Politics of the Commons

A conservative friend of mine argues that everyone’s property is no one’s property, and none value the wealth. Why? I said with a few examples brewing, but then she says, “Who would be fool enough to wait to use it when the next moment, it could be used by another?” I interrupted with “could be used.” Unphased, she said, “Would a tree for timber be left in the ground for another, would fish found in the morning sea be left for taking in the afternoon by others?” Then she pulled out her economics degree and said, “Every factor of production without assurance leaves all things for all people as things without value.”

Natural resources and common property are free goods for individuals but are recognized as scarce goods by the rule of “use or lose.” Value is obtained when the rules of property for value become subject to a unified directing power. To the conservative, this power is held as private. It is associated with the “free-rider problem,” freedom, and the capacity to be free. It is tied to individual and corporate rights as the fuel of competitive innovation, new technology, and wealth, without which new problems cannot be solved.

Neoliberal BS must be understood, here are two examples:

“…there is no such thing as society; only individuals and families.”
“The ten most dangerous words in the English language are “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help .”

Margaret Thatcher 1987 & Ronald Reagan 1988

The progressive’s argument (that would be me) is if the property becomes public (government), it does so for specific purposes. Regulating development that reduces abuse or corruption can produce value not only by preventing damage or by litigating cause but also by encouraging a global culture that recognizes solutions to problems before they exist. Assign a value to that, and we leap into a future that capital alone refuses to provide. My brief crisis management analysis (here) sees self-interest as a useful compulsion, but if unregulated or tested, the practice drains shared resources.

Addiction can be repackaged as vapor when modified through price mechanism alone, and the resource drained are children’s lungs. The charge of negative impact continues in the population (endemic) in unregulated markets, followed by claiming the need to add wealth to fix or mitigate the cause of problems. The progressive’s complaint continues because doubling down on methods (risks) counter to a long-term interest, such as a child’s health (changing/eliminating flavors), are digressions that further discourage the mobilization of resistance.

The arguments of a conservative vs. progressive approach also have a long, tedious set of false premise conditions that deter effective challenges to the status quo. Whether corporate or within the public realm, several types of economic behaviors clearly threaten the stability of individual nations and global health in general. The theft of a treasury, election fixing, killing in all places, and many geographies reveal known horrors.

Geopolitical oil, rare earth minerals, even access to space force technology are considered sustainable practices due to irrational thinking and false arguments. Corporate identity interests also build on a variety of absurd claims. We know the tag lines: We are the best, the safest, most loved, recommended, and philanthropic business globally.  All of this is protected by free-speech and self-regulation norms until a stated fact is proven false. All of this is useless until a “False Premise Agency” becomes an agency with power. There are a few reasons straightforward steps to logical thinking in a society. Examples are:

  • Change the mode of problem-solving with a new process.
  • Redefine problems in a categorically different fashion.
  • Eliminate the damage at the source or the cause, include failed prevention.
  • Substitute damages with relocation, replacements, and technical upgrades.
  • Legislation and litigation practices that pay for failure as an ongoing process.

The last three activities are classic fire brigade solutions. While reasonable, essential, and undoubtedly continuous, the first two actions require renewed focus if ending the cycle can be expected. Improving the modes of problem-solving processes is inherently demanded by the catastrophic resolution perspective in the position of operatives of the last three.

Thomas Hale of University-Oxford describes a similar but more hopeful choice, “catalytic cooperation” (here). Hale accepts the “resilience is all that is left” from the Club of Rome folks and rolls up his sleeves as a member of an extensive group of academic economists. He sees three features of climate mitigation that depart from the accepted model: joint goods, preference heterogeneity, and increasing returns. The presence of these characteristics reveals the chief barrier to global cooperation is not the threat of free riding but the lack of incentive to act in the first place.

Humans have been redefining problems in new ways, from deciding that a cave with a guarded entrance is a good idea to the billions of “falsifiability” exercises ongoing today.  They are theoretical, mathematical in the laboratory and the field.  All of it is refreshing, but much of it is like a solid slap in the face with someone screaming, wake up, wake up.  In many ways, we are still in that Neolithic cave, redefining problems in categorically new ways.

More recently, the injection of scientists into the partisan “what can vs. should be done?” debate has begun to dance around the global commons’ problem. A list of over fifty non-United Nations multilateral, mega-regional agencies (a list here) represents a doubling of “brigades” in 25 years and a trend toward continuing expansion on an even longer list of issues. Pushing a top priority for greater capacity in the global “what should we do” debate became the jingoistic nightmare that turned government into the problem.

“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.”

