Christopher Swope was previously GOVERNING's executive editor. Currently, he is the Project Director, Information, at the Pew Center on the States.

Christopher Swope
May 1, 2014

How Zambian Cities Are Like American Suburbs

While the two regions’ poverty problems are difficult to compare, both places have ignored the needs of their struggling populations -- until now.

Las Vegas Rolls the Dice on a New City Hall

Mayor Oscar Goodman sees a new city hall as the catalyst that will set off a wave of development downtown.

The Fascinating History of Parking

It's the untold chapter of America's love affair with its cars.

An Iconic 'Super Suburb' Seeks an Urban Makeover

Can Tysons Corner break with its auto-choked past?

Cyclists: Traffic Scofflaws

Cities are asking bikers to obey the rules.

A Competition to Re-Think the Suburbs

A little bit of absurdity may not be such a bad thing.

Urban Harvest

For urban agriculture to work, however, we'll need to stop talking about it in utopian terms.

High Time for the High Line

New York City is creating a park in the sky
June 3, 2009

NYC Transportation Commissioner on Shutting Down Broadway

Photo by Christopher Swope Janette Sadik-Khan is the transportation commissioner of New York City, and a leading proponent of idea that streets serve many uses...

Meet the Mayor

Touring the world of small-town mayors.
May 31, 2009

The Great White Right of Way

The biggest production on Broadway this summer won't be in a theater. Rather, the show will be out in the street, starring the road itself....
May 31, 2009

Envisioning the New Great White Way

The biggest production on Broadway this summer won't be in a theater. Rather, the show will be out in the street, starring the road itself....


The cul-de-sac, that symbol of suburban bliss, seems to be going out of favor.
April 30, 2009

Great Park Takes Shape

Ask 10 people what a park should be, and you're likely to get 10 different answers. Some think parks are for strolling, hiking, bicycling or rollerblading. Others...

A Gentler Jackhammer

No one would confuse Manhattan with a library reading room. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg's thinking did produce a noise code that is now a national model.
March 31, 2009

Road to Katrinaville

The idea of the Katrina cottage was always bigger than the house itself. It started with New Urbanist architects, who began drawing pictures of colorful...

Philly Aglow

The head of Philadelphia's business improvement district set out to bring European-style lighting to Philly's arts district,
December 31, 2008

One Crowded Capital

Nobody knows for sure how many people will descend on Washington, D.C., this month to witness Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Mayor Adrian Fenty has...
November 30, 2008

Flakes of Danger

As winter sets in, mayors in northern climes may want to reflect on something that David Axelrod, one of the masterminds of Barack Obama's presidential...
May 31, 2008

Revolution in the Stacks

Shalique Edmond has come to the Loft at Charlotte's children's library, as he does nearly every Saturday, to record a hip-hop song. In the library's...
December 31, 2007

The Man Who Owns Flint

On a cold, gray day in Flint, Michigan, Dan Kildee is walking down Stone Street. Like a lot of residential blocks in Flint, it looks...

Parks for Sale

Want to buy a city park? Detroit is looking at putting 92 of its parks up for sale. Most of them are tiny "pocket parks" in de-populating neighborhoods.
November 1, 2007

Cool Pragmatist

In his first inaugural speech, Bill White urged Houston to "embrace strangers." At the time, the new mayor didn't know just how much his call for inclusiveness, a big theme in his 2003 campaign, would be put to the test. Less than two years later, Hurricane Katrina would ravage Louisiana and Mississippi, and more than 100,000 strangers--neighbors, White likes to say--showed up on Houston's doorstep. Mayor White, and his city, gave them a bear hug.

Shrink Rap

On a sunny afternoon in Pittsburgh several weeks ago, a few dozen civic leaders from declining industrial cities met on the 31st floor of a downtown skyscraper.
October 12, 2007

Heads Up: 10.12.07

The rich really do get richer. WSJ (paid subsc) Why do MN docs see fewer pharma sales reps?  NYT  Detroit already has one ...
October 11, 2007

Heads Up: 10.11.07

Deer Park, that's an interesting tax! Chicago Trib Where the subprime loans are. (Hint: everywhere). WSJ (paid subsc) Outgoing head of AEI tells all about ...
October 10, 2007

Heads Up: 10.10.07

Can a California Raisin wannabe teach transit civility to a 17 year old? Our tipster in Sacramento thinks not. Bee Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles is everywhere. ...
September 1, 2007

Tough Times For Locals

Florida lawmakers make deep cuts in the property tax and leave it to voters to OK even deeper cuts.

Fears of Collapse

Since last month's bridge disaster in Minneapolis, everyone's heard about America's 75,000 "structurally deficient" bridges. Although the label doesn't mean any of them are about to fall, the staggering stat reminds us how much government at all levels has neglected its infrastructure.

Something in the Water

Want to know how hooked on drugs your town is? There's a remarkable and rather gross new way to find out. Scientists now believe they can measure the prevalence of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin in a community's raw sewage.
August 30, 2007

Muni WiFi: Not Dead Yet

Two bits of news have some media outlets putting municipal WiFi on life support.

Desert Downtown

A few years ago, I went to Phoenix in July. The temperature downtown was 106 degrees in the shade. Walking from my hotel to the convention center was a sweaty, lonely experience. Nobody else seemed brave enough, or perhaps dumb enough, to venture into this kiln on foot.
July 27, 2007

Heads Up: 7.27.07

WiFi may end a NJ institution: the beach badge. Newsday David Broder: Guvs on the sidelines in race for president. WaPo Wall Street relishes as ...
July 26, 2007

The Naked Road

What happens when you rip out all of the pedestrian "safety" features of a city street--the guardrails, the signposts, the white lines on ...
July 26, 2007

Heads Up: 7.26.07

Hurricane forecaster: global warming not linked to Atlantic storms. WSJ (paid subs) Study finds obesity spreads among social circles. WaPo FL spends $1 mil to tout ...
July 25, 2007

Heads Up: 7.25.07

Doctor shortage crimps MA health care experiment. WSJ Oakland weighs "goose poop Zamboni." SF Chronicle Iowa spends $4 million to save $3 million. Des Moines ...
July 25, 2007

Next Up For Zach: People Mag

Zach Patton, our colleague and 13th Floor blogmeister is out today. Which is the only reason why I'll get away with posting this item from ...
July 1, 2007

Domain Poisoning

How states and localities lost ground after their Supreme Court win on eminent domain--a tool they can use to turn around dying or dangerous neighborhoods.
July 1, 2007

A Revenue Revives

Left for dead, corporate income taxes are making an unexpected contribution to state income.

Sell Out Already!

The sale of naming rights for stadiums, arenas and other public buildings is not nearly as controversial as it used to be. Perhaps we've all grown accustomed to the weird ring of venues such as Quicken Loans Arena or Stadium. Or maybe, in an advertising- saturated world, we're now pros at tuning out corporate gobbledygook. Either way, our tolerance for sponsorship is growing
June 18, 2007

Don't Mess With Texas' Image

Last week, Texas followed in the footsteps of many states by passing a big tax break for movie productions. The hope, as always, is to ...
June 3, 2007

Surveying State Blogs

Attention, readers and writers of state blogs: Who are you? What blogs are you reading? What are you writing? Why? Don't tell me. Tell Emily ...
June 1, 2007

Heads Up: 6.1.07

Too-big big rig is a tin can in the Lincoln Tunnel. NYT Luxury hotel developer bets big on downtown Detroit. WSJ (paid subsc) Is Villaraigosa ...

In With the Old

One reason why the affordable housing problem seems so insurmountable is that we usually try to build our way out of it. There's never enough money to finance new homes for all the low-income people who could use them. And if you want to wake up the NIMBYs, just propose building a large subsidized housing complex.
May 31, 2007

Heads Up: 5.31.07

An artist's rendering of what an offshore wind farm would look like from the beach. WaPo A D.C. bureaucrat who's gettin' it done. WaPo ...
May 30, 2007

WiFi in the Ambulance

When I wrote about WiFi applications for government this month, I focused mostly on Corpus Christi, Texas, which has become something of a national laboratory ...
May 30, 2007

Heads Up: 5.30.07

Denver tests new model of child welfare. Rocky Mountain News Spitzer's new take on Wall Street. NYT NV Guv gets off to "suboptimal" ...
May 22, 2007

Sell Out Already

The selling of naming rights for stadiums, arenas and other public buildings is not nearly as controversial as it used to be. I'm not sure ...
May 21, 2007

Heads Up: 5.21.06

Is MI too broke to show the governors' convention a good time? Free Press Sal DiMasi: from Governing's cover to MA's top pol. Boston Globe. ...

