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What's New?

National Special Districts Coalition Proposes a Federal Definition of "Special District"
May 17, 2023. The National Special Districts Coalition has announced that it has proposed a common definition that the coalition hopes will help Congress and federal agencies to have a standard definition for use in legislation and administrative rules in making and implementing public policy. That definition is as follows: "Special District" -- A political subdivision of a State, with specified boundaries, created pursuant to general law or act of the State, for the purpose of performing limited and specific governmental or proprietary functions, except that is not a school district, college, county, city, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other general purpose unit of government." The Coalition explained in its press release on this new action that: "While an early definition was legislatively posed in the 116th and 117th Congresses with the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act, the nation's special district leaders and stakeholders recognized a need in early 2023 to revisit the previous definition with greater engagement as the Coalition has developed, with more dedicated time, and with additional discussion and deeper analysis."
    Read the Press Release on the New Proposed Definition and the Reasons for It.
    Access the National Special Districts Coalition Website.

Announcing that Voters Have Approved Portland's Proposed Charter Change, the City Launches Its Transition Process
November 10, 2022. With its announcements yesterday that "Portland Voters Approve Charter Reform, City Launches Transition," the City of Portland launched its charter change transition website. As of today, the Oregon Secretary of State's office reports 141,954 (57.58%) in favor of Ballot Measure 26-228 and 104,560 (42.42%) opposed. The measure moved the city away from the commission form, but also significantly changed the process for election of a new and expanded city council and changed the office of mayor as well as adding a city administrator.
    Access the Portland Charter Change Transition Website.
    Access the Portland City "Phase I" Website on the Charter Change.
    Read League of Women Voters of Portland Webpage on the Charter Change.
    Read "Portland Voters Approved Ballot Measure 26-228" as provided on the City's Website Annotated to Show Changes to the Charter.

GAO Issues Report on Empowerment Zones and Other Community Investment Initiatives
October 31, 2022. The Government Accountability Office today issued a report that was a follow-up to determine progress on recommendations about empowerment zones and enterprise communities programs and other initiatives. It started from the point that: "GAO made 11 recommendations related to data available on Empowerment Zones and other federal tax incentives that encourage investment in low-income or distressed communities from 2004 to 2021. Six recommendations have been implemented by the agencies. Five recommendations remain open."
   Read the Report.
   Read the GAO Blog Post on the Report.

Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms Issues Report on Problems, Opportunities, and the Need for Transparency in the Local Government Use of Artificial Intelligence
March 21, 2022. The Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms has recently issued a report on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the local government level that seeks to address both the challenges of the use of AI at the community level and also the opportunities it can provide. It also addresses the importance of and challenges to transparency and accountability in the use of these tools. The Task Force had the support of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber) in doing the study and producing the report. As the report explains, "the Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms came together in 2020 to study the use of algorithms in local government." Report, at 5. The report notes that: "[D]espite their increasing prevalence, the public often knows little about government algorithmic systems: their goals, how they work, who designed them, and more.... At present, little requires our regional governmental agencies to share information about algorithmic systems or to submit those systems to outside and public scrutiny. Moreover, there is evidence that some algorithmic systems can lock in and exacerbate bias and harms (especially along racial and gender lines), leading to more inequity and injustice. Algorithmic systems can, however, offer significant benefits to the public: more efficient processing of data, fewer errors in decision-making relative to humans or perhaps even less biased decision-making, and the ability to consider vast troves of factors and data." Id. at 6.
   In addition to the report, the Task Force has also issued a document that summarizes the report's recommendations. That document, "Report of the Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms: A Snapshot," is posted below along with the report. There are links to the press announcement of the report by Pitt Cyber and an article in Government Technology by Jule Pattison-Gordon, "How Should Local Governments Approach AI and Algorithms?."
   Read the Full Public Algorithms Report.
   Read Recommendations of the Commission Report.
   Access the Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms Webpage.
   Read the Government Technology article by Jule Pattison-Gordon, "How Should Local Governments Approach AI and Algorithms?."
   Read the Pitt Cyber Press Release on the New Report.
   Access the Pitt Cyber Website.

New York Local Government Associations and Government University at Albany Center for Technology Publish New Cybersecurity Primer for Local Government
February 21, 2022. The New York Association of Counties, The New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), the Association of Towns of the State of New York (AOT), and the Center for Technology of the University at Albany, State University of New York, have published a new report entitled "Cybersecurity Primer for Local Government Leaders." The 32 page report was written by Meghan Cook, Mark LaVigne, and Alondra Berroa. In the report Executive Summary, the authors explain that: "This Primer is designed as a tool to help you build your own understanding and capabilities so that you can work with your IT and security leaders to manage your county’s cyber risks. It provides a snapshot of select cybersecurity considerations for protecting public assets. It answers questions that county leaders said were most pressing to them. It presents, in simple business terms, the most common cyber threats and current practices for addressing them."
   Read the Primer.

White House Provides Comprehensive Guidebook on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for State, Local, and Tribal as Well As Non-Profit and For-Profit Organizations Working With Them
February 2, 2022. The White House Infrastructure and Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu has announced the release this week of the Biden Administration's Building a Better America: A Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments, and Other Partners. As Landrieu explains in the Executive Summary, "This guidebook is a roadmap to the funding available under the law. It explains, in as much detail as currently available, how much funding is available at the program level. Our primary goal is to help our partners across the country know what to apply for, who to contact for help, and how to get ready to rebuild. We have also published an accompanying data file on Build.gov that allows users to quickly sort programs funded under the law by fields like agency, amount, eligible recipient, or program name. The guidebook contains 13 chapters grouping Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs by issue area. Each chapter contains a cover note explaining how to get ready to apply for and receive this subset of funding. These memos identify additional resources our partners can and should utilize to prepare while the federal government gets ready to distribute Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds from new and existing programs." In the guidebook, Landrieu also discusses Build.gov, the website created by the administration to provide additional information and reporting related to implementation of the new law, including funding and other details essential for further action.
   President Biden signed P.L. 117-58, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, on November 15. He then issued Executive Order 14052 entitled "Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" that same day. The day before he signed the bill and issued the order, President Biden announced the appointment of former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.
   Download and Read the Guidebook.
   Read the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
   Read Executive Order 14052 Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
   Read the Fact Sheet:Competitive Infrastructure Funding Opportunities for Local Governments" Issued by the White House Produced by White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu.
   Access the Build.gov Website for Resources and Details of Programs Under in the Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

National Special Districts Coalition Expands Mission to National Policy Issues
November 22, 2021. The National Special Districts Coalition was organized in 2018 through a memorandum of understanding created by five state special districts associations, including California, Colorado, Florida, Oregon and Utah. Since then, the NSDC has accepted a number of associated members which are individual special districts organizations with particular fields within states, but not statewide special districts associations as such. At present, there are associate member organizations in Texas and Washington. Originally formed to share best practices and develop a network to identify solutions to common problems for special districts across state lines, the coalition expande its mission in 2021 to include federal advocacy for special districts. See the NSDC website, "About" page.
   Access the National Special Districts Coalition Website.

National Academy of Public Administration Creates New Center for Intergovernmental Partnerships
September 15, 2021. The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) has announced the creation of a new Center for Intergovernmental Partnerships. In presenting this new initiative, the Academy indicated that it is doing this work with support from "the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Center staff will also work closely with several associations representing state and local government officials, including the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of State Governments (CSG), the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National League of Cities (NLC), the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)."
   The initiative grew out of a range of work that NAPA has been doing with respect to intergovernmental relations, but was particularly sparked by questions relating to the policies and work done in response to the COVID-19 challenges. In its press release on the new center, NAPA indicated: "Initially, the Center will work with its partner organizations to create more effective intergovernmental partnerships in areas that include:Work with governments at all levels and across sectors to identify best and promising practices for establishing accountability and visibility for national recovery programs. Examine the current state of coordination between the federal government and its state, local and tribal partners and recommend new organizational arrangements that will facilitate rapid and clear communication about regulations, funds availability, and priorities across all federal programs. Establish a new, national, trusted source of information and insight that improves the performance of intergovernmental systems."
   Read the NAPA Press Release Announcing the New Center.
   Read the Memorandum Launching the New Center.
   Read NAPA President's Op-Ed Discussing the New Center.
   Access the NAPA Webpage for the New Center.

