Top Regional Community stories … 1. – 9.
Other Regional Community News for Our Local Planet … 11.01 - .18
Blogging about Regional Communities … 12.01 - .04
Announcements and Regional Links … 13.01 - .04
Financial Crisis …14.01 - .03
Bold italic highlights “grist for the mill of local- regional thought and action.”
The Twin Cities area is the engine of Minnesota's economy. It generates 75 percent of the state's wealth and three-fifths of its jobs.
As new members of the Metropolitan Council [ http://www.metrocouncil.org/ ] and its new chair, Susan Haigh, begin work, the region's long-term competitiveness should top the agenda.
In 1967, when the Met Council was created, Minnesota was a national leader with its idea that a region needed to plan ahead to succeed.
Today, we hear from some quarters that we don't need a strong regional vision, that local control is the key to success.
If we take that track, we are destined to fall behind other regions -- Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, Sacramento -- that have made the link between transportation, land use and resource efficiency and long-term economic strength.
We also risk being unprepared for a changing world. As we struggle to emerge from the Great Recession, what worked once may now be outdated.
The market is shifting to more walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods that save money and are preferred by baby boomers and millennials. This market change reflects a changing population, new notions of affordable housing, and rising energy prices.
To compete with other regions, we need to ensure that the money we spend on transit, roads, airports and sewers maximizes efficiency. The extension of a road or sewer line is a sunk cost.
The more the infrastructure grows at the edge of the region, the less we have available to maintain existing, aging infrastructure. …
The nascent system of transitways -- including light rail and bus rapid transit -- provide some counterbalance to sprawl, but 75 percent of the region still does not live within convenient range of transit.
Here are four recommendations for a new Met Council and a stronger region:
2. SimSac: Sacramentans envision a sensible and sustainable rural strategy - Sacramento News & Review - Sacramento, CA, USA
It’s just like SimCity, only it’s real! That was my reaction at Sacramento’s regional forum of the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, where hundreds of Sacramentans gathered to discuss how to develop a sustainable rural policy that would protect the environment, improve the economy and support a healthier community.
Just as it is hard to figure out how to get somewhere without a map, it’s hard to visualize the outcome of planning decisions without understanding the data. Fortunately, we have the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, …
… simulations clearly show how we could easily screw things up—or make things really great. For instance, if we continue our existing land-use practices, we will totally destroy our $1.9 billion agricultural industry. Or, if we adopt sensible land use practices and increase our local food consumption, we could create a lot of jobs. How?
In a nutshell, the 2 million people who live in the Sacramento region eat a lot of food. We purchase about $1.6 billion of food every year. But even though this is one of the best areas to grow food in the world, only 2 percent of the food that we eat is locally produced. Even though locally grown food tastes a hell of a lot better than the stuff shipped in from out of the area, we have empty fallow land and unemployed and underemployed farmers. By making small adjustments, such as going to farmers’ markets, having schools serve local foods and convincing local supermarkets to stock regionally grown produce, we could significantly increase the amount of local food sold. This would create thousands of jobs and help develop economically viable rural communities in our region.
In 2007, Sacramento Area Councils of Governments launched the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy project to develop an economically and environmentally sustainable strategy for our rural communities, agricultural lands, open spaces and forests. For more information, see www.sacog.org/rucs
3.1 FitzGerald promotes regionalism in Cuyahoga County to mayors and managers - Sun News
Last week, Cuyahoga County Executive-Elect Ed FitzGerald asked Greater Cleveland mayors to focus on regionalism.
FitzGerald urged the mayors to send him those lists within the first 100 days of his taking office next month. He said the matter is urgent.
“We are competing against other counties and other regions that have already implemented more far-reaching regional strategies than we have,” FitzGerald told the mayors.
“We’ve had a lot of rhetoric about it,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve had a lot of dialogue about it. We’ve had a lot of success stories but we can do better as a region.”
FitzGerald made his comments during a speech before the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association.
FitzGerald said regional initiatives so far in Cuyahoga County have been sporadic. He said he will create a new county position — director of regional cooperation — to help spur regional efforts.
Information technology is one area in which communities might share resources, FitzGerald said.
To further regionalism, suburbs should stop luring businesses from each other with tax-abatement offers, FitzGerald said.
“That is not economic growth,” FitzGerald said. …
FitzGerald said he has divided the county’s executive branch into four clusters of departments. The clusters are economic development, public safety, regional collaboration and administrative.
But FitzGerald said the county needs help from communities and their mayors to make the new government work.
“Don’t make any mistake about it,” FitzGerald said. “If the individuals in this room, if everybody goes their own way and we don’t end up forming a strong partnership with the county and your individual communities, the system will not work in the way the public wants it to.”
3.2 DePiero in Parma supports FitzGerald's regional efforts - Parma Sun Post - Parma, OH, USA
PARMA Mayor Dean DePiero said he supports efforts by Ed FitzGerald — Cuyahoga County’s incoming executive — to provide some public services on a region-wide basis.
In fact, DePiero said the city should consider partnering with Parma Heights when it comes to safety services.
“There’s no reason Parma and Parma Heights shouldn’t take a hard look at doing joint fire and police operations,” DePiero said.
“I’m not criticizing anybody for the way we’re doing it now but we ought to engage that possibility,” DePiero said. “We surround Parma Heights on three sides.”
DePiero said the possible arrangement shouldn’t be viewed as a power grab by Parma but as a collaboration between the two cities.
“I think it can be done, and under the right circumstances, it can be done so we get the same amount of coverage,” DePiero said.
DePiero made his comments Friday, the day after FitzGerald promoted regionalism to the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association. DePiero attended Fitzgerald’s speech, which was in Parma.
DePiero said that he and others — when FitzGerald was running for county executive — suggested appointing a regionalism czar or director.
During his speech last week, Fitzgerald said he would do just that. He said he will appoint a director of regional cooperation to help spur regionalism.
DePiero said the regionalism director should oversee studies on regionalism and determine how much regional efforts would cost.
Also, the regional director should try to overcome objections to regional initiatives by unions and elected officials.
“If he (FitzGerald) wants to do it right, the county department has to be aggressive about it and give us the resources to implement these things,” DePiero said.
FitzGerald asked mayors for a priority lists of public services that communities might provide together instead of individually.
4. Think locally, compete globally: the new rural mantra - Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee, WI, USA
The economic storm that blew through the nation left behind plenty of damage, which new federal poverty statistics confirm. …
The state needs more jobs. And the best approach over the long term is the same for places such as Sawyer County (with a 19.6% rate of poverty) as it is in Milwaukee County (18%) even though, demographically, those two counties couldn't be more different.
Rural regions and metro regions alike must work collaboratively to develop their distinctive economic strengths. And they must figure out ways within their regions to bolster entrepreneurism.
"The path to stronger economies in the rural Midwest is plain: Partnering regionally to compete globally is what's needed," Mark Drabenstott wrote earlier this year. Drabenstott directs the Rural Policy Research Institute's Center for Regional Competitiveness at the University of Missouri.
Drabenstott argues that for too long, rural areas have tried to steal businesses from other rural areas - that they have chased smokestacks and would "give away the farm" to get one. About 80% of total state spending on economic development in the 12 Midwestern states was in categories often associated with recruitment, his research found.
Drabenstott cites the RiverLands Economic Development Partnership as an example of a consortium that is beginning to bear fruit. He also might have cited The New North collaborative in northeastern Wisconsin.
Rural areas can benefit from such regional collaboratives that emphasize partnerships, focused public investments, innovation through public universities and encouragement of home-grown businesses.
Those very same principles apply to metropolitan areas such as Milwaukee. It's no longer about who recruited the last factory - Wisconsin has never been very good at that anyway. It's not about competing against the next county over. It's about competing globally.
And that requires a credible regional plan and aggressive cooperation.
Central Falls is an alarm ringing in the night, with ominous implications for all of Rhode Island. Those who have striven hard to win political power had better be listening — because with that power comes responsibility for finding solutions, short of plunging the entire state into a kind of bankruptcy.
Last week, the state-appointed receiver running the city, retired Superior Court Judge Mark Pfeiffer, reported that its problems are so profound that it should throw in the towel. Central Falls must be folded into another community, such as Pawtucket, or its services must be taken over regionally — unless the state is willing to pay heavily to subsidize its costly existence as an independent city, with its own services.
The biggest part of the problem is something we have warned about for many years: To cultivate financial and organizational support, politicians made promises to public employees of costly benefits that are simply unsustainable.
The tax base of Central Falls is not big enough to keep the money flowing, even with state aid. But what can the state do? It already is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year more than it takes in (short-term fixes covered up the problem for years). …
And Central Falls is not alone. It’s merely the harbinger. …
As we have argued here, it makes little sense for absurdly tiny Central Falls — 1.29 square miles — to maintain its own administrative structure for schools, public safety and other services. These could be performed more cheaply on a regional basis, or if Central Falls were folded into another community or communities.
But, ultimately, Rhode Island will have to deal with the much bigger issue of what to do about the grim financial future confronting the state and its municipalities.
Those elected last month have their work cut out for them.
6. Five special municipalities to begin operation - Focus Taiwan News Channel - Taipei, Taiwan
Five special municipalities across Taiwan with 60 percent of the country's population will begin operations Saturday, kicking off a new phase in Taiwan's administrative history.
Taipei, Xinbei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung will begin operating as mega cities almost one month after the residents of the five municipalities chose their mayors in high profile elections on Nov. 27.
In addition to Taipei City and Xinbei City, the former Taipei County, the other three cities were expanded through a merger of two administrative districts.
Greater Taichung City is the result of a merger of Taichung City and Taichung County; Tainan a merger of Tainan City and Tainan County; and Kaohsiung a merger of Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County.
According to Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah, the change is aimed at making the five mega cities "spearheads of Taiwan's regional development" and "cores of the three living areas of northern, central and southern Taiwan."
The new system is not likely to affect the everyday life of the 13.7 million residents in the five cities, but integrating local governments and administrative branches are likely to present a big challenge in the cities where mergers took place.
Tainan and Kaohsiung both split their agencies into two parts to keep them in their original office buildings while Taichung City opted for three office buildings in different parts of its administrative area.
Effective Saturday, townships and county-administered cities will also be renamed "districts" and villages will be renamed "wards." District chiefs will be appointed by mayors rather than being elected, as was previously the case.
Township councils will be disbanded, which means thousands of township and city councilmen have lost their jobs.
Newly elected mayors have focused on the financial aspects of the new city governments. ...
7. Business-style planning spurs Seattle region and similar citistates - The Seattle Times - Seattle, WA, USA
What do Munich and Cleveland, Barcelona and Seattle, Turin and Philadelphia, Seoul and Minneapolis-St. Paul — and Chicago — have in common?
They've all faced moments of serious economic challenge but then devised ingenious recovery strategies.
The comeback effort stories were celebrated at a Global Metro Summit this month in Chicago, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and London School of Economics and Political Science.
And for a clear reason. Sponsors held them up as strong examples of "intentionality" — regions strategically assessing their situations and then applying carefully conceived economic plans to move forward.
Seattle, the Twin Cities and the Cleveland area are even in the midst of what Brookings is heralding as a new era of applying modern business-style planning to the economic-development potential of entire citistates.
Why this attention? "Our world is marked by a network of metropolitan areas that work together and compete against each other," some even spilling over state and national borders, said Wolfgang Nowak of the Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society. The metros are, he noted, "the new regions of the 21st century, centers of innovation and economic growth," but sharing "the same problems: energy crisis, pollution, slum areas, crime, immigration" — all reasons for "new forms of governance."
This governance is more likely to be informal than state-ordered. … Barcelona, now hailed as a model world city, also experienced a nadir — a jobless rate of 21 percent in the 1980s, … it was informal but productive coordination with the provincial government of Catalonia, not a formal regional government, that let Barcelona move forward.
… goal is to create "bottom-up, tailored, business-plan types of challenges" that put federal and state governments on notice: "Don't dictate; instead respond to, invest in the remarkable 'regional intentionality' that's bubbling up from our metro regions.
Global Metro Summit: http://www.brookings.edu/events/2010/1208_metro_summit.aspx
8. Development agency endorsed: Annapolis-Digby group in ‘perilous position’ - The Chronicle Herald - Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA
The Annapolis Digby Economic Development Agency is garnering endorsements from local area businesses, despite notices that two municipalities plan to withdraw funding from the regional development authority.
The Bridgetown and Area Chamber of Commerce is urging support for the agency. Their endorsement comes just days after the announcement that the Convergys call centre in Cornwallis will close, putting 300 people out of work.
"The board of directors of the Bridgetown and Area Chamber of Commerce urges all the municipal partners to work together to resolve the issues that have put (the agency) in the perilous position that it is in now," Bridgetown and Area Chamber of Commerce president Kirk Lycett said in a recent news release.
His statement comes a month after the Central Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce backed the regional development agency and called on its funding partners to resolve the issues threatening its existence.
The development agency was formed three years ago, following the dissolution of the former Western Valley Development Authority, which was also plagued by disputes between its funding partners.
Recently, Annapolis County and Annapolis Royal gave one-year notices in which they indicated they would be withdrawing their share of funding for the new agency because of a disagreement over priorities within the agency.
Noting the region has seen this sort of dispute among funding partners before during the demise of the Western Valley Development Authority, Lycett said local businesses do not want to see it happen again because the earlier dispute prevented the area from accessing provincial and federal funding for economic development.
Any future loss of government investment money would put "our already hard-pressed economy at a disadvantage when competing with other regions of the province and Atlantic Canada," …
9. REGIONALIZED: Communities sharing sewage costs of Chesapeake cleanup - Sun Gazette - Williamsport, PA, USA
Rivals in high school sports, Muncy and Montgomery are among the neighboring communities coming together in municipal regionalization plans.
It's not considered fun and games when ratepayers are involved, and sewer system administrators said the regionalization concept is being accepted by other communities striving to satisfy mandates of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup in a cost-effective manner.
… projects are designed to save the customers money, according to Eric Moore, county authority engineer …
"When we act regionally, we are acting so all parties benefit," Moore said. "We're doing it to share expenses."
He said grant applications have been submitted, but local administrators won't know until next month, at the earliest, if money is being awarded.
Moore said there's no way of escaping expenses federally enforced by the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, but he believes regionalizing lightens the load.
He said Muncy- and Montgomery-area household customers accustomed to paying around $50 monthly for sewer needs can expect to see their bill go up by about $20.
"The bill would be around $105 to $115 if we didn't regionalize," …
Weigle said the biggest challenge to getting the regionalization plans approved was teaching the virtues of regionalizing.
"The biggest issue is education," Weigle said. "It takes a long time to bring change, and the ratepayers and decision makers had to be informed about regionalization."
"Regionalization is a spectrum of items, not a single way of doing things," he said.
Moore said regionalizing present’s advantages to costs, manpower, ability to accept future growth and adapting to government regulations which could become even more stringent.
Another plus, according to Miller, is the communities bonding together.
"I think it gives communities a chance to bond," he said. "We have nice people on my board I may have never communicated with before."
Delicious Bookmarks: http://delicious.com/I.see.regions.work
10. U.S. Regional Communities - sub-State, State or multi-State - in news articles.
In this and section 11, links to websites of organizations are added to the news excerpt when this is the first time an organization has been found. A goal of this newsletter is to find every regional council in the U.S. in a news story, as well as recognizing other regional organizations. In most cases, where a full name is present, a Google search will quickly get one to that organization. News reports do not always get the organization name correct. Contents
.01 Bell: Met Council saw transit 'golden age' on my watch | Minnesota Public Radio News
Minnesota Public Radio - Saint Paul, MN, USA
A powerful layer of Twin Cities government that many voters have never heard of has a new chair. On Wednesday Gov.-elect Mark Dayton appointed Susan Haigh to replace Peter Bell as chair of the Metropolitan Council. Bell is the Met Council's longest serving chair, and the Republican appointee has overseen the completion of several major transit projects. The chair and sixteen other members of the Met Council are unelected; they serve at the pleasure of the governor. Incoming Chairwoman Susan Haigh said she doesn't favor an elected council but rather one which might include appointees who are also local elected officials. "A pure elected Met Council would be a Council in which it would become a mini legislature and I don't think we need that," she said. "We already have a legislature." ... Edina mayor Jim Hovland says Bell and the Met Council have encouraged local officials to rein in sprawl and accept higher density development. "I think what the Metropolitan Council has said if you want to take advantage of things like regional infrastructure, specifically waste water treatment, which is going to be a more and more challenging issue with respect with environmental requirements as time passes, you need to be developing at a certain level of density to make it worthwhile for us to able to get you on the regional system," he said. But sprawl remains a feature of Twin Cities growth. ...
