scenic picture from Washington state
MRSC In Focus › Focus Archive

Note: Some of the information on this archival Web page may no longer be current.

Focus Archive - February 2012

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.

Harnessing the Power of Community Collaborations (February 29)
Successful collective action involves a common agenda, a common performance measurement, a continuous communication, and a mutually reinforcing action among the parties. More from Public Management.

Public Works Funding Webinar (February 29)
The Public Works Trust Fund takes on a new streamlined look, starting with the 2014 program cycle. During this webinar, "A New Beginning for the Public Works Trust Fund," March 21, 2012, 10 – 11 am, you’ll learn how the program is changing and what that means for your funding requests.

Developing a Social Media Policy That’s Right for Your County (February 29)
Many counties across the country have implemented guidelines and policies to manage their social media presence. More from NACo's County News.

Top 14 Government Social Media Initiatives (February 29)
Government agencies are embracing social media, using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to inform and interact with the public. Take a look at the best examples of social networking in government. More from Information Week.

Boston Testing App for Auto-Detecting Potholes (February 29)
Street Bump automatically transmits the presence of rough roads to city workers, helping improve the timeliness of road repairs. More from Government Technology.

Do Bike Paths Promote Bike Riding? (February 29)
It turns out that the supply of bikeways per capita is a statistically significant predictor of bike commuting. More from The Atlantic Cities.

Cyber Security: Locking Down Your Computers a Safety Essential (February 29)
Local governments have a responsibility to citizens and business partners to safeguard the information with which they are entrusted and to keep mission-critical operations functioning. More from NACo's County News.

Seniors—In Which Cities Are They Living? (February 29)
In communities across the country, senior citizens (those 65 and older) are having an increasing impact as their numbers grow. More from Urban Land.

Restored Streetcars Now Desirable (February 29)
To the delight of many, old streetcars are being restored to their former glory and put back into transit service in New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland. More from Governing.

The Sandwich Board Makes a Comeback (February 29)
Like sidewalk cafes, sandwich boards are making a comeback. Often prohibited in the past, they are now permitted, but their scope is regulated. More from The Atlantic Cities.

New Federal Law Change Impacts Approvals of Wireless Collocation Applications (February 24)
A short article sent to California cities by a major California law firm that represents many cities provides a good summary of the impacts on local governments of a new federal law affecting wireless collocation applications. This amendment to the federal Telecommunications Act applies to all Washington local governments.

A Manager's Guide to Evaluating Citizen Participation (February 23)
A new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government, A Manager's Guide to Evaluating Citizen Participation, offers a practical guide for program managers who want to assess whether their efforts to increase citizen participation in their programs are making a difference.

Houses Getting Bigger, Not Smaller (February 23)
As long as lenders keep a tight grip on their wallets, the much-anticipated trend toward smaller houses probably won’t materialize, according to data presented at the National Association of Home Builders' annual convention. More from Urban Land.

Maricopa County, Ariz., Turns on ‘Spigit’ for Innovative Ideas (February 23)
Through a Web-based platform called Spigit, Maricopa County, one of the largest counties in the country, uses crowdsourcing capabilities, social networking and a rewards program to encourage employee interaction in an online idea factory. More from Digital Communities.

Embracing Google Earth (February 23)
Five years ago, Google Earth worried government officials. But agencies have since realized that the benefits of high-resolution, up-to-date imagery of our Earth outweigh the risks. More from Governing.

Not Every City Can Be the 'Most Bicycle-Friendly' (February 23)
Nothing motivates Americans (and our elected officials) quite like the race to appear in a magazine as the “best” at something. More from The Atlantic Cities.

How to Solve the Boomer Retirement Crisis (February 23)
If boomer retirees keep flooding suburbs, the cost of providing for them soars. Can we get them to cities, instead? More from Salon.

Media Resources Available to Counties Celebrating NCGM (February 23)
Counties are getting a good head start on making National County Government Month (NCGM) 2012 the most successful celebration yet in their communities. More From NACo's County News.

