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Authors

Alan Ehrenhalt  |  Senior Editor

Email : ehrenhalt@yahoo.com

Alan Ehrenhalt served for 19 years as executive editor of Governing Magazine, and is currently one of its contributing editors. He has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review and op-ed page, the Washington Post Book World, New Republic and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of four books: The United States of Ambition, The Lost City, Democracy in the Mirror, and The Great Inversion. He was also the creator and editor of the first four editions of Politics in America, a biennial reference book profiling all 535 members of Congress. Alan Ehrenhalt is a 1968 graduate of Brandeis University and holds an MS in journalism from Columbia. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard from 1977-1978; a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987-1988; a Regents’ Lecturer at UCLA in 2006; an adjunct faculty member at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, at the University of Richmond, from 2004 through 2008; and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland Graduate School of Public Policy in 2009. In 2000 he received the American Political Science Association’s McWilliams award for distinguished contributions to the field of political science by a journalist. He is married, has two daughters, and lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Assessments

Will COVID-19 End the Downtown Comeback? Don't Bet on It.

The factors that led to the revival of our city centers will still be there in the aftermath of the coronavirus shutdown: low crime, a craving for entertainment and the desire for physical proximity.

May 27, k彩平台
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Assessments

Will We Look Back Fondly on This Terrifying Period?

It may seem hard to believe that the time of a deadly pandemic might one day be remembered wistfully by those who lived through it. But something like that has happened before in American life.

May 13, k彩平台
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Management & Labor

The Search for Slogan Magic

With an eye on tourism and development, states keep trying to come up with evocative new taglines. Sometimes they stumble.

August 27, 2019
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Commentary

The Mayoral Balancing Act

Tension between downtowns and neighborhoods isn’t going to go away.

September 1, 2019
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Commentary

The Democrats’ Biggest Problem for k彩平台 — and Beyond

By clustering in cities, even small ones, they have weakened their political impact.

August 5, 2019
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Commentary

The Fables of Gentrification

A lot of what we think we know about it turns out to be wrong.

July 15, 2019
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Commentary

It's Been a Rough Year for Mass Transit

With falling ridership and scrapped expansion projects, urban transit faces an uncertain future.

June 20, 2019
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Commentary

Does a City Need a Mayor?

Well-run governments must have clear lines of leadership. Just ask Pueblo, Colo.

May 8, 2019
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Commentary

'Vertical Villages' May Be the Future of Urban Living. That's Scary.

They take mixed-use development to an extreme with buildings that residents may never need to leave.

April 11, 2019
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Management & Labor

The Business Fad States Should Steal

For the most part, it’s a bad idea for governments to copy private-sector trends. But there may be one exception.

March 26, 2019
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Commentary

How Will Driverless Cars Really Change Cities? Who Knows.

There are plenty of theories about how they will reshape urban areas. But it’s anybody’s guess.

February 8, 2019
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Commentary

Why ‘Nudge’ Policies Should Be Used Gently

Behavioral economics is a powerful tool to encourage people to make certain decisions, but governments need to use it with caution.

January 17, 2019
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Commentary

Is Statehouse News Actually Declining, or Just Different?

There’s still plenty of coverage of governors and legislatures. But the void of newspaper reporters has been filled with partisan-slanted bloggers.

December 6, 2018
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Commentary

When Citizen Engagement Becomes Too Much

Politicians say they want citizens to be involved. But it can make things harder to achieve.

November 13, 2018
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Urban

How Cities Became the New Laboratories of Democracy

The ascent of cities is real, though things may not be as rosy as some suggest.

October 11, 2018
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Commentary

2 Southern Cities, 2 (Very) Different Approaches to Transit

When it comes to transportation planning, Atlanta and Nashville are both at a crossroads.

September 24, 2018
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Commentary

Should Jury Convictions Be Unanimous? It's Complicated.

Two states still allow split-verdicts to send people to prison. That may change soon. But maybe it shouldn't.

August 17, 2018
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Commentary

Why Some Cities Want Graffiti

Instead of scrubbing spray-painted tags, many places are now encouraging murals and other colorful street art.

July 6, 2018
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Commentary

Is Government Corruption More Common, or Are We Just Better at Finding It?

Some of today's scandals would have gone unseen a couple decades ago.

June 7, 2018
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Infrastructure & Environment

Do Traffic Cameras Really Make Streets Safer?

They are despised by drivers and many lawmakers.

May 1, 2018
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Commentary

City or Suburbs? What Do Millennials Really Want?

Turns out, the answer isn’t either-or. Rather, it’s a question with 80 million answers.

April 1, 2018
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Commentary

States' High-Stakes Game of Chicken

States are hoping to bring their case over animal welfare and interstate commerce to the Supreme Court.

March 7, 2018
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Commentary

A City's Collision of Histories

Can Alabama’s capital honor both civil rights and the Confederacy? It thinks so.

February 1, 2018
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Commentary

Should Governments Measure People's Happiness?

Their citizens' sense of well-being may tell a lot about whether a community is thriving.

January 12, 2018
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Commentary

The Plight of America's Overlooked Industrial Cities

Whether you're talking about Detroit or Youngstown, Ohio, so-called legacy cities have similar problems with no simple solution.

December 14, 2017
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Politics & Elections

What Do States Have Against Cities, Anyway?

Legislatures regularly interfere with local affairs. The reasons, according to research, will surprise you.

November 28, 2017
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Urban

Why Neighborhood Nicknames Matter

They can have a big impact on economic fortunes and social cohesion, which explains the controversy that often surrounds them.

October 13, 2017
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Management & Labor

What’s Changed (and What Hasn’t) Since Governing Started 30 Years Ago

We first published in 1987, a year when states and cities seemed poised for innovation.

October 5, 2017
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Politics & Elections

What Today's Democratic Party Can Learn From Yesterday's GOP

In 1977, the GOP faced an identity crisis. It eventually found a winning formula and returned to power.

September 12, 2017
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Infrastructure & Environment

What Judges Don’t Understand About Transportation

There are no crystal balls, yet some judges expect planners and policymakers to predict the future anyway.

August 2, 2017
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Urban

How Much Can Cities Do About Walkability?

A lot of what fosters it is out of their control, but a little audacity goes a long way.

July 19, 2017
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Politics & Elections

Elected as a Tea Party Conservative But Governing as a Centrist

A lot of the hard-line GOP governors who won in 2010 have surprised their supporters with a shift toward pragmatism. What’s driving the change?

June 19, 2017
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Management & Labor

Is Syracuse Necessary?

Some want to save the fiscally challenged city in New York by effectively abolishing it.

May 22, 2017
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Urban

Are We Repeating Our Public-Housing Mistakes?

In the past, politicians have ignored the realities that exist in big cities. They seem to be doing it again.

April 19, 2017
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Urban

The Limits of Café Urbanism

Hip restaurants have helped revive cities. But is the boom fizzling out?

March 13, 2017
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Management & Labor

Shopping Inside Is Out

For centuries, commerce and fresh air went together. They’re starting to again.

February 24, 2017
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Politics & Elections

What Does State Legislatures' Past Say About Their Future?

A look back at their evolution may offer some idea of what lies ahead.

January 5, 2017
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Infrastructure & Environment

Boulevard Dreams

Cities and states have very different ideas for fixing decrepit urban highways.

December 19, 2016
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Finance

The Reality of Mayors’ Economic Promises

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

November 10, 2016
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Finance

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.

October 6, 2016
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Education

Will Civics Education Make People Better Voters?

It's making a comeback in public schools. But to really make voters more informed, the curriculum could use an overhaul.

September 12, 2016
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Urban

Urban Planners’ New Enemy

Cities are increasingly viewing parking in a negative light and rethinking its place in metropolitan America.

August 17, 2016
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Grid First Ten

The Reality of Living in Anytown, USA

Cities love to boast that they're special. It's not always true, but it can be a useful myth.

July 6, 2016
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Urban

Why Affordable Housing Is Hard to Build

There are lots of ideas out there. None of them are working very well.

June 15, 2016
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Politics & Elections

The Establishment? It’s Long Gone.

There’s a common perception that the Establishment is disappearing. In fact, it died decades ago at all levels of government.

May 9, 2016
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Politics & Elections

The Shaky Edifice of Federal Power

As states act more like independent sovereigns, Washington has itself to blame.

April 1, 2016
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Urban

The Saga of an Inner Suburb's Struggle for an Identity

A gritty blue-collar town in Minnesota reflects the tensions in many places located between cities and suburbs.

March 23, 2016
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Urban

The Problem With the Second Phase of Gentrification

Unlike a generation ago, today’s urban renaissance often displaces people and businesses.

February 2, 2016
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Infrastructure & Environment

Urbanophobia: A Growing Threat to Public Transit in America

In the ideological war over urban planning, anti-transit conservatives are gaining funding and allies.