Barack Obama (2006)

As the world’s economic growth slows due to realignments caused by climate change, combinations of regional populism, and global security interests, we are gripped by widening inequality as if it was only an issue of the unequal. The global human health condition is part of the climate change question that proves humanity is far more alike than unalike, with greater similarities with beautiful variations of great benefit to all.

A dip in growth caused by ongoing investment reductions in carbon-intensive industries also opens new processes that will break into a vast network of capital chains searching for alternatives. Short of an energy solution as dramatic as fusion, new forms of growth will from new stock symbol combinations associated with government-backed initiatives that reduce risk. The central question will be whether decision-makers will become sufficiently undistracted to plan effectively to implement a proposed change.

Public investment works with noted success in the traditional practices of the scientific method, concerning theory, predictability, and peer reviews of specific concerns such as a common cancer problem, AIDS, or SARS. However, if Science is needed to solve macro human system problems, on the one hand, the public investment appears helpless on the other. The failure to end the rise of life-degrading processes is all the more frightening because of how easily they are identified. Commercial food production, bacterial and viral contagion, energy use, poor transportation systems, and biome systems worldwide, to name a few.

If it is for the lack of “trust” that all may be lost, then public investment in the sciences of planning and engineering, art, and architecture are all practices that can produce the immediate feedback essential to discovering how to live in a categorically new way, especially if the way now is killing us slowly or with deadly precision. So, although it may only be a few at a time, in sadly separated multiple room huts, scattered across the American landscape of false independence or in the towers of despair we so eagerly and carelessly build, the task of getting on track is right now.

Getting on Track

Three global factors have brought about the demand for global, multilateral change in national societies that have experienced varying degrees of tragic impact. First, climate change is an umbrella disaster held over nasty little wars, floods, and firestorms followed by infectious diseases.  Second, most of these effects have been recognized as inevitable for a century or more. Third, the world’s leadership is beginning to understand that for the lack of a global agreement, much of all of this was and remains preventable in each new cycle.

Ironically, a fourth global factor is a conservative viewpoint expressed as the tragedy of the commons. The negative impact on a common pasture and the relationship among households raising grazing animals is real. The rules should change if the entire earth becomes that metaphorical pasture. Losing entire portions of massive coastal cities worldwide to surging ocean tides and entire biomes (forest to coral reef) will become the lived experience of millions of people. It will be as if billions of tons of waste that floats and sinks in the shared resource of the global oceans and the “dead zone” of the Gulf of Mexico could be seen by all. Societies pay for these disruptions with the starvation of children, the screams of helpless parents, and the stunned dismay of families who falsely believe they are saved with compensatory access to wealth.

The global climate has been stable for only the last 2,000 to 3,000 years. There should be no expectation that it would remain constant. The global climate is in many ways barely stable as a system, and a single push of added gases, heat, humans, and nature would make change inevitable yet still feel inconsequential as a threat. The demand for alternative ways of living is unimaginable as the swell of cheap energy continues to make everything, including faith in a quick tech-fix, easy to expect. In this psychological climate, finding replacements is difficult, and forcing amelioration by changing the price with substitutes violates the status quo. When assessed in the “commons” framework, two new categorical thinking patterns emerge as environmental and emotional intelligence.

Ostrom’s Answer is Occam’s Razor

A problem that exists in the future has two elements, one to design a defense, the other is to alter the future to make that unnecessary. The leaders involved may have had the lawyer’s skills and personality for political leadership, but to produce solutions essential to create trust, the science part of our minds and the science professions will form a new community. To do that, the change in the mode of problem-solving begins with a process that Elinor Ostrom has already figured out in a Nobel prize-winning way.

Our ancient brains in various shelters for the night knew of beasts, enemies, and trouble. That sense of big trouble is real, but the community may never experience its pain because of that sense alone. From the cave to the laboratory, what we have done is to define problems we believe might be unlikely to occur, but we solve them anyway. The quality of thinking in this instance is an old tactic still in use by scientists today called Occam’s Razor. As Albert Einstein notes, a theory of a threat with the fewest variables requires problem-solving work where “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

The first of Elinor Ostrom’s core design principles began in Governing the Commons (1990). It was as continuously optimistic as an economist can be in her research for the World Bank in 2009 (here). The paper, A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change, considers the possibility of a non-tragic global commons. It is here that she gives her life-long partner Vincent Ostrom an attribution to a central observation. She quotes his definition of polycentric as “one where many elements are capable of making mutual adjustments for ordering their relationships with one another within a general system of rules where each element acts with the independence of other elements.” It was written with Charles Tiebout and Robert Warren (Economic Base and Local Expenditure Theory).

