The Marietta, Ga., City Council has updated the city's ethics code to ensure that employees who file complaints against public officials aren't responsible for the official's legal bill should the complaint fail. Mayor Steve Tumlin wrote the amendment, noting that forcing staff to pay up to a maximum of $15,000 in legal fees could be considered retribution for speaking out.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said "we're back on solid ground" after his $10.67 billion budget for the 2019 fiscal year passed, but added he plans to work with the City Council in December regarding how to manage the city's pension program, for which contributions are slated to grow from $1.02 billion this year to $2.13 billion in 2023. Chicago has faced general obligation credit rating downgrades and increases in borrowing costs due to repeated budget deficits and an unfunded pension liability that rose to $35.7 billion in 2016.
City Council members in Lexington, N.C., have named the city's first-ever female manager, tapping Assistant City Manager Terra Greene to take over as manager when Alan Carson leaves at the end of this year. Greene says she hopes to continue initiatives started by Carson and also to "bring something of my own to the table."
Students got a lesson in stewardship this week as they cleared away invasive plants in the Williams-Blackburn Preserve along the Chippewa River in Michigan. "Our goal is to serve underserved kids, develop an environment education program" and build student interest in land stewardship, said Alexis Wixson of the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy.
Dealing with dog waste is a significant challenge for parks and recreation agencies. In Prince George's County, Md., officials are using several tactics to address the problem, including games and educational materials.
Local conservation districts in Michigan are helping protect resources and make the area a great place in which to live, writes Steve Law of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. "Identifying the most important issues locally and gathering the necessary data, partners and funding to adequately address them is the forte of the board and staff of the Conservation Districts," he writes.
When children from low-income communities weren't coming to Baton Rouge, La., parks to play because of transportation problems, Baton Rouge Recreation took the play equipment to them. The program uses a box delivery truck to take items such as balls, trampolines, hula hoops and jump ropes to shelters, churches and parking lots to give children a chance to play outdoors.
As dogs become more prevalent in public parks, agencies are finding themselves embroiled in disputes between dog owners and those who want to see leash laws enforced. James Kozlowski, an attorney and associate professor at George Mason University, examines potential issues for officials to consider and reviews a relevant court case.
A playground accessible to children of all abilities has opened in Lewiston, Maine, becoming the first such public facility in the state. The site features 19 pieces of play equipment and a rubberized surface.
New Jersey has awarded a $1.5 million grant to Woodbridge Township for fully accessible recreational facilities at the Cypress Recreation Center.
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