Fiscal Romance

The town of Clayton, Missouri, loves neighboring Richmond Heights for its money. And Richmond Heights loves Clayton for its looks. If these two St. Louis suburbs get hitched, it'll be a Donald Trump-style wedding.
April 24, 2007

Big But on Baseball Bats

So much for the conservative crusade against the nanny state. Check out this quote from NYC, where the health issue du jour is baseball bats. ...
April 24, 2007

Queen of the State Blogs

I used to think that I'd keep up on state politics around the country by reading a lot of blogs. This was ages ago, maybe 2005, ...
April 20, 2007

On the Catwalk. On the Catwalk.

He was too sexy for his shirt. He was too sexy for your party. He was too sexy for Milan, New York and Japan. But ...
April 20, 2007

Heads Up: 4.20.07

Baby boomers are less fit than their parents. WaPo Corzine's well-wishers mix sympathy with resentment. NYT WSJ calls FL Gov. Crist's home insurance plan "...
April 19, 2007

Heads Up: 4.19.07

Crisis-prep refresher: Vincent T. Covello's 77 questions journalists ask during a crisis. Why governors drive dangerously fast. NYT Joel Kotkin says baby boomers will retire in ...
April 18, 2007

The First 100 Days...

How the time flies. The latest crop of new governors and mayors are finishing their first 100 days in office. Is the honeymoon over? Or are ...
April 5, 2007

If KITT Were a Bus, What Would He Say?

I've got Knight Rider on the brain. Really, I can't stop thinking about it. I didn't even watch the show much growing up. And I ...
March 15, 2007

A Better King

Talk about rebranding. King County, Washington was originally named in 1852 after Vice President William Rufus de Vane King, a plantation slave owner from Alabama. Later, ...
March 1, 2007

Static on the Grid

States that deregulated are trying to make competition work better for consumers and the state's power supply.


You can hardly blame Mayor Tom Menino for hating the building he works in. Boston's city hall is an intimidating concrete battleship from the 1960s. Nobody loves it except for a few architecture snobs, who value it as an icon of a style fittingly known as "Brutalism."
February 22, 2007

Warming Up in the Bullpen

For all the innovations that are spinning out of NYC under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the idea that almost no other mayors are stealing is the ...
February 1, 2007

Disasters Unlimited

Insurance companies see a potential Katrina almost everywhere they look. And they want homeowners to pay in advance.
January 26, 2007

Guerilla Video, Gone Too Far

Forget all those legislative issues to watch we told you about. The big issue in legislatures this year is going to be YouTube, or more ...
January 24, 2007

See Ya Later, Gas Tax

So President Bush now wants to cut gasoline use by 20 percent. What's not to love about that? Here's one thing, if you're in the state ...
January 23, 2007

More Wiki Wackiness

Oh Wikipedia, when will you grow up? The latest victim of wiki-vandalism is Philly Mayor John Street. A couple of days ago, it seems, Hizzoner's ...
January 22, 2007

Your Legislative Fantasies, Realized

There's fantasy baseball, fantasy football and fantasy basketball. And if you scrape around the internet a bit, you'll find that there's even fantasy lacrosse, fantasy ...
January 17, 2007


It wasn't so long ago -- what, 2005? -- when Google would blow my mind, week after week, with new web toys. Just when I'd get ...
January 12, 2007

Mayor on Blogging: The Smartest Thing I've Ever Done

I've been trading e-mails with Bill Gentes, the "Blogging Mayor of Round Lake" in Illinois. Hizzoner has been keeping a blog for about ...
January 11, 2007

Wither the City Manager?

I'm sure all the city manager types among you have seen this NYT story by now. If you haven't, get reading. According to the Times, ...
January 11, 2007

Gentrification Fight Takes to YouTube

This Old House it's not. But this video and others on YouTube, posted by preservation activists in Houston, does represent something of a breakthrough. The ...
January 5, 2007

For Sale: Jonathan Walters' Driveway

After reading my article on how state and local governments are selling off their toll roads, parking garages and other assets, Governing Correspondent Jonathan Walters ...
December 31, 2006

Unloading Assets

Richard M. Daley might say, with a wink and a nod, that he's got a bridge he'd like to sell you. Except that Daley has...
December 31, 2006

Bradley Abelow

Bradley Abelow is the treasurer of New Jersey. In September, he asked the investment bank UBS to scour state government for assets to consider selling...
December 31, 2006

Dana Levenson

Dana Levenson is the chief financial officer of Chicago. A former banker, Levenson came to city government in 2004 as Chicago was wrapping up its $1.83 billion...
December 31, 2006

Edwin Harrison

Edwin Harrison is director of financial services for Harris County, Texas. Last year, Harris County looked into selling or leasing its 83 miles worth of toll...
December 19, 2006

Heads Up: 12.19.06

Philly heads explode with excitement over new Rocky flick. Inquirer Ding! St. Charles streetcar rides again in New Orleans. Times Picayune Will India follow U....
December 11, 2006

Nature's Redevelopment

Within minutes of arriving at the National League of Cities conference in Reno last week, I was out the door on a bus tour of ...
December 1, 2006

Competition For Credit Raters

Muni-bond issuers could have more agencies to choose from.
December 1, 2006

The 24-Hour Rush

In many metro areas, distinct periods of congestion have morphed into heavy traffic all day long.
December 1, 2006

A Question of Hours

Recent court rulings fail to settle a firestorm over how localities should deal with overtime pay for paramedics.
December 1, 2006

Bus Shelters Get a New Smell

I'm pretty keen on the marketing power of public transportation. Here in D.C. lately, brown-wrapped city buses have been turned into massive candy bars, ...
November 22, 2006

Just Ride It

If you were the C.E.O. of an airline, say, or a chain of restaurants, it would be pretty easy to put yourself in ...
November 3, 2006

Oregon Indexes Min Wage, Sky Doesn't Fall

As 13th floor readers know, I believe that indexing the minimum wage to inflation would be an excellent way to get Democrats and Republicans to ...
November 1, 2006

California's Auto Upgrade

Car insurance rates in the state can no longer be based first and foremost on the driver's address.
November 1, 2006

Abolitionist Apostle

On a mission to end chronic homelessness.
November 1, 2006

Checkout Challenge

I hope that every super- market executive in the country sees these pictures. What they show is the checkout line at the Trader Joe's grocery ...
October 19, 2006

Fried Coke Is More It Than Ever

The fried Coca-Cola craze is on. According to the Dallas Morning News, two more states--Arizona and North Carolina--are joining Texas in serving fried Coke at ...
October 17, 2006

Fenty v. Bobb

Here comes the next battle royale for control of a big-city school system. And it's happening right here on the streets below the 13th floor. ...
October 16, 2006

Heads Up: 10.16.06

Why do fewer people vote these days? WSJ (paid subsc) Forget hacking. Vote fraud's real problem is the voter database. MIT Tech Review Inner city ...
October 10, 2006

Fried Coke Is It

You've probably heard about "fried Coke," the latest delicacy at the fried-food bonanza that is the Texas State Fair. Well, I had the ...
October 8, 2006

Happy Columbus Day!

We're not working today because, frankly, neither are you. This is a new holiday for us here on the 13th floor -- thanks HR! -- ...
October 5, 2006


Reporters generally dislike press spokespeople. That's mostly because the P.R. folks, whom we call "flacks," make more money than we do. But ...
October 5, 2006

Heads Up: 10.5.06

Mormons like walkability in SLC. Salt Lake Tribune Are online classes easy As? UC cracks down. SacBee "Do they wear shoes?" One city's ...
October 4, 2006

An Inconvenient Poll

Still doubting global warming? Alaskans aren't--and they have a better read on the situation than the rest of us. A new poll shows that four ...
October 4, 2006

Heads Up: 10.4.06

Who are all those Goldman Sachs alums running New Jersey? NY Times Omaha discovers urban design. Metropolis What to do with that obsolete convention center? ...
October 2, 2006

Modern or Mundane?

As I wrote in October's Governing, mid-century modernism is turning 50. That means a slew of ranch houses, boxy glass office buildings and mimimalist concrete monuments ...
September 22, 2006

Hear Evil, See No Evil

Now I'm all in favor of town hall meetings, feedback sessions, listening tours, whatever you want to call 'em. But this is pretty funny. The ...
September 19, 2006

How to Hack a Voting Machine

Wanna know how to hack the election? Not only have some scientists at Princeton told us how to do it. They've also made a hacker-friendly ...
September 15, 2006

What's Really in McGreevey's Closet

Brace yourselves. In the next week you'll hear more than you probably cared to know about Jim McGreevey's sex life. As the ex-NJ Guv's tell-all ...
September 6, 2006

On the Fence '06

DC Mayor: Who Should Chris Vote For? Boring Establishment Candidate Brash Charismatic Candidate Make Free Polls Help! Next Tuesday, we here in Washington, D.C., ...
August 31, 2006

Fuel on the Fire

When it comes to disaster preparedness, sometimes you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. Just ask the folks in storm-wary south ...
August 29, 2006


You could forgive Maryland Guv hopeful Martin O'Malley if Watergate crossed his mind. It seems an intruder broke into his Baltimore campaign office the other ...
August 23, 2006

Bad Reefers

Sinking ships, airplanes or even piles of rocks in the ocean to form aritificial reefs is a good idea. My dad, an avid SCUBA diver ...
August 21, 2006

Not So Sharpe

We gave you a Heads Up about this a little earlier, but it deserves a little more discussion. You can hardly blame Sharpe James. He ...
August 21, 2006

Pension Woes Mounting?

