Portlanders Don’t Hesitate to Call 911 About ‘Unwanted’ Persons

Portland, Oregon

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | N.M. governor pulls National Guard troops from border … legal challenge to Idaho Medicaid expansion fails … and shortest commutes.

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Leading Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup is public safety news but scroll down for more from places like Springfield, Vermont; Nashville, Tennessee; and Honolulu, Hawaii. … ALSO ON ROUTE FIFTY … Can ‘Veggie Burgers’ Boost Rural Economic Growth?Governors Request More Federal Support for Climate and Emissions Efforts … and Feds File Lawsuit to Stop 'Safe Injection' Site for Drug Users ...

Let’s get to it …

PUBLIC SAFETY | In Portland, Oregon, someone calls 911 on average every 15 minutes to report an “unwanted person”—usually someone who is homeless. Such non-emergency reports to the city’s emergency number have increased by more than 60 percent since 2013. [Willamette Week] … The long-time police chief in Springfield, Vermont was abruptly fired by town officials on Monday, who aren’t saying what led to their action. [WCAX] ...

PUBLIC HEALTH | The Idaho Supreme Court has dismissed the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s legal challenge of the state’s voter-approved initiative to expand Medicaid eligibility. [Boise State Public Radio] … The commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health told a gathering of public health professionals on Wednesday that she hopes that state legislators will continue to meet Gov. Charlie Baker’s funding requests after recent increases in appropriations for mental health services. [State House News Service via Lowell Sun] ...

TRANSPORTATION | In South Florida, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is the appointed chairman of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, is facing a state legislative effort to abolish the local agency, which has jurisdiction over five tolled expressways. [Miami Herald] … Lubbock, Texas has the shortest average round-trip commute in the nation, 32.8 minutes. The national average, according to U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey data, is 52 minutes. [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal]

GOVERNORS | Virginia is a mess right now. [The Washington Post; Richmond Times-Dispatch; WRIC] … Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to reshape the state’s environmental department, not surprisingly, is rankling Republicans in the state legislature, who say the Democratic governor is unconstitutionally usurping their authority. [The Detroit News] … New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called back most of her state’s National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border, calling President Trump’s immigration emergency a “charade of border fear-mongering." [NPR]

CITY HALLS | In Tennessee, the Nashville-Davidson County Metro Council this week voted not to censure former mayor Megan Barry after “deciding that Barry's resignation one year ago was punishment enough for her misconduct in office.” [Tennessean] … The Honolulu City Council has voted to ease requirements for builders in hopes of encouraging more affordable housing. [KHON] … The mayor of Dearborn, Michigan apparently is unfamiliar with the Barbra Streisand effect. [Detroit Metro Times] ...

PENSIONS | Some good news for state pensioners in California: A new survey of public pensions from the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems “suggests the financial health of California’s largest pension system is roughly in line with that of the majority of funds around the country.” Additionally: “CalPERS is among many responding pensions taking incremental steps toward better financial health.” [The State Worker / Sacramento Bee]

AUDITS | In Mississippi, the Meridian Police Department has placed three officers on administrative leave without pay as the state auditor continues an inquiry into allegations that the officers fraudulently reported the time they worked. [Meridian Star]

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

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