06.14.17

In today’s Buzz: Congressional hearings into Russia’s election meddling continues, preservationists preserve a huge swath of land in Chester County, PA, and cities across the U.S. tackle transportation fatalities through Vision Zero.

This Buzz is brought to you by Flag Day.


Right Now with Daniel Soto (LinkedIn/Twitter)

What I’m Listening toA Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It

What I’m Reading – Knock ‘Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide

What I’m Watching – Black Mirror

What I’m Doing – Preparing for a job interview later this morning… Wish me luck!


Buzzin’

  • American Student Freed By North Korea Arrives Home: An American college student who has been in North Korean custody for a year-and-a-half arrived in Cincinnati Tuesday night on a medical evacuation flight.  Otto Warmbier, 22, is in a coma, his father Fred Warmbier told NPR News on Tuesday. An ambulance took Warmbier from the airport to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.  Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate, was visiting the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, as part of a student tour group. He was arrested in January 2016 and accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster from an employee area of his hotel.
  • Attorney General’s Selective Silence Deafens Senate Russia Inquiry: Jeff Sessions did exactly what he needed to do Tuesday — help himself in the eyes of his boss, President Trump, and, in turn, help Trump.  But the attorney general, an early Trump supporter, revealed little in the congressional hearing about the ongoing Russia saga or Trump’s role in possibly trying to quash the investigation looking into it.  Using vague legal justification, Sessions shut down potentially important lines of investigative questioning — and that may be exactly how the White House wants it.
  • Death toll from massive mudslides in Bangladesh rises to 140 as rescuers struggle to reach affected areas: Rescuers struggled Wednesday to reach villages hit by massive landslides that have killed at least 140 people while also burying roads and cutting power in southeastern Bangladesh.  To clear paths for rescue workers, villagers joined firefighters and soldiers in cutting fallen trees and clearing mud and debris unleashed by the landslides Tuesday in five hilly districts.  But rescuers have been unable to get heavy machinery to the remote areas to help dig through the debris.
  • London Firefighters Battle High-Rise Inferno; At Least 6 Fatalities Reported: Fire and rescue crews are fighting a blaze and searching for people who may have been trapped in a 24-story apartment building in London that was engulfed in fire overnight. At least six people have died from the fire, which was not yet fully under control nearly 12 hours after it started.  Police say it will take some time to confirm the cause of the fire. Residents said the blaze appeared to start in an apartment on a lower floor and spread upward quickly.


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50 Nifty

  • Cities Are Trying to End Pedestrian Deaths. New Data Suggests They’re Making Progress.: In recent years, a number of U.S. cities have been intently focused on reducing the number of pedestrians who are killed in traffic accidents.  These cities have started to transform their streetscapes to minimize pedestrian, cyclist and motorist deaths as part of the Vision Zero movement, which emphasizes that no traffic deaths are acceptable.  But the big question about those efforts is just how effective they really are.  Now, new data is emerging that gives policymakers a better picture of where Vision Zero is working. And more data tools are on the way that could help address dangerous conditions before traffic deaths or injuries occur.
  • City vs. State: The Story So Far: As cities flex their muscles in opposition to President Trump’s policies on everything from climate change to immigration and economic development, they face a serious obstacle: sweeping state efforts to preempt their authority.  These efforts date back well before Trump’s populist rise to power and span a whole host of critical issues—from states’ attempts to block local minimum wage increases to non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people to blanket bans on ordinances restricting fracking and guns.

  • Colorado Changes Rules on Civil Forfeiture Despite Opposition From Law Enforcement: Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday signed into law a controversial bill that changes how state law enforcement seize money and property suspected of being linked to crimes, despite pressure from Colorado sheriffs and police chiefs who say the measure will hurt investigations.
  • Curating a Healthy Workplace Culture in Government: Curating a healthy workplace culture in the public sector poses unique challenges. In contrast to the business world, governmental organizations have constantly evolving priorities, excessive bureaucracy, shifting political winds as elected leaders come and go, ebbing and flowing budgetary resources, and, too often, a lack of understanding by leaders and managers of culture’s power and influence.
  • Density Without Demolition: Tearing down old buildings won’t make our cities more affordable or inviting.  It’s time to make better use of the buildings and spaces we already have.

  • Florida Governor Signs New, Stronger ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law: Florida Governor Rick Scott signed amended “stand your ground” legislation on Friday, making it easier for defendants in the state to successfully claim they were protecting themselves when they commit violence.  Previously, the law required defendants to prove that they were using force in self-defense.  The new law shifts the burden of proof in pretrial hearings to prosecutors, rather than defendants, to prove whether force was used lawfully.
  • Huge Swath of Land Preserved in Pennsylvania’s Fastest Growing County: Preservationists have bought one reprieve from the ongoing expansion of developed land in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  The conservation effort stems the tide of development since Chester County, the fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania, approved its first Landscapes plan two decades ago.
  • New York’s Citi Bike Had Its First Fatal Crash: A long safe-riding streak has come to an end.  After more than four years and 43 million trips since New York’s Citi Bike system debuted, the system saw its first fatality Monday morning.  The victim was identified as a 36-year-old investment banker.  Police sources said the man was struck by a bus on 26th Street near 8th Avenue as he was riding between a moving coach bus and a parked car around 8:20 a.m. He reportedly lost control of the bike, fell to the ground, and was run over by the bus. He was pronounced dead two hours later.


Local Government Confidential

  • Former Long Beach City Hall staffer arrested hours after ‘heated argument’ with city councilwoman: The former chief of staff for Long Beach Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication as well as an outstanding warrant hours after police observed the two engaged in a “heated argument,” authorities said.
  • Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith likely bullied staffers, investigation shows: An outside investigation into Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith determined she likely bullied staffers on cultural issues and that “it was assumed” staffers would use vacation time to work campaign events.  Smith told an employee she “better not be pregnant,” made references to Muslims being terrorists and swore at staffers.

  • OC Grand Jury Wants Jailhouse Informant Hearing to Stop, Saying There’s No Widespread ViolationsOrange County’s civil grand jury said Tuesday an ongoing court hearing about possible misuse of jailhouse informants and withholding of evidence have turned into a “witch-hunt,” and should stop after the grand jury determined there is no “systemic, widespread informant program.”  In its report, titled “The Myth of the Orange County Jailhouse Informant Program,” the grand jury called for an end to Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals’ ongoing evidence hearing, in which the judge is deciding whether he can trust the Sheriff’s Department to turn over all the material he has ordered as part of the court’s discovery process.