NewsWatch: Cities and Counties -- Legislation Would Make Gov. Salaries Public

500-Foot High Billboards Approved, Cheap Scooter Parking, Big Tolls Small Commute, Locals Ignored in Oil,  Around the Clock Airport Liquor, More ...

by / August 2, 2010
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Miami Approves 500-Foot-High Billboards
Miami commissioners voted to allow a developer to erect a pair of electronic signs almost 500 feet high that will tower over downtown. The towers, a parking garage and a retail center will bring in millions of dollars in new revenue for the cash-strapped city. Miami Herald

Cheap Scooter Parking
Beginning on Thursday afternoon, Boston will be offering the first metered parking spaces for scooters or motorcycles in front of popular stores on Newbury and Boylston Streets. There will be more than three dozen spaces available, and the bikes can be chained to the meters for safety. Metered parking spaces for cars cost 25 cents every 15 minutes. Boston Globe

Bigger Tolls Reduce Bay Bridge Commuting
July 1 marked the $2 premium, commuter toll on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, as well as new first-time charges for car pools on all Bay Bridges, and increased tolls ($5) on seven state-owned bridges. Bay Bridge congestion reduced by half during morning peak. So far so good -- travel time has decreased, BART ridership increased, though carpools have dropped by 30 percent. Metropolitan Transportation Commission officials stress the results are preliminary. Planetizen

Culver City Maps Public Art
In Culver City, Calif., the public art is sometimes so omnipresent it blends into the scenery -- on purpose. Integrating art into the everyday landscape, while honoring the city's history and giving visitors and residents intriguing -- and sometimes interactive -- pieces to enjoy is something Culver City takes to heart. To that end, they have designed a free, fun, and accessible way to explore the area and find all the pieces of public art. A downloadable and printable map breaks down the general downtown area into three walking tours and uses a numbered guide to point out where you'll find different pieces of art. Laist

Tossed Computers Irk Official
A recently elected member of the Hooksett, N.H., town budget committee is questioning why the school department dumped more than three tons worth of old computer equipment at the town's transfer station on Tuesday. Tom Keach said there must be a more cost-effective way to get rid of the electronics, which largely consisted of iMac computers, hard drives and monitors at least 10 years old. New Hampshire Union Leader

Local Governments Say They are Ignored in Oil Cleanup
Seven parish presidents are calling for more influence in what happens next in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. They say the Coast Guard and BP ignore local and state authorities. Times-Picayune

City Council Approves Airport Liquor Carts
The Daley administration's push to allow liquor to be sold at more places in Chicago took another step Wednesday as aldermen approved around-the-clock alcohol sales at O'Hare International and Midway airports. For the first time, passengers would be able to take the edge off pre-flight jitters by buying beer and wine at pushcarts that now will be allowed throughout airport terminals. Chicago Tribune

League of Cities Advocates Salary Disclosures
Officials with the

League of California Cities  said Thursday they are interested in crafting state legislation that would require information on the pay of all highly-compensated public officials on the state and local levels to be made easily available to the public. The move follows a salary scandal in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell. Sacramento Bee
Bell Controversy Kicks Off Salary Reviews Statewide
The scandal over high salaries paid to Bell officials has city leaders throughout the state scrambling to limit the political damage. City halls have seen an uptick in residents calling to find out what their local officials make ever since the story broke two weeks ago and prompted widespread public outrage. On Thursday, city managers from across the state will gather in Sacramento to discuss damage control. Among the ideas on the table: launching an independent examination of city officials' salaries and compiling a database of salaries for municipal executives. Los Angeles Times
Bell Residents Paid Huge Tax Bills, Huge Salaries

Counties Delay Issuing Beach Warnings
Most Jersey Shore counties still wait a second day before issuing warnings or closing beaches because of poor water quality, potentially exposing beachgoers to unnecessary health risks, environmental advocates said today. The state departments of Environmental Protection and Health and Senior Services last August recommended counties issue advisories after just one test showing high fecal bacteria levels, but most are still adhering to the former requirements and waiting for confirmation from a second test. New Jersey Star-Ledger