TABLE of CONTENTS September 2015

Cover Story

Southern Louisiana Picks a Fight With Big Oil to Save the Wetlands

BY Chris Kardish

The region's coastal marshes are disappearing, making it even more vulnerable to storms like Katrina. Municipalities want to make the state’s biggest industry pay for the damage.

FEATURES

Scott Pruitt: America's Sue-Happy State AG

Oklahoma’s Republican attorney general sues the federal government -- and even other states -- every chance he can get. Will his legal battles change the future of American politics? BY J.B. Wogan

Assessing the Nation’s Most Ambitious Education Reforms, 1 Year Later

As states around the country embrace Tennessee’s turnaround model, the experience of one Memphis high school shows policymakers about its potential and perils. BY John Buntin

The Illusion of Cities' Recovery From the Recession

In many ways, Colorado Springs and other cities have rebounded. But things aren’t as good as they seem. BY Zach Patton

Paid Family Leave Gets New Momentum in States

Politics and funding have often stymied the legislative push to pay employees forced to take time off to care for newborns or sick family members. But attitudes about work-life balance are shifting. BY Liz Farmer

OBSERVER

Politics

In Politics, Chambers of Commerce Carve Their Niche

The business community has a reputation for being skeptical about public spending and regulations. But on some issues, they're actually government’s strongest ally. BY Alan Greenblatt
Urban

Urban Planning Inspires an Opera

A new opera seeks to capture the conflict between two of the 20th-century titans who shaped American cities. BY J.B. Wogan
Management & Labor

How One Government Manager Plans to Get More Women in Power

Women make up nearly half of public-sector workers but just over 10 percent of city managers -- a rate that's barely budged in three decades. BY Liz Farmer
Politics

Ohio's New Ethics Strategy: Public Shaming Politicians

To deter questionable (but not necessarily illegal) conduct, the state plans to publicize when officials abuse their power. BY Mike Maciag

POLITICS + POLICY

Assessments

The Panhandler Dilemma

When cities try to regulate them, they find themselves in a legal minefield. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

State and Local Governments' Ticking Debt Bomb

The U.S. may not be the next Greece, but it must face up to some hard decisions. BY Peter Harkness
Politics

The Governor at War With Both Political Parties

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has become so unpopular with lawmakers that many Democrats and Republicans have united against him. What does that mean for the next three years? BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

Why Expanding Medicaid Doesn't Always Make People Healthier

New research shows that having affordable health insurance can improve people's health -- but only if a state’s health-care system actually works. BY Chris Kardish
Infrastructure & Environment

How to Conserve Water Without Bankrupting Water Utilities

The more water people save, the more money utilities lose. But new pricing models could change that. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

The New Unemployables

Drugs, crime and the social ills long associated with urban areas have migrated to rural America, and it's having a profound effect on the economy. BY Aaron M. Renn
Urban Notebook

What Cuba Can Teach America About Ride-Sharing

Havana has a complex Uber-like system that might be worth imitating in U.S. cities. BY Scott Beyer

PROBLEM SOLVER

Public Safety & Justice

Where Police Don't Mirror Communities and Why It Matters

Minorities are underrepresented in nearly every large law enforcement agency in America. Some police agencies are now looking to change that. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

The Importance of Listening to Public Employees Complain

Government agencies can learn a lot from tracking and analyzing grievance claims. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

People Who Prove Broken Government Can Work

Laws and regulations make it increasingly difficult for public officials to get anything done. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

The City That Incorporated Social Media Into Everything

In Roanoke, Va., Facebook, Twitter and all their social-network cousins have a home in every government agency. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Municipal Bondholders Beware

The recent bankruptcy rulings in California and Michigan protected retirees’ pensions. But at what expense? BY Frank Shafroth
Infrastructure & Environment

Baltimore’s European-Inspired Bus Stop

Playful bus stop designs are common overseas but relatively new to America. BY Elizabeth Daigneau