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City Learns Costly Lesson About the ‘Quick, Cheap Way’ to Build

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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | There’s no budget contingency plan in South Dakota; Iowa DOT graphic designer hurt by public’s complaints; and “Baltimore has had more than enough time to think” about Confederate statue removal.

Our daily roundup of state and local government news is compiled by Route Fifty’s staff and edited by Michael Grass. Help us crowdsource link gathering: Flag state and local government news using the Twitter hashtags #localgovwire and #stategovwire.

Leading our roundup, pipes, pumps and public works ...

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE | Public works officials in Lawrence, Kansas have been dealing with an unexpected problem. The city has experienced 22 water main breaks in the span of three weeks. And all the problematic pipes share something in common: They were installed in the 1990s and weren’t wrapped, leaving them fragile. “This is a classic example of why you have to do things right the first time, and sometimes doing them right is more expensive than doing them the quick, cheap way,” Commissioner Matthew Herbert said. “Had we wrapped those pipes in the '90s, we wouldn’t have a problem today.” The recent repair work has led to $200,000 in repairs and replacement. [Lawrence Journal-World]

In New Orleans, which has been struggling to keep its critical pump system up and running, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Sunday that a review of the beleaguered Water & Sewerage Board's logs has “made it clear that the system has never been 100 percent operational and at 100 percent of its capacity.” The mayor, who chairs the board, said he never realized just how bad the situation had become, but noted: “Let me be clear: the buck ultimately stops with me. I own it, I accept it and I am taking responsibility to fix it.” [WWL-TV]

Last week, the Phoenix Water Services Department was honored with a “Utility of the Future Today” recognition for the agency’s “forward-thinking initiatives.” [City of Phoenix via @MayorStanton]

And don’t miss our newly published feature on upgrading water infrastructure in Portland, Oregon while seeking efficiencies in the process. [Route Fifty]

BUDGET PLANNING | More than a third of South Dakota’s projected revenue could be impacted by President Trump’s proposed budget, including funding “the state has designated to pay for health programs, food stamps, crop insurance, rural economic development and student loans.” While there’s no contingency plan, some aren’t as worried: ongoing congressional inaction could mean the current budget is extended. [Argus Leader]

Thanks to an accounting tactic that allows transit agencies to shift federal capital funding to cover the costs of operations, New Jersey Transit, which operates commuter rail services in the Garden State, “turns to the U.S. government to cover day-to-day costs more than any of its peers,” according to new Federal Transit Administration data. [Bloomberg Politics]


The Massachusetts State House in Boston (Shutterstock)

Boston, Massachusetts: Officials in the Bay State have set new goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, in order to comply with a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling. The court found Massachusetts wouldn’t achieve its commitments without additional efforts. "The six final regulations announced today will, along with other Commonwealth climate policies, ensure that this goal is achieved by addressing emissions from the natural gas distribution network, the transportation sector, the electric sector, focusing on generation and consumption, and gas insulated switchgear,” according to Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. [UtilityDIVE]

San Francisco, California: The Golden State’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, announced Monday that California’s state government, along with San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, would sue the Trump administration over its new restrictions on “sanctuary” cities. California is the first state government to pursue a legal challenge of the new federal rules. [Southern California Public Radio / KPCC]

Springfield, Illinois: The Democratic-controlled Illinois state Senate on Sunday overturned Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of its new school-funding model, which would have shifted hundreds of millions of dollars away from Chicago Public Schools. The evidence-based funding model distributes money based on the number of students living in poverty and lacking English skills among other criteria. "Taking money away from one district—the largest in the state, which educates children in poverty—and giving it to other districts in the state which educate children in poverty, is not a solution that's going to lead to greater equity," said Democratic State Sen. Andy Manar. "Senate Bill 1 results in no red numbers, no losses." [Chicago Tribune; AP via The Southern Illinoisan]

Los Angeles, California: A new state law approved in 2015 has boosted kindergarten vaccination rates in California to a record high, but even so, hundreds of schools in the state still have so many children who lack immunizations that they pose an elevated risk of disease outbreaks. Health experts say that at least 95 percent of children in each school should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of diseases like measles. But, at nearly 750 California schools 90 percent or fewer kindergartners had been fully vaccinated in the previous year. [Los Angeles Times]    

(via Iowa DOT)

Des Moines, Iowa: A graphic designer working for the Iowa Department of Transportation has been facing the wrath of the public over design options for the state’s new license plates. The criticism “ranges from stinging to an absolute gut punch that leaves me short of breath and tears flowing uncontrollably,” the employee said in a Facebook post. [Radio Iowa]


Baltimore, Maryland: The fate of Confederate monuments in the city is in limbo following the weekend’s violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Councilman Brandon Scott introducing a resolution to have all four statues destroyed. Meanwhile, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office has begun reaching out to contractors about removal, possibly to Confederate cemeteries elsewhere in Maryland. “Baltimore has had more than enough time to think on the issue,” Scott said. “[I]t’s time to act.” [The Baltimore Sun]

Toledo, Ohio: The fourth-largest city in the Buckeye State has launched the nation’s first open-data portal for priority-based budgeting and is working with the Toledo Regional Chamber in what’s also the nation’s first-ever public-private partnership on the municipal budgeting practice. [Open PBB Data via Resource X]

New York City, New York: The concept of congestion pricing as a traffic management tool in Manhattan has been a controversial one over the years and has never gained enough traction. But as the nation’s largest city continues to deal with growing transportation pains, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the subway system, seems to be warming up to the revenue-generating concept. "Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come," the governor recently said. [The New York Times; Gothamist]

Whiteclay, Nebraska: This small unincorporated community just south of the South Dakota state line and the Pine Ridge Reservation, is at the center of a legal challenge over local alcohol sales. Due to high rates of alcoholism on the reservation across the border in South Dakota, two groups that work on behalf of Native American populations, Legal Aid of Nebraska and the Appleseed Center, have said alcohol sales in Whiteclay have created “public health, safety and welfare issues.” [Omaha World-Herald]

Dane County, Wisconsin: A new so-called Suck the Muck initiative is being launched in area streams with phosphorus and algae problems. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that the $12 million program is intended to improve water quality in 33 streams. [Wisconsin State Journal]

(Photo at top by Ross Griff / Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0)

NEXT STORY: Seeking Efficiencies Through Major Upgrades to Portland’s Water Works