10.17.2017

10.17.2017

Today’s buzz has stories at being a paramedic in Laredo, TX, city employees walking in Buffalo, NY and a community weighing the pros and cons of the City Manager system in Utah. Plus a few pictures of the four places where you can still watch Major League Baseball this week.

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Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m Reading: Anatomy of a faceplant: Inside the Libertarian Party’s abysmal 2016 campaign  by Bonnie Kirstain

What I’m Watching: Peppa Pig

What I’m Listening to: High and Dry by Jamie Cullum

What I’m Doing: Fall Landscaping

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Buzzing

Drownings, shootings, high-speed accidents, immigrants in labor — the life of a border paramedic: For the paramedics in Laredo, Texas, the only event more concerning than a Dallas Cowboys’ loss is a fight night. Saturday, May 7, the eve of Mother’s Day, was fight night. Throughout the afternoon, the cemeteries were full of people carrying flowers to their mothers’ tombstones, bright tributes laid down in the searing heat. That evening, much of the town gathered around flat screens to watch the Mexican champion Canelo Álvarez and a British contender named Amir Khan slug it out for the middleweight title. Not many were rooting for Khan.

Silo-Busting Data Analytics Help Mass. Cities Tackle Vacant Properties: No city wants blight to proliferate, yet municipal governments struggle to identify and resolve vacant properties, much less prevent them. Even when a city does have a problem property list, there may be no easy way to prioritize the most urgent cases. And when separate city departments operate in silos, holding data in unshared spreadsheets (or paper records!), the early indicators that portend vacancy and blight can remain under the radar. The Innovation Field Lab at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation wants to fix this.

Has Raleigh’s Bus System Been Left to Languish Because Many of Its Riders Are Poor and Black?: The Wake County transit plan—which has its primary funding source, a half-cent sales tax hike, on the ballot on November 8—promises to bring long-needed upgrades to the current bus system. But the activists who’ve spent years and decades fighting for these improvements are questioning why it’s taken so long. And, with relief finally on the horizon, some are wondering what improved public transit could mean for Raleigh’s burgeoning gentrification problem—in other words, whether the light at the end of the tunnel is really an oncoming train.

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Trending on ELGL

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Upcoming ELGL Events

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50 Nifty

  • Buffalo public works chief walks the streets to find sidewalks in need of repair: There are mall walkers, street walkers and walkers for the infirm. Add to that sidewalk walkers. A City Hall team has decided the best way to update the city’s sidewalk master plan — identifying which city sidewalks are in the worst shape — is to get out of their cars and walk the sidewalks. The three-man crew, headed by Steven Stepniak, the city’s public works commissioner, has been spending Saturdays walking city sidewalks since July, when the city replaced a sidewalk on Moselle Street, where a mother and baby in a carriage were struck by a car. The baby was killed. The mother said she was walking in the street because the Moselle Street sidewalks were in such bad condition.
  • Why Pasadena Police mental health experts didn’t respond to Reginald Thomas Jr. incident: When Ellie Stabeck’s son assaulted her during a psychiatric crisis, she barricaded herself in the bathroom until help arrived. The responding deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department came with a licensed social worker in tow. The team, called a psychiatric evaluation team, is one of many in the region, with more departments creating similar partnerships every day. “I was pretty battered up,” Stabeck said. “They treated my son with respect.” Her son — who she learned believed she was an alien — didn’t resist and officers de-escalated the situation without violence, the mental health advocate said.
  • Residents speak out for, against zoning in town: At the planning commission meeting Tuesday evening residents discussed their suggestions and concerns regarding zoning regulations, after a referendum to repeal zoning was narrowly defeated in August. The discussion opened with Wayne Courser, who created the petition to repeal zoning regulations in January. “In the early ‘90s, maybe 2000s, zoning was pretty simple, most of us could understand it,” Courser said. “I’m not sure, today, whether we can understand this new plan or not.”  Multiple residents agreed that for a small town such as Halifax, zoning regulations could be simpler. Cara Cheyette offered a different point of view.  “I understand (the) objection to (the zoning bylaw) being long and I understand (the) objection to it seeming complicated,” Cheyette said, “but this kind of a thing isn’t like you read it cover to cover. You just want to know that when you have an issue that comes up, you can flip and you can find the thing that applies to you and matters to you. That’s the way these kinds of things work. And sometimes more regulations can result in more opportunity and more freedom.”
  • Campus, San Francisco receive $11M for proposed traffic congestion management: The city of San Francisco and UC Berkeley have been awarded roughly $11 million in grant funding Thursday from the U.S. Department of Transportation, or DOT, for its proposed traffic congestion management and technology deployment initiative. The campus and the city were encouraged to apply to two different grants from the DOT in addition to the nationwide Smart City Challenge. Even though the campus and the city did not receive funding from the Smart City Challenge, they secured funding from one of the additional grants. The money will fund six projects such as new high-occupancy vehicle lanes for public transit and carpooling, intelligent traffic signal systems and Treasure Island programs involving electric autonomous shuttles and a congestion toll system.