Texas Local Governments Sue Governor Challenging His Executive Order Prohibiting Mask Mandates in the COVID-19 Crisis
August 10, 2021. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins as the County's chief executive asked a Texas court to issue a temporary restraining order against Governor Greg Abbott's Executive Order GA-38, issued on July 29, prohibiting school officials and local government officials from imposing mask mandates or taking any of a number of other actions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the action taken by Dallas, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County have also filed suit against the governor's action. For more information and documents, see the Health Care, Disability, and Development page of this website.

ICMA Releases Report on the "Austin For All People" Effort that Resulted in Resounding Vote to Keep Council/Manager Government
June 30, 2021. The International City/County Management Association has issued a report entitled "Austin For All People," chronicling successful educational efforts made in response to a campaign by a group in the city to push Austin, Texas, one of the premier council/manager cities in the nation for decades, to a strong mayor form. The citizens of Austin voted with an 86% margin in May to retain the council/manager form of government. It is a story of why educational efforts about the form of government are so important, even in a city that has been so successful with its council/manager government over a long period of time.
   Read the ICMA Austin For All People Report.

National Academy of Public Administration Launches New Intergovernmental Relations Portal
June 11, 2021. The National Academy of Public Administration has developed a new online portal entitled Federalism.us, created by academy fellows who are members of the Academy's Standing Panel on Intergovernmental Relations. The Academy has produced a Joint Webinar with the U.S. Fiscal Service on its new and updated portals and with the developers of Federalism.us. That webinar is available on YouTube at the location posted below.
   Access the New IGR Portal.
   View the Joint Webinar.

GAO Issues Report on Cyber-Threats to Local Utility Distribution Systems
March 18, 2021. The U.S. Government Accountability Office today issued a report entitled "Electricity Grid Cybersecurity: DOE Needs to Ensure Its Plans Fully Address Risks to Distribution Systems that addresses the range of cyber-vulnerability throughout the grid with attention to the dangers at the local level due to remote software and internet platforms facilitating remote grid controls. The report found that: "The U.S. grid's distribution systems--which carry electricity from transmission systems to consumers and are regulated primarily by states--are increasingly at risk from cyberattacks. Distribution systems are growing more vulnerable, in part because their industrial control systems increasingly allow remote access and connect to business networks. As a result, threat actors can use multiple techniques to access those systems and potentially disrupt operations. However, the scale of potential impacts from such attacks is not well understood." It adds, "Distribution utilities included in GAO's review are generally not subject to mandatory federal cybersecurity standards." Report Highlights. The generation and transmission aspects of the grid are federally regulated, but the distribution systems are not. As GAO explains, "This report (1) describes the extent to which grid distribution systems are at risk from cyberattacks and the scale of potential impacts from such attacks, (2) describes selected state and industry actions to improve distribution systems' cybersecurity and federal efforts to support those actions, and (3) examines the extent to which DOE has addressed risks to distribution systems in its plans for implementing the national cybersecurity strategy.
   Read the Report.

National Academy of Public Administration Reports on Innovative Counties Coronavirus Relief Funds
March 11, 2021. The National Academy of Public Administration has published a report entitled Coronavirus Relief Fund: Review of Federal Fiscal Assistance and of Innovative County Response Strategies. The study was commissioned by the National Association of Counties to consider how counties responded to federal CARES Act assistance. The report focuses specifically on six counties, one each from Illinois, Florida, Delaware, Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington
   Read the Report.

GAO Produces New Report on Intergovernmental Relations
September 9, 2020.
   Read the Report.
   Read the GAO Watchblog Posting on "The Critical Role of Federal Partnerships with States & Local Governments During COVID-19."

Georgia Governor Issues Executive Order Blocking Actions by Local Governments to Require Face Masks or Other Personal Protective Equipment Beyond What His Orders Mandate
July 16, 2020. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order yesterday that specifically preempted efforts by local governments to mandate face masks and other personal protective equipment more stringent that measures to deal with COVID-19 than he had as governor mandated. In Section VIII of a 41 page order Kemp declared: "[C]ounty and municipal governments are authorized and empowered to make, amend, and rescind such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary for einergency management purposes and to supplement the carrying out of this Order, but such orders, rules, and regulations shall not be inconsistent with this Order or any other orders, rules, or regulations promulgated by the Governor or by any state agency exercising a power derived from the Public Health State of Emergency declaration. For the purpose of this provision, orders, rules, and regulations that are promulgated by county and municipal governments that are more or less restrictive than the terms of this Order shall be considered inconsistent with this Order." He then added that any "county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order." Id. at 32. This order came after a number of local governments in the state that are experiencing severe outbreaks of COVID-19 ordered the wearing of face masks and took other steps more protective than what the governor had set forth in previous executive orders. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had issued such a mandate by executive order on July 8.
   Read the July 15 Executive Order.
   Access Georgia Executive Orders.
   Read the Atlanta Mayor's Order of July 8.

First Oregon Public Records Advocate Offers a Final Report Following Her Announcement of Resignation
October 28, 2019. The first Oregon Public Records Advocate, Ginger McCall has issued a final report following her announcement of her resignation from the position. The Public Records Advocate Position was created by the passage of SB 106 in 2017. For more information and documents, see the Oregon page of this website.

GAO Issues New Report on Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund Requirements and Related State and Local Requirements
October 18, 2019. The Natural Resources and Environment unit of the U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report entitled "Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: Limited Information Available on State or Local Requirements That Are Equivalent to Federal Cross-Cutting Environmental Requirements" for House Environment and Public Works and Energy and Commerce Committees which was an effort to determine where there are cross-cutting federal requirements for Safe Water Revolving funds assistance but where there are simultaneously state requirements at least as stringent as the federal requirements. The report begins with a statement just large and important the program is. "The United States faces significant challenges addressing old and deteriorating drinking water infrastructure, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the nation’s drinking water utilities need $472.6 billion in infrastructure investments over the next 20 years. Across the country, about 49,250 community water systems provide drinking water to communities, and replacing and repairing drinking water infrastructure often involves large capital investments, which in turn require funding. The largest source of federal funding for drinking water infrastructure is EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program. States use Drinking Water SRFs to, among other things, make loans to local communities and utilities for various drinking water infrastructure projects, such as replacing water treatment systems, repair and replacement of distribution pipelines, and other projects needed to achieve or maintain compliance with national primary drinking water regulations. According to EPA, in 2018 Drinking Water SRFs committed $2.8 billion in drinking water infrastructure loans and refinancing and disbursed $2.5 billion for drinking water infrastructure to improve our nation's public health." Id., at 1. The report found that: "Sixteen federal cross-cutting environmental requirements apply to both the grants states receive from EPA to capitalize their Drinking Water SRFs and the loans that utilities and municipalities receive from states' Drinking Water SRFs, according to EPA guidance and officials." Id., at 4.
   Read the Report.

Bill to Resurrect Something Like Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations Follows Hearings of the Speaker's Task Force on Intergovernment Affairs
July 29, 2019. Writing in the Government Executive, Courtney Buble has explained new legislation introduced by Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Rob Bishop, R-Utah entitled the "Restoring the Partnership Act" H.R. 3883 that would create a new Commission on Intergovernmental Relations that looks very much like the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations that was defunded in the 1990s.
   Read the Hearing of the Speaker's Task Force from 2018.
   Read the Draft Legislation.
   Read the Government Executive article on the new bill.

Arizona Governor Criticized Company but Does Not Control Goodyear Arizona Development Agreement
July 9, 2019. The Arizona govnernor has critcized the Nike company for a decision on withdrawing an athletic shoe design from the market and called upon the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw any incentives for a development agreement for a new manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Arizona, but the state is not a party to the development agreement. For more information and the relevant documents, see the Public Contract Management page of this website.

