If there is one constant in local politics, it's that citizens seem to love being indignant -- about snow plows and the quality of said snow plowers, property taxes, and.... I guess that's about it. Snow plows and property taxes.
And they aren't good at math, but that's a different story.
Stumbled upon this while reading USA TODAY at a coffee shop:
The string of attacks on politicians — angry shouts at town-hall-style meetings, an assassination attempt against Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — has ignited a civility movement in cities across the country.
Officials in large and small cities are eager to calm the overheated rhetoric that has dominated the political landscape. At a time when tight budgets are forcing them to make unpopular cuts in services, city leaders want to learn how they can have a cordial discourse with constituents and, better yet, get them to help decide what cuts to make.
In 2009, protesters shouted down members of Congress who held forums on a proposed health care overhaul. That same year, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouted "You lie!" after President Obama, in an address to Congress, denied that health care legislation would provide free coverage for illegal immigrants.
And some saw a connection last month after a gunman shot Giffords, D-Ariz., in the forehead when she met with constituents at her "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Tucson supermarket. Six people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, were killed. Giffords is recovering.
My local Post Office seems to be hanging on by a thread. We get our mail at about 4:30pm most days, and the handy-dandy auto-postage machine has been taken out of the our location in favor of a more prestigious P.O.
Of course, the Franklin Post Office is located, like everything else here, near NOTHING. Losing traffic to the Post Office would be meaningless to local commerce.
The prospect of losing a post office is alarming people in small towns everywhere. The post office gives area residents a reason to come to town — and patronize other businesses there — and provides a service they count on and believe their government owes them.
ABOVE: Nobody's dream landscape -- across a sea of asphalt, a McMansion roof peeks over inaccessible retail outbuildings.
REMINDER: Please mark your calendar for January 24th, 6-8pm, and plan to attend the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Open House so you can voice your concerns regarding making Franklin a competitive community that is travel-friendly for children, the elderly, and differently abled persons.
At this week’s National Association of Home Builders conference, there has been much talk about the estimated 80 million people that comprise the category known as “Gen Y,” born roughly between 1980 and the early 2000s. The boomers, meanwhile, number 76 million. From the Wall Street Journal:
Here’s what Generation Y doesn’t want: formal living rooms, soaker bathtubs, dependence on a car.
In other words, they don’t want their parents’ homes.
Something to keep in mind here in Franklin, as we struggle to create a wider and deeper tax base as well as attract young talent. However, as I noted in yesterday's post, we're still mired in outdated notions about trails and sidewalks as mere "recreational opportunities" when they are in fact crucial infrastructure.
Gen Y housing preferences are the subject of at least two panels at this week’s convention. A key finding: They want to walk everywhere. Surveys show that 13% carpool to work, while 7% walk, said Melina Duggal, a principal with Orlando-based real estate adviser RCLCO. A whopping 88% want to be in an urban setting, but since cities themselves can be so expensive, places with shopping, dining and transit such as Bethesda and Arlington in the Washington suburbs will do just fine.
“One-third are willing to pay for the ability to walk,” Ms. Duggal said. “They don’t want to be in a cookie-cutter type of development. …The suburbs will need to evolve to be attractive to Gen Y.”
ABOVE: From a previous post on SPRAWLED OUT: An example of a trail that is certainly "recreational," but A) does not connect any destinations (it merely loops through a park), and B) empties into a blind curve on a suburban speedway, further shielded by trees and shrubs (indicated with green boxes).
The City of Franklin has been working for some time on a new Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, and is now inviting public input.
I encourage people to come to the open house and make their concerns about CONNECTIVITY in the city of Franklin heard. As a member of the city's Trails Committee, I am sorry to report that there is precious little interaction between us and the city's Parks Commission. In fact, there has been considerable tension in Trails Committee meetings when I or any other member made requests for information on the ongoing Recreation plan.
The problem is this: Trails are, indeed, recreational. However, it's time to look at trails as part of the city's overall connectivity plan. Trails (and sidewalks) are infrastructure, and it's important that we provide a way to get from place to place in Franklin without a car.
This will not be my last post on the subject (nor is it the first), but please mark your calendar for January 24th, 6-8pm, and plan to attend the open house so you can voice your concerns regarding making Franklin travel-friendly for children, the elderly, and differently abled persons.
I've pasted some material from the city's press release below, and linked to fellow Trails Committee member Greg Kowalski's Scribed-posted PDF:
This update is set forth in a draft document entitled Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan: 2025 for the City of Franklin, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. This Plan is being prepared to maintain the City’s eligibility to participate in many cost-sharing programs for the acquisition and development of its park, open space, and outdoor recreation system. When completed, the updated Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan will look 15 years into the future at the City’s anticipated park, open space, and outdoor recreation needs.
Before the draft is completed, the Planning Department staff of the City of Franklin would like to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions and to provide additional comments about this draft Plan. Therefore, an Open House has been scheduled for January 24, 2011, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in the Community Room at the City of Franklin City Hall, 9229 W. Loomis Road.
