05.30.2016

05.30.2016

Today’s Memorial Day Buzz has several images of remembrance for the holiday, how Memorial Day became a three day weekend, and news from Michigan, California, Indiana, Florida and Minnesota among others.

Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m Reading: The Summer I Learned I Wasn’t the Exception by Jennifer Zhang

What I’m Watching: A League Of Their Own

What I’m Listening to: Say It by Houndmouth

What I’m Doing: Helping my daughter get start hitting off a tee. She’s a lefty, which means everything seems backwards.

Buzzing

This Is Why Memorial Day Is a Three-Day Weekend: Though Memorial Day started as a way to commemorate the dead of the Civil War, today it is nearly synonymous with the start of summer and with the long weekend that many Americans use to celebrate the season. But, though the holiday has been observed on the last Monday in May for decades, it wasn’t always that way. Memorial Day was initially set on May 30—which, coincidentally, is its date this year—no matter what day of the week that would be. The change can be traced to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, a piece of legislation passed in 1968 and enacted in 1971, which declared that certain holidays would take place on certain Mondays. (Parts of the initial legislation even called for Independence Day to take place on the first Monday in July instead of on the fourth of July, though obviously that part didn’t make it to law.) The primary reasoning behind the move to Mondays was commercial, according to Jennifer Mittelstadt, a history professor at Rutgers University. “It has everything to do with commerce in the United States,” she says. “Travel organizations had been pushing for three-day weekends like this since the 1950s, and they finally got the employee unions on board and the federal employee unions on board because there was a fair amount of agreement that it’d be good for business.”

How barbershops can keep men healthy:The barbershop can be a safe haven for black men, a place for honest conversation and trust — and, as physician Joseph Ravenell suggests, a good place to bring up tough topics about health. He’s turning the barbershop into a place to talk about medical problems that statistically affect black men more often and more seriously, like high blood pressure. It’s a new approach to problem solving with broad applications. “What is your barbershop?” he asks. “Where is that place for you where people affected by a unique problem can meet a unique solution?”

How Zika Could Infect the Municipal Bond Market: When you walk through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, it’s hard to ignore the solemn warnings that the city could be an entry point for the Zika virus into the United States. Everywhere, large signs picturing a menacing mosquito warn travelers: “Don’t let this bad bug bite you.” Other signs warn pregnant travelers about a Zika health advisory. Last month, airport concessionaires began selling insect repellent with the recommended level of DEET to keep mosquitoes at bay. But there are also financial implications of Atlanta’s status as a gateway to Central and South American travel, and for other cities like it. According to a new report by the investment firm, Loop Capital Markets, the Zika virus could make it more expensive for some municipalities to borrow money.

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50 Nifty

  • St. Paul completing public works overhaul, plowing to parking: The first public sign that something had changed within St. Paul Public Works came from an Uber driver. West Side resident Paul Schatz took to Twitter on a Thursday morning in early February to declare St. Paul’s streets highly navigable, plowed curb-to-curb of fresh snow, more neatly and thoroughly than he could ever recall. “Better than ever,” posted Schatz, under the Twitter handle @pwschatz. As even television news reports offered rare praise, St. Paul Public Works officials said at the time the sentiment was widespread and appreciated. And the results were no accident.50 Nifty
  • Fire Department leads cause in making changes to emergency system:  Leading the cause in making changes in the West Virginia’s emergency medical services system, Martinsburg Fire Department was recently awarded the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver award for implementing quality improvement measures in the treatment of patients who experience severe cardiac events. “Martinsburg Fire Department is dedicated to making our service a leader across the nation and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all acute coronary syndrome patients,” Lt. David Weller said. Martinsburg Fire Department is in the 75th percentile and above. The department has demonstrated compliance for each required achievement measure for one year, according to Weller.
  • North Carolina police department pulls out of Republican National Convention: A North Carolina police department backed out of sending 50 police officers to the Republican presidential convention in Cleveland in June over concerns about whether the city is prepared to host an event that is expected to bring at least 50,000 visitors to northeast Ohio. Greensboro police made the decision earlier this week to pull its officers from the event, saying the city isn’t providing workers’ compensation for coverage for out-of-town officers and is requiring them to get physical exams they’d have to pay for themselves.
  • Ruling could bring local governments more money from ‘big box’ stores:  In what is seen as a significant victory for local governments, the Michigan Court of Appeals has rejected a controversial method of assessing the value of “big box” stores that has cost Michigan local governments millions of dollars in property tax revenue. The Free Press reported in April 2015 on the dispute over what’s known as the “dark store” of valuing the stores. The big, owner-occupied stores are never sold as going concerns, and the owners argue the best way of assessing their value for tax purposes is by comparing sales of similar big box stores that have closed and are sitting vacant.