San Bernardino County Shares Lessons Learned from Its Tragic Shooting Deaths of Employees with Virginia Beach
June 6, 2019. San Bernardino County, California has shared with Virginia Beach the two reports the California county had prepared by Critical Preparedness and Response Solutions (CPARS Consulting, Inc.) following the tragic shootings there in 2015. Virginia Beach is still investigating and assessing the impacts of the shooting there last week which so far has taken the lives of 11 city employees. One of the San Bernardino county reports is an Organizational Review which examines what the county did to address the events and their aftermath. The other document, the "Legacy Report" is subtitled "A Planning, Response, and Recovery Resource for Organizations Confronting Terrorism and Other Catastrophic Incidents" and is meant not only to help that county in the future but also to assist other organizations consider their own actions in the event that they experience something of this sort, hoping of course that such preparation will never be needed.
   Read the "Legacy Report".
   Read the Organizational Review.

GAO Issues Its State and Local Governments' Fiscal Outlook Update for 2018
December 14, 2018. The Government Accountability Office has issued its State and Loal Governments' Fiscal Outlook Update for 2018. In finding that fiscal problems loom in the decades ahead, the report highlights note that: "GAO's simulations also suggest that growth in the sector's overall spending is largely driven by health care expenditures-in particular, Medicaid spending and spending on health benefits for state and local government employees and retirees. These expenditures are projected to grow as a share of GDP during the simulation period. GAO's simulations also suggest that revenues from personal income taxes and federal grants to states and localities will increase during the simulation period. However, revenues will grow more slowly than expenditures such that the sector faces a declining fiscal outlook."
   Read the Report.

National League of Cities Issues City Financial Conditions Report for 2018
September 17, 2018. The National League of Cities has issued its 2018 City Financial Conditions Report for 2018. The summary of the report starts with the following overall assessment. "The 2018 City Fiscal Conditions survey indicates that slightly more finance officers than last year are optimistic about the fiscal capacity of their cities. However, the level of optimism is still far below recent years. Furthermore, tax revenue growth is experiencing a year-overyear slowdown, with the growth in service costs and other expenditures outpacing it. Taken together, the survey results suggest that cities are approaching the limits of fiscal expansion." Executive Summary, at 1.
   Read the Report.

Mayors Submit Letter
February 21, 2018. Some 236 mayors from 47 states have submitted a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing the EPA plan to rescind the Obama administration's Clear Power Plan. The EPA published its proposed rule entitled "Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units" in October, 82 Fed. Reg. 48035 (October 16, 1917). The Clean Power Plan was originally issued in 2015, 80 Fed. Reg. 64662 (October 23, 2015). The current action by EPA to repeal the plan is being done pursuant to President Trump's Executive Order 13783, 82 Fed. Reg. 16093 (March 31, 2017). The mayors' letter is a comment in response to the EPA rulemaking and argues that the proposed repeal would undermine the efforts of local governments to take their own actions in concert with the national government to address climate change.
   Read the Letter.
   Read the EPA Proposed Rule.
   Read the 2015 Clean Power Plan.
   Read the Trump E.O. 13783.

GAO Releases Latest Edition of State and Local Governments' Fiscal Outlook
December 8, 2016. The Government Accountability Office has released its 2016 edition of its State and Local Governments’ Fiscal Outlook report. It shows an extended period of increased costs and fiscal gaps largely due to anticipated health care cost increases over time.
   Read the Report.

GAO Releases Latest Edition of State and Local Governments' Fiscal Outlook
December 16, 2015. The Government Accountability Office has released its 2015 edition of its State and Local Governments’ Fiscal Outlook report. It shows an extended period of increased costs and fiscal gaps largely due to anticipated health care cost increases over time.
   Read the Report.

Resources for Managers in Transition
October 9, 2015. The volatility in the current economic and political environment as well as the normal political changes in communities all contribute to the fact that many local government managers are in transition. The following resources have been developed by ICMA and various state associations. The ICMA "Tips" and "Guiding Lights" documents require member login to access.
   . Read "Walking on Thin Air" from the Colorado City/County Managers Association.
   . Read suggestions for managers in transition from the Oklahoma City Managers Association Website.
   . Read the Illinois City/County Management Association Guide for Managers in Transition.
   . Read the Iowa City/County Managers Association Guide for Manages in Transition.
   . ICMA Summary of State Sponsored Member in Transition Programs.
   . Read ICMA Tips From Members in Transition.
   . Read ICMA "A Guiding Light for Members in Transition."
   . Read the Minnesota City/County Mgmt Assn Transition Guidebook.

Supreme Court Strikes Los Angeles Hotel Ordinance
June 22, 2015. In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has found invalid on its face a Los Angeles city ordinance requiring hotels to maintain information on guests and provide that to police without any further process or review. Writing for the majority in City of Los Angeles v. Patel, Justice Sotomayor said: "Respondents brought a Fourth Amendment challenge to a provision of the Los Angeles Municipal Code that compels ‘[e]very operator of a hotel to keep a record’ containing specified information concerning guests and to make this record ‘available to any officer of the Los Angeles Police Department for inspection’ on demand. Los Angeles Municipal Code §§41.49(2), (3)(a), (4) (2015). The questions presented are whether facial challenges to statutes can be brought under the Fourth Amendment and, if so, whether this provision of the Los Angeles Municipal Code is facially invalid. We hold facial challenges can be brought under the Fourth Amendment. We further hold that the provision of the Los Angeles Municipal Code that requires hotel operators to make their registries available to the police on demand is facially unconstitutional because it penalizes them for declining to turn over their records without affording them any opportunity for precompliance review." Slip op. at 1.
   Read the Opinion.

Supreme Court Issues New Ruling on Local Sign Ordinances
March 20, 2015. In an opinion by Justice Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court has stuck down a Gilbert, Arizona sign ordinance aimed at temporary signs. Although there were three concurring opinions by members of the Court, there were no dissents from the opinion that found the ordinance "provisions are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny." Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, Slip op. at 1.
   The city code bans many types of signs, but has a variety of exceptions, one of which is “Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event.” As the Court explained, “This includes any “Temporary Sign intended to direct pedestrians, motorists, and other passersby to a ‘qualifying event.’”. . . A “qualifying event” is defined as any “assembly, gathering, activity, or meeting sponsored, arranged, or promoted by a religious, charitable, community service, educational, or other similar non-profit organization.”. . . The Code treats temporary directional signs even less favorably than political signs. Temporary directional signs may be no larger than six square feet. . . . They may be placed on private property or on a public right-of-way, but no more than four signs may be placed on a single property at any time. . . . And, they may be displayed no more than 12 hours before the “qualifying event” and no more than 1 hour afterward.” Id. at 1. The pastor of a local church, Clyde Reed, sued following clashes with the city over temporary signs his church used to indicate the local and times of the church services. The city found that the church was not in compliance with the ordinance. The lower federal courts upheld the ordinance, but the Supreme Court reversed, finding that the temporary signs were treated less favorably than political or ideological signs under the code which it concluded was content based regulation in violation in freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment as applied to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the process, the Court rejected the argument by the city, supported by the United States as an amicus curiae, that the regulation was about temporary directional signs and was not about the content or message.
   Read the opinion.

GAO Looks at Cities and Grants in a Time of Declining Resources
March 20, 2015. The Government Accountability Office has produced a report entitled Municipalities in Fiscal Crisis: Federal Agencies Monitored Grants and Assisted Grantees, but More Could Be Done to Share Lessons Learned. The GAO considered a number of cities under extreme fiscal stress, starting with Detroit, Michigan, and found that there were two sets of concerns that require more attention. First, fiscal crisis in a municipality makes it more difficult for the city to apply for, manage, and maintain federal grant dollars. Second, there have not been mechanisms in place to create a collection of lessons learned from the experience of these cities that can be shared nation-wide.
   Read the Report.
   Read the Report Highlights.

