Lest we treat traffic like by-the-book plumbers (Bigger pipes! More asphalt) rather than enlightened engineers (Better solutions! Cleaner alternatives! Properly maintain what we have!), let's make this stimulus situation an opportunity to get on the right track(s).
weekend, Gov. Jim Doyle attended a landmark meeting of the National
Governors Association in Washington. The governors came together to
discuss building new transportation systems and electrical power grids.
But it was the spending of federal stimulus funding that became the
talk of the meeting and the focus of nationwide press coverage. Doyle
will face key decisions about how best to use the federal funds.
stakes for the people of Wisconsin could not be higher. Decades of
ill-advised spending on new highway construction have left the state's
transportation system in critical condition. According to the U.S.
Department of Transportation, 1,302 bridges in Wisconsin are
"structurally deficient" and could pose a safety hazard, and 9.4% of
our roads are in "poor" condition. In addition, $630 million in
ready-to-go bus and rail projects remain unfunded.
funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would
enable our state to make up for lost time, but only if the political
will exists to spend money where it is needed most. Pennsylvania Gov.
Edward Rendell, this year's NGA chair, sent a message to all governors
when he stated on national television that Pennsylvania "can have
people working by May, because we're going to fix it first" and that he
would focus on "deficient bridges" and "miles of roads to be
right about the benefits of fix-it-first over new highway construction.
A recent study, using government data, found that construction projects
that repair deteriorating roads and bridges can be started more quickly
and would create 9% more jobs than new highway projects. The study also
found that investment in public transportation creates about 19% more
jobs than building new highways.
left the NGA meeting to visit Spain to learn more about the benefits of
high-speed rail and the potential to put Wisconsin manufacturers back
to work building high-speed trains here. We applaud the governor for
this leadership. At the same time, the governor has proposed that
roughly half of the first $300 million in Recovery Act transportation
dollars be spent on new highway capacity. When roads and bridges are
crumbling and our dependence on oil threatens our environment, economy
and national security, we can't afford to make the same old decisions.
little doubt that building new and wider highways would create jobs.
However, it also would increase our oil dependence, greenhouse gas
emissions, vulnerability to gas price hikes and traffic congestion.
roads also saves everyone money immediately. According to economist
Robert Frank: "One-hundred-and-twenty-dollars-a-year damage per year
per vehicle. The potholes in the roads do more damage to vehicles each
year than it would cost to fix them. That's just ridiculous that we
don't fix them."
other words, not all transportation investments are created equal.
Using stimulus funds to expand public transit and repair existing roads
and bridges not only would create more jobs in less time but also would
give the state the best long-term return on the investment. When
reductions in greenhouse gas pollution, commute times, traffic
congestion, household expenses and energy use are added to the number
of jobs created, spending on fix-it-first and public transit wins hands
recent announcement from the Obama administration echoes these ideas
and should empower our state officials to adopt a bolder vision. When
the Recovery Act was signed last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary
Ray LaHood, a Republican, who hardly can be characterized as an
extremist, said, "We will emphasize sustainable investment and focus
our policies on the people, businesses and communities who use the
transportation systems. And we will focus on the quality of our
environment. We will build and restore our transportation foundations
until the American dream is returned."
secretary's message and the recent NGA meeting pave the way for Doyle
to use the new federal funding to help build a world-class,
21st-century transportation system in Wisconsin.
Speight is an advocate with the Wisconsin Public Interest Research
Group, a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest advocacy
Visualizing the Growth of Target, 1962-2008 | FlowingData: — A FLOWINGDATA PROJECT —
The first Target opened in 1962 in Roseville, Minnesota, and by 1972 there were 46. The corporation focused mostly on expansion in the Central United States for the next decade, but in 1982, Target acquired 33 FedMart stores in Arizona, California, and Texas. There are now over 1,600 stores across the United States.
We will have to be expensively REACTIVE in the years ahead, I fear.
"There's this cycle of automobile dependency," he said. "You have to have a place to park at home, a place to park at work, and a place to park at retail establishments." In an absurd "market distortion," cities have become places where "cars have a right to housing and people don't."
