Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | A grim search in Calif. for the missing in Paradise … Mich. PFAS blood tests … the best big U.S. airport … and ‘pot for potholes.’
Good morning, it’s Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Leading Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup is the intersection of gun safety and municipal procurement , but scroll down for updates from the California wildfires and more from places like Grand Rapids, Michigan; Bedford, Texas; and Honolulu, Hawaii.
PROCUREMENT | Toledo, Ohio Mayor Wade Wade Kapszukiewicz is using the power of municipal procurement rules to pressure gun and ammunition manufacturers to adopt responsible business practices if they want to do business with the Toledo Police Department. Kapszukiewicz hopes other cities will follow Toledo’s lead on leveraging their procurement powers in that way. “I am hoping that what we can do here in Toledo can lead to something bigger,” the mayor said late last month. [Toledo Blade; HuffPost]
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | As firefighters continue to work to contain the Camp Fire in Northern California, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department has released a list of those currently unaccounted for. As for Wednesday night, the confirmed death toll from California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire on record—which burned through more than “7,600 single-family homes, 95 multi-family structures and 260 businesses” in and around the town of Paradise—stands at 56. The death toll is likely to rise with “more than 400 people and 22 cadaver dogs” in the area as part of the grim search effort. Family members Butte County Sheriff’s Office; Chico Enterprise-Record]
AIR QUALITY | While air quality has improved in Southern California as firefighters contain more of the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles, in Northern California, it’s a different story. Residents living in the Bay Area, Sacramento and other areas downwind from the Camp Fire continue to endure unhealthy air quality as smoke continues to sit over the region. In the San Joaquin Valley, California State University, Stanislaus closed its campuses in Turlock and Stockton on Wednesday due to the smoke. “Air quality could be impacted for many days to come and will be variable and unpredictable,” Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn said in a statement. Public health agencies have urged Californians experiencing degraded air quality to limit their time outdoors, but homeless people sleeping outdoors have few to no alternatives. “The things that are an inconvenience for the rest of us, to say nothing of the devastation for those in the path of the fires, present more danger and uncertainty for our unhoused neighbors,” according to Sherilyn Adams, the executive director of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. [PurpleAir.com; Curbed SF; Modesto Bee; The Atlantic]
WATER QUALITY | The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Kent County Health Department are looking for residents in and around the Grand Rapids area to have their blood drawn “to evaluate the relationship between drinking water with PFAS and the amount in the body.” Why Kent County? "Because no other area in Michigan has as many wells exceeding the advisory level nor are any test results as high." [Detroit Free Press] … While the red tide that has fouled the waters of southwest Florida may have dissipated, “recent data shows Karenia brevis is still present in Lee County in low to medium concentrations.” [Fort Myers Beach Observer]
INFRASTRUCTURE | The Wall Street Journal has released its first-ever U.S. Airport Rankings, naming Denver International Airport as the best facility. The rankings scored the nation’s 20 largest airports on 15 categories including “security-line wait times, Wi-Fi speed and average Yelp scores.” The airport tweeted Wednesday: “With a focus on passenger experience, we're making improvements so that traveling through DEN is even easier and more enjoyable for our passengers.” [The Wall Street Journal; @DENAirport] … In a meeting with Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz on Tuesday, former Gov. Jesse Ventura said that the state should embrace legalized marijuana and use revenue to repair the state’s roads. "How does it sound? Pot for potholes," Ventura said with a smile. [Minnesota Public Radio]
HOUSING | The District of Columbia Council on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation that will bring new regulations and restrictions for short-term rentals in the nation’s capital through companies like Airbnb. The bill now goes to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. [WAMU / DCist] … The mayor of Bedford, Texas, a city near Fort Worth, is facing a recall effort from citizens who oppose the development of new apartments. [Star Telegram] … A what-if scenario for Honolulu: If Hurricane Lane had made landfall on Oahu as a Category 1 instead of dissipating, many older wooden houses built before stronger 1995 codes would have been “either severely damaged or completely destroyed” and displace 3,800 families, according to a new analysis from the Pacific Disaster Center. [Honolulu Civil Beat]
CORRECTIONS | A federal judge in Illinois says that the state’s Department of Corrections is “failing to meet the needs of mentally ill prison inmates.” [Illinois News Network] … In Humboldt County, California, work on a partially built new juvenile justice center has stopped after the contracted company terminated all construction work until further notice. [The Times-Standard]
ANIMAL WELFARE | This week, Atlanta became the latest city to adopt rules to ban the sale of cats and dogs at pet stores, a preventative measure meant to stop the operation of puppy and kitten mills. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.