It’s springtime which means spending a little quality time with your grill and preparing food outdoors before it’s too hot. Today’s Buzz celebrates grilling season while searching for what is “Normal America,” wondering if your city has what it takes to be declared a “Bird City” and wondering what went wrong the Utah County’s Treasurers Office.
Right Now w/ Matt Yager
What I’m Watching: A Penny Farthing Bicycle Race from 1928
What I’m Listening to: Baby Love Child by Pizzicato Five
What I’m Doing: Grilling my heart out. It’s great grilling weather in Texas
There’s Basically No Way Not to Be a Gentrifier: A couple weeks back, my Twitter feed lit up with a heated exchange over an article titled “20 Ways Not To Be a Gentrifier,” and I was reminded of a book club meeting I held not long ago. The book in question was a scathing indictment of gentrification as a colonial project, and whose thesis we took turns more or less affirming. Every person in the room was white. Every person had graduated from a relatively prestigious four-year college. And every person was currently living in a neighborhood at some stage of what we typically refer to today as gentrification. What to call the tension between our conversation and our lives? Hypocrisy? Delusion? Something much worse?
‘Normal America’ Is Not A Small Town Of White People:that sense that the normal America is out there somewhere in a hamlet where they can’t pronounce “Acela” is misplaced. In fact, it’s not in a small town at all. I calculated how demographically similar each U.S. metropolitan area is to the U.S. overall, based on age, educational attainment, and race and ethnicity.1 The index equals 100 if a metro’s demographic mix were identical to that of the U.S. overall. By this measure, the metropolitan area that looks most like the U.S. is New Haven, Connecticut, followed by Tampa, Florida, and Hartford, Connecticut. All of the 10 large metros that are demographically most similar to the U.S. overall are in the Northeast, Midwest or center of the country, with the exception of Tampa. Two of them — New Haven and Philadelphia — are even on Amtrak’s Acela (that’s “uh-SELL-ah”) line. None is in the West, though Sacramento, California, comes close at No. 12.
PBS Takes on Urban Planning, Good and Bad, with ’10 Towns’ Special: “10 Towns that Changed America focuses on ten ‘experimental’ towns that did not evolve organically over time, but instead were designed (or redesigned) from the ground up by visionary architects, corporations, and citizens, who sought to change the lives of residents using architecture, design, and urban planning,” states the introduction to the PBS special produced by WTTW, Chicago’s NPR affiliate. However, “visionary” does not always produce good results, as some examples show. While (#7) Levittown in Long Island (as well as those in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Puerto Rico) might have been a boon for new residents fleeing cities, African Americans were excluded, and their legacy in urban planning includes “build(ing) the foundation of suburban sprawl that we have today,” writes Erin Chantry in “The Legacy of Levittown.”
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- Provo, Orem residents petition for referendum on divisive lease agreement: Is it legislative or administrative? It boils down to that one question.That is what people are asking in regards to Tuesday’s approval from both the Provo Municipal Council and Orem City Council to sign a lease agreement on the Provo Orem Transportation Improvement Project.Disregarding “no” for an answer, two citizens groups from Provo and Orem, in a seemingly coordinated effort, have filed for a petition for a referendum in each city pertaining to the project’s 50-year lease agreements.
- Five in consideration for Cleveland’s next City Manager:Five names were selected Friday by a citizens advisory committee to send to the Cleveland City Council for consideration as the next Cleveland city manager. The list is being sent in alphabetical order so no one has an advantage when the City Council considers the candidates.
- Florida county realizes benefits of integrated text-to-911 capability: Integrated text-to-911 service has proven to be beneficial to citizen in Collier County, Fla., and has not been a burden to telecommunicators in the local public-safety answering point (PSAP), according to a key county official. Collier County—a large geographic jurisdiction that includes a lot of everglades, as well as the city of Everglades—was the first county in the state to provide text-to-911 service in 2013, according to Bob Finney, technical manager for communications division of the Collier County sheriff’s office. Last August, the county migrated from a web-based text-to-911 solution to be a beta site for the IP-based VESTA SMS text-to-911 solution from Airbus DS Communications, he said.
- Hastings is Minnesota’s first official ‘Bird City’: dubon Minnesota announced last week that Hastings has been recognized as the state’s first Bird City. The announcement was made at the Earth Day Birding Festival on Saturday, April 23, at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center. Bird City is a unique pilot program to encourage urban bird conservation. The city is being saluted for its long-term commitment to creating bird habitat, reducing threats to birds, and engaging citizens in birding, bird conservation and outdoor recreation.
