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Municipal Equation Podcast


Municipal Equation is a podcast about cities and towns in changing times. Created by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Producer/host/music Ben Brown.

Municipal Equation is a podcast about cities and towns in changing times. Created by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Producer/host/music Ben Brown.


United States


Municipal Equation is a podcast about cities and towns in changing times. Created by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Producer/host/music Ben Brown.






EP 70: President Neisler Speaks

In April, during his acceptance speech as the new president of the N.C. League of Municipalities, Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler emphasized that public service can be fun, that we can enjoy ourselves in working together, knowing our communities and their histories, charting how they've changed over time and what the future calls for. On this episode, we hear the affable president's perspective on service and his priorities ahead, in addition to some of the ways he's stepped forward to...


Episode 69: Vision Zero

In 2017, the City of Greensboro logged more than 40 vehicle crash fatalities, at the time a high mark that rattled officials enough to explore ways toward safer travels. This led city officials to a global movement in the form of a scalable initiative called Vision Zero. On this episode, City of Greensboro Transportation Planning Engineer Lydia McIntyre explains what Vision Zero is, how it seeks to reduce traffic fatalities and serious accidents, and what the city has learned (with...


EP 68: Recruitment and Retention, Challenges and Ideas

It seems inconsistent: pandemic-related, record-level job losses while employers report their own hardships in finding workers. But that’s the nature of what analysts have called one of the strangest labor shortages in memory. Nationally, employers have reported too-tight talent pools or general hard times retaining staff. While much of the labor-shortage news spotlight is usually either broad-talking or sector-specific, municipalities far and wide indeed have felt the effect. On this...


EP 67: Boone Shifts to Renewables

The Town of Boone appears to be the first in North Carolina to have shifted from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy for its municipal facilities, and many years ahead of its own timeline for doing so. But how? On this episode of Municipal Equation, the League’s podcast about cities and towns adapting in the face of change, we talk with Boone Sustainability Manager George Santucci for an education on how the town and its leaders paired will with recognition of resources to achieve a...


Episode 66: The American Rescue Plan and Local Infrastructure

North Carolina cities and towns will receive $1.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds in 2021 and 2022. That is a staggering number, and it encompasses just a small piece of the ARP. More funds will be sent to North Carolina counties. Still more is going to the state itself. Never before has money flowed directly to our cities and towns like it will through the ARP, and as such, it is a generational opportunity—to both recover from the pandemic and to prosper well into the...


EP 65: DIRECT Talks on Race (and Equity vs. Equality)

A new program from the North Carolina League of Municipalities is convening frank talks with municipal officials about racial tensions and inequities in our communities. Learn how DIRECT (Diversity, Inclusion & Racial Equity for Cities & Towns) works for better lives through best practices and historical knowledge. Mark your calendars -- on Feb. 1, at 10 a.m., DIRECT will hold a webinar, which you'll have to register for. You can find it on the events calendar at This webinar will...


NCLM Fiscal Year 2019-20 Report Audio Companion

Audio companion to the North Carolina League of Municipalities' fiscal year 2019-20 annual report. Produced by the League's Communications team.


EP 64: Sick and Tired of Flooding

Iowa Watershed Approach


EP 63: UFO Town

What could aliens and flying saucers mean to a community and its government? Like, for real. Whether you believe we've actually been visited by interplanetary travelers or whether simple, Earthly explanations cover the sightings and stories, no community has a stronger association with extra terrestrials and UFOs than Roswell, New Mexico. On this episode, we look at what that means from a community and economic-development angle. We're joined by a ufologist and one of the world's foremost...


EP 62: Cities Initiative on Climate Change

Calling climate change an intimidating issue may be understating it. It's massive, right? Being so global and often pulled into intense debate, climate change may have us individuals feeling helpless against it. But there are local-level approaches for making a difference, and municipal governments are sharing best-practices with one another to that end. We travel to Chapel Hill -- the electric-vehicle capital of North Carolina -- to learn how they are others are leading the charge in...