January 19, 2016
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Urban

Resisting Inevitable Urbanization

In North Carolina, lawmakers don't want to embrace the state’s shift away from rural, small-town life. But their efforts may be futile.

December 1, 2015
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Finance

Why ‘Costs’ and ‘Savings’ Are Often an Illusion

Most public policy decisions are best described as transfers of wealth where somebody wins and somebody loses.

November 1, 2015
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Grid First Ten

Why It's Important to Know Lawmakers' Day Jobs

Whether states are governed by a coalition of farmers and teachers or an alliance of corporate executives and insurance brokers matters.

October 1, 2015
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Urban

The Panhandler Dilemma

When cities try to regulate them, they find themselves in a legal minefield.

September 1, 2015
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Urban

Hypergentrification and the Disappearance of Local Businesses

Wealthier people often move to gentrifying neighborhoods for the mom-and-pop stores, but their presence is driving the shops away. Can cities save them?

August 7, 2015
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Politics & Elections

Why Political Machines Were Good for Government

They may have had their negatives, but unlike Congress today -- and to some degree, the states -- they got the job done.

July 1, 2015
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Infrastructure & Environment

One Iconoclast’s Blunt Message on Transportation Funding

After advising municipalities on how to construct roads for years, Charles Marohn now believes America needs to stop building new highways. Will his new way of thinking catch on?

June 1, 2015
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Urban

How Well Can a City Predict Its Future 20 Years Out?

In 1994, Seattle won praise from urbanist thinkers nationwide with its 20-year plan for population and economic growth.

May 1, 2014
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Politics & Elections

When Does Politicians' Unethical Behavior Become a Crime?

Over the past few decades, it’s become easier to convict public officials for corruption but harder to know who’s really guilty of it.

April 1, 2015
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Education

Is Education Reform Worth the Demise of Neighborhood Schools?

Some worry the benefits of a better education don’t outweigh the new problems it brings.

March 1, 2015
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Urban

What, Exactly, Is Gentrification?

It’s hard to define, but it's dramatically changing the urban landscape and bringing a host of new challenges to local leaders.

February 1, 2015
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Politics & Elections

Are Democrats Out of Touch with Suburbia?

Some say Democrats suffered big blows in November because they’ve become a party of urban elitists.

February 1, 2015
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Politics & Elections

What Does Divided Government Mean for the Future of Politics?

The midterm elections marked the return of divided government, with more than a third of states in split-power situations.

January 1, 2015
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Urban

Urban Acupuncture Is Coming to America

Inspired by an idea that originated in 1970s Brazil, urban planners in America are increasingly thinking small scale to solve big problems.

December 1, 2014
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Elections

Arkansas Votes to Keep Prohibition

After a fight led by liquor stores, the state will keep decisions about whether or not to sell alcohol at the county level.

November 5, 2014
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Urban

Remembering Mayor Menino

The longtime mayor of Boston was an unconventional politician, and that's why he was one of the most successful urban leaders of his generation.

October 31, 2014
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Elections

Liquor Dealers Leading Arkansas’ Fight to Stay Dry

More than 80 years after Prohibition ended at the national level, Arkansas voters will decide in November whether to keep their state dry.

October 17, 2014
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Politics & Elections

The Evolution of State Legislatures Has Driven Some to Flee

As state legislatures' structures and salaries have changed, so have the type of people the political office attracts.

September 1, 2014
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Grid First Ten

Goodbye Gayborhood?

As gay Americans gained more acceptance and integrated themselves throughout cities over the past decade, a sociologist argues they've also lost some of their community and history.

August 21, 2014
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Urban

Court Case Could Challenge Houston's Hands-Off Approach

America's fourth-largest city has never had a zoning code.

August 1, 2014
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Urban

Are Suburbs All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

As suburban poverty rises, cities aren’t as enthusiastic about annexing the suburbs anymore.

July 1, 2014
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Education

Have Judges Overstepped Their Authority on Education?

Nearly every state has faced lawsuits over school funding. But only in Kansas have judges tried to quantify the quality of education.

June 1, 2014
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Infrastructure & Environment

Tallin, Estonia’s Bold Experiment with Free Public Transit

The Eastern European city found a way to offer free rides to citizens for a small cost to government. The U.S. has tried it before. Will cities try it again?

May 1, 2014
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Urban

Keeping Cities from Becoming “Child-Free Zones”

With kids on the decline in urban areas, cities can make themselves more attractive to young families by building more playgrounds.

