Urban Issues

The Crisis Next Time: Public Finance


The financial crisis of 2008 paved the way for the employment crisis of 2009, which has now paved the way for the upcoming public finance crisis of 2010. Most federal, state and municipal budgets are strained to the breaking point while the economy still has not found its footing. Meanwhile our national politics is obsessed with expensive overhauls of environmental policy and healthcare reform. Our latest policy strategy is an attempt to borrow and spend our way to prosperity, ala Japan of the past twenty years.  read more »

The Good News in Florida’s Bad Times


By Richard Reep

2009 was ugly. A swirl of dispiriting events stalled over much of the world this year, and Florida was no exception: state depopulation and tourism decline hit the state’s only two legitimate growth industries.

Yet the bad times contain within them some good news. This end of an era meant that economic planners might finally turn to productive industries to generate jobs and revenue, just like the rest of the nation.  read more »

The Suburbs are Sexy


The Administration’s Anti-Suburban Agenda: Nearly since inauguration, the Administration has embarked upon a campaign against suburban development, seeking to force most future urban development into far more dense areas. The President set the stage early, telling a Florida town hall meeting that the days of building “sprawl” (pejorative for “suburbanization”) forever were over.  read more »

The Economic Fallout of the Chicago Way


Many large American cities are hurting from the recent recession. Unrealistic revenue assumptions based on ever higher real estate prices and sales tax receipts have left cities unable to pay their basic bills. As asset and consumer prices deflate, from a lack of demand, those cities with “sticky” costs – the result of overly powerful unions and excessive business regulations – are stuck in an economic quagmire.

Chicago has become a leading poster child for recent urban economic malaise. With the election of Barack Obama, 2009 was supposed to be a year in which the Windy City basked in glory.  read more »

Memo to Big City Pols: Voters’ Suspicions on Influence Peddling Is Far Cry From Stupidity


A significant clue on why the City of Los Angeles is facing budget deficits of hundreds of million annually for the foreseeable future can be found in the relationship between elected officials and AEG, the company that’s controlled by Denver-based multi-billionaire Philip Anschutz.

AEG owns the Staples Center and the adjacent L.A. Live, which includes shops and restaurants to go with one nice hotel and another luxurious establishment that will be topped by high-priced condominiums when completed.  read more »

Road Decay


These days, you'll have to get your kicks on Interstate 44.

US Route 66 - that road of legend and lore - exists mostly as a memory. Only in Oklahoma is the number posted intermittently along a road parallel to the interstate.

Now I'm not especially sentimental, and I'm a generation too young to have really gotten into the Route 66 shtick. As the older folks pass away, Route 66 will decay entirely.  read more »

The Urbanophile Plan for Detroit


If Brookings' plan for Detroit isn't enough to get the job done, what is?

Turning around Detroit means facing head on the core problems that hobble the region, notably:

• America's worst big city race relations
• A population that is too big for current economic reality
• A management and labor culture rooted in an era that no longer exists and is unsuited to the modern economy
• A tax, regulatory, and political system toxic to business  read more »

Detroit Needs a Bolder Plan


The Brookings Institution recently unveiled “The Detroit Project”, a plan to revive Detroit, in the New Republic. Brookings' plan has good elements and recognizes some important realities, but also has key gaps. It relies excessively on industrial policy and conventional approaches that are unlikely to drive a real turnaround in America's most troubled big city.  read more »

What Happens When California Defaults?


The California Legislative Analyst’s Office recently reported that the State faces a $21 billion shortfall in the current as well as the next fiscal year. That’s a problem, a really big problem. My young son would say it was a ginormous problem. In fact, it may be an insurmountable problem.  read more »

Nurturing Employment Recovery


President Obama's quick exit from Oslo and late arrival in Copenhagen suggest he's finally ready to shift focus from Nordic adulation and fighting climate change and diplomacy to fixing the American economy. About time. As former Clinton adviser Bill Galston observed recently, the president needs "to pivot and make 2010 the year of jobs."

White House operatives, as well as the Democrats in Congress, know high unemployment could bring big political trouble next year. But in their rush to create new jobs, policy makers would do well to focus on the quality of jobs created over the next year and beyond.  read more »