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NEWS: Jan. 3, 2012

The Military | The Nation
Pentagon's Budget Strategy: One War at a Time
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who is set this week to reveal his strategy that will guide the Pentagon in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from its budget, is expected to outline plans for carefully shrinking the military--and making it clear that the Pentagon will not maintain the ability to fight two sustained ground wars at once.
>> New York Times

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Mayor Villaraigosa
Finance | Los Angeles
Mayor Delays $100 Million
in Workforce-Cut Payouts

To weather the Great Recession, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has pushed thousands of city employees out the door. But Villaraigosa also is relying on a second, less understood strategy for keeping the city in the black: postponing at least $100 million in personnel costs--including police overtime, unused sick time, contractually agreed-upon wage hikes and early-retirement pension payouts--until after he leaves office.
>> Los Angeles Times
Firm Pleads Guilty in Muni-Bond Auction Fraud
A Beverly Hills financial firm and its founder pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges that they defrauded state and local governments across the country by running sham auctions for agencies looking to invest money raised through municipal-bond offerings.
>> Los Angeles Times
GAO: Federal Financial Reporting Still Lags
Deep-rooted problems continue to hobble the federal government's ability to accurately reckon its financial assets and liabilities, the Government Accountability Office found. Two of the largest agencies, Defense and Homeland Security, still did not have auditable books.
>> Federal Times

Margaret Anderson
Margaret Anderson
Public Safety | Mount Rainier National Park, Wash.
Suspect in Ranger's Slaying
Found Dead in Park Creek

A day after park ranger Margaret Anderson was shot to death by a driver who ran through a safety checkpoint, the man suspected in the slaying was found dead, his body partially submerged in a creek in Mount Rainier National Park. A Pierce County sheriff's spokesman said Benjamin Colton Barnes appeared to have died of exposure to winter conditions.
>> Tacoma News Tribune
Arrest Made in Los Angeles Arson Spree
Los Angeles police arrested a Hollywood man believed to be a German citizen in connection with a wave of 53 arson fires that terrorized neighborhoods across the city over the holiday weekend.
>> Reuters

Education | New York State
Governor to Name Panel to Reform Schools
Days after he was critical of school districts that failed to reach agreement with unions on a new teacher-evaluation system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his state-of-the-state address tomorrow, will accuse the state's schools of being unaccountable and announce a commission to come up with reforms.
>> New York Daily News

Harris County Chief Budget Officer Dick Raycraft
Dick Raycraft
Public Officials | Harris County, Texas
Longtime Troubleshooter Retires
For three decades, Dick Raycraft was Harris County's chief budget officer, crafting the county's $1.5 billion operating budget, but that title understated his role as the county's top troubleshooter. Raycraft, who retired Friday, was handed essentially every complex problem, from jail overcrowding to the implementation of a regional crime lab.
>> Houston Chronicle
Cleveland's Water Chief Fired after Five Months
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson fired Bernardo Garcia, the city's water commissioner, after five months on the job. A spokeswoman for the mayor said Garcia, former director of water services in Kansas City, "was not the right fit" and declined to elaborate.
>> Cleveland Plain Dealer
Departing Customs Chief Gets New DHS Job
Alan Bersin, who is leaving the helm of Customs and Border Protection after Congress adjourned without confirming his recess appointment, has been named by President Obama to serve as the Department of Homeland Security's first chief diplomatic officer.
>> Federal News Radio

Public Facilities | Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Push is On to Sell County Building
County Executive Ed FitzGerald wants to sell the 57-year-old County Administration Building, moving those and other offices into a consolidated complex in a bid for efficiency. FitzGerald said developers have expressed interest and that he plans to quickly request proposals for buying or leasing a new county complex.
>> Cleveland Plain Dealer

Technology | Pennsylvania
Centralized Process Targets Web App Security
When Pennsylvania suffered a major security breach a few years back, vulnerabilities in a web application were to blame. To prevent such a problem in the future, the state has developed a centralized certification and accreditation process to review all software applications before they can be used.
New Chicago Website to Track Snow Response
Chicago officials are unviling a snow-response website called Chicago Shovels that will feature GPS locations of plows and a shovel-share program. The city is billing the site as a way to pool its data and improve residents' ability to handle severe winter weather.
>> Chicago Sun-Times

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Compensation | Howard Risher
Why Federal Experts Get the Big Bucks
The list of the 1,000 highest-paid federal employees released recently by must have raised eyebrows. Salaries ranging from $216,000 to $350,000 appear very high. However, the 1,000 feds profiled earn less than the $380,000 that would place them in the top 1 percent of the nation's income earners. Perhaps more important, the list is a reminder that federal agencies need to compete in a world where top talent is paid well. By Wall Street standards, those federal salaries are "walking-around money."
>> Federal Times | More commentaries

Police badge
Number of federal, state and local law-enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2011, a 13 percent increase from 2010 and a 42 percent increase from 2009, with 68 of the officers who died in 2011 slain by gunfire and 64 killed in traffic-related accidents
>> Reuters | More data

Federal workers are a sane,
responsible group of citizens. They vote
in big numbers.

American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage, saying the union's 2012 election strategy hinges on informing the 600,000 federal employees it represents of congressional lawmakers' voting records and motivating them to go to the polls
>> Federal News Radio | More quotes

American Enterprise Institute
Discussion: "Are Wisconsin's Budget Reforms a Model for Other States?"
Jan. 5, 10-11:30 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

Brookings Institution
Discussion: "Climate Change Adaptation in a Post-Durban World"
Jan. 6, 9:30-11 a.m., Washington, D.C.

American Enterprise Institute and Partnership for American Recovery
Lecture: "The Lost Majorities: 2008, 2010, and America's Political Future"
Jan. 9, 5:30-7 p.m. ET, Washington, D.C.
Webinar: "Pandemic Planning & Response Techniques"
Jan. 11, 10 a.m. ET

International City/County Management Association
Web conference: "Give Yourself Permission to Manage"
Jan. 12, 1 p.m. ET

National Association of Counties
Webinar: "Introduction to Generating Wind Power for Your Local Communities"
Jan. 12, 2 p.m.

Public Technology Institute
Webinar: "Los Angeles County Location Management System"
Jan. 12, 2 p.m. ET

Brookings Institution
Panel discussions: "Fostering Growth Through Innovation"
Jan. 13, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Washington, D.C.

National Emergency Management Association
Emergency Management Policy & Leadership Forum
Jan. 17-19, New Orleans

U.S. Conference of Mayors
Winter Meeting
Jan. 18-20, Washington, D.C.

1105 Government Information Group
Seminar: "Cybersecurity Implementation Strategies for Present and Emerging Threats"
Jan. 18, 7:30-8:30 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

>> Full events listings