Pittsburgh: Built on Public-Private Partnerships

In 1994 when Tom Murphy became Mayor of Pittsburgh the city had been in decline for 50 years.  He looked at his assets:  300,000 residents (half of what it had been), thousands of acres of empty or underutilized land, a significantly below average cost of living index, Carnegie Mellon University, an entrepreneurial culture, a tradition… Read More

Elon Musk and the Boring Company

UPDATE (7/12/17): Elon Musk makes transportation news again.  (Note:  We don’t count Tesla under transportation.   It is a demonstration of battery power for the future.)  The Hyperloop lets us imagine true long distance rapid transit, moving sci fi to reality, letting us speed across the planet’s surface. According to a June 27 article by Nick Statt,… Read More

Procurement: Boston Story

Laura Melle, on the City of Boston Office of Technology team, was assigned to support the evolving departmental procurement process, provided the background information for this story.  The Office of Technology “inbeds” data oriented staff in key line departments to build support for and overcome the challenges to bringing these departments into “smart cities” status.… Read More

Procurement: Town of Arlington MA Story

Arlington is a “town” in the New England parlance of local government.   It has a Board of Selectmen instead of a city council and its chief legislative body, Town Meeting meets several days each spring,   to address major town issues, warrants and to pass the town budget.  The Town meeting opens each season with… Read More

Procurement: Kansas City MO Story

Kathy Garman and Cedric Rowan, KCMO employees working with procurement issues (11/15), provided most of the information and insights into new ways Kansas City is acquiring technology to enable it to develop into a leading 21st century smart city. City policy in Kansas City MO is very sensitive to the “digital divide” issue.    The city… Read More

Procurement: Philadelphia PA Story

Nick Susi, provided the background information for this story.  Nick previously worked in the Philadelphia Office of Information and Technology (OIT) and now works in the Procurement Dept., bringing with him to procurement a greater than usual appreciation for the complexities of buying 21st century ICT and digitally enhanced hardware and infrastructure using the traditional… Read More

Needed: An “Academy Awards” for Cities

America needs a National Urban Policy Summit. Kevyn Orr is an inspiring fellow.  And, as the Emergency Manager for the City of Detroit, overseeing the city’s bankruptcy process, he knows a thing or two about cities.  In a recent forum at Harvard University, he suggested the country is way overdue for a close look at what… Read More

Creating a Facilities Maintenance Department: Arlington Case Study

In Spring 2015, Arlington’s legislative body voted to approve the establishment of a new department to oversee Facilities Maintenance.  Ruth Bennett, Architect, was hired in August, 2015 to head the new department.  The process of establishing the department was the result of recommendations from the Capital Planning Committee to the Board of Selectman who established… Read More

Fate of Boston’s Failed 2024 Olympics Bid – Determined in 1822

Boston is no longer in the running for the 2024 Summer Olympics.  While the City convulses in streams of joy and sorry, the question “what went wrong” emerges.  The answer to that question may go back to 1822 when the city was incorporated, over 200 years before the Olympics would have happened.  Or maybe the… Read More

Five Elements of City Performance Improvement

The City of Carlton, Oregon engaged a team to establish a performance management approach that improves Carlton City government results. Under the new approach, the City would continually focus on its mission and goals and use performance information in management and policy decision-making. A results-oriented focus would permeate the City government’s strategic planning, budgeting, measuring,… Read More

Public Buildings & Services: How Much Does Municipality Need?

Article 8 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton Town buildings, both school and municipal, comprise 1.3 million square feet of building space.  That is a lot of property to maintain.  And it doesn’t include the Town’s open space, parks and fields.   Some properties key to the town’s… Read More

Arlington History Preserved In New Master Plan

Article 7 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton (https://assetstewardship.com/about-assetstewardship/barbara-thornton-bio/) Reminders of Arlington’s Revolutionary War history are scattered throughout the town.  The town, first inhabited by the Algonquian group of Native Americans, then settled by European colonists in 1635 and incorporated in 1807, took its current name in… Read More

Master Plan to Preserve Open Space & Natural Resources for Future

Article 6 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton (https://assetstewardship.com/about-assetstewardship/barbara-thornton-bio/) Arlington residents value the town’s walkability, woodlands and water vistas and tree lined streets.  It will require careful Town policy and citizen advocacy to preserve these valuable assets for the future.  The Master Plan, now in draft form… Read More

Housing Choices Shape Affordability and Vitality of Town Future

Article 5 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton The Master Plan will have a distinct section focusing on housing and in Arlington there will be much to decide.  Housing prices in Arlington are among the fastest rising in the region.  According to a recent article in the… Read More

Arlington Master Plan Considers Economic Development

Article 4 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.  Prepared by Barbara Thornton  Most of Arlington’s budget depends on the Town’s tax base. As the cost of services increases, the Town budget must increase. Massachusetts communities are limited in their ability to increase taxes on existing property. Many municipalities have developable land… Read More

Traffic and Transportation Issues Shape Arlington Future

Article 3 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.  Prepared by Barbara Thornton A conversation about transportation issues extends well beyond rush hour car traffic congestion. As the Town contemplates its future 20 years from now, should it build wider streets, wider bike paths, wider sidewalks or none of the above? If… Read More

Arlington Choices for Future Land Use

Article 2 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.   Prepared by Barbara Thornton Arlington, relative to other communities in the region, is a densely developed residential suburb with some commercial centers and a variety of interesting, walkable neighborhoods spread over a topography of hills, streams, ponds and flat lands. The Town’s property… Read More

What Is a Master Plan?

Article 1 in a series on the Arlington, MA master planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton Arlington, located about 15 miles north west of Boston, is now developing a master plan that will reflect the visions and expectations of the community and will provide enabling steps for the community to move toward this vision over the… Read More

Uncovering State And Local Government: 15 Hidden Successes

October 2, 2014 reported by Stefaan Verhulst in GovLab Digest Emily Jarvis at GovLoop writes: “From garbage trucks to vacant lots, cities and states are often tasked with the thankless job of cleaning up a community’s mess. These are tasks that are often overlooked, but are critical to keeping a community vibrant. But even in these… Read More

Boston New Urban Mechanics Office Leads Civic Tech Implementation

Boston, the “City on a Hill”,  prides itself as a thought leader on topics of philosophy (transcendentalism), political theory (John Adams, Declaration of Independence) and public policy (Boston’s implementation of the 1965 Racial Imbalance Act) for over 300 years.  Clearly the City of Boston hasn’t always got it right. But the City gets big credit for… Read More