$2.1 Million in Grants Available Through Playful City USA (February 23)
In an effort to address the play deficit among children, national non-profit KaBOOM! Is offering Let’s Play grants totaling $2.1 million through 2013 via Playful City USA, a national program advocating for policies that increase play opportunities for children. More from Nation's Cities Weekly.

LEED Backlash (February 23)
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is the dominant force in green building standards, but it increasingly faces challenges and competition. More from Urban Land.

Report on Bicycling and Walking in the United States Now Available (February 23)
In this new report, the Alliance for Biking & Walking ranks all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities on bicycling and walking levels, safety, funding, written policies on bicycling and walking, education and encouragement activities, and the economic impact of bicycling and walking.

Planning for Stronger Local Democracy (February 16)
NLC’s democratic governance project presents Planning for Stronger Local Democracy: A Field Guide for Local Officials, a tool kit designed to assist city leaders in strengthening local democracy by cultivating a culture with their citizens and key allies that is transparent and inclusive.

Employees Looking Out for Their Benefits (February 16)
Employee benefit committees figure out what benefits are most important to employees and assist with benefit negotiations. More from Governing.

Why In-Town Big Box Stores Might Not be as Awful as You Think (February 16)
What if in-town big box stores encourage people to drive less? That is, after all, a major policy objective of smart growth. More from The Atlantic Cities.

Web Sightings – Parks and Recreation (February 16)
This month we have highlighted sites that provide a rich array of information on parks, open space, and recreational programs. MRSC’s Parks and Recreation pages are a good starting point. In particular, the following may be of interest:

Associations and Nonprofit Organizations

  • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) – National organization for parks and recreation professionals. NRPA’s mission is to advance park, recreation, and environmental conservation efforts to enhance quality of life.
  • Washington Recreation & Park Association – Washington’s professional membership organization for the field of parks and recreation
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy – Nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching America's communities and countryside by creating a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors
  • Trust for Public Land – National nonprofit that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places

Washington State and Local Government Resources

  • Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office – Manages grant programs of interest to local governments for outdoor recreation, protection of wildlife habitat and farmland, and salmon recovery
  • King County Greenprint Project – Open space and resource lands conservation and acquisition strategy
  • – Collaborative effort of ten cities in the Puget Sound area that provide community information on sports, recreation, parks, trails, and entertainment opportunities
  • Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Programs – Joint city-county parks department recreation opportunities

Cities Turn to Analytics for Targeting Habitual Criminals (February 16)
In the coming months, the Rochester, Minn., Police Department will implement IBM identity analytics software to assist with “intelligence-led” policing methods. More from Government Technology.

Bringing the Library to Mobile Devices Gaining Popularity (February 16)
In the digital age, it’s getting harder and harder to bring people to the local library. Thanks to a new breed of mobile apps, many libraries are moving beyond bricks and mortar, and onto their patrons’ tablets and cell phones. More from County News.

San Francisco Will Pioneer Electric Bike Sharing (February 16)
San Francisco is putting a new spin on car- and bike-sharing services. With federal backing, the city is partnering with a local car share service to offer members access to electric bikes, too. More from Good.

Totally Mobile — Are We There Yet? (February 16)
The Sacramento, Calif., City Clerk’s Office is pushing the envelope on mobile devices to keep pace with the digital world. More from Government Technology.

Levels of Service and Travel Projections: The Wrong Tools for Planning Our Streets? (February 16)
Gary Toth considers the damage to the quality of our streets and urban environments caused by the use of travel projection models and Levels of Service (LOS) as performance metrics. More from Project for Public Spaces.

Municipal Bonds: Reflecting on 2011 (February 16)
Although the early part of 2011 was a rough patch for municipal bonds, the remainder of 2011 brought normalcy; and many expect 2012 to continue this trend. More from Public Management.

