2009 Columns

  • Emerging Issues: Are We Suckers for 'Warped History?

    In the policy debates about the current Great Recession — debates in which cities and towns have much at stake — references to the Great Depression and the New Deal play important roles. Without some understanding of the 1930s, citizens and officials alike are susceptible to arguments from what Washington Post book reviewer Jonathan Yardley calls “warped history that gets us into trouble." To paraphrase Ben Franklin, if we don't know something, we'll fall for anything.

  • Emerging Issues: Countercyclical Fiscal Program: An Idea Whose Time Hasn’t Yet Come

    Oddly missing in the past year of discussions about Federal economic “stimulus” is the idea of a straightforward fiscal transfer to local and state governments. The issue is what works to bring national and local economies out of recessions. Simply stated, the problem is that state and local governments’ legally-required budget-balancing makes the downturn in business cycles worse.

  • Emerging Issues: What Will Be the ‘New Normal’ in Your City?

    Despite dragons, perhaps it’s useful and important to challenge assumptions about the return of previous conditions after the recession passes and to ask: “After the crisis, what comes next? Are there any silver linings in the clouds? How will we deal with whatever the new situation may be?” Some leaders in Kalamazoo MI, recently wrestled with those questions.

  • Emerging Issues: Forms Follow Functions for Municipal governments

    Recent research shows that local leaders have opted increasingly for mixed forms of municipal government. These adapted and hybrid cities now outnumber the pure form cities.

  • Emerging Issues: Obama Urban Policy Ideas Likely to Have Consequences

    Obama has sketched a set of significant and far-reaching ideas that potentially take us to a Federal policy framework that is more appropriate to 21st century conditions than the ideas that have dominated the field for decades. He has not laid out an “urban policy”; he has outlined key concepts for a foundation on which such a policy might be built. His ideas also provoke some important questions.

  • Cities, Regions Respond to Foreclosure Crisis

    A new report examines the ways that leaders have worked together in their metropolitan regions to respond to the foreclosures crisis over the past year.

  • Old Hands Seek to Shape New Futures for Cities

    Old hands. New books. Bill Hudnut and Neal Peirce are indeed "old hands" in the municipal affairs world. Each has contributed a new book that looks to the future of cities.