06.15.17

In today’s Buzz: Flint water crisis now involves manslaughter, dying malls bring new opportunities, and scientists discuss watersheds.  

This Buzz is brought to you by Dump the Pump Day.


Right Now with Jacob Johnson (LinkedIn/Twitter)

What I’m ReadingBeyond Segregation

What I’m Watching – Turn: Washington’s Spies 

What I’m Doing – Packing for my family vacation! 


Buzzin’

  • London Fire–Six Killed in Grenfell Tower Fire: Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved. Firefighters, who rescued many people, were called at 00:54 BST and are still trying to put out the fire. Police say there may still be people in the building who are unaccounted for. The ambulance service said 68 patients had been taken to six hospitals across London, with 18 in critical care. A further 10 patients made their own way to hospital. During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights – thought to be mobile phones or torches – flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows – some holding children.
  • San Francisco Shooting:A gunman in a UPS uniform killed three people and wounded two others before turning his weapon on himself as police approached at a company facility in San Francisco early Wednesday, authorities said.The San Francisco Police Department said three people were killed and the suspect was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two others were wounded.
  • Congressional Baseball Shooting: Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, the House majority whip, is in critical condition, hospital officials said this afternoon, after he and four others were shot by a gunman who opened fire on members of Congress practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, this morning. Scalise, a lobbyist, a congressional staffer and two Capitol Police officers were injured in the shooting at a park baseball field. Officers returned fire at the suspect, who has since died, authorities said.


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50 Nifty

  • Durango CO added to cities against climate change: Mayor Dick White and City Councilor Dean Brookie recently joined elected officials and senior staff from 27 Colorado governments at a statewide climate summit held in Aspen. The summit was created to start the formation of the Compact for Colorado Communities, a network of communities committed to fighting climate change through improved decision-making capacity and expertise within local government. White and Brookie pledged to present the Compact charter to Durango City Council for consideration, which will determine the city’s commitment to join the other local governments united to address climate change.
  • Scientists to meet in watershed conference: When more than three million gallons of mining sludge from the Gold King Mine site at Silverton, Colorado, suddenly flowed downriver into the Animas and San Juan rivers in August 2015, no one knew what to expect as a lasting impact.  For the past two years, scientists from numerous government agencies have studied the watershed of the two rivers.  Their findings will be presented at the second annual conference on “Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watershed with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and Other Mine Water Issues” June 20-22 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center, San Juan College in Farmington.

  • As state leaders balk, activists target local government about foam: Foam burger boxes and ice cream cups could eventually go the way of the flimsy plastic shopping bag—banned throughout California. It’s not likely to happen this year. Environmentalists who push for the bans lost a big fight last month when the Legislature voted down a bill that would have banned foam takeout containers statewide. But growing pressure from communities that are passing the bans could be a game changer in the future, as environmentalists continue to make the case that the foam plastic known as polystyrene is associated with myriad ecological hazards. It doesn’t biodegrade. It easily becomes litter because it’s so light. It breaks down into small plastic bits that flow into waterways and harm wildlife. With inaction in the state Capitol, the environmentalists’ war on plastic turns to cities and counties.
  • Political parties matter at a local level–EditorialThere was a time when the adage was true that it didn’t matter what party won in local elections because Democrats and Republicans collect garbage the same way. It is true that trash doesn’t care who picks it up. However, there are other very important differences between the party philosophies that do filter down to the local level.One example is the problem of global warming and how to limit it. From the top of the ticket in Washington, D.C., Republicans either believe climate change is a myth or that the Paris climate accords are a rip off and require too much of the U.S. That was the view of President Trump when he pulled the U.S. out of the accords, leaving Syria the only other country refusing to sign on.
  • Flint water crisis: leaders face manslaughter charges: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today filed new, more serious charges in the Flint Water Crisis investigation, but also said the case is shifting to a new phase. “We will turn to the prosecution of this investigation,” Schuette said at a news conference in Flint this morning. “We are confident that the charges that we have filed will be upheld in the courts.”


Local Government Confidential

  • Wave goodbye to DMV lines: In an attempt to modernize (and repair its reputation in the process), a handful of states are revamping the DMV for the better — by offering digital services to drivers. “People want to access government the same way they access Amazon,” says Mary Lou Prevost, vice president of state and local government and education at CA Technologies, a software company with clients in government and financial industries. “There’s a huge push to move from in line to online.”
  • Dying malls offer a chance to build something better: “Most malls,” Caruso said, “other than a few really well-located ones, are going to die off. And there will be great opportunities for repurposing the real estate, no doubt.” Caruso said he’d just read a Wall Street Journal story—the headline was “The mall of the future will have no stores” — about a struggling mall in Michigan. A Lord & Taylor department store had skipped, leaving a 240,000-square-foot hole in the mall. But Ford Motor Co. moved its purchasing and engineering staff into the space. That’s one answer, and other malls now have government offices, medical clinics and schools where chain stores once existed. But malls were designed for a specific purpose and can’t always be easily adapted or reconfigured. In some cases, Caruso said, the best bet might be to bulldoze everything and start over.

  • Service integration is best done in the cloud: John Thornton, director of consultancy essential resources, said people were increasingly using smart systems and smart monitoring, which were generating huge amounts of data, ready to be harnessed. There had been an “explosion of data” that different bodies and organizations needed to be able to share if they were to provide public services efficiently, he said. He said one example was the NHS, which had generated vast amounts of information, enabling bespoke care for individuals, speaking at CIPFA’s 2017 local government conference in London on Monday.