Connecting state and local government leaders

Texas Gov.’s ‘War on Cities’ Heats Up With Snub of the Big 5

The Texas State Capitol.

The Texas State Capitol.

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Seattle police want to bargain for body cams; Allentown, Pa. mayor shrugs off corruption charges; Baltimore gun bill gets a rewrite

INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS | The mayors of Texas’ five largest cities—Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth—were all left off the list of city leaders who will meet with Gov. Greg Abbott in the coming days. Eighteen mayors requested these meetings last week in a letter that warned that many of Abbott’s proposals “impede the ability of Texas cities to provide vital services.” Austin Mayor Steve Adler has been a particularly vocal critic of Abbott’s legislative priorities and has called the governor’s special session a “war on cities.” Addressing Abbott’s failure to invite the five big city mayors, Adler’s spokesman Jason Stanford said: “Austin and Texas’ biggest cities are where Texas’ economy is growing fastest, if you hurt these cities, Texas bleeds. By refusing even to meet with these mayors, the governor is cutting off his nose to spite his state.” [Austin American-Statesman]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | The union that represents Seattle’s city police officers and sergeants has filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint over a directive Mayor Ed Murray issued, calling for officers to be equipped with body-worn cameras. The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild says it’s not opposed to body cameras. Instead it says the mayor’s executive order disregards state collective bargaining laws. The union’s complaint was filed with Washington State’s employee-relations commission. Seattle’s police department remains under a federal consent decree, which mandates certain reforms. [The Seattle Times]

INDICTMENTS | Federal corruption charges against Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Ed Pawlowski are expected to be unsealed Wednesday. Pawlowski has said he plans to remain in office and to continue his re-election campaign, despite calls to resign. Nine city officials and others who have previously pleaded guilty in the political corruption case have implicated the mayor. The case hinges on allegations that city contracts were awarded in exchange for campaign contributions. Pawlowski, a Democrat, has denied any wrongdoing. He is running for a fourth term in an election that will be held in November. [Allentown Morning Call]

GUN CONTROL | Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh will continue supporting her bill harshening punishments for illegally possessing a firearm, after council members amended it to apply mandatory one-year, non-suspendable sentences only to second offenses and only if the gun was used in a crime. Pugh wanted to punish anyone found with a firearm within 100 yards of buildings open to the public, but critics argued that ignored residents who carry guns for self defense. "We arrested over 100,000 people during zero tolerance. Now, we have people calling saying how can we get these guys jobs,” said Council Member Kris Burnett. “This bill doesn't do that. This bill doesn't make our community safer.” [Baltimore Business Journal]

NUCLEAR POWER | Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy ordered a state review of the Millstone nuclear power plant’s continued viability in natural gas energy markets. Dominion Energy Inc. has hinted it will close the plant without broader access to Connecticut power markets. The next chance to close Millstone is 2022. [Hartford Courant]

STATE BUDGET | Government revenues in Montana are falling far short of projections, triggering the need for $97 million in cuts across state government, Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget director said Tuesday. Schools and health programs are slated to receive the bulk of the cuts, which could begin as early as next month. “We cannot have revenue estimates artificially inflated to avoid hard decisions,” said Budget Director Dan Villa. [Associated Press via Bozeman Daily Chronicle]

P3 | Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings wants City Council to create a “local government corporation” to build the 200-acre Trinity River Park, removing planning decisions from the body’s purview. Rawlings has already taken flack for trying to turn Fair Park operations over to a nonprofit, but he argues he’s simply taking bureaucracy out of the equation. "You can't build something this big or this quick with that sort of restraint on you," Rawlings said. [The Dallas Morning News]