Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Some good pensions-related news for a change; voters reject plan to disband Michigan village; and the ACLU sues Maine’s governor.
Our daily roundup of state and local government news is compiled by Route Fifty’s staff and edited by Michael Grass. Help us crowdsource link gathering: Flag state and local government news using the Twitter hashtags #localgovwire and #stategovwire.
Here’s what’s making news ...
STADIUMS | Soccer star David Beckham’s ambitions to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium in Miami, Florida are encountering pushback from a newly formed neighborhood group. The Overtown Spring Garden Community Collective, a not-for-profit, was incorporated last week. “The goal is to stop the stadium,” said James Adams, senior pastor at St. John Church. “We’re a much stronger voice when all of us are on the same page. And we’re trying to do the same thing as opposed to having just splintered groups.” [Miami New Times; Miami Herald]
PRIVACY | Civil libertarians are raising concerns about a new surveillance camera pointed toward a popular demonstration spot outside the Massachusetts State House. State officials say the camera, mounted on the exterior of the building in June, is to protect public safety. Not everyone sees it that way. “It transgresses the look and feel of liberty. That doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional,” said Harvey Silverglate, a civil rights lawyer. “But in a decent society, the government shouldn’t do everything it is legally empowered to do.” [The Boston Globe]
ENVIRONMENT | So-called “cool” roofs, ones that are light-colored and reflect sunlight to fight the urban heat island effect might end up creating more air pollution. The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California studied air quality in parts of Utah, which is often worse in the winter time than in summer. Why? “Snow reflects more ultra-violet (UV) light back into the atmosphere, triggering the chemical reaction that forms ozone.” [Southern California Public Radio / KPCC]
CIVIL RIGHTS | The mostly white city of Gardendale, Alabama wants to secede from the predominantly black Jefferson County school district, arguing it wants more local control. A federal judge found the separation racially discriminatory and harmful to black students and desegregation efforts combating messages of inferiority, but she greenlit the move anyway. Now the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has appealed on behalf of black schoolchildren, arguing continued local splintering of school districts is undermining school desegregation in the south. [The Washington Post]
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | A planned Irving Consumer Products manufacturing facility involving a $350 million investment in Macon-Cobb County, Georgia, was officially announced on Wednesday by local, state and federal officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The first phase of the manufacturing facility is expected to employ 200 people. [The Telegraph, h/t @ChrisFloore @MaconBibb]
An analysis by Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that taxpayers in the state won’t see a return on the investment being made to bring a Foxconn manufacturing facility to the Badger State for 25 years. The break-even date assumes that the Taiwanese manufacturer employees 13,000 Wisconsin state residents at the planned facility. [Wisconsin State Journal / Madison.com]
Augusta, Maine: The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Maine Gov. Paul LePage alleging that he violated the free speech rights of two critics on Facebook by blocking them and deleting their comments. [Maine Public]
Seattle, Washington: City Councilman Mike O’Brien is developing legislation to loosen rules for people who are living out of their vehicles, a contentious proposal in a city grappling with an ongoing homelessness and housing crisis. [KING-TV]
Ferguson, Missouri: After her life work “was engulfed in flames within two hours” amid the rioting that followed the announcement that local police officer Darren Wilson would not face charges for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Juanita's Fashions R Boutique clothing store owner Juanita Morris, has reopened her business. "A lot of lives could have been lost,” she said of the violence that came after Brown’s death. "I was able to replace everything I lost. But you can't replace a life." [Inc, h/t @ELGL50]
Sacramento, California: With the passage of S.B. 1 this spring, local governments in the Golden State will be able to tap $5.2 billion in annual revenue for road projects starting in 2018—but only if they meet various deadlines through the end of the year. [Western City, h/t @CaCities]
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: It may not necessarily be a moment to bring out the Champagne, but one of Pennsylvania’s two largest pension funds had a return of 6.5 percent last year, according to its recently released report for 2016. "When talking about an underfunded pension system, that is very good news," a spokeswoman for the State Employees Retirement System said. [WITF / Keystone Crossroads]
Spring Lake Michigan: This village near Lake Michigan will remain a village after voters rejected a contentious proposal to eliminate the local government. [The Grand Rapids Press / MLive.com]
Durham, North Carolina: The Public Technology Institute has recognized Durham’s Technology Solutions Department and the Neighborhood Improvement Services Department for their use of technology to improve public services. In all the city has won four awards, two in first place. [City of Durham, h/t @Cityof DurhamNC]
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