TABLE of CONTENTS June 2017

In February, a plane flew a protest banner above the South Dakota Capitol as lawmakers inside approved legislation to sweep away new ethics regulations that voters had approved just three months earlier. (AP)
Cover Story

Democratic Norms Are Under Attack, and Not Just by Trump

BY Alan Greenblatt

Like the president, state politicians are playing by new rules and openly trying to undermine critics who threaten their power -- whether they're lawmakers, reporters or voters.

FEATURES

Judicial Redistricting: Issue Politicians Don't Want to Discuss

Kentucky's failed attempt this year illustrates a problem that many states face: Some judges are severely overworked while others don't have enough to do. But fixing that can be politically impossible. BY J.B. Wogan

The Idaho City at the Center of the Refugee Controversy

A refugee center in Twin Falls has endured many months of anti-immigrant hostility -- and emerged stronger as a result. BY Daniel C. Vock

Nation's Least-Funded Schools Get What They Pay For

Education funding has yet to bounce back from the recession in many states. But nowhere is the situation more dire than in Oklahoma. BY Liz Farmer

Is Recycling Broken?

To survive and prosper, local recycling efforts are forging ways to update, upgrade and educate. BY Elizabeth Daigneau

OBSERVER

Politics

Firefighters' Clout Can Make Them Politically Untouchable

Their heroic image is a political asset -- one that makes changes to the profession difficult. BY Alan Greenblatt
Politics

Missouri's Eric Greitens Is Governing in the Dark

Between gag orders and secret funds, the governor isn't living up to his campaign promise of transparency. BY Alan Greenblatt
Education

School Choice Debate Pits DeVos vs. Denver

The education secretary's complaints about the city's schools highlight one of her biggest priorities -- and one of her biggest battles. BY Alan Greenblatt
Infrastructure & Environment

This Is What Happens When a Nuclear Plant Shuts Down

Plans to close an infamous plant were just announced. Such closures can be devastating for local economies -- even more so than when mining and manufacturing ceases to exist in a town. BY Alan Greenblatt

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

Elected as a Tea Party Conservative But Governing as a Centrist

A lot of the hard-line GOP governors who won in 2010 have surprised their supporters with a shift toward pragmatism. What’s driving the change? BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

Mission Compromised: Trump’s Nasty Dilemma

If his current proposals succeed, his supporters are in for a rude awakening. BY Donald F. Kettl
Politics

With Governors Races Now Set, Virginia and New Jersey Shift Focus to November

Republicans currently enjoy a 2-to-1 lead among governors, but Democrats hope to start chipping away at that advantage this fall. BY Alan Greenblatt
Education

When the School Nurse Is on a Screen Instead of in an Office

Some schools are using telemedicine to provide health care to students in underserved districts. But few think it’s a cure for their ailments. BY Mattie Quinn
Infrastructure & Environment

How Minnesota Doubled Its Solar Capacity

The state’s cities and counties embarked on a rare kind of collaboration. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

The Human Casualties of ‘Winner-Take-All Urbanism’

Are we doing enough for the people left behind in cities? BY Alex Marshall
Urban Notebook

The Transportation Side Effects of 'The Great Inversion'

Low pay and long, pricey commutes often go hand in hand. BY William Fulton

PROBLEM SOLVER

Urban

Population Growth Shifts to Suburban America

Suburban counties are once again gaining population at the expense of the cities around them. What does that mean for urban areas? BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

A Culture Shift for Government Shoppers

Purchasing has become more complex, which is why managers want critical thinking to lead the process. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Double-Loop Government

The basketball player’s early career illustrates a learning strategy that produces conflict -- and innovation. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Decentralizing Government's IT

Florida wants to cut its technology costs. But is the state going about it all wrong? BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Who Pays the Local Tax Bill?

There’s disagreement over who bears the biggest burden: the poor or the wealthy. BY Justin Marlowe
Infrastructure & Environment

How Hard Is It to Clean a Greenhouse?

Apparently very. Missouri’s Botanical Gardens just got its first power-washing since it was built in 1988. BY Alan Greenblatt