Alderman Steve Taylor - - a decidedly pro-business alderman if ever there was one (he is single-handedly responsible for the Staybridge hotel's $9,000 grant from the city; somebody try to tell me different)- - was not present for the vote or debate. He may have been another "no" or "abstain" vote. This issue is so pressing and important, evidently, that the council deemed it appropriate to debate and vote on it without a member present - - the same member who wisely delayed the measure by having it sent for discussion to various commissions and committees.
But, at the same time, it's an unfortunate trade-off for Alderman Steve Olson in that he will not have the bogus "anti-business" bludgeon to wield on Taylor. You can't win 'em all.
So, when you feel the time has come to petition local government for remedy to abuses by an employer or employers in Franklin, remember who voted to take that right away from you just as we ramp up to uncertain and harrowing economic times. (FranklinNow, predictably, missed that element of the ordinance in their "analysis.")
Sick days? The ordinance doesn't even mention them.
Also: Shouldn't any alderman who employs people in a business of his or her own have to abstain from voting on this issue?
The Franklin Common Council Tuesday approved an ordinance that says the city cannot require Franklin private employers to provide "particular wages or benefits" to their employees.
The ordinance tallied "yes" votes from District 1 Alderman Steve Olson, District 2 Alderman Tim Solomon, District 5 Alderman Lyle Sohns and District 6 Alderman Ken Skowronski.
District 3 Alderman Kristen Wilhelm, who opposed the measure, abstained. District 4 Alderman Steve Taylor had an excused absence and did not vote.
The Franklin ordinance, proposed by Olson, comes after city of Milwaukee voters in November approved a referendum to create an ordinance that requires employers to provide varying amounts of paid sick leave to their employees. St. Francis, Greenfield, Oak Creek, West Allis and South Milwaukee adopted similar ordinances earlier this year.
On tonight's Common Council agenda, an item reads:
G. Reports and Recommendations 1. Ordinance to Create Chapter 191 of the Municipal Code Relating to the Non-Regulation of Employee Wages or Benefits for Private Businesses (Ald. Olson).
Were it a more honest or prosaic document, the agenda item would more accurately read as follows: G. Reports and Recommendations
1. Extraction of Business Loyalty Oaths, election brochure bullet point creation, prevention of unified action by a populous whose potential judgment and actions are feared (Ald. Olson).
To pluck from the array of folksy platitudes that regularly emanate from Alderman Steve Olson: This is "a solution looking for a problem" (I harvested that one from the 2/3/09 Common Council discussion on dog leashes).
It is also clearly an indication that Alderman Olson - who has shrewdly designed the unneeded ordinance so a vote against it seems to be a vote against business - appears to fear the will of the electorate.
Let's pretend that this ordinance (see below) actually had something to do with paid sick leave.
FACT: There is no Sick Pay law or rule pending in or suggested for Franklin.
FACT: The City of Milwaukee's Sick Pay Law has been suspended by the courts and faces review.
FACT: If a Sick Pay law actually "threatened" to be imposed on Franklin, the Common Council could enact a blocking ordinance in a matter of hours.
FACT: The Franklin electorate has not shown itself to be predisposed toward generating a Paid Sick Leave ordinance, and the needs of the working population of Franklin are different than that of an urban core that very much needs a sick leave law of some sort.
Now, consider this:
Number of times Alderman Olson's proposed ordinance mentions the phrase "paid sick leave": ZERO
Number of times Alderman Olson's proposed ordinance mentions the word "sick": ZERO
This is not an ordinance that surgically prevents Paid Sick Leave. However, the ordinance doeseliminate the ability of the electorate to effect direct legislation as it applies to employee wages and benefits.
In other words, the Franklin Common Council is going to enact an ordinance that takes away the power of direct legislation from the people of Franklin - - the ability to petition for reform as needed and requested by the people of the city - - under the guise of simply "preventing paid sick leave."
Think of it: As we face the most seismic economic event of our lifetimes; as blue- and white-color workers alike begin to flood the unemployment pool; as uncertainty looms large in the months and years ahead: Alderman Olson is saying NONREGULATION is our only hope, and we need to take away the right of the people to petition directly for reform as the situation unfolds.
