Tag Archives: News

The Weight of Debt | LaHood: ‘America is one big pothole’ | The Hill’s Transportation Report

LaHood: ‘America is one big pothole’ – The Hill’s Transportation Report.

Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says “America is one, big pothole” and we need to “think outside the box” to find the additional $15 billion a year to support transportation infrastructure.

Mmm, let’s see… in fiscal year 2012, the United States paid $359 billion to service the national debt or, more, precisely, $359,796,008,919.49 (Source: U.S. Department of Treasury).

It’s not that difficult to out-think a box after all.

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Pigs at the Trough| Florida & Obama build a lasting urban legacy | NY Daily News

Editorial by Mark David Major, The Outlaw Urbanist Blog

Obama, build a lasting urban legacy by Richard Florida – NY Daily News.

Richard Florida’s advocacy for President Obama to establish a U.S. Federal Department of Cities is an interesting idea. However, if implemented as outlined by Florida, it is also an inherently flawed one that would inevitably spell danger for our cities. The fatal flaw lies in a tepidness to truly reinvent our development processes. Instead of offering a radical vision to remake city building, Florida’s proposal actually represents more of the same. It would create a new Federal bureaucracy in “dysfunctional Washington” dedicated to the proposition that all special interests are created equal; more ‘Great Society’ than Great Cities. The fact is the majority of our citizens should have long ago grown tired of thinking that the default solution to every problem is a Cabinet-level Federal Department. Coming to CSPAN! The circus of Senate confirmation hearings for the Secretary of Cities, brought to you by National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and Community Organizations International, just as soon as the Senator from Montana releases his hold on the nomination! Stay tuned! More pigs feeding at the Federal trough would inevitably populate Florida’s Department of Cities. That is fine for the pigs but what about the rest of us?

Upon his election in 2006, Florida Governor Rick Scott had a similar opportunity to implement a new vision for building and growth in the State of Florida. His initial thinking was right: streamline the mess of State agencies to break down the ‘silos’ that had emerged between bureaucrats of different departments, reducing the size of State government so it works for its citizens rather than the other way around. Unfortunately, Scott’s implementation of this idea did not really change anything. Scott was unwilling to go far enough (or just paying lip service) to remaking State government. Instead of merging and streamlining the State Departments of Community Affairs, Environmental Protection, and Transportation into one organization dedicated to placing Smart Growth principles at the forefront of the agenda (and, by implication, subordinating road building and moderating environment protection under the umbrella of urban planning and development), Scott subverted urban planning to economic development under the banner of the Department of Economic Opportunity. In the process, Scott managed to make it look like he was doing something while actually protecting the special interests (ah, a real politician!) that made the Florida housing market the ‘birthplace of the Second Great Depression.’

Florida’s Department of Cities idea is not without merit but the implementation of that idea must warrant the importance Florida places on our “cities and metros (as) the engines of our economy,” which, of course, is their very nature as built environments designed for movement, interaction, and transaction. Otherwise, implementing Florida’s idea would be a waste of time, effort and money; what many believe is referred to as “governing” in Washington, D.C.

The only way a Federal Department of Cities could alter the prevailing development paradigm in this country for the last century is if we are willing to place Smart Growth for our cities at the top of the agenda by subsuming the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, and other disparate Federal agencies and offices (Office of Urban Affairs, and so on) under one roof. Incidentally, this is probably the only way a new Department of Cities could generate bipartisan support by allowing the left and the right to explicitly address their key constituencies (urban interests on one hand, reducing and streamlining government on the other). It would also require both parties adopting an united front to take on other special interests threatened by such reform (most obviously, radical environmentalists). In the absence of such radical thinking, our cities are safer as “laboratories for pragmatic bipartisan policy innovation, pioneering new approaches on everything from schools, crime and gun control to economic development” at the local and State level.

The problem is not that our cities have failed to live up to our ideals. The real problem is everybody associated with city building (architects, developers, urban designers and planners and so on) have not not lived up to the opportunities presented by our cities for the last century. Why would we expect our citizens (and their representatives) to ever trust us and put us in charge when we have demonstratively failed our cities time and time again during their lifetime, their parents’ lifetime, and their grandparents’ lifetime? Instead of searching for magic bullets (like Florida’s idea), let us dedicate ourselves to leading for our cities. The irony is, if we truly did this, we would probably find the perceived need for Florida’s proposal and others like them would disappear. Unless, of course, the point is to become one of the fattest pigs at the trough. If this is the case, then never mind…

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Space Syntax | 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremonies | London

