A digital weekly eNews on federal, judicial, and state and local issues.
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Welcome to the eNews.

A digital weekly eNews on federal, judicial, and state and local issues and developments for state and local leaders across the country.

In this week’s eGnus, we also include our newest (hot off the press) cohort report on Ethics and Aging: as Americans live longer than any previous generations—and families no longer all live in one community, what kinds of ethical quandaries might that pose to city and county leaders? (click link for full report)


  • Will Congress go home?

  • Will the federal government shut down?

  • What might Buy America mean for State & Local Leaders?

  • Federal Tax Reform or Federal Tax Expenditures?

  • 21st Century Cures?

  • Justice Reauthorization.

State & Local Finance:

  • In our special section, this week, we consider the challenge to state and local leaders related to climate change. Because local and state leaders are charged with land use, zoning, emergency response, provision of water and other utilities; those leaders do not have the option to deny what is happening in their jurisdictions. In no part of the country is this a more critical challenge than parts of the Commonwealth of Virginia—where, ironically, the largest naval base in the world is based—and where it, too, faces enormous costs and risks in its vital role to protect the nation; and we consider municipal authority to sue banks for irresponsible mortgage practices.   

  • 21st Century Driving State Initiative?

  • How Deep are Illinois’ Fiscal Problems?

  • What are the implications for Chicago’s Public Schools?

  • Rethinking Public Safety in the Windy City;

  • The Disruptive, But Sharing Economy:

    • Driven without a driver?

    • Driving backwards?

    • Who’s on first?

    • Driving Miss Crazy?

    • Driving State Revenuers Crazy?

    • Ride hailing & Legality;

  • Fire in the Pension Hole;

  • Pension Mandates Postponed?

  • Windy City pension overhaul?

  • Michigan Conversion?

  • Ethical Abuse of Elders?

  • Cities of Ethics?

  • Ethical Binds.

The Courts:

  • Will the Warriors win on a different court?

  • Can a Municipality Re-zone Friends?

  • Play Ball!

  • Not Water under the Bridge?

  • State Legislative Authority & R-E-S-P-E-C-T
In this a.m.’s eBlog:  
We look back on the long and rocky road from the nation’s longest municipal bankruptcy back to solvency taken by the City of San Bernardino, a city in a Dillon Rule state, which we described in our original study as the former gateway from the East to Midwest of the L.A. basin and former home to Norton Air Force Base, Kaiser Steel, and the Santa Fe Railroad, but which in the 1990’s, with the departure of those industries and employees, fell into hard times. By the advent of the Great Recession, 46% of its residents were on some form of public assistance—and nearly one-third below the poverty line. By FY2012, the city faced a $45 million deficit; its fund balance and reserves were exhausted—leading the city to file for chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy (note California codes §§53760, 53760.1, 53760.3, 53760.5, and 53760.7—and where, effective on the first day of this year, new statutory state language specifically created a first lien priority for general obligation debt issued by cities, counties, schools, and special districts, so long as the debt was secured by a levy of ad valorum taxes pursuant to California’s Constitution.) As we have noted, in the 18 states which authorize chapter 9 filings, states have proscribed strikingly different legal mechanisms relating to the state role—varying from a state takeover, such as we have described in the case of the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in Detroit, but to a very different regime in Jefferson County and San Bernardino—where the elected municipal officials not only remained in office, but here the respective states—if anything—contributed to the severity of the fiscal challenges. Then we turn to what might be Congress’ last day in town this year—and whether funding to help the City of Flint might be enacted: Will Congress pass and send to the President a bill to provide emergency assistance to Flint?
To access this morning's eBlog, please visit:
As always, we are grateful for your public service!
Councilman Wilson
State & Local Leader of the Week 

Our State & Local Leader of the Week is Alexandria, Virginia  Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, who has been a leader in protecting the City’s fiscal health, promoting transportation solutions, and ensuring the success of every child. First elected in 2007, and then in 2012, his colleagues picked him to serve as Vice Mayor last January. Council member Wilson serves as the Council representative on the City Council/School Board Subcommittee, the Potomac Yard Metrorail Feasibility Study Group, the Visit Alexandria Board of Governors, the Potomac Watershed Roundtable, the ARHA Redevelopment Work Group, the Commission on Information Technology, the Audit Committee, the Employee Pension/Compensation Committee, and the Quality of Life Committee; but he also has been an appointee of Governor Mark Warner to Virginia’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, and was an appointee of former Governor (and former Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine) to the Virginia Board of Juvenile Justice. In Alexandria, Mr. Wilson has previously served on the Youth Policy Commission, the Long Range Educational Facilities Work Group, and the Alexandria Library Board. As the City’s regional representative, he served on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Human Services & Public Safety Policy Committee. He has been active in Alexandria’s non-profit community as a previous treasurer and a member of the board of directors of Computer C.O.R.E., which provides computer training to low-income adults in Northern Virginia. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Hopkins House, an early childhood education provider. What especially distinguishes his public service leadership is the weekly, in-depth emails he sends to help us understand critical public issues in our city. During the brief nineteen years when I was at the National League of Cities, I devoted signal efforts to making sure that my staff, in writing for Nation’s Cities Weekly, appreciated that elected city (and county) leaders usually had: 1) A family, 2) a full-time job, 3) whatever was going on at City Hall, 4) whatever was happening affecting her or his city in the state that critical federal issues affecting state and local leaders had to be put in perspective. What the Vice Mayor does is quite unique and invaluable: every week he emails constituents to help us understand and appreciate what is happening at City Hall—what his position on that issue is—and why it might matter. Remembering that no level of government affects Americans than local government—whether it be in defending us from an attack by foreign terrorists, or ensuring essential public services—his efforts to help explain what is happening at City Hall—and how we might weigh in—is an invaluable public service. Justin is employed as a Director with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak). He lives in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria with his wife, Alex and their son Eli and daughter Lena.

To get in touch with the author, please visit his website at:

Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved Frank H. Shafroth.

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