The Surprisingly Complex Art of Urban Wayfinding (February 09)
How do you clarify to people what a city is about, how they should move through it and where they can find all the really important stuff? More from The Atlantic Cities.

Dealing with Public Mistrust (February 09)
Ten strategies that elected and appointed public officials can use in dealing with negative attacks on their integrity, motives, and competence. More from Public Management.

Going Hybrid (February 09)
How one city overhauled its zoning code while combining form-based and conventional elements. More from Planning.

Local Policing: Expanding Reach with Limited Resources through Fusion Centers (February 09)
Fusion centers are in the business of producing situational awareness reports, analyses, and forecasting type products to assist law enforcement, homeland security, public safety, and private sector entities. More from The Police Chief.

Logic Models and the Quest for Results (February 09)
In recent years, some agencies have begun using what are called "logic models" to analyze and demonstrate the cause-effect chains that can lead to the results they are seeking. More from Governing.

Top 25 Transportation Sources to Follow on Twitter (February 09)
Twitter can be a valuable resource for transportation consultants, developers, redevelopment agencies, planning departments and others who want to scope out trends, stay connected with the public, share information, and meet other professionals working on similar projects. More from Urban Land.

How are Puget Sound Region Farmland Protection Programs Doing? (February 09)
A new report from the American Farmland Trust, Losing Ground: Farmland Protection in the Puget Sound Region, presents findings and recommendations from a study of farmland regulations, tax incentives and development rights programs in the 12 county Puget Sound region.

The Rental Boost From Green Design (February 09)
There is growing evidence that energy-efficient and green apartments rent up faster than other ones, and are experiencing less turnover, both of which drop to the bottom line. More from Urban Land.

Cook County, Ill., Tries E-Ticketing for Traffic Violations (February 09)
Paper-based ticketing is slowing becoming a practice of the past, so Cook County, Ill., is launching an effort to make e-ticketing the common practice of the future for traffic citations. More from Government Technology.

NLC's Cities 101 (February 01)
Cities 101 is a public resource developed by the National League of Cities (NLC) to introduce and explain municipal government in the United States.

'Constraints Management' Breaks Down Barriers to Efficiency (February 01)
Government efficiency initiatives come and go. But Utah has had continued success with one in particular. More from Governing.

Idea Center - Minneapolis Uses Foursquare to Share Tips with Citizens (February 01)
The city aims to promote its services and programs with people who check-in around the city. More from Governing.

A Decade of Living Dangerously (February 01)
The fiscal challenges facing local governments won't go away soon. Here's why that's a good thing. More from Governing.

Why Every City Should be Planting Rain Gardens (February 01)
Today, everyone from water authorities to home gardeners are looking to absorb rain where it falls, eschewing traditional treatment plants and underground sewerage tunnels that effectively neutralize runoff, but don’t do much else. More from The Atlantic Cities.

Interactive Map Shows Local Job Strength by Sector (February 01)
The Urban Institute's MetroTrends research team has created an interactive map that reveals the relative employment strength in 16 job sectors for the nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas. More from The Urban Institute.

EPA Releases New Tool with Information about Water Pollution Across the U.S. (February 01)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the release of a new tool that provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. More from EPA.

Green Building Megatrends for 2012 (February 01)
Dubbed "the godfather of green," Jerry Yudelson discusses 10 trends bound for growth in the months ahead. More from Builder Magazine.

The Plastic Bag Ban: A Battle of Socio-Economic Policy (February 01)
This latest skirmish shows how localities, not the feds, are driving eco-policy. More from Governing.

In the Future, Urban Bikers Go Faster than Cars (February 01)
Cities around the world are considering radical new speed limits on cars -- slowing down in the name of progress. More from Salon.

Federal Pipeline Safety Technical Assistance Grants (February 01)
The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has recently announced the availability of technical assistance grants. Local government jurisdictions concerned about pipeline safety issues should consider applying. MRSC legal consultant Jim Doherty can discuss with you the types of projects previously funded by such grants.

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.