03.28.2016

Don’t have Syracuse or Villanova in your Final Four? Me either. At least we don’t have to worry about our brackets anymore right?

Today’s Buzz moves on from March Sadness to how the world’s oldest planning document is alive today, learn about a fugitive who is the mayor of a West Virginia town (and is seeking re-election) and why mulch is a subject of controversy in one city in Virginia. Here’s to Monday, leaving the past behind, and mind blowing results of 64 games of post-season college basketball.

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Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m Reading: The 100 Funniest Jokes in the History of Twitter by Freddie Campion

What I’m Watching: Spring Broke

What I’m Listening to: Mountain At My Gates by Foals

What I’m Doing: What’s the most mind blowing thing to emerge so far in 2016?

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Buzzing

Beijing and the earliest planning document in history: The seemingly incoherent sprawl of modern Beijing is based on meticulous plans to bind citizens together under imperial rule. Conceived as a means of enforcing social order, the impact of planning remains strong in the city today. In the depths of Beijing’s Planning Exhibition Hall, a big grey hangar that squats in the corner of Tiananmen Square, stands a scale model of the city. It is an endless field of tiny wooden and perspex blocks, low-rise courtyards huddled cheek by jowl with a motley jumble of towers, expanding ever outwards in concentric rings.

Seattle’s housing deal, political shift may provide Portland a blueprint:  Before it was annexed into Seattle in 1907, the maritime city of Ballard was home to working-class Scandinavian immigrants who built boats and caught fish. Now one of the hippest neighborhoods in the city, Ballard is home to a throng of construction cranes cramming apartment towers between modest bungalows. A new two-bedroom apartment in the area, which can be nearly an hour’s drive from downtown at rush hour, rents for more than $2,000 a month on average. The scenario may already sound familiar to Portlanders, who have seen neighborhoods transform and home values spike by double-digit percentages in recent years. But Seattle has been dealing with rapidly rising prices and massive population growth for even longer, perhaps providing a glimpse into Portland’s not-too-distant future.

From Shared Values to Shared Quarters, Scandinavian-style co-housing is gaining traction among boomers: The rhythms of EcoVillage Ithaca echo those of any small upstate New York town. On a recent weekday morning, three home-schooled boys whiz by on bikes. A woman adds topsoil to raised beds of spinach and kale, rejoicing that the plants survived the winter. But this isn’t just another sprawling residential development. EcoVillage is a planned co-housing community whose 240 residents share kitchens, car rides, and a commitment to sustainable living. Born in Denmark in the 1970s, the co-housing concept has been gaining ground in the U.S., where more than 150 such communities exist, according to the Cohousing Association of the United States.

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50 Nifty

  • Hurst council names new city manager (Texas): After a brief search, the City Council appointed Clay Caruthers as city manager Tuesday night. “I am truly blessed. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to take on a city manager role with such great people to work with,” he said. Caruthers, assistant city manager for fiscal services, will take on his new role in July when longtime City Manager Allan Weegar retires after more than 30 years with the city.
  • Biskupski’s public services director resigns weeks after appointment (Utah): One of Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s new department directors has resigned less than a month after taking the position. April Townsend became director of the Salt Lake City Public Services Department when the Salt Lake City Council consented to her appointment March 1, but Biskupski announced Friday that Townsend had chosen to leave the city to focus on her education. “April is a highly qualified and an excellent choice to lead the department of public services, but this department requires enormous commitment and responsibility from its director,” Biskupski said in a prepared statement. “April expressed to me a need to devote more attention to other areas of her life, and I respect that decision.”
  • UT Chooses Lenoir City as 2016-17 Smart Communities Initiative Partner (Tennessee): UT has chosen Lenoir City to be its 2016–17 Smart Communities Initiative (SCI) “Mini” program partner. Through SCI, UT pairs faculty and students with Tennessee cities, counties, special districts, and other governmental organizations to engage in real-world problem solving aimed at improving the region’s economy, environment, and social fabric. SCI is a key component of Experience Learning, the university’s initiative that emphasizes experiential learning through real-world problem solving.
  • Florida Deparment of Law Eneforcement not always involved in officer shooting probes: When a Palm Beach Gardens undercover officer shot and killed Corey Jones, a church drummer whose car had broken down, local authorities declined FDLE’s offer to handle the investigation. Like the overwhelming majority of sheriffs and police departments in Florida, local cops there do not have a signed “memorandum of understanding” with FDLE that triggers an investigation by the state’s top law enforcement agency into officer-involved shootings. Critics say having an outside agency investigate officer-involved shootings is a good idea, but sheriffs in only two of Florida’s 10 most populous counties have signed agreements with FDLE.

