Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Grand jury recordings from the Breonna Taylor case will be released … Atlantic City firefighters sue city over Covid policies … Rural Texas school districts cancel remote learning after attendance problems.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday night announced his intentions to end the Census Bureau count on Oct. 5 despite a federal judge’s order that it can continue through the end of next month. That same day, bureau officials told Ross that as many as 10 states were at risk of being undercounted if door knocking stops on that day, CNN reported, relying on agency documents released Tuesday. In order to reach the bureau’s goal of counting 99% of people in all 50 states, staff would need to keep working through Oct. 11. However, the agency would only be able to crunch the numbers for the final tally by the end of the year if counting stopped on Oct. 5, the documents said. The bureau had previously said they would tell staff to stop counting people on Sept. 30, which critics said is too soon given the difficulties the coronavirus pandemic has created in knocking on doors of people who didn’t respond on their own. They sued, leading to a federal judge issuing an injunction last week that blocked the bureau from ending the count at the end of September. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh asked lawyers for the Trump administration how the agency had decided on the Oct. 5 date, which was first announced in a tweet posted by the bureau. The lawyer suggested there weren’t necessarily any records associated with the decision. “A one sentence tweet? Are you saying that is enough reason to establish decision-making? A one sentence tweet?” Koh responded. [Associated Press; The Guardian; CNN]
BREONNA TAYLOR GRAND JURY | Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he will release the recording of the grand jury that considered possible charges against Louisville police officers involved in the botched raid that killed Breonna Taylor, which one juror called for on Monday. Grand jury proceedings are normally secret, but Cameron said he will comply with the juror’s legal motion requesting records of the AG’s presentation be released. “We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” Cameron said in a statement. “Once the public listens to the recording, they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.” Louisville attorney Kevin Glogower described his client, an anonymous grand juror, as “aggrieved.” “My client wants to make sure the truth gets out,” Glogower said Tuesday. “This is an issue that is about accountability, it’s about public trust, and it’s about transparency.” None of the officers involved in the raid were charged in Taylor’s death, although one officer was indicted on “wanton endangerment” charges, accused of shooting into other people’s apartments. [WFPL; Courier Journal]
ATLANTIC CITY FIREFIGHTERS | The Atlantic City firefighters union sued the city and state of New Jersey after six firefighters tested positive last week for Covid-19, saying the city has shown “blatant disregard” for their health. The lawsuit claims 65 firefighters were potentially exposed to the virus because of department policy of directing firefighters to return to work after they were exposed to infected coworkers but tested negative themselves for the virus. The union is asking that the department revise policy to require anyone exposed to the virus to self-quarantine for 14 days on paid leave regardless of any test results. It also asks that the city professionally disinfect fire stations in between shifts. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
CANCELED REMOTE LEARNING | After some students failed to participate in remote learning after signing up for it, some rural school districts in Texas are canceling the option, telling students they can either return to in-person classes or pursue home school or private school. “Our kids were doing so poorly we said, ‘We can’t continue to allow our kids to not get their education,’” said Louise Independent School District Superintendent Garth Oliver. [Houston Chronicle]
VIOLENT CRIME RATES | Violent crime in the United States dropped by .5% in 2019, marking the third consecutive year of decline, according to comprehensive crime data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. More than 1.2 million violent crimes were committed across the country and more than 10 million arrests were made last year. Three midwestern cities led the country with the highest crime rates. With 1,965 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Detroit had the highest violent crime rate in the nation for the second year in a row. It was followed by St. Louis, Memphis, and Baltimore. [FBI, Detroit News]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent.