TABLE of CONTENTS May 2016

Cover Story

Alabama’s One-Man Pension Show

BY Liz Farmer

He’s not the governor. He’s not a lawmaker. But thanks to the way he runs his state’s pension plans, David Bronner may be the most powerful man in Alabama.

FEATURES

The Miami Method for Zoning: Consistency Over Chaos

After a population explosion and building binge led to haphazard and random growth, Miami became the nation's first big urban area to adopt a citywide code based on looks. BY Zach Patton

Murder Mystery: Can New Orleans Control Its Homicide Rate?

The city has made real progress in its battle against homicide, but a recent rise in crime puts it all into question. BY J.B. Wogan

Has School Choice Been All It Set Out to Be?

As the movement slows, policymakers have the opportunity to explore whether school choice has improved education overall. BY Alan Greenblatt

State Capitols: Above It All

Many state capitols were designed to inspire with soaring architecture. The view from the top offers a unique perspective. BY David Kidd

OBSERVER

Finance

In Online Sales Tax Fight, States Adopt New Tactics

States are passing laws that -- they hope -- will lead to lawsuits that land the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. BY Liz Farmer
Politics

Why Is Public Corruption So Common in South Texas?

In Crystal City, nearly every public official is facing criminal charges. But it’s not the region’s only place plagued by corruption. BY Alan Greenblatt
Infrastructure & Environment

The Secret to a Successful Bike Share

Seattle’s struggle to attract riders reveals what makes a bike-share program thrive -- or in the Emerald City’s case, barely survive. BY Daniel C. Vock
Politics

Turning Black Lives Matter Protests Into Policy

A bipartisan group of public officials, called the 20/20 Club, is working to translate the energy of the movement into meaningful legislation on law enforcement and criminal justice. BY Alan Greenblatt

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

The Establishment? It’s Long Gone.

There’s a common perception that the Establishment is disappearing. In fact, it died decades ago at all levels of government. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

Washington, D.C.’s Monumental Decay

In D.C., above and below ground, historic and vital infrastructure is in bad shape. There’s plenty of blame to spread around for that. BY Peter A. Harkness
Elections

Losing Control in Legislatures, Democrats Shift Focus to Ballots

To further their causes, Democrats are bypassing lawmakers and turning to voters. BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

Black, Gay and HIV Positive: A Long-Neglected Group

Alarming infection rates bring more attention to treatment in communities of color. BY Mattie Quinn
Infrastructure & Environment

Why Women Could Be the Key to Curbing Water Pollution

In Minnesota, women will be paid to persuade resistant farmers to care and do something about the state's increasingly polluted waterways. BY Daniel C. Vock
Economic Engines

De-Industrialization and the Displaced Worker

The shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a technology- and services-based one hasn’t been kind to the middle and working classes. That won’t change anytime soon. BY Aaron M. Renn
Urban Notebook

The Perils and Promises of a Popular Yet Controversial Financing Method

Tax increment financing has been used to build stadiums, libraries and parks. BY Scott Beyer

PROBLEM SOLVER

Public Safety & Justice

The Daily Crisis Cops Aren’t Trained to Handle

Ten percent of 911 calls involve mental health situations that most police aren’t prepared to deal with, leading to sometimes tragic outcomes. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

States Struggle to Manage Medical Transportation

Millions of disabled, sick and elderly people rely on medical transportation that can leave them stranded for hours in times of need. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

When Women Have Power

They’re more likely to use the tools of government in new ways. Just look at Kym Worthy in Detroit or Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

4 Reasons Data Analytics Often Fail

It’s one of the hottest trends in the public sector, but it’s not easy to succeed with data. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Redefining ‘Special Districts’ Could Have Big Taxing Consequences

If the IRS gets its way, it may be harder for special districts to issue tax-exempt municipal bonds. BY Frank Shafroth
Infrastructure & Environment

Remembering Cincinnati’s Old Streetcars

As the city prepares to debut new streetcars, here’s a last look at their old ones. BY David Kidd