Connecting state and local government leaders

Boston Studying Massive Seawall; Tucson’s Mayor Carjacked at Home

Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Weekend Digest: Broadband-digging fines in Charlotte; Rhode Island’s governor defends free-tuition plan; and Newark’s mayor has a message about being “the next Brooklyn.”

Here are some state and local government stories you may have missed over the three-day Presidents Day weekend.

RESILIENCY | The city of Boston , like many others vulnerable to rising sea levels, is looking at a series of seawalls and other barriers to protect Boston Harbor during major storms. Such a large-scale construction project wouldn’t come cheap , but officials in New England’s largest city say they can’t ignore the looming threat from the ocean. “We need to evaluate the feasibility of options like this. If it’s the best solution to protect Boston, we shouldn’t hesitate,” according to Austin Blackmon , Boston’s chief of environment, energy and open space. The barrier under study would run 4 miles from Hull to Deer Island, would rise 20-feet above the low-tide mark and include movable barriers to allow ships to access the harbor. [ The Boston Globe ]

BROADBAND | Since July 2015, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina , has sent broadband-installation contractors for AT&T and Google Fiber about $688,000 in repair bills for damaged city infrastructure , including broken water mains and streets. City officials note that such damage is sometimes unavoidable. “We have to endure some years of construction to really convert a 19th-century, copper-driven telecommunications infrastructure to a 21st-century fiber system,” according to Phil Reiger, assistant director of the Charlotte Department of Transportation . [ The Charlotte Observer ]

EDUCATION | A free college tuition plan introduced by Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo "isn't a political stunt. I really think it is the right thing to do." Raimondo’s plan would offer two free years of tuition at one of the state’s public colleges and has received plenty of praise but also its share of criticism from those who feel it will suck resources from other priorities, including K-12 education. "It is a bold statement to the rest of the country that Rhode Island is serious about having the most skilled work force in America," the governor said. [ The Providence Journal ]

While advocates of school vouchers in Arizona say the program should be expanded because it will save the state money, a new analysis from The Arizona Republic shows that making the Empowerment Scholarship Account program larger would cost about $24 million more annually , and potentially “ many millions more .” [ The Arizona Republic ]

PUBLIC SAFETY | The mayor of Memphis, Tennessee , has asked the city’s police chief to review a so-called “black list” of people requiring a police escort while in city hall , including protesters and former city employees. "I have never seen the security list at City Hall, and it is my understanding that this type of security list for City Hall was created years ago by [the Memphis Police Department]," Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement. "No one has been denied entry or access to City Hall. I have heard the concerns about the list, so I have asked [Police] Director [Michael] Rallings to thoroughly review the policy and meet with me next week to discuss next steps." [ The Commercial Appeal ]

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild was carjacked at his home on Saturday but was not harmed. The mayor’s city-issued Ford Prius was later located but a suspect has not been found. [ KGUN9-TV ]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | Many places in and around New York City have been called “ the next Brooklyn ,” from Queens to Hoboken and even Philadelphia. They’re the next frontiers for gentrifiers to conquer. But Ras Baraka , the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, says that his city isn’t the next Brooklyn. “It's not accurate to say that we are gentrifying those neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods were neglected for 50 years," Baraka said in a vlog posted to YouTube. "You can't just be against development and not for the bettering of conditions." [ YouTube ]

INFRASTRUCTURE | West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice ’s “ Save Our State ” tour brought him to Raleigh County on Sunday and he vowed that the Coalfields Expressway , a long-planned and partially built route in the southern part of the state, would be extended. “ If you go with me, I'll build the damn road ,” the governor said. “And I'll build it now." [ WSAZ-TV ]