Copies of maps and other select information from the draft Plan will be on display at the Open House. The entire draft Plan will be available for viewing on the City website and at the offices of the Planning Department approximately one week before the Open House.
It is envisioned that the public comments provided at the Open House will be summarized and provided to the City of Franklin Parks Commission for their review and consideration immediately after the Open House or as soon thereafter as the Parks Commission may determine.
If you have any questions, or need additional information, please feel free to contact the Planning Department at 414-425-4024, or visit the City of Franklin website at www.franklinwi.gov.
Coming off of a bit of a work-enforced break from blogging, I stumbled upon a new resource out of Chicago. It's hard to argue with the title of Jason Tinkey's blog -- The Planner's Dream Gone Wrong -- and, given the epic Packers-Bears struggle scheduled for this coming Sunday, it's as good a time as any to engage a flatlander in a friendly manner before kickoff.
Jason discusses American provincialism in this particular blog entry, quoting Barcelona Deputy Mayor Jordi William Carnes making the observation that "America is important to the rest of world, but spends too much time looking inward."
This is true all the way down to the neighborhood level -- or even single household level, frankly -- but Jason chooses to concentrate of the narrow field of view espoused by new Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as he reinvents Wisconsin as The Weak Link:
This provincial attitude reared its tiny head again this past week, when Wisconsin Governor Scott K. Walker (that "K" is crucial to avoid denigrating the proper Scott Walker) slammed Illinois for it's tax hike and invited businesses to relocate to his state. As James Warren wrote, this shows a lack of a broader vision on Walker's part. He's playing for votes within his own little fiefdom, seemingly oblivious to the fact that if Chicago's economy were to fail, Wisconsin's would go down right beside it. As much as I love our neighbors to the north, Milwaukee does not have the transportation infrastructure necessary to link it to a global marketplace. This is the same guy, mind you, who basically ran for office on his opposition to high-speed rail, which would be one of the best possible assets in building a regional economy.
So allow me to state for the record my philosophy of how the future is aligned: neighborhood - city - region - planet. Note that "county", "state" and "nation" do not exist. These are eighteenth-century constructs that serve little useful purpose in a connected, digital global economy. The hard question is asking what it will take to achieve this in these "United" States. No politician has ever voted themselves out of a job, and yet a thorough realignment of local and federal governance is necessary. Industrialized Europe had to be more or less leveled in World War II for the stakeholders to recognize the value of cross-border cooperation and a free exchange of people and ideas. I certainly hope we don't need such a serious jolt.
Wisconsin and Illinois, despite their football-based loathing, have too many issues which demand cooperation. And you can add Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario to that mix, as well. In coming decades, stewardship of the Great Lakes will become crucial to the region and to the world. Transportation linkages already radiate from Chicago like an octopus, in a common region with common concerns, these absolutely must be brought up to speed with the rest of the developed world. There is really no other option.
Unfortunately, this incredibly tragic story threatens to have a local angle for other communities given the over-the-top tone of many community blogs.
On a national and local level, I am sickened by attention-starved persons whose paycheck and/or self worth is derived from creating a spectacle via over-the-top rhetoric and name-calling. They may claim, "Hey, this is just like professional wrestling; it's entertainment and I'm just playing a character!" -- but they -- we -- need to be aware that our words and images are available to diseased minds who are waiting for reinforcement.
Left or right; conservative or liberal -- there are consequences to the tone of rhetoric we deploy. Being a cartoon character may get you mic or camera time and sell some books, but you're also pouring gasoline on a fire.
"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
"It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America. Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.
"People tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American people by people who make a living off doing that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."
-- Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, speaking Saturday on the shooting in Arizona that claimed at least six lives and left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition
Celebration, Florida just might represent everything that used to be right with America, and everything that is currently wrong with America. Celebration, for those unaware, is a master planned community that was built by the Disney Corporation, and incorporates various Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) features with a touch of Disney magic. Recently, though, Bad Things have been afoot in Celebration—murder, suicide, and foreclosure. Could real city problems be invading this fake city? What would that mean?
Q. You talk about the economic opportunities that the foreclosure crisis has created. At the same time, it seems like people have less and less money to do big projects. Financing has become very difficult for a lot of developers. How do you see those things balancing out?
A. Of course, right now it's very difficult to even think about any large project. However, there is a whole range of tools which are prepared for very different economic conditions and for very different scales. That is why the whole method is structured from the bigger picture of the region going all the way down to the community scale and all the way down to the block or the building, to be able to respond to different economic conditions.
It might be a government, regional organization, or municipality thinking about their future development as a larger place, as a region. Or it might be a developer who can maybe intervene in one block, who can actually take advantage of some of the foreclosures -- maybe acquire a block of some of these foreclosed properties, and do something on a much smaller scale. And all the way down to the single building. People are thinking about the second generation of some of these suburban building sites coming through the next cycle.