Today’s buzz takes a look at the earliest examples of the #CityHallSelfie (way back in 2013 & 2014), while examining police accountability, city scandals and whether Oklahoma should be transformed into a giant lake. Read on!


Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m Doing: Starting life on paternity leave for a little while.

What I’m Reading: 6 Things Second-Time Dads Need To Know by Maria Morgan

What I’m Listening to: Small Bill$ by Regina Spektor

What I’m Watching: Usain Bolt winning his third Olympic 100m sprint final

What I want to know from you: Which ELGL is going to represent the most on #CityHallSelfie Day?



Self Driving Cars Will Improve Our Cities. If They Do Not Ruin Them.: It took 50 years to transition from the horse to the car. Surely few could have imagined the impact the car would have as it tore through cities, countries, and economies worldwide. Today, average Americans spend almost two of their eight hours at work paying off their car, which they need to get to that job. Last year in the US, more than 38,000 people died and 4.4 million were seriously injured due to motorized transport. Farther afield, in Singapore, 12 percent of the island nation’s scarce land is devoted to car infrastructure. In Delhi, 2.2 million children have irreversible lung damage because of poor air quality. Incredibly, we might actually get a chance at a do-over — of our cities, our fossil fuel dependence, and the social contract with labor — thanks to the impending advent of autonomous cars. Yes, their arrival is inevitable, but how they will impact us is yet to be determined.

How about we fix America by just turning Oklahoma into a giant lake?: In this time of national trauma and political chaos where everyone is being a total shit to each other and the only thing all the sides can agree on is that they can’t agree on anything – we need something to unify us. Something that, as a country, we can shed partisan differences and rally behind. Something like building the railroads, sending a man to the moon. Something that crosses party lines and is pure and perfect, like inside plumbing and laughing at people who call soccer football. Here, our politicians and political parties have failed us. My friend Morgen and I have an answer. Turn Oklahoma into a lake.

How populous is NYC? Big enough to fit 8 states into it.: The population of NYC is equal to the combined populations of Vermont, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and West Virginia. Here’s what that looks like on a map.






50 Nifty

  • Virginia Beach wants to give residents what they want: more dog and skate parks, plus spots for kayaking: By 2040, Virginia Beach could see more skateboarding parks and places for dogs to roam free. There could be additional athletic fields and spots to launch kayaks and canoes. This is what residents want, the Parks and Recreation Department said in a report to the City Council on Tuesday. The document outlines the department’s vision for the parks system over the next two decades. “The 2016 Virginia Beach Outdoors Plan is a blueprint to guide our actions,” said Michael Kalvort, director of Parks and Recreation.
  • Police department accountability shouldn’t require a lawsuit.: A police force that picks and chooses the laws it will honor probably doesn’t deserve to call itself a law enforcement agency. The St. Louis Police Department behaves as if Missouri’s Sunshine Law doesn’t apply uniformly to departmental records and the fees it charges to access them. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last month in St. Louis Circuit Court claiming that an ACLU staffer was quoted substantially higher fees than allowed by law after he requested 138 arrest reports. The total fee quoted by the police department came to $1,377, which included $897 for the reports and $480 for estimated staff research time to read and redact information. The department cited a copying fee of $6.50 per report. State law limits the fee to 10 cents per page; typical police arrests are just a few pages long. The fee cited by the department appears designed to create financial disincentives and discourage public inquiries that might shed light on police policies and actions. The city’s litigation department didn’t respond to a request for comment.
  • Mayor Kabat Proposes Dissolving Public Works Department: La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat is pushing for the city’s common council to dissolve the department of public works. With the retirement of current department director Dale Hexom coming, Kabat says it is time to take a look at if the department is still necessary. Currently, the department maintains city streets and highways, water, and city recycling but the mayor believes public works has too much overlap with other departments.
  • Billings library board votes limited access to computers: The Billings Public Library Board has approved a plan requiring parents to give their approval before their children ages 13 to 17 can access any of the library’s unfiltered computers. City Administrator Tina Volek said only people 18 and older should have access to those computers because the internet has many sites unfit for young viewers. Some board members said they don’t want library internet filter software to limit access to websites.

  • Los Angeles Fire Department hosts first ‘Girls Camp’: The LA Fire department is taking steps to get teen girls interested in firefighting and emergency services, with a two-day camp at the Fire Department Academy in Terminal Island. About 70 teens attended Saturday. CBS2’s Joy Benedict was there to see how camp went.

  • Residents: City budget too conservative: Despite another proposed tax hike, the biggest concern expressed by most residents at a Thursday night budget hearing was that the city was spending too little. In total, eight people came to express their opinions on the proposed budget, which involves the third consecutive property tax hike for city residents. Most called for more spending, asking for support for parks and the arts to become a higher priority. “You cannot run a professional organization with a coupon-clipping attitude,” said Mayor Rebecca Casper. “… Government services cost money.”
  • Short-term rentals violate residential zoning sanctity in Nashville: Think you can avoid living next door to a noisy business if your home is in a residential neighborhood? Not if you live in Nashville. Last year, Metro Council passed an ordinance that allows investors from anywhere in the world to buy homes in Nashville neighborhoods to rent exclusively to short-term guests. The result has been predictable: Some Nashvillians now endure drunken bachelor parties, noisy family reunions, slamming car doors, loud music and other behavior typical of large groups staying together at a hotel at all hours of the day and night.

  • City asseses damages in delayed James River Interceptor projectWhile work on the James River Interceptor is now complete, the project will not be closed out until the last check is written and the books are closed, said project manager Jim Talian, of the Lynchburg Department of Water Resources. Replacement of the James River Interceptor began around 2007 as part of the city’s ongoing combined sewer overflow program, which aims to reduce sewage runoff in area waterways. Work on the 7-mile-long sewer line was divided into a total of seven parts. Construction on the final section began in March 2014 for the cost of $6.9 million. The contract was awarded to DLB, Inc., based in Hillsville.


#LocalGov Confidential

Fairfax: Small City, Big Scandal: If someone tossed a live, hand grenade in the middle of Fairfax, it potentially wouldn’t have caused as much damage or such utter shock and amazement as the news that Mayor Scott Silverthorne was arrested. And not for a traffic infringement, but for a felony involving group sex with men in exchange for drugs. The announcement last Friday, Aug. 5, by Fairfax County police left the City both reeling and scrambling to deal with this unexpected and unprecedented situation. Its mayor was suddenly garnering national attention, but for something that brought negative publicity to both him and the City.

City Manager Ousted for Showing Nude Photo: Newly released written complaints say a Southern California city manager was asked to resign for showing a nude photo of a colleague to other co-workers at city hall. The Desert Sun reports that two Palm Desert employees complained that City Manager John Wohlmuth circulated the photo around City Hall. One complaint said Wohlmuth and the colleague had watched NCAA Basketball Tournament games at Wohlmuth’s home in March.