As temperatures rise across America, today’s Buzz looks at how man’s best friend is cooling off. Along the way we’ll look at the social value of McDonald’s, how finding a Public Works Director is dividing Minneapolis, and just what is going on with the Seattle City Council’s code of ethics.
Right Now w/ Me
What I’m Watching: Highlights from Euro 16 & Copa America 16
What I’m Listening to: We Turn Red by Red Hot Chili Peppers
What I’m Doing: Feeling frustrated about the murders in Orlando
McDonald’s: you can sneer, but it’s the glue that holds communities together: When many lower-income Americans feel isolated and empty, they yearn for physical social networks. All across US, this happens organically at McDonald’s. When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.
Where Is Real America?: Oklahoma City is America. San Jose is Not. So Jed Kolko, of whose work I’m a big fan, had a piece last week at 538 arguing that, based on a simple estimate of demographic abnormality, the most “normal” place in America was New Haven, Connecticut, specifically claiming that white, small-town America was not “normal.” It’s a neat claim, if true. But I have serious beef with Jed’s method. See, he used 3 variables: race, education, and age, to proxy for “normalcy.” I argued on Twitter he should at least have included proxies for the foreign-born population, geographic area, and the rurality/density of a region. He responded by politely encouraging me to get off my fat, lazy bum and do the work myself. Challenge accepted!
5 Things Women Deserve To Hear At Work, But Often Don’t: In case you missed the memo, women get told a lot of sexist things at work. They’re told they’re too outspoken, that they’re speaking or dressing the wrong way, and that they should stay in their place. There are many very different things women deserve to hear at work, but they often don’t hear them. By changing the way we speak to women at and about their jobs, we can start to rectify workplace inequalities that end up hurting people of all genders and the companies where they work. When women are told they’re too aggressive or taught not to speak up, they learn to doubt their abilities and hold back their opinions. Here are some things they could be told instead to help them thrive in the workplace….
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- Saratoga Springs Residents Protest Sidewalk Ordinance: More than 50 people lined the front of the Saratoga Springs City Hall protesting the city’s new ordinance voted into law earlier this week, that prohibits people from sitting or lying on a public sidewalk. “This law doesn’t address the actual problem it just applies a bandaid to a broken arm,” Saratoga Springs Travis Briggs said. The law which passed 4-1 Tuesday night doesn’t target street performers or people outside for special events, but protesters feel it does target the homeless population.
- Franklin County supervisors studying police department idea: Franklin County’s Board of Supervisors is looking into what it would mean to add a police department to its public safety offerings, in addition to the sheriff’s office. At a budget work session last month, supervisors recommended making $271,000 in reductions to the sheriff’s budget, and expressed concerns about how taxpayer dollars are being spent. Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson asked that county staff research what it would mean for the county to create a police department. They’re expected to discuss the topic at next month’s board meeting. If a police department is created, the responsibility of law enforcement would be shifted from the sheriff’s office to the police department. This would not, however, eliminate the sheriff’s office, as it would still be responsible for courts, corrections and civil process
- Supporters doubtful new Massachusetts zoning bill will become law: The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday approved a sweeping zoning reform bill that supporters said will spur the development of affordable housing and encourage sustainable growth, but even those supporters admitted the chances of the bill becoming law this session are slim. The bill (S 2311) attempts to rein in restrictive local zoning regulations and incentivize communities to plan for sustainable growth. Though the bill’s supporters and detractors agreed that after more than 40 years Massachusetts needs to freshen up its zoning laws, opponents of the bill said it could lead to confusion for municipalities, greater barriers to development and litigation.
- Naming of next Minneapolis public works director is shaping up as high-stakes battle: Mayor Betsy Hodges is getting pressured by activists seeking someone who sees walking, biking and transit as a priority — not an afterthought.
- NC fire department struggles to attract minority candidates: The Fayetteville Fire Department is ramping up efforts to recruit minorities as it struggles, like many other fire agencies, to diversify its workforce. Only 3.2 percent of Fayetteville firefighters are black — a figure that trails state and national averages. Put another way, nine in every 10 Fayetteville firefighters is white in a city where about 42 percent of the residents are black. Fire Chief Ben Major acknowledged his department needs to do a better job of recruiting minorities. A diverse workforce, he said, can lead to more innovation. “And aside from that, we owe it to the community to show that we are an inclusive organization,” said Major, who became the city’s first black fire chief in 2011. “That builds trust and respect.”
- New Jersey Police Department Shuts Down Facebook Page to Silence Supporters of NJ Weedman: A New Jersey police department deactivated its Facebook account after local activists posted unfavorable comments on their page over the arrest of a prominent businessman and weed activist known as NJ Weedman. Trenton police raided Ed Forchion’s restaurant,NJWeedman’s Joint back in April. In March, police arrived at his religious cannabis temple, recognized by the state of New Jersey’s tax authorities, Liberty Bell Temple III, and asked the congregants inside to vacate the premises.
- What I Do as a Parks and Recreation Director: Managing an entire city’s parks involves a lot more than just mowing the lawn. The parks and recreations department maintains a city’s public spaces, organizes community events, and much more, and all requiring an eclectic range of knowledge and skills. And there’s also paper work, of course. To learn a little about the work beyond the requisite mowing, we spoke with the director of a parks and recreation department in a small city in Kentucky. Naturally I picture the eponymous television show, but the real world parks and rec is less madcap hijinks and more practical, hard work.
- Crackdown on archdiocese-owned oil field near USC gets OK, city attorney says: An oil field near USC that neighbors have long accused of causing health problems ranging from nosebleeds to serious respiratory illness must remain closed permanently or comply with stringent regulations, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer told The Times on Wednesday. The two-acre field, operated by Allenco Energy Inc. on land leased from Los Angeles’ Catholic Archdiocese, cannot reopen unless the company installs a health and safety monitoring system designed to be more protective of public health and more responsive to complaints from local residents than existing regulations require.
Colorado Springs City Council eyes creating separate Utilities Board – elected, appointed or hybrid: When you pay that bill to Colorado Springs Utilities each month, you might not realize that Colorado Springs owns the four-utility organization, and it’s run by the City Council, which also functions as the Utilities Board. Mayor John Suthers, Council President Merv Bennett and Colorado Springs Forward, a powerful nonprofit, want to see an appointed board take over governance of the $1 billion-a-year public entity. Most City Council members don’t. They want either an elected board or no change at all. So Suthers and Colorado Springs Forward are pushing for a compromise – a hybrid board, with a majority of appointed members plus a few elected ones.
No need to water down ethics code for Seattle City Council: Seattle should keep a bright-line rule separating council business from the personal interests of council members.
Report urges Springfield, county to look at merged government options: The city of Springfield plans to research if it can save money by sharing services following the recommendations of an independent committee that included looking into a countywide government in the future. The recommendations come as cities across Ohio face budget squeezes due to losses in state funding, prompting state Rep. Kyle Koehler to propose legislation that will make it easier for governments to investigate sharing services. House Bill 5, sponsored by Koehler and Rep. Stephanie Kunze of Hilliard, gives two or more state agencies or local governments the ability to request a free feasibility study from the Auditor of State. It would examine whether combining resources would save money.