EP 61: Actual Mask-Wearing Superheroes

Superheroes exist. Yes, in real life. Just like in the comics, they wear masks and uniforms, they nab bad guys, and they spread peace across the city. On this episode, we talk to a couple of them, and their stories are absolutely amazing. Thanks to Sgt. Clint Ferguson and Officer Damon Cole for making this happen. Sgt. Clint Ferguson and Deadpool Officer Damon Cole...


EP 60: Inside the 2020 Census

It's one of the biggest federal projects going, and it affects all of us. What do we need to know about the 2020 Census? It's different from any in the past. How private is the information being collected? What's it's used for? And how can we be sure it's accurate? We're joined by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National League of Cities, state government and academics on this, our 60th episode. General 2020 Census info 2020 Census questions NLC resource, Cities Count: Preparing for the 2020...


EP 59: Street Photography, the City and You

After a little downtime, we're back -- and let's pick up with a fun one. On this episode, we continue our quest for ways to better connect with or figure out the city you're in -- whether it's your hometown or a place you've never been before. Here, we're documenting and learning the secrets of the city through street photography, as guided by notables from around the world. Hear from Craig Reilly (Street Photography International co-founder, Olympus ambassador), Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin...


EP 58: The Map Is Wrong

The FCC's map of broadband availability in the U.S. is a basis for policymaking, funding decisions and planning to close service gaps for communities. But what if we told you that map, as many can testify, is pretty inaccurate? How? Why? What's the fallout, here? As fast internet service increasingly solidifies itself as necessary infrastructure, it's vital we have accurate data to shape our policymaking and funding decisions. So what's going on here? We dig in on this episode. (Stick...


EP 57: 'We Can't Arrest Our Way Out of This'

A little while back, we began talking with police chiefs for a video series on what they're doing to tackle the surging opioid problem locally -- and sat upright at the different approaches of chiefs Tom Bashore in Nashville, N.C., and Bill Hollingsed in Waynesville, N.C. They're seeing results, even as one of the chiefs said this approach initially was out of his comfort zone. So we made an episode to explain it all, step by step. (This joins with the video series and other resources now...


EP 56: The Best Food Delivery Ever

We revisit the intersection of drones, local government and public need with a trip to Holly Springs, North Carolina, a small town innovating nationally with a pilot project to see commercial food delivery by way of drone. As you can imagine, it's stuffed with logistical and policy questions. Sushi delivery in Iceland Holly Springs press release Timeline, "Forget self-driving car anxiety: In the early days human drivers were the fear" NCDOT Launches 'First Flight' in Drone Pilot Program...


EP 55: Games Over Gangs (Encore)

Here's an encore of a favorite: Games Over Gangs. Those dang video games. Can't pull the kids away from them. And there's one city using that to its advantage -- with an innovative partnership that's actually teaching video game development to local youths from a rough neighborhood (yes, they jumped at the offer to become game developers), affording them a break from an anxious environment and setting them up with a sweet professional skill that can open big doors: computer coding, which has...


EP 54: A Day at the Beach (The Wild Intersection of Gov't and Summer Vacation)

It's summer, and beach towns all along the coast are each receiving thousands and thousands of visitors from across the U.S. Take Atlantic Beach, N.C., for example. It has a year-round population of about 1,500, but in the summer months that number surges to roughly 50,000. How in the world does such a small community -- with limited staffing and resources -- prepare for that? How can it provide adequate services, like police or even enough public water, amid outsize demand? What's the...


Episode 53: Back Into the Alley

Muni Replay! Here's one of our most popular episodes. Meanwhile, we're headed to the coast to record a special live episode, which we'll bring you soon! When you think of downtown alleys, what comes to mind? Bad associations, maybe? The place to avoid at night? Ever since childhood, Americans have had the general impression that alleyways are dark, dirty, dangerous -- the right setting for noir crime stories. And that might often be the case. But some U.S. cities are starting to embrace...


EP 52: Driverless Cars 2

Let's catch up on driverless cars, shall we? Last year, we did a primer on autonomous vehicles and policy implications, but it seems like a lot can change in short time with this technology. What's the latest? How does the public feel about it? What are some example scenarios of how we as people might interact with autonomous vehicles in our day-to-day? Brooks Rainwater of the National League of Cities has the research and joins us to flesh it out. NLC report, "Autonomous Vehicles: Future...