TABLE of CONTENTS May 2011

Cover Story

How Real Is the Bankruptcy Threat?

BY Ryan Holeywell

State and local leaders have taken to saying, ‘We’re broke.’ The true story is a lot more complicated.

Features

Nonprofits Seek Relief and Support from States

Nonprofits deliver crucial health and human services to the most vulnerable populations, but state budget constraints are endangering their operations. BY Jonathan Walters

Seattle Looks to Cottages for Affordable Housing

Cities are struggling to increase residential density without destroying single-family neighborhoods. That means the return of the backyard cottage. BY Zach Patton

Reconstructing Building Codes for Greater Energy Efficiency

Governments are adopting new and strengthening existing building codes, hoping others will follow their lead. BY Linda Baker

Working Prisoners Save Taxpayers' Money

States are increasingly utilizing prison labor to plug budget holes, but public employee unions aren’t happy. BY Russell Nichols

Departments

Dispatch

Reinventing the Food Stamp Program

Free-market economists argue that replacing welfare programs with direct cash grants to the poor would require a smaller bureaucracy and be more beneficial to those in need. BY Caroline Cournoyer

Politics + Policy

Politics

New Governors Time Their Battles

Unpopular governors have good chances of winning re-election -- as long as they push their most controversial policies early on. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Finance

Detroit's Disappearing Population -- and Revenues

With the loss of 25 percent of its residents, Detroit could also lose its ability to levy higher income taxes. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Politics

Does the Popular Vote Matter?

While some states offer extra protection for statutes enacted by popular vote, legislatures can still overturn ballot initiatives in most states. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Economic Development

The Economics of Spring Training

Cities in Arizona and Florida spend millions to host baseball teams during spring training. Is it worth it? BY Caroline Cournoyer
Potomac Chronicle

The Truth about Bankruptcy

Exaggerating problems is more about politics than budget balancing. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Energy & Environment

States Challenge Federal Land-Use Law

State and local officials in the West are filing lawsuits to overturn new policies they say will prevent development and job growth. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Health & Human Services

Do Smokers Have Privacy Rights?

An Ariz. county will begin testing its employees and offering health insurance discounts to nonsmokers. But is it right to find and penalize those who smoke? BY Caroline Cournoyer
Energy & Environment

Consolidating 'Green' Departments

More leaders are trying to cut costs by merging environmental agencies. Critics worry this will water down the impact of environmental protection. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Economic Engines

Economic Development in the 1099 Economy

Temporary work is becoming the norm. Economic developers must change their focus if they want to create jobs in this new economy. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Urban Notebook

Cities' Access to Fresh Food Worsens

Higher maintenance costs in urban areas have led to a serious lack of grocery stores for city dwellers. States and cities are working on ways to get them back. BY Caroline Cournoyer

Problem Solver

Public Safety & Justice

Data-Driven Policing

With little or no additional funding, geomapping can help law enforcement fight crime while lowering traffic incidents. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Smart Management

When is a Shortfall a Budget Gap and Not a Budget Deficit?

The distinctions between gaps and deficits can show just how dire a city or state's condition is. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Public Money

The Debt Demon

Have states and localities borrowed too much? BY Caroline Cournoyer
Tech Talk

Solving the IP Address Shortage

The time to upgrade to IPv6 -- and take advantage of its innovative technologies -- is now. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Energy & Environment

Minn. Public Utilities Commissioner Keeps Colleagues Informed on Nuclear Issues

The industries that David C. Boyd regulates tend to fly under the radar until a crisis like the tsunami in Japan arises. BY Caroline Cournoyer