Connecting state and local government leaders

Racist ‘Chicago Safari’ Emails Spawn Illinois Government Investigation


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Boulder’s bear problem; a Charlotte sit-in; San Diego’s losing Styrofoam venture

RACISM | Chicago’s email scandal just spawned an Illinois government investigation, now that a longtime state employee’s personal email address has been discovered as the source of racist, sexist and anti-gay messages to the city’s water department bosses. One email from Frank Capuzi, a Workers’ Compensation Commission investigator and son of a former Republican state lawmaker, spoke of a fake “Chicago Safari” tour highlighting child shootings in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. [Chicago Tribune]

WILDLIFE | In Boulder, Colorado there’s concern that an uptick in bear activity in and around the city could lead to a person getting hurt, or one of the animals getting killed. "We're just waiting for a crisis to happen," Brenda Lee of the Boulder Bear Coalition told the City Council last week. Lee is a strong proponent of the city’s bear-safe ordinance, which requires bear-resistant containers in certain areas for trash and compost. The city has stepped up enforcement of the ordinance in recent months, issuing close to 1,000 citations, totalling more than $250,000, during the second half of last year. [Boulder Daily Camera]

SIT-IN | The Charlotte Regional Republican Volunteer Network will stage a sit-in at Monday’s City Council meeting in protest of member Dimple Ajmera’s comments that President Trump’s supporters have no business in municipal government because of their divisiveness. Activists expect about 100 participants at the North Carolina city’s meeting, including unaffiliated voters, independents and a few Democrats. “It is not about being a Republican or a Democrat,” Ajmera wrote in a July 17 Facebook post. “It is about standing up to Trump’s disrespect for women, minorities and immigrants. It is about standing up to Trump’s disregard for the sick, the disabled and the poor.” [The Charlotte Observer]

STYROFOAM | San Diego’s new program to recycle Styrofoam is projected to lose more money the more residents participate, at least $90,000 a year largely on food containers. Dart Container Corporation spent $200,000 in campaign donations in recent years lobbying City Council to start such a program. The foam must be hauled to a Los Angeles County sorting facility, and the market for recycled foam isn’t large—all so companies like Dart can avoid an outright ban on their product. “Just like refuse collection or road repair, we’re doing it for the public good,” said a spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer. [Voice of San Diego]

POPULATION GROWTH | Residents continue to become more concentrated in Nebraska’s most populous counties. The trend dates back decades but has become more pronounced in recent years. State Sen. Paul Schumacher, chairman of the Legislature's long-term planning committee, is among those thinking about what this and other demographic trends will mean for the future of the Cornhusker State, particularly as Nebraska’s urban areas compete with faster-growing, out-of-state metro regions in places like Colorado and Texas. There are some unique ideas kicking around for how the state could better position itself going forward. One is to create an industry in the state around nuclear power. Another would involve building a new city in western Nebraska, with a high-speed rail connection to Denver. [Lincoln Journal Star]

HIGHWAY SAFETY | Washington state’s new distracted driver law is now in effect. Enforcement of the “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics” statute began Sunday. It prohibits non-emergency use of handheld devices, and watching video, while behind the wheel. Tickets for violations are $136 and rise to $234 for additional offenses within five years. [Seattle Times]

SANCTUARY CITIES | Oakland, California City Council strengthened its sanctuary city status by unanimously rescinding a cooperation agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agreement designated local police as customs enforcement officers, allowing them to work with ICE on human trafficking and drug smuggling investigations. Council members cited data sharing concerns, as well as the growing fear of deportation among residents for the move. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Meanwhile, the Seattle suburb of Burien, Washington may repeal its sanctuary city ordinance now that a petition to do so has reached City Council. The other option is to place the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot. Burien’s ordinance bars city employees and law enforcement from asking about a person’s immigration status or religious affiliation. Council members narrowly passed the ordinance 4-3. [The Associated Press via MYNorthwest]

FAVORS | Federal investigators began looking at the trading of favors for campaign contributions after one of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s earliest donors, Harendra Singh, in 2014 sought his help settling the lease of Water’s Edge restaurant on city property. Acting U.S. attorney Joon H. Kim decided in March not to bring charges against the mayor or his aides but chastised them for making inquiries with city agencies on behalf of donors. De Blasio’s transactional form of governing contrasts with that of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire with no need for donations. Singh awaits trial on an unrelated corruption case, in which he is charged with bribing Oyster Bay’s former deputy town attorney. [The New York Times]