My "pension doom ahead" folder is bursting with clips lately. E.J. McMahon, writing in today's WSJ (paid subsc), argues that public pension ...
August 17, 2006

More Bobbletower Fun

Thanks to one of our readers for pointing out that the famous Leaning Tower of Sioux Falls, SD, the undemolishable ZIP Feed mill, is now ...
August 11, 2006

The Governor of Seattle

D.C. United, our hometown soccer club, played Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw the other night in a match played in Seattle. ...
August 9, 2006

Sensationalism on Parade

Most Sunday mornings when I read the newspaper, my issue of Parade Magazine goes straight into the garbage can, along with all the other stuff ...
July 21, 2006

Gulf Coast Day 5: The Wake in Waveland

There is so much destruction up and down the Mississippi coast that you can become inured to the sight of bombed out buildings and concrete ...
July 20, 2006

Gulf Coast Day 4: Big Box Bonanza

Like many of the towns along Mississippi's Gulf Coast, Gulfport has fallen in love with New Urbanism since Katrina. The city has held a series ...
July 19, 2006

Gulf Coast Day 3: Don't Leave Me High, Don't Leave Me Dry

Biloxi Councilman George Lawrence took me for a drive through his ward yesterday. It's a U-shaped gerrymander around the point of East Biloxi, where people ...
July 18, 2006

Gulf Coast Day 2: Well Hedged

Biloxi is a town that likes a good bet. Before Katrina, the city was pulling in $20 million a year in revenue from casinos. But how's ...
July 17, 2006

Gulf Coast Day 1: A Tale of Two Cities

I'll be down on the Gulf Coast all week, working on a year-after Katrina story. I'm focusing more on Mississippi (Rob Gurwitt drew the Louisiana ...
July 14, 2006

Pee in a Cup. Right Now.

How's this for a double dog dare? Bridgeport, Conn., Mayor John Fabrizi,  who not long ago confessed to a coke habit, declares that he's ...
June 30, 2006

Who Needs a Governor's Mansion?

NJ Guv Jon Corzine isn't getting much sleep these days, what with a budget showdown looming and the Delaware River bursting its banks. So yesterday ...
June 29, 2006

A Bobblehead Too Far

Need more proof that the bobblehead craze is three years past peak? Introducing the state legislator bobblehead, starring New York Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. ...
June 27, 2006

The Sarbox Tax

I'm doing some reporting on corporate income taxes, and looking at why collections are shooting up so fast in almost all 50 states (See this NGA/...
June 27, 2006

WiFi Buzzkill

Uh oh. The New York Times popped the question that no city official who's drunk on WiFi hype wants to think about. Here it is: ...
June 26, 2006


Why do management fads come and go so fast? Blame consultants, says a new study, reported in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (paid subscription). Looking at ...
June 26, 2006

Profile in Courage

When Doug Duncan dropped out of the Maryland governor's race last week due to his  struggles with clinical depression, he achieved a civic good ...
June 1, 2006

Is There a Druggist in the House?

A Florida county brings the pharmacy to its workplace
June 1, 2006

In the Zone

The pictorial approach to building codes
June 1, 2006

Stranded Seniors

Suburban life revolves around the car. When elderly residents are no longer able to drive, getting around gets complicated.
May 18, 2006

Hybrids in the HOV: It Works!

For as long as states such as Arizona, California and Virginia have let drivers of hybrid-electric cars ride solo in highway carpool lanes, there's only ...
May 12, 2006

The Blogging Bill Bratton

Add LAPD Chief and noted gang-buster Bill Bratton to the list of high-profile local bloggers. Bratton's opening post today calls the newly launched LAPD blog &...
May 11, 2006


I've just spent an hour listening to various governors' podcasts. I wouldn't normally fill my mornings with such masochism. But ever since my optometrist squirted ...
May 1, 2006

When Winning is Losing

Eminent domain is now a hammer property rights proponents are using to alter zoning codes.
April 25, 2006

Whose Roadkill is This?

Local governments always complain about states passing responsibilities (and costs) down to them. But this takes the cake. NJ Guv Jon Corzine is proposing to ...
April 21, 2006

The Patronage Trap, ctd.

There's an interesting debate over political patronage going on at Illinois' Capitol Fax Blog. You'll want to check it out, especially if you're one of ...
April 21, 2006

A Little Less Creative

Burnt out on the Richard Florida wars yet? Wait! There's more! The Census Bureau just released some data on domestic migration. By this gauge, the ...
April 19, 2006

Sell American

So you're thinking of selling off a highway or two. But you saw how that whole Dubai ports thing shook out. Foreign ownership = bad politics, ...
April 14, 2006

He Does Know Disasters

I was aware that Michael D. Brown, that is, Brownie, the man who depending on your point of view either botched the feds' response to ...
April 13, 2006

To Zone or Not to Zone

Among land-use planners, Houston, the only big city without zoning, is a handy punch line. Houstonians, in turn, tend to sound both defensive and Texas-proud ...
April 13, 2006

Walkable Tax Breaks

Critics have long called tax incentives for businesses "corporate welfare." But are those tax breaks any better if they're directed at companies that ...
April 12, 2006

How to Fix the Property Tax

Eric Anderson, the city manager of Tacoma, came by the 13th Floor last week and floated an interesting idea: What if we paid for local ...
April 3, 2006


What do you get when you cross the plumbers' union with flushless toilets? A political disaster, if you're Philadelphia. The city, it seems, has been ...
April 3, 2006

Flu Pandemic: Fend for Yourself

Maybe this goes without saying, after Katrina. But lately Mike Leavitt, the federal health secretary, has been saying it directly to local officials: you're on ...
April 1, 2006

Wiki Skirmishes

Online profiles of politicians have become battlegrounds for both spin doctors and mischief makers.
March 28, 2006

Life in the Plutoburbs

Here in the D.C. area, everyone knows the most rapid growth is occuring out in the exurbs. A list of fast-growing counties without Virginia's ...
March 27, 2006

P.R. on a Platter

There are two tried-and-true routes to good P.R. You can earn it through effective spin, or buy it through effective advertising. Now Alaska Guv ...
March 24, 2006

Technicolor Transit

Don't let anyone tell you L.A.'s not a transit town. In fact, the city's got so many transit lines -- the Red Line, ...
March 22, 2006

Joining Them

Have big telecom and cable companies had a change of heart? It used to be that whenever the topic of municipal wireless came up, they ...
March 15, 2006

Kitty Kooks

Cat owners are nuts. There, I said it. Bring on the hate mail. The latest proof is the response to a bill recently introduced in ...
March 13, 2006

Friendly Skies?

Who's the most frequent flyer on Alaska's new state jet? Not Guv Frank Murkowski. The AP analyzed the jet's first three months of action and ...
March 8, 2006

Street Fight

It didn't win an Oscar on Sunday, but one of the documentaries that was nominated is a film that anyone interested in local politics would ...
February 22, 2006

Does the Middle Class Need Housing Subsidies?

$70,000. That's the household income level that Fort Lauderdale is considering as the cutoff for a new housing aid program. Yeah, Fort Lauderdale's got some pricey ...
February 19, 2006

Got Breast Milk?

A growing number of states and cities have a message for people who get squeamish about seeing women breast-feed their babies in public. And that ...
February 14, 2006


We hear big business saying it again and again: Washington, save us from the states! It's tough enough being regulated by one government in D....
February 14, 2006


Having a hard time keeping track of Chicago's corruption scandals? Try this "game" of Clue--called "Clout"--by the Chicago Tribune. Did ...
February 10, 2006

A Fireable Offense?

Did NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg go overboard when he sacked one of his employees in Albany for playing solitaire on the job? "I expect ...
February 10, 2006

Wiki Wackies

The first time I saw Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can add to or modify, my very first thought was--like everyone else's--this is pretty ...
February 1, 2006

Faster Than a Speeding Turtle

New high-tech tools can make buses a lot more efficient than they used to be. Will that be enough to satisfy riders?
February 1, 2006

Closing Time: A Master Plan for Doing More with Less

Hoping to shore up its ailing hospital industry, New York is shrinking the number of health care facilities in the state. It is doing so by using a process similar to the way the Pentagon closes military bases.
January 31, 2006

Kaine's Management Message

On the campaign trail last year, Tim Kaine never hesitated to mention Virginia's top-shelf grade in Governing's last management scorecard. So I wasn't too surprised ...
January 27, 2006

House Seat For Sale

No, this isn't about Jack Abramoff. It's about a listing on eBay. Someone is currently selling a vintage chair from the Illinois House of Reps. ...
January 25, 2006

Franchise Players

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is meeting in Washington this week, a convenient two blocks from our perch on the 13th floor. I popped ...
January 24, 2006

The Smoke Vote

There's still a lot of opposition to banning smoking at bars. Just ask any member of the puffing masses standing outside pubs in a growing ...
January 20, 2006

Minimum Wage (ctd.)

