TABLE of CONTENTS April 2014

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Cover Story

America's Rural/Urban Divide: A Special Series

How governments respond to the widening rift between rural and urban America can either help bridge the gap or drive the country down an even more divergent path.

FEATURES

Rural Areas Lose People But Not Power

Rural lawmakers are dwindling in number as people continue to migrate to metropolitan areas. But the battle between urban and rural politics is as big as ever -- and those out in the country may be winning. BY Alan Greenblatt

Can Cities and Rural Counties Come Together?

Recent political battles have highlighted the decades-old divide between urban and rural areas, making groups that occupy a middle ground more necessary than ever. BY J.B. Wogan

Rural Hospitals Are on Life Support

Hospitals may be rural America’s single most important and most endangered institution. Between having to serve some of the sickest and most expensive populations and federal cuts, can small town America save more from closing? BY John Buntin

Why Do Cash-Strapped Governments Have Rich Citizens?

Boom times in oil and agriculture have brought new wealth to people in many rural counties. But the money in bank accounts isn't translating into more money for government. BY Liz Farmer

The Military Man in Charge of Transportation in North Carolina

After 28 years in the Army, Tony Tata landed a job for which he lacks the traditional credentials. Is the ability to command more important than substantive knowledge when it comes to high-level government jobs? BY Chris Kardish

Renewable Energy Requirements Get a Second Wind

Conservatives were out in force last year trying to roll back requirements for some states to use alternative energy. They failed. Does that mean attitudes on green power are changing? BY Jonathan Walters

POLITICS + POLICY

Public Safety & Justice

Fire Departments Shift Their Focus to Medical Care

Recognizing that the majority of calls they get are now people seeking medical help, some fire departments are diving deeper into a medical role. BY Chris Kardish
Politics

Jason Kander: Young, In Charge and Taking on Ethics Reform

The 32-year-old secretary of state wants to make Missouri’s ethics laws, which are currently among the nation’s weakest, some of the strongest. BY J.B. Wogan
Finance 101

Why's the SEC's New Municipal Advisor Rule So Confusing?

What governments need to know about where they should go to seek financial advice. BY Liz Farmer
Assessments

Keeping Cities from Becoming “Child-Free Zones”

With kids on the decline in urban areas, cities can make themselves more attractive to young families by building more playgrounds. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

Is a Constitutional Convention in the Works?

More than 225 years after the first one, states are considering whether to call a second as a way to rein in the feds. But no one really knows what a convention can and can’t do and how it would work. BY Donald F. Kettl
Headlines

NGA Chair to Feds: "Please Do Not Get in Our Way"

During this year's State of the States address, governors continued their push for more control over their economic futures. BY Liz Farmer
Health & Human Services

Why Some States Are Still Seeing Double-Digit Increases in Health Premiums

The Affordable Care Act gave state insurance commissioners the power to review rate increases of 10 percent or more but left it up to the states to decide whether they also have the power to reject them. BY David Levine
Infrastructure & Environment

How Mayors Used the Stimulus for Energy Efficiency Projects

A new survey shows how cities used money from the 2009 stimulus package to invest in energy efficient infrastructure. BY J.B. Wogan
Economic Engines

For Infrastructure’s Sake, America Needs Skilled Workers

The United States lags behind other countries when it comes to sophisticated infrastructure in part because it lacks the workers to build or maintain it. BY Alex Marshall
Urban Notebook

Small Cities Struggle to Battle the Rise in Heroin Abuse

There’s a whole new generation of heroin addicts in rural areas and smaller, struggling cities, which have few resources to fight the epidemic and its affects. BY Tod Newcombe

PROBLEM SOLVER

Management & Labor

Where the Minimum Wage Has the Least Buying Power

While minimum-wage workers feel the pinch everywhere, it’s far more difficult to make a living in the nation’s most expensive urban centers. View data and read an analysis for more than 300 cities. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

The Trouble with Email

Yes, it’s been a boon for government work, but it also opens the door to conflict and confusion. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

Will Financial Reporting Finally Make Sense?

Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch’s State Budget Crisis Task Force recommends ways government can make reporting cleaner, clearer and simpler. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Most Schools Don’t Teach Computer Science

Failure to teach students even basic theory behind how computer technology works has several implications -- none of them positive. That’s the motivation behind a new push to boost computer learning in public schools. BY Steve Towns
Public Money

Bonds and the BFF Problem

A new rule tries to keep muni market players from getting too friendly. BY Justin Marlowe
Politics

April 2014 Last Look: Three Strikes, You’re Out

Gray Davis was recalled as governor of California -- and recalled again by a minor league baseball team. BY Elizabeth Daigneau