TABLE of CONTENTS August 2016

Cover Story

Can Counties Fix Rural America's Endless Recession?

BY Alan Greenblatt

The inability of most rural places to recover from the economic downturn is fueling political and social problems around the nation.

FEATURES

Why Companies Are Moving Back Downtown

Tax incentives aren't always the best way to lure businesses. Many are simply going where the talent is. BY J.B. Wogan

Whose Park Is It Anyway?

America's largest state park is a battleground between conservation activists and small towns desperate for development. BY Mike Maciag

A Blueprint for Merging Health and Housing Under One Roof

Boulder County, Colo., pioneered the movement. What can others learn from their experience? BY Mattie Quinn

The China Factor in America's State and Local Economies

As the world's second-largest economy falters, pensions and tax revenues here are feeling the pinch. BY Liz Farmer

OBSERVER

Finance

State Budgets’ Forecast: Cloudy With a Chance of Transparency

In an era of tight budgets and slow revenue growth, there’s pressure on legislators to be open and honest about what states can and can’t afford. BY Alan Greenblatt
Public Safety & Justice

Civil Forfeiture Laws Pit Police Versus Everybody Else

Conservatives and liberals are teaming up to restrict or ban the laws that let officers seize billions of dollars a year from people who haven’t been convicted or, sometimes, even charged with a crime. BY Alan Greenblatt
Management & Labor

1 Day, 2 Firings, No Explanations

The Atlanta mayor’s recent and abrupt termination of two agency leaders left many shocked. BY Alan Greenblatt
Finance

Even the Giants Are Complaining About San Francisco Real Estate

The Major League Baseball team wants a big break on property taxes. Will they win? BY Alan Greenblatt

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

Urban Planners’ New Enemy

Cities are increasingly viewing parking in a negative light and rethinking its place in metropolitan America. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

What a Box of Honey Nut Cheerios Says About Today’s Politics

The cereal’s new look shows how and why one small state could change the rules nationwide. BY Donald F. Kettl
Elections

The GOP’s Hispanic Problem

Republicans have been losing the key demographics’ support since 2000. Democrats hope Donald Trump will keep that trend going. BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

Pregnant in Prison? Some States Deliver Doulas

In a small but growing number of states, expectant inmates are getting help dealing with the trauma of giving birth and then having to say goodbye. BY Mattie Quinn
Health & Human Services

Streetlights May Be Hurting Public Health

Many municipalities have switched to LED streetlights to save energy and money. But the change still comes at a cost. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

Blah City

Why aren’t we creating great urban spaces anymore? BY Alex Marshall
Urban Notebook

To Subsidize Development or Not?

Often-uninformed city leaders struggle with the decision, and taxpayers pay the price for their lack of financial knowledge. BY William Fulton

PROBLEM SOLVER

Education

The States That Spend the Most (and the Least) on Education

Several factors are behind the drastic differences in funding. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

Lessons From Cities Trying to Be Better Buyers

Chicago and many other municipalities are focusing on reforming the rigid and inconsistent rules of procurement. BY Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene
Better Government

Can Depression Make Someone a Better Politician?

Maybe, but the stigma of mental health problems keeps public officials from talking about it. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Words of IT Wisdom From Silicon Valley to Governments

Palo Alto’s city manager wants governments to rip up the IT rule book to make better investments. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Bias in the Municipal Bond Market

Does a sullied past haunt a bond issuer’s future? BY Justin Marlowe
Public Safety & Justice

In Boston, Police Work to Build Trust One Ice Cream Cone at a Time

The city has a unique effort to improving the relationship between cops and citizens. BY J.B. Wogan