Justice Dept. Reaches Deal With West Palm Beach on Its ‘Welcoming City’ Resolution

The Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C. Shutterstock

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Emergency quarantine on Louisiana’s fragile coast ... Nashville to scale-back free school lunches ... N.Y.C. launches new bicycle-safety pilot project ... and recent storms won’t help Turlock, Calif.’s water supply woes.

Here’s a roundup of state and local government news that caught Route Fifty’s attention.

LAW ENFORCEMENT | The Justice Department and local officials in West Palm Beach, Florida announced Tuesday that they reached an agreement regarding the city’s Resolution No. 112-17—known locally as its “Welcoming City” resolution—which came under Trump administration scrutiny for whether it was out of step with federal-and-local information-sharing agreements. To settle the dispute, city agreed that its employees are “not restricted from sharing information” on immigration status with the Homeland Security Department.

According to a Justice Department announcement:

Following the City’s agreement to, and subsequent dissemination of, a memorandum from West Palm Beach to its employees stating West Palm Beach’s position that its local laws do not restrict information sharing with DHS, the Department issued a letter to West Palm Beach concluding its section 1373 review. The letter stated, “[i]n light of our ongoing discussions and your agreement to and sending of a memorandum to all employees stating that they are not restricted from sharing information with DHS, we find no evidence that you are currently out of compliance with section 1373.”

The city, according to the announcement, also agreed to dismiss a lawsuit it brought requesting a declaration that its local resolution complies with federal law and challenging the Justice Department’s “authority to impose immigration cooperation-related grant conditions.”

The Justice Department’s statement also said the city’s cooperation came in “order to avoid a loss in the courts,” something that West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said isn’t true, according to the Sun-Sentinel:

She said the city’s policies have always been in compliance, and the memo only reiterated that the city would share information if required by law.

“They have promulgated a set of lies that do not reflect our discussions with them,” Muoio said. “I am deeply disappointed because we worked with them in good faith.”

[Justice.gov; Sun Sentinel]

The California Department of Justice, led by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, plans to lead the investigation into the police-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old African-American man, in his grandparents’ backyard in Sacramento. The city’s police chief, Daniel Hahn, said he welcomed the inquiry from Becerra and his team, which will include a review of police use-of-force policies and training. "Our city is at a critical point right now and I believe this will help build faith and confidence in the investigation from our community," Hahn said at a press conference on Tuesday. [National Public Radio; The Sacramento Bee]

The Buffalo Police Department will begin “rolling out body cameras to roughly 550 patrol officers citywide by early next year,” according to Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo. [The Buffalo News]

TRAFFIC SAFETY | The New York City Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it is testing out a pilot project involving 50 intersections where bicyclists will be able to proceed when pedestrians get a walk signal that’s part of the “leading pedestrian interval” before cars get a green signal. [Streetsblog NYC]

In Cincinnati, a recently released pedestrian safety survey of local residents indicates that speeding drivers were the most-reported complaint, followed by motorists not yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks. Speed enforcement stops by the Cincinnati Police Department have dropped by 60 percent over five years. [WCPO-TV; CAGIS / Cincinnati-Hamilton County]

ELSEWHERE …

  • Turlock, California: Although this city in California’s San Joaquin Valley is only a 20-minute drive from Modesto, the distance is just far enough to where one city continues to face a strained water supply while the other benefits from this month’s rain- and snow-producing storms in the Sierra Nevada. The recent precipitation benefits Modesto, since much of its water is drawn from the Sierra-fed Tuolumne River. Residents in Turlock, meanwhile, rely on systems that tap limited groundwater sources for local water needs. Adding to Turlock’s water woes: six of the city’s 24 wells are not currently in use, “primarily because of contaminants.” [Modesto Bee]
  • Birmingham, Alabama: Members of the Birmingham City Council approved a plan to contribute $3 million per year toward renovating and expanding the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, which includes renovating Legacy Arena. The revenues generated by the expansion would build a neighborhood revitalization fund to be used across the city, according to Mayor Randall Woodfin. [AL.com]
     
  • Portland, Oregon: Jail overcrowding has prompted the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, which said its two jail facilities have been near capacity since November, to release 160 inmates since July. [Willamette Week]
     
Charlotte, North Carolina (Shutterstock)
  • Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: The county that includes Charlotte added 19,600 new residents in the year ending June 30, 2017, the most of any county in North Carolina aside from Wake County, home to Raleigh. Mecklenburg continues to be North Carolina’s most-populous county with nearly 1.1 million residents but only edges out Wake by 4,600 more people. [Charlotte Observer]
     
  • Nashville, Tennessee: The Metro Nashville Public School District plans to scale back a popular free lunch program that all students currently get, regardless of their families’ income. But due to a “lower-than-expected number of students qualifying for federal assistance programs,” the district is going to be easing back on the program since more local funds are required to cover the costs. [Tennessean]
  • Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana: State agricultural officials have instituted an emergency quarantine for part of the county that’s being hit hard by an Asian insect that’s damaging roseau cane, which could in turn threaten the stability of the state’s fragile coastline. Louisiana’s quarantine declaration states that "scale poses an imminent threat to the health and welfare of Louisiana wetlands, and possibly the sorghum, sugar cane and rice industries." [The Times-Picayune / NOLA.com]
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Seven years after Richard Goloveyko’s metalworks firm Veyko designed distinctive curved metal benches for SEPTA’s 8th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line in Center City, attitudes have shifted in some ways when it comes to designing seating for public spaces that discourage sleeping or lingering. But Goloveyko argues that his bench remains “‘an interesting form. It’s well used, it’s comfortable,’ and it has withstood the wear and tear of millions of public commuters. In other words, he says, it’s anything but hostile.” [Architectural Digest]
     
  • Reno, Nevada: A local Airbnb host was called by local police this weekend when the renter "threw a rager at our property" that attracted numerous underage drinkers and even reports of gunshots. Airbnb has banned the guest. [Reno Gazette Journal]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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