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  • Ex-offenders hired for Little Rock’s re-entry crews: In line with its recent efforts to advocate the hiring of rehabilitated criminal offenders, the city of Little Rock has created three new mowing and maintenance crews made up solely of participants in its re-entry program. Since October 2015, 367 city residents have enrolled in the Little Rock program. The city has hired 37 of its re-entry program graduates for positions at various departments, including the Police and Fire departments, the zoo, the Human Resources Department and the Finance Department.
  • Plans for airport park could soon take flight: Plans for a new city park that will serve the west side of Spartanburg are taking off. The city is spearheading efforts to create an aviation-themed public park at Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport, near the intersection of Kensington and Airport drives. The 3- to 4-acre park is anticipated to cost $850,000 and will be owned and maintained by the city. Mitch Kennedy, the city’s community services director, said a new west side park is in line with steps taken by Spartanburg City Council in 2014, when funds were set aside for capital park improvements.
  • Lousy internet the newest threat to rural Kansas: Christianne Parks says if rural Kansas can’t keep up with the Internet, she’s probably out of here. “Eventually, I probably would get bored out of my mind and leave,” said Parks, a 19-year-old who lives in Allen and is studying psychology at Emporia State University 20 miles to the south. The slow rollout of high-speed broadband internet service is the latest existential threat to rural Kansas.
  • Fire department merger to mean lower tax in Spencer Township: The merger of Spencer Township’s fire department with Springfield’s will mean lower taxes for township residents. Township trustees voted Oct. 6 to not collect 3.5 mills of property tax levies for fiscal year 2017 because of the reduction in expenditures from the fire service merger, said Trustee Shawn Valentine. “It’s always been my goal to reduce the tax burden,” he said. “When we don’t need to collect the revenue, there’s no reason for the government to be taking money from the citizens of our township if we don’t need it.” The move doesn’t permanently eliminate the taxes; the township just won’t collect it this fiscal year.

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Local Gov Confidential

Running our cities: Valley leaders weigh in on city manager pros and cons: City managers, mayors, council members and residents in Cache Valley have different viewpoints when it comes to city managers and their usefulness and whether or not they’re needed. The Herald Journal spoke to people in these positions to see what they thought about city managers.

2 Chicago cops still sidelined a decade after police scandal: A decade after one of the most damaging scandals in Chicago police history broke, two of the officers accused of wrongdoing remain on desk duty at full pay, filing papers or answering phones as they await the outcome of the city’s slow-moving and much-criticized disciplinary process.  The two are just a fraction of about 85 officers who remain on the force but are barred from working on the street because of ongoing disciplinary cases that can take years to close.

Should Pierce County elected officials hold two offices?: Pierce County would become the first county in the state to ban county elected officials from holding almost any other elected office if voters approve a charter amendment in November. Charter Amendment 44 — titled the “conflict of interest” amendment — would prohibit County Council members, the county executive, assessor-treasurer, auditor, sheriff and prosecuting attorney from holding any other elected public office except for precinct committee officer.

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