Connecting state and local government leaders
Also in our State and Local Weekend Digest: Illinois budget mess threatens state road construction; Oakland, Calif., conflict-of-interest inquiry; and Jacksonville consolidated government dispute.
STATE FINANCE | Four former Kansas governors—two Republicans and two Democrats—sent an appeal to Kansans on Friday to join their new political organization, Save Kansas, to oppose legislative candidates supporting Gov. Sam Brownback’s controversial income tax cuts. The joint effort by the former governors to target a sitting Republican chief executive “is unprecedented” in the state. “Our state of affairs is on a continuous decline. It’s time to acknowledge the experiment has failed,” former Gov. Mike Hayden said. Brownback is not up for election this year, but the Kansas House and Senate are. [Topeka Capital-Journal]
ROAD WORK | The Illinois Department of Transportation told its contractors not to start any new projects unless they can be wrapped up by June 30, the last day of the current fiscal year. Last week, Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said that no work could proceed unless the state legislature authorizes it. A shutdown would impact 800 road projects in the state, roughly $2 billion in work. There are, potentially “tens of millions of dollars” in costs involved with restarting construction projects, according to Blankenhorn. [Herald & Review]
ALAMEDA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
ETHICS | A county grand jury found Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney ignored a conflict of interest, in opposing a townhouse project near property she owned, in civil court. The jury’s report further criticized City Council and its Public Ethics Commission for failing to censure McElhaney, as well as Oakland for abandoning its own procurement rules on a 2014, $1 billion Zero Waste garbage contract. Oakland failed to protect ratepayers’ financial interests, leading to vastly higher garbage fees, according to the report. “Backroom dealing cannot be the standard by which the city of Oakland is governed,” concludes the report. [Public CEO]
AUTHORITY | City General Counsel Jason Gabriel issued a binding legal opinion to Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension Fund, asserting his office’s power to resolve disagreements between different parts of the consolidated government. The consolidated government consists of not only City Hall but independent agencies with their own boards. Agencies like the Pension Fund and Jacksonville Transportation Authority may seek outside legal counsel for its particular expertise or resources, but that counsel must be certified by Gabriel’s office, according to the opinion. The general counsel’s opinion trumps all other opinions, according to Gabriel. [The Florida Times-Union]