Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Good news for state DOTs; Calif.’s homeless college student crisis; awaiting new political bombshells in Mo.; and energy sector fuels new growth in N.D.
Here are state and local government news stories that caught Route Fifty's attention.
CITY HALLS | A major shake-up is apparently underway at Atlanta City Hall where Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called on the entirety of her cabinet to resign on Monday in a move that impacts 35 top city officials. Upon taking office in January, Lance-Bottoms told members of the previous mayoral administration that she would keep them on the job for a few months as she figured out her own city hall team. Expect departures and arrivals in the coming days. As The Grio asked: “Do you know how cold-blooded you have to be to start everyone’s workweek off like that?” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution; The Grio]
HOMELESSNESS | An often overlooked part of the nation’s homelessness crisis is the growing number of college students who can’t afford housing, many who end up sleeping in their cars. The problem is especially acute in California, where housing pressures are squeezing those trying to pursue higher education, as CALmatters reports:
The state’s public universities serve a student population that is about half low-income, who must compete for housing in some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the nation. While California provides more financial aid for non-tuition expenses than other states, the grants have failed to keep up with the state’s rising cost of living. One in ten California State University students say they have been homeless at some point in the past year, according to campus surveys. Among community college students in Los Angeles, the figure is one in five.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | After the Bakken shale oil boom in western North Dakota died down amid a shift in global energy prices a few years ago, the Peace Garden State is again seeing an uptick in its energy sector, which is not just fueling a need for new oilworkers, but also "a huge, huge need" for teachers and health care professionals in some areas. The story is similar in parts of West Texas, like Odessa, where “record enrollment is putting a strain on an already low-performing district.” [Bismarck Tribune; Texas Tribune]
Through a new partnership between the city government and the local Chamber of Commerce, leaders in Flint, Michigan officially launched a new economic development team on Monday that’s funded in part through a $3 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation. It’s part of an ongoing trend in Michigan where philanthropies are taking leading roles in local economic development efforts. [WEYI-TV; Michigan Chronicle; MiBiz]
- Washington, D.C.: Good news: “State departments of transportation are in line to receive substantial federal payments this year to help them cover costs to repair federal-aid roads and bridges that have been damaged by natural disasters or other emergencies.” [AASHTO Journal]
- Jefferson City, Missouri: With a state House committee set to release results of its inquiry into Gov. Eric Greitens, who is facing felony invasion of privacy charges in a case involving a woman he’s admitted having an extramarital affair with, “[s]tatehouse denizens are bracing for a bombshell that could upend the final weeks of the 2018 legislative session and ignite renewed calls for Greitens to resign or face impeachment.” [The Kansas City Star]
- Albuquerque, New Mexico: After a very difficult wildfire season last year and lackluster mountain snowfall this winter in many parts of the Western U.S., commissioners in Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, are considering a ban on “open fires, campfires and smoking” in unincorporated county areas. The outlook for the coming months “is expected to be very high to extreme with the fire season starting earlier than normal,” according to Greg Perez, the deputy county manager for health and public safety. [Albuquerque Journal]
- Jacksonville, Alabama: Officials at Jacksonville State University released a compilation of surveillance footage from last month’s EF-3 tornado that tore across campus. [Jacksonville State University / YouTube]
- Polkton, North Carolina: The Lanesboro Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison southeast of Charlotte that’s been “roiled by violence and corruption” for years, will be shut down and converted into a facility to house female inmates. [Charlotte Observer]
- Waterville, Maine: The mayor of this city north of Augusta, under heavy criticism for a tweet where he told one of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting massacre to “eat it,” says he won’t resign amid calls for a recall election. “The job of the Waterville mayor is to promote Waterville as an exceptional place to live, work and recreate. It is not to bully children or sow the seeds of discord,” Karen Heck, a former Waterville mayor, said of the current mayor, Nick Isgro. [Maine Public]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.