Connecting state and local government leaders

3 Police Officers Fatally Shot in Baton Rouge; Chicago’s $140 Million Olympic Village Burden

Baton Rouge Police arrive at the scene on Airline Highway after police were shot in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, July 17, 2016.

Baton Rouge Police arrive at the scene on Airline Highway after police were shot in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, July 17, 2016. Max Becherer / AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Weekend News Digest: South Dakota at bottom of same-sex marriage list; Portland’s tree-cutting mystery; and N.Y.C.’s response to synthetic marijuana overdoses.

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Three police officers in Baton Rouge were shot and killed on Sunday morning in an incident that started with law enforcement investigating reports of a man carrying a rifle and led to a shootout with police officers. The gunman was fatally shot by police during the response and three others were injured. Two of the officers killed were from the Baton Rouge Police; one was a East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy. While the circumstances that led to the fatal shooting, including motive, are still under investigation, the gunman was reportedly Gavin Long, a former Marine who “assumed an extremist persona online and became increasingly outspoken after the controversial shooting death of Alton Sterling” in Baton Rouge two weeks ago. [The Times-Picayune; The Advocate]

OLYMPICS | The Windy City will watch the Summer Games begin in Rio de Janeiro come August, a reminder of what might have been theirs had then-Mayor Richard Daley succeeded in his bid to host the event. If the honor had been given to Chicago, the city would have had to spend nearly $4.8 billion in private and public money on Olympic infrastructure. But, just because the bid failed, that doesn’t mean Chicago isn’t still paying a price for throwing its hat into the ring. The city’s taxpayers are still responsible for about $140 million in principal and interest on property that was purchased as an Olympic Village to house athletes that will never come, along with paying for expensive 10-year union contracts that were agreed upon to maintain labor peace during the event. [Chicago Tribune]

LGBT RIGHTS | While marriage equality became the law of the land across all 50 states last year, it’s interesting to look at where the most same-sex marriages have taken place per capita. Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, South Dakota comes in last, according to data compiled by the Los Angeles-based Williams Institute, with only two same-sex households per 1,000. [Argus Leader]  

POLICE | An Ohio task force recommended the state Attorney General’s office handle all lethal police use-of-force cases because prosecutors might be biased going after an officer or agency they have a working relationship with. But Attorney General Mike DeWine argued second-guessing would continue: "It's something, if the legislature wants us to do, we will. We're not looking for more things to do, frankly.” The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposes surrendering oversight. [The Columbus Dispatch]

DRUGS | After 130 people were treated for overdosing on the synthetic drug known as K2 during a three-day period this past week, the city is sending a health alert to emergency rooms and healthcare providers about the substance. On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state police would ramp up enforcement against the drug. Despite the spike in overdoses, emergency room visits resulting from K2 use are down compared to last summer in New York; last July there were about 1,200. The rash of overdoses this week was attributed to a bad batch of K2, which can cause euphoria and hallucinations. [The New York Times]

TREES | A mystery continues in Portland over who cut down a protected “Heritage Tree” in December on property belonging to a couple, who were later fined $1,000 for the felling of the 100-foot-tall grand fir. "I didn't cut down the tree," Clark Binkley told The Oregonian in early July. "Somebody cut down the tree and I ended up paying the fine. And that's ridiculous." The incident has drawn scrutiny to the system of fines meant to protect over 300 trees with special status in Portland. And city documents have now revealed Binkley, whose career has been in the timber and forestry sector, along with his wife had explored the possibility of building a house on the undeveloped lot where the fir once stood. But he said this week: "We don't have any intentions to build a house." [The Oregonian / OregonLive]