Regional Community Development News - Top Stories - July 22-25, 2011

 1. Lessons for Atlanta in Denver's transportation tax  |

If Atlanta taxpayers vote next year for a new transportation buildout, will they get the investment of a lifetime?

Or do they risk driving their dollars off a cliff?

The debate over how careful to be is suddenly raging here, among the very officials tasked with putting the plan together. And the answer may lie 1,400 miles away — in Denver.

If voters in the 10-county metro Atlanta region approve a penny sales tax next year to raise $7 billion over 10 years for transportation — likely the biggest single infrastructure investment in the region’s history — they will be treading new ground. But Denver has done it before, with a 122-mile “FasTracks” ... approved in 2004.

The first passengers should step on FasTracks-funded trains in about two years. While the promise of FasTracks has some big fans in Denver among commuters and employers, its failings regarding cost and timetable also offer harsh lessons, which Georgia officials are trying to heed.

 2. Tax Justice Network: 16 French regional councils involved in the fight against tax havens

One year after the adoption by the regional council of Paris of a resolution on banks’ country by country transparency, 16 French regions are now taking concrete action against tax havens.

This is a result of the 'Stop Tax Havens' campaign, launched in September 2009 by CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Oxfam France, ATTAC, some French Trade Unions (CGT, CFDT, SNUI, Solidaires) and the French platform against tax havens.

Template letters were produced in order to encourage activists to write to their regional representatives to get them involved in this campaign. And we have also been very active during the regional elections in spring 2010 to present our proposals to all candidates.

We are now working closely with the regional councils to help them implement these measures of transparency. Nine of them have been asking their financial partners to provide country by country disclosure of information such as: name and number of subsidiaries, numbers of staff employed, profits and ...

 3. Government collaboration can produce huge savings - Canton, OH -

Spending a billion dollars is almost as tricky as earning it. But what if Northeast Ohio found a $1 billion windfall – enough to pay for a college education for every graduating high school senior, hire more great teachers or increase research at our universities?

It sounds too good to be true, but such opportunity exists. It is found through sensible regional collaboration.

Regionalism has already shown us the power to grow new industries and support a new breed of entrepreneur. Regionalism is not a political ideology; it is a prudent fiscal strategy.

We often blame the state and region’s fiscal crisis on a tired story about an aging Rust Belt economy that has undermined government’s ability to raise revenues. But that narrative is, thankfully, outdated.

Our economy is larger than ever, with new industries creating jobs and profits. Greater Cleveland’s unemployment rate has generally been below the national average for almost three years. ...

Connecting Stark County:

4. Team NEO back to its roots in JobsOhio role - Northeast Ohio and Cleveland - Crain's Cleveland Business

With planning under way to serve its role as one of six regional economic development offices under the JobsOhio nonprofit created by Gov. John Kasich, Team NEO is coming full circle.

... the nonprofit appears positioned to play the central role in a collaborative economic development effort that was envisioned for it by its founders nearly a decade ago.

The plan is for the Cleveland-based nonprofit to oversee economic development for 18 counties, only slightly more than was planned for the original Team NEO.

It was never able to play that central role because local politicians and economic development officials were reluctant to share responsibility — and credit — for bringing jobs and industry to their particular corners of the state.

JobsOhio is Gov. John Kasich's vehicle for channeling state incentives to induce businesses to invest in Ohio. It eventually will get as much as $100 million annually from state liquor profits to invest in job creation.


 5. It's official: Rail line from Kenosha to Milwaukee is dead - JSOnline

Meeting for the final time Monday, the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority ended plans for a commuter rail line linking Milwaukee to Kenosha, Racine and the southern suburbs.

The RTA also voted to request that $6 million in federal money congressionally earmarked for the KRM Commuter Link be redirected to the Milwaukee County, Racine and Kenosha bus systems, if legally possible.

Much of Monday's agenda was dictated by the Legislature. In the 2011-'13 state budget, lawmakers ordered that the Southeastern RTA and its Dane County counterpart be dismantled, along with two other regional transit authorities that had been authorized but never formed.

The three-county body had been charged with planning the $283.5 million KRM and would have run the rail line had it been created.

But the Federal Transit Administration has held off for more than a year on approving the RTA's request to start preliminary engineering on the KRM. ...

 6.  Arena effort gets regional business support - Sacramento Press

In what Mayor Kevin Johnson called an unprecedented event, 14 chambers of commerce from the Sacramento region announced Thursday that they support an entertainment and sports complex in downtown Sacramento.

Johnson said the backing of the regional business community, which came after a four-county bus trip for Think Big Sacramento, is a commitment to the promise he made to the National Basketball Association earlier this year in New York City that Sacramento is an NBA city and can build a new arena.

