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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Political turmoil continues in Virginia … Hawaii’s mainland prison inmates … and email scammers using Fla. mayor’s name.
Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Disaster recovery leads our state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Seattle, Washington; Dayton, Minnesota; Mexico Beach, Florida. … ALSO ON ROUTE FIFTY … Survey Technique Shows Way to Better Understand Scope of Local Opioid Abuse … Where Millennials and Seniors Have Moved Since the Recession
Let’s get to it …
DISASTER RECOVERY | Survivors of last year’s Camp Fire in and around Paradise, California have been plotting the places where they’ve relocated to. They’ve ended up in at least 29 different states and 245 communities around the U.S. [Chico Enterprise-Record] … Florida House lawmakers have until Tuesday to submit Hurricane Michael recovery project proposals ahead of the start of the legislative session. As of Monday, $400 million in proposals have been filed, including $25 million to restore the storm-battered shoreline in Mexico Beach. [The News Service of Florida via MyPanhandle] … Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials have been pressing the federal government to set rules for how $4.3 billion in Hurricane Harvey recovery aid can be spent. [Texas Tribune]
GOVERNORS | As he faces continued calls to step down, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam promised aides on Monday he would make a decision “soon” on whether he will resign. The political turmoil in Richmond, which started unfolding on Friday when racist photos from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced on a conservative news site, took an unanticipated turn when the same news site published a sexual assault allegation involving Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would assume the governorship should Northam resign. Fairfax has denied the allegation: “Does anybody think it's any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that's when this uncorroborated smear comes out?” Fairfax asked during a news conference on Monday. “Does anybody believe that's a coincidence? I don't think anybody believes that's a coincidence, again, particularly with something—this is not the first time this was brought up.” [The Washington Post; Richmond Times-Dispatch; Politico] … In an executive order, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is reorganizing part of state government, creating the new Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy out of the Department of Environmental Quality, a move that “appears to refocus the agency foremost as an environmental and public health watchdog.” [Bridge MI] … During a rally at the Kansas Statehouse on Monday, Gov. Laura Kelly tried to “sell wary retired teachers and government workers on her plan to reduce the state's annual payments to its public pension system.” [AP via KSN]
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE | While Monday’s planned opening of the long-awaited two-mile-long State Route 99 highway tunnel under downtown Seattle happened as planned, significant snowfall—something that doesn’t happen often in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city—fell on the Puget Sound region, closing schools, fouling commutes and prompting many to stay home and avoid navigating icy roadways. The tunnel replaces the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a seismically vulnerable double-decker elevated expressway, which closed three weeks ago. [Crosscut; The Seattle Times] … The Federal Railroad Administration says that New Jersey Transit can resume commuter rail service at any time on lines where the agency temporarily suspended or reduced service due to the work to finish installation of Positive Train Control. [NJ.com]
CITY HALLS | More City Council members in Portland, Oregon are opposing a previously approved requirement mandating that the owners of seismically deficient masonry structures post warning signs. [Portland Tribune / Pamplin Media Group] … An email scammer is posing as Jacksonville, Florida Mayor Lenny Curry, sending unsuspecting residents invoices with a link to view a “receipt.” The city’s IT department is advising recipients to not click on the link and delete the message. [WJAX] … Prosecutors say that the mayor of Dayton, Minnesota stole thousands of dollars from the Dayton Heritage Day festival committee. [KMSP] … The City Council in Trenton, Ohio is getting close to naming a new city manager after “a lengthy search that included three top candidates who dropped out of the running.” Two of those three didn’t want to relocate to the city, which is required under the city charter. [Journal-News]
CORRECTIONS | A legislative proposal in Hawaii to phase out the state’s use of private prisons on the U.S. mainland was “quickly quashed” last week. The state started sending inmates to the mainland in 1995 as a temporary action to ease overcrowding. “But it’s never stopped the practice, partly because it is cheaper to house inmates there.” [Honolulu Civil Beat]
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | As officials in Atlantic City, New Jersey look to build upon a “recent flurry of investment and redevelopment,” they’re trying to deal with clusters of rooming houses that create “a confusing aesthetic that leaves visitors guessing whether they are in an impoverished residential area or a blossoming business district—and the perception of a dangerous atmosphere.” [Press of Atlantic City] … Findlay, Ohio Mayor Lydia Mihalik is leaving City Hall for a post in Gov. Mike DeWine’s Cabinet as director of the state’s Development Services Agency. [Toledo Blade]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.
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