There's a friendly battle going on in the comments section over my last post on indexing the minimum wage. Just to stoke the fire a ...
January 18, 2006

How To End The Wage War (Updated)

Maryland's legislature continued its pro-labor tear this week by voting to raise the state's minimum wage to $6.15 an hour. I'll leave aside for now the ...
January 17, 2006

Do State Blogs Tilt Left?

I've been doing a lot of hunting for blogs lately. I'm looking for blogs that are both tightly focused on state government news, politics or ...
January 12, 2006

NJ Slogan: The Winner Is...

Acting-Guv Codey was pulling for "New Jersey: Love at First Sight." I was pulling for "New Jersey: The Real Deal."  ...
January 11, 2006

An Arena Done Right?

When it comes to stadiums and arenas, the argument we hear again and again in favor of them is that they'll spur economic development in ...
January 11, 2006

Arnold "Never Thought About" Cycle License (UPDATED)

Apparently the Governator didn't have the appropriate motorcycle license when he crashed his Harley into an SUV on Sunday. Staff says he won't ride again ...
January 10, 2006

Smoking's Last Bastions

Smoking bans aren't big news any more. Actually, what I find more interesting than a city or state passing a new ban is seeing which ...
January 10, 2006

Statehouse Blogs: Easy Come, Easy Go

Figuring out which statehouse blogs are worth reading is a bit like playing whack-a-mole. Blogs pop up, gain fans, and then disappear as soon as ...
January 9, 2006

Who Said Mag Rankings are Bogus?

Is fat fit? How else do we explain this? * Men's Fitness magazine ranks Baltimore the #1 fittest city in the U.S. * Men's Health magazine ranks ...
January 9, 2006

Schwarzenegger, Son Hurt in Crash

The good news is Arnold and his 12-year old son are OK after crashing their Harley yesterday. The bad news is that the Governator has ...
January 6, 2006

Don't Drink the Water

Yesterday on the 13th floor, the water cooler talk was about the water cooler itself. I'm not sure which Governing staffer was the first to ...
January 4, 2006

San Diego Sack Attack

Jerry Sanders, the new mayor of San Diego, wants resignation letters from all of his middle- and top-managers this week. Going out with a bang? ...
January 3, 2006

The Voice in Our Heads

Say it loud: "DOORS CLOSING!" Say it dorky: "Doooors Cloooooosing!" Say it sultry, say it breathy, say it Iraqi, but however ...
January 3, 2006

A Par $20 Million Hole

How did Tennessee taxpayers wind up in the drink on a bunch of Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses? The Tennessean has this great story showing how ...
January 1, 2006

The Code War

As governments move toward uniform building codes, they are being lobbied by two rival groups that offer competing sets of standards.
December 30, 2005

Part D-Day

The new Medicare prescription drug benefit begins to kick in on Sunday. Given the confusion swirling around "Part D," Baltimore is treating the ...
December 29, 2005

And the Transit Strike Winner Is...

The NYC transit workers' union got in 60 hours of right hooks, then went up against the ropes. And the New York Times today declares that ...
December 27, 2005

Eminent Domain: Is Winning Losing?

The backlash against the Supreme Court's affirmation of eminent domain has grown so intense that a key state redevelopment official now says "we would ...
December 26, 2005

Hip to Be Square

What makes a great public square? The people at the Project for Public Spaces, who Rob Gurwitt profiled in Governing in April, spend a lot ...
December 22, 2005

Alaska Preps for Tsunami

Augustine, an island volcano off the coast of Alaska, is rumbling. The photo here is from December 12. Scientists say the chances of an eruption triggering ...
December 22, 2005

NJ Slogan Update

After sorting through thousands of "What exit?" jokes and lines from the Sopranos, my home state's hapless search for a new slogan is ...
December 21, 2005

Sack The Transit Workers?

Stephen Malanga of the Manhattan Institute wants New York to rip a page from the Gipper's playbook. Fire the striking transit workers, he says today ...
December 21, 2005

Windfelled Windfall

Who says hurricanes are all bad? Florida's coffers are stuffed with $800 million in sales tax revenue related to hurricane reconstruction. (That's the 2004 hurricanes). Even more ...
December 20, 2005


Just when you thought labor unions were dying, New York's transit strike reminds us that labor, at least in state and local government, remains quite ...
December 18, 2005

Who Pays for Pollution?

Do sprawling residential and commercial developments cause air pollution? Officials in California's San Joaquin Valley think so. Last week they passed what they believe to ...
December 9, 2005

Cell Towers: Unfine Pine

Wait: Is that a tree on steroids or a cell phone tower? It's usually not hard to tell the difference. As these pictures show, communications ...
December 7, 2005

Mel Gibson for California Guv?

First it was liberals who bandied the names of actor Warren Beatty and director Rob Reiner as '06 Arnold alternatives. Now it's conservatives who are ...
December 6, 2005

The Leaning Tower of Sioux Falls

What do you do when you throw a demolition party, but the building to be imploded refuses to cooperate? Sioux Falls, South Dakota has this ...
December 6, 2005

The Wizards From Oz

Who are those Aussies who are going around building, buying and investing in U.S. highways? The Wall Street Journal today (paid subscription) profiles Macquarie ...
December 5, 2005

Interview With Ed Rendell

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell stopped by the 13th floor last week. He was in town to talk about some clean energy initiatives he's been promoting. ...
December 2, 2005

Friday Morning Irony Report

The mayor of a village called Justice, Illinois gets indicted? No way. Way.
December 2, 2005

City Schools Improve (Some)

Here's the big-urban school performance report that's getting so much press today. (Look here for city-by-city results in reading; here for math). The news overall ...
November 28, 2005

Gambling on Hedge Funds?

Hedge funds are the really hot thing on Wall Street, which may be as good a sign as any that they are something for investors ...
November 23, 2005

Ouch! A Reality Check on Retirees

The Wall Street Journal has a frightening front-page piece (paid subsc.) today on (yet another!) looming financial crisis facing state and local governments. This one ...
November 22, 2005

Who Knew? Water Employees Make Great Bloggers

We've given a few blogging mayors and governors a hard time on the 13th Floor for infrequent posting, ghost-posting and not loosening their, ahem, bow ...
November 21, 2005

Those Polls on Sexy Pols

Blogs have only been around for a couple of years, so the medium is still evolving. Yet I'm ready to declare one unassailable truth: all ...
November 17, 2005

It Was the Best of Time, It Was the Worst of Time

Somehow we on the 13th Floor let Time Magazine's 5-best/3-worst governors piece slip by us this week. It's not that we didn't notice it. ...
November 17, 2005

Ethics: That'll Cost You

Ethics reforms passed by Philadelphia voters last week will cost $1 million to implement, the Philly Inquirer reports today. Want to regulate no-bid contracts more tightly? ...
November 17, 2005

Lovefest for an Acting Governor

My mom can be pretty tough on politicians. She's been dumping a lot on President Bush lately, just as she dumped on President Clinton before ...
November 16, 2005

Jesse Ventura Bodyslams Lady Luck

There are lots of respectable ways for governors to sell out once they leave office. Lobbying, for example, is lucrative and perfectly legal. But Jesse ...
November 16, 2005

A Mini-FEMA?

Here's a twist on FEMA Bashfest 2005: the mayor of Pembroke Pines, Fla., proposes creating a "mini-FEMA" for his city. The Sun-Sentinel reports that ...
November 15, 2005

The Omnipotent Ray Kelly

Who are the most powerful unelected state and local officials in the country? When Governing writer John Buntin and I got talking about this some ...
November 14, 2005

More People Working in their Peejays

Is telecommuting becoming more popular than transit? A new report by the Reason Foundation looks at this and other questions around working from home. One ...
November 11, 2005

Toll Time for the Big Apple?

Could high-tech congestion tolls work in Manhattan as they have in London? The NYC media is buzzing about this, apparently in the expectation that Mike ...
November 11, 2005

Back to the Future at New City Hall

Is this the city hall of the future? That's what Governing asked back in 2000, when San Jose was planning its new civic center. Well, the ...
November 9, 2005

VA Gov Race: Kaine = Warner Worked

The Washington Post's take on the VA governors' race: Gov. Warner's got coattails. Also: Kaine finds religion in a way that works for Democrats.
November 9, 2005

Voting Booth, Box Office Divorce

Here's the LA Times' take on why all four of Arnold's ballot measures failed: He wasn't asking voters so much to "join Arnold" ...
November 9, 2005 Election Coverage and Analysis

Full coverage is here. Initiatives & referenda roundup is here. Mayors & local race roundup is here.
November 9, 2005

Did Rosa Parks' Death Help Kilpatrick?

