TABLE of CONTENTS March 2013

Cover Story

The Power and Danger of Setting Extreme Goals

BY John Buntin

Extreme goals are ambitious and attention grabbing. They also often seem impossible -- and that can be a problem.

FEATURES

Veterans Seek Help from States and Localities

Some states and localities are stepping in to fill the void left by federal aid. One successful model is emerging in Utica, N.Y. BY Dylan Scott

The 'B' Word: Is Municipal Bankruptcy's Stigma Fading?

There's a growing sense among some leaders that municipal bankruptcy -- unthinkable just a few years ago -- may be a valuable tool. BY Liz Farmer

Management Fads That Make a Difference

New management tools are a dime a dozen and often just old strategies with fancy new names. But a few do make measurable differences. BY Jonathan Walters

Will the Next NYC Mayor Continue Bloomberg's Urban Planning Legacy?

Under Bloomberg, the cityscape has been reshaped in unprecedented ways. BY Ryan Holeywell

POLITICS + POLICY

Health & Human Services

To Promote Health Exchanges to the Public, States Get Creative

As many as 20 million Americans are supposed to enroll in the online marketplaces and purchase health insurance this year. But many people still aren't aware that the exchanges even exist. BY Brian Peteritas
Public Safety & Justice

Cities Rethink Gun Buyback Programs

The programs were found to be ineffective in reducing violent crime, but cities are revisiting -- and in some cases, revamping -- them in the wake of last year's mass shootings. BY J.B. Wogan
Politics

Some State Legislators Want to Work More, Not Less

Four state legislatures meet every other year instead of annually. Lawmakers in North Dakota and Texas want to leave biennial budgeting in the past. BY Brian Peteritas
By the Numbers

Report Grades Cities’ Spending Transparency Websites

A new report examines 30 cities' online transparency efforts. View scores for each local government. BY Michael Maciag
Urban Notebook

The Mayor Had Chutzpah

Ed Koch, the lively, contentious mayor of New York City who died at the age of 88 on Feb. 1, left an indelible mark on the city where he lived and worked for most of his life. BY Kathy Gambrell
Dispatch

The Tricky Business of Commercial Advertising in Public Places

Public transit systems have accepted advertising for a long time. But it’s not always without controversy. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Potomac Chronicle

Federalism from the Bottom Up

More than ever, the feds need states and local regions to take the lead in crafting promising new programs. BY Caroline Cournoyer
FedWatch

'Zombie' Estate Taxes Appear Dead for Good

The fiscal cliff deal seems to have made it all but impossible for about 25 states to collect estate taxes, barring new laws. BY Ryan Holeywell
Health & Human Services

Communities Fill Dental-Coverage Holes

Rather than wait for lawmakers and insurers to provide adequate coverage, some dentists and public health advocates have taken it upon themselves to try to reduce the number of ER visits for dental problems. BY David Levine
Energy & Environment

Indianapolis Aims to Have 1st All-Green Fleet

The city has a bold plan to make every vehicle in its fleet, including police cars, run on alternative fuels. BY Brian Peteritas
Economic Engines

Why States Keep Playing the Losing Tax-Incentive Game

Elected officials and experts aren’t sure if tax breaks actually create jobs. So why do they keep offering millions of dollars worth of subsidies to companies? BY Caroline Cournoyer
Urban Notebook

New Funding Model Needed for Urban Parks

People love parks, but building a new urban park is expensive. It’s why so many cities rely heavily on public-private partnerships to build today’s urban parks. BY Kathy Gambrell

PROBLEM SOLVER

By the Numbers

States Experience Disparity in Police Fatality Rates as Agencies Target Safety

An analysis shows fatality rates vary by state, with most deaths in the South. BY Michael Maciag
Smart Management

Why Haven’t States and Localities Capitalized on Great Management Ideas?

When management meets politics, management is generally the loser. What can policymakers do to heighten the chances that a reform will, at least, be given the opportunity to succeed or fail? BY Caroline Cournoyer
Better Government

A Transportation Funding Power Shift

States are moving into the void left by Washington’s paralysis. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Online Registration Helped Increase California’s Youth Vote

If there was any doubt about citizen desire to register online, California’s one-month experience with it running up to the November general election erased it. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Public Money

New Rules Could Clear the Path to Pension Reform

For most states, the new government accountability rules eliminate the main substantive barrier to moving toward less costly defined-contribution plans. BY Caroline Cournoyer