We want to make democracy more user-friendly – at every level – but in particular, at the local level where not only educated voting (Do you really know who to vote for at the local level when you close that curtain?), but finding and commenting on what is happening at local council meetings, school board meetings, etc. has been very difficult. With today’s technology, being an empowered citizen is overdue and Voterheads is committed to doing something about it. Read More

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If you haven't already, go see it for yourself.  Once you see how well-organized government can be, you'll wonder why we didn't do this earlier.


Jun 2017

Fun in the Summertime: Sun and Wind Energy Policy

Posted by / in Issues, Topics / No comments yet

With the official start of summer around the corner, we at Voterheads are looking forward to enjoying the best the season has to offer: longer days, vacation, sunshine, and cool breezes.  To help all of you get into the summer mood, we thought what better way than a blog on local solar and wind energy policy.

Yes, even summer can be tied to our favorite subject of local government!  If you have ever driven by a house covered with shiny black solar panels or by a field with large air turbines, you may wonder how they ended up there.

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May 2017

When Global Goes Local: City and County Governments Tackle Climate Change

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To many of us, climate change feels like an overwhelming, global issue.  International organizations host world forums to determine what steps countries should take to help lessen what many consider to be the negative impacts of development on the earth and environment.  The recent Paris agreement, for example, took years to plan and long, hard negotiations to finalize.  So you may wonder: what can be done, or is being done, by local governments in terms of climate change?

Do local entities even consider items related to climate change, or do they look to state and national governments to determine policies?

climate photoA search of the Voterheads database shows that climate change does indeed fall on local agendas.  Elected officials discussed topics, actions, and events related to climate change during public meetings throughout the country these past couple of months.  What are some of the things they talked about?  Let’s check it out.

The Chatham County, NC Board of Commissioners’ Climate Change Committee gave a presentation on the county’s Emissions Inventory Project. This project is a joint effort by the board and local college students from UNC-Chapel Hill.  The board requested the project in an effort to assess the amount and rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions made within the county’s borders.  After the presentation, the board voted to approve continued funding for the project for this year.

Honolulu’s City Council passed a motion requesting that the city administration report on its efforts to establish an Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency. The citizens of Oahu voted for the office’s creation during last November’s election.  The report requested by the council will include the office’s first projects and its development of a resiliency strategy for the region.

Newton, MA’s Program & Services Committee considered a motion put forth by two council members that would require gas stations to place notices upon gas pumps that remind customers that the burning of gasoline contributes to the impacts of climate change. The notice will also provide a link to the city’s website that offers suggestions for alternative transportation options that do not require gasoline.  The committee decided to wait to vote on the measure until more information on gas pump regulations and the stickers’ design is provided during future meetings.

Northampton, MA’s City Council considered a resolution calling on the state legislature of Massachusetts to create a carbon pollution pricing system for the state. The council affirmed its recognition of the detrimental effects of climate change generally and within its jurisdiction.  Consequently, the resolution asked the legislature to act quickly to encourage the development of more environmentally conscious and friendly methods of production and services through higher prices for carbon emitting sources of energy.

The Oakland, CA City Council recently voted on a resolution that supports a state senate bill requiring state pension fund boards to consider the financial risks associated with climate change when determining the investments they will make for state employees. The bill also implements a reporting mechanism beginning in 2020, requiring the state to report on the risks associated with climate change and the carbon footprint attached to the state pensions’ investments.  The committee voted for the resolution to be moved up to the city council for full consideration.

The four governments of Fayetteville, NC, Madison, WI, Maple Valley, WA and Santa Cruz, CA discussed comprehensive plans and strategies during public meetings over the past couple of months. These plans help local governments set up goals and objectives for the coming years, seeking to reduce the impact of various potential issues or problems by thinking ahead.

All four of these local entities considered the potential impacts of climate change in their plans.

Examples include ways to handle rising temperatures, methods for more environmentally friendly urban design including compact and mixed used building, approaches in dealing with the consequences of long-term drought, and the encouragement of applying new technologies for renewable and efficient energy sources.

climate photo

How we think about issues often impacts the decisions we make and the methods we choose to deal with them.  Thinking of climate change, or any other global concern, at only its highest level can make us feel detached from the issue.  But when we begin to see the impacts on our own communities, it not only becomes something more tangible but also inspires hope that solutions can be found at every level of society.  If you are interested in learning more about the local approach to climate change or any other environmental topic, be sure to add them to your interests on your Voterheads account!

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Mar 2017

Diversity and Immigration; Federal Actions and Local Responses

Posted by / in Educational, Topics, Trending / No comments yet

It is pretty difficult these days to turn on the television, peruse a news source, or skim your social media without some mention of the federal government’s actions. Two executive orders about immigration, issued at the end of January, received a lot of attention.  The first order covered the administration’s policies and approaches to federal immigration law; including the defunding of local governments that serve as “sanctuary” cities or counties that do not detain undocumented immigrants for the federal government should they be held by local authorities.  The second order, issued two days later, prevented individuals from seven countries from traveling into the United States.  The administration argued their actions are necessary for the nation’s security.  Yet many companies, governmental entities, and individuals voiced concerns over the intent and potential consequences of the orders.

So what does this mean for local governments across the country?  While the federal government can enact laws and directives, state and local governments must decide how or if the provisions apply to them.  Curious to see how local governments responded to the federal government’s actions, we at Voterheads combed our agenda database to get a feel for how cities and counties are reacting.

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