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Focus Archive - October 2006

Please note that Focus section links were valid at the time of their original posting. However, since Web sites and addresses change frequently, we cannot guarantee that all links will remain operative.

Hummers on the Homefront (October 31)
In the past few decades, houses have gotten greener, but they've gotten bigger too, leaving the lingering question: Is super-sized housing defeating conservation efforts? More from E, The Environmental Magazine.

Local Government Response to Flu Pandemic (October 31)
Read papers from the Public Entity Risk Institute's (PERI) June 2006 Symposium which explored actions communities should be taking now to deal with a pandemic influenza crisis. More from PERI.

New Property Fairness Web Site (October 31)
The American Planning Association has joined with several national partners to launch The new website will serve as a clearinghouse for legislative, legal, electoral, and media information on property fairness issues such as regulatory takings and eminent domain.

A Promotional Process for the Smaller Police Agency (October 31)
Handling promotions is stressful for any agency, no matter what the size. In a small police agency where promotions are infrequent, a keen interest if focused on this rare event, and the resulting organizational stress can be acute. More from The Police Chief.

Web Site Launched to Fight Identity Crime (October 31)
The International Association of Chiefs of Police in cooperation with Bank of America recently launched a new Web site,, to help both consumer and law enforcement officials prevent and report identity crime, investigate the perpetrators, and respond effectively to victims.

PSRC's 2006 Regional Demographic and Economic Forecasts (October 31)
The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has released new forecasts developed to replace the 2003 Regional Demographic and Economic Forecasts and Forecasts of Population and Employment at Sub-County (Small Area) detail. More from PSRC.

County Emergency Management Agencies on the Rise (October 31)
Better than 75 percent of the nation’s counties have established emergency management agencies according to a recent study examining the key aspects of county emergency management released by NACo and the National Center for the Study of Counties . More from NACo's County News.

Study Shows a Recycling Increase in the United States (October 31)
Americans recycled 32 percent of their waste last year, according to Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2005 Facts And Figures, a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released this month. More from the EPA.

An Answer to the Question that Haunts Smart Growth (October 25)
How does adding large numbers of people to a neighborhood benefit those who are already there? More from Civic Strategies.

Takings Measures Assault Municipal and Home Rule Authority (October 25)
For those of us who value the role of local government, it is troubling to see anti-government groups aggressively promoting state legislation and initiatives that fundamentally undermine the ability of cities and towns to provide services. More from Nation's Cities Weekly.

Tuning in to New Media (October 25)
The use of new media, particularly by young people, challenges conventional wisdom in many fields - education, social engagement, civic participation. This recent Smart City radio show focuses on new media and how they may change our most familiar habits and institutions.

The Role of the Finance Officer in Economic Development (October 25)
The finance officer’s involvement early in the economic development planning process is central to a development program that succeeds both in the short and long term. More from Government Finance Review (Adobe Acrobat Document 6.2 MB).

Toward a New Archipelago (October 25)
Clusters of self-sustaining suburban villages can be the way we grow without sprawling. More from Metropolis Magazine.

Soft on Sprawl (October 25)
A popular planning book praises sprawl and ignores the mess left by misguided transportation policies. More from Governing.

Closing in on Records Management (October 25)
Defining what your agency means by "records" is as important as the systems that manage them. More from Government Computer News.

Recycling is Up, But so are Amounts of Unrecycled Wastes (October 25)
While Washingtonians are recycling more than ever, we're also generating more waste than ever before. More from the Washington Department of Ecology.

Watching, Not Waiting (October 25)
As telecommunications reform legislation moves to the Senate floor, debate is stirring over public cable channel access and control over cable television service distribution. More from American City & County.

A Few Good Sets of 2004 RCWs Available from MRSC (October 18)
We've replaced our 2004 RCWs with new 2006 editions and have 6 complete sets of the old 2004 editions (along with the 2005 supplements) to give away. If your city hall or county courthouse could use a set of pre-owned 2004 RCWs, contact Erica Zwick, MRSC Technical Services Librarian, who will be happy to mail you a set, while our limited supply lasts.

Commuting Costs Outweigh Savings of Living in Suburbs (October 17)
"Drive 'til you qualify" is an option used by many working families seeking affordable housing by moving to far-flung suburbs. But a new study from the Center for Housing Policy, A Heavy Load: The Combined Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working Families (Adobe Acrobat Document 4.5 MB), shows how high commuting costs outweigh the benefits of lower cost suburban housing in the long term.

Commuting in America III (October 17)
Based on the latest census information available, the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) Commuting in America III report contains 155 figures, 79 tables, and some 100 "factlets" that tell the story of America’s commuting trends and patterns over the last ten years. More from the TRB.

An Exit Strategy for Local Governments (October 17)
What services or subsidies should cities get out of? Ask yourself this question: 'If we were not in this already, would we now go into it?' And if the answer is 'no,' the next question should be: 'How do we get out and how fast?' More from Civic Strategies.

Cities Cautiously Optimistic About Fiscal Health (October 17)
Like the millions of Americans they represent, U.S. cities were able to pay their bills this year, but are concerned about how rising costs will affect their long-term financial stability, according to a report released last week by the National League of Cities. More from Nation's Cities Weekly.

Property Wrongs: Lessons from Oregon on "Property Rights" (October 17)
Property Wrongs (Adobe Acrobat Document 381 KB), a report by the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, documents a growing backlash against "property rights" initiatives by chronicling six stories of Oregon communities deeply affected by Oregon's Measure 37.