April 1, 2014
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Politics & Elections

Bill de Blasio: The Neighborhood Mayor

After years under Michael Bloomberg, known to many as a “downtown mayor,” New Yorkers are looking to their new mayor to refocus resources on communities.

March 1, 2014
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Politics & Elections

Would We All Be Better Off If Mayors Ruled the World?

It’s a tempting idea, but cities simply don’t have the power to do what most of their residents want them to do.

February 1, 2014
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Urban

A Creative Comeback in the Big Easy

After years of stagnation following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is building itself a new economy.

January 1, 2014
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Finance

Meter Shock in Cincinnati

Privatizing parking meters was a disaster for Chicago. So why is Cincinnati doing it?

November 1, 2013
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Columns

School Scandals Reveal the Problem with Grading Schools

We measure school performance by test scores because it’s easy. But no simplistic set of A-F grades can ever account for all the intangible ways schools nurture their pupils.

October 1, 2013
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Columns

Hypocrisy in the USA: States Boss Around Localities

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

September 1, 2013
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Columns

A Streetcar Route Drives Typically Calm Arlington County into Conflict

The wealthy Virginia county outside Washington, D.C., has been free of the nasty political environment k彩平台 to its neighbors – until now. Causing the controversy is a proposed streetcar, which nearly a dozen cities are building.

August 1, 2013
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Columns

The Chicago Paradox

Despite its high murder rate, dysfunctional schools and aging transit, the central area of Chicago is growing faster than any other big city.

May 29, 2013
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Columns

Innovation’s Unexpected Return to States

The laboratories of democracy have reopened after the recession. But they’re not delivering the results that most experts have been conditioned to expect from them.

April 30, 2013
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Infrastructure & Environment

The Return of the Two-Way Street

Why the double-yellow stripe is making a comeback in downtowns.

December 1, 2009
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Infrastructure & Environment

The Rise of the Megaregion

The idea of "megaregions" is getting a bit too much mega-hype.

January 1, 2010
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Management & Labor

Taking Stock

Recalling 22 years of assessing the ebb and flow of states and localities.

February 1, 2010
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Management & Labor

Secrets of Urban Bodybuilding

If you live in Louisville, this is the time of year when it hurts your pride a little bit just to pick up the sports page. The cities that are your natural rivals--cities that used to rank right alongside you in size, image and self-confidence--are winning priceless national publicity on the professional football field.

January 1, 2001
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Health & Human k彩平台

Immigrants and the Suburban Influx

This fall, Parkview High School, in Lilburn, Georgia, was unable to field a ninth-grade football team. That is no tragedy; many schools have never even...

November 30, 2009
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Politics & Elections

Statewide Zoning: a Pipe Dream?

Gregory Bialecki wants something for Massachusetts that no other state has: a comprehensive statewide zoning code. He thinks that's needed to break down the longstanding...

September 30, 2009
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Politics & Elections

Evolution of a Mayor

Governing Correspondent Rob Gurwitt went to Los Angeles to get a feel for the politics and policies of its mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. I talked with...

January 31, 2007
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Management & Labor

The School-Renewal Fallacy

"If all who are engaged in the profession of education were willing to state the facts instead of making greater promises than they can possibly fulfill, they would not be in such bad repute with the lay public."

November 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Myths and Realities of Statehouse Power

The importance of governors lies not in their being electoral power brokers or potential presidential candidates but in making policy.

December 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Learning To Love Lifestyle Land

The problem is, it couldn't still be there. Small local bookstores can't make a go of it in most places these days. I wish that weren't true, but it is.

February 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

The Problem With Promises

Oregon has long had a reputation as a health-conscious place, so you probably won't be surprised to learn that people there don't smoke quite as much as people in the rest of the country.

January 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

The Deadly Dangers of Daily Life

Citizens and public officials alike aren't very good at evaluating risk and making intelligent decisions about it.

August 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Devolution's Double Standard

Somewhere in America, I suppose, there is a public official who believes unreservedly in devolution--believes that power, autonomy and flexibility should reside as far down in the governmental system as practically possible--and is willing to act on the basis of those beliefs, even at the expense of his own political authority.

April 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Why Too Much Safety is Dangerous

We've told this story in Governing before, but it makes the point so well that I hope you'll indulge my telling it one more time: There's a common pesticide called Atrazine that's used by farmers in many of the grain fields of the Midwest.

June 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Spreading Out the Clout

It's difficult to notice dogs that don't bark, as Sherlock Holmes demonstrated more than a century ago. It's also difficult to notice phones that don't ring.

