Today’s Buzz celebrates the end of my fantasy football season (5-8 is the kinda season your glad to see end) and looks at selling American cities, stolen ambulances and public meeting prayer.

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Right Now w/ Matt Yager

What I’m watching: Frosty the Snowman for the 8th time in the past 5 days – because I love my daughter.

What I’m reading: Maximize your tax deductions — while you still can

What I’m listening to: 79 Instrumental songs everyone knows, but no one knows the name of

What I’m doing: Christmas shopping. Ugh.

What I want to know from you: What is your favorite TD celebration of all time?

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52 things I learned in 2016: My first full year working at Fluxx on a series of fascinating projects and learning about 1.  Call Me Baby is a call centre for cybercriminals who need a human voice as part of a scam. They charge $10 for each call in English, and $12 for calls in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish…

Welcome to the Multimillion-Dollar Business of Selling U.S. Cities: In the world of place marketing, a pretty logo and a catchy slogan don’t cut it.

8 Office Settings and Environments that Affect Productivity: With shrinking markets and competition becoming tighter every day, productivity has become the new buzzword in all corporations. Many critical factors could significantly alter how well two equally talented workers performs. Both office structure and culture affects how well employees conduct their jobs. While some of these factors carry greater weight than others, they all have an effect on the overall performance of your company. What differentiates world-class companies from merely good ones is the critical look that they give to primary issues related to office environments.

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50 Nifty

  • Panel: Citizen engagement, high-quality candidates keys to quality local government: It’s a little ironic, Billings Public Works Director Dave Mumford said on day two of the Connecting with Local Government conference, that many people enter local government work because they’re risk averse. “And then when we try something a little different, there is always someone who shoots at you,” he said. “When changes don’t work the first time, it becomes an environment where you question why you’re doing it.”
  • Carson City Public Works uses drone for data collection: Carson City Public Works officials are getting a bird’s-eye view of their projects and property thanks to a small drone they think will help save them lots of money in the future. The department in September bought a 3-pound unmanned aerial drone and a dedicated iPad to operate the machine. The department has used the camera-equipped aircraft for maintenance inspections and other tasks needing an aerial view.

  • Pa. officials wrestle with medical pot zoning: Storefronts selling marijuana for medical purposes could soon be up and running in Pittsburgh business districts, and Hempfield Township officials seem to be fine with an entrepreneur’s plan to grow and process cannabis in an industrial area. But Frazer officials intend to limit marijuana dispensaries to an undeveloped spot on the edge of town. As the Pennsylvania Department of Health develops regulations for medical marijuana, municipalities across the state are wrestling with zoning rules for cannabis operators.
  • California police department used ‘fake news’ to mislead in sting aimed at MS-13 gang: Police investigating a notorious gang in a city on California’s central coast issued a fake press release that the chief credited with saving two men by deceiving gang members who wanted to kill them, but the ruse was criticized by news organizations who reported it as fact. Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin defended the rare tactic this week when it came to light, saying he had never done such a thing in his 43-year career, but he wouldn’t rule out doing it again. “It was a moral and ethical decision, and I stand by it,” Martin said Friday. “I am keenly aware and sensitive to the community and the media. I also had 21 bodies lying in the city in the last 15 months.”

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  • Bruce Martin, park builder and rental property inspector, retires after 33 years: Bruce Martin didn’t want to change.  He liked beginning his days early, almost always the first to arrive in city hall’s fifth-floor office space. He would start the first pot of coffee, prepare for the day’s tasks and chat with his coworkers as they trickled in. His boss took notice; people weren’t supposed to enter the building so early.  “They used to get after me about it,” Martin said, “but they finally quit doing that.” Lisa Frank said sharing coffee with Martin before the day accelerated used to be one of her regular morning comforts. But those days are over: Martin retired Friday after 33 years of working for the city, ending a career of constructing public parks and safeguarding people from dangerous buildings.
  • DPS finds stolen Austin ambulance after multi-city chase: An Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services ambulance was stolen from University Medical Center Brackenrdige in Austin Saturday morning and chased through multiple cities before being stopped near Killeen. Sources told KVUE’s Jenni Lee that as EMS was taking a patient into the medical center they were informed the ambulance was gone. Law enforcement located the ambulance and began a chase. The chase left Austin city limits shortly after 10 a.m. heading north on Highway 183. The ambulance went through multiple areas with DPS troopers pursuing. It passed through Leander around 10:30 a.m.

  • County should reverse wrongheaded move to cut already marginal public bus service: In my first years as a journalist on Long Island, in 1963, for a story on traffic I interviewed Austin Sarr, district engineer on the island for the then New York State Department of Public Works. Saar, well-familiar with the ever-busier highways on the island, told me at his department’s office in North Babylon of what he called “Sarr’s Law.” It stated that whenever a highway is built to relieve traffic on congested highway, the new road is soon discovered — and it gets congested, too. The lesson of this? What Long Island needs is good public transportation — buses and trains — to move people.

  • City council, residents clash over future of library: Jimmy Pearson, the new director of the Astoria Library, could talk about the beauty and necessity of libraries all day long. If he discovers that a resident doesn’t yet have a free library card, Pearson, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, will address that malfunction. Whether helping children learn to read, introducing adults to a book or resource that will give them a new hobby or career path, or creating a space for people to sit and feel welcome, “Libraries are impactful. We change lives,” he said. Pearson, who started in October, took the job at a divisive moment in the library’s history.

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LocalGov Confidential

Will Casper’s next city council be more assertive?: Casper City Council’s emphasis on unity over open disagreement may be coming to an end as four new members prepare to take their seats in January. Mayor Daniel Sandoval has emphasized civil discourse during his year-long term as mayor. It was an appeal that council members seemed eager to embrace after a period of open headbutting between former city councilman Craig Hedquist and then-city manager John Patterson that led to both men’s resignations last year and litigation that appears likely to continue into 2017.

Century of Clark County public records could go online: A century of public records could go online in Clark County. Documents related to plans for nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain are among the records that would be digitally archived through the Clark County clerk’s office, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. County commissioners approved the office’s request to pursue a $100,000 grant for the project. People would be able to search the documents by subject, content or date. “Just like Google,” county Clerk Lynn Goya said. “So it’s simple for the user.”

When Church Meets State: Picking Apart Prayer in Aurora’s City Council: ll too often, political coverage is fixated at the national level, especially so for hotly-debated, divisive issues. Think: War, trade, abortion. But some national political issues — some at the very heart of the national democracy — play out in local government, where much-needed conversations often never get off the ground and the status quo can remain unchallenged. This is especially the case when it comes to the separation of church and state, the issue that inspired a question we received from someone who chose not provide their name or contact information. They asked: “We pray at the start of every City Council meeting in Aurora, Illinois. How is that even legal, and do other communities do that too?”