Web Sightings - Puget Sound and Water Resources (October 17)
Web Sightings - Puget Sound and Water Resources This month we’ve selected sites related to the protection of Puget Sound and other water resources:

Puget Sound

  • Puget Sound Partnership - Governor’s Initiative to Clean and Protect Puget Sound; includes information on Partnership members, meetings, reports, news, and legislation.
  • Puget Sound Online - Puget Sound Action Team, Office of the Governor - The purpose of the Action Team is to protect and restore Puget Sound and its spectacular diversity of life now and for future generations.
  • People for Puget Sound - Citizens' group working to protect and restore the health of Puget Sound through education and action.
  • Puget Sound - Washington State Department of Ecology
  • Puget Soundkeeper Alliance - Organization with mission to protect water quality and prevent pollution in Puget Sound; part of the National Waterkeeper Alliance.
  • "The Sound of Broken Promises," Seattle Post-Intelligencer Special Report on Puget Sound, October 2006

General Water Resources

  • Water - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Includes links to many water subtopics including watersheds, water quality, aquatic ecosystems, water pollution, etc.
  • Water Quality Programs - Washington State Department of Ecology - Addresses aquatic resources, ground and surface water quality, pollution issues, and grants and loans.
  • Water Resources Programs - Washington State Department of Ecology - Information on instream flows, water uses, water rights and more.
  • Water Environment Federation - Nonprofit technical and educational organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance the global water environment.
  • Water Resources and Water Issues Information, MRSC - Links to MRSC pages addressing water issues, such as water quality, storm and surface water management, watershed planning, and water rights.

The National Emergency Management Network (October 17)
The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) are establishing a "National Emergency Management Network" (NEMN) to help local governments forge stronger pre-disaster relationships and take mutual aid to a new level. More from PERI.

Honey, Our House Is Historic! (October 17)
Buildings from the mid-20th century are becoming eligible for landmark status. Local governments are trying to decide which are worth preserving. More from Governing.

Should Municipalities Provide Wireless Internet Service? (October 17)
A new report from the Federal Trade Commission, Municipal Provision of Wireless Internet (Adobe Acrobat Document 380 KB), offers guidance to local policymakers considering if, and to what extent, a municipality should involve itself in the provision of broadband Internet service.

Transitional Housing for the Homeless (October 17)
A recent Urban Institute report, Characteristics of Transitional Housing for Homeless Families (Adobe Acrobat Document 166 KB), documents the characteristics of transitional housing programs for homeless families in five cities and their surrounding counties--Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, San Diego, and Seattle.

What Comes After Incorporation? (October 11)
After a city is formed comes the hard work of creating a government, bolstering the tax base and building a reliable set of public services. And then what? If new cities in the Seattle area are a guide, next comes the search for distinctiveness. More from Civic Strategies.

Scrutiny by the People (October 11)
Washington State is making a big push to get citizens more involved in the performance auditing process. More from Governing.

Smart City - Smarter Land Use and Community Development (October 11)
Keith Bellows, editor in chief of National Geographic Traveler talks about the must see cities on his list of top destinations and Keith Schneider of the Michigan Land Use Institute talks about land use policies that make cities good places to live on Smart City.

State-of-the-Art Plant Makes Trash Vanish into Thin Air (October 11)
In a move that would create the first facility of its kind in the United States, St. Lucie County, FL, is planning to construct a plant that would vaporize trash at temperatures nearly as hot as the surface of the sun and create energy through technology called plasma gasification. More from NACo's County News.

Stormwater Outreach Materials Available from EPA (October 11)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a set of materials that state or local governments can customize and use in their own stormwater outreach campaigns. More from the EPA.

Getting the Drift (October 11)
For many public works directors, snow and ice control planning is a year-round activity, often affected by a community's complexity, local weather patterns, public preferences and politics. More from American City & County.

Cities and Counties in the News (October)
Here are the latest news clippings from around the state highlighting current events, trends and other news affecting Washington city and county governments:

Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population (October 03)
A recently released study by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, The Maturing of America - Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population (Adobe Acrobat Document 2387kb), finds that less than half of American cities and counties have plans in place to meet the needs of aging baby boomers.

The Mayor-Manager Merger (October 03)
Council-manager cities and strong-mayor cities aren’t polar opposites anymore. Most cities have aspects of both systems. More from Governing.

How Local Government Managers See Leadership Differently (October 03)
If you want to understand what leadership really is, why not ask local government managers? A recent research project did just that. More from Public Management Magazine.

Parking Management Best Practices (October 03)
An excerpt from a new Planners Press book leads the way to more sensible parking solutions. More from Planning Magazine.

Washington Minimum Wage to Increase to $7.93 an Hour Jan. 1 (October 03)
Washington’s minimum wage will increase 30 cents to $7.93 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2007. More from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

Giant Regional Wi-Fi Network in Washington State (October 03)
Southeastern Washington state has Wi-Fi service that covers 3700 square miles, thanks to the Columbia Rural Electric Association, a non-profit electric cooperative. More from MuniWireless.

CompStat: Managing Performance on the Pathway to Leadership (October 03)
Since the CompStat process was introduced by the New York City Police Department in 1994, it has been widely adopted and is partly responsible for contributing to significant improvements. More from The Police Chief.

Refugee Resettlement in Metropolitan America (October 03)
A recent Brookings Institution report examines where refugees come from and where they land, finding that refugee destinations have shifted away from typical immigrant gateways housing large foreign-born populations to newer, often smaller, places. More from the Brookings Institution.

Day Reporting Eases Jail Overcrowding (October 03)
Across the nation, the inmate population in county jails is growing to problematic levels. As a result, many counties are creating alternatives to incarceration, such as day reporting centers. More from American City & County.

Brownfields Roadmap (October 03)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Road Map to Understanding Innovative Technology Options for Brownfields Investigation and Cleanup publication helps brownfields stakeholders identify and select innovative site characterization and cleanup technologies during the redevelopment process. More from the EPA.

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.