Gov. Rick Snyder Named in Flint’s First RICO Suit; N.J. Township Fights Turkeys With Airhorns

Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Driver’s licenses for Arizona “dreamers;” raising Louisiana’s exotic dancing age; and a town called Climax

FLINT, MICHIGAN
WATER CRISIS | A water mafia? Gov. Rick Snyder, former members of his administration and Flint, itself, face a federal racketeering lawsuit accusing them of trying to balance the city’s budget illegally amid a water crisis. The crisis’ first RICO suit, filed by 15 citizens Wednesday, seeks an unspecified amount in damages to cover property damage, loss of business and future medical care resulting from Flint’s lead-poisoned water. Snyder and company are accused of covering up the severity of the water crisis while billing residents unfairly. [Michigan Live]

TEANECK, NEW JERSEY
WILDLIFE | “Aggressive” wild turkeys have been terrorizing Teaneck’s residents, so the township’s fighting back with 20 airhorns distributed by the health officer to the public. The protected birds can only be handled by the state, but males—usually the most ornery—can be deterred with water hoses and loud noises. Flocks break up in the summer, so Teaneck needs only hold out a little longer. “We have to coexist as best as possible,” said Health Officer Ken Katter. [The Record]

PHOENIX, ARIZONA
IMMIGRATION | Young undocumented immigrants who receive deportation deferments remain entitled to driver’s licenses, ruled a federal court Tuesday. Former Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order barring undocumented immigrants granted federal work permits through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from obtaining licenses, which a District Court judge blocked in January 2015. Nebraska is the only other state to attempt to deny “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children, driver’s licenses. [The Arizona Republic]

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
EXOTIC DANCERS | Louisiana lawmakers want to raise the exotic dancing age in the state from 18 to 21. New Orleans recently approved a similar restriction, to the dismay of some in the industry, after a 19-year-old dancer was found dead on the interstate. The bill’s opponents argue raising the age limit will hurt young mothers trying to make a living, but sponsors say it’s meant to combat sex trafficking. “Many of these women who are abducted end up in these establishments—that’s a fact,” said Republican state Sen. Ronnie Johns. “We’d like to protect these young women.” [The Advocate]

NEW YORK CITY,  NEW YORK
INFRASTRUCTURE | A critical third water tunnel that would act as a backup, should aging tunnels supplying the resource to Brooklyn and Queens fail, has been put on hold by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Looking to slow the rise of city water and sewer rates, de Blasio’s administration raided financing set aside for the project by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year. No plan has been devised for completing the tunnel, which de Blasio would prefer finished sometime after 2020. [The New York Times]

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
PROBES | Allegheny County’s district attorney has begun investigating the state watchdog agency tasked with monitoring Pittsburgh's finances and its sole employee, Henry Sciortino. The executive director of the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority hasn’t been able to account for 92 percent of the agency’s expenditure receipts during the last five years, board meeting minutes and transcripts or many contracts—on top of being accused of bilking his ex-business partner then filing for bankruptcy. Some state lawmakers want Sciortino fired. “The ICA was accountable to no one; rudderless, led by an individual who had little incentive to help Pittsburgh—other than personal gain,” said state Sen. Wayne Fontana. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

FRANCONIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE
RECREATION | New Hampshire seniors should get their skiing in while they can because free admission for residents 65 and older to the state’s 93 park facilities may be coming to an end. A bill approved by the state Senate and up for consideration in its House would eliminate free weekday skiing, instead offering seniors two-thirds off during the week and one-third off on weekends and holidays. The state Division of Parks and Recreation is required by law to be “self-funded,” and the $423,452 provided in 2015 senior discounts will help it achieve that goal. [New Hampshire Union Leader]

FERGUSON, MISSOURI
POLICE REFORM | It’s back to the drawing board for embattled Ferguson, where voters rejected a property tax increase intended to fund, in part, the U.S. Department of Justice’s required police department changes. While a new sales tax was passed, the resulting shortfall must still be covered—perhaps by trying again for the additional 40 cent tax for every $100 of assessed property value in August. The DOJ sued the city to force its police to undergo bias-awareness training and reduce use of force, following the fatal law enforcement shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in 2014. [Reuters]

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
HOMELESSNESS | Sacramento City Council approved a six-month, $100,000 pilot portable restroom for the homeless, monitored by paid attendants. The program, modeled after one in San Francisco, should make a dent in the $7 million a year the City of Trees spends disposing of human waste found in encampments and along streets. The restrooms consists of two flushable toilets on an elevated trailer with a bin for used needles. [The Sacramento Bee]

CLIMAX, MINNESOTA
TOWN NAMES | Climax gets its name from a chewing tobacco brand back in 1896, and its “More than just a feeling” motto capitalizes on peoples’ penchant for making innuendos about the moniker. But the daughter of the man who invented that slogan says it belies the small town’s “wholesome” Minnesotan nature. [Star Tribune]

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty. Bill Lucia contributed to this report.

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