Regional/Greater Community Development News – September 3, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories
…we have a serious need to get our regional act together. Here is a small regional step we might consider:
1) Let's enlarge the definition of an existing job to include the title mayor of Hampton Roads. That job today is called chairman of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. The commission is a state-mandated planning district commission that has a governing board composed of the elected and appointed local government officials from each of our 16 jurisdictions. …
2) Let's add language to the Regional Cooperation Act that designates the chairperson of HRPDC as the official mayor of the Hampton Roads region. Formal power would be very weak for the regional mayor. … There would be no new salary, nor any new staff. …
3) The region needs a convener. …
It might be a small step for the designated mayor and a larger step for the region.
The mayor of Hampton Roads could help us all call attention to the storm warnings this region faces and possible solutions for better shelter.
The Olympics are over, but our athletes can still inspire us – & teach us about competition & cooperation.
Within the greater Sacramento region, our cities compete with one other. Battling for individual wins, West Sacramento and Sacramento share a rivalry just as spirited and determined as the one between Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. Folsom and Roseville compete against each other no less intensely than Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Healthy competition creates a sense of urgency and innovation that makes us better. This innovation in turn spurs the private sector investment and civic engagement that enhance our quality of life from the foothills to the Delta.
Individual medals matter, but it is the national team that always stirs our souls. Like the U.S. Olympic teams in swimming, gymnastics, and track and field, our region is competing with the regions of other nations and states. And this time it is about much more than bragging rights. Global economic competition occurs at the regional scale. Quality of life, and amenities like the arts, sports, entertainment and great food, happens regionally. We have to act like a team if the people of the Sacramento region are to win the gold.
Citizens for Tulsa Co., along with the Tulsa Co. Commissioners, support a positive vote on Vision2 in the Nov. 6 general election. Supporters say that Vision2 would give the citizens of Tulsa Co. the opportunity to continue investing in the region by extending the current Vision2025 initiative to create more jobs, improve communities and ensure a stronger future for the Tulsa region.
“We have all seen and heard about the great strides we have made as a county with the implementation of Vision 2025. We have seen our communities grow with projects like the BOK Center, Tulsa Convention Center, community centers, parks, Expo Square… I think we can all agree that Vision 2025 has been a success for our region ,and we must keep that momentum going,”…
Community leaders attributed the Tulsa region’s ability to fare better than cities of similar size to proactive efforts around Vision2025 but stressed that the region is still in a battle with other regions in the U.S. to grow and retain jobs. …
When it comes to the best use of the Adirondack railroad corridor that runs from Lake Placid to Old Forge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll defer to the new North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, a group that wants the tracks removed to build a year-round, multi-use recreational trail, now has more than 10,000 members and hopes to bring its proposal to the governor's desk.
Cuomo said he's "heard the discussion back and forth" and understands it's a controversial issue.
"We work with something called the Regional Economic Development Council that we put together, which is really the leadership of the entire North Country, and I look to them to determine priorities," he said. "The old way of doing business was the state government in Albany would tell the North Country what to do. We've flipped that on its head. I'd rather have the North Country tell us how we can help."
The governor said he will look for guidance from the NCRED  "to resolve what the best plan is.
"And any way we can help execute that plan, we will," Cuomo said.
A measure that would divert city hotel tax revenue from the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau to Regional Economic Development Inc. will be presented Tuesday to the Columbia City Council for final approval.
The change would eliminate a $25,000 allocation to REDI through the city's general fund and replace it with $50,000 in new growth from the city's 4 percent tax on hotel rooms. REDI is a public-private partnership between the city, Boone County and private businesses that promotes economic growth.
In his budget letter, Matthes wrote that the city should, wherever possible, reduce the reliance on general fund revenue — which makes up $79.6 million of Matthes' proposed $409 million budget. He also said providing funds toward economic development efforts aligns with the original intent behind the passage of a 2 percent hotel tax in the 1970s. The tax was doubled in 1999 with Columbia voters' approval.
The pace of Wall Street’s war against the 99% is quickening in preparation for the kill. Having demonized public employees for being scheduled to receive pensions on their lifetime employment service, bondholders are insisting on getting the money instead. It is the same austerity philosophy that has been forced on Greece and Spain – and the same that is prompting President Obama and Mitt Romney to urge scaling back Social Security and Medicare.
Unlike the U.S. federal government, most states and cities have constitutions that prevent them from running budget deficits. This means that when they cut property taxes, they either must borrow from the wealthy, or cut back employment and public services.