The Detroit Free Press calls Parks' passing "the unquantifiable X-factor" in Kwame Kilpatrick's comeback.
November 8, 2005

Election Night LiveBlogging

Yummy off-year election results! Eat them up tonight. Mmmm! The feast begins at 6 pm ET.
November 8, 2005

Iowa A.G.: There's no Tobacco Cartel

Iowa's Attorney General, Tom Miller, called me the other day to complain about a story I wrote in Governing's October issue. The piece, about the ...
November 7, 2005

Election Night LiveBlogging

Admit it, junkies: This is why you got broadband at home. Tomorrow night, on the 13th Floor. Here's the pre-game.
November 4, 2005

Election Night LiveBlogging

Here, on the 13th Floor. If we don't do it, who will? Get the preview.
November 3, 2005

Prince Charles, New Urbanist

It's not exactly Royal Fever that's hit D.C. this week, but the visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall is ...
November 3, 2005

Pandemic Planning's Missing Link

The Washington Post reports today that the new federal plan for handling pandemic flu "counts heavily on the public's cooperation and good sense." ...
November 1, 2005

First Tuesday Confusion

Josh Goodman's post below sizes up the stakes in today's Colorado TABOR election. But the question I was left with was this: Why is Colorado ...
October 25, 2005

A Breakthrough on Homelessness?

I'm headed off to San Francisco tomorrow to see how Mayor Gavin Newsom (pictured) is handling his city's notorious homeless problem. San Francisco, like a ...
October 19, 2005

Pensioners' Plaza

I still can't decide whether to file this item in my "Pension Fund Power" folder, or the newly created "Haley Barbour & ...
October 18, 2005

UnSaintly Economic Development

Has the Lone Star State's noteworthy generosity after Hurricane Katrina morphed into old-fashioned Texas opportunism? One can't help but wonder, with the news that San ...
October 17, 2005

Be Careful What You Blog

Is blogging becoming a workplace hazard? It is for one elementary school teacher in Texas. According to the AP, she resigned after it became known ...
October 13, 2005

Rebel Mayors No More

Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit's "hip-hop mayor," said yesterday that he'll stop wearing the diamond earring that has been his trademark for the past four ...
October 13, 2005

A Win for Anonymous Bloggers

Bloggers everywhere are beating their chests about the Delaware Supreme Court's decision last week that an anonymous blogger's identity can stay a secret. The case ...
October 6, 2005

Blue in the Seat

I wasn't thrilled to see this piece in yesterday's New York Times about how avid bicycling can contribute to male impotence and, well, other boy ...
October 5, 2005

Conquering Alaska

My friend Jim is a travel fanatic. He is also a list man. He is intent on stepping foot in all 50 states and their capitals, ...
October 4, 2005

Wi-Fi for All?

People who believe that cities should provide wireless Internet for all their citizens are feeling pretty good this week. Philadelphia picked Earthlink to build and ...
October 3, 2005

Sunday Reads

Ism alert! The New York Times Magazine assesses: Spitzerism: "Spitzer's approach...has infuriated Republican critics and helped individual Democrats win statewide office, [but] so ...
October 1, 2005

Like Putting Mascara On A Battleship

Big-box stores with fancy decoration are still just big boxes.
October 1, 2005

Puff Of Collusion

Cigarette companies and state regulators have discovered it pays to stick together.
October 1, 2005

Duop Music

Broadband politics is turning out to be mostly just a game for two. That's not always good.
October 1, 2005

Hybrid Confusion

Some hybrid cars can save government a lot of money. Others don't save it a dime.
October 1, 2005

Rethinking The Urban Speedway

For decades, highway engineers focused on designing wider, straighter, faster roads. Now, moving traffic quickly is no longer the sole goal.
September 30, 2005

We All Make Mistakes

Be careful what you blog. Fernando Ferrer, the Democrats' hopeful for NYC mayor, is in trouble for a mistake on his campaign blog. In a ...
September 29, 2005

Broadband Duopoly, ctd.

If it feels a bit drafty around your state's capitol these days, the breeze may be coming from all those telephone and cable lobbyists chatting ...
September 28, 2005

White Lawmaker Wants to Join Black Caucus

No, this isn't from the Onion. For real: Tennessee State Rep. Stacey Campfield, pictured here, has been asking what it would take for him to ...
September 26, 2005

Houston Jam Session

Now the lessons learned from Rita are coming in. The biggie for now has to do with evacuating a giant city like Houston--and that massive ...
September 23, 2005

Godspeed, Rick Perry

As Rita nears, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Katrina's lessons have already been learned. I guess we'll find out soon enough if that's ...
September 22, 2005

The Absentocracy, ctd.

There's a phenomenon we've been talking about on the 13th floor for years. We call it the "absentocracy." The concept comes down to ...
September 22, 2005

The Antonio Show

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is starring in an episode of ABC-TV's "The George Lopez Show," set to air October 5. I suppose we ...
September 21, 2005

Stoked Alaska

Those rumors you've always heard about Alaska paying its residents to live there? All true. As true as the love found each month in the ...
September 19, 2005

Why They Stayed

Why did so many people stay in New Orleans despite Ray Nagin's mandatory evacuation order? We've all got our own theories. People are stubborn; they've ...
September 15, 2005

Tone Test

As Louisiana tries to get back to business, you have to wonder if New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin wishes he could take back a few ...
September 15, 2005

Blame Game, ctd.

Brownie speaks out. Surprise! It was all Governor Blanco's fault. My mom always told me, if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't......
September 14, 2005

Bond Bust Ahead?

How does a city or state pay off its bonds if a big chunk of its tax base disappears? That's one of the lingering questions ...
September 13, 2005

Picking up the Pace

Kudos to DC Mayor Tony Williams, who is picking up the pace on his blog. Williams took some heat on the 13th floor a few ...
September 13, 2005

Blackout Boss

With all the disasters and crises lately, there's no shortage of Giuliani moments for local officials. Or, I should say, potential Giuliani moments (I suppose ...
September 12, 2005

Blame Game

Two weeks after Katrina, a little clarity is finally settling in about what went wrong in New Orleans between the feds, the state and the ...
September 9, 2005

Poor Vs. Poor?

At least 23 states are now taking in evacuees from areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. It's a tremendous show of generosity, and will certainly cost the ...
September 8, 2005

Fixing San Diego

Governing Staff Writer Alan Greenblatt has just returned from the scene of a municipal disaster. And I'm not talking about New Orleans. Rather, Alan has ...
September 1, 2005

Civilizing the Alley

New Urbanists promote back streets to bring neighbors together.
August 31, 2005

Is Riding the Bus Sexy?

Yes, very hot indeed--at least according to this promo. This is an ad for D.C.'s new "Downtown Circulator" bus. The Circulator ...
August 26, 2005

Blog, Tony, Blog!

DC mayor Tony Williams may know how to manage a big city. But Mayor Bow Tie is clearly having a harder time figuring out how ...
August 5, 2005

McGreevey's Memoirs

Put this on next year's summer reading list. Former NJ Governor and "gay American" Jim McGreevey has a book deal. The tell-all will ...
August 5, 2005

Free Kick?

(Image: Metrostars/Rossetti) New Jersey and Hudson County finally have a deal for a pro soccer stadium in the town of Harrison. And it's a ...
August 4, 2005

Broadband Duopoly

Want to see broadband competition in your city? Don't bet on seeing more than two high-speed internet providers: your cable company (selling cable-modem service) and ...
August 3, 2005

Backwater State Capitals

Let's face it: a lot of state capitals are one horse towns. I know this because this magazine has sent me to such exciting power ...
August 2, 2005

Publish And Perish?

Tired of getting bad press? Why not start up your own newspaper? That's what the Miami-Dade County Commission did. Their paper is called The Chamber ...
August 1, 2005

Ready for Prime Time: Internet Sales Taxes are a Giant Step Closer

Internet sales taxes go live on October 1. That's when online retailers will be asked to start collecting the tax--at least for the 18 states that have recently passed laws simplifying and harmonizing their sales tax systems. The big question for this meticulously designed scheme, which is strictly voluntary for the retailers, is how many of them will actually sign up.
July 28, 2005

Capitalizing on Tragedy?

In an odd twist of patriotism and opportunism, Somerset County, PA, where United Airlines flight 93 crashed on 9/11/01, is now branding itself "America's County." ...
July 28, 2005

How Not To Talk To The Press

An Alaska wildlife official who is the state's point man on bear-human relations is under strict orders to not talk to the press, reports the ...
July 26, 2005

Scooped in Beantown

Editors at the Boston Herald have a hunch as to why their rivals at the Boston Globe have a way of busting up the Herald's ...
July 26, 2005

Como Se Dice "Pothole?"

Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A.'s first Hispanic mayor since 1872, shows us that the first thing on a new mayor's mind, in any language, is basically ...
July 14, 2005

Hands-Free: Not What It's Cracked Up to Be

So you're driving home from work, and decide on a whim to call Mayor Bloomberg (home number: 212-772-1081) from your car. Being responsible, not ...
July 13, 2005

Mayor Bloomberg's Home Phone Number Is 212-772-1081

So you thought Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of NYC was out of touch with common folks? Think again. The NY Times reports today that ...
July 11, 2005

Dressing Up The Big Box

Even Wal-Mart seems willing to admit that its traditional gray-blue mega-box stores are ugly. The question is, what do you do about it? Too many ...
July 1, 2005

Trying to Buy Smarter

Pennsylvania is moving its big construction contracts away from the low-bid model.
June 16, 2005

Homeless Problem: Four Times Worse Than We Thought?

Los Angeles County this year has worked extra hard to get as complete a count as possible of the homeless people on its streets and ...
June 16, 2005

Kwame's Trip to the Bahamas? Priceless.

Will somebody just cut up Kwame Kilpatrick's credit card? This time the Detroit mayor is in trouble for charging a trip to the Bahamas on ...
June 16, 2005

Parks' People Problem

Parks are there for people to use them, right? Then why is it so hard for cities to figure out how many people actually hang ...
June 10, 2005

No More Gun Fun?

Don't you sometimes just want to blow the head off a bighorn sheep from the comfort of your living room? Not in Pennsylvania, if a ...
June 10, 2005

An Ark Full of Newarks

What does Newark, NJ (pop. 245,000) have in common with Newark, Missouri (pop. 100)? Nothing more than the name, of course. Apparently, that's enough for the mayor ...
June 7, 2005

Death of the Megaproject?

Now that NYC's West Side stadium is dead, the NY Times today asks a good question: is it possible to build big stuff anymore? Surely ...
June 1, 2005

Splish Splash

A City Sees a New Way To Keep Kids Cool
May 1, 2005

The Fast Lane

As gridlock gets worse and technology improves, the use of toll lanes and other market-based tools to regulate rush-hour driving is gaining acceptance.
April 1, 2005

Coming Clean: States Ask Hospitals to Report Infection Rates

A growing number of states are requiring hospitals to report how many patients come down with infections while in their care. Disclosure is meant to inform consumers, while pressuring hospitals to deliver better care.
March 1, 2005

Municipal Makeovers

Had Robert Moses, New York City's legendary planning commissioner, lived to see reality television, he probably would have loved the premise of "Town Haul," a new show on The Learning Channel.
February 1, 2005

The Boiling Point

New York Counties Under Extreme Fiscal Pressure
February 1, 2005

Kansas Court Says Pay Up

Kansas lawmakers have until April 12 to increase funding for education in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling last month.
February 1, 2005

The Chill Factor

Like most cities with large homeless populations, Berkeley, California, has a problem with transients abandoning bags or shopping carts of their belongings on the streets. What's unusual about Berkeley is what city officials do with all that stuff: They freeze it.
February 1, 2005

Teaching in a Bubble

Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland's superintendent of schools, has fond memories of reading comic books as a child. She liked Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, and especially enjoyed Archie.
January 1, 2005

Banner Results

This was a survey that would have made Betsy Ross proud: hundreds of flag experts studied the flags of 150 U.S. cities on the Internet and rated them. And when the results came in last fall, Washington, D.C., could proudly boast that it has the best municipal flag in the land.
December 1, 2004

The Artful Blogger

Web logs are popping up in the public sector.
December 1, 2004

Securing the Safety Net

A county plans to buy a bankrupt hospital.
December 1, 2004

Bucks Stop Here: Minneapolis Puts Citizen Satisfaction in Ones Man's Hands

Minneapolis has hired a manager to act as something of a customer service czar, responsible for deploying a new 311 call center, one- stop permitting and performance measurement.
November 1, 2004

Florida's Big Pharma Deal Fizzles

Medicaid contract for disease management fails a fiscal test.
November 1, 2004

A Turbulent Time for Hubs

Pittsburgh is prepared for the worst now that its hometown airline, US Airways, has slipped into Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a second time ["Wing and a Prayer," January].
October 1, 2004

Material Breach

A white picket fence around a house is an American icon, as heavy in symbolism as its weight in wood. But is a white picket fence still a "white picket fence" if it is made from vinyl instead of real wood?
October 1, 2004

Swing State Blues

Every time candidates make a campaign stop, towns incur lots of expenses.
October 1, 2004

Emergency Repair

Louisville to let EMS stand on its own.
September 1, 2004

Whizz Show

Booze flows freely on New Orleans' anything-goes Bourbon Street, where the only lewd behavior the cops seem to get fussy about is peeing in public. Relief is on the way, though, both for drinkers who can't hold it in and for residents who are tired of seeing their streets and alleys used as a urinal.
August 1, 2004

Late Bloomer

New York's businessman-mayor is learning politics the hard way. But he's learning it.
August 1, 2004

Sweet Nothings

As schools take up the fight against child obesity, soda machines and french fries are clear targets. But one public school in Massachusetts has identified another indulgence that could be making kids fat: birthday parties.
July 1, 2004

Advice from Austin to Baghdad

Austin, Texas, is a well-run city, and by now managers there are accustomed to sharing their "best practices" with others. But Austin's latest consulting gig is a bit unusual: helping the U.S. Army run Baghdad.
July 1, 2004

Revising Sentences

State budget problems have sparked pragmatic, bipartisan debates about alternatives to incarceration.
June 1, 2004

Spider Fan

Patrick Lynch, the attorney general of Rhode Island, talks about Spider-Man so much that you'd think the action hero, who is returning to movie theaters this month, was his running mate.
June 1, 2004

Hybrid Hoopla

Cars that can run on both gasoline and electric power are a hot item in government these days.
June 1, 2004

Tobacco Bonds Flame Out

When Big Tobacco began paying states billions of dollars a year, making good on a landmark legal settlement, many governments took their share straight to the bond market.
May 1, 2004

Nightmare on Pine St.?

Melding historic facades with modern buildings can yield odd results.
May 1, 2004

The Return of the Planner

Urban planning departments have been in decline for decades. Now they are reviving--with the nation's capital leading the way.
March 1, 2004

States Go for the Biotech Gold

Florida and Palm Beach County are founding a new branch of the renowned Scripps Research Institute, hoping to turn a 1,900-acre orange grove into a home for thousands of high-paying jobs in biomedicine.
March 1, 2004

Voice Lessons

A lot of thought goes into the automated messages on public transit systems.
March 1, 2004

E-Gov's New Gear

Governors and mayors learn to love the give and take of governing interactively.
March 1, 2004

Reversing Course

With his county heading down the 'smart growth' road, Bruce Tulloch moved in to strong-arm a turnaround.
February 1, 2004

Bonds Find a New Home

A new financing tool is helping public housing authorities raise money to fix up their properties. They can now issue revenue bonds that promise to repay today's loan with tomorrow's federal dollars.
February 1, 2004

Musical Chairs

Movable seating in parks and other public places is catching on.
February 1, 2004

Taking a Stand Against Virtual Violence

Even among shoot-em-up video games sold today, "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" stands out.
February 1, 2004

Making Connections

Two New York-area projects ease traveling by rail
January 1, 2004

Wing and a Prayer

A shakeout in the airline industry is creating major turbulence for hub-and-spoke cities and their airports. At the same time, some other localities are getting a lift.
January 1, 2004

Growing Pains

Jim McGreevey's anti-sprawl campaign in New Jersey is regrouping a year after the governor declared uncontrolled development his state's worst enemy ["McGreevey's Magic Map," May 2003].
December 1, 2003

Borderline Drug Policies

State and local eyes are on canada, which has come to look like a giant discount drugstore to more and more American governments.
December 1, 2003

Green Giants

Fortuitous Land Windfalls Have Given Some Cities The Opportunity To Create Huge Urban Parks--And Debate Their Design.
December 1, 2003

Desert Mirages

For centuries, artists have painted life-like scenes that look so real that the French name for them, "trompe l'oeil," literally means "trick the eye." Now, Phoenix is applying these age-old deceptions to pavement, creating road markings that appear three-dimensional and are intended to fool drivers into laying off the gas pedal.
October 1, 2003

Quiet In The Quarter

Walking tours are an increasingly popular tourist draw in New Orleans' French Quarter, but they're also creating tension between sightseers and residents, who find the sidewalk-choking crowds annoying.
October 1, 2003

