Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Ohio’s background check difficulties … New York City’s open data updates … and Florida’s new fight against algae blooms.
Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Leading Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup is the continuing flood disaster in the Carolinas that followed Hurricane Florence. But scroll down for more news from places like Selma, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; and Seattle, Washington.
STATE GOVERNMENT | Over the weekend, Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters that have swamped thousands of homes in North Carolina continued flowing downstream, rising in communities in eastern South Carolina. Around 8,000 residents of Georgetown County on Monday were told to be prepared to evacuate. Like in North Carolina, the danger also remains of damage to the walls of coal ash pits, which hold the byproduct of coal burned to produce electricity. Santee Cooper, the state-owned power utility in South Carolina, installed a temporary dam around one ash pit, hoping to ward off rising river water. Duke Energy in North Carolina said over the weekend that their testing of the Cape Fear River showed the flooding of a coal ash pit last week had not caused downstream water contamination. Both the state and an environmental group have also taken water samples, but those tests are not yet back. [The Post & Courier; AP via Herald Tribune; The News & Observer; Myrtle Beach Sun News]
- Sacramento, California: The Golden State’s legal protections for employees who claim they were sexually assaulted—and take time off work to seek counseling—do not apply to a former state Senate staffer, lawyers for the body said in a recent court filing. The lawyers say those laws only apply to private sector workers, not public employees, asking a judge to toss part of the lawsuit. State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins said she could not comment because it involved pending litigation. [CALmatters]
- Jackson, Mississippi: State Auditor Shad White is demanding that two former Coahoma Community College purchasing officials “repay hundreds of thousands of dollars they allegedly embezzled using procurement cards.” [Clarion Ledger]
- Columbus, Ohio: According to a new report released by Gov. John Kasich’s administration, “[l]aw enforcement agencies and courts across the state routinely fail to upload data that gets added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” [Dayton Daily News]
- Sarasota, Florida: With red tide posing a massive threat to the economic vitality of Florida’s beach towns, the state plans to spend $2 million to fight the blooms. Mote Marine Laboratory will use the money on oxone and clay treatments that have been in development for years. [Sarasota Herald Tribune]
LOCAL GOVERNMENT | New York City has released its fourth annual update for its Open Data for All report, which “includes 629 new data sets from 38 agencies, bringing the total number on the platform to more than 2,000” and removed “97 data sets that do no qualify as public data sets because they are low value, inaccurate or outdated.” [Smart Cities Dive]
- Seattle, Washington: Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration has unveiled a $5.9 billion budget proposal that “would boost spending by the city, allocating more money for transit, transportation, police officers and firefighters.” [The Seattle Times]
- Selma, Alabama: Mayor Darrio Melton said Monday that local law enforcement need more protective vests following the ambush shooting of a Selma police officer on Sunday. [AL.com]
- Paulsboro, New Jersey: This small borough near Philadelphia is trying to take on a big blight problem, knocking down two houses and taking over other abandoned properties they hope can be rehabilitated. "I'm tired of the abandoned homes and empty lots," said Mayor Gary Stevenson. [NJ.com]
- Lee County, Virginia: A Virginia state agency rejected Lee County’s proposal to arm teachers and other school employees. The school system had said it couldn’t afford to hire school resource officers, therefore coming up with the alternative of arming school employees. [The Washington Post]