Today’s Buzz celebrates those moments when you realize you’ve made a mistake. We’ve all had them, and so have local governments.  There’s also a look at the decision that won Florida’s worst Local Government Decision Award, a $200 million project being rebid in Dallas and a City Council meeting w/ only half the City Council in Iowa.

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Right Now with Matt Yager

What I’m reading: McDonald’s 1987 fashion catalog is a horrorshow

What I’m listening to: Faces-Stay With Me by Faces

What I’m doing: Nursing a pretty rough sunburn.

What I want to know from you: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on the job?

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From Berlin to Barcelona; will Airbnb ruin our most loved cities?:  To use the industry jargon, it is the ultimate “disruptor”. Airbnb, the website that allows homeowners around the world to rent out their spare rooms, has had a seismic impact on the travel market. Hotel chains are reportedly feeling the squeeze as the US upstart – which has attracted $2bn in funding in less than a decade – eats into their business model by offering travellers the opportunity to “live like a local” and “belong anywhere” in one of the two million rooms and properties that are listed on its site. The savvy exhortations, which feature in slick adverts on bus stops and billboards across the world’s cities, have helped Airbnb expand at a seemingly relentless pace. Already operating in 191 countries and 34,000 cities, analysts at financial services company Cowen & Co predict that, by 2020, Airbnb hosts will be taking 500 million bookings a night, rising to a staggering one billion by 2025.

President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument: Today, President Obama designated a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the broad LGBT equality movement. The new ‘Stonewall National Monument’ will protect the area where, on June 28, 1969, a community’s uprising in response to a police raid sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement in the United States.

Won’t you be my neighbor — say fewer Americans than ever: It turns out being neighborly is something of a lost art in America. In the 1970s, according to the Pew Research Center, more than 60 percent of people socialized with their neighbors at least once a month (after all, there were all those key parties to attend). Today, that number has shrunk to about 45 percent. According to research released last year, a third of Americans don’t have any interactions with their neighbors at all. Another study says half of us can’t even summon a name of the people who share our buildings and blocks.


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50 Nifty

New plan spends $400M on Pima County roads: The annually updated Arizona Department of Transportation five-year plan is a long document full of ambitious, big-ticket projects. This year’s, signed off on by ADOT’s director on June 20, includes $4.5 billion worth of road work across the state through 2021, more than $400 million of which will go to projects in Pima County. On tap for our area are continuations of work at the Ina Road-Interstate 10 intersection that will eventually take Ina up and over the interstate, which will be expanded to three lanes; improvements to the Ajo Way and Interstate 19 intersection; and similar work on Houghton Road, Kino Parkway, Ruthrauff Road and a few others.

Martin County Gets ‘Worst Local Government Decision in Florida’ Award: Martin County residents apparently need more things to be afraid of this summer. Sewage and other polluting runoff in their waterways aren’t enough. Now the clever folks at the Parks and Recreation Department in this Treasure Coast county are saying, for good measure let’s scare the pants off people who want to spend a few hours at the beach. They’ve introduced what they call their “trash-free parks program.”

Tree ordinance ‘killed’ after existing city code surfaces: A proposed tree ordinance that a majority of St. James City Council members favored last month was voted down at the June council meeting after new information came to the council’s attention. Councilman John Huster had initially recommended approving the ordinance, No. 16-1082, saying it would return the power of managing trees on city property in St. James back to the city. Huster had said that the forestry board could pick and choose which trees to remove or save, while the ordinance would have given that power to the city.

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Do-over: Dallas City Council washes its hands of $200M drainage tunnel contract mess: A $200 million deal for a drainage tunnel through parts of eastern Dallas, Uptown and Fair Park won’t go forward after the City Council chose Wednesday to wash its hands of a messy process.  The council voted 13-2 to start a new round of contractor bidding for the project, despite a last-ditch effort by the lowest qualified bidder, Southland Mole, to persuade them otherwise. Council members, the city auditor and a disqualified contractor had previously questioned city officials’ vetting of the project, as well as the involvement of a subcontractor who was part of the largest corruption case in Dallas City Hall history.

