03.21.2016

03.21.2016

Mind the pollen and get your allergy medication, your Buzz celebrates the return of spring as you come to grips with another year with a busted bracket. Today, we look at whether fire equipment has gotten too big in America, annexation news from Delaware and what happens when you ask the public to name your agency’s newest $300 million vessel. Read on! 

Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m watching: Northern Iowa vs. Texas A&M and hoping at least one Texas school makes the Sweet 16.

What I’m reading: The Oral History of the 1996 Chicago Bulls by Alex Wong

What I’m listening to: Song for Zula by Phosphorescent

What I’m doing: Teaching my daughter how to play tic-tac-toe.

What I want to know from you: How’s your bracket holding up?

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Buzzing

Are American fire trucks too big?: Like many things in the United States, our fire apparatus has become super-sized. One look at the behemoths rolling up and down the highways and by-ways of America is all the evidence that one needs. The cost of those massive firefighting machines has also become super-sized with the average price of a Type I engine being somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 to $600,000 and a 100-foot aerial ladder going for somewhere north of $1 million. For more than a few years now, fire chiefs have had to answer the question from local government leaders and taxpayers, “Why do you need this big and expensive truck running up and down the road for mostly medical calls and car wrecks?”

Community development groups battling for survival: Community development corporations, like Tower Grove Neighborhoods, are nonprofits established to rescue specific neighborhoods from urban decay and pay attention to neighborhoods that others won’t. But they are declining in number, getting less money from the government and struggling to establish themselves as a major force in St. Louis. The situation has led nonprofit leaders to start a new, private funding pool and support network for these groups, called InvestSTL.

18 Behaviors of Emotionally Intelligent People: When emotional intelligence (EQ) first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into the broadly held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90 percent of top performers have high emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.

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50 Nifty

  • Oklahoma County residents speak out against turnpike: Opponents of a proposed turnpike in eastern Oklahoma County decried the toll-road project and the state body that oversees it during a rally Wednesday. More than 100 people gathered at the state Capitol. Meanwhile, final road-alignment plans are nearing completion for the approximately $300 million project that would connect Interstate 40 and Turner Turnpike and run through the city of Harrah. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority plans to present a final proposed route for the turnpike in April, said OTA spokesman Jack Damrill, who declined to comment on the rally. The OTA would fund the project through the sale of bonds that would be paid back almost entirely using toll revenues.
  • Oregon collects $3.48 million in revenue from first month of taxed recreational marijuana sales: Oregon collected $3.48 million in taxes from recreational marijuana sales in January, far outpacing estimates and offering the first look at how much pot is moving through the state’s newly regulated retail market. The answer: a lot. Oregon dispensaries sold at least $14 million worth of recreational marijuana in January alone. That figure doesn’t take into account medical marijuana sales, which remain untaxed.
  • Proposed law would mean streetcar won’t disrupt Oktoberfest, other events (Ohio): It turns out, the Cincinnati Streetcar and the chicken dance can co-exist, after all. That is, if a proposed ordinance submitted Friday to City Council wins approval. The ordinance, submitted by City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething, would establish that the Southwest Ohio Transit Authority — tasked with overseeing streetcar management and operations firm Transdev, Inc. — must halt streetcar service during city “heritage special events,” if requested at least 90 days in advance.

  • Bossier lifts ban on building on levee side of Red River (Louisiana): In the midst of some of the worst flooding in recent Louisiana history, the Bossier Parish Police Jury voted unanimously Wednesday to lift a moratorium on building houses between the levee and Red River. The jury also voted unanimously to change an ordinance to dictate where people can build relative to where historic flooding may reach.

  • Have Union been a winner for Chester? (Pennsylvania): The changes brought to the City of Chester by the occupancy of a professional sports team needs little more proof than the sight of Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtain running laps around the MLS stadium on Thursday. Turning up Seaport Drive that runs along the new practice field sitting adjacent to Talen Energy Stadium, which will unveil its new namesake today at the Union’s first home game in the 2016 season, Curtain had a fine view of the Commodore Barry Bridge that runs high above the stadium below. However, it’s the turn that takes him along the Delaware River Waterfront that offers the best view of the changing landscape of Chester. Once strictly of industrial use, occupied by empty lots and abandonment, the construction of a $122 million stadium promised hope and change to the beleaguered city of 34,000 people.

  • Dover council clears way for future Woodlands’ annexation (Delaware): City council voted 8-0 Monday to accept amendment changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, paving the way for Dover to annex property owned by Dover International Speedway. Currently, 295 acres of The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, which hosts events like Firefly Music Festival, sit outside city limits. The adjustments to the comprehensive plan change zoning of the property from an agriculture use to a commercial use. That would clear the way for the city of Dover to annex 260 acres of The Woodlands. The ordinance would move auto, horse and motorcycle race tracks from the conditional-use section to the permitted-use section.

  • Sunshine in Suffolk and Virginia:As the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press concludes its annual commemoration of Sunshine Week, it is appropriate to take a moment to examine the state of open government in Suffolk and throughout the commonwealth of Virginia. First, a bit of praise for Suffolk: Under the recent leadership of City Manager Patrick Roberts, the city’s government has operated more transparently than at any time during the administration of the former city manager. There is no longer a sense of fear among city employees about their public interactions. Members of the public and the press are encouraged to speak directly with department heads about matters of public policy and operations. It’s a refreshing change from the days of carefully vetted comments and emailed responses to questions from the press.
  • Merc subcommittee on hold after procedural snafu (Montana): An effort to form a panel to look into alternatives to demolishing the historic Missoula Mercantile hit a bureaucratic snag late Thursday night. The Missoula Historic Preservation Commission, meeting in city council chambers, voted unanimously to create the subcommittee and include all 12 of its members on it — but neglected to solicit public comment. The oversight was noticed after the meeting adjourned shortly before 10 p.m.

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LocalGov Confidential

City manager resigns, hires himself for new job: The city manager of Fairview has resigned, but not before hiring himself as permanent, full-time codes director and interim city manager. His initial proposal would have given him a newly created role of assistant city manager, rather than interim.

Slow Democracy Builds a Better Park: Representative democracy – the operation of government via elected proxies who are charged with representing the interests of their constituents – has long been heralded as the most efficient way to operate a democracy. But in Cambridge, Mass., and several other municipalities across the U.S., a different, more direct model is emerging: participatory budgeting at the city level.

UK asks public to name $300M boat; “Boaty McBoatface” leads vote: Ships can bear the names of former presidents, war heroes, long-lost loves, or clever puns. However, the U.K. public appears to have taken a different tact when it comes the naming of a new polar vessel from the National Environment Research Council. The NERC announced the online voting contest to name the nearly $300 million boat to be launched in 2019 recently, and the leading vote-getter so far is the simple but silly “Boaty McBoatface.”

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