Connecting state and local government leaders

Chicago Clears Red-Light Camera Vendor Involved in Bribery

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Arizona proposal on protesters decried by free speech advocates; whooping cough outbreak in Kentucky; activists shut down Portland City Council meeting.

PROCUREMENT | Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has cleared a red light camera vendor that became ensnared in a bribery scandal to once again bid on city contracts. Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. just over two weeks ago agreed to pay the city $20 million to settle a lawsuit over the corruption scheme. [Chicago Tribune]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Republican state senators in Arizona argue many of President Trump’s protesters locally are being paid, so they passed a bill Wednesday allowing police to arrest demonstrators and seize their assets—purely on the suspicion a riot may break out. Peaceful protest planners can be targeted by association, and the legislation increases the likelihood the demonstrators’ political opponents will pose as rioters to draw police attention. The bill’s detractors say it’s an attempt to chill Trump dissenters’ desire to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. [Arizona Capitol Times]

A small group of activists shut down a City Council meeting in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday. Mimi German, one of the group’s organizers, said Mayor Ted Wheeler has mishandled issues related to homelessness, the fatal police shooting of an African-American teenager and the police response to protests against President Trump. German also led protesters to shut down a council meeting in January. [OregonLive / The Oregonian]

COUNTY GOVERNMENT | Iowa lawmakers may study a proposal to reorganize the state’s 99 counties, though there wasn’t much initial traction for a constitutional amendment—which must be approved by voters. The Iowa State Association of Counties is worried redrawing county lines could lead to fewer of them and, thus, less local government representation. [The Gazette]

MEDICAID | U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told her state’s legislature that she would “not vote to repeal the expanded Medicaid health care program… as long as the Legislature wants to keep it.” Alaska expanded Medicaid under an executive order by Gov.  Bill Walker in 2015; approximately 29,000 Alaskans are covered under the expansion. [Alaska Dispatch News]

GENDER PAY GAP | California officials estimate it will take 27 years to eliminate the 20.5 percent wage disparity between men and women in state government. That’s larger than average pay gaps in the private sector. “We don’t have a gender-based salary structure,” said state Human Resources Director Richard Gillihan. “We don’t pay a female correctional officer differently than we pay a male correctional officer. What we have is underrepresentation of women in higher-paying classifications, particularly in law enforcement.” [The Sacramento Bee]

WORKFORCE | With about one-quarter of the Washington State Ferries’ workforce of 1,800 employees eligible for retirement in the next five years, the agency has an aggressive recruitment effort underway. “We have a lot of smart people, very experienced, but they’re getting ready to retire,” said Matthew Von Ruden, director of vessels. Washington State Ferries operates about two dozen ships. [The Seattle Times]

PUBLIC HEALTH | Mecklenburg County failed to notify 185 low-income women of “abnormal results” of their cervical cancer screening for as long as eight months. Most have now been notified, but others “have not been found” as of yet. While not all of the abnormal results mean these individuals may have cancer, early detection is key, and the county health department stated finds even a “one or two week delay unacceptable.” [The Charlotte Observer]

Meanwhile, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is dealing with a whooping cough outbreak, with 11 confirmed cases. The cases seem to be centered around two elementary schools and a daycare facility, despite the vaccine being “routine and required for school-age kids.” [KYForward]

PENSIONS | Milwaukee County’s retirement system is looking for a new leader—and the county board of supervisors may just turn the entire pension management over to the state. Marian Ninneman, the retirement plan services director, resigned after “failing to correct an ongoing overpayment to one person that amounted to $140,000 over several years even though Ninneman was informed of the mistake nearly three years ago.” This is the latest in a string of mismanagement of the county pension—the only county in Wisconsin whose pension is not managed by the state. [Journal-Sentinel]