Alan Greenblatt

Alan Greenblatt has been covering politics and government in Washington and around the country for 20 years. He came to NPR as a digital reporter in 2010, writing about a wide range of topics, including elections, housing economics, natural disasters and same-sex marriage.

He was previously a reporter with Governing, a magazine that covers state and local government issues. Alan wrote about education, budgets, economic development and legislative behavior, among other topics. He is the coauthor, with Kevin Smith, of Governing States and Localities, a college-level textbook that is now in its fourth edition.

As a reporter for Congressional Quarterly, he was the inaugural winner of the National Press Club's Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, which is given to outstanding reporters under the age of 35. Sadly, he no longer meets that requirement.

Along the way, Alan has contributed articles about politics and culture for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is happy to be working for an outlet where he has been able to write about everything from revolutions in the Middle East to antique jazz recordings.

Alan is a graduate of San Francisco State University and holds a master's degree from the University of Virginia.

U.S.
2:38 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Are Opponents Of The Death Penalty Contributing To Its Problems?

A fence surrounds the state prison in Florence, Ariz., where Joseph Rudolph Wood was put to death on Wednesday. The execution process took nearly two hours.
AP

Kevin Cooper was convicted of murdering a married couple and two children, and was sentenced to die.

That was back in 1985. Cooper is still awaiting execution on California's death row.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, who is handling the case, blames the long delay on Cooper's multiple appeals in state and federal courts.

"This is all a big strategic plan to really manipulate the system to attack capital punishment, not just in California, but in the United States," Ramos says.

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U.S.
4:06 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Deal In Detroit Could Signal Cuts To Pensions Elsewhere

Retirees Mike Shane (left) and William Davis protest near the federal courthouse in Detroit on July 3. Workers and retirees approved pension cuts in Detroit's bankruptcy by a landslide, the city reported Monday.
Paul Sancya AP

It used to be that if you were a public employee, you knew your pension benefits could not be touched.

That's no longer the case.

Pensions have been under political attack in recent years, with some politicians arguing they can't afford to fund generous retirements at the same time they're cutting services. Numerous states and cities have trimmed the type of pension plans they're offering employees — mostly new employees.

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Business
5:19 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Congress' Latest Death Match Involves A Bank You've Never Heard Of

A worker stacks traffic safety poles at Pexco's manufacturing center in Fife, Wash. The small company ships products all over the world, with the help of federal insurance from the Export-Import Bank.
Drew Perine MCT/Landov

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 1:39 pm

It sits in an imposing building just across Lafayette Square from the White House. Yet the Export-Import Bank, which has been offering credit to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods for 80 years, could start shutting down operations within a matter of weeks.

"There's about a 50-50 chance," says Dan Ikenson, who directs a trade policy center at the Cato Institute.

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Politics
10:54 am
Wed July 9, 2014

What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer

Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other while being separated by police officers on July 4, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 7:28 pm

It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.

Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.

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U.S.
1:50 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Federal Highway Program Could Run Out Of Money Next Month

The White House has warned that without more money for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which helps states pay for road and infrastructure projects, construction delays will put thousands out of work.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 3:35 pm

Congress has yet another problem it can't solve.

For years, the main federal transportation program has been spending more money than it takes in. This year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Transportation Department will disburse $45 billion while collecting only $33 billion for its Highway Trust Fund.

As a result, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned states on Tuesday that they will start seeing cuts of 28 percent in federal funding for roads and bridges next month unless Congress comes up with some extra money.

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Business
1:05 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Unions Fear High Court's Ruling Opens Door To More Trouble

The Supreme Court decision held that health care workers could not be forced to pay fees to the union recognized by the state of Illinois, because the state is not their direct employer. Some fear this will lead to further erosion of unions.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 1:39 pm

It wasn't the worst possible outcome for public sector unions. But that could still happen.

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Business
12:16 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Illinois Declares Truce In Cupcake War

Chloe Stirling presents cupcakes to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in his office last month.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 3:27 pm

No one really thinks 12-year-old Chloe Stirling presents a menace to public health.

The Illinois girl has a knack for baking cupcakes and has done pretty well selling them. So well, in fact, that her local newspaper published a story about her earlier this year. That drew the attention of the county health department — which shut her down for selling baked goods without a license or a state-certified kitchen.

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NPR Ed
1:03 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

New Orleans District Moves To An All-Charter System

The drill team of Sophie B. Wright, a charter school in the New Orleans Recovery School District. The city's all-charter system is the first in the U.S.
Skooksie Flickr

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 4:57 pm

The nation's largest experiment with charter schools is expanding.

The Recovery School District, a state control board that runs most schools in New Orleans, shut down the last of its five traditional public schools this week, making it the first all-charter system in the nation.

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Around the Nation
11:46 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Keep Up Their Winning Streak

Christopher DiCapua, left, and Oscar Cabrera kiss after saying their wedding vows on Friday at City Hall in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania became the final northeastern state and the 19th in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.
Matt Rourke AP

Same-sex marriage supporters continued to enjoy considerable legal momentum this week.