.02 Regional leaders galvanize to save New Orleans NBA franchise
WWL-AM/FM - New Orleans, LA, USA
Today the regional business community will hold a meeting in efforts to keep the New Orleans Hornets in the city. The business community is actively engaged in the discussions to keep the franchise in the city. And they're absolutely committed to keeping the 200 million dollar impact from the team in the greater New Orleans area. Greg Rusovich, chairman of the Business Council of New Orleans says , "We are galvanized as a regional community, each parish, with each parish president and with our mayor and governor on putting together a fierce effort to maintain the Hornets." And according to the Associated Press, Hornets games will soon be available to tens of thousands of cable subscribers on the Northshore. ... Charter Communications reportedly will soon be adding Cox Sports Television to its lineup, CST, which broadcasts most Hornets games, has been unavailable to cable customers in Charter's territory, which includes more than 200,000 residents in St. Tammany Parish. The agreement comes as area business leaders and government officials are teaming up in hopes of securing the Hornets' longterm future in the city.
.03 Madison needs to embrace the future with a different mindset
The Paper - Madison, WI, USA
... Thrive, the regional development group, recently highlighted our woes, comparing the Madison area to five other college towns/state capitals (Lincoln, Neb.; Columbus, Ohio; Salem, Ore.; Columbia, S.C.; and Richmond, Va.). Four of the five experienced better job growth over the last decade, and four out of five had a higher percentage growth in new businesses. Equally telling was that Austin, Texas — another famously liberal and proudly eccentric town that Madison is often measured against — wasn't even on the list of comparable communities. That contrast would have been even more unflattering. Austin boasted the strongest job growth of the 10 American cities that Newsweek recently cited as best positioned to bounce back from the recession. Austin, it seems, demonstrates that a community can be staunchly liberal and pro-business at the same time. What can Madison do? First of all, economic development should be front and center in next spring's mayoral and county executive elections. The candidates need to be grilled on their philosophy and proposals. Yes, philosophy. Much of Madison's problem is attitudinal. For a whole host of venerable liberal reasons, Madison can be hellish on business. The problem, says business consultant Kay Plantes, is that too many Madisonians don't connect the dots. "They don't see the unintended consequences" of their good intentions. ...
.04 Editorial: Gov. Snyder, lawmakers should help cities share services and save money
The Detroit News - Detroit, MI, USA
Nearly bankrupt Hamtramck has been called the canary in the mine shaft- the test case watched by a lengthening line of Michigan communities worried about their own solvency. New Gov. Rick Snyder's promised reinvention of state government has to include the revision of antiquated laws that hamper efforts to make local government more efficient
The state simply has too many fiefdoms, too many wasting core cities and too little regionalism. "We ask everyone to act as individual communities," said Michigan Municipal League Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. He adds that local communities have little incentive or encouragement to explore regional solutions to their problems. ... Snyder has said he also wants to get communities to work toward "common goals." He plans to revise the workings of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. so it works more closely with regional development agencies. That's a good step. Local officials suggest the state further assist through strategic investment in regional infrastructure to promote growth, by revising the state's road-funding formula among other things. Gilmartin believes the state also should set up a better system for spotting troubled cities and stepping in before they become too distressed. ...
.05 Mon Valley Progress Council adopts '11 goals, elects officers
Valley Independent - Monongahela, PA, USA
The Mon Valley Progress Council begins 2011 with a restructured mission statement that emphasizes its ongoing...Smart Government initiative, but continues its core of leadership in advocating advancement of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and...promoting Valley businesses.
... The mission statement was approved ... four goals -- also adopted at the session -- feed off the mission statement:
1. Champion a...local and regional transportation system that efficiently connects communities and people with employment centers and area firms with markets and supply sources.
2. Support the development of a diverse economic base with unemployment levels no greater than the national rate....
3. Provide assistance to develop a workforce that meets the requirements of local firms and is an asset for the attraction of new firms to the region.
4. Foster programs that establish viable local communities that support a stable to growing population base.
... said Smart Government will be the most important goal of the council for 2011. In 2010, the council held nine meetings with local municipal officials to foster discussions on how to regionalize services. "That was a... real forum to discuss issues of regionalization," Kirk said. ...
.06 Guest Commentary: The Importance of Falls Church & the Region
Falls Church News-Press - Falls Church, VA, USA
Last week's favorable coverage of Falls Church City in light of the recent census rightly focused on our community's commitment to education and independent citizen-based government. Two other key factors should be emphasized - the importance of Falls Church City to the region and the importance of the region to Falls Church City. ... As with the rest of the region, Falls Church City and Fairfax County have had a long tradition of cooperation that has mutually benefited the citizens of both jurisdictions. That has recently changed for the worse, much worse. The current absence of high level cooperation between Fairfax County and Falls Church City, indeed outright hostility, is exacting an intolerable price in terms of lack of progress on important issues and waste of resources on unproductive litigation. This deplorable condition has largely come about as a result of the Fairfax County/ Falls Church City water dispute, where despite the City's long term provision of the highest quality water services on equal terms to City and County residents, relations between the two jurisdictions have deteriorated to the point of multiple lawsuits and the absence of meaningful policy level communication on virtually all issues of mutual concern. ... David Snyder is the Vice Mayor of the City of Falls Church. (Comments – 7) Snyder translator: "History is awesome. I support cooperation." Vacous warm puppy sentiments designed to offend no one and say nothing. YOU are responsible for raiding of the water fund to balance the city budget. YOU are responsible for threatening the county with higher rates. YOU voted to sue Fairfax Water Authority. YOU are the one who has been in position to build relationships and protect the city's interests. Instead, you have spent twenty years posing, pretending, and scheming about the most infantile matters. ...
.07 Plan for three PA municipalities
The River Reporter - Narrowsburg, NY, USA
After nearly two years of effort by a joint committee, officials of Honesdale Borough, Texas Township and Bethany Borough have approved a multi-municipal comprehensive plan, pledging to work together. ... The plan is in part a response to a the Commonwealth’s desire for its 67 municipalities to work together in certain limited areas. A multi-municipal comprehensive plan is a document developed by more than one municipality. The plan addresses a variety of community issues shared by neighboring towns such as land use, transportation, housing, natural and historic resources and community facilities and services. The rationale is that many of these concerns do not keep within defined boundaries but spill over into many communities. According to professional planners, the comprehensive plan is mainly a guide for future growth. In no way is it law and does not take away any sovereignty from a municipality. A town may choose to follow it or to not follow it. The agreement does not legally bind the participants to conform in any way, planners say. ...
.08 Regional dispatch center gets new name
The Keller Citizen - Keller, TX, USA
Calling 911 for an emergency will no longer result in a litany of city names as the initial response – “Keller, Southlake, Westlake, Colleyville 911, what’s your emergency?” The combined cities’ regional 911 center on Jan. 1 became known as Netcom, standing for the Northeast Tarrant Communications Center. Call takers are answering the phones with “Netcom 911,” according to a news release. “When answering a 911 call, time is of the essence,” said Keller Police Chief Mark Hafner last week. “When Colleyville came on board, saying Keller, Southlake, Westlake, Colleyville 911 became too much.” He also said that people who are calling 911 are not really listening to how the dispatcher answers the phone. They want to state their emergency to get help. Colleyville Police Chief Steve Dye said in an e-mail that the new name “reflects the spirit and purpose of the regional center – giving equal emphasis to all the partner cities in an efficient, streamlined manner.” ... Other benefits from the consolidation, according to the chiefs, have been reductions in costs and redundancies. “More importantly for the police chiefs,” the release states, “it also encourages a high level of cross-agency cooperation between ... respective police forces.” Another benefit is the shared radio channels, that provides “real-time communication between the cities, which increases the probability of criminal apprehensions, especially on city borders.” Dye has said that other communities have contacted the Netcom cities asking about regionalization of services. “I think Netcom will continue to be a model for combining efforts and resources,” he said.