- Guns are just part of the landscape in West Texas county with highest rate of license-holders: Melisa Hancock sidled up to her .22 rifle and took aim at the snake sunning in her father’s backyard. She needed only one shot, no big deal for a native of these West Texas plains. And so she and her 83-year-old father, Buster Taylor, chuckled when he urged her to “go Rambo” on what was actually a piece of hose playing the role of the area’s ever-present rattlesnakes. “I’m the noisemaker out here,” joked Taylor, a retired lawman. Earlier, he had been target shooting with small bottles of Tannerite, a compound that booms when hit. Welcome to Borden County, population 676, perhaps the most gun-friendly locale in Texas. More than one-fifth of residents who are at least 21 years old have a license to carry a handgun. That far surpasses any other county – and the 1-in-20 rate for all of Texas.
- Morgantown businessman says City Council didn’t follow rules : A Morgantown businessman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against Morgantown City Council after he claims it failed to follow rules in filling a seat on the Morgantown Planning Commission. Charles McEwuen, Jeff Mikorski and Morgantown Planning Commission were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.James Giuliani applied for a position vacated by Dr. Ken Martis after the commission’s February meeting and the seat was designated to be filled by a representative from city administration, according to a complaint filed April 19 in Morgantown Circuit Court. Mikorski, Morgantown’s city manager, nominated McEwuen for the seat and a special meeting was held in which the city council met him and he sat for the April 14 Planning Commission meeting.
- Despite protests from neighbors, Charlotte City Council approves Eastland sale to CMS: It might not have the “Wow” factor some eastside residents want, but Charlotte City Council voted 8-2 Monday night to sell 11.4 acres of land at the old Eastland Mall site for a new K-8 school. The city hopes it’s the first step towards revitalizing the area. But the deal will actually cost the city money. The agreement calls for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to buy the property for $650,000. The city will then send that money back to CMS, which will use it to extend Hollyfield Drive and demolish concrete retaining walls on the site.
- Law bans Wisconsin’s local governments from issuing IDs: Gov. Scott Walker signed a controversial bill that will ban Wisconsin’s local governments from issuing photo IDs to residents into law Monday. The law will specifically regulate local governments’ production and use of photo IDs. Walker said in a statement that it will “protect taxpayers and the integrity of elections.” He said in a tweet that people could access free state-issued IDs from Wisconsin’s Department of Motor Vehicles. University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden said the law will not have any impact on local governments because they were not issuing IDs like these before anyway. Only Milwaukee and a few other cities in the state looked to implement such IDs for their residents.
Local Gov Confidential
Doug Hewett, Fayetteville’s new interim city manager, making changes: Doug Hewett isn’t wasting timing making departmental changes after recently being tapped to be Fayetteville’s interim city manager. The police and fire chiefs now will report directly to him, instead of Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer, who occasionally ruffled the council’s feathers or came into conflict with the police ranks. After the mayor and a majority of the City Council asked for former City Manager Ted Voorhees’ resignation on April 11, Hewett was plucked from the Permitting and Inspections Department, which he was put in charge of last fall. For Hewett, who is a 45-year-old Brunswick County native, it’s a dramatic turnaround after a drunken driving arrest outside of Miami in 2012 cost him his first city manager job in Hollywood, Florida. The charge came only 14 weeks on the new job.
$99 solution: City OKs ‘aggressive panhandling’ ordinance: The Common Council voted 10-5 late Wednesday to adopt an ordinance that fines “aggressive” panhandlers $99. For two consecutive days, many homeless people and advocates for the homeless spoke out against the ordinance, saying it discriminates against homeless people and the needy. But Alderman Daniel Salerno, the city’s majority leader, said the ordinance is good policy and does not discriminate against anyone. “I think it’s a good start to address negative behavior,” Salerno said after the meeting. “The ordinance sends a message that there are some things that we just can’t tolerate and that is aggressive behavior. It’s a public safety issue.”
Treasurer scandal a ‘painful learning experience’: The process allegedly used by the former Kane County treasurer to hide her tracks while stealing nearly $100,000 in public funds has yielded a “painful learning experience” for Kane County and other governments across Utah about the need for more separation of powers and increased oversight, officials said Wednesday. State investigators are looking into potential fraud-related charges for formerTreasurer Georgia Baca, who is accused of funneling county money into her own personal accounts and cooking the books afterward to hide the missing money. Officials believe Baca took $34,600 in county funds and transferred them into her own personal accounts and spent $1,613 on her personal Verizon account. Another $56,191 in unaccounted-for cash transactions was also missing, according to a report from the Office of the Utah State Auditor.