April 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

'Caucusgate' in the Badger State

How's this for a juicy scandal: A state legislature sets up publicly funded caucuses to assist its majority and minority parties with legislative research and strategy.

April 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Putting Practice Into Theory

One afternoon in the fall of 1995, John McDonough tells us in his new book, "Experiencing Politics," he was sitting in his seat on the floor of the Massachusetts House of Representatives as the chamber prepared to vote on a huge tax break for Raytheon, the locally based defense contractor.

November 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Sprawl, Passion and Common Sense

Most of the time, it doesn't bother me when people talk about political issues in moral language. In fact, it bothers me when they don't.

April 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Beware The Amnesty Binge

Amnesty and forgiveness are two different things. Amnesty is indiscriminate--the canceling of debt, obligation or penalty not out of a desire for individual justice but out of a belief that there is something to be gained by simply wiping the slate clean.

January 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

The Monkey or the Gorilla?

States are the level of government we go to because we don't expect the others to succeed.

July 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Nepotism and the Meat AX

We Americans profess not to like nepotism very much, but when we see it on a grand enough scale, we're intrigued. We're not bothered by a presidential election in which both of the candidates owe every political triumph in life to the exploits of their fathers. We can get used to the idea of the president's brother as attorney general, or the president's wife as chief domestic policy adviser.

February 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

Coming Off The Bench

A few weeks ago, the Vermont Senate discussed a proposal to require that all state judges step down from office upon reaching the age of 110. This may sound like the mootest of moot points, given that no jurist in Vermont--or anywhere in the world, I imagine--has ever lived that long. But it had a purpose.

June 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Boldness Without Bluster

The mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, is talking about an experiment he launched earlier this year. Once a week, his department heads and senior managers are required to appear at an open meeting and answer questions from ordinary voters. "I learned that from the Sandinistas," he says.

December 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Jurors' Prudence

I used to think that, for some reason, the American judicial system was avoiding me. Over more than three decades of adult life, as a citizen of three different jurisdictions, I had never once served on a jury.

May 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

The Consolidated Divide

Mike Huckabee, the governor of Arkansas, is as amiable a fellow as most governors, and normally spends a good deal of his time traveling around the state and mixing with his constituents.

February 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Ballpark Dreaming

Economists have a reputation for being cool and dispassionate, but a few phrases or concepts have the capacity to turn even the meekest of them into hectoring ideologues, exasperated with the inability of others to exercise simple common sense.

November 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

Lessons from the Lobster Legislature

If there's any group of American citizens you wouldn't expect to find at the cutting edge of political reform, it's the lobster fishermen along the coast of Maine. Not only do they have a national reputation for being cranky loners--they readily accept it.

October 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

The Magic Word: Affordable

"My fellow citizens, I rise today to speak in opposition to affordable housing, quality day care and the Baptist Church." I briefly considered saying those words a few weeks ago as I spent a long Saturday afternoon at a County Board meeting in Arlington, Virginia, waiting for the five minutes allotted to me as a citizen speaker on a public issue.

December 1, 2004
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Politics & Elections

Uniquely Unicameral

Nebraska's single-house legislative body is unlike any that has existed in any state before or since.

January 1, 2006
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Management & Labor

Tinkering With History Books

The Minnesota House and Senate went k彩平台 for the summer a few weeks ago, having concluded a legislative session that left just about everyone disappointed.

July 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

Return to Center

Twenty-five years ago, a mayor of Chicago was defeated for renomination because of an insult rendered by his public transit system. The city was digging out from a blizzard, and there weren't enough trains to carry all the passengers who needed service.

April 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

Hizzoner's Finest Hours

Since crises aren't predictable, we can only hope to have the right leader at the right moment.

December 1, 2001
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Politics & Elections

Rewriting the Formula

Does an unconventional coalition in Colorado offer a model for Democrats around the country?

February 1, 2006
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Management & Labor

Will There Be A Big Dig It?

A few weeks ago, the chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority descended 100 feet below ground, unfurled a huge American flag, announced the opening of a tunnel, and began scouring history for superlatives. "This project," he boasted, "rivals the Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal."

May 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Small-Town Prophets

Granville Hicks, the literary critic, would have been a hundred years old a few weeks ago. Hicks died in 1982, and so he isn't exactly a household name anymore--I didn't know much about him myself until I ran across a copy of "Small Town," his portrait of the village of Grafton, New York, written just at the end of World War II. But the story is worth remembering, both for the unusual life the author led and for the ideas he emerged with after decades of personal struggle.