.09 County to look at regionalization of services in coming year
The Turlock Journal - Turlock, CA, USA
The Journal asked Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa to look back at 2010 and ahead for 2011. The following is his perspectives on the county’s past and future.
Q. What successes did Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors have last year?
A. Despite a challenging year in terms of our fiscal resources, the Board of Supervisors has been successful in many endeavors. We have begun to implement pension reform with several of our bargaining groups, we have benefited from the formation of several partnerships, began the regionalization of fire services and completed construction of a regional animal services facility.
Q. If you could accomplish one realistic objective in 2011, what would it be?
A. As a county, I believe we will realize a regionalization of services between many agencies. It makes sense during downward times to pool our resources and make sure that we are not duplicating services.
.10 Shared-services plan is an old trick for raising taxes
nj.com - New Jersey, USA
Senate President Steve Sweeney is proposing towns should share services - or face the prospect of losing state aid. No, they shouldn't - unless they want to see their property taxes double overnight. The Democrats need to try some scams that are a bit less transparent. Everyone with an IQ over 10 knows that regionalization and shared services are a device to make homeowners in responsible, low-tax towns pick up the burden for the Democrats running irresponsible, high-tax towns. That's what happened to the residents of Loch Arbour last year, as I noted in the above link. They had made a deal with neighboring Ocean Township to share police and education services. ...
.11 Year was one of working together
The Natchez Democrat - Natchez, MS, USA
... Two things stand out as key, noteworthy news events in our community the occurred in 2010. Both will have impact long after 2010 is just a memory — if we’re smart enough to keep the initiatives going with our support. Interestingly, both involve something that our community has long been criticized as being incapable of doing — working together. First, while history will be the ultimate judge on its long-term success, 2010 appears to be the year when Natchez and Adams County stepped up and got serious about economic development with the formation of Natchez Inc. ... Second, regionalism, long a buzzword, but rarely a reality, took hold and started seeing real progress in 2010. Early meetings began last year, but in 2010, those formational meetings began getting focused as committees were formed. Each committee focused on a different aspect of our community. Similar to the economic development work, our community’s regionalism effort shows that our community can work together. Among the most amazing accomplishments of the regionalism committees is among the most simple, but powerful — bringing people from different walks of life or different business interests to talk with one another. We all, obviously, have more in common than we have differences. That’s a powerful lesson that we appear to have learned, at least a little in 2010. Let’s hope we never forget that lesson, instead building on it into the future.
.12 A complete street or a sidewalk to nowhere?
City Pulse - Lansing, MI, USA
Veteran political analyst Bill Ballenger sits in the living room of his Waverly Road house, the first house north of the bridge over the Grand River in Lansing Township. Outside of his living room window, there is controversy brewing about whether the city and Lansing Township should undergo a $1.3 million sidewalk project. He thinks Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is trying to destroy a portion of this property for little more than political points. ... “People around here are stupefied about why you’d want to spend that much for this project,” Ballenger said. “He’s selling it on the basis of public safety. That idea is manufactured. If he wants to do it (Complete Streets), fine — but do it in your own backyard.” ... Bernero trumpets the project as cooperative regionalism and a commitment to Complete Streets policies. Costs would be split between the city and the township, and project approval rests with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, which covers Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties. ... “My point of view as a health-seeker is that it would be beneficial, as well as important for public safety,” she said. Quintero adds that she is not bothered by Bernero coming out to the township to lobby for it. But she pauses at the $1.3 million price tag — “I don’t know about that,” ...
.13 'A team effort' New chairman emphasizes Montgomery 'Area' Chamber of Commerce
Montgomery Advertiser - Montgomery, AL, USA
When Hyundai Heavy Industries announced earlier this year that it was building a plant and bringing 500 new jobs to Montgomery, it wasn't just the Capital City that celebrated. And it wasn't just Montgomery economic developers who lured the $90 million plant here. Greenville, Prattville and Elmore County also contributed to the incentive package. The successful courting of HHI is an example of the regionalism that Larry Puckett, the 2011 Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors chairman, said must continue in order for the River Region to achieve more economic growth and an all-around better way of life for residents. Puckett was introduced last week at the chamber's annual meeting as the "first regional" chairman of the board -- the first to live outside Montgomery. But Puckett's not getting caught up in the geography." The key word is "area," he said last week in his office at the Prattville Chevrolet dealership he's owned for 28 years. "When new people or companies come to the area, they don't necessarily know where Montgomery ends and Prattville or Millbrook begin. They don't know where the boundaries are -- and they don't care." Economic development is a team sport, he said. "I think the cities that are successful are the ones that have embraced regionalism," he said. He cites as an example Austin, Texas, visited by a chamber delegation last month to glean economic growth ideas. ...
.14 Transit agencies looking at partnerships as state pushes for more regionalism
Kalamazoo Gazette - Kalamazoo, MI, USA
County transit systems across Southwest Michigan have set the stage for future partnerships. But so far, the agencies aren’t combining services or giving rides to people in other counties, said Bill Schomisch, executive director of Kalamazoo Metro Transit. “There’s nothing on the table right now,” Schomisch said. Kalamazoo Metro Transit has agreements with counterpart organizations in Allegan, Van Buren, Cass, Barry, Berrien, Branch, St. Joseph and Calhoun counties, which allows its vehicle to cross into those counties and vice versa, Schomisch said. State law prevents transit organizations from crossing county lines without an agreement. The latest agreement, with Battle Creek Transit, was approved Dec. 20 by the Kalamazoo City Commission. Battle Creek’s city commission approved the measure Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Transportation “is pushing regionalism” among county transit authorities, he said. And there may be opportunities in the future to provide better service at lower costs through partnerships. ...
.15 Governor's school evolves
Martinsville Bulletin - Martinsville, VA, USA
In 11 years, the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science & Technology has grown from an idea to a community of learners. The school serves 132 high school juniors and seniors from the Henry County, Patrick County, Martinsville, Danville and Pittsylvania County schools. The courses focus on foundational concepts and theories, hands-on activities, project-based learning, cooperative group work, and interdisciplinary experiences in math, science and technology. The planning for the school began 11 years ago when Danville City and Pittsylvania County Schools were part of the Governor’s School for Global Economics and Technology. Henry County Schools later became interested in the model. ... The school, designed for gifted, highly motivated and high-achieving 11th- and 12th-graders, hosts students from five school divisions. ... On an alternating block system, students attend two classes two times a week, after which they return to their base schools and continue academic instruction there. This allows students to be part of a regional community of learners while also participating in the classes, experiences and extra-curricular activities at their base schools. ...
.16 Council to Consider Push for Regionalization
St.Clair Shores Patch - St.Clair Shores, MI, USA
St. Clair Shores City Council may be joining other communities in calling for a regionalization of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department following recent federal indictments of department personnel. Councilman Kip Walby asked Monday for a letter to be drafted that would be sent to incoming county executive Mark Hackel requesting he join other suburban leaders in pushing for regional authority of the department. "It's a disgrace and has been for a long time, and it sure seems like now is an opportunity to try to push along to get some regional authority in there so that we all have a participation," said Walby. ...
.17 Trends in 2010: Regionalization in EMS
EMS1.com - USA
It's been an exciting year for emergency cardiac care. The American Heart Association came out with the new policy statement on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in January  and the 2010 AHA ECC Guidelines were published in October.  Whether we're talking about STEMI, cardiac arrest, or stroke, a common theme that I see emerging is an emphasis on regional systems of care. This should seem obvious to prehospital professionals. After all, the 'S' in EMS stands for "System." But the unfortunate reality is that health care in the United States is extremely fractured and "EMS" is often delivered within a non-system. … Having witnessed the growing pains within my own STEMI system and now participating on EMS Advisory Committee of the SC Chapter of AHA Mission: Lifeline, I can tell you that "getting the team together" was (and is) the most difficult part. … As more states like South Carolina follow the lead of regional STEMI systems like the ones in Southern California, Minnesota, the RACE program in North Carolina, and others  we see that EMS has a critical role both in triaging patients to the most appropriate facility (which is often not the closest) and early notification so that hospitals can call in the appropriate assets while the patient is still in the field. … That, in a nutshell, is a regional system of care. ...
