Connecting state and local government leaders
Also: Denver spends comparatively little to ease homelessness and Maine town tries to tackle heroin abuse.
Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today …
MIAMI, Florida: This summer The New Yorker painted a cataclysmic picture regarding the risk the Pacific Northwest faces from the next Cascadia megathrust earthquake that is predicted to unleash unprecedented levels of disaster for cities like Seattle and Portland. What’s the next urban target for a New Yorker feature on a future disaster? Miami. Rising sea levels, seawater infiltration of freshwater aquifers, higher levels of precipitation will eventually lead to much of low-lying South Florida becoming uninhabitable. And the pricey pumps that try to keep Miami Beach dry during high tide? They’ll be “submerged by the seas of tomorrow.” Good luck, Miami. [The New Yorker]
SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico: This municipality wedged between Mexico and Texas near El Paso is facing a circulating petition from “residents disgruntled with the government” following a 2012 corruption scandal who are frustrated and want to disincorporate the city, as the Albuquerque Journal reports. The current mayor, Javier Perea, says getting rid of the city government would be a bad move since Doña Ana County would be unlikely to provide the same level of services. According to the Albuquerque Journal:
Perea, who was named mayor by the City Council in 2012, said the organizers claim “the only thing that is going to happen with the disincorporation is that the elected officials are going to be gone.”
“That’s completely false,” he said. “We have a budget of a little more than $5 million. To continue providing the services that the city is currently providing, you’re going to have to ask the county to make a $5 million budget adjustment. That, to me, is highly improbable.”
If the disincorporation petition leads to a special election on the matter and residents vote to dissolve Sunland Park, 70 city staffers would likely lose their jobs, including 21 police officers and 14 firefighters. [Albuquerque Journal]
WESTBROOK, Maine: This city near Portland is gearing up to roll out a new multi-organizational initiative to curb the abuse of heroin, a collaboration of 30 different groups, including the city’s schools, police and non-profits. The city’s police chief, according to the Portland Press Herald, said the coordinated effort will focus on “prevention through education, enforcement, and intervention through treatment and recovery.” [Portland Press Herald]
DENVER, Colorado: It’s hard not to see the Mile High City’s homelessness problem when walking along the downtown 16th Street Mall. Panhandlers abound. Tourism officials, as The Denver Post reports, are concerned about the perception of safety. But compared to other major cities, Denver doesn’t spend that much on programs aimed at easing homelessness. The Post reports:
Denver's Road Home program gets about $6.7 million a year. That compares with $141 million spent on homelessness issues by the city of Philadelphia, about $72 million by Houston, up to $60 million annually by Portland and about $22 million by Salt Lake City, according to data presented to the council.
But the need additional funding for homelessness programs “got scant mention” in a special Denver City Council session on Friday devoted to homelessness. [The Denver Post]
MADISON, Wisconsin: The Badger State is certainly not immune to the nation’s ongoing infrastructure crisis or the difficulties of legislators figuring out lasting solutions to fund necessary repairs. But a Republican plan at the State Capitol would permit county governments to ask local voters to approve temporary sales taxes to fund road repairs that would sunset after four years, Wisconsin Public Radio reports. "It's for pothole repair and smoother roads and actually, in most cases, I think it would be catching up with maintenance that has fallen behind," state Rep. Dean Knudson said. [Wisconsin Public Radio]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.