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Tense Days in New Orleans as City's Pump Network Struggles to Keep Up

A worker throws out food from refrigerators pushed out to the curb, in the aftermath of flooding from the past weekend's rain storms, at the Treme Market and Restaurant.

A worker throws out food from refrigerators pushed out to the curb, in the aftermath of flooding from the past weekend's rain storms, at the Treme Market and Restaurant. Gerald Herbert / AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | San José officials reject affordable housing for teachers proposal; designs are revealed for a new iconic bridge in Washington, D.C.; and Dayton sees inspiration in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

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.

Here’s what’s making news ...

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | Public works crews in New Orleans are racing to repair the city’s beleaguered pump network that has struggled to keep up following storms that dumped major rainfall on the city, flooding many neighborhoods last Saturday. The recent flooding, communications failures and a leadership crisis in the city’s water management has led to resignations and firings at the Water & Sewage Board and the Department of Public Works. If Saturday’s widespread flooding wasn’t bad enough, a Wednesday night fire at a turbine that powers pumps for many of the city’s East Bank neighborhoods has severely strained pumping capacity.

More stormy weather moving through southern Louisiana on Thursday prompted Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration to warn that there could be additional flooding and urged residents to move their vehicles to higher ground and take other necessary moves to prepare. The city and state have declared states of emergency. Fourteen, two megawatt generators are en route to New Orleans and expected to go into service within 48 hours. The failure in water management has raised major questions about the long-term ability to keep the city—much of which is below sea level, sits behind floodwalls and levees and is built on gradually subsiding soil—dry. [The Times Picayune /; The Advocate; National Public Radio; The Washington Post]

HOUSING | Denver’s boom in high-end apartment construction is expected to slow next year as market demand and financing get tighter, economists and industry experts say. “The reality is that [the industry is] building high-end apartments, and that is not where the majority of people moving to Denver can afford to move,” said Tim Walsh, CEO and founder of Confluence Companies, a real estate development company that builds affordable apartments in suburban Denver. “We’re building for the top of the income pyramid, we’re not building workforce housing.” A new report also notes that Millennials are starting to move out of rental units in downtown Denver to purchase property nearer to the outskirts of the city. [The Denver Post]

Due to zoning restrictions in San José, a Bay Area city known for sky-high housing costs, a property owner's plan to build affordable housing for teachers was axed by the city council. [KNTV-TV / NBC Bay Area]

MARIJUANA | Medical cannabis oil may soon be available in Texas. A handful of companies believe they are weeks away from getting state approval to sell the product. Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation in 2015 that would allow for a narrow group of consumers—epilepsy patients whose symptoms are not responding to federally approved medication—to purchase the oil. “Texas took a very narrow, specific approach focused on epilepsy patients only — which is indicative of the state,” said Adam Sharon, communications director for Cansortium Texas, which is planning a dispensary in Fayette County. [The Texas Tribune]

ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION | Indiana Republicans have expanded early voting in areas their party dominates while restricting it in Democratic regions—altering Central Indiana voting patterns. By increasing early voting stations in GOP-heavy Hamilton County while reducing them in Democratic-leaning Marion County and Indianapolis, Republicans helped those in their party with transportation issues and busy schedules to the detriment of their rivals with similar conflicts. Between 2008 and 2016, Hamilton saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting compared to Marion’s 26 percent decrease—which even the former’s county clerk attributes to the addition of two early voting stations. “It is a deliberate attempt by certain people in our government to make voting hard,” said Beth White, a former Marion County clerk. [Indy Star]


Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital is building a new iconic bridge to replace the aging Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which carries South Capitol Street over the Anacostia River adjacent to the Nationals ballpark. “Unlike earlier more mundane design concepts, this one soars. Look at those curves. No boring right angles here.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Baltimore, Maryland: Mayor Catherine Pugh named a new director of criminal justice on Wednesday and released an updated plan for combatting violent crime. Homicides rates in Baltimore are at record high levels. “I don’t want people to think we came into City Hall without a plan, because we did,” Pugh said. Drew Vetter, chief of staff of the Baltimore Police Department, will serve in the director of criminal justice post. [The Baltimore Sun]

Dayton, Ohio: “No one would confuse downtown Dayton with downtown Chicago” but leaders in Ohio’s sixth-largest city are trying to take cues from the Magnificent Mile retail corridor when it comes to downtown streetscaping on Main Street, which is currently “dull” and “gray.” A nearly $392,000 federal grant will help cover the costs of the work. [Dayton Daily News, h/t @SWSSchweikhart]

State College, Pennsylvania: Coming up on Aug. 28, the 54th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, the borough government will be cutting the ribbon on a new public plaza dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. [Borough of State College, h/t @State_CollegePA]

Kansas City, Missouri: A good idea being pursued in the Show Me State’s largest city: predictive analytics for potholes. [GovTech, h/t @kowyatt]

Burlington, Vermont: Yikes! A fight started Tuesday night in City Hall Park and “ended with one man slashed, a second stabbed in the neck and a third man behind bars.” [Seven Days]