  • Extending California income tax to local governments a minefield: As California’s economy underwent a massive evolution over the last few decades, one well-documented effect was that its income disparities became much wider. The decline of the industrial economy and its well-paying blue-collar jobs and the rise of a post-industrial economy rooted in technology and services have rewarded those at the top handsomely, but left millions of Californians behind – a syndrome most pronounced in technology-heavy regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area. State government has been, in effect, a partner in the evolution, because its progressive income tax has reaped many billions of dollars in taxes on those in the top tiers. That’s been particularly true in this decade, thanks to a temporary surtax that voters imposed on those in the highest income brackets in 2012. The 1-percenters now provide a third of the state’s general fund revenues.
  • Tiny house movement tackles zoning setbacks: Rachel Ford has big dreams for her tiny house. Ford, 29, of West View said she wanted a home of her own but couldn’t afford one that would cost about $100,000, what she called a “reasonable” price for a home in the Pittsburgh area. Ford quickly became part of the “tiny house movement.” “I was seeing them on TV, and I was seeing them mentioned, and it was just an interesting idea,” she said. A tiny house is defined as one with up to 1,000 square feet, which is 25 percent larger than a racquetball court. Many, however, are smaller. Ford rents an apartment that is about twice the size of her tiny house — which will be 306 square feet — and will have to give up many of her belongings when she moves to Beaver County.
  • Online dance craze sweeps police departments across US:  In an online sensation, police officers across the U.S. are dancing an updated version of the running man to a catchy 1990s hip hop song in videos that have included professional sports mascots, cheerleading squads and at least one explosion. The videos, set to “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s, began in early May after police in New Zealand issued the Running Man Challenge to the New York Police Department. The meme started with two teenagers in New Jersey and became viral after college basketball teams picked it up.
  • Indiana law change reduces state audits of local government: Local governments will see fewer audits due to a recent change in Indiana state law. The State Board of Accounts used to audit cities and counties every year, and audit school corporations every two years. Now those audits will be conducted every four years unless there are red flags. “The statute on frequency of audits changed last year from annual or biannual to a risk-based approach,” said Todd Caldwell, director of audit services for the State Board of Accounts. “The longest length of time between (examiners) being somewhere is four years.” Almost 200 field examiners routinely work in all 92 counties in Indiana. But budget limitations and the sheer number of entities that require auditing means there’s too much work and not enough people to do it, Caldwell told The Muncie Star Press.

Local Gov Confidential
Ugly day: DeBary City Hall gets raided
: Any time your City Hall gets raided, you’re having a bad day. That day was Wednesday for the Volusia County town after FDLE agents seized more than 30,000 records. The state has been tight-lipped about why. But the State Attorney’s office confirmed the raid was part of a “criminal investigation.” And the FDLE confirmed its agents assisted with “forensic evidence recovery.” Translated into layman’s terms: They want to know whether city officials illegally destroyed public records.

Topeka councilwoman says of city manager Jim Colson, ‘I guess that his heart is in Scottsdale’: Topeka city manager Jim Colson on Friday declined to answer questions about his interest in a Scottsdale, Ariz., job while council members wished him well and expressed mixed emotions about the situation. “It appears that his heart is in Scottsdale,” said Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz. “I wish him the best of luck.” Councilman Jeff Coen said if Colson is selected for the Scottsdale job, “I wish him well.” The Topeka Capital-Journal asked for an interview with Colson on Friday, a day after Scottsdale announced he was among three finalists for its city manager position.

Straw poll: Walker County voters prefer, 3-1, multi-member form of government: Walker County voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly said they would prefer a board of commissioners over a sole commissioner. Tuesday’s ballots, both Republican and Democratic, asked in a non-binding straw poll, “Should the form of county government in Walker County be changed from a sole commissioner to a board of commissioners?” Republican response: 4,503 voters (75.26%) said “yes” and 1,480 (24.74%) said “no.” Democrat response: 355 voters (80.14%) said “yes” and 88 (19.84%) said no. Changing the county’s form of government would require local legislation to the General Assembly.