Looking for Riders In All The Wrong Places

What would happen if you built a light-rail line and hardly any passengers showed up?
September 1, 2003

Back To Brick

Paving with bricks is expensive, but many places think the ambience they create is worth it.
August 1, 2003

Closing In On An Internet Sales Tax

State legislatures are putting up less resistance than expected to streamlining sales taxes. So far, 20 states have passed laws aimed at harmonizing their sales tax laws with each other, a key step toward taxing e-commerce. Several more are expected to take up sales tax bills later this year.
August 1, 2003

Converting To Propane Has Its Problems

Propane is a cheap and clean-burning motor fuel favored by some state and local fleet managers, but two developments in Texas show that when it comes to this alternative fuel, progress is still one step forward and one step back.
July 1, 2003

Made In Sacramento

California is using its clout to fill what officials there view as a national policy void on key issues. Is the state overstepping its boundaries?
July 1, 2003

Answering The Call Center's Call

A new jersey call center has moved back to the United States from India, settling the fate of 11 jobs that became a symbolic Ping-Pong ball in an emotional globalization game being watched closely on both sides.
June 1, 2003

Unscrambling The City

Archaic zoning laws lock cities into growth patterns that hardly anybody wants. Changing the rules can help set them free.
June 1, 2003

Preschool Pressure

Anyone who thinks the education standards movement has gone overboard may be interested in what Ohio has in store for its preschoolers.
May 1, 2003

States Tighten Up Tax Lures

Budget crises have some states cutting back on tax breaks for attracting and retaining businesses. New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey is proposing a one-year hiatus for a $38 million incentive program aimed at luring businesses to the state.
May 1, 2003

McGreevy's Magic Map

New Jersey's governor is painting the state's future development in three colors.
May 1, 2003

Magic Tax Kingdom

Walt Disney World and other Orlando theme parks and resorts cut their tax bills each year by claiming they are farming enterprises, in a scheme that two Florida counties say comes straight out of Fantasyland.
May 1, 2003

Second To One

The office of lieutenant governor is an easy target--especially in tough budget times.
April 1, 2003

Hominy On The Range

Before South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford moved into the governor's mansion in January, the Chicago native recalled how she'd come to feel at home in her adopted state. "I even learned to like grits," she said.
April 1, 2003

Online Sales Tax Is For Real

In February, an anonymous band of large retailers struck an unusual deal with 37 states. The sellers, which reportedly include Wal-Mart, Target and Toys 'R' Us, agreed to begin collecting sales taxes from their customers who make Internet purchases.
March 1, 2003

Off The Wall

Camden, New Jersey, has a new kind of homeless problem involving the city's namesake, an 18th-century English earl who never set foot on American soil.
March 1, 2003

Catch-22 For College Savings

"Tomorrow's tuition at today's prices." that's the slogan many states use to sell pre-paid tuition plans to parents and grandparents. The plans aim to make college affordable for the next generation of students while promoting in-state public schools.
February 1, 2003

Opening Pension Fund Books Even Wider

Public pension funds have begun releasing data on their venture- capital investments, something they had not done in the past.
February 1, 2003

Horse Sensitivity

Animal-rights groups want stricter laws--or outright bans--on horses in urban areas.
February 1, 2003

Taking It To The Board Room

States are continuing to use the power of the investment purse to challenge the way corporations do business.
February 1, 2003

Pushing Amtrak Off The Track

Boston's regional commuter rail system has chosen a company other than Amtrak to run its trains, signaling new competition for the commuter railway business.
January 1, 2003

Sweat Inequity

Cops in Chicago are trading doughnuts for dollars under the police department's new incentive plan that pays them $250 for passing a physical fitness test.
January 1, 2003

The Scarlet Ad

Occasionally, a well-meaning piece of legislation turns out to embody the law of unintended consequences.
January 1, 2003

Cloaked In Security

Creative approaches to the design and retrofit of public buildings prove that safety doesn't have to be ugly.
December 1, 2002

Living on Burrowed Time?

Prairie dogs in Lubbock, Texas, won a death row pardon this fall when state and local authorities backed off a plan to slaughter some 50,000 of the furry rodents by igniting propane in their burrows.
December 1, 2002

Bellying up to the Bar

Do-it-yourself defense is increasingly common in courtrooms.
December 1, 2002

Uproar Over a Runway Repair

Airports rarely get along with their neighbors, but in Phoenix it's not just the usual jet noise that's causing tension. It's dust and pro football.
October 1, 2002

Leveling City Hall

To call something an "uphill battle" is a favorite cliche among policy makers, but when Las Vegas officials inspected a new addition to their city hall this summer, the phrase took on a more literal meaning.
October 1, 2002

Arizona Tempers Deregulating Power

Arizona regulators are joining the backlash against electricity deregulation, arguing that the state was poised to possibly repeat mistakes made next door in California.
October 1, 2002

Dressing Up the Strip

Communities don't need a moribund mall in order to make big changes to stale shopping spots. Consider the commercial areas on the outskirts of almost every American suburb and city.
October 1, 2002

After the Mall

It isn't easy, but some suburbs are converting aging shopping centers and their acres of asphalt into vibrant, mixed-use town centers.
October 1, 2002

Upgrading Upkeep

An emerging approach to highway maintenance takes the politics out of road repair.
September 1, 2002

Whistling Past the Graveyard

As important as funerals and cemeteries are to people, you'd think we'd do a decent job of regulating them. We don't.
September 1, 2002

The Name of the Rag

Politicians and the press have always taken jabs at each other, but animosities reached a new level in Kentucky when a county official snatched a newspaper's name right from its masthead.
September 1, 2002

Hail to the School Chiefs

Big cities are tapping a broader, more business-oriented talent pool to run their troubled--and politically charged--school systems
August 1, 2002

Purchasing Plays

In the wake of a major procurement scandal, California is seeking a better way to make big buys.
July 1, 2002

Don't Wanna Be On MTV

Rap artists are known for stirring up controversy, but now five current and former Detroit officials are whipping up their own storm by suing the rapper Dr. Dre for allegedly invading their privacy.
July 1, 2002

Treating Medicaid

Florida is launching a great experiment to cut health costs with better care for the chronically ill.
June 1, 2002

Statuary Offense

When Chicago unleashed a herd of painted cows on its sidewalks-- followed by pigs, moose and fish in other cities--only art critics, who bemoaned the displays as lowbrow, ruined the fun.
June 1, 2002

Decking the Halls

Institutions honoring illustrious deeds--or quirky interests--suffer ill fortune.
June 1, 2002

Turf Tussles

Three states take steps to curb localities' charges for laying broadband lines beneath city streets.
April 1, 2002

No Ticket to Ride

They're not as notorious or dangerous as, say, the "Texas Seven," but Atlanta's transit system recently dubbed a group of local lawbreakers the "Famous Five," and it has taken the unusual step of permanently banning them from the city's subways and buses.
April 1, 2002

Volt Revolt

As experiments with deregulation sputter, a new generation of municipally owned electric utilities is emerging.
April 1, 2002

Taking Aim at Correction Costs

Reducing the length of sentences for nonviolent offenders is one way states are cutting prison budgets.
March 1, 2002

Medicaid's Take on Pills

With health care expenses running out of control, several states are taming at least a piece of their fastest-growing cost.
March 1, 2002

Greater Louisville Less Than Popular

When the city of Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky, merge next January, their population of 546,000 will comprise the nation's 22nd-largest city, ranking just ahead of Seattle.
March 1, 2002

The Politics of Preservation

As historic preservationists move from saving old buildings to fighting sprawl, they touch off new kinds of controversy.
February 1, 2002

Refereeing Stadium Signs

The debate over naming rights at sports stadiums is growing strangely philosophical in Pittsburgh as regulators struggle to decide whether labeling venues with the names of corporate sponsors constitutes "advertising."
February 1, 2002

Dialing in for Traffic Tie-Ups

With the launch of its "511" telephone hotline, Utah now offers commuters and tourists the latest tool for navigating traffic and transit systems.
February 1, 2002

Its Pay-Up Time in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn is cracking down on deadbeat agencies, setting a mid-February deadline for city agencies to pay their overdue bills.
January 1, 2002

Budget Cuts Touch a Nerve

Whether baby boys remember the pain of circumcision later in life has long been the subject of debate among medical researchers. But whatever the case, lawmakers in North Carolina won't soon forget their agony over the question of whether to end Medicaid coverage for the procedure.
January 1, 2002

Save the Boxes

Much-derided modernist architecture is now viewed as having historical value.
January 1, 2002

Ivory Tower Inc.

