Connecting state and local government leaders
Also: A simple idea that saved a New Jersey beach community and what Midwestern states can learn from Washington state about farm safety.
Here's some of what we've been reading today ...
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania: With Keystone State lawmakers and the governor locked in a protracted budget stalemate, social service non-profit organizations that depend on state appropriations are facing a cash crunch, laying off staff members and pulling back on programs. As Keystone Crossroads reports, a survey of 43 social service non-profit groups in southwest Pennsylvania shows that half of them will reach a “crisis point” in a few months. [Keystone Crossroads / WHYY]
HOUSTON, Texas: Mayor Annise Parker took to Twitter to call out former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman, who has recorded an advertisement that’s opposed to the city’s equal rights ordinance that’s up for a vote in November. As the Houston Chronicle details, Parker “called Berkman a hypocrite for not speaking out against equal rights ordinances for not criticizing equal rights ordinances in other major U.S. cities where he's played ball,” including St. Louis, New York City and Dallas.
Parker said in a statement:
For me, this fight is about how much I love this city. I don't want anyone to ever disparage Houston. That someone who made his name in our city would inject himself into this debate by taking to the airwaves to discredit an effort to ban discrimination in all forms did upset me. This ordinance protects all Houstonians and his remarks diminished it to something trivial.
The equal rights ordinance, known as HERO, prohibits discrimination on a variety of factors, including sex, race, color and ethnicity. Opponents have targeted HERO’s protections of sexual orientation and gender identity. [Houston Chronicle]
SOUTH SEASIDE PARK, New Jersey: Here’s a really simple idea that helped save a beachfront community on the Jersey Shore during Hurricane Sandy while neighboring communities were devastated by storm surge. As Inside Jersey magazine recounts, it started back in the 1970s when residents took scraps of driftwood and snow fencing to prevent sand from blowing onto adjacent properties. Over the years, a dune formed, neighbors replicated the process and the “Midway Beach Condominium Association began an annual ritual of laying rows of fencing along the beach to catch the sand.” During Sandy, the storm surge didn’t reach their homes. [Inside Jersey via NJ.com]
YAKIMA, Washington: Can Midwestern states learn a thing or two about agricultural safety from Washington state? According to Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, which has detailing workplace safety issues on Midwestern farms in a great multi-part series “Tragic Harvest,” the answer is yes:
Farmers in Washington have embraced the nation’s most comprehensive agricultural safety program, an initiative that contrasts sharply with the hands-off approach that prevails in much of the Midwest.
Unlike most farm belt states, where agricultural deaths are rarely investigated, Washington regulators are usually at the scene after an agricultural worker gets killed. Washington is one of three states that enforce safety rules on farms with fewer than 11 workers. Washington also provides consulting services to small farms that wouldn’t qualify for such help in other states.
And the results are “stunning,” according to the newspaper, with Washington state having the lowest farm work fatality rate of any U.S. state. [Star Tribune]
RIVERSIDE, California: Last week, an invasive mosquito species that carries dengue fever was discovered in this city east of Los Angeles, a species that’s been identified in 12 California counties. "A brand new invasive species of mosquito has been found in Riverside," district vector ecologist said, according to The Press Enterprise. "This is a whole new situation we're dealing with." [The Press Enterprise]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.