Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | More from Pittsburgh … a ‘document dump’ halts hearings in Maine … and anonymous budget amendments in Wisconsin.
Good morning, it’s Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. Saturday’s deadly mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup. Scroll down for the rest of our roundup with news from places like New Bedford, Massachusetts (where the local fishing community is looking at a future full of wind turbines); Tryon, North Carolina (where the mayor doesn’t think the city needs a key position); and Seattle, Washington (where officials are rethinking escalators).
PITTSBURGH MASS SHOOTING | Pittsburgh starts its workweek as a city in mourning, trying to recover from the shock, horror and trauma that came from Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 people were killed during a murderous spree brought by a gunman driven by deep hate and anti-Semitism. During an interview from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Mayor Bill Peduto discussed the how this tragedy hits particularly close to home not just for him—Peduto lives a few blocks away—but for so many others in his city and beyond. "Three blocks from here is where Fred Rogers lived. This is literally Mister Rogers' neighborhood." [CNN]
In CityLab, Brentin Mock writes more about Squirrel Hill, noting how beyond the large Jewish community, “[o]n any given day you’ll swipe arms at bus stops and cafes with people from a broad range of ethnicities and nationalities” thanks in part of the neighborhood’s proximity to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University.
Tragically, the cultural diversity that attracts so many ... to Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh’s most populous neighborhood, is perhaps the same thing that makes it vulnerable to bigoted attacks like the one [Robert] Bowers committed …
Peduto recognized some of the good that has come from a dark chapter in the city’s history. The mayor said at a press conference Sunday that the “outpouring of love and support for Pittsburgh is incredibly appreciated during this time. There is a commonality throughout the world of people who have had enough of this type of hate based on somebody’s practice of religion or national origin. There is an outpouring that is being heard through the people of Pittsburgh right now, of where people want society move towards. It is not about finding ways to divide us. It is about finding ways that unite us through our commonality as humans. Let this horrific episode be another mark in the march of humanity towards recognizing that we are all one.” [@TheNextPGH]
OVERSIGHT | The California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which licenses and regulates for-profit colleges and vocational schools, “has repeatedly failed or been slow to enforce laws meant to prevent fraud and abuse at the more than 1,000 schools it is charged with overseeing, leaving a serious gap in accountability as federal regulators back away from the job.” [CALmatters / The Sacramento Bee]
TRANSPARENCY | What’s going on in Wisconsin? In the legislature, that’s oftentimes difficult to know due to “[a]nonymous budget amendments and ‘Body Snatcher’ bills” that “give power to special interests and change the scope of legislation with no chance for public input.” [Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism]
ENERGY | The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Friday halted hearings on Central Maine Power’s proposed 145-mile-long transmission line “after project opponents complained that CMP had overwhelmed them with a last-minute ‘document dump’ too big to wade through within the allotted time.” [Maine Public]
FIREFIGHTING | During a special city council meeting on Sunday, local officials in Prichard, Alabama voted to retreat from a previously approved plan to purchase two fire trucks because the city near Mobile can’t afford them. [WPMI]
INFRASTRUCTURE | After experiencing significant issues with escalator reliability in two of its newest deep-level Link light-rail stations in Seattle, Sound Transit on Friday announced a plan to open emergency staircases full-time and change the design of another underground station currently under construction to incorporate additional staircases. [The Seattle Times]
PUBLIC WORKS | The town of Tryon, North Carolina hasn’t had a public works director for two years and some people, including Mayor Alan Peoples, don’t think the city needs such a position. [Tryon Daily Bulletin]
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | Fishermen in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the nation’s most valuable fishing port, are concerned that planned offshore wind turbines could threaten their livelihood. But local officials are hopeful that the nation’s first full-scale offshore wind farm and fishing will be able to co-exist. “We need to make sure off-shore wind is done the right way,” New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “Off-shore wind is not going to supplant the fishing industry, not by a long shot. We want to set things up so that the two industries complement one another.” [WGBH]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.