Our Common Purpose: Empower Voters

This article is based on a report, OUR COMMON PURPOSE, produced in June, 2020, by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In his New Yorker article of 11/16/20, Evan Osnos likened the report to the civic equivalent of the 9/11 Commission Report. It offers bipartisan recommendations in the form of six Strategies, with between two and eight… Read More

Our Common Purpose: Achieve Equality of Voice and Representation

The debate over the electoral college, which in recent history, has resulted in three presidents taking office with a lower actual vote count than their competition, has raised the question of who gets to be heard in the selection of a president. The weakening, in 2013, of the protections in the national Voting Rights Act raises questions about voice and representation, as does the expanding range of methods to disenfranchise eligible voters. Read More

Smart Cities Projects Launch

The Smart Cities Council has the following annual program rewarding cities that offer winning proposals for “smart city” improvements. The finalist projects, listed below, offer suggestions for possible “smart cities” technology improvements to local governments everywhere. Read More

How Will Future Government Look?

Gather together about 130 citizens and 25 civil society and think tank representatives.  Invite them to review the present and speculate on how government will look in the future.  Review and synthesize the resulting discussions.  Out comes four different scenarios: DIY Democracy   (page 32) Private Algocracy   (page 38) Super Collaborative Government   (page 44) Over-Regulatocracy   … Read More

Performance Reporting – Who Cares?

y Jeff Tryens, former Deputy Director for Performance Mangement, New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg Call it what you will – performance management, managing for results, data-driven decision making – it‘s what good government managers aspire to these days. We true believers are convinced that reliable, timely data on inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes… Read More

Santa Ana Police and John Birch Society

In 2020, after the horrific killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, viewed around the world on public media, the question of police reform is again on the minds of legislators and policy makers at the local, state and federal levels.  A familiarity of the evolutionary history, tracing how a municipal department could,… Read More

Race and Governance: Some Protest Is Required

“Asset Stewardship” can refer to city building, transit, power grids, school buildings.  It can also refer to governance.  Like physical assets structured on behalf of the citizenry, good governance is an asset needing stewardship, as well. With nightly protests in Portland, Oregon now heading into the third month (July 2020), the Federal government has sent… Read More

IRS Can End Child Poverty

This year the US government will lose $207 BILLION because the government made a policy decision to allow rich people to pay significantly less taxes, dividends and long term capital gains are taxed a a lower level than regular income.  You have to be really rich to get taxed less.  That’s a lot of money… Read More

Bringing Police Back Under Municipal Control

The US is entering a new wave of police reform intended to shape a police department that is responsible to the community it serves.  But this in not the first time in America that municipal policing has undergone reform.  Understanding the reasons for prior reforms and what went wrong, may help the country to get… Read More

Cities, MIT Test Corona Virus Tracking App

Municipal governments find themselves on the front line managing the space between policies protecting citizens’ health and policies generated at the state and federal level to promote often conflicting responses to the corona virus.  Some municipalities are participating in an MIT led test to track the virus.  This leadership role for municipalities is leading to… Read More

For Better or Worse, Algorithms Help Control Local Communities

Written by Beryl Lipton What is the chance you, or your neighbor, will commit a crime? Should the government change a child’s bus route? Add more police to a neighborhood or take some away? Governing bodies throughout the United States are turning to automated decision making systems in an attempt to make their operations more efficient,… Read More

Cow Poop Gets Monetized

The “Green New Deal” proposed by Congresswoman Andrea Ocasio-Cortez, included  methane gas expelled by cows as one of the potential contributors to climate change.  But capitalists have a plan for solving this. An energy utility company, Dominion Energy Inc., has entered into a $200 million agreement with a renewable energy producer,  Vanguard Renewables, of Wellesley,… Read More

What to the Slave is the 4th of July?

In theory, one of the greatest assets of the United States of America is the freedom, under the rule of law, provided to its citizens.  But when asked to speak on the 4th of July, the celebration of our country’s Declaration of Independence”, famous orator, statesman and former slave Frederick Douglass delivered a speech, on… Read More

FIVE US Cities Could Run Out of Water

Cape Town, South Africa came close, saved by a rainfall, from running out of water in early 2018.   Climate change brings water shortages to many areas in the Middle East and Africa.  America is not immune from water shortages.  Polluted water strikes closer to home with Flint, Michigan as an example.  In America population growth… Read More

What SMART Stuff Are Cities Buying Now?

The concept of “Smart Cities” has crossed the threshold of most US City and Town Halls.  But there are many different interpretations of what “SMART” might mean.  And there are more criteria for what is urgent, affordable and practical.  For those municipalities who may be wondering what others are investing in, Nick Schiffler has put… Read More

Court Says Citizens Can Sue Feds for Clean Water

A federal judge ruled on Friday (April 19, 2019) that residents of Flint, Michigan, can move forward with a lawsuit against the federal government regarding the city’s lack of clean drinking water. The government is not immune from legal action, ruled Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. … Read More

Arlington Continues Master Plan Discussions

The citizens of Arlington engaged in an active and well publicized discussion about all the elements of a proposed new town Master Plan.  These discussions took place in well attended public meetings held, primarily, at the Senior Center/ Central School’s main public meeting space.  They were held in a series of meetings, each meeting considering… Read More

ClimateNet Offers Hope for Managing Climate Change Future

Massive computing power using mammoth databases combines with cutting edge approaches born from Artificial Intelligence (AI) research.  In the capable hands of a team of scientists and mathematicians at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, new approaches to forecasting and managing climate change and major weather events are in development. The ClimateNet project will bring the power of… Read More

Russia Revitalizes Urban Spaces

from Charlemagne:  What a campaign to revive Russia’s urban spaces means for civil society,  Economist, 8-11-18 SOVIET SQUARE in Voronezh no longer looks especially Soviet. Children dart through a dancing fountain. BMX bikers barrel across new tiles. Grassy groves play home to picnicking teens. “It’s practically Spain,” gushes a pensioner. The newly reconstructed square is one… Read More

San Francisco’s New Mayor

London Breed is set to become San Francisco’s first black female mayor.   Breed now joins the ranks of the mayors of 15 largest cities in the United States; she’s the only woman currently in that group, and the fourth person of color. If you expand the selection to the top 20 cities, she’s got some company:… Read More