Ostrom examined the power of working with problems using clearly defined boundaries that are already reasonably possessed and understood in the world. In strictly economic terms, such boundaries would be needed everywhere for everything and difficult to implement. On the other hand, this first rule is essential to working with big global problems such as thermonuclear war, climate change, and pandemic threats. Defining a boundary in a categorically new way offers promise as the concept is simple and easily understood.

Because purely economic solutions are easy to argue and difficult to implement, start with a simple physical entity such as a city as that category. Cities are places with a fixed boundary and a legal process for expansion or contraction. Thus, the city is an excellent place to implement the remaining seven of Ostrom’s solutions. It is a “back to the future” type of problem.

A city is an outstanding place to begin the implementation. The city with a boundary offers proportional equivalence and a clear, constantly improving data stream to monitor processes beginning with the measurement of benefits and costs in every imaginable or possible center capable of giving itself a boundary. It is ongoing but without mutual benefit consent. Proportionality within multiple geographies of a dense polycentric city of neighborhoods, cultural groups, ideologies, genders, and so on can become a transparent way to understand variables fully. In this way, it is possible to put the equality sign (or not) between two or more in the social and economic expressions.

The city also offers multiple platforms for “collective choice agreements.” The center of Ostrom’s argument recognizes the practical use of carefully implemented sanctions. The city’s boundary offers a set of measures from price restrictions to penalties, incentives, and subsidies designed to meet goals such as a good balance of affordable housing or lower per capita energy use. In New York City, neighborhood-level participation in governance is voluntary and advisory, but it expands central government capacity to understand issues as they are experienced locally. As these practices contribute to local autonomy, they are also capable of interpreting them globally. The resolution of problems begins with the kind of efficiency and quality of data feedback, which empowers local autonomy through participatory governance.

The last piece of Ostrom’s change-the-world puzzle looks to resolve existential threats with the ability to grow a polycentric rulemaking authority so that global rules are instantly recognized because they are already well-organized and in use locally. The only element missing is the lack of political recognition of this as an urban fact. Ostrom’s groundbreaking approach is not built on how people think but on eventually needing to organize their thinking. Hopefully, this work will escape its decade of discussion where it floats in the partial oblivion and trappings of its academic Nobel Prize (2009). It needs to find a city to live in as a permanent place of proof. I recommend New York City, and you know why.  If you can make it here, you can make it everywhere. Again, the city with a strong existing boundary has these systems in place.  The only element is the lack of political recognition of this fact.

Getting On Track

Run from the Bull

Bodacious, Blueberry Wine, Bushwacker

I found this on what the 2030 report was supposed to create. I noticed a comment I made regarding the process that they picked up.  If they were serious, they would disclose the process used to accomplish one of their basic goals. Goal: Get a park/recreation facility within walking distance of everyone, say 880 yards.

Challenge:  Identify those locations that do not meet this criterion. It would help if you implemented a strategy to accomplish the goal of walkable access, and then talk about how it was accomplished with examples and what still needs to be done. The alternative is to tell people what they don’t have and then fail to produce.

Running from the Bull or Riding One – same thing.

Real and imagined unknowns are part of our embedded information society. Yet, despite the call for transparency and more open society, government officials, business leaders, and human rights advocates share the mantra of the bull rider that says, “don’t get killed the moment the gate opens.” The preference for advanced knowledge for planning includes knowing that the bull will throw you off regardless. How and why New York City keeps its planning secrets is the stuff of its greatness. Or is it?

The PlaNYC link initially went to civic engagement sight.
It now points to the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilience
Anticipating PlaNYC.gov Same thing.

There are many ways to look at the advancement of an idea; you can bring advisors, experts, and consultants to test the bull for weaknesses.  It is the most predictable move that might suggest counterbalances.  A good example involves the advisory council members the Mayor’s office used for the 2030 PlaNYC.gov project.  A large group was asked to hear it first, keep it quiet, and prepare their respective constituencies with ideas about radically changing the city to solve problems, meet needs, or produce higher confidence levels. These advisors entered New York’s version of a time-honored practice known as the run from the bulls. What we all know, it occurs knowing or unknowingly. 