.18 SourceOne Wins Contract to Perform Energy Services for Six Municipalities in Connecticut
Veolia Energy North America, a leading operator and developer of sustainable energy systems, announced that SourceOne, its energy management and advisory services subsidiary, has been selected to perform energy services on behalf of six Connecticut municipalities: Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and Westbrook. The overall goal of this effort is to achieve energy savings of at least 5 percent across all six communities, with an emphasis on projects that involve regional cooperation and savings. The six towns developed a regional energy commission and jointly applied for and received a $250,000 grant from the State Office of Policy and Management. ... The scope of the energy services delivered will include energy audits, renewable energy assessments, procurement review and assistance, grant/incentive research, short and long term energy conservation projects, and project planning. ...
.19 Clean Wisconsin: Group releases recommendations to cut pollution
WisBusiness.com - Madison, WI, USA
After more than a year of meetings and studies, the Midwestern Governors Association's (MGA) Low Carbon Fuel Advisory Group has released a report detailing a regionally coordinated cleaner fuels policy. These recommendations are designed to lower pollution in transportation fuels. “The MGA report shows that cleaner fuel policies can be developed in ways that take advantage of our region’s economic and natural resource strengths and move Wisconsin away from the fossil fuels we import to our state at a cost of $13 billion a year,” says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director, Clean Wisconsin. While California and other states have already adopted similar policies, these recommendations differ in key respects. For example, they propose to measure greenhouse gas emissions for transportation fuels in a way that does not penalize the use of food-based crops for fuel, such as corn ethanol. A decision on evaluating potential market effects of food-based crops would be delayed until there is greater scientific consensus. The Midwest is the leading producer of corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel, both of which can contribute to cuts in carbon pollution. ... Some proposals were recommended for state or region-wide action, but the Advisory Group made recommendations for federal policymakers as well. The Advisory Group included state policymakers, business leaders, including the oil and gas industries, academic researchers and environmental groups. ... The complete report is available at http://www.midwesterngovernors.org/publications.htm
.20 Airport Signs On With MPO
Times Record - Fort Smith, AR, USA
The Fort Smith Regional Airport on Tuesday became the ninth entity to join the reorganizing Metropolitan Planning Organization. Tim Conklin, director of the Bi-State MPO, told the Airport Commission during its meeting that the MPO has about 29 members and will shrink to 18 under the new arrangement. The MPO is required by federal law to bring together planners and engineers to develop long-range ground-level transportation plans for the region. Member communities meet periodically to develop those plans. The smaller makeup, which is based on population growth projections in the bi-state four-county area, should help resolve the problem of attaining a quorum at meetings, which has been an issue in the past, Conklin said. The group will be renamed the Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization. Before the airport signed on, Conklin had obtained membership agreements from Crawford, LeFlore and Sequoyah counties as well as the cities of Alma, Fort Smith, Lavaca, Van Buren and Pocola. ...
.21 Editorial: Toward a better future
Pensacola News Journal – Pensacola, FL, USA
We hope. No, expect. This Jan. 1, we believe things are looking up for Pensacola and Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. ... We weathered what could have been a death blow — a catastrophic oil spill that upped the ante on "worst-case scenario." The spill closed our beaches, but didn't deliver the feared knock-out blow. But it did raise the focus on the need for economic development that brings better jobs with higher wages. Call centers fill a need, but you don't build a stronger economy on their backs ... for that we need the good jobs that employ an educated workforce. And we are seeing a new commitment to regional development that makes partners out of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. ...
.22 New Hanover lays off cop to avoid raising property tax
The Mercury - Pottstown, PA, USA
Township taxpayers will enjoy another year without a tax increase in 2011 — but this time it comes at a cost — a cost paid by the township's newest police officer. Township Manager Ed Wagner confirmed last week that the $6.1 million preliminary budget was adopted by the board of supervisors Nov. 8 and that it represents at least 15 years that the township has not raised property taxes. "The time is not right for that," Wagner said of raising taxes during the nation's and region's economic doldrums. One of the ways the budget prevents a tax hike is by cutting expenses and one way the township cut expenses this month is by laying off officer Bradley Shup, one of the township's nine police officers. Wagner confirmed the lay off was "for budgetary reasons." ...
.23 Nine Leading Cities and Counties Selected to Help Design Revolutionary Sustainability Performance Management Online Platform for STAR
ICLEI - Press Release - Washington, DC, USA
The STAR Community Index ™ (STAR), a groundbreaking sustainability rating system and performance management tool, today marked a major step forward with the selection of nine cities and counties that will play a primary role in defining how STAR will help local governments measure and improve their sustainability performance. STAR will transform and accelerate the local sustainability movement by offering cities and counties a roadmap for advancing climate protection, economic recovery and equal opportunities for all residents within a community. The following nine cities and counties were selected as STAR “Beta Communities”: Atlanta, GA; Boulder, CO; Chattanooga, TN; Cranberry Township, PA; Des Moines, IA; King County, WA; New York, NY; St. Louis, MO; Washington, DC. ...
11. Other Regional Community News for Our Local Planet Contents
.01 Oil shortages could turn outer suburbs into slums
The Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney, NSW, Australia
AUSTRALIA will be forced to rely on huge quantities of imported oil unless it radically overhauls its transport and urban policies, according to a study by the Planning Institute of Australia. It warns that without urgent national action the trade deficit will spiral and many outer suburbs will become slums. The study comprises a series of papers in the latest edition of the journal Australian Planner. One of the authors, Professor Peter Newman of Curtin University, who is also an adviser to the federal government, said the most compelling finding was that ''urban sprawl is finished''. ''If we continue to roll out new land [releases] and suburbs that are car dependent, they will become the slums of the future,'' he said. Professor Newman, who serves on the board of the federal agency Infrastructure Australia, has begun briefing the Council of Australian Governments on the need to test all future urban development against the potential for an oil shortage. He said every state should duplicate a Queensland law that requires local councils to conduct an ''oil dependence study'' when approving new developments. ... ''For metropolitan planners who are tasked with ensuring cities are resilient to future threats of all kinds, the mitigation of oil vulnerability should be a major planning concern.'' Professor Newman said the cost of building public transport to remote suburbs on the urban fringe would ultimately become prohibitive, and Australian policymakers were ''about 30 years behind the times'' in wrestling with the problem. ...
Planning Institue Australia - http://www.planning.org.au/news/journals
.02 Radical planning reform: the localism experiment begins!
Lexology - Associatoin of Corporate Counsel – UK
Summary and implications
The Decentralisation and Localism Bill 2010 published this week represents the first step in an ideological reform of our planning system. It proposes powers to remove strategic planning controls over local authorities and communities and hand them significant powers to drive forward, or block, development. The bill is expected to pass into law in 2012 and the main challenges to be faced by different stakeholder groups will be:
* Government – to enact the legislation without significant objection and changes.
* Developers – to actively and effectively engage local communities early on to establish a cooperative environment. Otherwise local communities may use the new procedures to seek to block developments.
* Local authorities – how will authorities resource and manage the changes given their increased autonomy but reduced budgets?
* Local communities – whether they will use the powers to drive forward beneficial development where it is needed, rather than to block it. Further delay and uncertainty is a significant risk from past experience.
Abolition of regional strategies
Regional strategies currently form part of the development plan against which planning applications are assessed. Other development plan documents must also be in general conformity with regional strategies. They set strategic targets for development (for example residential and retail) within the regions. They are to be abolished.
This is an area that has given rise to recent litigation (the Cala Homes case) because the revocation of the regional strategies would remove regionally imposed targets for removing housing numbers and locations. The concern for the likes of Cala Homes is that this will lead to resistance from local authorities and communities to new housing where the pressure for delivery is greatest. We agree and there is already evidence that authorities are shutting off discussions with developers on major housing schemes in anticipation of their release from the regional requirements. The challenge following abolition of the regional strategies will also be whether:
* Coherent and coordinated planning results at a regional and national level.
* An adequate supply of housing can be provided where it is needed. A failure to deliver is likely to result in upward pressure on house prices in the medium to long term.