Supreme Court Clarifies Requirements When Local Governments Reject Cell Phone Permit Requests
January 16, 2015. The Supreme Court, in an opinion written for the 6-3 majority by Justice Sotomayor in No. 13-975 T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell, Georgia, explained the requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 when a local government denies a permit for a cell tower. She wrote in part: "Thus, we hold that the Act requires localities to provide reasons when they deny cell phone tower siting applications, but that the Act does not require localities to provide those reasons in written denial letters or notices themselves. A locality may satisfy its statutory obligations if it states its reasons with sufficient clarity in some other written record issued essentially contemporaneously with the denial. In this case, the City provided its reasons in writing and did so in the acceptable form of detailed minutes of the City Council meeting. The City, however, did not provide its written reasons essentially contemporaneously with its written denial. Instead, the City issued those detailed minutes 26 days after the date of the written denial and just 4 days before petitioner’s time to seek judicial review would have expired. The City therefore did not comply with its statutory obligations. . . .”
   Even so, the majority agreed with the argument by the Department of Justice as amicus curiae that: Although the statute does not require a locality to provide its written reasons in any particular format, and although a locality may rely on detailed meeting minutes as it did here, we agree with the Solicitor General that “the local government may be better served by including a separate statement containing its reasons.” If the locality writes a short statement providing its reasons, the locality can likely avoid prolonging the litigation—and adding expense to the taxpayers, the companies, and the legal system—while the parties argue about exactly what the sometimes voluminous record means. Moreover, in that circumstance, the locality need not worry that, upon review of the record, a court will either find that it could not ascertain the locality’s reasons or mistakenly ascribe to the locality a rationale that was not in fact the reason for the locality’s denial. . . ." Id. at 9-10.
   Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justice Ginsberg and Thomas.
   Read the T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell opinion.

Supreme Court Hears Sign Ordinance Case
January 12, 2015. On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, No. 13-502, a case involving a challenge to the town's sign ordinance that might produce a new standard from the Supreme Court for assessing sign ordinances. The most important element of the case is the argument whether the Supreme Court will mandate strict scrutiny, which places a particularly heavy burden on the local government to support an ordinance, or intermediate scrutiny, a decision needed because there are conflicting views among circuit courts of appeals.
   In this case, the Ninth Circuit twice upheld the ordinance, writing in 2013: "In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 587 F.3d 966 (9th Cir. 2009), we held that the ordinance . . . is not a content-based regulation and is a reasonable time, place and manner restriction. However, we remanded the case to the district court "to consider the First Amendment and Equal Protection claims that the Sign Code is unconstitutional in favoring some noncommercial speech over other noncommercial speech." Id. at 983. . . . [W]e conclude that the Sign Code is constitutional because the different treatment of types of noncommercial temporary signs are not content-based as that term is defined in Reed, and the restrictions are tailored to serve significant governmental interests. Reed v. Town of Gibert, 707 F.3d 1057, 1060 (9th Cir. 2013.
   The United States is arguing as amicus curiae that the Supreme Court should use the intermediate standard, but concludes that even under that standard the Gilbert ordinance should fail. The National League of Cities has also filed an amicus brief, in this case supporting the town and arguing about the problems that will arise if the Court imposes a strict standard.
   Read the brief of petitioner Reed.
   Read the Town's brief.
   Read the U.S. Department of Justice amicus brief supporting the petitioner.
   Read the National League Cities amicus brief supporting the town.
   Read the Ninth Circuit February 2013 opinion.
   Read the Ninth Circuit 2009 opinion.
   Read Oral Argument Transcript.

Supreme Court Allows Prayer at Council Meetings
May 5, 2014. The Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case, upholding the city council's practice of using an opening prayer (see the materials on the case below). The Court did not find an establishment of religion even though the prayers were overwhelming Christian in nature. As Justice Kennedy explained, "After respondents complained that Christian themes pervaded the prayers, to the exclusion of citizens who did not share those beliefs, the town invited a Jewish layman and the chairman of the local Baha’i temple to deliver prayers. A Wiccan priestess who had read press reports about the prayer controversy requested, and was granted, an opportunity to give the invocation." Slip op. at 3-4. However, Justice Kennedy said: "In rejecting the suggestion that legislative prayer must be nonsectarian, the Court does not imply that no constraints remain on its content. The relevant constraint derives from its place at the opening of legislative sessions, where it is meant to lend gravity to the occasion and reflect values long part of the Nation’s heritage. Prayer that is solemn and respectful in tone, that invites law­makers to reflect upon shared ideals and common ends before they embark on the fractious business of governing, serves that legitimate function. If the course and practice over time shows that the invocations denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion, many present may consider the prayer to fall short of the desire to elevate the purpose of the occasion and to unite lawmakers in their common effort. That circumstance would present a different case than the one presently before the Court. Id. at 14-15. While Kennedy's opinion previously stated that he did not want courts "to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech," Id. at 13, the language about the boundaries that are to be drawn noted above ensures that there will be future cases asking courts to determine whether that standard has been violated.
   Read the opinion.

Supreme Court Hears Prayer at Council Meetings Case
November 7, 2013. The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, testing whether the kind of prayer process used by the town council for its meeting complies with the Supreme Court's ruling in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983). The Second Circuit ruled that the way that the prayer was handled at the council meetings violated the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment because it was almost always done by representatives of Christian churches and often used language from that specific religion: "What we do hold is that a legislative prayer practice that, however well-intentioned, conveys to a reasonable objective observer under the totality of the circumstances an official affiliation with a particular religion violates the clear command of the Establishment Clause. Where the overwhelming predominance of prayers offered are associated, often in an explicitly sectarian way, with a particular creed, and where the town takes no steps to avoid the identification, but rather conveys the impression that town officials themselves identify with the sectarian prayers and that residents in attendance are expected to participate in them, a reasonable objective observer would perceive such an affiliation." Slip op. at 22-23.
   Read the Oral Argument Transcript in Town of Greece v. Galloway.
   Listen to the Audio of the Oral Argument in Town of Greece v. Galloway.
   Read the Brief of Petitioner Town of Greece.
   Read the Brief of Respondent Susan Galloway.
   Read the Brief of the U.S. as Amicus Curiae Supporting the City.
   Read the opinion of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Fourth Circuit Panel Finds the Liking a Facebook Page is Speech for a Local Government Employee
September 23, 2013. In a case involving suits by employees of a Sheriff's department, a panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that an employee's action "liking" the campaign Facebook page was speech protected by the First Amendment.
   Read the Bland v. Roberts opinion.

City of Detroit Files for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection
July 18, 2013. With the approval of the governor of Michigan, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
   Read the bankruptcy petition.
   Read the Emergency Manager's Plan for Restructuring Debts.
   Access the Emergency Manager's website.

Supreme Court Finds Wetlands Mitigation Expenses a Taking Without Just Compensation
June 28, 2013. In a 5-4 opinion by Justice Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court ruling in No. 11-1447, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, finding a taking of Koontz property because of wetlands mitigation costs. The case concerned actions taken by the water management district under state law when Koontz sought permits to develop property that he acquired east of Orlando, Florida. The district indicated that it would grant his permit if he either undertook improvements in the design of his project to deal with drainage issues and wetlands concerns or if he paid for off site wetlands mitigation. The U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Alito for a 5-4 majority reversed the state court and, referring repeatedly to the requirements as "extortionate demands," concluded that the requirements of "nexus and rough proportionality" from the Nollan (California Coastal Commission) and Dolan v. Tigard opinions applied here. The fact that he was being asked to pay money to deal with the impacts on wetlands in the area did not change the fact that this was a taking, and indeed the Court accused that the water district has "circumvented Nollan and Dolan" but said that "Nollan and Dolan cannot be evaded in this way." Slip op. at 1-2.
   The four dissenters, in an opinion by Justice Kagan, found this a dramatic extension of regulatory takings concept and one that "turns a broad array of local land-use regulations into federal constitutional questions. It deprives state and local governments of the flexibility they need to enhance their communities--to ensure environmentally sound and economically productive development. It places courts smack in the middle of the most everyday local government activity. As those consequences play out across the country, I believe the Court will rue today's decision." Dissent, Slip op. at 18
   Read the opinions.

GAO Releases New State and Local Government Fiscal Outlook
April 22, 2013. The Government Accountability Office has just issued its periodic State and Local Government Fiscal Outlook Report.
   .Read the GAO Report.

PEW Research Issues Report Showing Positive Public Ratings for Local Government
April 22, 2013. The PEW Research Center has issued a new report entited "State Governments Viewed Favorably as Federal Rating Hits New Low" which shows that while public opinion with respect to the federal government has hit a new low, respondents rated local government quite highly. "Even as public views of the federal government in Washington have fallen to another new low, the public continues to see their state and local governments in a favorable light. Overall, 63% say they have a favorable opinion of their local government, virtually unchanged over recent years. And 57% express a favorable view of their state government -- a five-point uptick from last year. By contrast, just 28% rate the federal government in Washington favorably. That is down five points from a year ago and the lowest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey." Id. at 1.
   .Read the report.
   .Access the Overview of the Report.

