TABLE of CONTENTS December 2005

Cover Story

A Roof To Start With

BY Christopher Swope

Cities are moving homeless people straight from the street into permanent housing--no questions asked. It's controvesial, but it's showing results.

Features

Taking The Heat

States are ponying up millions to keep homes warm. BY Christopher Swope

Defending Against A Deluge

The disaster in New Orleans has prompted a nationwide examination of man-made levees, as well as interest in restoring natural floodplains. BY Tom Arrandale

That's Agritainment!

The simple life is becoming an economic showcase for rural states. BY Ellen Perlman

The Katrina Breakdown

Coordination and communication problems between levels of government must be addressed before the next disaster strikes. BY Donald F. Kettl

Schoolmaker

Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson can charter a new school anytime he wants. That gives him lots of power--and lots of headaches as well. BY John Buntin

Up Front

Public Safety & Justice

Lost and Found

States are doing a better job of tracking the children in their care. BY Alan Greenblatt
Politics

Rustbelt Dilemma

Nobody knows more about Buffalo than Byron Brown, its new mayor. One thing he knows is that revival won't come easily. BY Alan Greenblatt
Economic Development

Topeka's Gamble

Mired in stagnation, Kansas' capital city is in a mood for reform. BY Alan Greenblatt
Public Safety & Justice

Born Leaders?

It's not easy to look good in moments of crisis, but some public officials have a knack for it. BY Alan Greenblatt
Finance

Tax Revolt Turns Tepid

Raising taxes isn't proving fatal to most politicians who risked doing it. BY Alan Greenblatt
Finance

Tax Revolt Turns Tepid

Raising taxes isn't proving fatal to most politicians who risked doing it. BY Alan Greenblatt
Management & Labor

The Patronage Trap

Patronage and hiring violations are facts of life in almost all governments. BY Alan Ehrenhalt

The Business of Government

Housing

Having Their Say: Baltimore Agency Wins Some Breathing Room

In a sign that Baltimore's embattled housing authority is turning things around, the agency has been accepted into Moving to Work, a federal program that gives local housing agencies wider management leeway. Currently in place in 23 cities, Moving to Work allows housing agencies flexibility to create solutions specific to their communities. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Finance

The Gas Tax's Last Gasp

With the high price of gasoline, drivers are pouring so many dollars into their tanks that Exxon-Mobil reported record profits in October of $10 billion. And that was for one quarter. Paradoxically, drivers were pouring relatively fewer dollars into other entities that depend on gasoline spending: the various state and federal transportation trust funds. BY Alex Marshall
Finance

The Gas Tax's Last Gasp

With the high price of gasoline, drivers are pouring so many dollars into their tanks that Exxon-Mobil reported record profits in October of $10 billion. And that was for one quarter. Paradoxically, drivers were pouring relatively fewer dollars into other entities that depend on gasoline spending: the various state and federal transportation trust funds. BY Alex Marshall
Health & Human Services

The Little Deal That Could Be Big

A union trades retiree health care for a raise. BY Alex Marshall
Finance

Finite Funding: Vermont Accepts A Medicaid Cap

Facing ever-increasing costs for health care, officials in Vermont have brokered a landmark deal with the federal government. The state will get more flexibility in managing and distributing Medicaid funds. In exchange, it will accept a limit on the amount of federal Medicaid money it receives over the next five years. BY Zach Patton
Finance

Finite Funding: Vermont Accepts A Medicaid Cap

Facing ever-increasing costs for health care, officials in Vermont have brokered a landmark deal with the federal government. The state will get more flexibility in managing and distributing Medicaid funds. In exchange, it will accept a limit on the amount of federal Medicaid money it receives over the next five years. BY Zach Patton
Politics

Mixed Smoke Signals

The patchwork of local laws on lighting up can be confusing. BY Zach Patton
Finance

Creating A Bond: Chicago Keeps The Little Guy in The Loop

Chicago is bringing municipal bonds to the masses. BY Josh Goodman
Finance

Bond Bits: Ill Winds Aftermath

Few Gulf Coast issuers have reneged on outstanding bonds since hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the area. But concern about their ability to continue to make payments is growing. BY Josh Goodman
Finance

The Sales Tax Goes Online

Happy days are here again for tax collectors. The ongoing Streamlined Sales Tax Project went live in October, with 150 small to large Internet retailers signing up that month. With the backup of third- party service providers, they will collect sales taxes on online purchases in the 18 states that participated in the streamlining effort. BY Alan Greenblatt
Energy & Environment

Transmission Blues

In energy-rich states, the federal government's response to the energy crunch is looking more than a little ominous. BY Tom Arrandale
Economic Engines

A Season to Swarm

Policy wonks are having a field day with creative ideas to rebuild the Gulf Coast. But action is likely to be the same old-same old. BY William Fulton