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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Mass. governor: State Police shouldn’t destroy payroll documents … an ‘antsy-pantsy’ mayor in Vermont; and a Utah transit budget boost.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Hurricane Michael leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more stories from places like Montpelier, Vermont (where gubernatorial goodwill is in short supply); Phoenix, Arizona (where water rates are likely to jump) and the 300 block of Hyde Street in San Francisco, California (where you should watch your step).
HURRICANE MICHAEL | The damage in parts of Florida’s panhandle is simply staggering. Hurricane Michael “could go down in the record books as the third-strongest hurricane to hit the continental United States” after coming ashore Wednesday afternoon southeast of Panama City with 155 mph winds—nearly Category 5 strength. Among the hard-hit communities Mexico Beach, Panama City Beach, Apalachicola on the Gulf Coast and even inland in Marianna, about 18 miles south of the Alabama border. “Marianna’s destroyed,” land manager Chad Taylor told The Washington Post. The disaster response is underway. [The Washington Post; Tampa Bay Times; @FLGovScott]
In Bay County, where the hurricane’s eyewall came ashore, the emergency operations center sustained damage and lacks internet access. [Bay County / Facebook]
Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, was spared major damage. “Do we feel a little lucky about where we are right now?" asked Leon County Administrator Vince Long. "I think given the magnitude of this storm, the answer is a resounding yes." [Tallahassee Democrat / Tallahassee.com]
There are extensive power outages throughout northwest Florida and into Georgia impacting hundreds of thousands of customers. Some hard-hit areas where Michael came ashore aren’t likely to see power restorations for weeks. [WMMB / MyPanhandle.com; The Atlanta Journal Constitution]
With Michael moving northeast through Georgia and into the Carolinas as a weakened storm, some officials are warning residents not to be tempted by “hurricane fatigue” after Hurricane Florence. Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin said local officials are “gravely concerned” with what Michael may bring his city. “This is a massive storm. ... The Midlands was particularly fortunate with Hurricane Florence. We don’t want people believing this is a non-event. This is a big deal, and we will prepare accordingly.” [The State]
In other news ...
GOVERNORS | In the Bay State, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that the Massachusetts State Police may indeed be following standard protocols when destroying old payroll records, but that the agency, which has been embroiled in a massive overtime scandal, “shouldn't be operating under standard operating procedure at this point in time given everything else that's going on with respect to State Police and payroll." [MassLive] … Some observers in Vermont feel that the governor’s staff has “alienated [Gov. Phil] Scott's closest friends in the legislature and sapped him of his greatest asset: goodwill.” [Seven Days] … Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is the nation’s least-popular governor, according to a new Morning Consult poll. (Gov. Baker in Massachusetts is the most popular.) [Morning Consult] … Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is hosting a tech summit at the Tesla Gigafactory in Storey County, near Reno. [KOLO]
CITY HALLS | The Phoenix City Council voted on Tuesday to advance a plan to increase water rates to a vote in December. If approved, water rates in Phoenix would jump 6 percent in 2019 and another 6 percent in 2020. [Arizona Republic / AZCentral.com] … The 300 block of Hyde Street in San Francisco, a city infamous for its poop, has seen the highest number of complaints about human feces. [The New York Times] … After Burlington, Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger released a statement expressing frustration with the lack of progress on CityPlace Burlington, the project’s developer, Don Sinex, said the mayor is "antsy pantsy, anxious to see things get started.” [Burlington Free Press] ...
FINANCE | West Virginia State Auditor John McCuskey wants all of the state’s 55 county governments to post their spending data to a new website, WVcheckbook.gov [WVVA; WVcheckbook.gov] … Officials in Lynn, Massachusetts need to borrow an additional $500,000 to balance the city’s budget [Daily Item]
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | According to a new research from Richard Florida and Ian Hathaway: “The U.S. still accounts for roughly half of all venture-capital investment in high-tech startups. But if the trend continues as it has, it is more likely than ever that the next game-changing innovation will be launched not in Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, or New York, but in Shanghai, Bangalore, London, Berlin, or Tel Aviv.” [CityLab] … Feeling tariff pains, Ford Motor Co. is planning major layoffs in its global workforce as part of a planned reorganization to improve the “fitness” of the automotive manufacturer. [NBC News] … The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce is promoting its Blueprint Nebraska statewide economic development program. “While our economy is growing—there’s no doubt about that—it’s growing slowly,” a Chamber official said at a recent meeting. [Beatrice Daily Sun]
DISASTER RECOVERY | North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday proposed a $1.5 billion Hurricane Florence flood recovery fund and plans to ask for a $750,000 “down payment” when the state legislature returns to Raleigh for a special session. [@NCCapitol / WRAL] … What can Hawaii learn from Puerto Rico’s difficult recovery from Hurricane Maria? [Honolulu Civil Beat]
TRANSPORTATION | Straphangers in New York City may be dreading the looming 15-month closure of the 14th Street-Canarsie subway tubes that carry the L line under the East River, but there’s some good news for those who navigate the subway on weekends: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that runs the city’s subways, isn’t planning other track work in Lower Manhattan during the L line’s closure. [Gothamist] … The only non-tolled interstate highway bridge crossing the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana may have to shut down for two years of major rehabilitation work. [Courier-Journal] … The Utah Transit Authority is proposing a 12.7 percent increase for next year’s budget, thanks to a sales tax increase in Salt Lake County. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.