November 1, 2001
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Politics & Elections

The "Bill Mckay Effect"

We have a weakness for anointing eager young sons with modest credentials, solely on the strength of their connection to fathers we wouldn't take back if they begged us.

February 1, 2006
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Management & Labor

The Commonwealth of Boastfulness

When I started writing this column, I promised myself I wouldn't use it as a soapbox for personal grudges or quarrels. It can come off as bad sportsmanship, and most of the time, it bores the reader. But some opportunities are just too juicy to pass up.

October 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

The Residency Rebellion

On the far west side of Detroit, between the murky River Rouge and the suburb of Dearborn, sits a little neighborhood called Copper Canyon. It's a pleasant community of modest brick bungalows, manicured lawns and peaceful streets. It's also one of the few integrated neighborhoods remaining in the city.

May 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

The Politics of a Hole in the Ground

At the intersection of Wilson and Highland streets, a few blocks from where I live in Arlington, Virginia, there is a big, gaping hole in the ground. It isn't much to look at, as you might expect. But it's a hole in the ground with a rich history. If you will indulge me in a few paragraphs of local nostalgia, I think I can use it to draw some lessons about the ways of growth, planning and survival these days in metropolitan America.

September 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

Back to the Future

Forty years ago, American society looked into the transportation future and found it thrilling. The first U.S. astronaut had orbited the earth. Preparations for a moon landing were underway.

May 1, 2002
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Politics & Elections

Bob Keenan: Mental Adjustment

All things being equal, Bob Keenan is a man who prefers to have government stay out of the way and let private enterprise tackle the tough societal jobs.

March 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Electoral Overload

Abolishing elected treasurers, auditors and commissioners would probably do more good than harm.

August 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

Heights of Fasion

"Why do I love Paris?" Cole Porter keeps asking, in one of his least clever songs. "Why, oh why, do I love Paris?" Finally he ends the suspense. It's because his sweetie is in the neighborhood.

September 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Machine Politics

There was a small news item in last month's issue of this magazine. The Business of Government section reported on a new online program in Missouri that gathers disease data from 50 labs and hospitals and tells the Health Department almost instantly if something resembling an epidemic is loose in the state.

November 1, 2003
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Politics & Elections

The Merchant Mayor

For years, Boston's Tom Menino has argued that retail commerce is the key to revitalizing urban neighborhoods. Other cities have begun to listen.

July 1, 2001
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Infrastructure & Environment

The Return of The Grid

After centuries of abuse, gridded streets are finally getting some respect.

November 1, 2005
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Management & Labor

'Rightsizing' the Legislature

I can't imagine many of you have been to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. But I can help visualize it for you: Just close your eyes and think of an old public high school auditorium.

July 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

Memorial Disservice

There was a time, not too long ago, when almost everyone in Seattle remembered Caspar Sharples. He was a revered physician and educator during the early years of this century, the founder of two hospitals and a guiding force behind development of the city's school system.

March 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Why We Don't Have it Made in the Shade

A few years ago, I went for a drive through the winding streets of Emery Manor, a subdivision of small, Levittown-like rambler houses built in the Chicago suburbs in the early 1950s. People in the older neighborhoods nearby said terrible things about Emery Manor when it was going up: They called it a drab, tasteless collection of identical tiny boxes, scarcely better than shacks.

June 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

Bringing Down The Housing Performers

There's something about the subject of public housing that saps the enthusiasm of even the most dutiful students of government. Self- described policy wonks who have little trouble discoursing on the Medicaid dual-eligible problem or the mass transit mode split start to fidget when anybody brings up Section 8 or Hope VI.

October 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Can you be an Urbanist and Still Like Cities?

The 20th century produced a pantheon of brilliant urban thinkers and planners. Some built, some mostly wrote, some did both. Some did better than others at translating their ideas into reality. But one way or another, we are living with the consequences of their vision:

May 1, 2001
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Politics & Elections

Political Pawns

Millions will be spent in this year's battle for the Wisconsin legislature. But the candidates won't know where most of the money is coming from. They'll be bystanders in their own campaigns.

July 1, 2000
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Politics & Elections

Frankfurter's Curse

Fifty-eight years ago, Justice Felix Frankfurter told his brethren to stay out of the business of drawing political maps. "Courts ought not to enter this political thicket," Frankfurter warned in Colegrove v. Green. "The fulfillment of this duty cannot be judicially enforced."

January 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

A Job Even Mr. Rogers Might Not Want

On a wall at my neighborhood community house, in Arlington County, Virginia, there are two gold plaques with 43 names on them. They are the names of all the people who have served as president of the Lyon Village Citizens Association since 1926, the year the neighborhood was created.

