Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Hawaii opens up to interisland travel this month … Tropical storm projected to be headed to Gulf Coast … Nebraska governor apologizes for saying ‘you people’ to black pastors.
The mayor of Richmond, Virginia said Wednesday he will introduce legislation to take down four of the five prominent Confederate statues in the city, while Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce the state will remove the monument it controls. The statues on Monument Avenue in the capital city—which was also the capital of the Confederacy—have long been a target of activists who say they wrongly celebrate leaders of a secessionist movement rooted in the preservation of slavery. More recently, the avenue has been the site of many of the city’s protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, and the statues have been tagged with graffiti. During protests over the weekend, a fire was set in the United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters. Previously, a commission appointed by Mayor Levar Stoney recommended removal of the city-controlled statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis, while adding context to others. Stoney said he no longer sees that recommendation as appropriate. "Times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin for so many Black Richmonders and Virginians,” he said in a statement. Meanwhile, Northam on Thursday is expected to announce that his administration will remove the state’s statue on the avenue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It is expected to be put into storage pending discussions about where it can be moved. As the outrage has built over Floyd’s death, officials in Birmingham, Alabama and Fort Myers, Florida recently removed statues of Lee. Similarly, in Philadelphia, the city this week quietly removed a statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo, who as police commissioner during the Civil Rights era was known for overseeing brutal policing of black residents. [Richmond Times-Dispatch; Associated Press; Philadelphia Inquirer]
HAWAII TRAVEL | Hawaii is opening up to travel, but only among islands in the state. Gov. David Ige said people can travel from island to island without having to quarantine starting on June 16. Currently, the state requires anybody arriving at an airport to maintain strict isolation for 14 days, which has been enforced at times with arrests of errant tourists. The policy has helped the state maintain extremely low case counts of Covid-19, with days of zero or one new case being reported. On Tuesday, Hawaii eported one new case, bringing the state totals to 653 cases and 17 deaths. But with an economy heavily dependent on tourism, a big remaining question is when Hawaii will open up to travel from the continental United States. Even business executives at a news conference with Ige said that decision must be rooted in public health considerations over economic concerns, given the state’s limited hospital capacity. “It’s not a simple situation. There are public safety issues. There are public sentiment issues,” said Peter Ho, chairman and chief executive of Bank of Hawaii. [Civil Beat; Hawai’i Public Radio]
TROPICAL STORM | Tropical Storm Cristobal is expected to hit the Gulf Coast of the United States as soon as this weekend. It is too early to say exactly where the storm would make landfall, with estimates anywhere from Texas to Alabama. [Weather.com]
WALK OUT | Some black pastors walked out of a meeting with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts after they said the governor made a comment that included, “the problem I have with you people.” Ricketts released a statement afterwards. “I chose my words poorly and apologized when it became apparent that I had caused offense,” he said. [WOWT]
TUNA LAWSUIT | Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he is filing a lawsuit over an alleged conspiracy by Starkist, Bumblebee, and Chicken of the Sea to inflate the price of canned tuna for years. Ferguson is seeking restitution for Washington consumers who paid too much for tuna. [Seattle PI]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.