A plan for the land: A plan for the sale of approximately 615 acres of land by Interstate 84 near the Garrity Boulevard exit, about half of which is currently used for the Ridgecrest and Centennial golf courses, has prompted many questions. “It’s really out of the city’s hands as far as use of the land,” said Nampa City Planning and Zoning director Norman Holm. “That decision is made by the state.” The land is owned by the Department of Health and Welfare. All the city is doing is handling plans and rezoning at the request of the department. The golf courses are run by the city, but the land is still the state’s.  We don’t need the land and it’s very valuable,” said the Department of Health and Welfare’s Tom Shanahan. A major electrical transmission line goes through a lot of the land, which Shanahan said is very valuable to businesses. He said the land used to be home to about 1,000 people and a self sustaining farm, but that now there are only about 25 people.

San Diego City Council wants more options to oust wayward officials: Nearly three years after San Diego struggled to remove embattled Mayor Bob Filner from office, officials will ask voters in November to help expand the city’s options for ousting wayward officials. Under the proposed ballot measure, officials would be suspended if they’ve been criminally charged in a case, not simply when they are convicted. The City Council also would be allowed to put a removal vote on the ballot by unanimously declaring “no confidence’ in the mayor or city attorney. An official also could be removed for being convicted or pleading guilty in a felony case, for the same in a misdemeanor case involving moral turpitude or after being found civilly liable for misconduct related to that person’s job.

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City reinstalling Maumelle Rings: Once a familiar sight when entering Maumelle from either end of Maumelle Boulevard, the long-neglected Maumelle Rings made a return early this month. One set of the rings — a large, concrete duplicate of the city’s logo of three interlocking rings — appeared June 9 on a rise that is well off the east side of Maumelle Boulevard where northbound traffic approaches Riverland Drive. A second, identical sculpture could be back up later, most likely inside the city’s Lake Willastein Park, Mayor Mike Watson said last week. The two sculptures were prominently displayed on the boulevard for about 20 years starting in the mid-1980s before being removed at different times for highway improvements at least 10 years ago.

3 reasons to elect county executive: The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and the Champaign County Farm Bureau are proposing a change, one that if passed, will change the structure of county government in Champaign County to an executive form from its current county administrator style of government. This citizen-led coalition is asking voters two things — first, to sign a petition to place the question, “Shall the County of Champaign adopt the county-executive form of government and elect not to become a home-rule unit?” on the November ballot, and second, to vote “yes” in the voting booth this November. This proposed change is positive for our county for three simple reasons.

MIT Researchers Aim to Conduct Health Checkup on City in Its Sewers: A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is plumbing the sewers of Boston and Cambridge, Mass., for microbes and other agents of human disease and suffering.The purpose: By testing raw sewage, public-health officials may be able to conduct a health checkup on a city or neighborhood in real time.

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#LocalGov Confidential

Sanford Mayor robbed, carjacked:  Two suspects accused in the robbery and carjacking of the mayor of Sanford early Saturday morning have been arrested, officials say. According to investigators, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett was standing outside a friend’s home on Chapman Avenue at 2:14 a.m. Saturday when he was forced to the ground by 18-year-old Jermine Horne and a 17-year-old accomplice, who then threatened to kill him. A third person was also with the duo, but it’s not clear what his role was or if he will be charged with a crime.

Regina’s new city manager wants to improve trust, city’s image: Chris Holden only has three months under his belt as Regina’s city manager, but he already has some ambitious plans. He wants to change both the work culture for employees, and change how the City of Regina is viewed by residents. Speaking to reporters, Holden quoted a recent survey that showed only 43 per cent of residents say they trust the city. He said other municipalities have a trust rating of about 50 per cent. That rating is one of the things he wants to change, along with the image of the city. “I want the community to see the City of Regina differently than they do today. I want them to see the City of Regina as a leader in the community,” he said.

Only three council members show up at city council meeting: Waterloo council members held a work session today, but only three members attended. Today they wanted to discuss the budget, but the bigger question where were the other members? Three council members were not at Sunday’s meeting. “Last week at the council meeting we did give an actual formal invitation to the mayor, to the other three council members and to the two department heads that we talked to about today, but for whatever reason you’d have to ask them why they didn’t come,” said At-Large City Council Member, Steve Schmitt.

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