CBO Warns of Economic Challenges but Highlights Alternative Scenario
August 23, 2012. The Congressional Budget Office has issued a report warning that if policymakers allow the actions set to take place automatically in January 2013, the economy is likely to turn significantly downward, but the report also indicates an alternative scenario if policymakers act before January. The report, entitled An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook 2012-2022 warns that: "Such fiscal tightening will lead to economic conditions in 2013 that will probably be considered a recession, with real GDP declining by 0.5 percent between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013 and the unemployment rate rising to about 9 percent in the second half of calendar year 2013." (iii) The report indicates, however, that the situation will be very different if "all expiring tax provisions are extended indefinitely (except the payroll tax reduction in effect in calendar years 2011 and 2012); that the AMT is indexed for inflation after 2011; that Medicare's payment rates for physicians' services are held constant at their current level; and that the automatic spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act, which are set to take effect in January 2013, do not occur (although the law's original caps on discretionary appropriations are assumed to remain in place). That set of alternative policies would lead to budgetary and economic outcomes that would differ significantly, both in the near term and in later years, from those in CBO's baseline. In 2013, the deficit would total $1.0 trillion, almost $400 billion (or 2.5 percent of GDP) more than the deficit projected to occur under current law. The economy would be stronger in 2013: Real GDP would grow by 1.7 percent between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013, and the unemployment rate would be about 8 percent by the end of 2013, CBO projects." (iv).
   .Read the CBO Report.

Stockton City Council Approves Bankruptcy Filing
June 26, 2012. The Stockton, California city council voted last night to approve the so-called Pendency Plan submitted by the City Manager a basic element of which is that the city will file for bankruptcy protection. The city explains the action in its press release. "The Pendency Plan is essentially the budget and the plan that is followed for the day-to-day operations of the City while in bankruptcy. It identifies what expenditures will be reduced or suspended. The City will continue to pay employees, vendors and service providers. The focus of the Citys plan is the restructuring of above market pay and benefits and unsustainable long term debt. Adoption of the Pendency Plan assumes the City will file for protection under chapter 9 federal bankruptcy laws before July 1, 2012.    The City and its largest creditors engaged in confidential mediation for three (3) months. The mediation allowed the City to work with its largest creditors in an attempt to restructure debt and agreements through a process establish by state legislation under AB 506. The legislation provides for a 60-day period of negotiations with an option to extend for an additional 30 days. The City and most mediation participants extended the mediation period through June 25. The mediation concluded without obtaining a comprehensive set of agreements sufficient to close the budget gap of $26 million. The City is fiscally insolvent and must seek chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. In addition to the bankruptcy petition, the City will file a motion with the courts to share information from the confidential mediation process."
   The council packet for the June 26 city council meeting contains a report from the city manager, beginning on p. 159 of the council packet, first of the core problem and proposed responses and that is followed by a much more detailed explanation as to how the city got to where it is currently along with an explanation of what the pendency plan will mean in terms of services, human resources, and financial management.
   This is the latest in a series of bankruptcies by local governments such as Jefferson County, Alabama, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Central Falls, Rhode Island, Hamtramck, Michigan, and Vallejo, California. For the details on these bankruptcies and the recovery plans see the entry below for November 11, 2011.
   .Read the City of Stockton Press Release on Approval of the Pendency Plan.
   .Access the Stockton AB506 Documents Page with All Detailed Financial Information.
   .Access the Council Packet with the Information on the Votes Regarding the Pendency Plan and its Effects Including the City Manager's report Beginning on p. 159 of the packet (It is a .pdf document.
   .Access Proposed 2012-2012 Budget.

Supreme Court Rejects Equal Protection Challenge to City Change in Payment Plans
June 5, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion in No. 11-161, Armour v. City of Indianapolis, rejecting a claim by property owners that a new system for payment of costs for sewage installation discriminated in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The city had changed plans which changed costs for new projects and forgave future payments for those who still owed money to the city for previous work, but did not provide a refund for others who had paid a lump sum at the outset. Writing for the Court, Justice Breyer reaffirmed the Court's basic standard for equal protection analysis and explained that: "As long as the City's distinction has a rational basis, that distinction does not violate the Equal Protection Clause. This Court has long held that 'a classification neither involving fundamental rights nor proceeding along suspect lines . . . cannot run afoul of the Equal Protection Clause if there is a rational relationship between the disparity of treatment and some legitimate governmental purpose.'. . . We have made clear in analogous contexts that,where 'ordinary commercial transactions' are at issue, rational basis review requires deference to reasonable underlying legislative judgments.... And we have repeatedly pointed out that '[l]egislatures have especially broadlatitude in creating classifications and distinctions in taxstatutes.' Indianapolis' classification involves neither a 'fundamental right' nor a 'suspect' classification. Its subjectmatter is local, economic, social, and commercial. It is a tax classification. And no one here claims that Indianapolis has discriminated against out-of-state commerce or new residents. Hence, this case falls directly within the scope of our precedents holding such a law constitutionally valid if 'there is a plausible policy reason for the classification, the legislative facts on which the classification is apparently based rationally may have been considered to be true by the governmental decisionmaker, and the relationship of the classification to its goal is not so attenuated as to render the distinction arbitrary or irrational.' And it falls within the scope of our precedents holding that there is such a plausible reason if 'there is any reasonably conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis for the classification.' Moreover, analogous precedent warns us that we are not to 'pronounc[e]' this classification 'unconstitutional unless in the light of the facts made known or generally assumed it is of such a character as to preclude the assumption that it rests upon some rational basis within the knowledge and experience of the legislators.' Further, because the classification is presumed constitutional, the 'burden is on the one attacking the legislative arrangement to negative every conceivable basis which might support it.'" Slip op. at 5-7.
   .Read the opinion.

Supreme Court Finds Qualified Immunity for City Contractor
April 17, 2012. In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts in Filarsky v. Delia, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling and found qualified immunity for a city contractor of the same sort available to city employees. The case involved a suit brought by a fire department employee against city officials and the private human resources attorney they had hired to conduct an investigation of the employee. The lower court found a violation of the Fourth Amendment, but ruled that while the city officials enjoyed qualified immunity because the specific right at issue was not clearly established law at the time, the contract attorney did not because he was not a public employee. The Supreme Court reversed finding that: "[I]mmunity under §1983 should not vary depending on whether an individual working for the government does so as afull-time employee, or on some other basis." Id. at 11.
   Although the justices were at pains to point out that the 1997 ruling in Richardson v. McKnight, 521 U.S. 399 (1997) had left open this question, the fact is that the ruling is very different in terms of providing protections from that earlier ruling. In that case, the Court had rejected a claim by prison guards who worked for a private corrections contractor to limited immunity on grounds that although they performed the same functions as government employees, they operated in "a different system" and that ruling was used in other cases brought against contractors that found no immunity. The language in Filarsky is quite broad and it remains to be seen how it will be applied by the lower courts relative to Richardson.
   .Read the opinion.

GAO Issues State and Local Government Fiscal Outlook
April 5, 2012.The Government Accountability Office has issued the most recent of its regular reports on the state and local govenment fiscal outlook. The report is relatively bleak, focusing on the continuing burdens from increased Medicaid expenditures facing the states and increases in the cost of health care insurance for state and local employees against an ongoing pattern of federal and state budget cuts and resistance to tax increases.
   .Read the GAO Report.

GAO Examines the Costs and Other Impacts from the Growing Number of Vacant Properties in American Communities
December 6, 2011. The Government Accountability Office has issued a report examining the dramatic growth in vacant properties from 2000 to 2010, during which time, the report finds, 10 states saw and increase of some 70% with a range of increased costs and other impacts on the nations cities. The report examines a range of cites and states, but most importantly seeks to determine the types of impacts on local communities that have not been resolved by financial institutions or federal agencies that have one or another involvement with those properties.
   .Read the report.

