Nashville Mayor Opens Up About the Tragedy of Losing Her Son

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry speaks during a news conference in her office Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry speaks during a news conference in her office Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Mark Humphrey / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | West Virginia’s new effort to reduce fire fatalities; women are underrepresented in Utah city halls; and despite an economic development disaster, S.C. county isn’t “going to curl up and die.”

Here are state and local government stories that caught our eye ...

CITY HALLS | Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has returned to work following a brief period to mourn the death of her son Max, who passed away on July 29 from an apparent overdose. In a news conference from her desk on Monday, Barry opened up about Max’s death, connecting it to the broader overdose crisis sweeping the country. "I don't want his death to define his life but we have to have a frank conversation about how he died," the mayor said. "This is not an unfamiliar nationwide or community conversation," she added. "It's a national epidemic."  [The Tennessean; WZTV-TV]  

Women are underrepresented in city halls across Utah, according to data collected by The Salt Lake Tribune. The newspaper’s analysis found 14 city councils in the Wasatch Front area, the region where Salt Lake City is located, have no women members. And it found that only two of the 65 councils reviewed have female majorities. “Sometimes I do feel like my ideas are not taken seriously because I am a woman,” Draper Councilwoman Michele Weeks said. “And whether that is the animosity they feel for me or whether it’s just being a woman that has a strong personality, I’m not sure. But I do find that as a woman with strong ideas, I have to be very careful how I present them.” [The Salt Lake Tribune]

Philadelphia officials are trying to slough off the city’s infamous nickname, “Filthadelphia,” once and for all by 2035. On Monday, the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet presented a roadmap to reduce the amount of trash the city produces and increase the amount it recycles by 90 percent in the next 20 years. One recommendation from the cabinet would have the city raise illegal dumping fines—which have not increased since the 1980s—from $300 to $2,000. The city plans to establish a “litter index” to measure progress and identify areas that need attention. “While everyone knows cleaning up litter is important, we also have to concentrate on reducing waste before it has the chance to become litter,” Mayor Jim Kenney said at a news conference.  [CleanPHL.org; PlanPhilly; Curbed Philly]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | The Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, which produces the iPhone, plans to open up a new multi-billion dollar facility in Michigan that’s focused on the development of autonomous vehicles, a move that comes on the heels of Foxconn announcing a plan to open a $10 billion liquid crystal display factory in Wisconsin. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder met with Foxconn officials this weekend during a trade mission to China. [The South China Morning Post; CNBC; Detroit Free Press]

Scuttled plans for two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, South Carolina have left the community reeling. “This has got be one of the biggest disasters in state history,” county administrator Jason Taylor said. “But we’re not going to curl up and die.” Anticipating an $80 million windfall from the project, local officials have had plans in the works for years to upgrade sewer and water systems and to make neighborhood improvements. But two utilities leading the reactor project announced last week it would be cancelled. They blamed rising costs and the recent bankruptcy of the main contractor, Westinghouse. About 5,000 construction workers lost their jobs as a result. [The State]

ELSEWHERE …

New Orleans, Louisiana: After heavy rainfall flooded various neighborhoods in the Crescent City this weekend, Gov. John Bel Edwards was scheduled to visit two hard-hit areas on Monday afternoon, the Lakeview and Treme neighborhoods. [The Times-Picayune / NOLA.com; WVUE-TV]

Charleston, West Virginia: After “unacceptable numbers of fire fatalities” in West Virginia last year, State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree, along with the American Red Cross and other organizations, is launching a new initiative aimed at distributing 3,500 smoke alarms across the state. In 2016, 37 people in West Virginia died in fires. [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

New York City, New York: As straphangers continue to feel the daily pains of commuting on the subway, Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a new tax on wealthy residents that is expected to raise $700 million annually, with $500,000 devoted to capital costs for subways and buses. Funding for the subway system, which is overseen by the state government’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has been a source of major intergovernmental heartburn for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants to the city to chip in more. Cuomo’s new MTA chief, Joe Lhota, has called the mayor’s proposal unfeasible. [The New York Times; DNAInfo New York]

Denver, Colorado: The Colorado Republican Party is weighing whether to cancel June 2018 primary elections for the governor’s office, Congress and other positions and instead nominate candidates through a caucus system. Such a move would be possible under a state ballot measure approved last year. “We have a certain percentage of our central committee that wants it to be under the party’s purview for how we decide to get our candidates on the ballot,” said Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays. “They don’t necessarily like the idea of unaffiliated voters being able to select their candidates or the party’s nominee.” [The Denver Post]

Hawaii County, Hawaii: Compared to his predecessor, Mayor Harry Kim hasn’t made much use of his purchasing card and hasn’t traveled much on official business. Kim said: “I don’t care to travel. I’m always asking, ‘Can’t we do it by phone conference?’” The mayor, who represents all of the Big Island of Hawaii, claimed around $3,400 in purchasing card and travel expenses from December through June. [West Hawaii Today via Hawaii Tribune-Herald]

Portland, Oregon: “In a bizarre and delightful series of events,” the Portland Bureau of Transportation is trying to get $250 from a now-retired worker who on his last day on the job, painted a Nike swoosh on pavement outside a new location for Under Armour. [Portland Mercury]

Springfield, Massachusetts: After being mayor for nearly 10 years, Domenic Sarno has collected a lot of memorabilia, thousands of items that line every nook and cranny in his office. The mayor has saved many personal notes that he keeps around as inspiration. At home, he lacks such a collection. "My wife would not stand for that," he said. "You know, I have jurisdiction here.” [The Republican / MassLive.com]  

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