State & Local Weekend Digest: Rick Snyder’s Odds of Survival; ‘Bleak Outlook’ for Oklahoma Higher Ed

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Paul Sancya / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our news roundup: Montana vs. zebra mussels; Oakland’s affordable housing plan; and Chris Christie’s Atlantic City ultimatum.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN
FLINT WATER CRISIS | Robert Ficano, the former Wayne County executive and sheriff, believes that Gov. Rick Snyder—beleaguered by continuing revelations of how Michigan’s state government managed the manmade municipal public health disaster in Flint—is facing “impossible odds” that the governor will survive the crisis and be able to serve out his second term in office. “You cannot run government just with a spreadsheet,” according to Ficano. [Detroit Free Press]

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING | Strained state revenue and a drop in oil production are hitting public colleges and universities in the Sooner State, which have responded by cutting personnel and vacant positions, offering early retirement and dipping into fiscal reserves. This fiscal year, the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education has been dealing with $106.6 million in reduced funding levels. "We're struggling to keep the quality of the student experience," said Northern Oklahoma College President Cheryl Evans. "It's a bleak outlook." [The Oklahoman]

JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI
STATE AND CITY RELATIONS | The mayors of Kansas City and St. Louis told state lawmakers at the Missouri State Capitol last week that a proposal to eliminate municipal earning taxes that their cities rely on would be extremely disruptive to their finances and would prompt steep service cuts to police and fire operations. “So I’ve been down here and I’ve talked to senators, I’ve talked to representatives, I’ve talked to people, and not a single person has offered a single solution for this,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said. [Missourinet]

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA
PUBLIC SAFETY | The West Virginia Senate voted on Saturday to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto on legislation to eliminate the state’s program requiring training and permitting to carry concealed weapons. Many law enforcement officers in the state opposed the bill on public safety grounds. The West Virginia House voted to override Tomblin’s veto on Friday. “...[I]t’s disheartening that the members of the Legislature have chosen not to stand with these brave men and women—putting their safety and the safety of West Virginians at risk,” the governor said in a statement. [WSAZ-TV]

ESPANOLA, NEW MEXICO
MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT | Mayor Alice Lucero unexpectedly put City Manager Kelly Duran on leave on Friday and appointed the community services director as interim city manager. Duran wasn’t working under a contract and said he had expected to serve through the end of the mayor’s term in 2018. He said that had also reduced his own salary so the city could hire a human resources director. [Santa Fe New Mexican]

POULSON, MONTANA
INVASIVE SPECIES | Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have proposed new rules aimed at preventing an infiltration of zebra and quagga mussels into the state’s waterways. The state’s proposal would permit officials to temporarily take possession of watercraft at high-risk for carrying the invasive species to allow for enough drying time to kill the mussels. [Billings Gazette]

Boston's City Hall (Photo by Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock.com)

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
URBAN PLANNING | Boston’s expansive City Hall Plaza has long been criticized as a massive dead zone for civic life. Among the ideas to inject some excitement? A Ferris wheel with climate-controlled gondolas, an artificial beach in the summer, a beer garden and coffee stalls. [Curbed Boston]

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
HOUSING | With housing affordability a top priority for the entire Bay Area, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has released a plan to protect 17,000 affordable homes and apartment units and build at least 17,000 additional affordable units in the next eight years. Among the tactics to reach those goals: modifications to existing renter protections and an affordable housing bond through Alameda County. [East Bay Express]

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY
MUNICIPAL FINANCE | Gov. Chris Christie had a message for New Jersey state lawmakers: If his financial takeover plan for struggling Atlantic City doesn’t pass, the cash-strapped municipality will be on its own. One sticking point: The Assembly speaker wants changes to the legislation, which currently allows the state to dissolve employee contracts. Stay tuned ... [Press of Atlantic City]

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
PARKS AND RECREATION | Boston has its Emerald Necklace, a string of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1870. Florida’s largest city is in the process of getting its own Emerald Necklace, an 11-mile series of connected parks and trails along creeks aimed at better connecting local neighborhoods. [The Florida Times-Union]

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

NEXT STORY: How a 'Monster' Hurricane Could Swamp Houston and Sink America

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