“I did not sell Sacramento, I sold our region,” he said, adding that a common commitment to a downtown sports and entertainment complex will provide a more vibrant community.

The major obstacle facing the Think Big Sacramento coalition is developing a financing plan for the $386 million arena, something that was expected from the ICON-Taylor arena development team but was not a part of the report released after a nearly four-month feasibility study.

 7. Regional eco dev by the numbers - Times Bulletin - Van Wert, Ohio

At a meeting ... representatives of the West Central Ohio Network - an eight-county regional economic development group consisting of Van Wert, Paulding, Mercer, Allen, Auglaize, Putnam, Hardin and Hancock counties - described how the group had become a formal organization over the past several months and been accepted as one of only 22 pilot programs within the Stronger Economies Together (SET) nationwide project. The WCON is also slated to become a sub-group within the Toledo region for the JobsOhio program, along with Wyandot County.

One of the key items to emerge from the formation was the chance to have produced a data set for the region. This is essentially a set of numbers and statistics that represent the demographics of an area. Prospective employers, especially those looking to employ larger numbers of workers, ask for this type of information as a part of their decision-making process on where to locate a new facility.

These data sets can be used ...

 8. TRPA rejects biomass power plant at Tahoe - Sacramento Bee

Lake Tahoe's land use regulatory agency has rejected plans for a biomass power plant on the lake's north shore.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director Joanne Marchetta says her staff concluded the Kings Beach site is "unworkable."

Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery says the plan generated widespread citizen complaints.

Mike and Dawn Baffone, who Kings Beach home is near the proposed site, initiated a grassroots movement against the plant.

They say opponents are not against biomass technology, but believe Tahoe is an unsuitable location because of a variety of environmental and social reasons.

 9. Regional transit plan identifies future needs | Tulsa World

It's time to rethink how we get around in Tulsa - not only because future needs demand it, but also because the federal government does too.

Local transportation planners last week unveiled a draft version of this area's regional transit system plan, known as "Fast Forward." It's not the kind of reading material most Tulsans would take to the beach. But whether we know it or not, transportation planning is important to all our daily lives - as well as our pocketbooks.

The 25-year regional plan looks at the needs and demands of this area's top-priority travel corridors and sets the stage for identifying how each corridor's challenges might be best addressed in the decades ahead. Ideas include such modest and basic measures as tinkering with the existing bus system to more exotic options such as light rail. (For more, visit

... if we want to preserve such options as light rail 20 or 30 years from now, we'd better get the work started now.


10. Economists stress deeper regional links

Economists in a commemorative lecture on Swadesh Ranjan Bose yesterday stressed the need for increased regional connectivity to achieve expected economic growth.

“The cost of non-cooperation is very high,” said Prof Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue at the city's BRAC Centre Inn.

Bose, whose life spanned from 1928 to 2009, was an economist who served the World Bank, the then Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS). He completed his MA in economics in 1960 from Dhaka University.

“The works of Bose could have been a massive source of information for regional cooperation, had they been published earlier,” Rahman said.

The time has come for regional connectivity and regional cooperation, he said. Bose realised the importance of regional cooperation and regional connectivity in the early 1960s, he said.


11. Steve Keen's Debtwatch

As an economist, I do something very unusual: I treat money seriously. Though this may be hard for those who have not done an economics degree to believe, economists have it schooled into them that “money doesn’t matter”– that it is just a “veil over barter”, there to make it easier to swap commodities than it would be if you actually had to find someone who had what you wanted, and wanted to sell what you wanted to buy. ...

Finance Education "After" the Crisis - Steve Keen - YouTube Video

Finance theory, since it takes neoclassical economics as its starting point, is even more flawed than neoclassical economics itself. Here I point out how absurd its abuse of the English language has been--using "Efficient" and "Rational" to describe behavior that any sensible person would see as "prophetic"--and discuss how it should be reformed.

12. Real Estate 4 Ransom - new documentary about global property speculation

Real Estate 4 Ransom is a new documentary about global property speculation and its impact on the economy. Real Estate 4 Ransom considers changing motivations behind property investment and challenges the notion that the Global Financial Crisis was caused by bank lending. ... What role did real estate play in the crashing of the global economy?
Co-Directors Karl Fitzgerald and Gavin Emmanuel - Premier - August 10, 2011

13. New Data Shows Slowing Migration in America - The Urbanophile

The Internal Revenue Service just released its benchmark place to place migration data for 2009. This tracks moves from county to county and state to state for people who filed tax returns between calendar year 2008 and 2009. My initial look at the data confirms what other sources such that Current Population Survey have shown, namely that migration has slowed during the Great Recession. I’m going to cheat though and not actually show much of that despite my enticing title, and instead illustrate a few other points the come out from this data.