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 13: Aerial view shows the construction starting for the Olympic opening stage designed by Danny Boyle at the Olympic Stadium on June 13, 2012 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media UK Office, London. T +44 845 370 2233 W www.barcroftmedia.com USA Office, New York City. T +1 212 796 2458 W www.barcroftusa.com Indian Office, Delhi. T +91 11 4053 2429 W www.barcroftindia.com
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 13: Aerial view shows the construction starting for the Olympic opening stage designed by Danny Boyle at the Olympic Stadium on June 13, 2012 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Jason Hawkes / Barcroft Media UK Office, London. T +44 845 370 2233 W www.barcroftmedia.com USA Office, New York City. T +1 212 796 2458 W www.barcroftusa.com Indian Office, Delhi. T +91 11 4053 2429 W www.barcroftindia.com

A lot of people did not notice it at the time. Heck, even I did not notice it in the moment. But what was that on the stadium floor during the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremonies in London… after they took up the turf masquerading as a ‘green and pleasant land’? Why is was none other than the space syntax model of London itself! Pretty cool, if you ask me. See a beautiful aerial photograph of the space syntax model on the stadium floor during rehearsals below, courtesy of The Sun.

More information here from University College London.

Read more about it here at The Daily Mail.

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Original CNN Money Article about Backdoor Bailouts (via Fortune)

CNNExcerpt:

“What’s more, dozens of zombie home builders and other serial money-losers will stake similar claims (of profit) in coming months, in a cash scramble that could cost the government more than $50 billion.”

You really can’t make up these examples of crony capitalism.

Link to the full article: http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/07/news/companies/lennar.taxes.fortune/index.htm.

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Long commute time linked with poor health, new study shows | USATODAY.com

A study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the longer people drive to work, the more likely they are to have poor cardiovascular health.

“This is the first study to show that people who commute long distances to work were less fit, weighed more, were less physically active and had higher blood pressure,” said Christine M. Hoehner, a public health professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the study’s lead author. “All those are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.”

The study monitored the health of 4,297 adults from 12 counties in Texas, a metropolitan region where 90 percent of people commute to work by car, Hoehner said.

The New York area has the longest average commuting time — almost 35 minutes — of any metropolitan area, according to the Census Bureau in its analysis of the 2009 American Community Survey. But the other nine metro areas in the top 10 also averaged a half hour or more. And even the area with the shortest average commute, Great Falls, Mont., still clocked in at 14 minutes.

That’s important because those who commuted by car 10 miles or more each way were more likely to have high blood pressure than people who drove shorter distances. And those who traveled 15 or more miles each way were more likely to have bigger waistlines and less likely to be physically active, according to Hoehner’s study.

Tom Ricci, 53, drives 130 miles round trip each day from his home in Mahopac, N.Y., to his job at a music record company in Lyndhurst, N.J.

He gets up at 4:30 a.m. almost every day to hit the gym before work.

“I’d go crazy and lose my mind” without a workout routine, Ricci said. “You need a release from that grind.”

Diet, exercise and sleep habits were not looked at in the study, Hoehner said. They also can also contribute to obesity and high blood pressure.

Christine Bruno of Garrison, N.Y., feels the difference. Her commute used to be 7 minutes. Now since she moved in with her fiance it take up to 90 minutes each way to make the 40-mile trek to New Rochelle, N.Y.

“By the time you finish your final meal of the day, there is no time to do much else,” said Bruno, 40. “There is no time to exercise. And there is no time to go to the gym, and it’s a huge issue, because I used to be a gym rat.”

Danielle Mahoney, 36, lives in Patterson, N.Y., works in Suffern, N.Y., and commutes 126 miles round trip a day. Her company offers fitness classes to employees several times a week so they can exercise during the day. Without them, Mahoney said, she wouldn’t have time for the gym, especially with twin toddlers at home.

The hours she spends in her car are “definitely draining,” she said.

“If it’s a longer day or you didn’t get enough sleep, you can doze when you are driving,” she said. “Numerous times I catch myself.”

Dr. Franklin Zimmerman, a cardiologist and director of critical care at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., said what makes long commutes by car even worse is that many people are also sitting at work.

He tells patients to get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. If people can’t get to the gym, he suggests they park their cars farther from their offices and then walk. People can also sneak in exercise by getting off the elevator and taking the stairs.

“It’s OK to split it up into increments,” he said. “It’s hard to find 30 minutes, but it’s not hard to find five minutes, and all of that still counts.”

(Contributing: Tim Henderson, The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News)

via Long commute time linked with poor health, new study shows – USATODAY.com.

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