TABLE of CONTENTS December 2016

Cover Story

Introducing the 2016 Public Officials of the Year

These eight people know that public service isn’t about casting blame. It’s about working together to forge real solutions to real problems.

FEATURES

In Life After Coal, Appalachia Attempts to Reinvent Itself

The decline of the mining industry started long before the Obama administration and will likely continue even with Trump in the White House. That's why local leaders are starting to diversify their economies and prepare their people for an uncertain future. BY Alan Greenblatt

LAX's Makeover Inspires Airport Changes Around the Country

Los Angeles is spending billions to revamp its airport. The move is spurring other cities to make similar investments. BY Daniel C. Vock

OBSERVER

Politics

Gov. John Bel Edwards Wants Payback, Louisiana-Style

In the latest chapter of his feud with the state’s attorney general, Edwards is taking on the oil and gas industry -- but with some controversial allies. BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

With Little Warning, Maine Governor Overhauls Public Health

Paul LePage’s abrupt decision left lawmakers and public health workers with unanswered questions as they struggle to battle a drug epidemic. BY Alan Greenblatt
Management & Labor

Will Florida Ever Strike a Deal on Workers’ Comp?

With the state's law in limbo and so many players at the table -- employers, unions, insurers, attorneys and lawmakers -- it will be hard to reach an agreement. BY Alan Greenblatt
Education

Why Being a University President Isn’t a Stable Job Anymore

Their resignations, once rare, have seemingly become a frequent occurrence. BY Alan Greenblatt

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

Boulevard Dreams

Cities and states have very different ideas for fixing decrepit urban highways. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

Trump’s Health-Care Dilemma

The president-elect and his Republican Congress will surely change health care -- but first, they have to decide how. BY Donald F. Kettl
Elections

Tragedy Reshapes Mayor’s Race in Baton Rouge

Whoever wins this month faces the tough job of uniting and rebuilding a community that’s still hurting from deadly police shootings and floods. BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

Amid Opioid Crisis, Needle Exchanges Are Losing Their Stigma

The idea that needle exchanges encourage illegal drug use is fading just as rapidly as the programs are expanding. BY Mattie Quinn
Infrastructure & Environment

Wondering What ‘Sustainability’ Is? Just Ask Austin.

The city’s new open data website breaks down how sustainability is defined -- and how it’s being achieved. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

Are Car-Free Bridges the Future?

On Portland’s newest bridge, there’s just one rule: no cars allowed. Other cities may follow the progressive city’s lead. BY Alex Marshall
Urban Notebook

How Can Cities Get Denser and Sprawl at the Same Time?

There’s a dispute about whether the movement toward city living is real. But this either/or battle is a distraction. BY William Fulton

PROBLEM SOLVER

Infrastructure & Environment

Struggling State Parks Seek New Ways to Survive

Budget cutbacks are forcing many of them to find more sustainable funding models. See how your state's parks are funded. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

Let's Make a Pact: States Increasingly Problem Solve Together

They often fall under the radar, but compacts are becoming a top tool for managing interstate issues. BY Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene
Better Government

Words of Wisdom for Public Officials Trying to Connect With Citizens

For one, realize that you have the "curse of knowledge." BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Are New York's Unprecedented Cyber-Regulations Necessary?

The state is on track to enacting first-in-the-nation rules about how banks respond to cyberattacks. Some say they're misguided. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Selling Your Sewer’s Story

Financial statements can make the best case for public works investors. BY Justin Marlowe
Infrastructure & Environment

Walking on Art Is Usually Frowned Upon. Not Here.

San Francisco has built some of the most beautiful and colorful stairs. BY Elizabeth Daigneau