Duty on authorities to cooperate with each other
The Government sees this new duty (together with incentives such as a new homes bonus and business rates) as a key element for strategic working once regional strategies are abolished.
.03 Localism vs regionalism debate set to rage in 2011
Insider News - UK
The debate on the merits of localism over regionalism is sure to continue into 2011. In December, communities secretary Eric Pickles pushed his Localism Bill through parliament that seeks to shift power from central government “back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils”. Concerns have been raised particularly in relation to changes to in the way planning applications receive permission. Critics fear the move towards localism could lead to fewer major projects receiving planning permission as communities seek to protect their backyards. “The government has to perform a delicate balancing act between promoting greater community engagement and unleashing nimbyist tendencies that could hold back economic growth,” said Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF. ...
.04 Regional planning underway
Cochrane Eagle - Cocharne, Alberta, CA
An official with the provincial government says regional planning is currently working to establish a balance between population growth, water supply and land conservation across Alberta. ... significant lack of knowledge about groundwater resources. “We do not know much about quantity,” ... “There is no clear indication of the limits.” ... After the demise of regional planning in 1994, the goal of regional planning was rekindled with the creation of the Land-use Framework in 2008 and the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) created in 2009, which is the legal authority to implement the framework. The province was divided in seven regions, each to be provided with regional plans. The Lower Athabasca region near Fort McMurray and the South Saskatchewan region encompassing the southern tip of the province, including the Calgary region, were the two priority regions in which regional advisory councils were formed to create the first two regional plans. A 19-member regional advisory council (RAC) for the South Saskatchewan region was formed in 2009 to provide advice for the creation of a draft regional plan, for approval by Cabinet. ...
.05 Business urged to buy local and boost regional recovery
Yorkshire Post - Yorkshire, UK
Business leaders and advisers are have issued a call for firms to "buy locally" to help Yorkshire companies grow. Experts from the Confederation of British Industry, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber and accountants Deloitte met last week to discuss procurement policies to benefit local and regional manufacturing businesses. Andrew Palmer of the CBI said: "Never before has there been more reason to buy British, and from within the region if at all possible. The growth of the economy and future job creation could be given a massive boost by even a small increase in the percentage of goods sourced here, and we are urging firms to invest time in refreshing supplier databases to try and find new trading relationships here in the region." ...
.06 Regional academy new era for sport
The Morning Bulletin - Rockhampton QLD, Australia
ROCKHAMPTON is continuing on its way to becoming Australia’s premier regional sporting centre. ... The organisation will form a regional education, vocation and sport academy, to be based in Rockhampton, which will foster a new era for sport and community cohesion in Central Queensland
. While the focus will be on developing NRL players, the resources will be available to all promising young sportspeople. An NRL team in Central Queensland will run independently of the academy, but bid chairman Geoff Murphy has indicated that it would be ideal if both worked together. “We see that as a very important component. Mind you, it is not essential,” Murphy said. ... The initiative is not only about developing rugby league in the region, but more about developing all-round sporting stars. “We see it as a very important function for Central Queensland more than necessarily for the NRL bid, even though it will be advantageous,” Murphy said. ...
.07 Australia awarded new wine appellation
Harpers Wine & Spirit - West Sussex, UK
Mount Gambier has been recognised as South Australia's newest wine appellation. ... The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation has given the official nod, following several years of consultation, after local winemakers applied to have the area recognised. It means winemakers can now label their wine more regionally, where previously the Limestone Coast designation included only Coonawarra, Robe and Padthaway. The Mount Gambier Regional Winegrowers Association was formed in June 2003 under the commonwealth government regional assistance programme. It enabled the members to become an incorporated body with a constitution and established an initial marketing plan for the region. http://www.mountgambierwines.com/
.08 How co-operation can stop babies crying
nebusiness - Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
... Nurture programme is a collaborative research and development scheme set up by Northumbria University. It is co-funded by the university, One North East and the European Regional Development Fund, and handled by the university’s Centre for Design Research. Nurture offers small and medium-sized business the chance to realise their ideas for products in the health and wellbeing market by dealing with the product research and helping with prototyping. Typically, a client who successfully applies for the programme will explain the concept to the programme team, who will go away and conduct a feasibility study for the project including tasks such as observational research and market evaluation. While this stage is fully funded by the programme, the client will provide an increasing proportion of the funding as the product passes through phases such as concept generation, concept development, prototype specification, prototyping and production specification. While the Sleep Sling prototypes were mocked up in-house in the Centre for Design Research, Nurture often employs the services of companies such as e3d, Newcastle’s RCID, Amtech, Paragon and the Business and Innovation Centre for specialist design services and prototyping. ...
.09 Region seems to have lost it's creative spark
nebusiness - Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
THE North East – a region which gave the world the electric light bulb, the safety match and the steam engine – seems to have lost its creative spark, with new figures showing that it has slumped well below the national average when it comes to dreaming up new inventions.
A report from the European Patent Office (EPO) shows that there were just 68 European patent applications filed in the North East for 2009, compared with 210 in Yorkshire and the Humber, 500 in the North West, 526 in East England and 263 in the West Midlands. ... “Very few companies in the North East have a mechanism in place to protect their innovations, and there’s no doubt that this has a detrimental effect on the regional economy.” ... “Bodies such as One North East have provided such fantastic support to creative individuals in this region. “However, as a result of the spending cuts, it looks as though inventors will be given less support to help them get their ideas to market.” ...
.10 Belgium makes place for urban enterprises
EurActiv.com – Brussels, Belgium
The city of Liège in the south-east of Belgium is making place for small businesses to grow their activities as part of a long-term strategy to revive the economic life of urban areas, using money from the EU. ... Pieper is the name of a business park in the St. Leonard district, only 2km from the centre of Liège, next to the banks of the Meuse river. The park is on a former industrial site, which was cleaned-up and made ready for the arrival of new businesses, with all the necessary infrastructure including a new road. The financial costs of cleaning-up the site were covered with a grant of €96,377 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and an equivalent amount from the regional government of Wallonia. The Pieper site has been divided into 10 plots. At the end of 2010, five of these plots had already been sold to small businesses including: a heating and ventilation company, an electrician, a furniture maker, a glazier and window-maker, and a company specialising in the installation of solar panels. ... "These are activities which don’t cause problems for local residents, and so they are compatible with the urban environment: not making too much traffic or too much noise," explains Frédéric Van Vlodorp of the economic development agency for the province of Liège (SPI+). The agency has established more than 50 business parks throughout the province, working in partnership with municipal councils and the regional government of Wallonia. ...
.11 Local govts key to emigration governance
The Jakarta Post - Jakarta, Indonesia
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians go overseas to work. The National Agency of Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) recorded that in 2009 748,825 people went overseas to work, three quarters of them women. ... Due to the complex nature of emigration, good governance is a must. For one thing, we are sending a huge number of female laborers to do the “3 Ds” (dirty, difficult, dangerous) types of work. For another thing, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are the two biggest destination countries of Indonesian workers; both are not open in terms of handling human rights issues and with them the government has not been able to draft a bilateral agreement. Without good governance, Indonesia can fall into the trap of endorsing forced labor or people trafficking. ... The context of decentralization has given room to local governments’ initiative to fill in the existing policy gaps. For example, protection mechanisms have been missing from national policy frameworks and hence can be the area where the local governments intervene. Good practices in emigration governance have been demonstrated by some regions. West Lombok and Blitar regencies are among a few regions that have broken new ground by establishing the migrant protection commission (the forthcoming SMERU). These local initiatives need to be learned by other migrant-source regions. ...
.12 The hidden cost of giveaways is too high
News Letter - Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
THE Executive's Christmas present to us all has been a deferral of water charges until 2014, saving every household in the land £400 a year. But don't get too excited. The bad news is that we have to pay for it ourselves, and, like a maxed out credit card, it is likely to cost far more in the long run. In fact, we could end up paying nearly twice as much as we save. The catch in deferring water charges was pointed out by the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland (ERINI) in a paper issued in February 2009, and it is due to kick in next year. Victor Hewitt, of ERINI, did the sums and nobody has questioned his figures. The first, and most obvious, cost is £500 million a year – the subsidy that has to be given to Northern Ireland Water, a supposedly self-financing company. The additional hidden cost is £400 million in capital charges. These occur because, since NI Water is no longer self-financing, it is added into the resources of the Department of Regional Development by the Treasury and counts against the Executive's budget. Gordon Brown agreed to waive this penalty for two years, but that deal runs out in 2011. ... Mainland tax payers, who have to pay water charges themselves, already subsidise our GDP by about a third so it is hard to make a case for them to subsidise tax breaks for Northern Ireland which they are denied. In fact any approach to the Treasury for special consideration is weakened by the fact that we are refusing to raise revenue locally. This was the unpalatable reality spelt out by John McCallister on the Nolan show last week. "You have to look at the options" he said. "You have to raise money in some form. We can't just say 'we want more, we want more and we don't want to pay for it. ...