Increasingly, states are pushing public university researchers to become entrepreneurs as well. It's a delicate business.
December 1, 2001

Counting Cops

As the federal grants for 100,000 new police officers expire, localities struggle with how to pay for the positions.
December 1, 2001

Shrub II: The Short but Happy Life of Birds in the Bush

T horny elaeagnus has long been a popular shrub with highway landscapers, who planted the hardy, drought-resistant bushes in medians across the South to shield nighttime drivers from the glare of headlights. Now, however, it is falling out of favor as evidence emerges that the shrub (pronounced el-e-AG-nus) is luring thousands of birds to their demise.
December 1, 2001

Court Rules to Raze New Homes in Florida

By order of a Florida appeals court, a Martin County developer must tear down $3.3 million worth of apartment buildings that were recently built.
November 1, 2001

Aftershock to Local Budgets

The September 11 terrorist assault hit state and local budgets hard, but the fiscal impact will vary widely from place to place.
October 1, 2001

Attention, Wal-Mart Stoppers!

For some communities, the decision to allow big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart to come to town is laced with fear that the chain will kill off commerce on Main Street. Now, however, local governments have a new concern about Wal-Mart: that the superstores' massive parking lots are being turned into free campgrounds for recreational vehicles.
October 1, 2001

Cleveland Cracks its Runway Riddle

Cleveland and its neighboring town of Brook Park are about to finalize a land swap that guarantees construction of new runways at Cleveland's international airport.
October 1, 2001

Minn. Drivers: You've Got Mail-- and More

Minnesota is reaping big savings from a new process for renewing auto registrations, but the change pushes the state into a new and controversial role of mailing advertisements to its customers.
September 1, 2001

A Sticky State of Affairs

Prisoners can be picky about what they eat, but even hardened criminals would probably think it a stretch for California to declare a state of emergency when its prisons run out of peanut butter and jelly.
September 1, 2001

Rising from a Hospital's Ruins

When a county or city shuts down its public hospital, it isn't off the hook. There's still political pressure to provide health care for the needy.
August 1, 2001

Sandcastle Politics

Beach erosion threatens the existence of many coastal communities. Solutions are expensive and may ultimately prove futile.
August 1, 2001

Flimsy Advice

Just when you thought good ol' boys were all but dead in the modern state legislature, South Carolina lawmakers have served up a scandal that sounds straight out of 1951, not 2001.
August 1, 2001

Salty Stories: Drinking Water Plant for Tampa Bay Gets the Go-Ahead

Commissioners in Hillsborough County, Florida, have given the final thumbs up for construction to begin on a seawater desalination plant on Tampa Bay.
August 1, 2001

Money and the Fed Effect

States are taking steps to protect their pocketbooks as Washington tax cuts take a toll on state revenue.
July 1, 2001

California to Bring the Biggest Bond Ever to the Muni Market

California is gearing up for a $12.5 billion bond sale next month, an offering four times larger than any previously issued municipal bond.
July 1, 2001

Where Counties Fear to Tread

This year's look-before-you-leap award goes to Saratoga County, New York. Officials there recently acquired a piece of tax-delinquent property, only to find out later that the land contained an illegal tire dump, a potentially huge environmental liability.
July 1, 2001

Fee or Free?

As the taxman cometh online, states and localities are trying to decide whether citizens should bear the costs of e-filing.
June 1, 2001

Ways to Sway an M.P.A

As more public-policy grads take private-sector jobs, governments are having to work harder at recruitment.
May 1, 2001

Wages and Sages

Philosophers are always in search of an audience, so they must be thrilled that Albuquerque's public schools are offering a new, if unusual, medium for deep thoughts: teachers' paychecks.
May 1, 2001

Rehab Refugees

America's worst public housing projects are being fixed up, and many of them look pretty good. There's just one puzzling question: Where did the old tenants go?
April 1, 2001

Restless for Results

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is tracking performance on a scale never seen before in local government. He wants change, in a hurry.
March 1, 2001

Why Not 'Super-Mayor'?

Celebrity in Los Angeles comes and goes like a fickle wind. But Mike Antonovich's date with a sort of self-proclaimed stardom seems to occur regularly every five years.
March 1, 2001

Rendezvous with Density

Leaders in one booming suburban county have a solution to sprawl. But selling it to the voters may not be easy.
February 1, 2001

Taking Aim at Dodgeball

For decades, the game of dodgeball has been a staple of playgrounds and physical education classes, making the act of getting beaned by a rubber ball a right of passage for millions of elementary school students.But now, the game itself is under assault. Officials in Cecil County, Maryland, were set to vote in January on officially banning dodgeball from the school system.
January 1, 2001

Mississippi Signs on the Assembly Line

Mississippi has struck a mega-deal with Nissan Motor Co. to build a new auto plant north of Jackson, but will pay a pretty penny to get the plant's 4,000 jobs.
January 1, 2001

Grounds for Revolt

A backlash is brewing over the impact of Starbucks on local neighborhoods.
December 1, 2000

Windy City Whimsy

Chicago milks creative street displays for all they're worth.
December 1, 2000

N.J. Rides the E-Z Road to Value Pricing

When the New Jersey Turnpike flipped on the switch for E-ZPass this fall, it made cashless travel possible on toll roads from Boston to Philadelphia. It also ushered in the largest experiment yet with tolls that vary by time of day.
November 1, 2000

Winning Without Steak and Cigars

Old-fashioned, free-spending lobbyists are an endangered species in many places. But those who can adapt to the new rules have more clout than ever.
October 1, 2000

The 21st-Century City Hall

Several major cities are planning new municipal buildings that express both their local identity and their stature in the global economy.
September 1, 2000

Zoned Out

While zoning hearings are often something to yawn about, the usual boredom in Athens, Georgia, was shaken up a bit in June.
September 1, 2000

E-Tax Outrage Turns Into Action

Many state and local officials were livid last spring when the e- commerce commission headed by Virginia Governor James Gilmore recommended against taxing goods sold over the Internet. They felt the report ignored their concern that such action would eat away at their sales-tax revenue and hurt Main Street retailers who still had to collect the tax.
August 1, 2000

Prime Property

In a hot real estate market, some governments are seeking to cash in on their city hall.
August 1, 2000

Robert Rubin's Urban Crusade

The ex-Treasury Secretary is turning his talents to the inner city. He's heading one of America's least-known but most powerful urban organizations.
July 1, 2000

Turning Down the Volumes

Libraries are used to receiving donations of books--many of which they can't use--and old editions of National Geographic that people can't bear to throw away.
July 1, 2000

Receding Shorelines

Water levels in the Great Lakes are at historic lows. Local communities are feeling the impact.
July 1, 2000

Paris on the Prairie

Chicago leads the pack of American cities that are rediscovering the power of urban lighting.
June 1, 2000

Banned Beer Brewhaha

To the people of Belgium, Manneken Pis is a whimsical fountain statue portraying a little boy urinating. To the people of Ohio, however, Manneken Pis is a brand of Belgian beer that can no longer be sold in- state.
June 1, 2000

Minnesota's Dot May Break the Sound Barrier

As state transportation departments nationwide race to put up enough noise walls to quell the complaints of highway-side residents, Minnesota officials are entertaining a novel idea: tear some walls down.
June 1, 2000

Dave Rager: Water Merchant

For more than a century, bridges across the Ohio River have connected residents of Cincinnati to their neighbors in Kentucky. People on the Ohio side have long been accustomed to driving into Kentucky to fly in and out of the region's only international airport.
May 1, 2000

Tilting at a Twinkie Tax in Maine

The snack tax is losing its crunch. The last holdout to single out snack foods for a sales tax--Maine--is poised to repeal the levy.
May 1, 2000

Loose Keys, Odd Honorees

Deciding who gets a key to the city is an interesting mayoral exercise.
April 1, 2000

Little House in the Suburbs

The nation's most innovative affordable housing program has survived 25 years. The next 25 may be the hard part.
April 1, 2000

Hearing Where You're Heading

San Francisco is expanding a first-of-its-kind guide for the blind and visually impaired.
March 1, 2000

Tripping Up the Board Fantastic

Up in the mountains of Montana, just south of Missoula, leaders of Ravalli County may occasionally have dispensed with administrative formalities. Sometimes, governing is still stunningly casual in small, rural places.
March 1, 2000

Boxed In

Cities that want to regulate newsracks are finding they must tread carefully.
February 1, 2000

Signs of Conflict

Manhattan's penchant for naming streets after people, places and events has given birth to some interesting addresses over the years. A section of 45th Street was once called "Jackie Mason Way" after the legendary comedian.
February 1, 2000

Right-of-Way Replay: Bartering for Wireless Access to the Internet

The Chicago city council has OK'd a deal that will bring fast wireless Internet service to the city by this summer.
February 1, 2000

Setting Aside Set-Asides

The battle over minority set-asides in state contracting is heating up in Florida, where Governor Jeb Bush is charting a controversial course beyond affirmative action.
January 1, 2000

Beantown's Towing Crackdown

Anyone who has seen a delivery truck driving down the street with a parking ticket flapping from its windshield knows that the vehicles hold a special place in the hearts of parking-enforcement officers.