Author Archives: afscme

Tapped out: how can cities secure their water future?

Source: Brian D. Richter, David Abell, Emily Bacha, Kate Brauman, Stavros Calos, Alex Cohn, Carlos Disla, Sarah Friedlander O’Brien, David Hodges, Scott Kaiser, Maria Loughran, Cristina Mestre, Melissa Reardon and Emma Siegfried, Water Policy, Vol. 15 No. 3, 2013

From the abstract:
Cities around the world are struggling to access additional water supplies to support their continued growth because their freshwater sources are becoming exhausted. Half of all cities with populations greater than 100,000 are located in water-scarce basins, and in these basins agricultural water consumption accounts for more than 90% of all freshwater depletions. In this paper we review the water development histories of four major cities: Adelaide, Phoenix, San Antonio and San Diego. We identify a similar pattern of water development in these cities, which begins with the exhaustion of local surface and groundwater supplies, continues with importation of water from other basins, and then turns to recycling of wastewater or stormwater, or desalination of either seawater or brackish groundwater. Demand management through water conservation has mitigated, to varying degrees, the timing of water-system expansions and the extent to which cities rely on new sources of supply. This typical water development pattern in cities is undesirable from a sustainability perspective, as it is usually associated with serious ecological and social impacts as well as sub-optimal cost effectiveness. We highlight case examples and opportunities to invest in water conservation measures, particularly through urban–rural partnerships under which cities work with farmers to implement irrigation conservation measures, thereby freeing up water for ecological restoration and use by cities.

Funding Special Education by Total District Enrollment: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Policy Considerations

Source: Elizabeth Dhuey, Stephen Lipscomb, Education Finance and Policy, Early Access: Posted Online May 24, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Several states and the federal government distribute aid for special education programs based primarily on total district enrollment and a fixed aid amount per student, a method called census funding. In this policy brief, we address three questions to help policy makers, educators, and researchers better understand census-funding models and special education finance policies in general. The first question is, what are the key advantages and disadvantages of census-funding models? The second and third questions relate to aspects of policy implementation, in the event a state legislature should choose to adopt the approach. First, we examine what options are available to mitigate concerns about the equity of funding under a census funding model. Second, we examine what other options exist for helping states and districts to contain special education costs while maintaining a high level of quality.

Turning Migrants into Criminals: The Harmful Impact of US Border Prosecutions

Source: Grace Meng, Human Rights Watch, May 22, 2013

From the abstract:
This 82-page report documents the negative impact of illegal entry and reentry prosecutions, which have increased 1,400 and 300 percent, respectively, over the past 10 years and now outnumber prosecutions for all other federal crimes. Over 80,000 people were convicted of these crimes in 2012, many in rapid-fire mass prosecutions that violate due process rights. Many are separated from their US families, and a large number end up in costly and overcrowded federal prisons, some for months or years.
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Standing by Uniformed Officers: Why local governments should consider a retired officer policy

Source: Ronald Thrasher, PM Magazine, Vol. 95 no. 5, June 2013
(subscription required)

Cops and firefighters die. Of more interest may be how and why they lose their lives. Less is known about firefighters, but research indicates that police officers are between three to five times more likely to die by suicide than to be killed in the line of duty. Research further indicates that a vulnerable time for our officers to die by suicide appears to be shortly following retirement. This article explores possible causes of uniformed personnel suicide and the cultural similarities shared by uniformed employees. It presents little-to-no-cost policies that provide a lifeboat for retiring uniformed personnel and also outlines additional no-cost local services that these individuals may provide following retirement…

Interstate Variations in Private Sector Union Density in the U.S.

Source: Behroz Baraghoshi, Cihan Bilginsoy, Journal of Labor Research, Volume 34, Issue 2, June 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This paper uses union density variations across state and state-industry cells in 1985, 1995, and 2005 to examine the factors that contributed to the decline in private sector unionization in the U.S. In addition to the conventional variables, it develops two measures to gauge the effects of union-management strife. Estimations indicate that union density varied directly with union organizing efforts and inversely with the employer opposition to unionization. Decomposition analysis reveals, however, that these variables do not explain why union density declined because changes in their marginal effects were favorable to unionization. Declining union density instead is attributable mostly to the shift factors subsumed under the intercept term over 1985–1995, and shift factors cum negative changes in sensitivity of unionization to workforce characteristics over 1995–2005.

The Economic Impact of Shale Gas Development on State and Local Economies: Benefits, Costs, and Uncertainties

Source: Jannette M. Barth, New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, Volume 23, Number 1, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
It is often assumed that natural gas exploration and development in the Marcellus Shale will bring great economic prosperity to state and local economies. Policymakers need accurate economic information on which to base decisions regarding permitting and regulation of shale gas extraction. This paper provides a summary review of research findings on the economic impacts of extractive industries, with an emphasis on peer-reviewed studies. The conclusions from the studies are varied and imply that further research, on a case-by-case basis, is necessary before definitive conclusions can be made regarding both short- and long-term implications for state and local economies.

Municipal hospital – Cities fund clinics to temper rising healthcare costs

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, May 20, 2013

With the cost of health benefits for city workers and their families climbing, cities nation-wide are opening municipal healthcare facilities. To get a better understanding of the trend, American City & County spoke with three cities in Florida to see if the quest for publicly-funded, affordable health care is bearing fruit…