Quick Hits 05-16-2011

Volunteer Cops

A recent Governing article discusses community volunteerism in the police department.  In Redwoods, California, 75 sworn officers and 138 civilian staff are supplemented by an astounding 291 volunteers.  And, the volunteers are doing real police work.  They are not rushing into crossfire and meth labs.  But, they are taking reports, directing traffic, and even performing some detective work.  The volunteer force is amazing and inspirational especially in this age when disposal time is at such a premium. Mayor Stauss and I discuss frequently how we can re-energize the public to take a more active interest in local affairs.  If you have suggestions, please do not hesistate to contact either of us or your Council Member.

Infrastruture for health solutions

My former back yard Wyandotte County (Kansas City, Kansas), is working on public infrastructure such as increased sidewalks and trails as a health intiative.  The trend to build trails and parks to increase outdoor activity and, in turn, health is gaining momentum. Locally, East Grand Forks is partnering with Polk County Health to increase the visibility of our trail system.  We will also add enhancements such as signage and bike racks.

More on Water

If water was treated as any other commodity, such as oil or food, innovation in the industry would be much different.  Author Charles Fishman (The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water) notes in this piece, “The typical Wal-Mart long-haul truck has more intelligence in it than the typical water system.”

CEO pay exceeds pre-recession levels

CEO pay is now higher nationally than before the “Great Recession” started.  Maybe I missed something, but last I heard unemployment still hovered around nine percent.  This may be one of those instances in which government should not think like a business.  This phenomenon reminds of an anecdote in Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the 1990’s proposed new disclosure rules on corporate executive pay.  The intent was to keep corporate pay in check by mandating public reporting.  The result: CEOs now earn three times as much as they did before the reporting requirements (369 times the average worker).  The commonly accepted theory is that reporting led to a culture of one-upsmanship in which CEOs competed with one another and leveraged competitors’ pay to justify their own increases. 

Does Depression Help Us Think Better?

Jonah Lehrer writes about a possible connection between depression and better analytics.  I wonder what would happen if everyone on the Council was clinically depressed.

Overthinking it

If you’re a fan of Star Wars and economic theory (and who isn’t?) you’ll love these analyses of the Empire’s use of the Death Star.

Quote of the day

As much as we like to say we can multitask, the reality is no one really can multitask. It’s just controlled distraction. – Ted Coine

Tweet of the week

Perspective: If homeowners got the same deal as Vikings, 5,427 families who put in $75,000 of their own money could build $195,000 homes. – @garyncarlson

Follow me on Twitter – @scottmhuizenga