiding unnecessary charges as a result of receiving messages that are unsolicited and over which the user has no control,” said a sponsor of the legislation, state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, according to New Jersey Advance Media. Christie had vetoed an earlier version of the legislation that had called for stiff first-time penalties of up to $10,000. [New Jersey Advance Media]

LAS VEGAS, Nevada: Here’s something Nevada can be somewhat boastful about. According to a new report, the Silver State showed the sharpest declines in the rate of uninsured children of any state from 2013 to 2014. But the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the news is mixed. The state, according to the study from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, showed that Nevada is still in the top 5 for states with the highest number of uninsured children—63,732 children or a rate of 9.6 percent. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: 'Business Courts' Take on Complex Corporate Conflicts

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