Ludicrous. But the ordinancewill pass because Olson is savvy enough to position this as a Loyalty Oath for members of the Common Council. He has briefed his public relations blogger (who has apparently not even read the ordinance but managed to dutifully pass along a veiled threat nonetheless: "If an alderman or two vote against this pro-business, pro-jobs measure, it will be very telling"), and rest assured Alderman Olson already has draft language of his "pro-business stand" in his re-election brochure. He will vilify any aldermen who dare see this ordinance for what it is and properly move to set it aside or vote against it.
So, what's in this ordinance for us? The loss of one of our basic rights as citizens as we enter "interesting times." What's in it for certain members of the Common Council? Re-election fodder.
One company that will be very pleased and will once again contribute to the re-election efforts of those aldermen who toe the line will be Wal-Mart.
Because of paid sick leave? No - were it only so simple. With their enormous cash reserves and monolithic leverage against suppliers, Wal-Mart may well emerge the "last man standing" in retail and grocery for a period of time as businesses fold and pull back. They will be looking at an enormous pool of former full-time workers looking for new full-time work, and when you have 50 people applying for five full-time positions, you can do things like eliminate ALL full-time positions and convert everyone to part-time.
Think they won't do it? Guess again.
And what will the citizens of Franklin - - who can rightly assert that waivers, subsidies, and other benefits granted by the city to Wal-Mart should be repaid in the form of at least a few full-time jobs - - be able to do about that situation if this ordinance passes?
Nothing. That right is stripped from the populous by this ordinance.
Because someone fears the potential will of the people.
Below, the ordinance minus the "whereas's":
Proposed ORDINANCE NO. 2009-_____
AN ORDINANCE TO CREATE CHAPTER 191 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE RELATING TO THE NON-REGULATION OF EMPLOYEE WAGES OR BENEFITS FOR PRIVATE BUSINESSES
SECTION 1: Chapter 191 of the Municipal Code of the City of Franklin, Wisconsin, is hereby created to read as follows:
“Chapter 191 PRIVATE BUSINESS EMPLOYEE WAGE AND BENEFIT NON-REGULATION
§191-1. Limitation of municipal regulation. No ordinance of the City of Franklin or any other municipal ordinance, rule, or regulation shall require that any private employer provide particular wages or benefits to its employees or set forth the amount or type of any employee wage or benefit provided an employee working within the City or doing business with the City, except as may be required by another governmental agency funded project, such as the Community Development Block Grant program or the like, or by way of State or Federal statute or administrative code or rule. ”
SECTION 2: The terms and provisions of this ordinance are severable. Should any term or provision of this ordinance be found to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining terms and provisions shall remain in full force and effect.
SECTION 3: All ordinances and parts of ordinances in contravention to this ordinance are hereby repealed.
SECTION 4: This ordinance shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage and publication.
The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide—destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners. But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others. On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today. What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas? Will the suburbs be ineffably changed? Which cities and regions can come back strong? And which will never come back at all?
by Richard Florida
How the Crash Will Reshape America
IMAGE CREDIT: SEAN MCCABE
MY FATHER WAS a child of the Great Depression. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1921 to Italian immigrant parents, he experienced the economic crisis head-on. He took a job working in an eyeglass factory in the city’s Ironbound section in 1934, at age 13, combining his wages with those of his father, mother, and six siblings to make a single-family income. When I was growing up, he spoke often of his memories of breadlines, tent cities, and government-issued clothing. At Christmas, he would tell my brother and me how his parents, unable to afford new toys, had wrapped the same toy steam shovel, year after year, and placed it for him under the tree. In my extended family, my uncles occupied a pecking order based on who had grown up in the roughest economic circumstances. My Uncle Walter, who went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering and eventually became a senior executive at Colgate-Palmolive, came out on top—not because of his academic or career achievements, but because he grew up with the hardest lot.
