Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | North Carolina city sues company to take down large American flag … Controversy arises over proposed mine in Arizona … New York passes bill eliminating loophole for presidential pardons.
In a secret ballot, the Tennessee Republican Caucus lodged a vote of no confidence about Glen Casada, prompting him to announce his resignation as speaker of the Tennessee House. The vote came after news reports revealed that Casada exchanged explicit text messages about women with his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren. Casada on Monday said he was disappointed with the vote of the caucus and did not intend to step down. "I will work the next few months to regain the confidence of my colleagues so we can continue to build on the historic conservative accomplishments of this legislative session,” said Casada. But many Democrats and Republicans pressured him to resign as speaker. He announced he will do so in the next few weeks on Tuesday. Before the decision, Tennessee Democratic Caucus chairman Mike Stewart said that "if he doesn’t, then we have a constitutional crisis and the governor needs to immediately call a special session. We’ve made it clear that we want [him to resign], and I think now you see that the vast majority of Republicans also want him to resign.” After the no confidence vote, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, said Casada needed to resign or he would call lawmakers back for a special session. [The Tennessean; Associated Press]
FLAG | The city of Statesville, North Carolina, has filed a lawsuit to force an RV store to take down it’s American flag because, at 40x80 feet, the city says it is too large. Officials say that the flag is nearly twice the size allowed in city codes. The RV store posted on Facebook to say that the city has imposed a $50 per day fine since the flag went up in October, now totalling about $11,000. “Many cities like Statesville have requested that Camping World and Gander Outdoors take down their American flags. WE WON’T DO IT!,” the post said. A petition in support of the company and its flag has accrued more than 91,000 signatures so far. The City of Statesville released a statement explaining that the company originally filed an application to fly a 40x25-foot flag, which was approved, before putting up the larger flag two months later. “After several attempts to have Gander RV replace the flag with the permitted size...Statesville City Attorney Leah Messick filed an injunction,” the statement reads. [Charlotte Observer; WBTV]
MINING | Native American tribes and environmental groups in Arizona have sued to stop a company, Hudbay Minerals, from establishing a new copper mine. The groups claim that the mine would desecrate sacred ancestral lands, cause wells to dry up, and eliminate the habitat for endangered jaguars. They have asked a federal judge to prevent the construction of the mine until the lawsuits have been decided. Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman Garrick Taylor said that the project would be one of the biggest constructions in Arizona history. “Its impacts will be measured in the billions of dollars,” he said. Austin Nunez, the chairman of the Tohono O’odham tribe’s San Xavier District, said he has been praying for the mine to be rejected. "Our ancestors' remains are there, along with archaeological sites, including a ball court. We cannot risk any further harm to our ancestral heritage,” Nunez said. Local business owners are also displeased. Winery owner Todd Bostock said that the project could negatively impact the tourism industry. "The mine will have a direct, negative and permanent impact on our business. They are gambling with our investment and our livelihood,” Bostock said. [Salt Lake Tribune; KTAR]
PRESIDENTIAL PARDON | A New York measure passed by the House on Tuesday would close what some are calling a “loophole” in the state’s double jeopardy law, allowing prosecutors to file state-level charges against people who have received presidential pardons. The bill is intended to ensure that state investigations into President Trump and his associates can continue, no matter what happens at the federal level. When the bill passed the Senate two weeks ago, Republican state Sen. Andrew Lanza, said that the legislation is a slippery slope. “You may be aiming for the president, but there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage. Today it’s the president, tomorrow it’s the rest of us.” Lanza said. But Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky argued that the bill is a necessity. “In the last few years, and especially of late, the rule of law has been threatened throughout our country...New York is a sovereign entity, and if a law was broken here we should not tie the hands of our prosecutors and our citizens to seek redress for that and bring that before a grand jury,” Kaminsky said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he will sign the bill into law. [WLOS; New York Law Journal]
POLITICAL FIGHT | A political fight turned into a literal fight between leaders of Commerce, California, when an argument between the mayor, vice mayor, and a council member resulted in a physical brawl. The exchange, which left one person unconscious, took place at a convention meeting of local government officials from across California. [KTLA; Los Angeles Times]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.