How March Madness can put a spring in the step of workers | Do your policies indicate a lack of trust in employees? | Mass. city council is urged to stop observing "hack holidays"
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March 20, 2013
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Leadership and Management
How March Madness can put a spring in the step of workers
There are legal considerations to letting employees participate in March Madness brackets at work, but doing so correctly can build team spirit and morale without hurting productivity, says Murat Philippe of Avatar HR Solutions. Bracket betting "is something that is going to happen anyway, no matter what a company may say," Philippe says. "It doesn't really cost you a great deal, so you may as well saddle it up and ride it out." USA Today/Gannett News Service (3/17)
Do your policies indicate a lack of trust in employees?
Many organizations implement policies that suggest they don't trust their employees, Liz Ryan writes. For example, they might require workers to provide proof when they say they are sick or when they have had a death in the family. "If we value talent, we'll start dismantling the lumbering Godzilla of controls and policies that hampers creativity in virtually every organization, and we'll start trusting ourselves to hire people we trust," she writes. Bloomberg Businessweek/The Management Blog (3/12)
Mass. city council is urged to stop observing "hack holidays"
The Boston City Council has drawn criticism for a holiday policy that includes Bunker Hill Day, which falls at the peak of budget season, and Evacuation Day, which is the same day as St. Patrick's Day. Such "hack holidays" have been eliminated for city workers, the mayor and his Cabinet, department heads and council staff, but councilors still observe them, which some say sets a poor example. The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (3/19)
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Budgeting and Finance
Ore. city council might amend arts tax amid criticism
The Portland, Ore., City Council will consider an emergency ordinance to amend an arts tax to exclude people who earn less than $1,000 per year. The $35-per-person tax applies to residents 18 and older who make any kind of income, including something as insignificant as one job that earns a teenager $10. The tax, which excludes those in households below the poverty line, is meant to generate about $12 million annually for elementary-school arts teachers and art-institution grants. The Oregonian (Portland) (3/18)
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Emergency Management and Public Safety
S.D. city council eyes ban on texting while driving
Mitchell, S.D., could join an increasing number of jurisdictions that have banned texting while driving, after the City Council voted to draft an ordinance. The council will consider the rule at a meeting April 1. Some councilors have expressed concern, saying the issue should be a state one or that the ordinance should ban distracted driving or all hand-held devices, instead of only texting. The Daily Republic (Mitchell, S.D.) (3/19)
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Economic Development, Restoration and Sustainability
Calif. city council backs expansion of business district
The San Rafael, Calif., City Council supports expanding the Business Improvement District to include more than 760 business-license holders, up from 125. The additional businesses would increase the amount the district earns in member assessment from as much as $18,000 annually to about $100,000, which would go toward events, marketing, landscaping, road improvement and other necessities. "We want to make the downtown area a better place to work, live and shop," said Greg Gener, a bank manager and a district board member. "It does need funding in order to survive." Marin Independent Journal (San Rafael, Calif.) (3/18)
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Ga. city council authorizes plan to fund $1B stadium
The Atlanta City Council has approved a resolution that allows funding of an Atlanta Falcons stadium by extending a 39.3% hotel and motel tax through 2050. The city will contribute $200 million to construction of the $1 billion stadium, while Falcons owner Arthur Blank will provide the remainder. WGCL-TV (Atlanta) (3/19)
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Legislation, Policy and Grants
Calif. city council expresses support for immigration reform
The San Diego City Council has introduced a resolution to support bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate on immigration reform. Specifically, councilors say they back legislation that would tie a pathway to citizenship with border security and that would hold companies accountable for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. "The time has come for fair, reasonable and comprehensive immigration reform," Councilman Kevin Faulconer said. "With the Senate's focus on working together, the country has a window of opportunity to move forward on an issue which affects so many people." XETV-TV (San Diego)/City News Service (3/18)
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Public Works and Infrastructure
Report: Good transit system could help Pa. city's economy
The economic health of Pittsburgh could be improved through a transportation system that includes improved data collection, a traffic-management center and increased ridership on public transit, according to a report by IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge. "Active transportation options, such as biking or walking, high-quality transportation infrastructure, availability of parking and efficient public transit will empower citizens and visitors to contribute to the vibrancy of the economy," the report says. The city has implemented some recommendations, including additional use of fare "smart cards" and establishing a bike share. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (3/18)
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Recognitions and Transitions
Ohio city manager is recognized with achievement award
Fairfield, Ohio, City Manager Art Pizzano has received the 2013 Career Achievement Award from the Ohio City/County Management Association for accomplishments including turning cornfields into downtown and leading the city through the recession without laying off employees or cutting services. Pizzano, who has been Fairfield's manager for 15 years and has been in city government for 40, says his team has helped him achieve a goal of making the city a better place than it was before he arrived. "He's the best thing that ever happened to the city," Mayor Ron D'Epifanio said. Cincinnati Enquirer, The (tiered subscription model) (3/18)
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ICMA's Center for Management Strategies offers valuable resources for your organization
Did you know that the ICMA Center for Management Strategies offers educational programming and technical assistance in ICMA's leading practice areas for local governments? The center offers strategies for priority-based budgeting/fiscal health and wellness as well as high-performance organizations to assist city managers in addressing organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Resources on leading practices in civic engagement and collaborative service delivery are coming soon! For more information, contact Cheryl Hilvert at, or visit the center's website at
Reserve your Scottish adventure by April 1!
The ICMA Travel Connections program provides social travel events for members and their families to premium locales worldwide. The inaugural ICMA Travel Connections trip will carry members to Scotland from July 21 to 29. Many Scottish highlights await you! Reservations are due no later than April 1. View the trip itinerary and download your reservation form, or contact Sallie Ann Burnett at or 864-541-8678 with questions.
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it."
-- Margaret Thatcher,
British prime minister
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