Today’s buzz celebrates the elaborate handshake, while looking at disappearing playground equipment, zoning changes in reaction to medical marijuana in Maryland and accusations by city council members against the Cincinnati city manager. 

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Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m Reading: Hillbilly America: Do White Lives Matter? by Rod Dreher

What I’m Watching: The Republican Ticket: Trump and Pence on 60 Minutes

What I’m Listening to: The George Song by Tim Wilson

What I’m Doing: Preparing the kiddie pool to beat the heat

What I want to know from you: What’s your go to handshake move?

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Are Walkers Smarter than Drivers?: Do you prefer walking or driving? Your answer may suggest something about your education level, according to a new study. A report published last month says metropolitan areas in the United States that were found to be more pedestrian-friendly also often had higher levels of GDP — and their citizens were better educated. The study was conducted by Smart Growth America, an urban advocacy group based in the District of Columbia. It looked at the 30 biggest metro zones in the US, and ranked them by how much office, retail, and residential area was conducive to walking.

Mississippi Jails Are Losing Inmates, And Local Officials Are ‘Devastated’ By The Loss Of Revenue: County officials across Mississippi are warning of job losses and deep deficits as local jails are being deprived of the state inmates needed to keep them afloat. The culprit, say local officials, is state government and private prisons, which are looking to boost their own revenue as sentencing and drug-policy reforms are sending fewer bodies into the correctional system.

Rocket Slides and Monkey Bars: Chasing the Vanishing Playgrounds of Our Youth: For children, playgrounds are where magic happens. And if you count yourself among Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, you probably have fond memories of high steel jungle gyms and even higher metal slides that squeaked and groaned as you slid down them. The cheerful variety of animals and vehicles on springs gave you plenty of rides to choose from, while a spiral slide, often made of striped panels, was a repeated thrill. When you dismounted from a teeter-totter, you had to be careful not to send your partner crashing to the ground or get hit in the head by your own seat. The tougher, faster kids always pushed the brightly colored merry-go-round, trying to make riders as dizzy as possible. In the same way, you’d dare your sibling or best friend to push you even higher on the swing so your toes could touch the sky. The most exciting playgrounds would take the form of a pirate ship, a giant robot, or a space rocket.

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Fifty Nifty

  • Commissioners move forward with cannabis zoning amendment: While medical marijuana, now being called medical cannabis, has been legalized in the state, Carroll County commissioners indicated Thursday that they have no intention of making it easy to distribute the product within county limits. “I want to make it as hard as possible [to sell medical cannabis] until someone gives me directive otherwise or suggests that it shouldn’t be hard,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said before the board voted Thursday in favor of sending a zoning text amendment related to the growing, processing, and distribution of cannabis to the Planning and Zoning Commission for final approval.
  • Brownsville Fire Department welcomes female firefighters: It never fails, Brownsville firefighter and paramedic Margie Mejia says. A school group visits a fire station, “the kids see us in uniform and someone always says ‘we didn’t know females could be firefighters.’ In this last excursion, even the parents were in awe.” Actually, being a firefighter and female is not as uncommon as one might think, at least not at the Brownsville Fire Department. One such person recently retired after 20 years of service, and two other female firefighters left the department in the early to mid-1990s after 10 years of service each, Assistant Fire Chief Cesar Pedraza said. “The Brownsville Fire Department has always had a female presence, at least since the mid-1980s, though not in the numbers we have now,” Pedraza said, adding that for about a year the department has had an active female recruitment initiative.
  • Supporters excited for Mpls. public works chief appointee: Advocates for walking, bicycling and transit placed high hopes Tuesday in Minneapolis’ incoming public works director, Robin Hutcheson, who cleared her first hurdle toward confirmation. Mayor Betsy Hodges last month tapped Hutcheson, now director of transportation in Salt Lake City, to oversee the city’s largest department and its vast array of services — from trash collection to transportation and water purification. With a background in transportation planning, she would be the first non-engineer to serve in the role.

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  • Macomb County leads state for ‘good government’ awards: Macomb County again cemented its reputation as the top recipient in Michigan for “good government” awards presented by the National Association of Counties. Macomb was recognized with 19 NACo Achievement Awards, winning more than half of the 36 honors presented statewide in Michigan’s 83 counties. NACo awards recognize innovative county government programs and services. “We’re No. 1 in Michigan,” said Assistant County Executive Kathy Bartz.
  • Growth plan, legislative priorities top Billings City Council agenda: The Billings City Council will spend most of its work session Monday discussing a pair of issues not included in its Friday packet. Neither a discussion on upcoming state legislation nor proposed changes in the city’s growth policy was included in the Friday packet, which is posted on the city’s website Friday mornings. Planning and Community Services Director Candi Millar was working on incorporating council members’ changes to the proposed growth policy throughout last week. On July 11, the city council tabled considering the growth policy, for which Millar is the principal author, to allow council members to submit changes they want to see in the policy to Millar.
  • Members of Police Union, Missouri NAACP want police policy changes after shootings: Last week’s shooting of five police officers in Dallas has prompted St. Louis police to work in pairs and wear protective vests during response calls. Several other officer-involved shootings have occurred nationwide since last week, including one in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin. Jeff Roorda with the St. Louis Police Officers Association says St. Louis police are following those policies until further notice. Roorda says elected officials’ support for law enforcement is “a mile wide and an inch deep”. He thinks it’s time for that support to get deeper.

#LocalGov Confidential

Two council members: City manager lied: Two Cincinnati councilmen are accusing City Manager Harry Black of lying about details of a $55,000 payment to politically connected Metropolitan Sewer District contractor Sam Malone. The accusations came Tuesday after Deputy City Solicitor Luke Blocher told council’s Rules and Audit Committee that Black told him to make sure the law firm paying Malone – a former city councilman – knew the matter was urgent. He stopped short of calling it a threat, but described Black’s tone as “intense” and “aggressive” and took it as the “city would react negatively” to the law firm if Malone wasn’t paid within 48 hours.

San Diego Explained: A Proposal to Change How City Elections Work: In this week’s San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis and NBC 7 San Diego’s Monica Dean shed light on a ballot measure that would change the way local elections work, and why folks are backing it.

‘We Are Prepared for Everything’- Cleveland Mayor on Convention Security:  One day before the Republican National Convention is to begin in Cleveland, Mayor Frank G. Jackson said the city is “prepared for everything.” “We are prepared, and we’re prepared not only on a local level, but [the] state and the national level,” Jackson told ABC’s “This Week.” Ohio has open-carry gun laws, which some say could complicate security measures around the convention. Jackson noted that the open-carry policy “is state law…whether or not we agree with it.” He added that there are conditions to the law that dictate how one can handle a firearm in a public place. “You can’t have open carry if you’re…pointing it or threatening, that kind of thing.”

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