My father’s experiences were broadly shared throughout the country. Although times were perhaps worst in the declining rural areas of the Dust Bowl, every region suffered, and the residents of small towns and big cities alike breathed in the same uncertainty and distress. The Great Depression was a national crisis—and in many ways a nationalizing event. The entire country, it seemed, tuned in to President Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
The current economic crisis is unlikely to result in the same kind of shared experience. To be sure, the economic contraction is causing pain just about everywhere. In October, less than a month after the financial markets began to melt down, Moody’s Investor Services published an assessment of recent economic activity within 381 U.S. metropolitan areas. Three hundred and two were already in deep recession, and 64 more were at risk. Only 15 areas were still expanding. Notable among them were the oil- and natural-resource-rich regions of Texas and Oklahoma, buoyed by energy prices that have since fallen; and the Greater Washington, D.C., region, where government bailouts, the nationalization of financial companies, and fiscal expansion are creating work for lawyers, lobbyists, political scientists, and government contractors.
No place in the United States is likely to escape a long and deep recession. Nonetheless, as the crisis continues to spread outward from New York, through industrial centers like Detroit, and into the Sun Belt, it will undoubtedly settle much more heavily on some places than on others. Some cities and regions will eventually spring back stronger than before. Others may never come back at all. As the crisis deepens, it will permanently and profoundly alter the country’s economic landscape. I believe it marks the end of a chapter in American economic history, and indeed, the end of a whole way of life.
A reader tipped me off to the violently undulating parking lot at Shoppes at Wyndham Village - a shiny-new development dedicated less than a year ago.
This mess reminds us that it's not just tree-huggers who have issues with how site plans are imposed on wetlands. Engineers need to reach some manner of negotiation with pre-existing conditions as well. Thumb your nose at those conditions and you get exactly what you see above.
Greg Kowalski at Franklin Today flatters Sonic Drive-in by calling it a "dining" chain in announcing that Oak Creek will be the site of the first local Sonic Drive-In franchise. They are welcome to it.
Do we really want a drive-in/drive-thru fast food purveyor in town on the basis of - what, cool commercials? The ability to mix colored corn syrup concoctions? A dozen minimum wage jobs?
What happened to creating real local character and establishing a deep economy with a basis in locally-owned businesses? How about a place that you have to GET OUT OF YOUR CAR to utilize? I think we can do without a line of idling engines waiting for their sugared water fix.
No - I don't feel sad about having more drive-thru fast food plant itself outside the city limits.
(Where did I have lunch yesterday? In my car, after going through McD's drive-thru.)
George Zens, proprietor of the terrific regional newspaper Sustainable Times, does not like the new Middleton Sonic Drive-In, which at times has had customers' cars backed up along University Avenue and into the adjoining neighborhood. Zens went into full rant mode:
Sonic, of course, is an anachronism, a dinosaur, in fact, a symbol of much that is wrong with the way we do things. Its business model is to sell junk food to people who are too lazy to get out of their cars: it’s either drive-thru or drive-in.
I have to admit, I was secretly amused to see the three first
commandments of our modern society so blatantly united in one single
1) Eat junk food, lots of it; it’s cheap and has all the food groups the average American wants: salt, sugar, fat.
2) Let’s not move more than we have to; drive everywhere; don’t get out
of the car unless we really, really have to go make room for more junk
3) Let the car engine idle while we fatten up; gas is cheap again
anyway, and isn’t that why our soldiers die in the Middle East: to
protect our oil supplies, so we can waste gasoline here? And let’s not
worry about air pollution: with that way of life, we won’t live long
enough to see its consequences. Our children might. Unless they sit in
the car with us getting schooled in the same way of life.
You gotta admit, Zens has a point, especially when you consider all the great locally-owned alternatives to the Oklahoma-based Sonic. Zens just doesn't complain; he offers three alternate commandments:
1) Eat good food locally.
2) Get out of the car and move.
3) Shut off the engine.
It’s better for our health, our environment and our wallets.
At the president's town hall meeting in Fort Myers, Florida, earlier today, he gave a clear statement about where the country needs to go with regard to land use and transportation:
"Now, look, this is America. We always had the best infrastructure. We were always willing to invest in the future. Governor Crist mentioned Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the Civil War, in the midst of all this danger and peril, what did he do? He helped move the intercontinental railroad. He helped start land grant colleges. He understood that even when you're in the middle of crisis, you've got to keep your eye on the future. So transportation is not just fixing our old transportation systems but its also imaging new transportation systems.
"That's why I'd like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That's why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that's energy efficient and I think people are alot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure. The days where we're just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that's not a smart way to build communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this kind of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation. That will make a big difference."