For many years they borrowed, paying tax-exempt interest to wealthy bondholders. But carrying charges on these have mounted to a point where they now look risky as the economy sinks into debt deflation. Cities are defaulting from California to Alabama. They cannot reverse course and restore taxes on property owners without causing more mortgage defaults and abandonments. Something has to give – so cities are scaling back public spending, downsizing their school systems and police forces, and selling off their assets to pay bondholders.
This has become the main cause of America’s rising unemployment, helping drive down consumer demand in a Keynesian nightmare. Less obvious are the devastating cuts occurring in health care, job training and other services, while tuition rates for public colleges and “participation fees” at high schools are soaring. School systems are crumbling like our roads as teachers are jettisoned on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.
Yet Wall Street strategists view this state and local budget squeeze as a godsend. As Rahm Emanuel has put matters, a crisis is too good an opportunity to waste – and the fiscal crisis gives creditors financial leverage to push through anti-labor policies and privatization grabs. The ground is being prepared for a neoliberal “cure”: cutting back pensions and health care, defaulting on pension promises to labor, and selling off the public sector, letting the new proprietors to put up tollbooths on everything from roads to schools. The new term of the moment is “rent extraction.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the governors of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), and Guam have signed a partnership agreement to assist the region in identifying coastal and ocean management priorities that require a coordinated regional response and increased collaboration. … The PROP, a living document, identifies 10 regional objectives: * Promote regional sustainability of resources that supports individual state requirements * Facilitate the implementation of the priority objectives of the President’s Executive Order 13547 of July 19, 2010, which established the National Ocean Policy * Foster cooperation and collaboration on all aspects of ocean and coastal-related research and development, education, exploration and observation, and oceans management * Coordinate and communicate regional priorities … The Hawaii Office of Planning is working with designees from American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam to implement the PROP.
Here’s my question: is there any such thing as regionalism in American history any longer? Northeastern history was always a regional history, but historians (many of whom lived in and/or trained in the northeast) for the most part denied that it was a regional history and instead claimed to be writing “American history.” There are regional and state-based history associations like the New England Historical Association, but there is no Northeastern Historical Association.
Western history used to be much more about place, but I think the consensus has shifted to seeing the West–and more broadly speaking, what used to be called “frontier history” and is now called most often borderlands history–as more of a process than a region.  ... The blog has a map and an interesting discussion follows.
It’s often seen as un-Canadian in most of the country not to dislike Toronto. It’s big, it’s noisy, it’s endlessly on the news…
In many ways, Toronto and region are a province in their own right. The mayor of Toronto is directly elected by more people than any other politician in Canada. The City of Toronto alone, if it were a province, would be our fifth largest by population. Add in the surrounding suburban cities and towns that are an essential part of the economic region…and it would be number three…
Needless to say, the Ontario Government isn’t about to rush to put in the regional political mechanisms to make the Toronto city region work well! Toronto was where the notion of regional government was pioneered in Canada, with “Metro” back in 1953. That was ended in 1998, when the elements were merged into one city. But a new “Metro,” covering the region, is needed. The trouble is: build that, and Toronto doesn’t need Ontario any longer. So it’s not going to happen.
Balanced regional development, or reduction of intra-country regional inequalities, has been a policy objective of many a developing country for several decades back. In the Philippines, policy instruments toward this objective included direct industrial location controls (e.g., the 50-kilometer-radius ban against the location of industries in Metro Manila), investment incentives in favor of lagging regions, industrial estates, special economic zones, integrated area development, and regional growth centers.
In a book sponsored by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies titled Spatial and Urban Dimensions of Development in the Philippines (1983), we (Pernia, Paderanga, and five graduate students at the UP School of Economics) showed that the regional policies had been largely ineffective in countering the more potent biases for urban agglomeration induced by macroeconomic and sectoral policies. These were earlier dubbed by Gerry Sicat (1972) as "innocent looking policies" …

THE SIMPLICITY EXERCISES: A SOURCEBOOK FOR SIMPLICITY EDUCATORS - Mark A. Burch … I don’t think fear, guilt, or greed—the preferred bludgeons of those promoting social change—are any of them good reasons for teaching or learning about simple living. We certainly have things to fear, and to feel guilty about, and to lust after, if we wish; but none of these motivations springs from wholesome emotions or clear insight into the nature of things, and none provides a positive foundation for a good life. Remembering the stories of all those people who, both past and present, have adopted simple living, I’m impressed by the luminous, tenacious vision of a good life based on mindfulness, sufficiency, community, nonviolence, environmental stewardship, self-reliance, and most especially, the freedom, that shines at the heart of this way of life. Even if humanity wasn’t facing the ominous crossroads it is, … 
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