July 1, 2000
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Smart Management

Theory of Partisan Reality

The past decade has brought a marked increase in partisan unpleasantness in legislative bodies almost everywhere in the country.

March 1, 2006
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Management & Labor

In Search of the Ideal Legislature

You and I might not agree on the best American governors of recent years, but we would probably agree on what makes a governor effective. Mostly, it's a matter of having a coherent program and finding ways to get it enacted.

November 1, 2004
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Politics & Elections

The Veto Gambit

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that 2006 may be something more than a routine veto year.

July 1, 2007
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Management & Labor

The Great Transit Turnaround

In the mid-1980s, when metropolitan Portland first began planning a light-rail line, the downtown merchants in suburban Gresham, Oregon, discussed the issue and reached a quick consensus: They didn't want it.

August 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Politics In Prose

1It's a cliche that there are no great Washington novels. I don't know if it's true or not. It may be. The book most often cited as a candidate, "Democracy," by Henry Adams, was written 120 years ago; in recent times, more critics probably have praised it than have read it.

December 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

The Teenage Highway Slowdown

It isn't the teenagers who are the main obstacle to safer licensing laws; it's their parents.

March 1, 2002
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Health & Human k彩平台

Curbing Parking

Local zoning laws mandate parking spaces as if empty lots were a virtue.

June 1, 2005
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Management & Labor

Lives of the Politicians

Early in the Nixon administration, when supporters of civil rights worried that the new president was about to follow up on the racially divisive rhetoric of his 1968 campaign, Attorney General John Mitchell sought to reassure them with a few simple words: "Don't watch what we say--watch what we do."

March 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

Taxing Smoke and Beers

You've heard it said, no doubt, that states have been a little timid this year about raising taxes to get themselves out of economic trouble. That's true--at least for those who don't smoke or drink.

September 1, 2002
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Infrastructure & Environment

A New View of Sprawl

The conventional wisdom about suburbs and sprawl can change dramatically over time.

October 1, 2005
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Infrastructure & Environment

How Rail Impacts Retail

A successful transit line means a more intense commercial life around the stations, and that means higher property values, higher rents and the invasion of chain stores.

September 1, 2006
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Management & Labor

Meetings of the Minds

When people think about Montana, "consensus" isn't the first idea that pops into their heads. "Conflict" would be more like it. The history of Big Sky Country is filled with epic confrontations between farmers and ranchers, miners and copper companies, environmentalists and property owners.

February 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Optional Illusions

There are some who say that direct democracy is the wave of the future in American government. If I may be excused for paraphrasing John F. Kennedy, let them come to Denver.

June 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

Urban Vision Through Corporate Ayes

Once upon a time in this country, architects did everything they could to sound like romantic poets. Generations of history students have faithfully copied down Daniel Burnham's pompous but powerful admonition to "make no little plans--they have no magic to stir men's blood."

June 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Tragic Official of the Year

Every year, this magazine honors people who have accomplished impressive things in state or local government.

October 1, 2002
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Management & Labor

Vermont's Judicial Distillery

I'm not a lawyer, so I've never aspired to being a judge. But I sometimes indulge in fantasies about the sort of judge I would be, if given the chance. I'd be a wonderful judge--patient, fair-minded, even-tempered, witty, self-deprecating--but above all, restrained.

February 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Republicans Behaving Badly

I remember being taught in the fourth grade that one of the few really noble elements of human nature was the willingness to put aside differences in time of crisis. It's no fairy tale, either; we've all seen it dozens of times. A river floods, or a city is devastated by an earthquake or terrorists strike without warning--and all of a sudden there's a feeling of common purpose and a suspension of petty bickering.

July 1, 2003
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Management & Labor

Sometimes Blaming the Victim Makes Sense

Back when Lester Maddox was governor of Georgia, in the late 1960s, there was a riot at the state prison. Reporters asked him what he planned to do about the conditions that caused the trouble. Maddox rejected the entire premise of the question. "There's nothing wrong with our prison system," he said. "We just don't have a very good class of prisoners anymore."

April 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

The Drug-War Conundrum

A few minutes into the movie "Traffic," in a Washington, D.C., cocktail party scene, an amiable red-haired man offers some wisdom about the nation's drug problem: "You'll never solve this on the supply side."

March 1, 2001
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Management & Labor

Fighting Poverty from the Front Porch

There are two significant things to say right off the bat about Florida's new statewide anti-poverty program.

