09.12.2016

Today’s buzz celebrates the return of the NFL – which means fantasy football is back to ruin a perfectly nice Sunday afternoon.  We’ll also look at why there will be no more cash for fake grass in Los Angeles,  why Baltimore County works may be cutting back on their on the clock twittering and where you can find the best snow plowing duo in Kansas.

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Right Now with Matt Yager

What I’m doing: Sweating how my fantasy team is going to pull out a win on Monday night.

What I’m reading: Week 2 takeaways: Three biggest things we learned from the week

What I’m watching: People Try To Catch Passes From An NFL Quarterback

What I’m listening to: Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists

What I want to know from you?: What was the highlight of your football weekend?

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Buzzing

The Shackling of the American City: Local governments want to set their own minimum wages, gun laws, and smoking bans. And statehouses have methodically stripped away their powers to do so.

The Colors Used by the Ten Most Popular Sites: I was curious what colors were being used by large, popular sites, so I decided to find out. Alexa.com maintains a list of the most visited sites on the internet. I wrote a PHP script to scrape the ten most popular sites and record all the colors used in the sites’ home pages and style sheets. I plan to rescrape the data on a regular basis. Because of this, I’ll keep analysis to a minimum, since it could become outdated when the data changes. Once I have data over a larger time period I’ll be able to examine and graph trends in web development. I also plan to examine the difference in color usage between popular websites from different parts of the world.

No more cash for fake grass: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has revised the rules for its wildly popular turf removal rebate program, and the utility’s decision could mark a dramatic shift in the way the city’s drought-tolerant landscapes look and function. The biggest change? No more cash for fake grass. Last month the Board of Water and Power Commissioners voted to eliminate the rebate for artificial turf installation as part of an overhaul of the program to focus not just on saving water, but being smarter about using it.

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50 Nifty

  • Salina snow removers the best in state: To say it has the best snow-removal crew in the state of Kansas is not bragging for the city of Salina. The crew proved it by placing first and second in the snowplow division and first in the loader division at an American Public Works Association Kansas Snow Roadeo held at Milford Lake in August. Kirk Cibolski and John Berry beat out the Salina team of Jerry Wiesendanger and Chris Watson by just 4 points, 1757 to 1753 in the snowplow division. Robert Aytes and Larry Gawith placed fifth out of 25 teams.
  • Buildings Department struggles to maintain its own building: The city agency charged with keeping buildings safe can’t keep its own premises in good repair. The city-owned landmark building that’s home to the Department of Buildings — best known to passers-by for its ancient clock advertising the old New York Sun newspaper — is falling apart. A falling concrete slab closed a parking garage on Aug. 19 beneath the city-owned building at 280 Broadway, which dates to 1846.
  • Some police departments shelve body cameras, cite data costs: Police departments in at least two states that outfitted their officers with body cameras have now shelved them, blaming new laws requiring videos to be stored longer, which they say would significantly increase the cost. About a third of the nation’s 18,000 police agencies are either testing body cameras or have embraced them to record their officers’ interactions with the public. But departments in Indiana and Connecticut suspended their programs this year after their states imposed considerably longer video-storage rules.

  • City department asks to phase out slow computers: The city’s information services department is asking to purchase 40 new computers to replace slow equipment, despite it being less than two years old. During the 2015 fiscal year, the city purchased 90 Dell Wyse virtual desktop infrastructure boxes, which run through a centralized server versus individual hard drives. Users complained of slow response times, and attempts by Dell failed to resolve the issue with software and server enhancements. Now, the department wants to phase out 40 computers for more than $34,000. The budget request will come before the City Council on Monday.

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  • Keep Madison parks accessible: The pleasures of Madison in summer are many. And for disabled people like me, they are mostly accessible. An afternoon in Marshall Park includes the sails of the boats catching the wind, the children building towers of sand at the lake’s edge, and the murmur of nature. These are the stuff of the good life in this remarkable town amid the lakes. But getting to the promontory just off the walkway from the parking lot to the lake presents an obstacle, one easily remedied by a Parks Department that cares. Where the walkway meets the parking lot, the surface is broken, gutted and uneven. It would be unsafe for wheelchairs even if they could traverse such a surface in disrepair. But I doubt many can.
  • Baltimore County cracks down on workers’ online behavior as political season heats up: As the political season heats up, Baltimore County is warning government employees that it plans to enforce a long-standing policy against “brutal or offensive” behavior in the workplace and on private time, including on social media. County officials say the increasing coarseness of online behavior, particularly about the presidential election, led them to remind employees of the policy and require supervisors to implement it. “Social media, while it has encouraged in many cases lively dialogue, it also at times promotes a passion that is very close to walking a line in terms of how we communicate with one another,” said Don Mohler, spokesman and chief of staff to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
  • Input sought as a follow up to Everett beach restoration work: Snohomish County officials want to hear what people think about the long-term prospects for replenishing Howarth Park and other nearby beaches, now that they’ve wrapped up a coastal restoration project that lasted much of the summer. A public meeting is scheduled Monday evening at Lion Hall in Forest Park. This summer’s nearshore restoration project aimed to improve habitat for salmon and forage fish, while giving people more chances to enjoy the shoreline.

  • Disputed apartment project back before Richmond City CouncilThe Richmond City Council is scheduled to vote today on a special-use permit for a conversion of historic apartments, but with elements a state preservation official has called “disturbing” removed. The concern focused on whether windows should eventually be added to the front of the century-old tobacco warehouse on Overbrook Road near Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. To qualify for $2.5 million in state and federal historic tax credits for the project, the developers, David White and Louis Salomonsky, agreed to preserve the windowless facade facing the street, which the state Department of Historic Resources deemed central to the building’s historic character.

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#LocalGov Confidential

City staff no longer support ‘one roof’ plan: Aspen city staff developing the new government offices project are no longer recommending support for the “one-roof” plan for a new 52,000-square-foot city hall on Galena Plaza. Staff from the capital asset department are now backing a plan that would keep government offices in their existing building, a historic armory at the corner of Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue, following an extensive remodel. The plan also includes a 28,000-square-foot new building at Galena Plaza — where the Aspen Chamber Resort Association Offices are now — and a light remodel of the Rio Grande building currently home to government offices and Taster’s Pizza. Total estimated costs for the plan are $35.9 to 38.6 million, according to city staff.

City commissioners to begin process to figure out ‘what we want this city to look like’: At their work session on Tuesday, members of the Lawrence City Commission will learn more about a new strategic planning process that is meant to plot the course for the city’s future. City leaders say the process will involve both commissioners and the public. “This is going to take not only a big effort on staff but also a huge effort on the community,” Commissioner Lisa Larsen said. “They’re going to actually help us do some framework for filling in what we want this city to look like in the future and how we want to go about meeting that future goal.” The city recently hired a new city manager, and one of the tasks listed in the city’s advertisement of the position was for the new manager to help facilitate the creation of a strategic plan.

Millville might look outside city for new police: The police force no longer would be limited to hire from a pool of city residents if a measure now before the City Commission is adopted later this month. An ordinance introduced on a 4-0 vote and without discussion at the commission’s Sept. 6 meeting states that the city currently lacks “sufficient discretion” to hire. “This amendment will allow the appointing authority to hire Class II police officers who already possess substantial training as regular police officers thereby saving the City considerable training time and expense,” the ordinance states.

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