As I’ve said before, this data is a gold mine of information. Few people seem to use it though, probably because it is so cumbersome to work with for non-specialists. One of the biggest reasons I built my Telestrian system was to create a platform that would actually make this data usable for me. ...

Megaregional Migration

... I’d previously showed a chart of gross migration between Chicago and other major Midwest metros. Gross migration is one of the better measures of true human capital circulation between cities, and indicates which metros have the tightest talent linkages with Chicago. ...

14. Why States Matter - The Urbanophile

This is the second part of my point-counterpoint series on the usefulness of states. You can read the “anti” state side at “Are States an Anachronism?.” Today we look at the opposite case.

There are a lot of reasons why, despite their obvious flaws, states continue to play a crucial role in our nation. The first is that in a huge, multi-regional, multi-polar country like the United States, we can’t effectively govern the entire place from a single city on the east coast (with perhaps administrative subdivisions), nor would we want to. Our federal system provides independent sovereignty for states that are part of the general principle of separation of powers in our system, one that provides a check and balance against excesses of various types in Washington. Cities and regions, no matter what their economic rationale, simply cannot play that role. It takes something like a state to be able to stand up to the federal government.

... their problems arguably hold no candle to Washington ...

15. If the World Lived Like New Yorkers, We’d All Fit Into Texas | INFRASTRUCTURIST

The wonderful density blog Per Square Mile gives us a graphic rendering of how much space the world’s population of 6.9 billion would need if it were as dense as certain cities. If everyone on earth were packed together like Parisians (above, click to enlarge), we’d only need about 128,000 square miles — an area roughly the size of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. To live like Singapore we keep Louisiana but swap the others for Texas and Oklahoma. Like San Francisco, keep the Singapore lineup and bring back Arkansas. Like London, keep San Francisco’s states and add New Mexico. Houston requires most of the Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, and Rocky Mountains.

To live like New York all we need is Texas: ...

16. Human Transit: how urbanist visionaries can muck up transit

Architects and urban visionaries play an incredibly important role in a leadership-hungry culture. They have to know a little bit about almost everything, which is hard to do. But for some reason, certain segments of the profession have decided that the basic math and geometry of transit isn't one of those things they need to know, even when they present themselves as transit experts.

To see what I mean, I encourage you to watch this short video from Gensler Architects in Los Angeles. It's a concise summary of all the crucial mistakes that you'll need to confront in much "visionary thinking" about transit. ...

* Disinterest in costs and efficiency.

* Fixation on transit technologies ...

* Confusion about scale. ...

* Confusion about "flexibility,"

* Ignorance about what's already working, leading to premature demolition fantasies. ...

17. Renewables Rule Transmission | RenewablesBiz
The rule establishes three requirements for transmission planning:

• Each public utility transmission provider must participate in a regional transmission planning process that satisfies the transmission planning principles of Order No. 890 and produces a regional transmission plan.

• Local and regional transmission planning processes must consider transmission needs driven by public policy requirements established by state or federal laws or regulations. Each public utility transmission provider must establish procedures to identify transmission needs driven by public policy requirements and evaluate proposed solutions to those transmission needs.

Public utility transmission providers in each pair of neighboring transmission planning regions must coordinate to determine if there are more efficient or cost-effective solutions to their mutual transmission needs.

18. Waldrop calls for more national, regional cooperation - Thoroughbred Times

While noting that factors such as added gambling competition and racetrack ownership conglomerates have forced a shift in focus of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, NTRA President Alex Waldrop is calling for more national and regional cooperation in building the sport’s fan base.
Waldrop said the NTRA is focused on finding ways to get the 50-million people it estimates have some interest in racing to move up from casual fans to participating horseplayers and eventually owners. He said current fans, owners, and trainers can help in those efforts, building interest through social media.

“We do have a passionate fan base and that will be a key to building racing,” Waldrop said, adding that bringing in new fans can best be accomplished by a national body such as the NTRA through a cooperative industry effort. “We all have to be at the table.”

19. Surveying Northwest Regional Surveys Part II - PORT - Portland art
Generally there is no incentive for Northwest institutions to do an excellent (therefore potentially redefining) regional survey as doing so only makes the next one tougher and positions the institution as too crucial in deciding area heirarchies (a political can of worms with every gallerist, artist and collector lobbying like mad). Also, the curators who assemble these shows are generally not trying to establish themselves as bleeding edge practitioners in contemporary art (many active artists in Portland are). Instead, most institutions shoot for a survey that draws a decent audience promotes a little good will and ingratiates itself amongst a broad array of patrons artists and other creatures of culture ... In other words the shows are about the institutions position in the region, not the state of cutting edge contemporary art in the region. ...

Artists often don't understand institutional politics but regional survey's leave curators vulnerable like nothing else ...

