TABLE of CONTENTS November 2015

Boston's classic triple-decker homes have long been an affordable choice for middle-class families. Now that's changing. (FlickrCC/Blake Gumprecht)
Cover Story

Where Can Families Live?

BY Mike Maciag

In many urban centers, families are finding themselves priced out of the market for housing large enough to accommodate them. Some cities are trying to fix the problem, but it’s not easy.

FEATURES

The Man Supposed to Fix America’s Relationship With Cops

Obama called on Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, among others, to change the future of law enforcement. Will his unorthodox ideas make a difference or just alienate his fellow officers? BY John Buntin

Inside One State's Longest Budget Showdown in History

Businessman Bruce Rauner, the first Illinois governor with no prior political experience, promised to "shake up Springfield." Now he and lawmakers are locked in the state's longest budget showdown -- with no end in sight. BY Daniel C. Vock

Welcome to Jobs Inc., Where States Have Little Say

Several states have decided the way to juice up economic development is to turn it over to a corporation outside the government bureaucracy. Is it working? BY Alan Greenblatt

Can Combined Care Help the Most Vulnerable (and Expensive) Patients?

In an attempt to cut costs and improve care, some states are merging coverage for patients who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. It’s a bold experiment that’s off to a rocky start. BY Bara Vaida

OBSERVER

Finance

Why Economists’ Predictions Are Usually Wrong

They almost always fail to foresee a recession before it happens. But there are ways they can improve their insights. BY Liz Farmer
Politics

The State Where Women Take the Lead

Oregon has long had more women in top political positions than practically any other state. There may be several reasons why. BY Alan Greenblatt
Education

States Are Putting the Brakes on Driver’s Ed

Over the last decade, many have stopped funding it. Are the roads more dangerous? BY Alan Greenblatt
Management & Labor

Gabe Klein on Government Experimentation, Uber and Self-Driving Cars

A leader in urban innovation in both the public and private sectors, Gabe Klein offers lessons for local leaders around the country. BY Daniel C. Vock

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

Why ‘Costs’ and ‘Savings’ Are Often an Illusion

Most public policy decisions are best described as transfers of wealth where somebody wins and somebody loses. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

Plan B for Ending the Gun Epidemic

Federal firearm laws are unlikely to change, so it’s up to states and localities to lead a societal effort. BY Peter Harkness
Politics

How One City Is Increasing Diversity in Politics

Seattle is largely run by older white men, but changes in the city's election law will likely make its politicians more representative of the people. BY Alan Greenblatt
Public Safety & Justice

The Calming of Incarcerated Minds

Meditation can improve inmates’ mental health better than traditional care, which is why it’s being reintroduced in some prisons. BY Penelope Lemov
Infrastructure & Environment

Is 2015 the Year of the Electric (Government) Car?

There are reasons to believe America is at a turning point for changing the cars that cops and other public employees drive. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

What Is the Real American Dream?

In our nostalgia for the postwar era, we ignore some things that weren’t so good. BY Aaron M. Renn
Urban Notebook

Puerto Rico’s Biggest City Is Its Biggest Problem

The island’s future depends a lot on San Juan. BY Scott Beyer

PROBLEM SOLVER

Urban

What America’s Biggest Counties Have in Common

When Americans move, they generally stay within one region. But some of the most populated counties are attracting higher rates of new residents from far away. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

How Tennessee Transformed the Way It Hires and Fires People

The state’s successful civil service reforms offer lessons for other governments. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

What Costco Can Teach the Public Sector

Organizations that invest in their workers reap the biggest gains. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

States Are Slacking on Cybersecurity

A recent audit finds California’s efforts are woefully inadequate. And that’s the good news. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

The Always Tricky Reverse-Commuter Tax

When cities try to tax people who work in one place and live in another, things get really complicated really fast. BY Frank Shafroth
Infrastructure & Environment

Why Commute by Road or Rail When You Can Ride in the Sky?

Portland, Ore., is home to one of only two aerial commuter trams in the United States. BY David Kidd