Editor’s note: The word “secession” is often used in reference to states or countries that wish to break off and form their own government. But here in the United States, there are communities that want to secede from their school districts to form their own. One of the latest examples is a case in Gardendale, Alabama, where a court recently ruled that the community’s attempt to leave the Jefferson County, Alabama, school district was motivated by racial discrimination and therefore unconstitutional. In order to gain more insight into what’s driving school district secession efforts, The Conversation reached out to Erica Frankenberg, who has examined the effect of the school secession movement on school segregation in Jefferson County and throughout the nation…..
Source: Stephanie A. Pink-Harper, The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 48 no. 3, April 2018
From the abstract:
Counties have expanded the scope of their activities in the economic development process. However, limited research exists of the factors that influence economic growth and development trends of these unique communities. The primary focus of this case study analysis is to determine whether form of government has an impact on county economic growth and development trends while controlling for environmental context and demographic characteristics in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington. To empirically test the impact that county form of government and environmental factors have on local economic growth and development trends, ordinary least squares regression is used. The results of this study show that form of government has only a marginal impact on county economic growth and development trends. County environmental factors are found to have a more substantive impact on the economic growth and development trends of counties across these four states.
From the summary:
New Census Bureau data released on March 22, 2018, demonstrate the continuing influence of domestic migration on U.S. demographic trends. Migration patterns are reverting to those common before the recession. Suburban counties of large metropolitan areas, smaller metropolitan areas, and rural counties proximate to metropolitan areas all gained more domestic migrants in the last year. In contrast, domestic migration losses grew in the core counties of metropolitan areas of 1 million or more and remained substantial in rural counties that are not adjacent to an urban area.
– Domestic migration losses from large urban cores rose sharply.
– Domestic migration gains are accelerating in other metro areas.
– Population growth has resumed in rural areas.
– More people are dying, but births remain low.
Source: State Policy Reports, Vol. 36 no. 4, February 2018
It can be a challenge to track the flow of federal funds to states, but that challenge pales in comparison to the one faced by those wanting to track federal fiscal flows to units of local government.
From the abstract:
By one recent estimate, about 9.2 percent of Americans, or almost 30 million people, lack access to wired home broadband service, which the FCC defines as an Internet access connection providing speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Even where home broadband is available, high prices inhibit adoption; in one national survey, 33 percent of non-subscribers cited cost of service as the primary barrier. Municipally and other community-owned networks have been proposed as a driver of competition and resulting better service and prices.
We examined prices advertised by a subset of community-owned networks that use fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology. In late 2015 and 2016 we collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally-owned) FTTH networks. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband (regardless of the exact speeds provided) and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities and found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when the service costs and fees were averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also found that almost all community-owned FTTH networks offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months.
We made the incidental finding that Comcast advertised different prices and terms for the same service in different regions. We do not have enough information to draw conclusions about the impacts of these practices. In general, our ability to study broadband pricing was constrained by the lack of standardization in internet service offerings and a shortage of available data.
City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing
Source: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, January 15, 2018
Data shows why customers want muni broadband—and why telecom industry fears it. …. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks. This fight includes pushing legislators to draft anti-municipal broadband state laws, lobbying against local ballot initiatives, and filing lawsuits against cities that build their own networks. ….
Source: Matías Valenzuela, Public Administration Review, Volume 77, Issue 6, November/December 2017
….What happens when local government decides that a top priority is addressing issues of racial justice, equity, and opportunity—especially when progress is stalled at the national level? The story of King County, Washington, offers one illustration.
King County provides local and regional services to more than two million people across 39 cities and unincorporated areas in transportation, criminal justice, public health and human services, natural resources, and more.
Building on Isett, Head, and VanLandingham’s (2016) work on how evidence can better inform public administration, this article considers evidence in several important ways. King County’s approach to equity and social justice has been driven by both data and values. Almost a decade of experience within King County—as well as other jurisdictions around the country with equity initiatives1—has made addressing equity and racial justice increasingly a discipline based on evidence and promising practices.
In addition, this article lays out the evidence for why governments should focus on equity and social justice. King County’s theory of change—backed by the evidence of working “upstream” and addressing root causes—provides a how that is more effective than many traditional government approaches and interventions that focus “downstream” at the individual level…..
From the introduction:
Though it is easy to look at what is happening in Congress and our federal government these days and feel despair, now is the time for advocates across the country to double-down on their efforts to fight for progressive reform at the state and local level wherever possible. In states with leadership open to progressive reforms, advocates should be looking for every opportunity to introduce and work toward passing either this year or in the near future the kinds of reforms that will help low-wage workers gain a foothold in the economy and be more economically secure.
Even in states where the policy terrain is less favorable, finding legislators to champion progressive policies is both a messaging victory demonstrating to the electorate what is possible, but also can be an effective weapon to fight off ill-advised proposals aimed at taking power and rights away from workers and giving more to corporate employer interests.
The fact is that our nation’s low-wage and middle class workers are more vulnerable than they have been in most of our lifetimes, and this is particularly true for immigrant workers and people of color. The tone and tenor of so much of the national dialogue these days is deeply negative and divisive. But bringing together community-based organizations, their members, advocates and legislators at the state level can help turn the tide toward the positive. We can work together to present an alternative vision of what this nation should be about and how it should value its working people.
The legislative proposals discussed in this brief present advocates with a menu of options they can explore with state legislators and allies. Any one of them would represent a significant step forward to marginalized and low-income workers, and NELP staff are able to provide campaigns with technical assistance to help get off the ground and build for success.
From the tip sheet:
The 2016 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll statistics provide a comprehensive look at the employment of the nation’s state and local governments. The survey provides state and local government data on full- and part-time employment, part-time hours worked, full-time equivalent employment, and payroll statistics by governmental function.
Public employment and payroll data are used by federal, state and local governments, and educational and research organizations for a variety of activities such as the development of the government component of the gross domestic product and for comparative studies.
From the press release:
Progressive cities are raising their labor standards, but conservative state legislatures are preempting them
A new report by EPI Associate Labor Counsel Marni von Wilpert analyzes the recent wave of preemption laws that have swept across the country in the last decade. State governments use preemption laws to supersede city or county laws, or prevent local governments from legislating in certain areas at all—including blocking local governments’ efforts to raise labor standards. The paper explores the rise of preemption in five key areas of labor and employment: minimum wage, paid leave, fair work schedules, prevailing wages, and project labor agreements.