Category : City Government

(NYT) Justin Wolfers–Can We pinpoint Racial Discrimination by Government Officials?

A team of economists has uncovered persuasive evidence that local government officials throughout the United States are less responsive to African-Americans than they are to whites.

The researchers sent roughly 20,000 emails to local government employees in nearly every county. The emails posed commonplace questions, like “Could you please tell me what your opening hours are?”

The emails were identical except that half appeared to come from a DeShawn Jackson or a Tyrone Washington, names that have been shown to be associated with African-Americans. The other half used names that have been shown to be associated with whites: Greg Walsh and Jake Mueller. The email sent to each local officeholder was determined by chance.

Most inquiries yielded a timely and polite response. But emails with black-sounding names were 13 percent more likely to go unanswered than those with white-sounding names. This difference, which appeared in all regions of the country, was large enough that it was statistically unlikely to have been a matter of mere chance.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations

(Economist) Reno, Nevada–Anti-vagrancy laws are not the best way to reduce homelessness

As the city’s fortunes have risen, so too have its rents, occupancy rates and house prices. Since 2012 the median price of a home has doubled; the average rental price jumped 17% between 2014 and 2016. In January the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless counted nearly 4,000 people living in weekly motels, up from 2,560 in 2011. Those who cannot afford motels have moved into shelters or onto the street.

If the proposed ordinance to ban sleeping outside passes, Reno’s police officers will be directed to try persuading those living on the streets to move to shelters. If they have no space, the homeless living on the street will be left alone. But if they do, anyone living outside who refuses to move in after a warning might be arrested.

An arrest record makes it harder for a homeless person to find employment or housing in the future. Many studies suggest there are cheaper ways to tackle the problem. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a charity, found that the average costs associated with the incarceration and hospitalisation of a chronically homeless person are about triple what it would cost to provide a chronically homeless person with housing. Between 2007 and 2015, New Orleans reduced its homelessness rate by 85%, primarily by providing housing. Reno’s city government should take a look.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Sunday [London] Times) ‘They’re here, then they just die’: opioid addiction kills 175 Americans a day

At first glance, Manchester, New Hampshire, seems a typical New England town. A pleasant, low-key sort of place, free of extreme poverty or urban decay.

You do not have to look far, however, to see something is amiss: this is a town firmly in the grip of the opioid crisis that is devastating America.

Dotted around the central squares and parks are small groups of people visibly suffering from addiction. Yesterday, hundreds of residents took part in a “rally for recovery” in the town centre, gathering to highlight the plight of their friends and neighbours.

On the walls of the Hope addiction recovery clinic, a few hundred yards away, are pictures from a kayaking expedition. Karla Gallagher, who works at the clinic, cannot look at it without becoming close to tears.

“We lose these people all the time,” she said, pointing to a picture of a smiling young girl on a canoe. “We lost her. One day they’re here and then they just die.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(Local Paper) Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, other S.C. leaders pledge commitment to Paris Climate Agreement

In defiance of President Donald Trump’s announcement last week to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, local and state leaders across the country are pledging to carry out the goals of the international pact to fight climate change.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts signed the statement that supports ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina, and Elizabeth Davis, president of Furman University, are among the other names and entities from the Palmetto State that support the landmark agreement. The list is compiled at wearestillin.com.

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Posted in * South Carolina, City Government, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(NYT) Cambridge, Mass might place lockboxes on street corners 2 give the public easy access to Narcan

Across the country, someone dies of an opioid overdose every 24 minutes. In Massachusetts, the death toll is five people a day.

In the face of this epidemic, Cambridge could become the first city to take a step that until recently might have seemed unthinkable: It might place lockboxes on street corners to give the public easy access to Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, a medication that can rapidly revive people who have overdosed.

The idea is in its earliest stages, and any concrete plan for the city, and residents, to consider seems at least a year away. But several days ago, the city police and area doctors who support the boxes conducted an experiment here, asking people who walked by if they would help a stranger who had overdosed.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(AP) Besieged by Opioids, City of Everett Wash. says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market

As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle.

Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people. The city says it has spent millions combating OxyContin and heroin abuse — and expects the tab to rise.

So Everett is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, in an unusual case that alleges the drugmaker knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and the city of about 108,000. Everett alleges the drugmaker did nothing to stop it and must pay for damages caused to the community.

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Posted in City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Health & Medicine

The Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina's Statement on the Dylann Roof Verdict

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NHPR) New Hampshire Supreme Court Ruling: Church's Parking Profits Are Taxable

Churches are generally tax-exempt, but New Hampshire’s highest court ruled the parking spaces are taxable because they were rented to students for “their own private and secular purpose.”

Todd Selig, Town Administrator of Durham, said “this was not in any way an effort on the part of the town to bring in more revenue. It was simply an issue of equity and fairness.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes, Theology

(Wash Post) ”˜Evil, evil, evil as can be': Emotional testimony as Dylann Roof trial begins

The dead appeared in court today, staring out from video monitors at their families and friends, their congregation’s pastor, a federal judge, a jury and Dylann Storm Roof, the man charged with firing more than 60 bullets into the nine of them in an effort to start a race war in America.

