A New Call to Scrap Portland’s Unusual Form of Government

Portland, Oregon City Hall

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Proposal would shutter Syracuse freeway … Palo Alto parking garage proposal scrutinized … and Massachusetts vaporizer tax.

Good morning, it’s Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. City halls lead Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Lindenwold, New Jersey; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Lincoln, Nebraska. … ALSO IN ROUTE FIFTY … U.S. Bicyclist Deaths Hit a High Mark Not Seen Since the 1990s‘At-Risk’ Railroads Hit Safety Equipment Deadline, Officials Say

Let’s get to it …

CITY HALLS | … The City Club of Portland released a study saying that the form of government in Oregon’s largest city is antiquated and should be replaced. Portland is the last major U.S. city to use the commission form of government, where residents elect the mayor and six commissioners who oversee city bureaus. [KOIN] … Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller wants to pursue $5.5 million in general obligation bonds and is seeking $15 million in state money for the redevelopment of the city-owned, 27.3-acre Rail Yards. Costs to remove lead-based paint, asbestos and contaminated soil from the site are estimated to be $8 million to $9 million. [Albuquerque Journal] … Residents in a Lindenwold, New Jersey neighborhood are peeved with Mayor Richard Roach, who is refusing to remove his RV that’s parked on the sidewalk, saying it’s parked legally. [WPVI] … City leaders in Sarasota, Florida are considering a ban on single-use plastic straws and polystyrene. [Herald Tribune]

GOVERNORS | While Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he supports transparency and openness in government, but wants to make “some changes” to the the state’s open meetings and open records laws “to make it more workable for the public and for government officials.” [Jefferson City News Tribune] … Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal includes a revised plan where “municipalities that rely on state police would pay fees based on their size, beginning at $8 per person in the state’s smallest and scaling up to $166 per resident in communities with more than 20,000 people and no local police.” [CNHI via Sharon Herald] ...

PUBLIC HEALTH | Oregon State Rep. Mitch Greenlick is proposing that personal exemptions for vaccination requirements be eliminated. [Willamette Week] … Hundreds of schools and child-care programs in Michigan “are vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious disease such as measles, whooping cough and chicken pox based on the percentage of children with vaccination waivers.” [MLive] … Some public health experts in Massachusetts are questioning a proposed tax on vaporizers, saying that it could force some users to smoke cigarettes instead. “Typically, the main reason why we use taxation in public health is as an incentive to change behaviors. The reason why we imposed cigarette taxes is to decrease cigarette consumption,” according to Michael Siegel, a Boston University professor of community health sciences. [Boston Herald] ...

TRANSPORTATION & MOBILITY | Mayor Ben Walsh of Syracuse, New York is continuing to support a proposal to close Interstate 81 through the core of the city, replacing an expressway viaduct with surface streets and reconnecting divided neighborhoods. Replacing the aging viaduct with a new viaduct or a tunnel would be far more costly than the surface street option. Under the expressway closure plan, I-81 would be rerouted around Syracuse via I-481. [Auburn Citizen] … In Palo Alto, California, a proposed 324-space parking garage on city-owned property continues to spark controversy, with critics arguing that expanding parking “could be in conflict with the city's intention to reduce traffic/congestion and to increase housing." [Palo Alto Online] … State and local officials in Nebraska will gather on Monday to announce a plan to accelerate the construction of the 11-mile South Beltway around Lincoln. [1011Now] … In Albany, Oregon has been using aerial drones to take images of the city’s roundabouts as part of a public education campaign to help motorists who can’t figure out how to navigate a traffic circle. [Albany Democrat-Gazette]

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

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