TABLE of CONTENTS September 2013

Cover Story

California Republicans Try to Reenergize the GOP

BY John Buntin

The California Republican Party’s willingness to embrace unconventional leadership may provide insights into what the GOP will need to do to win elections nationally in the coming era of the white minority.

FEATURES

Will Common Core Help or Hurt Schools’ Cheating Problem?

From Georgia to Texas, teacher evaluation systems always seem to lead to dishonest behavior. States hope the new Common Core standards will be different. BY John Buntin

How Connecticut’s Breaking Down the Traditional Caseworker Model

Facing smaller staffs and budgets, nearly every state or local agency serving the poor has struggled to do so in a timely manner. A new approach in Connecticut is getting social services to people cheaper and faster. BY J.B. Wogan

Is Hydropower a Renewable Energy or Not?

As states set ambitious goals to increase their use of renewable energies, hydropower could help them meet their goals. But environmental concerns have kept investment in hydropower to a trickle. BY J.B. Wogan

New York Offers Volunteer Firefighters a Place to Retire

Since 1895, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York has operated a home for volunteer firefighters. It’s the only home of its kind in the country. BY J.B. Wogan

POLITICS + POLICY

Finance

Are Casinos Still a Safe Bet?

Delaware lost revenue when its neighboring states opened their own casinos -- something that’s happening around the nation. But some argue that even with more competition and less profit, states are still winning. BY J.B. Wogan
Management & Labor

Will Washington, D.C.’s Defiance Toward Walmart Spread?

Even though Walmart threatened to pull the plug on plans for D.C. stores if the City Council passed a bill to force it to pay more than the minimum wage, they passed it anyway. Labor advocates are hoping more cities will follow. BY J.B. Wogan
By the Numbers

As Obesity Measures Gain Prevalence, Limitations Exist for Policymaking

Both doctors and public officials are aware of the limitations created by using body mass index to define obesity, which is now considered a disease. But no clear alternative has emerged. BY Mike Maciag
Columns

Hypocrisy in the USA: States Can't Resist Bossing Around Localities

One minute, states are complaining about the federal government meddling in their business. The next, they're imposing dictatorial mandates on localities. BY Mike Maciag
Dispatch

The Blurred Lines Between Social Media and Censorship

Indiana’s governor and D.C.’s transit agency got caught up in controversies after removing comments off their social media accounts. The takeaway? Public officials need to learn to keep their fingers off the delete button. BY Mike Maciag
Potomac Chronicle

What (Not) to Expect from Congress This Session

Congress is back, but don’t expect the players in this sad comedy to know or care much about how any pieces of legislation they pass will affect our states, regions or metros. BY Mike Maciag
FedWatch

The White House’s Plan to Win Over Anti-Obamacare States

When residents in places that aren’t expanding Medicaid or setting up their own health exchanges are denied insurance, the feds will tell them who to blame: their state. BY Mike Maciag
Health & Human Services

California Tackles Runaway Hospital Pricing

The state’s competitive experiment, being watched by both the public and private sectors, has dropped the cost of health care without sacrificing quality. BY Mike Maciag
View

America's Wasting Trash-to-Energy Potential, Supporters Say

The practice of converting waste into energy isn't new, but its advocates argue that it’s underutilized in America. BY Mike Maciag
Economic Engines

Goodbye Governing, Hello San Diego

After 26 years, this journalist will stop writing and start doing in San Diego as the city’s newest urban planner. BY Mike Maciag
Urban Notebook

Do Parking Minimums Hurt Housing Affordability?

Some cities think they do, and are moving to change parking mandates to encourage more affordable apartments. BY Mike Maciag

PROBLEM SOLVER

By the Numbers

Farm Bill Holds Fate of Food Stamp Program

The cuts and changes Congress has been weighing to the farm bill could knock millions off SNAP rolls and reverse years of progress states have made in streamlining applications. See data showing how each state could be affected. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

Why Do So Many Governments Resist Benchmarking?

Beyond fear of disclosure, there are a number of reasons states and localities may not want to engage in benchmarking. BY Mike Maciag
Better Government

The Public Safety Tipping Point: When Saving Money Loses Lives

You can only tell you're not spending enough on public safety when it’s too late. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

What CIOs Need to Achieve Their Top 3 Priorities

CIOs won’t get anywhere without close cooperation with political leaders and agency managers. BY Mark Funkhouser
Public Money

The Secret Tax Explosion

Special districts are growing like weeds—and raising tax burdens as they proliferate. BY Mark Funkhouser
Politics

Sept. 2013 Last Look: California Gov. Jerry Brown’s ‘Unfinished’ Portrait

The governor's portrait from his first two terms was so unpopular it was banished to a third-floor stairwell. BY Mark Funkhouser