All advocates for community planning, housing or environmental activism, business or labor, have their own bull to ride. They also have some foreknowledge about successful placement within the arena. They can be part of the crowd or on a balcony above the fray. This is an OK part of participation. It is the burden of either leading or getting out of the way. The observation to make is that it is not always clear which is which. The decision to ride resembles the three most famous bulls in the world. They threw every single rider who attempted to last eight seconds presented metaphorically as follows:

  1. Bodacious – Climate Change
  2. Blueberry Wine – Sustainability
  3. Bushwacker –  Resilience 

Whether the 2030 Plan got called the Olympic plan in a green dress, or the World’s Greatest Bull ride, or the NYC version of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, every resident should be encouraged if one single truth is made clear from the onset — take the increments proposed for change and raise them by accomplishing one thing.  The truth seems far too elusive these days for short-term use.  It seems riskier than ever for decision-makers who use the truth and make a change. On the other hand, raw data gathered for use by anyone can expose a truth in which all can share. I offer an example as follows:

One person, who is without a doubt brilliant in the Bushwacker Class, gave us a map. As buildings are the single greatest producers of GHGs, and the goal in the world (for now) is to get to net-zero, I was hoping you could study the Emissions Map by the aforementioned brilliant person Jill Hubley. So I can find myself on this map, and someday I might be able to add my emissions data, and in trade to this data, I will be advised on what I can do that I can afford to do for me and the next owner of my home, my city, and world.

View Data

Face it. All ideas begin the secret of a few before they are shared. This is the essence of all ideas. When they emerge in a public forum such as the 2030 Plan, they arrive in a city that will argue its merits on a central principle expressed by this question.  “Will this help make a better life for all our residents regardless of household income?”  Is this the truth? It takes work to make it so that a great city like New York becomes one of beauty and greatness. 

New ideas must meet this first test of actionable power. It is important to know whether actions to remove dangerous foods and air from our lives or to bring all New Yorkers and the region into a synchronous transportation model are doable.  Try this last thought out for a second.   All of us have experienced the shocking realization that the cost of running the MTA is a financial responsibility that travels well beyond that paid by its riders.  But, how on the good green earth can does removing the burden that sits substantially on riders alone become a probable outcome?  It seems consensus cannot occur or even be considered without crisis.

We cannot pretend that the burden of financing NYC’s glory in the American sense or its survival in a global sense is the exclusive responsibility of the Mayor, his team, or our political representatives. It is every Jack One of us. The simple, uncomplicated truth may therefore have nothing to do with the facts.  Our absolute responsibility is to protect vulnerable families in a vulnerable city because that protection is needed for everyone regardless of wealth.

How long will the simple measures of our accountability continue to be dismissed as a truism? The real proof of our work and our time in the making and re-making of this city is to measure to value the change.  If this measure is not “people,” what could it possibly be? The hard questions about this responsibility are like secrets. The real test is upon us all to start talking about Bodacious, Blueberry Wine, and Bushwacker.

There are about 1,200 members in this section, and the activity level is low, but the networking is strong. LinkedIn is known for its job networking services, but its “group function” makes this system available to members to share articles, post questions, and define issues affecting New York City and the Region. Anyone can view group content, request an invitation to join, become managers or set up a subgroup on an issue.

There are about 1,200 members in this section, and the activity level is low, but the networking is strong. LinkedIn is known for its job networking services, but its “group function” makes this system available to members to share articles, post questions, and define issues affecting New York City and the Region. Anyone can view group content, request an invitation to join, become managers or set up a subgroup on an issue.

NYC Waterfront Plan 2020

The details on a Reach by Reach basis are well worth some urban design quires and perusals. We have long known that we see what we think is there and that this can be correct or incorrect at any time but always considered correct, and we know that not every observation we make is exact. We know errors in perception and measurement exist. These elements of the human condition are fundamental and accepted collectively in science and psychology. The more important issue is our responsibility to seek or develop statements of fact that have such lasting clarity in describing the conditions of our time they will continue to make sense in the distant future despite these errors. I want your opinion of the waterfront draft on this basis (or, how much jargon can plan one take?).

Armed with this knowledge, please read the Waterfront Plan for recommendations and procedures most likely to reduce error when discussing measurements. Second, suggest ways to find these errors during the implementation of plan components that provide for adjustments.

There are no design police. Nevertheless, the New Yorker only needs to recall the Sixth Avenue commercial office bonus scheme to realize the limitations involved in the public’s regulatory interest in extending Central Park a bit to the south with urban plazas along the avenue. Likewise, one only needs to look at the “restrictive declaration” used in Astoria to recognize a public access failure when you see it. Both represented a straightforward and honorable desire, but one that was interpreted very differently by the developer’s bottom line of that time. Today we have a double bottom line approach. Please bring this do no harm value to your review of the plan’s revision as follows:

The New York Department of City Planning website asks you to get involved with Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. It offers a set of links (below). Each seeks thoughtful people to reflect on the new public realm†and deduce the purpose of the update from its 1992 version under Wilber “Bill” Woods. Unfortunately, all of the links seeking participation died, and the most recent update is November 2018, as seen below:

Earlier Updates

The connection of New York City’s 500+ miles of blue-interface to regulatory entities such as the NYC Building Code, the Clean Water Act, and the long list or labyrinth of permits demand site-t0-site complexities. The call for waterproofing every new structure within a few hundred feet of the waterfront at 14 feet above mean high tide is a “code” example.