.13 Tunisia: The battle of Sidi Bouzid
...The models of development and distribution applied to the country’s coastal and northern cities, towns and suburbs are nowhere to be seen in the centre or the south. The riots of Sidi Bouzid and surrounding towns call into question years of uneven development and mis-distribution. They challenge policy-makers to rethink redistributive justice and regional development urgently. But today the notion of ‘total state’ and ‘total politics’ may not be apt for successful social engineering and re-distribution. Total control can translate into loss of control. The signs are there. From the central phosphates Basin towns via Sidi Bouzid to Ben Guerdane, the cracks on the current developmental model are showing. ...
.14 Shark sanctuaries needed in the Gulf, expert says: Conservation requires action at regional policy level
Gulf News - Abu Dhabi, UAE
Because of the threat of extinction facing sharks globally, there is an extremely urgent need for the waters of the Gulf to be allocated as shark sanctuaries, an international marine expert told Gulf News. About 25 species of shark inhabit the Gulf waters, and if the current rate of global overfishing continues, there could be disastrous effects on the ecosystem, said Liz Mclellan, manager of species programme at the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) International. "Sharks are the top predators in most marine ecosystems. A drastic reduction in their numbers therefore threatens the health of many other species too. In the waters of the Gulf for example, decreasing numbers of reef sharks, which are already pressured, could compromise the health of coral reefs," Mclellan said. ... in addition to harming the local ecosystem, shark overfishing could also harm the economies of various communities. "In the North Atlantic, shark overfishing led to an abundance of rays, which then predated on the scallops that the local population used to fish for their livelihoods," she said. "We therefore need action at the policy level by regional governments so that these waters can be converted into shark sanctuaries. None of the Gulf countries have signed the international Convention of Migratory Species agreement for shark conservation, and this could be an important step," she added. ...
.15 ‘Stink-free’ dump yard in Mumbai by 2013
Daily News and Analysis - Mumbai, India
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has called for global expression of interests for a scientifically developed ‘regional landfill site’, which should be ready by 2013 in Taloja. The site will provide scientific solution to the tonnes of garbage that Mumbai generates, and create products such as compost, bio-fuel and even electricity. MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar said that the last date for submitting the expressions is February 1, 2011. “Global experts in setting up and running such sites have already shown keen interest in setting up a first of its kind such site for MMR,” said Kawathkar. “On a landfill site, the garbage is scientifically segregated and then disposed. Use of chemicals and other material makes sure there is no odour on such sites.”
.16 Industry welcomes saleyard funding
Farm Weekly - Victoria Park, Western Australia
... "The livestock industries are a key part of the regional WA economy and saleyards continue to be a trading hub for producers, restockers, agents, processors, transporters and exporters," Mr Barnett said. "The livestock industry and the regional community have been calling for improvements to the State's regional saleyards for many years. "The Liberal-National Government has listened and taken concerted action to ensure this industry has modern and efficient infrastructure and facilities to enable its growth and prosperity."
Those new saleyards will be located on the outskirts of town near the refuse site, on greenfields land that had been used by the Agriculture and Food Department. ...
.17 West still well placed for growth
Donegal Democrat - Donegal, Ireland
The Western Region is well placed to achieve strong future growth, thanks to the investments of recent years and its educated and skilled workforce. In order to optimise that potential, not only for the good of the region but for national growth and recovery, continued improvements in infrastructure, innovation and the ‘3Es' (enterprise, employment and education) are vital. Gillian Buckley, Acting Chief Executive and Investment Manager of the Western Development Commission [http://www.wdc.ie/] said: "We wanted to look at how the recession has impacted on the region and how this compared with other parts of the country. But more importantly we wanted to examine how the region is positioned for future growth, specifically in those critical areas that will unlock its growth potential." The Briefing reiterates that infrastructure is a fundamental building block for regional development. Despite very substantial improvements in the past decade the Western Region continues to lag the rest of the state. ...
.18 Peace does not mean reconciliation
Today's Zaman - Istanbul, Turkey
As this year comes to a close, it has brought the Balkans some relief from high political tension and confrontations that have gripped the region for the past two decades. Considering the damage caused by heavy flooding in many parts of the region, there were far more natural disasters than political disturbances. ... 2010 saw more summits, conferences and visits by the highest of officials than any of the last 20 years. Regional cooperation, normalization, understanding, tolerance, apologies and forgiveness were their common denominators, but the most repeated one was reconciliation. ... Dr. Mitja Zagar from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, concludes that “reconciliation in the region does not exist” and that “it is not even spelled out and accepted as a realistic goal.” Regarding the causes and roots of recent historical events that need a process of reconciliation, he says that “these events should not be forgotten, but should be considered important lessons that could contribute to the prevention of such and/or similar events in the future.” In a similar, but simpler way, rapporteur Marcenaro, when asked “Is reconciliation possible within the region after all the horrors of the 1990s?” replied, “It is possible not only due to all those horrors, but exactly because of them.” I borrowed the title for this review of actual regional reconciliatory initiatives, “Peace does not mean reconciliation,” from a statement by Sonja Biserko, a prominent Serbian activist for human rights, because the real political situation in the Balkans might be summarized thereby. There is peace, but such a peace is fragile and unstable until it catches up with the level of reconciliation. And the region, as we have seen, has yet to reach it.
12. Blogging about Regional Communities Contents
.01 Regional Stewardship Strategies: Grassroots Economic Response in California
Faced with 12 percent unemployment and a $26 billion budget deficit, California offers a perfect storm of economic disruption and public paralysis. This is the product of not only the national financial meltdown, but also a self-imposed governance crisis caused by years of ballot box initiatives as well as budget overruns. However, below the chaotic surface, the grassroots has been active in responding to this dual economic and governance crisis. The seeds were actually planted in the 1990s during an earlier economic downturn. In regions as diverse as Silicon Valley and the Sierra Nevada, new collaborations of business, government and community leaders were launched to address complex challenges spanning multiple political jurisdictions. ... In 2008, the Morgan Family Foundation launched the California Stewardship Network as a civic venture, investing $ 1.5 million over 2 years in matching grants to 10 economic regions that agreed to focus on breakthroughs led by stewardship teams composed of business, community and government civic entrepreneurs. Stewardship is defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to us. The network focuses on “stewardship of place” — which requires simultaneous attention to the economic, environmental and social dimensions of the region. Or simply put, stewardship equals personal responsibility for community-wide well-being, not advocacy of one interest over another. While each regional team has developed its own stewardship strategy, all share a common approach. Typically, these strategies are (1) data-driven, (2) based on economic regions and industry clusters, (3) successful in sustaining the engagement of business, (4) effective at integrating economic, social, and environmental considerations, and (5) innovative in their approach to public-private partnerships in implementation. ...
.02 Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves
You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through “user fees” — a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls — whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments.
The myth of the self-financed road meets its match today in the form of a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group: “Do Roads Pay For Themselves?” The answer is a resounding “no.” All told, the authors calculate that road construction has sucked $600 billion out of America’s public purse since the dawn of the interstate system. ... Comment ... I think it was Thoreau who figured that it was quicker to walk from the city to Walden Pond than to earn the money required for a train trip. It’s an interesting take on the situation. The local road issue is a very difficult one to crack, since the cost for those gets thrown into the tax blender. Storm sewers can be very expensive too, and they are mostly for draining roads. What tends to get lost in the discussion is just how expensive roads really are. ... The big disconnect is what we’re actually getting for all these projects now. The low-hanging fruit of good road and highway projects was pretty well all picked by the mid 1970s. Now we’re spending billions of dollars just to save a few minutes, or even just seconds of time, to get somewhere that’s not even worth going to. We’re long into the zone of diminishing returns on more highway expansion. It could even be argued that we’ve gone into negative returns, especially in regions that aren’t growing but continue to build more roads and highways that only serve to shift the existing population rather than accommodate real growth. ...