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The Two-Way
12:49 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Official: More Than 200 Dead In Turkish Mine Explosion

A rescued miner is carried away after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, on Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 5:59 am

Updated at 6:00 a.m. ET. Wednesday:

Authorities in Turkey say at least 205 workers have been killed after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in the western part of the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared three days of national mourning.

Update at 11:19 p.m. ET. More Than 200 Dead:

The sad count of fatalities continues to climb as AP reports at least 201 dead and more than 200 are still trapped underground after a fire and explosion in a coal mine south of Istanbul.

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Business
8:32 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Advocates Back Paid Sick Leave, But Opponents Won't Cough It Up

Activists hold signs during a rally on Jan. 18, 2013, at New York's City Hall to call for immediate action on paid sick days legislation in light of the continued spread of the flu. Last month, New York City began requiring employers to provide paid sick days, joining the ranks of other cities such as Washington, Seattle and San Francisco.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 2:03 pm

If you've ever seen your waiter sneeze, you may have asked for a different server. If you've seen one sneeze repeatedly, you might wonder why he's still at work, serving tainted food.

See, most restaurant workers don't get paid when they stay home sick. But, some go to work anyway, when they've got the sniffles or worse, because they need the paycheck.

For labor advocates, that's a problem.

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U.S.
6:18 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

States Struggle To Find An Execution Method That Works

The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla., in 2008. Legal pressures and concerns from European manufacturers have made traditional execution drugs unavailable to states.
AP

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 6:23 pm

States have always struggled to find humane ways to carry out the death penalty. For a generation, they have favored lethal injection, but that method has become increasingly problematic.

It's coming under increased scrutiny following the death of Clayton Lockett, who died Tuesday of a heart attack after writhing visibly during an execution attempt in Oklahoma.

The execution "fell short" of humane standards, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday.

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U.S.
11:18 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Gays In Cincinnati: From Second-Class Citizens To Fully Accepted

Gay rights issues led Ryan Messer (left) to move away from Cincinnati. It also led to Mike Moroski losing his job. Today, both men agree that gays are more accepted in the city than they've ever been.
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 4:18 pm

Ryan Messer decided he could go home again.

Messer was one of a number of gay men of his generation who packed up and left Cincinnati, a city with a history of official discrimination, for friendlier cities on the coasts.

"They still have this Cincinnati group in San Diego," he says. "They're doing great things, and we lost that talent."

But the city charter, which blocked legal protections for gays and lesbians up until a decade ago, has since been amended.

"When I was 23, we were such a novelty," Messer says. "Now, there is no issue."

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Around the Nation
3:14 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

At The NRA Meeting: Come For The Guns, Stay For The Camaraderie

Ben Pickering shows off a new Ambush AR-15 rifle after winning a drawing at the NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis on Friday.
Courtesy David Potter

Ben Pickering can't believe his luck.

"Holy cow," he keeps saying. "Man, that's just incredible. That's just amazing."

Pickering won a drawing for an Ambush rifle, an $1,800 AR-15-style model. Pickering already has a lot of weapons — "I honestly could not count," he says — but he's still excited to be given this new one.

Pickering loves guns, but he's also happy that the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, being held this weekend in Indianapolis, has given him the chance to meet up with family members who live in other states.

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U.S.
7:38 am
Wed April 23, 2014

In Illinois, A Town That's Half-Destroyed But Filled With Hope

Washington, Ill., is full of both optimistic signs and lots of construction crews as the town rebuilds after a half-mile-wide tornado devastated the area in November.
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 3:12 pm

Washington is just starting to rebuild.

Much of the central Illinois town was wiped away by a half-mile-wide tornado in November. In all, 1,108 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable — a huge share of the housing stock in a city of 15,000.

"Early on, people were asking me how long it was going to take to rebuild the city, and I said we'll do it in a year," says Mayor Gary Manier. "That was wishful thinking."

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World
3:56 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Captains Uncourageous: Abandoning Ship Long Seen As A Crime

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast in 2012, killing 32 people. Its captain was accused of manslaughter and abandoning the 4,200 passengers and crew on the night of the wreck.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 4:30 pm

Cowardice comes in many forms, but there's a special sense of shame reserved for captains who abandon ship.

South Korean authorities have arrested Capt. Lee Jun-Seok, who was one of the first to flee from the ferry as it sank on Wednesday.

"I can't lift my face before the passengers and family members of those missing," Lee told reporters.

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Asia
10:18 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Lost Malaysian Plane Could Land In Cultural Lore

Artwork capturing hope held for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, shown in Beijing on March 29.
Alexander F. Yuan AP

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 1:12 pm

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared more than a month ago, but it still compels significant attention, despite the passage of time and lack of definitive information about where it may have gone.

While many events over time fade from general knowledge, the circumstances surrounding this one may serve to secure its place in our collective memory.

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