The Best State and Local Reads: Losing Ground in Louisiana, Toxic Oklahoma, New York’s Off-Limits Governor

The remains of what was Pass Manchac lighthouse in Louisiana, which have since washed away. The remains of what was Pass Manchac lighthouse in Louisiana, which have since washed away. Pattie Steib /

Welcome back from what we hope was a long and restful Labor Day weekend. In case you’re getting back up to steam from being tuned out over the past few days, here’s some great state and local reads that caught our eye.


Our Atlantic Media colleagues at CityLab published findings from their eye-opening State of the City national poll including how Americans in the suburbs are overall the most happy; how the young, poor and those already living in cities are the most willing to move; and how college-educated minorities report far fewer good-paying job opportunities than whites. Here is the poll’s methodology.


As the Gulf Coast remembered Hurricane Katrina coming ashore nine years ago, Pro Publica, in collaboration with The Lens, published “Losing Ground,” an in-depth look at how with the erosion of coastal wetlands, “Louisiana is drowning, quickly … [a]nd it’s going to get worse, even quicker.” And that could have a damaging impact far beyond Louisiana.


Lynda Waddington, a columnist for Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s Gazette, visited a largely forgotten area along the Kansas-Oklahoma state line that’s part of the toxic Tar Creek Superfund site where, Waddington writes, “[e]ven if you can overlook the abandoned towns and fierce, red water, there’s no ignoring chat piles so large and so old that they are wind carved with plateaus and cliffs. Three generations have suffered and been poisoned in their shadow.”


California's State Assembly chamber in Sacramento.

In California, a state assemblywoman decided to suspend efforts to push a legislative effort to extend social-media protections that private-sector employees enjoy to government workers. Joe Rodriguez of San Jose's Mercury News reported that the Assembly speaker’s proposal “ran into a fusillade from critics including the state’s police chiefs, district attorneys and the League of California Cities,” which argued that “Assembly Bill 25 would hurt government employers’ ability to properly screen applicants for law enforcement and other sensitive jobs and promotions.”


Many public officials often have to kiss babies and shake a lot of hands. It goes with the territory. Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times detailed how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s schedulers and handlers often keep the governor at arms length from the public and plan appearances where “[u]nscripted moments are kept to a minimum.” At public events, Cuomo “does not often linger before hopping into the black Chevrolet Suburban that is usually waiting to spirit him away.”


The New York City Department of Transportation's

Also, don’t forget our GovExec State & Local’s Q&A interview with Cordell Schachter, the chief technology officer for the New York City Department of Transportation, where we discussed maps, apps, open data and more.

(Images via Pattie Steib/Shutterstock.comNagel Photography/ and


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