Here is our State & Local news roundup for three-day federal holiday of October 11-13, 2014 …
LOS ANGELES, California: In an exclusive for The Associated Press, Michael Blood reports that California’s health insurance exchange awarded $184 million in contracts “without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government.” No-bid contracts are unusual for state government and usually used in emergency situations. The executive director of California Common Cause told the AP, which reviewed health exchange contracting documents obtained through the state’s Public Records Act, that “some accountability and transparency is needed, whether through audits or an alternative oversight body.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida: City officials should be taking more decisive steps to prepare the city’s low-lying waterfront, pictured above, for a future of higher sea levels, the chairman of a local sustainability council says. Charlie Frago of The Tampa Bay Times reports that waters are expected to rise by 3.2 feet by the end of the century, “virtually guaranteeing a 5-foot flood within that time span.” A waterfront master planning process is underway but one city council member thinks climate impacts aren’t “high enough on the radar screen.”
PORTLAND, Oregon: What can Oregon’s largest city teach Tulsa, Oklahoma, about placemaking? About 120 leaders from Tulsa’s civic community visited Portland to get ideas on trying to make their city more attractive for young professionals, Kevin Canfield reports for the Tulsa World. “Our focus on what matters to the people here and the people who move here is what is putting us into the place that we have right now,” Patrick Quinton of the Portland Development Council told the delegation from Tulsa.
WALDORF, Maryland: Should Charles County, south of the nation’s capital, change its governance structure from a county commission form of government to one led by a county executive with a county council? Local residents will vote on a charter amendment in November. Jeff Newman of The Gazette reports that the proposal, if approved by voters, would create three district-based council seats with two at-large seats. But there are concerns about whether the proposal would put too much power in the hands of the executive.
SPRINGFIELD, Missouri: The largest solar farm in the Show Me State sits on the outskirts of town with 22,000 solar panels that can power around 900 homes in Missouri’s third-largest city. As Wally Kennedy writes in the Joplin Globe, local officials in Springfield and other Missouri cities, like Carthage, think there will be increasing demand for renewable energy by customers. “Solar has got a foothold in Missouri and there will be serious discussion over the next 5 to 10 years about the role of solar will have as a source of renewable energy,” said Chuck Bryant, the head of the electric division of Carthage’s local utility.