Policy

Painting the Town White: Technology and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

iStock_000007441413XSmall.jpg

“Paint the world white to fight global warming” was the astonishing headline from The Times of London. The paper was referring to a presentation made by United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu at the St. James Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week. Chu was reported as saying that that this approach could have a vast impact.  read more »

Salinas and Self-Governance

Steinbeck House Salinas iStock_000001040695XSmall.jpg

“Man is the only kind of varmint who sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.” — John Steinbeck

Though probably not intended as a political commentary, Steinbeck’s utterance perfectly describes the current California budget crisis. And, given the revenue and service delivery relationship between cities and the state, traps can be set and baited in Sacramento, leaving mayors, city councils and city managers to step in them.  read more »

San Jose, California: Bustling Metropolis or Bedroom Community?

iStock_000006140620XSmall.jpg

Dionne Warwick posed the question more than 40 years ago, yet most Americans still don’t know ‘The way to San Jose’. Possessing neither the international cachet of San Francisco nor the notoriety of Oakland, San Jose continues to fly under the national radar in comparison to its Bay Area compatriots. Even with its self-proclaimed status as the ‘Heart of Silicon Valley’, many would be hard pressed to locate San Jose on a map of California.  read more »

Project Development: Regulation and Roulette

Wheel of Bankruptcy.jpg

The site plan logically should be the key to approval of a development project. Yet in reality, the plan is secondary to the presentation. My conclusions are based upon experience with well over a thousand developments over four decades, most in the mainland USA. And what I’ve observed is that the best site plan is only as good as the presentation that will convince the council or planning commission to vote “Yes” on it. No “yes” vote, no deal, no development.  read more »

Portland: A Model for National Policy?

portlandrowhouses.jpg

United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Washington Post columnist George Will have been locked in debate over transit. Will called LaHood the “Secretary of Behavior Modification” for his policies intended to reduce car use, citing Portland’s strong transit and land use planning measures as a model for the nation.  read more »

Frontrunning and Finance: Left Foot Forward

shoes- leftfoot forward.jpg

This month, the Obama administration moved to regulate the so-called ‘invisible’ financial instruments that have come to rule the world of finance. Variations of the ‘shadow’ banking system — or, in the preferred language of financiers, market ‘risk management tools’ — have increasingly taken the spotlight during the current crises.  read more »

Can California Make A Comeback?

iStock_000001823153XSmall.jpg

These are times that thrill some easterners' souls. However bad things might be on Wall Street or Beacon Hill, there's nothing more pleasing to Atlantic America than the whiff of devastation on the other coast.

And to be sure, you can make a strong case that the California dream is all but dead. The state is effectively bankrupt, its political leadership discredited and the economy, with some exceptions, doing considerably worse than most anyplace outside Michigan. By next year, suggests forecaster Bill Watkins, unemployment could nudge up towards an almost Depression-like 15%.  read more »

Sweden's Taxes - The Hidden Costs of The Welfare State

Stockholm Town Hall  iStock_000001040695XSmall.jpg

By Nima Sanandaji and Robert Gidehag

Sweden is a nation with extraordinary high tax rates. The average worker not only pays 30 percent of her or his income in visible taxes, but, additionally, close to 30 percent in hidden taxes. The defenders of the punishing tax burden argue that it is needed to maintain Sweden’s generous welfare system. While this claim may seem reasonable on its surface, a deeper look suggests that it is based on flawed analysis.  read more »

The Successful, the Stable, and the Struggling Midwest Cities

iStock_000008071773XSmall.jpg

The Midwest has a deserved reputation as a place that has largely failed to adapt to the globalized world. For example, no Midwestern city would qualify as a boomtown but still there remain a diversity of outcomes in how the region’s cities have dealt with their shared heritage and challenges. Some places are faring surprisingly well, outpacing even the national average in many measures, while others bring up the bottom of the league tables in multiple civics measures.  read more »

Housing Downturn Update: We May Have Reached Bottom, But Not Everywhere

sdsuburbs.png

It is well known that the largest percentage losses in house prices occurred early in the housing bubble in inland California, Sacramento and Riverside-San Bernardino, Las Vegas and Phoenix. These were the very southwestern areas that housing refugees fled to in search of less unaffordable housing in California’s coastal metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose).  read more »