Local Governments: Fiscal Crisis on the Front Lines of COVID-19

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

David RileyIf you didn’t know the name of your county’s health director before March, you probably do by now. It’s a sign of the prominent and important work that local health departments are doing to track the COVID-19 pandemic and educate the public about limiting its spread.

This is only one way that local governments are responding to the novel coronavirus. Municipalities have made drastic changes in operations to protect staff and the public while continuing to pick up trash, put out fires, fix roads, hold elections, and run water and sewer systems. Local governments also have helped distribute face masks and meals to families in need. Read more »

Ending Police Brutality

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Erika RosenbergPolice abuse of African Americans – the spark for this weekend’s protests – has a long, ugly history in our country and right here in our community. The City of Rochester took a step forward this year with the creation of a Police Accountability Board with independent authority to investigate complaints of misconduct. But what will it take to end police brutality?

Nationally, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men, and black men are at highest risk, with a 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by an officer over the course of their lives, compared with a 1 in 33,000 chance for women.1 Structural racism allows this to persist.

As a white woman, mother and organizational leader, I cannot relate to the terror and pain I have heard African Americans express when discussing the police. I don’t know what it’s like to put car keys in a son’s hands, and tremble with fear that they might be pulled over and have an encounter with police that ends in his death. But I have heard this expressed, and I empathize and I want better for our community and nation.

A national tracking project shows the number of police killings has hovered around 1,000 for the last several years2 Some reforms, such as police body cameras, seem to have fallen short of hopes. While some studies suggest that officers wearing cameras may be less likely to use force3 others have found no significant effect.4

But there are many important steps communities can take to reduce and ultimately end police abuses: Read more »

  1. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/34/16793 []
  2. https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/nationaltrends []
  3. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/251416.pdf []
  4. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2020/01/14/body-cameras-may-not-be-the-easy-answer-everyone-was-looking-for []

The Local Outlines of Inequality

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Erika RosenbergWe know the pandemic is impacting people and communities unequally. What does that look like in Rochester?

Based on an inquiry from the United Way of Greater Rochester and our community’s Systems Integration initiative, CGR mapped Census data correlated with economic risk linked to the outbreak. Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School developed and analyzed estimates of households and communities most at risk of job loss. The authors found the people and communities most vulnerable based on their occupation are the same we already know to be struggling – neighborhoods that are low-income, have a high share of renters rather than homeowners, and higher shares of residents of color. Read more »

Reflecting on 105 Years of Service to Communities

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Erika RosenbergCGR celebrates our 105th birthday today, having been incorporated under our prior name, the Bureau of Municipal Research, on April 20, 1915. 105 years of longevity has a special meaning today, when a global pandemic is wreaking havoc in many communities, taking lives across the world, and altering daily life for all of us.

It’s a time when survival is not guaranteed, but there have been other such times in CGR’s history — as there have been in the history of many of our other Eastman-era institutions, from the United Way of Greater Rochester to the Eastman School of Music to the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Consider this introduction to a summary of part of our organization’s activities in just its third year of existence – 1918. Read more »

COVID-19: Our Challenge Going Forward

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Donald PryorIn these troubled, unprecedented, uncertain times, it is hard enough to navigate our day-to-day lives in these uncharted waters, let alone anticipate how things will look a few weeks, months or even years from now.

But can we at least begin to think about how we use this crisis to move beyond today to explore how in the future we might build new bridges in this community and throughout the country and the world? Read more »

COVID-19: What will it mean for local communities once the immediate crisis has passed?

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Erika RosenbergThe COVID-19 crisis has confronted diverse communities across the country with similar challenges: treating and tracking the sick, making decisions to protect those who appear well as well as health care workers, and taking all possible steps to preserve the functioning of the local health care system.

But once the crisis has passed, what questions will local communities be asking? How might it change how we think about the challenges we were confronting, and new ones that emerge? Read more »

Bail reform’s likely impact? Evidence from an upstate county

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff, Rochester Beacon.

Don PryorBail reform has long been hotly debated in New York – and was finally passed in 2019, taking effect on Jan. 1. Less than a month into its infancy, the new legislation is once again being hotly debated, with supporters and detractors offering widely divergent perspectives on its current and likely future impact.

The bail reform legislation ends cash bail in most misdemeanor and non-violent felony cases. It is designed to reduce reliance on money in the form of cash bail as a determinant of whether many defendants—charged but not convicted—remain in custody prior to disposition of their criminal cases.   Read more »

Analysis with Impact

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Paul BishopCGR’s 2017 analysis and recommendations related to the Tompkins County jail continue to have impact. Here is what county officials recently told us. 

The County’s jail population has now settled into the 50s (down from the 90 or so we were housing during your study). The County is actually boarding-in now. 

In hearing about these remarkable stats, it sure seems that not only were your programmatic recommendations effective, but you were spot-on in predicting that the jail population could actually shrink. 

As so much of the good news about the County’s jail population relates to recommendations in your report, you and your team should feel very good about what you helped to accomplish.  I know the process wasn’t always pleasant or easy, but it is clear in hindsight that the effort was worth it.  Our community is reaping the benefits of your persistence on many levels. Kudos for providing such clear and effective advice to the County.

— Joe Mareane, Tompkins County Administrator, 2008-17

Response to our recommendations was swift and comprehensive.  Strong leadership from the County Legislature and from other community agencies paved the way for investments needed to implement the core recommendations from the study.

Read more »

Essex County Uses Data to Take Action on Income Inequality

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Erika RosenbergEssex County, MA is just north of Boston and home to some very rich and very poor communities. The median household income in Boxford, for example, tops $155,000, while the median in Lawrence is less than $40,000.

The countywide median of $73,500 is nearly 30% higher than the national median, which is why many people think of Essex County as a well-off place.

But the Essex County Community Foundation knows better. That’s one of the reasons it turned to CGR to create a community indicators project that would serve as an open clearinghouse of trusted data and analysis about the community.

Now the Foundation is using that project – aptly named Impact Essex County – to take action in the community to close income gaps. The Foundation is investing $1.3 million over the next three years in a project called Empowering Economic Opportunity aimed at uncovering and addressing the root causes of income inequality.

Read more »

CGR Study Maps Food Resources and Examines Barriers

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Alice CarleTo help meet people’s nutritional needs, 150 organizations operate 195 program sites – providing on-site meals, or delivered meals, or food pantries – in Northwest Arkansas. Yet, access for the estimated 58,000 food insecure residents of Benton and Washington counties remains a problem.

CGR was engaged by the Walmart Foundation to help answer the question of why. We gathered, analyzed and mapped relevant data, interviewed stakeholders and partnered with a collaborative in the region to conduct 24 focus groups with food providers and program recipients.

Food insecurity is a bit distinct from hunger, in that it can refer not only to people lacking adequate food, but also people lacking access at certain times, or whose access to nutritiously adequate food is uncertain.[1] While it affects primarily low-income people, it can hit a broader range of households with job or income insecurity. College students are one group increasingly affected, because of ballooning college costs, inadequate financial aid, and growing enrollment of low-income and first-generation students. Read more »