• So Much for Letting the People Decide

    For two years citizen-activists have been gathering signatures to force the Vancouver City Council to put on the ballot a public vote on light rail.  The proposed rail line would extend TriMet’s MAX line from Portland to Vancouver.  They apparently had the signatures, turning in a certified petition with the names of 5,479 city residents, seven more than were required.

    But the county’s supervisor of elections, Tim Likness, has invalidated the petition “because of a technicality, according to the Vancouver Columbian.  Apparently, 94 signatures were set aside because they didn’t have a tally total at the bottom of the page.

    This is obviously an example to the wedge rail transit creates in a community … not between blacks and whites or the haves and the have-nots or any other division we typically see on political matters.  This division is between those with elite visions of transforming our communities and those who foot the bills in the communities we already have and kind of like the communities as they are.  And the elites must not allow the little people to vote on their extravagant visions!

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  • DOT’s LaHood Sticking Around

    Ugh.  Looks like Robin LaHood is planning to stick around and promote multi-million dollar boondoggles for another four years.  Politico says, “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood talking with Obama about staying”

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  • Two-fer: Government Incompetence meets Vibrant Urbanism

    Oakland Crime Rate Soaring As City Loses Officers

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  • Taking the ‘Smart’ Out of Smart Growth

    Nearly a third of the New Jersey’s transit fleet was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, which translates into a multimillion-dollar loss.  Transit officials made a decision – as the storm grew and closed in – to store the trains in low lying areas slammed by storm surges.  But the transit-dependent folks of New Jersey need not worry – I’m certain taxpayers in the other 49 states will be made to pick up the tab to get NJ’s trains running again.

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  • Another Privatization Success

    When you think of cities that have outsourced operations to increase efficiencies and save taxpayers money, Sandy Springs, Georgia, usually springs to mind.  Add Central, Louisiana, to that list.

    “The city of Central, incorporated in 2005, has had privatized city services to a larger extent than any other city in Louisiana and is one of the few municipalities in the nation that has done it successfully, Louisiana Municipal Association Executive Director Tom Ed McHugh said.”

    The Chief Administrative Officer, David Barrow finds not just savings but efficiency and holding people accountable as superior benefits to government-as-usual services: “In government, public works employees can be civil service employees and you can’t fire them if they are not doing their job.”

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  • Next Time You Hear About Underfunded Cities …

    … or about the need for government-operated Redevelopment Agencies to fund spur economic growth, keep this one in mind.

    “City leaders in Hercules spent nearly $50 million of the city’s redevelopment agency funds on questionable transactions, many of which had missing or nonexistent records, according to a pair of audits released Wednesday by state Controller John Chiang.”

    Local governments are bloated.

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  • Another example of Big Government in Your Backyard

    Oregon Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail — for Collecting Rainwater on His Property

    Gary Harrington had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.  Interestingly, the concern for water supply is growing in states like Florida, Georgia and elsewhere, and private reservoirs should be seen as a possible solution to the problem of overuse of a public resource.  From the government’s view, it’s a threat.

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  • Bureaucratic Micro-Managers Strike Again!

    Kid’s Hot Dog Stand Shut Down by City Officials Before It Even Opens

    The real point is that government officials are not exceeding authority but simply exercising the authority we gave them.  Ugh.

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  • Three Cheers for Common Sense

    The Arizona Republic is reporting that the city leaders of Scotsdale have decided to move ahead “with plans for bus rapid transit on Scottsdale Road as community leaders say there is no consensus on extending light rail into the city.  According to one official, light rail was “guaranteed to lose money.”  This is true of almost all rail projects, but there is also the underperformance that is typical with light rail and streetcars.

    For anyone wanting to refresh themselves on the arguments about light rail and rail transit, Randal O’Toole has a new report available at the Cato Institute that covers all the bases.

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  • What Smart Growth Exports

    Writing in New Geography, Wendell Cox has another great piece about the export business in California – it’s people and jobs

    “Between 2000 and 2009 (Note), a net 1.5 million Californians left for other states. Only New York lost more of its residents (1.6 million). California’s loss was greater than the population of its second largest municipality, San Diego. More Californians moved away than lived in 12 states at the beginning of the decade. Among the net 6.3 million interstate domestic migrants in the nation, nearly one-quarter fled California for somewhere else.”

    It’s not complete to say California is a progressive utopia.  When it comes to land use and transportation policy, California is a Smart Growth state and has pioneered many of the extreme regulations that other states (e.g., Maryland and Oregon) want to emulate.  Steven Greenhut observes that California’s problem is decline by design.  Many California leaders point to planning efforts as something that was supposed to have a positive effect on the state:

    “California’s elected officials have been doing as little planning as possible, unless one counts planning to spend tens of billions of dollars the state doesn’t have on a high-speed rail line that will partially replicate what the airlines already do now. Our leaders are battling new water-storage facilities and punishing farmers with absurd water restrictions. They impose roadblocks toward building new highway systems and land-use regulations make it nearly impossible to build the homes and businesses necessary to meet the needs of a growing population. One can hardly call that planning.”

    Californians chose mandates over markets, and they’re paying the price.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, President Obama seems to like the California model so we may end up getting a dose of what ails California in our own states.

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