New Orleans: A Living Government Laboratory

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When members of the National League of Cities convene in New Orleans this week to discuss the most effective ways to run local governments, they will use the city as a living laboratory for an issue of paramount concern: how to prepare for and recover from disaster.

A delegation of 3,500 mayors, police chiefs and city council members from around the county will brainstorm Tuesday through Saturday on ways to reduce crime, promote public transit and strengthen municipal finances, which are strained in many parts of the country by the growing costs of health care and pensions.

Where does one even begin with this?

But wait, there’s more!

Several recent disasters, including the catastrophic levee failures in New Orleans and the collapse of a highway bridge in Minnesota, have shown city leaders the consequences of failing to invest in public infrastructure. While federal and state governments supply much of the money for large public works projects, several municipal leaders said they need to come together as a lobby to ensure that such projects are a federal priority.

Something tells me things are not going to change.

8:26 am on November 12, 2007