Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Orange County loosens mask requirement ... Libertarians in Alaska sue over presidential election ... FEMA denies Texas' request for a disaster declaration for a 2019 tornado and other storms.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan traded barbs Thursday with President Trump over the police-free “autonomous zone” that protesters have established in a city neighborhood. "Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!” Trump tweeted. Inslee had his own Tweet in response, “A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. “Stoop” tweeting.” For her part, Durkan said protesters in the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” also called CHAZ, have been peaceful. “We do not need anyone, including the president, to try to sow further divide, further distrust and misinformation,” she said. The protesters demonstrating over the death of George Floyd set up the six-block zone—where participants said they are making food and masks free while discussing the larger reforms they want to see in the city—after a weekend when police used tear gas on demonstrations after saying they wouldn’t. The police subsequently abandoned their East Precinct on Monday, although on Thursday they said they wanted back into the building. Police also took back previous statements that demonstrators were trying to extort businesses in the area. "That has not happened affirmatively," Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. "We haven't had any formal reports of this occurring." [Seattle Times; USA Today; Washington Post]
NO MASKS | Orange County, California is lifting its requirement that people wear masks in public, saying health officials instead “strongly recommend” face coverings. “This decision is not because of public pushback,” said Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau. [Los Angeles Times]
APPEARING ON BALLOTS | The Alaska Libertarian Party filed a federal lawsuit against state elections officials in an attempt to get its presidential candidate on the general election ballot, despite not meeting the state’s legal threshold for signatures. Party Chair Jon Watts said it is unconstitutional to require such a large number of signatures during the pandemic. “It’s interesting that government at all levels can suspend actual constitutional rights—the freedom to assemble and do various other things relative to our Bill of Rights,” he said. “However, when it comes to some slack allowance for ballot presence relative to this Covid, ‘Oh, we can’t change the rules for that.’” [KTOO]
JOURNALIST BLINDED | A photojournalist who was permanently blinded by a rubber bullet while she covered protests in Minneapolis is suing the city police and state patrol. Linda Tirado said that she was wearing a press credential when a police officer fired a rubber bullet directly at her face, damaging her left eye beyond repair. The ACLU filed a separate lawsuit last week on behalf of other journalists injured by police during their coverage of protests. [Pioneer Press]
DISASTER DECLARATION | FEMA denied an appeal from Texas for a major disaster declaration over the damage caused by a tornado and other storms that hit the state in October of 2019. The request had previously been denied and was appealed by Gov. Greg Abbott in April. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said he was “stunned” by the decision and “extremely disappointed that [it] leaves Dallas taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in damage while we are still contending with a pandemic.” [CBS]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.
NEXT STORY: Cities Reconsider Tear Gas Use in Protests