Jefferson County (Birmingham) Bankruptcy Raises Questions About Local Government Bankruptcy Proceedings
November 11, 2011. Jefferson County, Alabama, which is home to the important city of Birmingham, has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, following on a large, troubled sewer project and other difficulties. This is the latest in a series of bankruptcies filed by local governments, including Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Central Falls, Rhode Island, Hamtramck, Michigan, and Vallejo, California. Vallejo has recently come out of bankruptcy and the city has made available a website with information on that bankruptcy, including the docket information both as to the bankruptcy and also the legal challenges to it. This information may be of interest not only because of that case, but also as an indicator of the types of issues and problems that can arise in a local government bankruptcy.
   The items below include the sites that provide the historical information as well as the plan of adjustment of debts for Vallejo that was produced in July and the court's order issued by Judge Michael S. McManus approving the plan with amendments as of August 2, 2011. The order attaches the final plan as Exhibit 1 to the order.
   In the case of Harrisburg, Pennsylania, the state took a more direct involvement, passing legislation providing for state action in the event of financially distressed municipalities entitled: "'An act empowering the Department of Community Affairs to declare certain municipalities as financially distressed; providing for the restructuring of debt of financially distressed municipalities; limiting the ability of financially distressed municipalities to obtain government funding; authorizing municipalities to participate in Federal debt adjustment actions and bankruptcy actions under certain circumstances; and providing for consolidation or merger of contiguous municipalities to relieve financial distress,' further providing for purpose and legislative intent; providing for fiscal emergencies in third class cities and for receivership for third class cities; and making editorial changes."
   Finally, the bankruptcy filing for Jefferson County, Alabama, the county press release on the filing, and the website with other documents are provided below.
   .Access the city of Vallejo bankruptcy website with a wide range of information.
   .Access the bankruptcy docket sheet showing the history of the Vallejo bankruptcy.
   .Read the Vallejo Plan for Adjustment of Debts as Amended July 15, 2011.
   .Read the Order of the Court Confirming the City of Vallejo Second Plan as Amended August 2, 2011 with the final plan attached.
   .Read Pennsylvania's SB 1151 Providing for Actions on Financially Distressed Communities.
   .Read Harrisburg Mayor's Response to the Governor's declaration of a Fiscal Emergency in Harrisburg under SB 1151.
   .Read Consent Agreement Process Required Under Financial Emergency legislation as announced by the City of Harrisburg.
   .Access the website on the Harrisburg Bankruptcy.
   .Access Harrisburg's Bankruptcy Petition filed 10/11/11.
   .Access the Jefferson County Bankruptcy Petition.
   .Read the Jefferson County Press Release on the Bankruptcy Filing.
   .Access the Jefferson County website on Bankruptcy Documents.

Supreme Court Rules on Right to Petition Claim by Police Chief
June 28, 2011. Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court in No. 09-1476, Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri, a case concerning a claim by a local government employee based not on the free speech clause of the First Amendment, but on the right to petition also protected under that part of the Bill of Right. The Court' s opinion rejected the argument that the petition clause provides even broader protection for employee speech than the free speech provision and cautioned courts that: "Unrestrained application of the Petition Clause in the context of government employment would subject a wide range of government operations to invasive judicial superintendence." Slip opinion at 10.
   .Read the opinion.

Supreme Court Finds that Individuals Can Have Standing to Make a Federalism Argument Against Federal Statutes
June 14, 2011. In an opinion for a unanimous Supreme Court in Bond v. United States, Justice Kennedy reversed a Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruling that denied standing to a woman who sought to challenge a federal statute on federalism grounds. The Supreme Court concluded that since the woman was convicted and imprisoned under the federal law, she had standing to assert that the congressional enactment violated federalism limitations. The Court rejected the argument that she was attempting to assert the legal position which the state itself was required to put forward, a variation on the so-called prudential standing rule. In so doing, Kennedy took the opportunity to present an essay on the importance of federalism as a protection for individual freedoms.
   Interestingly, the United States switched positions during the case and argued that the woman did have standing. Thus, the Court appointed an amicus curiae Stephen McAllister to defend the position of the lower court.
   .Read the opinion.

U.S. Supreme Court Reverses State Supreme Court and Upholds Nevada Conflict of Interest Law
June 14, 2011. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a Nevada conflict of interest law, reversing a state court decision that had struck down the statute on First Amendment grounds. In a case concerning a Sparks, Nevada councilman who voted for a new casino project despite the fact that his campaign manager was being paid as a consultant on an ongoing basis by the casino's developer, the Court rejected the constitutional challenge to the state law.
   Even before it would address the issue whether the statute was overbroad in violation of the First Amendment, Justice Scalia wrote, it was necessary to determine "whether legislators have a personal First Amendment right to vote on any given matter." Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan, No. 10-568, Slip opinion at 1. Additionally, the state statute prevented anyone who was prohibited from voting on a matter because of the ethics violation from participating in the debate on the matter by advocating its passage. Justice Scalia wrote that: "If Carrigan was constitutionally excluded from voting, his exclusion from 'advocat[ing]' at the legislative session was a reasonable time, place and manner limitation." Id. at 4.
   Scalia explained there is a fundamental reason that a restriction on the ability of the council member to vote on a matter is a not a violation of his or her First Amendment rights. "The answer is that a legislator's vote is the commitment of his apportioned share of the legislature's power to the passage or defeat of a particular proposal. The legislative power this committed is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people; the legislator has no personal right to it." Id. at 8. And on that ground, the Court reversed that state court ruling.
   Read the opinion.

Resources for Managers in Transition
June 9, 2011. The volatility in the current economic and political environment as well as the normal political changes in communities all contribute to the fact that many local government managers are in transition. The following resources have been developed by ICMA and various state associations.
   . Read suggestions for managers in transition from the Oklahoma City Managers Association Website.
   . Read the Illinois City/County Management Association Guide for Managers in Transition.
   . Read the Iowa City/County Managers Association Guide for Manages in Transition.
   . ICMA Summary of State Sponsored Member in Transition Programs.
   . Read ICMA Tips From Members in Transition.
   . Read ICMA "A Guiding Light for Members in Transition."
   . Read the Minnesota City/County Mgmt Assn Transition Guidebook.

GAO Issues New State and Local Fiscal Outlook Report
April 7, 2011. The Government Accountability Office has issued its most recent update on its State and Local Governments' Fiscal Outlook report.
   . Read the GAO Report.

New ADA Rules Take Effect
March 17, 2011. The U.S. Department of Justice announced that new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act would take effect on March 15. The rules concern Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services and Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities. For more information and links to the new regulations, go to the Civil Rights page of this website.

Control Over Local Government Websites: The Government Speech Doctrine
March 1, 2011. As local governments spend more time and effort communicating and interacting with citizens through their websites and social media connections, the inevitable questions arise concerning the authority of those governments to limit access to the sites through city or county website policies and administrative decisions. There is very little case law on the subject, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued an opinion in the case of Sutliffe v. Epping School District that upheld a decision by the city and the school district to refuse to add a link to its website to a local advocacy group's website. The ruling was based largely on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 129 S.Ct. 1125. The court in Sutliffe emphasized the Supreme Court's discussion of "government speech" as allowing discretion to refuse access to the site in the face of a claim by the advocacy group that the local government website was a "public forum" and that refusal to allow access to it was viewpoint based discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.
   . Read the First Circuit's Sutliffe opinione.
   . Read the Supreme Court's Summum opinion.

Court of Appeals Upholds Ruling Against Hazleton, Pennsylvania Ordinances on Immigrants
October 9, 2010. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has issued a long awaited ruling affirming the decision of the federal district court for the middle district of Pennslvania in a case brought by Latino residents of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, striking down ordinances adopted by that community during 2006. The ordinances were purportedly aimed at undocumented immigrants, but they were applied to some hispanic residents whether they were citizens, permanent residents, or undocumented immigrants, and to employers and landlords as well. Judge James M. Munley found the ordinances violated the Article VI supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. Section1981, as well as some provisions of state law.
   . Read the Third Circuit opinion.
   . Read the Lozano v. City of Hazleton Opinion.

GAO Report Analyzes Fiscal Pressures' Effects on Intergovernmental Programs
August 16, 2010. The Government Accountability Office has issued a report that goes in a slightly different direction from some other reports on the impact of economic models to consider the impacts on the operation of intergovernmental programs from the current and projected economic pressures. "All levels of government face long-term fiscal challenges which could affect future federal funding of intergovernmental programs, as well as the potential capacity of state and local governments to help fund and implement these programs. The interconnectedness which defines intergovernmental programs requires that officials at all levels of government remain aware of of and ready to respond to fiscal pressures." Highlights, p. 1
   Access the GAO report.

