Today’s Buzz takes a look at the old work and life balance dichotomy, reviews the medieval history of the property tax & looks at what Boston’s mayor has selected for a citizen planner book list, all while enjoying some standout points from a crunchy set of data driven humor.

Big Lebowski - Big Data? Yeah, I was into data before it was big

Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m Reading: The Case for Carly Rae Jepsen by Clio Chang

What I’m Watching: Why you shouldn’t drive slowly in the left lane

What I’m Listening to: Everybody Wants To Rule The World covered by Ted Yoder

What I’m Doing: Battling my eldest daughter in a light saber pool noodle duel

What I want to know from you: What’s your favorite data analysis story?

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Your work-life balance hangs in these four quadrants: I find most “work-life balance” conversations challenging. For starters, there’s a distinctly gendered component to them—where women seem to be expected to worry more about balancing it all, and where “life” is code for domestic duties, rather than, you know, life in all its juicy, nourishing, celebratory glory.  But I find we also tend to get caught up in finding a single correct answer that works for everyone. And of course, the answer is different for everyone. In my experience, the work-life axis just doesn’t work. (H/T Jenny Campos)

The Feudal Origins of America’s Most-Hated Tax: Property tax, surveys find, is the most hated of all taxes. Why is it, detractors say, that you have to keep paying the government on something that you own—forever? Or, in the words of one protester on YouTube, property tax is “oxymoronic, unjust, and un-American!” On that last point, he’s onto something, at least on a literal level: The origins of the property tax aren’t American at all. It, instead, has roots that date back to Europe’s feudal system. (H/T Patrick Reynolds)

Boston Mayor Wants to Inspire Citizen Planners With New Book List: Boston already got help from “time-traveling art curators” in developing the city’s first-ever cultural blueprint. Now Mayor Marty Walsh has released a suggested reading list to help residents engage in the rest of citywide planning process Imagine Boston 2030. In addition to the arts, the plan — the city’s first in 50 years — will consider the future of housing, climate action, transportation, open space, schools and seniors in Boston.

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50 Nifty

  • Arlington native is first woman to head city’s public works: At an early age, Mindy Gowdy Carmichael knew she was different from other girls. While they were tinkering with their Barbie dolls, she was more likely playing construction contractor with her Lego blocks. “I’ve always liked building things,” she said. “I just knew that I liked math. I could tell I had more of an analytical focus than I did creative.” Eventually, she found that civil engineering was the career field that best captured her interests. Now, after 26 years in the industry, including the past 19 working for Arlington Public Works and Transportation, Carmichael has been named director of the department — the first female in the city’s history to serve in that post.
  • With reforms, NOPD is becoming a model for other police departments: Leadership of the Baltimore Police Department visited New Orleans over the past week to see first hand the significant progress the New Orleans Police Department  has made to strengthen and reform the department under our federal consent decree. The NOPD was able to share innovative ways the department has implemented key reforms, including new transparency, independent investigations of police misconduct, new technology and community policing. We are building a world-class Police Department that is now better-trained, better-supervised and better-equipped to deliver the professional and constitutional services that our residents expect and deserve. Under the leadership of Chief Michael Harrison, I have no doubt that our Police Department is quickly becoming a leader and that because of our reforms, we are many years ahead of most of the departments across our nation.
  • FIGHTING TOGETHER: Small fire departments count on mutual aid: For many fire departments in Brazoria County, mutual aid comes with the territory. If the Richwood Volunteer Fire Department got called to an apartment fire, nearby departments would be called to assist, Fire Chief Clint Kocurek said. A department typically calls for other agencies to help for a number of reasons, he explained.

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  • Muslims Seek New Burial Ground, and a Small Town Balks: When Dr. Amjad Bahnassi, a psychiatrist who lives in the central Massachusetts city of Worcester, wants to visit his son’s grave, he braces for the drive to the Muslim burial ground in Enfield, Conn., about 60 miles away. It is the nearest cemetery devoted solely to Islamic burials — and, he said, it is filling up. Dr. Bahnassi, the chairman of the board of the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester, knew the area’s Muslims needed a closer place to bury their dead. The group thought it had found one in rural Dudley, about half an hour away: a patch of more than 50 acres, past a sweet corn stand and deep blue ponds, where there is unused farmland and wetlands hidden from the road by trees and tangled bushes. But the organization’s proposal to build a cemetery there became a lightning rod in this small town. It was denounced at meetings and ultimately turned down by the Zoning Board of Appeals, prompting charges of bigotry and drawing scrutiny from the United States attorney for Massachusetts, who announced a civil rights investigation on Aug. 18 into the town’s actions.
  • Making Your Mark: New director John Finn sees library as a community center: Life takes some unexpected turns. John Finn was thinking of a career in history, a subject he loved in school. That might have a lot to do with growing up in Springfield, Illinois, he said, “surrounded by the Lincoln sites.” It’s where Abraham Lincoln launched his law career before becoming president. While attending Springfield College, Finn worked in the campus library “and I fell in love with working in libraries.” That’s what brought him to Lewis & Clark Library as its new director in January.
  • Donors promise $70M to aid Kalamazoo, but at what cost?: Seeking to plug a budget gap without raising taxes, Kalamazoo secured millions from two donors. Experts however caution there are risks from donors’ potential influence to shape public policy.

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#LocalGov Confidential

Who needs a park board when City Hall calls the shots?: Recent stories about Chicago parks and airports spark a memory with a message. Maria Saldana got blindsided on the morning of March 31, 2003, when she turned on the news and saw the same pictures that stunned viewers around the world: Giant X’s gouged had been across the runways at Meigs Field, the city’s lakefront airstrip, grounding commercial flights, stranding private planes and flabbergasting Saldana, who knew nothing about the overnight demolition plan, though she was president of the board that managed Meigs. Only in Chicago.

Allowing game day fans to park for fee violates city ordinanceResidents living in the shadow of Kyle Field looking to cash in on their prime locations may want to think twice before charging football fans to park in their yards or driveways. Not only is parking a vehicle in a College Station yard a code violation, it’s also an illegal use of the property for tenants to charge others to park there. It’s against the Unified Development Ordinance to use a property with residential zoning for commercial purposes, said Julie Caler, code enforcement supervisor. This is always an issue on game days, Caler said, along with other parking violations.

Attacks, finger pointing rock East Providence City Hall: Three years after it emerged from a humiliating state takeover of its finances, the city has plunged into another tumultuous and unflattering period. This time it’s political, not financial. Over the last several months, City Hall has been rocked by a series of controversies, all of them related and many of them retaliatory in nature. The infighting has led to the sacking not only of the human resources director but of yet another city manager — the fourth in five years.

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