One of the great failures in studying the politics of American cities has been the assumptions political scientists have used. Many academics assume that politicians work toward serving the public interest. In this naïve or dishonest world, an informed public (aided by a vigilant press) votes for candidates that rise above petty self interest to promote the common good. Recently, The University of Illinois-Chicago Political Science department released an impressive empirical study on corruption. read more »
Letting the nation’s roads and bridges deteriorate may worsen traffic congestion and add to our commuting woes, but when water and sewer systems begin to fail our very civilization is at risk. That is the message of a recent story in The Washington Post drawing attention to the alarming state of the nation’s water and sewer infrastructure. The story looks at the Washington D.C. system as a poster child for neglected and dilapidated municipal utilities. The average age of the District water pipes is 77 years and a great many were laid in the 19th century, notes the Post article. read more »
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones reports on the highly questionable "cost of alternatives" that has been routinely repeated by proponents of the California high speed rail project, in an article entitled "California High Speed Rail Even More Ridiculous than Before." read more »
As befits this time of year, our thoughts turn to the events that await us in the days ahead. Putting aside the major imponderable — the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections that inevitably will impact the federal transportation program —what can the transportation community expect in 2012? Will Congress muster the will to enact a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization? Or will the legislation fall victim to election year paralysis? What other significant transportation-related developments lie ahead in the new year? read more »
A congressional oversight hearing, focused on the concerns surrounding the troubled California high-speed rail project, cast new doubts on the likelihood of the project’s political survival. read more »
I came to report on the occupation of Zuccotti Park expecting it would pass in a matter of days, like the stillborn movements before it.
In spite of its self-celebrated cosmopolitanism, New York after 9/11 has become an arid environment for protest under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The press and the public yawned through the massive anti–Iraq War march in 2003 and the excessive police response to the 2004 RNC protesters (the city is still dealing with those lawsuits). Even after the Wall Street meltdown, an eerie silence prevailed. read more »
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced today to 14 years in prison. Illinois will now have the dubious distinction of having two back-to-back Governors in jail at the same time. Could a more vigilant press have stopped the amazing political career of Rod Blagojevich? When you look into the background of the former Governor the tentacles of organized crime can’t be ignored. read more »
On November 18, President Obama signed into law a bundle of appropriation bills for FY 2012 including appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The measure had been passed earlier in the House by a vote of 298-121 and in the Senate by a vote of 70-30. read more »
We overheard this phone conversation recently between tea party activist Bill Francis and his 19-year-old daughter and Wall Street occupier Serena:
Bill: I understand why you’re protesting but I think you’re missing the point.
Serena: What’s that?
Bill: You’re mad at rich people and upset that you can’t get a job.
Bill: And you think that by camping out on the street you’ll get attention? read more »
Strange to say, but there may be something valuable going on among some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Until now, two narratives have defined both the press coverage and public discussion of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators camped out in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.
The first depicts a collection of buffoonish, semiliterate juveniles engaged in a seeming left-wing version of a college prank. There is, to be sure, something to this story. read more »