Another is the use of the word elevated about the inevitable rise of sea levels. It suggests the need for other measurements to sustain the basic value of public access that sits as the foundation of the public interest. Perhaps it would be a good thing to see NYC function and Venice, has in the centuries to come, or to plan as well as our friends in the Netherlands. It would seem prudent in a ten-year plan to outline factors in NYC interest as far into the future as reasonable.

  • Note: The word elevate in the DRAFT is found twice as follows: Provide elevated views to the waterfront in Reach 2 Lower Manhattan and Explore the creation of elevated viewing deck overlooking cruise terminals in Reach 3 Lower West Side. What exactly is the measure for elevated, and how might this carry over or affect the entire waterfront.

Unlike the folks in the Netherlands that have confidently stated the count to be climate-proof, NYC-DCP selection is climate resilience. It says:

While Vision 2020 is focused on the next ten years, the plan recognizes the need to plan for a much longer time frame. The New York City Panel on Climate Change. See 2010 Report (354 pg) from the NY Academy of Sciences.  It has been projected that sea levels are expected to rise anywhere from 12 inches to 55 inches by 2080. In addition, severe storms and the floods associated with them are expected to occur more frequently.

As a coastal city, many New York neighborhoods experience flooding and storm surges. These risks are expected to increase as the effects of climate change are felt. The Department of City Planning is working with other City agencies on assessing the risks associated with the sea-level rise to develop strategies for the city to increase its resilience. Strategies include regulatory and other measures to improve the flood resistance of new and existing buildings and explore soft infrastructure approaches to coastal protection.

Urban Planning and Design in New York

There are about 1,200 members in this section, and the activity level is low, but the networking is strong. LinkedIn is known for its job networking services, but its “group function” makes this system available to members to share articles, post questions, and define issues affecting New York City and the Region. Anyone can view group content, request an invitation to join, become managers or set up a subgroup on an issue.

Connect the Council

City Council

The relationship between the city, the state, and the national government is complex. A close examination of issues that confront NY City Council Members include allocations that the state and federal government share. A focus on how well they apportion allocations from the ground up is on the eight members of the City Council within the Ninth Congressional District. Think of it as an experiment in the idea of common ground. The New York City Council has 51 members with limited terms. We will be focusing on the 40th, but we will happily accept offers to follow the other districts within the congressional envelop. All contributions are held in confidence. We are grateful, we are thankful, we are watchful.

The Report

Have a look at the financial data links and council links below. Other than bits of corruption among the former members, the most notable event was the rise to power of Brad Lander (39th District) to the Office of the Controller.

 

WikiNameOperationsNotes
District 35Crystal HudsonCampaign
District 39Shahana HanifCampaign
District 40Rita JosephCampaign
District 41Darlene MealyCC Site
District 44Kalman YegerCC site
District 45Farah LouisCC site
District 46Mercedes NarcisseCampaign Site
District 48Inna Vernikov
District Members

Do they share issues and an interest in common problem-solving?  It is challenging to tell, but one fact is clear a large percentage of their constituents can be reached on issues.

The City Council’s Fiscal Year Budget provides a “show me the money” view for constituents. For example, it illustrates how and where discretionary funds are spent in City Council Districts. It averages over $1 million per councilperson, and the city council website lists millions in disbursements under the discretionary line that Councilmembers use to help local organizations have a look (here). The image below illustrates the process and that further analysis can be conducted via Excel.

Get download (here)

Have a look here as well: (2017) (2018) (2019) (2020) You get the picture. It is all about the Benjamins. Usually, in June, the Council authorized NYC’s FY Budget. It involves investments in youth, education, support for immigrant communities, strengthening our City’s reserves, and so on. Two other resources can give citizens a way to explore the entire $80+ Billion used to operate this great city.  Contribute your analysis or lead us to the work of others as it affects your City Councilmember.

An excellent source of information and analysis is the Independent Budget Office. If you are interested in diving into the deep end of the “Benjamin” pool, go to Data Download for Expense Budget Analysis and a Revenue Analysis (here).

Thank you for your support and guidance.

