TABLE of CONTENTS November 2016

Touch-screen voting, c. 2008 (Alejandra Laviada/Polaris)
Cover Story

Voting Technology Needs an Upgrade, But Who Will Pay for It?

BY J.B. Wogan

Even though most polls are working with decades-old machines that lose or miscount votes, states and the federal government are largely ignoring the problem.

FEATURES

From Police Shootings to Playground Injuries, Lawsuits Drain Cities' Budgets

Municipalities spend more than a billion dollars a year on settlements and claims from citizens. Some are trying hard to rein in those costs. BY Mike Maciag

David Brown's Career Highlights Difficulties of Reforming Police

The Dallas police chief was hailed as a national leader, yet his own cops wanted him to quit. BY John Buntin

Fixing the Nation’s Second Busiest Transit System, From Every Direction

Washington, D.C.’s Metro has many daunting problems, partially because of the unique way it’s funded and managed. Its new management team is tasked with fixing all of them. BY Daniel C. Vock

A Sneak Peek of the Seismic Shift in Corporate Tax Breaks

New rules are forcing states and localities to calculate how much revenue they’re losing to business deals -- and whether they pay off. It’s something Washington state has been doing for a decade. BY Liz Farmer

OBSERVER

Public Safety & Justice

The End of Private Prisons in America? Not So Fast.

The federal government is closing them, but that doesn’t mean states will. BY Alan Greenblatt
Finance

This Nonprofit Is Funding Good Ideas From People, Not Big Organizations

It’s part of a new philanthropic approach to improving neighborhoods. BY Alan Greenblatt
Elections

Who Should Judge the Judges?

That age-old debate got a fresh hearing in Georgia. BY Alan Greenblatt
Management & Labor

A Symbol of Government Failure Gets a Second Chance

The site of a long-gone but still-criticized public housing complex in St. Louis is being redeveloped. Will history repeat itself? BY Alan Greenblatt

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

The Reality of Mayors’ Economic Promises

They vow to rev up the local economy all the time, exposing their misunderstanding of cities and political office. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

The Upside of Police Chiefs' Recent Departures

They’re stepping down in cities across the country, opening up opportunities for major change. BY Peter Harkness
Elections

Why Politicians Shouldn’t Sweat the Primaries 

It’s nearly impossible for incumbents to lose a primary. So when they do get the boot, what happened? BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

Electronic Health Reforms Left Babies Behind

With most newborn screenings still done on paper, there’s a born-again push to improve and speed up the process for detecting health problems. BY Mattie Quinn
Infrastructure & Environment

As Composting Gains Popularity, Cities Struggle to Meet Demand

Americans want to live more sustainable lives. Can governments keep up? BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

Looking Back From the Future

Understanding how some cities have transformed shows why focusing on the little things can help struggling places survive and thrive. BY Aaron M. Renn
Urban Notebook

When Texas Stopped Looking and Feeling Like Mexico

They still share a border, but the cities along it differ in nearly every way possible. BY Scott Beyer

PROBLEM SOLVER

Finance

States Increase Tabs They Keep on Municipalities’ Fiscal Health

Chapter 9 bankruptcies and debt defaults have driven a surge in monitoring -- and the localities seem to appreciate it. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

Colorado Governor’s Plan to Poach Corporate Leaders

John Hickenlooper hopes to recruit high-level talent for the next generation of public officials. BY Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene
Better Government

America’s 20-Year Winter

Some economists say the country goes through two-decade-long seasons, each requiring its own kind of leader. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Cities Closely Watching Chicago’s Version of a Fitbit

The city is installing sensors that could reveal a lot about the best way for governments to use smart technology. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Will Clinton or Trump’s Tax Plans Trickle Down?

Both candidates have vowed to reform the tax code. But neither has said how their plans would impact states and localities. BY Frank Shafroth
Health & Human Services

Big Idea for a Small Space: Tiny Houses for the Homeless

Yuba County, Calif., is just the latest government to join the craze. BY Elizabeth Daigneau