U.S. attorney Jay Richardson, prosecuting Roof on 33 counts of federal hate crimes, used his opening statement to introduce jurors to the men and women he said Roof killed during a church basement Bible study on June 17, 2015.

As their pictures appeared, Richardson sketched them in words: the Rev. Clementa Pinckney: pastor, husband, father; the Rev. Daniel Simmons: spiritual guide; the Rev. Sharonda Singleton: ray of sunshine, loving mother, track coach; the Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor: singer, whose four young daughters always carried milkshakes to church; Cynthia Hurd: wife, sister, librarian; Ethel Lance: grandmother, church usher; Susie Jackson: called Aunt Susie by everyone, proud matriarch of the sprawling Jackson family; Tywanza Sanders, 26, a man just beginning to see the promise of an extraordinarily bright future; and Myra Thompson, leading her first Bible study.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Bloomington, Indiana, changes the name of "Good Friday" to "Spring Holiday"

The US city of Bloomington in Indiana has renamed Good Friday and Columbus Day as “Spring Holiday” and “Fall Holiday” to be more “inclusive”.
Mayor John Hamilton said the move would “better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace”, local media said.
Bloomington is a traditionally liberal city. Its county gave Hillary Clinton 58.6% in the presidential election.
But the move sparked a backlash on social media, with opponents condemning it as an act of political correctness.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Post-Gazette Editorial–When jail fails: The push for alternatives must get stronger

A report released Wednesday calls out Allegheny County law enforcement officials and the court system for putting people in jail when alternatives would better serve the defendants and the taxpayers. Too bad it came out after James Marasco died of undetermined causes in the county jail while serving a 10-day sentence for loitering.

The report, by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, indicated the jail’s population had swelled to 2,200 despite falling crime rates. Many are locked up while awaiting disposition of their cases; 81 percent of inmates in the county jail are not serving sentences, compared with a national average of 62 percent. Only 19 percent of county inmates have been charged with violent crimes; the rest are there for drugs or the kind of lower-level crimes that landed Mr. Marasco behind bars.

Moreover, as many as 75 percent of inmates have mental illness, substance abuse problems or both. Mr. Marasco had mental illness and used drugs. Mental illness may be the underlying factor in a person’s crimes and should be taken into account before incarceration. The primary purpose of jail is correction, not treatment. It’s unlikely that a person’s mental illness will improve in jail. The illness is likely to worsen, and that is why mentally ill inmates often incur more disciplinary infractions and serve longer sentences than healthy peers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, City Government, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Mental Illness, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(America) Washington D.C. Council Supports Assisted Suicide Bill

Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, chairperson of the Health and Human Service Committee, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau offered the only votes opposing the measure.

“The D.C. City Council has taken another step toward passing a fatally flawed bill that would legalize assisted suicide in Washington, D.C.,” said Michael Scott, director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, which represents the public policy interests of the Catholic Church in the district. The conference joined a broad-based coalition of other groups in opposing the measure.

“This bill discriminates against our African-American and Hispanic neighbors, sick seniors, the disabled, the uninsured and all who are vulnerable in our community,” Scott said in a statement after the vote. “Our coalition will continue to fight this bill, which has few safeguards to protect the vulnerable and does nothing to help the thousands of D.C. residents desperate for access to better health care and improved social services, such as counseling.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(BI) U.S. public pension plans are headed for a disaster on the current trajectory

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders ”” a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan ”” which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 ”” represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stock Market, Theology

(NYT) A Somber Charleston, South Carolina, Reflects on Race as 2 Murder Trials Begin

CHARLESTON, S.C. ”” Seventy-four days separated the fatal bursts of gunfire: the eight rounds a white police officer fired at Walter L. Scott, a black man in North Charleston, and then the shots that killed nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church here.

And now, seven days will separate the trials of the officer, Michael T. Slager, and of Dylann S. Roof, the white supremacist accused of carrying out the church killings.

Jury selection in the state trial of Mr. Slager, who was fired after the shooting, will begin on Monday; one week later, the same process is scheduled to begin in the federal case of Mr. Roof. Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Roof, rebuffed his offer to plead guilty.

The proceedings ”” unusual in a country where, for different reasons, few police officers or mass killers stand trial ”” will draw renewed attention to, and more reflection within, the Charleston area, where many residents still struggle with killings that rattled the nation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Tulsa’s Prayers, and Past Scars, Softened Reaction to Police Shooting

White rioters poured into the streets, burning and looting homes, businesses and churches in a black neighborhood and leaving this city deeply traumatized. That was 1921.

Last week, not far from where those haunting events took place, the streets of Tulsa were calm after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black motorist. The video of the shooting angered many Tulsa residents, but the subdued reaction was markedly different from the violent clashes that took place in Charlotte, N.C., in recent days, after the police killed a man there.

Why one place erupts and another does not is never easy to discern. Tulsa quickly released videos showing the facts. But some here trace part of the reason for Tulsa’s emphasis on prayer, and not protest, in recent days to the lingering scars of the 1921 riot, which is regarded as one of the deadliest race riots in the country’s history and still lingers in Tulsa’s consciousness.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence