Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Tulsa’s sexual assault grant funding … Louisiana wants to build an airport in a wildlife refuge … and Duluth’s unusual snow-shoveling rule.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Government transparency—or the lack thereof—leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Sun Valley, California; Port Richey, Florida; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
STATE GOVERNMENT | Although Eric Greitens resigned as Missouri’s governor in June, a lawsuit over his administration’s use of a secret text messaging app to communicate “continues to churn in Cole County court and the new governor’s legal team continues to try to get it dismissed.” The app, Confide, automatically deletes text messages once they’re opened and critics say using it violates the state’s sunshine laws. “Missourians will not tolerate an underground government, a government that conspires to communicate using disappearing ink,” said Mark Pedroli, one of a pair of attorneys who filed the lawsuit last year. [The Kansas City Star]
- Sun Valley, California: Following the California High Speed Rail Authority has selected a route for the segment through the San Gabriel Mountains between Palmdale and Burbank, a “throng of 300 somewhat skeptical San Fernando Valley residents and several dozen protesters peppered rail staff at a meeting in Sun Valley with questions about seismic faults, wildlife crossings, ground vibrations, air emissions, truck traffic and myriad other potential effects.” [Los Angeles Times]
- Elmer’s Island, Louisiana: Conservationists and scientists in Louisiana are perplexed by a state plan to pave over part of the Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge for a small commercial airport after spending millions of dollars to turn the small sandy island “into one of the Gulf Coast’s foremost refuges for birds and other wildlife.” [The Times-Picayune / NOLA.com]
- Atlanta, Georgia: The office of state Inspector General Deborah Wallace has been asked to examine “whether a group that did work for the Charter Schools Commission violated state law by not reporting that it paid for staffers to attend events across the country and offered them stipends.” [The Atlanta Journal Constitution]
LOCAL GOVERNMENT | Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding that will use $20 million from city coffers to support an affordable housing trust fund authorized by local voters in 2016 but unfunded. A 12-person commission will “identify housing area priorities and develop policies for spending the trust.” [WBAL; Maryland Daily Record]
- Phoenix, Arizona: In a 6-2 vote on Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council approved the proposed 5.5-mile South Central light-rail extension. [KPNX / 12 News]
- Duluth, Minnesota: Local leaders are looking to ditch an unusual local ordinance on the books that requires the city to shovel a property owner’s sidewalk if snow plowing ends up burying areas that were freshly shoveled. “In our research, we have found no other cities in the U.S. who hold this promise—likely because it is unsustainable, unfulfilled and unfunded,” said Mayor Emily Larson. [Duluth News Tribune]
- Tulsa, Oklahoma: The Tulsa Police Department was awarded a three-year $1.5 million federal grant from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to help the city improve its response for sexual assaults, including working through its backlogs of sexual assault testing kits. [Tulsa World]
- Port Richey, Florida: Members of the city council in this city near Tampa want to make it easier to fire the city manager, but will leave it to local voters to consider a proposal on the matter in April 2019. [Tampa Bay Times]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.