TABLE of CONTENTS October 2016

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Cover Story

How Unregulated Dark Money Is Reshaping State Politics

BY Alan Greenblatt

Several governors are using nonprofits to get themselves elected and promote their agendas once in office -- without ever having to disclose where the money came from.

FEATURES

Are Voter ID Laws Dead? That Depends.

Judges are starting to strike down the laws, calling them racist. But their survival depends on the outcome of the November election. BY Daniel C. Vock

You Voted Where? Unusual Polling Places in America

These are some of the nation’s most surprising, unique and out-of-the-way spots where people cast their ballots. BY Ryan Donnell

Welfare and the Underappreciated Value of Long-Term Thinking

A new approach asks recipients to look past short-term work and instead focus on making choices that will improve the rest of their lives. BY J.B. Wogan

Tennessee’s Free College Program Is Popular, But Will It Succeed?

As states consider following Tennessee’s footsteps, they’ll be closely watching its experience. BY Mattie Quinn

OBSERVER

Politics

The Political Blood Feud in the Bluegrass

Rarely do politicians quarrel as openly as Kentucky’s governor and attorney general. Family ties may have something to do with it. BY Alan Greenblatt
Elections

How Old Is Too Old to Be a Judge? Voters in 4 States Got to Decide.

Voters generally agreed to raise the age limits -- but not do away with them altogether. BY Alan Greenblatt
Infrastructure & Environment

Phoenix’s Ambitious Plan to Beat the Desert Heat

In just over a decade, officials want to cover a quarter of the city in shade. BY Alan Greenblatt
Management & Labor

From Hundreds to Thousands of Inspections: How Pittsburgh Is Winning the Permit Game

It was once practically impossible to get a building inspected in the city. Now it’s easier than ever. BY Alan Greenblatt

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

For Economic Development Gold, Listen to the Music

The stadiums that cities invest in often end up losing money. There’s another, more profitable option: music festivals. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

What Kaine or Pence Will Bring to the Vice Presidency

As the first governor on the job in almost half a century, either one of them will present new opportunities for the White House. BY Donald F. Kettl
Elections

In South Dakota, Voters Get Rare Chance to Transform Politics

Advocates around the country are weighing in on ballot measures that would drastically change South Dakota's elections, weaken the state’s Republican Party and send a message all over. BY Daniel Vock
Health & Human Services

Why's It So Hard to Connect Health to Social Factors?

One of the goals of President Obama's signature health reform is to focus more on population health, but the programs are off to a slow start. BY Mattie Quinn
Infrastructure & Environment

Hoping for the Success They Had Against Tobacco, State AGs Unite to Fight Climate Change

But there's a major difference between today’s efforts and the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

Before Joining the Bike-Lane Craze, Consider This

There are many questions that need to be answered before reducing Americans' beloved car space. BY Alex Marshall
Urban Notebook

Are Cities Growing or Not?

As it turns out, there is no one answer. BY William Fulton

PROBLEM SOLVER

Management & Labor

For Some, 'Ban-the-Box' Laws Are Making It Harder to Get a Job

The laws are meant to make it easier for ex-felons to get hired. But they're having the opposite impact on some people who don't even have a criminal history. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

What Happens When Privatization Doesn't Work Out

Whether it's prisons in Idaho or pensions in Michigan, several states are moving their outsourced services back in-house. BY Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene
Better Government

D.C.’s Metro and the Power of a P3

If the District of Columbia’s transit system was a public-private partnership, some say it wouldn't be falling apart right now. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Artificial Intelligence: The Next Big Thing in Government

The White House just released a report on the future of artificial intelligence. Some governments are already using A.I., but it could have a far wider impact. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

A Better Way to Measure Pension Debt's Danger

'Overlapping' is often ignored, resulting in misleading assumptions about government liabilities. BY Justin Marlowe
Infrastructure & Environment

The Newest State Park in America

It’s also one of the oldest tourist destinations. BY Elizabeth Daigneau