20. Recalling Moses: Bridging the Red Sea - New Europe

If ever a region needed creative new thinking, new dialogue and indeed an improvement in regional collaboration, the Red Sea littoral surely is one. The active Saudi diplomacy on political unrest in Yemen and Egypt ... marker of the need for and potential of a stronger Red Sea political community.

Critics might complain that we do not need yet another regional organisation. There are, after all, a number of institutions in which these countries can meet to promote dialogue, common political interests and economic prosperity, if they were so inclined. For the moment, they are not.

... Of the littoral countries, only Saudi Arabia has the resources to fund such a regional dialogue.

... there can be a useful role for external actors, either governmental or non-governmental, to promote new regional dialogues on security and economic relations among Red Sea states and communities. The idea of a Red Sea community can be used as a unifying and peace-building idea in this troubled region.

21. Doomed EEDA creates 22,000 jobs in three years | Business Weekly

The East of England Development Agency has had a lively final year for a dead man walking – creating or safeguarding 8,800 jobs in the ideas region of the UK and Europe.
In its last full year before the Government axe falls, EEDA has also helped 2,800 local businesses to start up and grow; supported 31,800 people in learning new skills and backed nearly 100,000 local businesses and entrepreneurs through the regional Business Link service.

The Government decided to scrap Regional Development Agencies – apart from Tory-controlled London – because it was perceived that despite billions of pounds of funding, they had ‘failed to close the North South divide.’

They were replaced by under-funded and out-of-touch local Enterprise partnerships, many of them built on inter-city alliances that make little economic sense.
While much of the activity undertaken by EEDA will cease, several important programmes will be continuing under new delivery arrangements.

22. Number of reported attacks on ships in Asia reach new high - TODAY online | Singapore

The number of reported piracy and armed robbery attacks against ships in Asia for the first half of this year has reached a new high, compared to the same period over the last four years.

According to regional piracy watchdog the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), 82 such incidents - 64 armed robbery and 18 piracy attacks - were recorded between January and last month. In contrast, 70 such incidents were reported in the same period last year.

ReCAAP's half-yearly report said about 84 per cent of the incidents occurred during hours of darkness when it was difficult for the crew to detect the robbers' boats approaching their vessels, as they were less alert and vigilant during this period.

ReCAAP said at least two different syndicates or groups of robbers were responsible for the attacks and observed that tug boats appear to be more vulnerable compared to other type of ships due to its slow speed.

23. Samoan PM renews push for Pacific regionalism - Radio Australia:Pacific Beat

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says Polynesian countries should revisit the idea of forming a subregional group to deal with issues of common interest to them.

The idea of forming a Polynesian subregional body like the Association of Small Island States and the Melanesian Spearhead Group has been talked about in the past, but has never materialised.

Mr Tuilaepa says besides the preservation of languages culture and traditions, sub-regionalism can also provide better platforms for the effective delivery of programs in the sub-region and in the wider region as a whole.

The Samoan Prime Minister said this while speaking on the theme of Pacific Regionalism in an address to mark the Pacific Islands Forum 40th Anniversary Leaders' Lecture Series.

24. Park could possibly permeate two cities

Thompson County Park in West St. Paul and Kaposia Park and Kaposia Landing in South St. Paul could be linked as part of a regional park sometime in the future as the result of a decision by the South St. Paul City Council Monday night.

The Metropolitan (Met) Council -- the regional planning agency serving the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area -- had prompted the council to update the city's comprehensive plan to include some language about the possible formation of a regional park between the two cities.

"We just got done doing our comprehensive plan updates and we got notification that we need to change it once again -- we have to update our comprehensive plan to make sure it's in line with (the Met Council's) policy plans," South St. Paul City Planner Peter Hellegers said at the meeting.

Hellegers explained that even though the council voted to accept the amendment, that doesn't mean the city will be required to link it's two park with West St. Paul's.

"This does not necessarily mean this will become a regional park," he said. "It's just something they're looking at."

25. Regional forensics computer crime lab opens in Orange County | 89.3 KPCC

Law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California now have a new tool for fighting crime: a new regional computer forensics crime lab in Orange.

Inside, a blue machine about the size of a box of Girl Scout cookies whirs as it quickly copies a hard drive.

In a room down the hall, computers can extract that data and file them into categories, including e-mail, pictures and documents.

More and more, this is how law enforcement investigates crime. And the new Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Lab lets local law enforcement team up with the FBI to trace the digital footprints of criminals.

"There is not a case that we have now where you do not have a hard drive, a thumb drive, a cell phone or some other mechanism for either communicating or storing data," said FBI Director Robert Mueller at the lab's unveiling yesterday.

... The Orange County lab is the 15th in the country, ...

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