January 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

The Mayor-Manager Conundrum

El Paso has always been a little bit eccentric. When the state university campus was built there, in the 1920s, the local leaders chose Bhutanese architecture, based on an obscure style used in the Himalayas in medieval times.

October 1, 2004
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Management & Labor

A Job Even Mr. Rogers Might Not Want

On a wall at my neighborhood community house, in Arlington County, Virginia, there are two gold plaques with 43 names on them.

July 1, 2000
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Management & Labor

Scapegoating in Salt Lake

Philosophy students occasionally wile away idle moments by arguing over what constitutes a truly victimless crime. It's a more complicated issue than one might suppose.

August 1, 2000
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Does Urban-Planning News Travel Slower in Miami?

We all learned in school about the Battle of New Orleans, the glorious American military victory in the War of 1812 that took place weeks after ...

September 16, 2009
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Deleted in Boise

Here's one of the more unusual "State of the State" stories I"ve seen in a while. A couple of weeks ...

January 27, 2009
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In the Zone

A short article in the Chicago Sun-Times last week got me thinking again about a local politics issue that's more interesting than it may seem: the rules for zoned residential parking.

August 23, 2007
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Countering Crime's Comeback

In a conversation last week with Michael Nutter, who is all but certain to become mayor of Philadelphia in a few months, I was struck by a couple of things: the dramatic return of the crime issue in urban politics right now, and the dilemma an incoming mayor such as Nutter faces in trying to deal with it.

August 21, 2007
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Paddy's Law

     Here's a interesting new law: In Illinois, from now on, if you change your name and then run for office within three ...

February 12, 2007
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Fenty and schools

        I guess I shouldn't be surprised when Adrian Fenty says his first priority as mayor of DC will be fixing ...

January 4, 2007
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The Blue-ing of the Burbs

  A belated thought about what happened in Virginia last Tuesday, and what it might mean for other states: There was a time, not too ...

November 17, 2006
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Why Are Female Lawmakers So Blue?

Wandering around the NCSL website the other day, I stumbled on some interesting figures on the gender makeup of legislatures. Women comprise about 23 percent of ...

August 24, 2006
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Supreme Teases

Those Supreme Court justices, they're a bunch of teasers, aren't they? For the past 20 years they've been saying that raw partisan gerrymandering is potentially unconstitutional ...

June 29, 2006
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The Legacy of Jane Jacobs

      So much has been said already about Jane Jacobs in the short time since her death -- or will be said in ...

April 27, 2006
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It's About Time

     Well, Sunday morning I'll be running around the house grumbling about all the clocks, just like I do twice every year, wondering ...

March 31, 2006
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Naming Wrongs

It's been amusing to watch the Minnesota university system and state legislature squabble over what to call the new stadium that will be built on ...

March 23, 2006
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Colorado Cooperation

Having written a story for Governing's February issue on coalition politics in Colorado -- and having touted Colorado all year as a state that offers ...

January 29, 2006
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Patronage Trap Flap

I never know what the reaction is going to be to my Assessments column in Governing when it is published each month. Some months there ...

December 15, 2005
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Are Governors Immune to Second-Term Slumps?

I ran into Tom Cronin, the political scientist, the other day, and he raised a really interesting question that I couldn't answer. The question was ...

November 29, 2005
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Two Takes on Urban Revival

I find myself pondering a lunchtime talk I heard yesterday by Chris Leinberger, the developer and New Urbanist thinker who's currently involved in recreating downtown ...

October 28, 2005
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Mike and Arnold: Big Spender and Panhandler

I haven't looked at any financial statements from Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michael Bloomberg lately, so I don't know just how rich either of them is.&...

October 24, 2005
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Law, Dog Bites Man

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The author of a new state law that allows felony charges against owners of dangerous dogs was hospitalized over the ...

October 17, 2005
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2010: A Term Limits Odyssey

Fifteen years ago or so, around the time legislatures were first passing term limits laws, we ran an article in this magazine pondering what life ...

October 17, 2005
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An Honest Federalist

I've been arguing for years that nobody in national politics really believes in federalism--not as an end in itself. Federalism and devolution are just ideological ...

September 6, 2005
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One-Track Mind

Maybe it's my Jetson-era upbringing, but I've always had a weakness for the Seattle monorail project. Some of it was just my own contrarianism, I ...

June 28, 2005
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Hula Dance

   Going after NACO for convening in Hawaii may be a bit of a cheap shot, but it's one that local TV news will ...

June 14, 2005
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