Connect Senate


Connect Senate Members & CD9

NYS-63 Senators

The relationship of constituents to the State Government’s 63 members of the NY Senate can last a long time. They have two-year terms but there are no limits. This section seeks information that contributes to a better understanding of issues that confront our state representatives that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 016eb-e_senate.png
Senate Districts in CD9
  • In 2016 Senate District 17 voted for Trump.  Details are here.

Do they share issues and solve problems?  It is difficult to tell.

For example, an analysis by participants in an effort to reform the Brooklyn political machine came up with this analysis by the New Kings Democrats. Is your Senator working for you or not?

SDSenatorPartyOpen States
17Simcha FelderDemocraticBills Positions
18Martin Malave DilanDemocraticBills Positions
19Roxanne J. PersaudDemocraticBills Positions
20Jesse HamiltonDemocraticBills Positions
21Kevin S ParkerDemocraticBills Positions
22Martin J GoldenRepublicanBills Positions
25Velmanette MontgomeryDemocraticBills Positions

Connect Assembly

Assembly Members

NYS-151 Assembly Members
You know where you live.  Use the map and report your Assemblymember in the comment section below.  Before selecting your Assemblymember within the Ninth Congressional District take a moment to review: Session Four “How to Sustain the Resistance Long Term” presented by New York Assemblyman and DNC Vice Chair, Michael Blake. Look for his talk at the Resistance School April 27, 2017 (HERE). Tweet @resist_school #resistanceschool #resist

41Helene WeinsteinDemocraticBills Positions
42Rodneyse BichotteDemocraticBills Positions
43Diana RichardsonWorking FamiliesBills Positions
44Robert CarrollDemocraticBills Positions
45Steven CymbrowitzDemocraticBills Positions
46Pamela HarrisDemocraticBills Positions
47William ColtonDemocraticBills Positions
48Dov HikindDemocraticBills Positions
49Peter Abbate Jr.DemocraticBills Positions
50Joseph LentolDemocraticBills Positions
51Felix OrtizDemocraticBills Positions
52Jo Anne SimonDemocraticBills Positions
53Maritza DavilaDemocraticBills Positions
54Erik DilanDemocraticBills Positions
55Latrice WalkerDemocraticBills Positions
56Tremaine WrightDemocraticBills Positions
57Walter MosleyDemocraticBills Positions
58N. Nick PerryDemocraticBills Positions
59Jaime WilliamsDemocraticBills Positions

Connect Community Districts

Seven Community Districts share the geography, interests, needs, and concerns of the Ninth Congressional District.  The map and links below seek participants.

Engaging residents in a relationship that links local development activities to investors’ money in community improvement (or not) dates to the 1950s with the formation of Community Planning Councils. The most recent change in this practice occurred in 1989 when the Charter Revision Commission changed the structure of NYC government and increased the role of residents by establishing Community Boards in the environmental (CEQA) and land-use review process (aka ULURP) that affects their communities. There are 59 Community Boards in NYC, and eighteen are in Brooklyn and a third of them are in Congressional District Nine.

Connect School Districts

There are three school districts that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District. How will changes in Federal and therefore state and city policy affect schools in these districts? The objective would be to identify parents, the primary self-interest group.  There are not links (yet) to these constituents. The start of developing this idea is here: Office of Family and Community Engagement remembering one key element. The parent constituency is brief and overlaps rapidly in roughtly two groups of parents – those with kids in PreK-8 or High Schools. Just finding those taking the time to lead is difficult.

District 17, 18 and 22
Parent Leadership Schools: Parent Associations/Parent Teacher Association and School Leadership Team
Districtwide
Presidents’ Council, District Leadership Team or Community Education Council.
Citywide: Leadership in Citywide Education Councils, The Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council and the Panel for Education Policy
Parent Leader Times
The Chancellor’s quarterly newsletter for Parent Leaders

