March 6, 2021

The Michigan Crisis: Ideology Not Intelligence

  Late on the Friday night before the Memorial Day weekend, Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Michigan reached agreement with Democratic Governor Jennifer M. Granholm on a very temporary fix to close an $800 million state budget deficit. The deficit, for those who might be unfamiliar, is what happens when what the state earns in tax revenue doesn’t keep up with what it spends on programs. Next fall the crisis worsens when lawmakers look down the raw throat of …

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Cities Punch Above Their Weight Economically

  Here are two more reasons why Michigan and the American Midwest are slipping to backwater status in the United States, and why we can’t give up on the capacity of our governor and state lawmakers to help work Michigan out of its economic mess.  Fact one, according to a new analysis by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution: Six of the 80 old industrial cities lagging far behind in economic performance, population growth, job creation, and business development are …

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Laura Dunn Directs The Unforeseen

Laura Dunn, a young Yale-educated director (see pix) who lives in Austin, Texas, is creating a stir at some of the country’s important film festivals, including Sundance, with The Unforeseen, a feature-length documentary about the consequences of runaway development and sprawl. Writer Dennis Conroy, who saw The Unforeseen at the San Francisco Film Festival last month, offered this assessment: “A modest real estate developer, [Gary] Bradley had big ideas. His concept was the 4,000-acre Circle C Ranch, an upscale subdivision—a …

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The Proximate Principle: Open Space is Sound Fiscal Policy

  People adore parks. Most people also love open space. That applies even to the three Grand Traverse (MI) County commissioners who last month suggested that global climate change was a leftist conspiracy ginned up by Al Gore, and suggested that emailing the sun was a useful antidote.  A comprehensive study by the San Francisco-based Trust For Public Land, published in early March,  found sound economic evidence for why regions that embrace an aggressive program of park development and open …

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Email the Sun

  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of a select number of Republican leaders in the United States who makes any sense, turned up at the American Museum of Natural History on Sunday to deliver an Earth Day plan for his city that should be the basic text for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the United States. A full account of the 127 steps the mayor proposed is here. The big pieces …

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Build High Speed Rail in the Midwest

  Since 1996, nine states in the American Midwest have been gradually inching forward on a proposal to establish a 3,000-mile high speed train network linking 100 of the region’s big and small cities. Chicago would serve as the hub of the The Midwest Regional Rail System. Spokes would include Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Columbus, Des Moines, and many other large cities served by trains capable of traveling 110 mph, which would make the travel time and …

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Thinking Big in Knoxville, Tulsa, Salt Lake City

KNOXVILLE — From his office on the fifth floor of the Knoxville City County building, Dave Hill looks across the Tennessee River to 350 acres and more than two miles of riverfront. None of it is enchanting. Yet all of it essential to this mid-size southern city’s plan to be a green, clean, energy efficient, and lovely statement about America’s capacity to build the century’s new world class urban centers. As my Manhattan mother might say: “Knoxville? Where’s  Knoxville?” …

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Smart Growth and Gentrification

For as long as I’ve been involved in understanding the dimensions of urban disinvestment, as well as the solutions, one more civic concern has always lurked in the shadows. That’s gentrification, the process by which wealthier people interested in moving back into a city use buying power and sway to push the poor out of their homes. As a journalist, public policy specialist, and citizen of America I’ve personally experienced almost every side of this …

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In Time For Earth Day, Eco-Luxury

  How mainstream has the greening of the world become? Fortune Magazine this month joined the lengthening list of big dog old media publishing “green” issues. Car companies, especially the Japanese, tout their energy-efficient vehicles. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma is busy cementing his legacy as the George Wallace of this era, the man who stood on ideology and misguided principle to deny an undeniable fact of experience and history: The earth is warming.    And then there’s one …

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