California Attorney General Launches Investigation Into Bell, California Pay Scandal
June 29, 2010. The California Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown, Jr., has launched civil and criminal investigations into the pay scandal in Bell, California. His office has issued a subpoena for city records as part of those probes. The subpoena is posted below.
   The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has released a statement on the situation. In it, Executive Director Robert O'Neill said: "ICMA firmly believes that excessive compensation packages during a time in which local governments are struggling to provide essential services to communities are damaging to the public trust and to the local government management profession." The statement also refers those interested to the ICMA ethics webpage.
   Access the Subpoena for Bell City Records.
   Read the Attorney General's Announcement of the Investigation.
   Read the ICMA statement on the Bell situation .
   Access the ICMA Ethics Webpage.

Supreme Court Rejects Illegal Search and Seizure Claim in Public Employee Text Messaging Case
June 17, 2010. The Supreme Court has issued its long awaited ruling in the City of Ontarion v. Quon, rejecting claims by the police officer and those who sent messages to him that the review of the transcripts of the texts sent and received on city equipment without a warrant and after assurances that the employees could use the devices for personal messages was not an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. For more information, see the Local Government page of this website.
   The case came from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. It concerns the city's actions accessing the private text messages sent by a police sergeant using a city text messaging system and raises Fourth Amendment questions about the limits, if any, on the city's ability to access text messages. The Ninth Circuit denied the city's request for a review en banc, but Judge Wardlaw issued a sharply worded opinion concurring in the denial of en banc review and responding to the dissent by Judge Ikuta to the ruling of the three judge panel. The oral argument transcript, briefs, and other materials are posted below.
   Access the City of Ontario v. Quon Opinon.
   Read the Oral Argument Transcript.
   Read the brief for the City of Ontario.
   Read the brief for the Respondents.
   Read U.S. Amicus Curiae brief.
   Access Supreme Court docket sheet for the Case.
   Access the opinion on the Merits in the Ninth Circuit.
   Access the Denial of Rehearing En Banc with Wardlaw Concurring Opinion.

Supreme Court Rejects Florida Property Takings Claim
June 17, 2010. Although Justice Scalia, writing for the Court in Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection found that judicial decisions could be considered takings under the Fifth Amendment prohibition against taking of property without just compensation, he concluded that the Florida courts had not taken property from beachfront property owners in ruling against them with respect to challenges to beachfront protection property and development policies.
   Access the Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection opinion.

FCC Issues National Broadband Policy Proposal
March 16, 2010. The Federal Communications Commission has submitted a national broadband plan to the Congress. In its report entitled Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan, the FCC found that: "Nearly 100 million Americans lack broadband at home, and 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband even if they want it. Only 42 percent of people with disabilities use broadband at home, while as few as 5 percent of people living on Tribal lands have access." The plan indicates and intention to address those and other related conditions
   Access the FCC National Broadband Plan.
   Access the Executive Summary of the Broadband Plan.
   Access the FCC News Release on the plan.

GAO Publishes State and Local Fiscal Outlook March 2010 Update
March 4, 2010. The Government Accountability Office has issued its latest update on the projections for the State and Local Fiscal Outlook. The view remains pessimistic, largely because of concerns that recent stresses have been mitigated somewhat by Recovery Act funds that are not permanent and because of continued increases in health care costs.
   Access the Report.

GAO Continues Efforts to Report on Recovery Act Funds and Accountability
December 10, 2009. The GAO has issued the latest in its series of reports on state and local government use of Recovery Act funds and accountability efforts.
   Access the Report.

GAO Issues Report on Local and State Government Uses of Recovery Act Funds
September 17, 2009. The Government Accountability Office has issued a report on "States' and Localities' Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses." This report examines the federal funds to date to these governments.
   Access the Report.

School Districts and Cities Seek "Race to the Top" and "Fiscal Stabilization" Funds
July 24, 2009. The President and the Secretary of State have announced recovery funds to be made available as state stabilization grants and for what the administration calls the "Race to the Top Program." The receipt of funds is tied to commitments by states and school districts to the administration's evaluation of student progress and teacher pay for performance requirements. The Department of Education has released the notices with a comment period which will be, but have not yet been published in the Federal Register.
   Access Dept. of Ed. Notice on the Program and Criteria for Race to the Top Funds.
   Access Dept. of Ed. Notice on the Program and Criteria for Fiscal Stabilization Funds.
   Access the Secretary of Education's Comments on Annuouncement of the Race to the Top program.
   President Obama's Remarks at the Announcement of the Race to the Top Funds Program .

PEW Trust Issues Report on City Budget Balancing Efforts in Recessions
July 22, 2009. The Philadelphia Research Initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts has published a report entitled Tough Decisions and Limited Options: How Philadelphia and Other Cities are Balancing Budgets in a Time of Recession. The report considers the tendency to avoid tax measures and use human resource constraints to deal with the challenges, but considers an alternative approach.
   Access the Report.

Supreme Court Delivers Ruling in the New Haven Firefighters Case
June 29, 2009. The Supreme Court has delivered its opinion in the Ricci v. DeStefano case, concerning the New Haven, Connecticut firefighters promotion test. The 5-4 ruling was delivered by Justice Kennedy, striking the city's decision not to use the results of the test for promotions. Justice Ginsburg wrote for the four dissenters, warning that the Court had ignored law, history, and the clear facts of the New Haven case. For more information and for the opinions in the case, see the Civil Rights page of this website.

President Issues Memorandum on Preemption
May 22, 2009. President Obama has issued a memorandum cautioning federal agencies against inappropriate use of preemption powers. Specifically, the memorandum states in part that: "1. Heads of departments and agencies should not include in regulatory preambles statements that the department or agency intends to preempt State law through the regulation except where preemption provisions are also included in the codified regulation. 2. Heads of departments and agencies should not include preemption provisions in codified regulations except where such provisions would be justified under legal principles governing preemption, including the principles outlined in Executive Order 13132. 3. Heads of departments and agencies should review regulations issued within the past 10 years that contain statements in regulatory preambles or codified provisions intended by the department or agency to preempt State law, in order to decide whether such statements or provisions are justified under applicable legal principles governing preemption. Where the head of a department or agency determines that a regulatory statement of preemption or codified regulatory provision cannot be so justified, the head of that department or agency should initiate appropriate action, which may include amendment of the relevant regulation."
   Access the Presidential Memorandum.

Intergovernmental Agreements Resources
May 16, 2009. One of the most important aspects of contemporary local governance is the development and operation of various types of intergovernmental and interlocal agreements. It is increasingly common for states to have IGA statutes, but they vary widely as to the types and forms of IGAs among local governments and between local governments and other organizations. Tribal governments also have adopted policies on IGAs with state or local governments. The Washington Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) provides excellent resources on the subject, including a wide array of sample agreement of various types. The City of Vancouver, Washington, like a number of other communities, posts its current intergovernmental agreements on its Internet Site.
   Access the MRSC Washington Intergovernment Cooperation Resources.
   Access MRSC Sample IGA Agreements.
   Access the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Ordinance on IGAs.
   Access City of Vancouver, WA Interlocal Agreements Page.

Municipal E-Governance Report Issued
May 12, 2009. The E-Governance Institute of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University, Newark, and the Department of Public Administration at San Francisco State University in cooperation with the Public Technology Institute, have issued a report entitled U.S. Minicipalities E-Governance Report (2008): An Assessment of Municipal Websites. The press release indicates that: "The survey evaluated municipal websites in the areas of privacy, usability, content, service, and citizen participation and ranked the cities nationally. . . . [T]he study listed the following cities among the top five in digital governance: Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. These cities will be awarded the Municipal Web Portal Excellence Awards at the Public Technology Institute’s Technology Solutions and Innovations Conference."
   Access the survey report.

Oregon Legislature Revises Ethics Disclosure Law
April 15, 2009. Reacting to complaints about the previous ethics law that many local volunteer officials considered excessively intrusive and burdensome and not really relevant to their offices or their actions, the state legislature has adopted SB 30 which reduces some reporting requirements and makes other changes. Fore more information and to access the legislation, see the Oregon page of this website.