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  • Metro counties hit 3 million, growing faster than rest of Minnesota: The seven urban and suburban counties in the Twin Cities metro area have hit the 3 million mark for the first time, and as a group are growing six times faster than the rest of the state. The Metropolitan Council seized on both facts Wednesday in its quest for a big boost in Twin Cities transportation funding from the Legislature. “Are we equipped to compete into the future?” asked Council Chairman Adam Duininck. “We’re beating a lot of peer regions in the Midwest but struggling to keep up with a Dallas, or Denver or Seattle.”
  • Texas fugitive running for re-election as mayor of West Virginia town: A San Antonio man facing felony charges took to the hills of West Virginia 14 years ago for a change of scenery. Richard Edwards settled in the town of Buckhannon, ran for City Council two years ago and later became mayor. “We moved up here just because San Antonio was getting too dangerous,” Edwards told The San Antonio Express-News. Some West Virginians are worried that the Texan, who was charged in Bexar County, brought trouble with him. Edwards serves as Buckhannon’s mayor despite two active warrants for his arrest and felony charges for possession of marijuana.
  • Controversial antlerless deer regulation takes center stage in Waupaca County (Wisconsin): The Wisconsin County Deer Advisory Councils last week wrapped up the first stage of their 2016 workload. The 72 groups were tasked with making preliminary recommendations for antlerless deer quotas and regulations for this year’s hunting seasons. The loud rumbling you may have heard originated in Waupaca County, where Tuesday the CDAC members voted for antlerless-only regulations for its 2016 deer hunts. That was not a misprint. If implemented, hunters would be allowed to shoot only antlerless deer this year in all bow and gun seasons in one of the state’s top deer hunting counties.
  • Fayetteville City Council to consider 4-year terms (North Carolina):: Fayetteville voters may see another referendum on the fall ballots. The City Council members are poised to add a referendum to the November ballot that would decide whether to go to four-year municipal elections with staggered terms. They currently have two-year terms. On Tuesday, the council is scheduled to vote on a resolution of intent to change its mode of election and set an April 11 public hearing at City Hall.

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Local Gov Confidential

City moving forward with mulch ordinance public hearing (Virginia): Earlier this year, in the Virginia General Assembly, a bill was passed that said Harrisonburg couldn’t tell property owners what kind of landscaping material could be used around buildings. That bill was known as Senate Bill 736. The city created an ordinance following multiple mulch fires over the past two years. Tuesday night, at the city council meeting, leaders chose to schedule a public hearing on proposed ordinance changes to bring the code in line with the new state law.

Warren County government campus makeover stalled (Ohio):  A multi-year, multi-million-dollar plan to make over the Warren County government campus has stalled after a meeting between the county commissioners and officials in the county court. The board of commissioners recently rejected a plan expected to cost $3 million to $4 million to relocate the county court from the building it shares with the sheriff’s office and jail to a 14,694 square foot addition across the street. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Commissioner Dave Young said during a work session on March 22. “How did we get here?”

Why hiring two recent Parks Department positions was so controversial behind the scenes (Washington): Spokane Parks and Recreation is unique in a weird way. Three independent governing bodies — the city administration, the City Council and the Park Board — control the Parks Department. As a result, the direction can sometimes turn into a three-way tug of war.  Years ago, Chris Wright opposed turning the Parks and Recreation Department into a “division,” handing the city administration broader powers to hire and fire.  He worried a mayor would use that power for filling “political appointments, or make hiring decisions that are not necessarily in the best interest of the Parks Department.”

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