Connecting state and local government leaders

Arkansas Tops Most Other States When It Comes to This Connectivity Metric

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Bulletproof glass for a Georgia city hall; Indianapolis revenge shootings; and a small town closes a big legal loophole in its municipal code.

BROADBAND | Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced last week that a high-speed broadband network now connects every public school in the state, in addition to charter schools and education-service cooperatives, 293 schools in all. The new system is 40 times faster than the previous network and the completion of the Arkansas Public School Computer Network means that the Natural State is one of six U.S. states to have its schools connected to a broadband network that has at least 100 kilobits per second per student. The Arkansas network not only meets that standard but improves upon it by doubles. [The Times Record]

AIR QUALITY | To deal with his city’s air pollution problems, Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler said Friday: "It's our responsibility at the local level to move forward" and not wait around for Oregon’s state government to act. Wheeler said that time is come for leaders in and around Portland to create a regional air pollution district that could monitor air quality, set standards and enforce them. [The Oregonian / OregonLive.com]

PUBLIC SAFETY | Citing fears and safety concerns from city hall staff, the city of Ringgold, Georgia, located near the Tennessee border, has installed bulletproof glass at a main service counter. “We also have many people who come in that are not from our community that may be here for criminal-type matters, and it's getting to point where we feel like we need to do something to protect them [employees],” according to the city manager. [Northwest Georgia News via Atlanta Journal Constitution]

In Indianapolis, so-called “revenge shootings” have been fueling an uptick in violent crime in Indiana’s capital city. "Retaliation is the common thread in this," according to a police captain. [The Indianapolis Star]

In Oklahoma, state Auditor Gary Jones is questioning whether Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a rival for the gubernatorial nomination, needs a state-provided security detail when he attends campaign fundraisers. "If anybody else used a state vehicle to stop by and pick up a campaign check, they would be breaking the law," Jones said.  Lamb says the security is appropriate. [NewsOK.com]

ENVIRONMENT | A section of a controversial and aging pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac that connects Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, has bent in five places and “ovalized,” a term used to describe a pipeline that has lost its roundness, twice, according to inspection reports. Both ovalizations in Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 have worsened since 2013. An engineer who specializes in fluid dynamics and has studied the pipeline in question suspects that strong lake currents has undermined the lakebed beneath the pipe, causing the forces of gravity to stress the pipeline. The pipeline was built in 1953. [MLive.com]

STATE WORKFORCE | The New York state Office for Information Technology Services is backtracking on a plan that had outsourced its help desk after complaints from state workers they were having trouble getting assistance from a privatized help desk. [Times Union]

Excluding college coaches and athletic personnel and a few other special cases, nine of the top 10 highest-paid state employees in South Carolina work in medicine. [The State]

ELSEWHERE …

The Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon storage facility near Porter Ranch, in the Santa Susana foothills in the northern San Fernando Valley, northwest of Los Angeles. (Shutterstock)

Los Angeles County, California: The county government, in a lawsuit filed Friday, alleges that the state regulator ignored the risk when they OK’d the Southern California Gas Company from reactivating gas storage wells at Aliso Canyon, the site of the nation’s largest-ever gas leak. The county says that seismic risks were not factored in when the thumbs up was given to restart operations. [Southern California Public Radio / KPCC]

Gilbert, Arizona: About 3,000 customers in the Phoenix-area suburb were left without power on Saturday due to a “cluster of Mylar balloons” that came into contact with power lines, causing five transformers to explode. [The Arizona Republic / AZCentral.com]

Granger, Washington: Whoops! This small town near Yakima quietly updated its municipal criminal code, which previously “lacked legal language giving its police and court authority to enforce and prosecute much of the city’s misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crime.” [The Yakima Herald]

Wilmington, Delaware: Residents in northern Delaware who fly in and out of Philadelphia International Airport may get a future gift of having direct rail service from Wilmington to the airport via a proposed rail connection off the Northeast Corridor mainline. [The News Journal / DelawareOnline.com]

Talkeetna, Alaska: Not all towns have an honorary cat mayor, but this small town near Denali National Park has been famous in Alaska for having Stubbs as a feline chief executive who lived at Nagley’s General Store. The cat’s owners announced Saturday that the 20-year-old cat had died. [KTVA-TV]