.03 Free Trade for Me, But Not for Thee
This post is about globalization, not cities per se, but as globalization is one of the most salient forces facing our urban regions, it is relevant. A friend and I have been having a discussion/debate for some months now about whether globalization was natural product of the evolving world geo-political or a deliberate construct promoted by those who profit from it, principally corporations and people with bigtime money who’ve used it to rig the system in their favor. I think there’s merit in both views. Clearly, those at the top of the top of the heap have been able to use their clout and “too big to fail” status to socialize away the risk of their ways – the bailouts prove that – and are profiting enormously from the system, as richly illustrated by a recent Atlantic Monthly piece, The Rise of the New Global Elite. ...
.04 Research finds regional dialects are alive and well on Twitter
Microbloggers may think they're interacting in one big Twitterverse, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science find that regional slang and dialects are as evident in tweets as they are in everyday conversations. Postings on Twitter reflect some well-known regionalisms, such as Southerners' "y'all," and Pittsburghers' "yinz," and the usual regional divides in references to soda, pop and Coke. But Jacob Eisenstein, a post-doctoral fellow in CMU's Machine Learning Department, said the automated method he and his colleagues have developed for analyzing Twitter word use shows that regional dialects appear to be evolving within social media ...Eisenstein will present the study on Jan. 8 at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Pittsburgh. The paper is available online at http://people.csail.mit.edu/jacobe/papers/emnlp2010.pdf. Studies of regional dialects traditionally have been based primarily on oral interviews, Eisenstein said, noting that written communication often is less reflective of regional influences because writing, even in blogs, tends to be formal and thus homogenized. But Twitter offers a new way of studying regional lexicon, he explained, because tweets are informal and conversational. Furthermore, people who tweet using mobile phones have the option of geotagging their messages with GPS coordinates. ...
13. Announcements and Regional Links. Contents
The deadline is fast approaching! Only abstracts received by January 31, 2011 will be considered in the preliminary program. Send the abstract or a proposed session to Program Chair Doug Woodward (University of South Carolina) by going to http://conferences.rri.wvu.edu/index.php/SRSA/index
If you have questions, please contact the SRSA organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow the SRSA meeting by joining the group on Facebook
.02 “Collaborators and Competitors: Understanding the Connections Between Canadian, American and Mexican West Coast Ports and Gateway Regions” - March 3, 2011 - The Center for International Trade and Transportation at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)
Representatives from the goods movement industry, local communities, governmental stakeholders, and researchers will explore the common trends that influence the economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability of Canadian, U.S. and Mexican Pacific Port Gateway Regions, as well as the unique pressures that drive policy making at the national, state/provincial, and local levels. Session topics include:
* Implications of Trade Trends on the North American West Coast
* Cross Border Issues (Land, Air, and Sea)
* Environmental Policy Making
* Technology and Innovation at U.S., Canadian and Mexican Ports
.03 Regional Geographic Conference - International Geographic Union - 2011 - November 14 - 18 - Santiago, Chile
For the first time Chile is set to host a Regional Geographic Conference (UGI 2011). In November 2011 we will receive geographers and those professionals involved with the geo-sciences at an occasion enabling a gathering for science and friendship in relation to geography.
Deadline for submitting abstracts for papers and posters: 10 March 2011
.04 Public Policy Checklist: Intermediaries - Beyond Intractability.org - Boulder, CO, USA
Beyond Intractability checklists offer users involved in various conflict situations lists of things to think about, along with links to sections of Beyond Intractability that relate to each item. Intermediaries working on public policy conflicts might want to consider the following questions.
* Identify Stakeholders / Interest Groups
Have you identified the many interest or stakeholder groups (as well as individuals) who are likely to become involved?
For more information about this topic, see: Parties to Intractable Conflict, Disputants, Leaders, Stakeholder Representatives
* Clarify Goals
Are you clear about the parties' underlying goals and interests?
For more information about this topic, see: Setting Goals, Interests, Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining, Distributive Bargaining, Positional Bargaining, Creating and Claiming Value, Underlying Causes of Intractable Conflict, Frames, Framing, and Reframing
* Determine the Conflict Stage
Is the conflict latent, developing, or fully escalated? Has it become intractable? Is the conflict ripe for resolution, or do the parties involved feel it is in their best interest to continue with the status quo?
For more information about this topic, see: Conflict Stages, Nature of Intractability, Ripeness
Do you understand the history of this conflict, including the underlying issues that led to it?
For more information on this topic, see: Underlying Causes of Conflict
* Unrightable Wrongs
Does the conflict involve a history of unrightable wrongs? Are you aware of options for transforming such conflicts?
Conflict Information Consortium - A Comprehensive Gateway to Consortium Websites - http://conflict.colorado.edu/
14. Financial Crisis. Contents
.01 The Fallacy of a Pain-Free Path to a Healthy Housing Market
Economic Letter—Insights from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Dallas, TX, USA
In the mid-1990s, the public policy goal of increasing the U.S. homeownership rate collided with a huge leap in financial innovation. Lenders shifted from originating and holding mortgages to originating and packaging them for sale to investors. These new financial products enabled millions of Americans who hadn’t previously qualified to buy a home to become owners. Housing construction boomed, reaching a postwar high—9.1 million homes were built between 2002 and 2006, a period when 5.6 million U.S. households were formed.
The resulting oversupply of homes presents policymakers with a formidable challenge as they struggle to craft a sustainable economic recovery. Usually a driver of economic recoveries, the housing market is foundering as an engine of growth.
Generations of policymakers since the 1930s have sought to increase the homeownership rate. By the late 1960s, it had reached 64.3 percent of households, remaining there through the mid-1990s, in apparent equilibrium with household formation during a period of sustained U.S. economic growth. A fresh push to increase ownership drove the rate up 5 percentage points to its peak in the mid-2000s. Home price gains followed the rate upward.
.02 December 23 2010: About that 90% drop in home prices... - The Automatic Earth
So when do we see this come to fruition? Well, price discovery in a housing market, which is always prone to inertia, since people can stay put and fool themselves about the true value of their homes, can take a while to develop. But it will come. US banks will at some point need to offload foreclosed properties, They play a delicate game between the marked-to-whatever value they carry the homes for in their books, which makes them appear solvent, even as they get no income from the homes, and, on the other hand, getting that income. Banks are desperate for cash-flow, but for now, who cares if the Fed provides cash at 0.0078%?
The way we at The Automatic Earth see it play out is that the entire house of cards will fall within 2-5 years, and, within that timeframe, sooner rather than later. While there can be any number of inside and outside factors that can speed it up, we see practically none left that could slow it down. Of course there can be people in a few years time who claim by hell and high water that their homes are still worth $500,000, but they will have neighbors who sold for $100,000, $50,000 or less. Price discovery can be in the eye of the beholder, until you must urgently sell.
There are people in many countries and regions who feel that their particular place is different, and they do so for a variety of reasons. But nine out of ten of them are wrong. Even in China and Brazil, which today look to be relatively healthy economies, the western credit collapse will cause unequalled mayhem. Russia may fare a little better, but only for the richest part of its population; then again, that will be true around the globe.
For the remaining 99% of the population, the combination of deleveraging and depression, a double barrel that guarantees a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop, will be gruesome and cruel.
.03 New $600B Fed Stimulus Fuels Fears of U.S. Currency War - DemocracyNow.org
The Federal Reserve will pump $600 billion more into the US economy and keep interest rates at historical low levels. The short-term impact of the Fed's move, known as quantitative easing, has been a jump in stock prices across the globe. Many nations, however, have accused the United States of waging a currency war by devaluing the dollar. Democracy Now! speaks to former Wall Street economist and University of Missouri professor Michael Hudson. "The object of warfare is to take over a country's land, raw materials and assets, and grab them," Hudson says. "In the past, that used to be done militarily by invading them. But today you can do it financially simply by creating credit, which is what the Federal Reserve has done."
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