GAO Provides A Report on Single Audits by Federal Agencies of State and Local Grants
April 10, 2009. The GAO has provided a report entitled "Single Audit: Opportunities Exist to Improve the Single Audit Process and Oversight" aimed at determining how well federal agencies are doing at implementing the requirements of the Single Audit Act with respect to grants to state and local governments.
   Access the report.

Oregon Senate Passes Tort Liability Amendments
February 27, 2009. The Oregon Senate has passed SB 311 which amendments the Oregon Tort Liability Act and has sent the bill to the House. The bill increases liability limits on state and local governments and their employees. For more information and the text of the legislation, go to the Oregon page of this website.

Supreme Court Rejects Demand to Allow Monument to be Placed in City Park
February 25, 2009. The long awaited ruling in a local government free speech case was delivered today in an opinion by Justice Alito. As Alito explained the matter: "This case presents the question whether the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment entitles a private group to insist that a municipality permit it to place a permanent monument in a city park in which other donated monuments were previously erected. The Court of Appeals held that the municipality was required to accept the monument because a public park is a traditional public forum. We conclude, however, that although a park is a traditional public forum for speeches and other transitory expressive acts, the display of a permanent monument in a public park is not a form of expression to which forum analysis applied. Instead, the placement of a permanent monument in a public park is best viewed as a form of government speech and is therefore not subject to scrutiny under the Free Speech Clause." Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, No. 07-665, Slip opinion at 1. There were four concurring opinions, but no dissent.
   Access the opinion.

OMB Issues Implementation Guidance for the Stimulus Package
February 23, 2009. The Office of Management and Budget has issued a memorandum to executive agencies and departments entitled "Initial Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
   The House and Senate passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and it has been signed by the president as P.L. 111-5. The final bill is a modified version of the Collins-Nelson Amendment (570) which was an amendment in the nature of a substitute which completely replaced the legislation that previously passed theU.S. House of Representatives. The GPO has not yet published P.L. 111-5 in public law format, but the law is available in the bill number format as adopted by both houses and signed by the president.
   Access the OMB Initital Implementation Guidance.
   Access the bill as passed by the house and Senate.

GAO Reports on Local and State Government Fiscal Challenges from Health Care Issues
November 19, 2008. The Government Accountability Office has provided testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on the threats to state and local government fiscal wellbeing from rising health care costs. Stanley Czerwinski, Director of the GAO Strategic Issues unit provided evidence to Congress that "Rapidly rising health care costs are not simply a federal budget problem. Growth in health-related spending also drives the fiscal challenges facing state and local governments. The magnitude of these challenges presents long-term sustainability challenges for all levels of government." Summary p. 1. The testimony provides an analysis on long -term and as well as near-term issues.
   Read the GAO testimony.

U.S. Supreme Court Lets Favorable Tax Treatment for State and Local Bonds Stand
May 21, 2008. In a long-awaited ruling on a seemingly arcane subject, the Surpeme Court has upheld a state tax policy that allowed tax policy under which it exempts interest on bonds issued by the state and its local governments from taxation, but taxes interest from bonds issued in other states. The Kentucky policy was challenged as a violation of the domant commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution. However, in his opinion for the Court (except for part III-B which was not ), Justice Souter found that the state tax law did not violate the commerce clause. While the Justice scattered in terms of their various concurring positions, there were only two dissents, filed by Justices Kennedy and Alito.
   Read the Dept. of Revenue of Ky v. Davis ruling.

GAO Releases New Study on State and Local Employee Retirement Benefits
November 19, 2007. The Government Accountability Office has released a study, entitled State and Local Government Retiree Benefits: Current Status of Benefit Structures, Protections, and Fiscal Outlook for Funding Future Costs. More accurately, this is a corrected version of a study initially issued in September. The study addressed "(1) the types of state and local returee benefits provided and how they are structured, (2) how state and local returee benefits are protected and managed, and (3) the fiscal outlook for state and local retiree benefits and what governments are doing to ensure they can meet their future commitments." (p. 2)
   Read the GAO Report

Washington Supreme Court Strikes Down Property Tax Limitation Measure.
November 8, 2007. The Supreme Court of Washington struck down the one percent property tax increase limitation measure in a case brought by the group Citizens Action for Washington. The governor and state legislature have promised to take legislative action to provide a limitation through legislative means.
   Read the Washington Supreme Court Majority Opinion
   Read the Washington Supreme Court Dissenting Opinion

U.S. Government Accountability Office Issues Report Identifying A Need for Better Homeland Security Information Sharing with State and Local Governments.
May 10, 2007. The GAO has issued a reporting, finding a lack of effective information sharing with state and local governments in homeland security matters even in the 8 separate information systems administered by the Department of Homeland Security that are designed to ensure intergovernment information sharing.
   Read the GAO Report

Supreme Court Upholds Solid Waste Flow Control Ordinance that Favors Public Benefit Corporation.
May 2, 2007. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a flow control ordinance that requires solid waste haulers to take the materials to facilities operated by a public benefit corporation. This case, United Haulers Assn. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, No. 05-1345, draws a substantial distinction between such ordinances that favor private solid waste firms, which were struck down in an earlier decision, C&A Carbone v. Clarkston, 511 U.S. 383 (1994), and those that require movement of the waste to publicly created organizations. The Court rejected claims that this upstate New York ordinance violated by the so-called dormant commerce clause of Article I of the U.S. Constitution. Writing for a framented majority (four justices on all parts of the opinion, Scalia on two, and Thomas concurring in the judgement), Chief Justice Roberts said: "Disposing of trash has been a traditional government activity for years, and laws that favor the government in such areas -- but treat every private business, whether in-state or out-of-state, exactly the same -- do not discriminate against interstate commerce for purposes of the Commerce Clause." Slip opinion, at 1.
   Read the Opinion

Local Government Eminent Domain Authority for Economic Development Purposes Reaffirmed in New London Case.
June 23, 2005. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the authority of state and local governments to use eminent doman powers to take property for the purpose of economic development, reaffirming authority that has been in place since the Supreme Court's Berman v. Parker ruling of 1954. The case, Kelo v. City of New London, concerned a New London, Connecticut effort to acquire property in support of a economic development commitment by a private firm predicated on the ability to have the targeted property. There had been questions by property rights advocates as to whether the Court would use this case as an opportunity to limit eminent domain powers, but the Court refused to take that course.
   Read the Opinion

Information for Students Interested in the MPA Local Government Administration Specialization and Others New to Local Government Administration

PSU MPA Local Government Specialization Information
   Read more about the specialization.

ICMA Local Government Management Fellowships
   Access Fellowship Information.

U.S. Based Local Government Associations

International City/County Management Association
   ICMA Homepage

National Association of Counties

National League of Cities
    Access the NLC Homepage

National Special Districts Coalition
   Access the National Special Districts Association Website.

Government Finance Officers Association

American Public Works Association
    Access the APWA Homepage

Oregon City/County Management Association
For a Full List of Oregon Local Government Organizations, Click on the Oregon Button on the The Left Hand Side of this Page

Vermont League of Cities and Towns

California City Management Foundation
   Home Page

Texas City Management Association

California Special District Association

Colorado Special District Association

Florida Special District Association

Special Districts Association of Oregon

Utah Association of Special Districts

      Recruiting and Selecting a City Manager

Local Government Resources

U.S. State & Local Gateway

State and Local Government on the Net

Access Local Government

Worldwide Local Government Web Page

ICMA  Related Sites
   ICMA Website

Sustainable Community Development

Organizations of and for Local Government

Cities Environment Reports on the Internet

U.S. Communities Purchasing & Finance Agency

State and Local Governments
   Library of Congress Internet Resources Page

International Local Government Associations

United Nations Habitat

   (British Local Government Site)


Australian Local Government Association

Local Government New Zealand

Virtual Academy of Local Government Studies
   (Findland, University of Tampere)

Japan Local Government Centre

Resources for Local Government in Eastern Europe
   (Urban Institute)

International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives

Course Materials

U.S. Census Report, Finances of County Government: 2002
   Read the Report

U.S. Census Report, Finances of Municipal and Township Governments: 2002
   Read the Report