Special Districts

Table Of Prompts
  1. Special Atlantic Avenue District (Brooklyn)
  2. Special Battery Park City District (Manhattan)
  3. Special Bay Ridge District (Brooklyn)
  4. Special City Island District (the Bronx)
  5. Special Clinton District (Manhattan)
  6. Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District (Brooklyn)
  7. Special Franklin Street Mixed Use District (Brooklyn)
  8. Special Fulton Mall District (Brooklyn)
  9. Special Garment Center District (Manhattan)
  10. Special Grand Concourse District (the Bronx)
  11. Special Greenwich Street Development District (Manhattan)
  12. Special Hillsides Preservation District (Staten Island)
  13. Special Hunters Point Mixed-Use District (Queens)
  14. The Special Court Square Subdistrict
  15. The Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District
  16. Special Limited Commercial District (Manhattan)
  17. Special Little Italy District (Manhattan)
  18. Special Madison Avenue Preservation District (Manhattan)
  19. Special Manhattan Bridge District
  20. Special Manhattan Landing Development District
  21. Special Midtown District (Manhattan)
  22. Special Natural Area District (the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island)
  23. Special Northside Mixed Use District (Brooklyn)
  24. Special Ocean Parkway District (Brooklyn)
  25. Special Park Improvement District (Manhattan)
  26. Special Planned Community Preservation District (the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens)
  27. Special Scenic View District (Brooklyn)
  28. Special Sheepshead Bay District (Brooklyn)
  29. Special South Richmond Development District (Staten Island)
  30. Special South Street Seaport District (Manhattan)
  31. Special Transit Land Use District (Manhattan)
  32. Special Union Square District (Manhattan)
  33. Special United Nations Development District (Manhattan)

Following is a review of the Special District language. The view is expressed in the Department of City Planning’s Zoning Handbook. The advent (the hope) of contextual zoning has reduced the demand for special district formation (e.g. Clinton type protection is between the lines of this policy) and thereby raises the bar for the status of “special” in the zoning text.

The closest special district player in Washington Heights is made special by the alleged need to build a 7-story deep bathtub in Manhattanville and then go up 10 to 15 stories to serve Columbia’s interest in a 21st c. campus. It is not likely that CD 12 will need to protect itself (as in Clinton) or promote this form of specialness, as in the “blue zone” approach. To give it a try the following is offered as a method for discovering the language or precedents that may prove helpful in determining a course of action on this theme.

Prior to the passage of contextual zoning, the most widely used affirmative zoning technique was special district zoning. This technique permits areas with unique characteristics to flourish rather than be overwhelmed by standard development. Over the years, the City Planning Commission has codified a large number of special zoning districts to achieve specific planning and urban design objectives for limited, well-defined areas. Each district stipulates requirements and/or provides zoning incentives for developers who provide the specific urban qualities the Commission looks to promote in that area. It has proven itself to be a lawful way of using private capital to carry out public policy, but not without its challenges.

Special Atlantic Avenue District (Brooklyn)

The Special Atlantic Avenue District was created to preserve the scale and character of Atlantic Avenue, including certain architectural features of the buildings. The special district provides flexibility in arranging building bulk, mandates street-level commercial uses and establishes design guidelines for renovation and new construction. Demolition of buildings is prohibited in the district except in the case of unsafe buildings, or to make way for a new development for which a building permit and financial commitments have been secured. To improve the visual character of the avenue, special sign regulations are imposed for commercial establishments.

Special Battery Park City District (Manhattan)

The Special Battery Park City District was created to govern extensive residential and commercial development in an area close to the business core of Lower Manhattan in accordance with a master plan for Battery Park City.

The centerpiece of the master plan is the office complex. To the north and south of this complex are two large residential neighborhoods with street-level retail uses. One major element of the plan is a continuous esplanade providing public access to the Hudson River waterfront. The district contains special design controls with respect to floor area ratio, required building walls and permissible building height.

Special Bay Ridge District (Brooklyn)

The Special Bay Ridge District was established to protect the existing scale and character of the Bay Ridge community. The special district distinguishes the scale of development in the midblock from that on the avenue frontage. The midblock street zone encourages two- and three-family homes with a maximum height of three stories. The Avenue Zone encourages the rehabilitation of existing structures and limits new development to a six- to eight-story maximum. Special setbacks, curb cuts, open space, tree planting, and ground floor commercial requirements have been included to preserve the character of the existing street wall both along the avenues and side streets.

Special City Island District (the Bronx)

The Special City Island District was adopted to preserve the nautical uses and low-rise residential character of City Island. The special district regulations restrict the size and illumination of business signs, limit building heights to three- to five stories, and ensure adequate parking. The only commercial and manufacturing use permitted are those which reflect the nautical flavor of the island or serve the retail needs of the residents.

Special Clinton District (Manhattan)

The Special Clinton District in Manhattan was created to preserve and strengthen the residential character of the community, maintain the mixture of income groups present in the area and ensure that Clinton is not adversely affected by new development.

Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District (Brooklyn)

The Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District was established to stabilize residential development while protecting the area’s industrial base. The district allows limited new residential infill and requires special permits for large new industrial developments. Existing residential buildings are allowed enlargements, alterations, and repairs, and construction of new residential buildings is allowed if the buildings are next to an existing residential or community facility use. New manufacturing is limited to certain light industries compatible with residential uses.

