Connecting state and local government leaders

Will Austin Become Texas' First 'Sanctuary City'?; Maine Gov. Swears Off Press

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: S.C.'s 'freight train' of a pension problem; Idaho wants feds to let it regulate pollution; N.C. misappropriates half a million dollars

AUSTIN, TEXAS
SANCTUARY CITIES | Travis County, the home of Austin, is on the verge of ending cooperation with the federal government on immigration, making it the first sanctuary city in GOP-ruled Texas. The move, which would go against the Obama administration’s policy to deport criminal immigrants, is being spearheaded by the Democratic candidate for county sheriff, Constable Sally Hernandez. Hernandez has promised to get U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement out of the county jail. “Immigration is a federal issue, and immigration is a broken system and it’s really up to them to fix it and to enforce it,” Hernandez said. [Texas Tribune]

AUGUSTA, MAINE
LEPAGE | After a controversy-packed stretch of days, Gov. Paul LePage apologized to a state lawmaker for leaving him a profane and threatening voicemail message last week. LePage also said he did not have plans to heed calls for his resignation and that he would never speak to the press again. “I’m tired of being caught (in) the gotcha moment,” he explained. The Republican governor has garnered unflattering national attention during the last week over the voicemail incident and statements that he repeatedly made about drug dealers in Maine being predominantly black or Hispanic. “By his continued erratic behavior Governor LePage has proven again he is unfit to serve as Maine’s governor,” said Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves. “The governor needs to resign.” [Portland Press Herald]

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA
PENSIONS | “A freight train out of control,” is how one state lawmaker in South Carolina on Tuesday described pension costs for public employees there. Unfunded obligations for the state’s largest pension fund, the S.C. Retirement System, are expected to swell by $1.4 billion over the next year alone. And the money the system will owe in benefits in the coming years is projected to exceed the money it will have available by $16.8 billion. [Independent Mail]

BOISE, IDAHO
POLLUTION | State government wants the feds to let it regulate pollution discharge into lakes and rivers. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality submitted its application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to handle permitting and enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Idaho is one of four states where the federal government plays this role. State officials argue they know the bodies of water better, but environmental activists worry the $3 million for the program won’t be spent properly without federal oversight. [The Associated Press via Yakima Herald-Republic]

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
AUDIT | State employees misappropriated about $525,000 over three years submitting fraudulent reimbursement receipts, according to a new audit. Among them was the manager of an insurance program for state workers, Chakrapani Tademeti, who is charged with larceny among other things. He submitted false claims for travel, rent and electronic equipment, auditors said. [The News & Observer]

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
POTHOLES | A visiting artist is taking a clever approach to pockmarked roads in the City of Brotherly Love: he’s filling potholes with art. Wearing a safety orange vest, Jim Bachelor may look like any other repair man from the Streets Department, but as soon as he fills the holes and tamps down the concrete he inlays the repair with mosaic designs. A gallery-magazine collaboration brought him to the city and sent out a call for pothole repair suggestions on social media. Fortunately, or unfortunately, many of those crowd-sourced pothole suggestions were fixed in the runup to the Democratic National Convention. Bachelor, who has been replacing potholes with street art since 2013, says he used to wait until nighttime to do his work. “I was paranoid,” he said. “The more I’ve done it, I realized people just don’t care.” [Philly.com]