Special Franklin Street Mixed Use District (Brooklyn)

The Special Franklin Street Mixed-Use District was established to achieve a balance between residential and industrial uses by remapping the area from an M1-1 district to an R6 (M1-1) district. The district allows residential and community facility uses according to R6 district regulations. All existing industrial uses may expand by 3,000 square feet, or 50 percent, whichever is less. A larger expansion may be granted by a special permit from the City Planning Commission.

A new user group, Use Group M, has been established which allows light industries and commercial uses in Use Groups 6, 7, 9, and 11 to occupy vacant storefronts.

Special Fulton Mall District (Brooklyn)

The Special Fulton Mall District in Downtown Brooklyn was established to create an attractive shopping environment as part of a city street mall plan. Special retail use, sign, facade and circulation improvement regulations are provided. A special assessment district has been created, through state legislation, to maintain the mall.

Vehicular traffic (except buses) is prohibited within the mall. Major public amenities required within the district include improved transit access, street furniture, street lighting, tree planting, and special treatment of the sidewalks and roadbeds.

Special Garment Center District (Manhattan)

The Special Garment Center District was created to maintain the viability of apparel production in selected mid blocks in the city’s Garment Center by creating a Preservation Area within which the conversion of manufacturing space to office use is restricted. Conversion to office use in the Preservation Area is permitted only by certification of the City Planning Commission that an equal amount of comparable floor area has been preserved for specified manufacturing uses. The legality of this special district is currently being litigated.

Special Grand Concourse District (the Bronx)

The Special Grand Concourse District was created to protect the distinctive art deco composition and scale of the Grand Concourse by establishing bulk and design regulations and limiting commercial uses to designated locations that will not conflict with the boulevard’s traditional residential character. The district consists of a Residential Preservation Area and three commercial sub-areas. New construction must conform to R8X (Alternate 1) guidelines.

Special Greenwich Street Development District (Manhattan)

The Special Greenwich Street Development District was established to foster and promote the orderly expansion of commercial development in an area of Lower Manhattan adjacent to Battery Park City and the World Trade Center.

This district attempts to implement an integrated plan for improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation and to encourage the development of a variety of retail and service establishments to meet the needs of the area’s working population. This is accomplished through a series of pedestrian circulation improvements and certain lot improvements in the district for which floor area bonuses are offered.

Some unique features of this district are its provisions for involving both the developer and appropriate public agencies in the construction of certain pedestrian circulation improvements.

Special Hillsides Preservation District (Staten Island)

The purpose of the Special Hillsides Preservation District is to preserve the hilly terrain and unique natural features of Staten Island by reducing hillside erosion, landslides, and excessive stormwater runoff. The primary concept for regulating development under this special district is the slope coverage approach: as the development site becomes steeper, the permitted building coverage decreases, but the permissible floor area on the site remains the same.

Special Hunters Point Mixed-Use District (Queens)

The Special Hunters Point Mixed Use District was created to permit limited as-of-right status for the enlargement/alteration of existing residential buildings and for new infill residential construction. All residential and community facility uses are subject to R5 district regulations. In some cases, a special permit is required for certain residential and community facility uses. New manufacturing and commercial uses, or enlargement of existing buildings containing such uses, are allowed as-of-right as long as these developments or enlargements contain no residential uses and do not cause significant adverse environmental impacts. Such new developments or enlargements must meet M1 district performance standards.

The Special Court Square Subdistrict

The Special Court Square Subdistrict has been created within this special district to encourage high-density commercial development in an area well-served by the subway system.
Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District (Manhattan)

The Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District

The Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District was established to enhance the pedestrian configuration and appearance of the area surrounding the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It is intended to promote new development compatible with the Convention Center by mandating street walls, and streetscape improvements that supplement the underlying zoning district regulations.

Pedestrian circulation improvements consist of landscaped sidewalk widenings and through-block walkways, street trees, and retail frontage along Eleventh Avenue. Height and setback regulations govern all new buildings along Eleventh Avenue, the streets surrounding the Convention Center Plaza, and the through block walkways. Mandated street wall setbacks and sky exposure planes regulate the distribution of building bulk to define the public spaces on which they front and frame the edges of the Plaza.

Special Limited Commercial District (Manhattan)

The Special Limited Commercial District attempts to preserve the character of commercial areas within historic districts by restricting commercial uses to those uses compatible with the historic district, and by mandating that all commercial uses be in completely enclosed buildings. In addition, limitations are also set for the size and illumination of signs within the special district. One such special district has been mapped in Greenwich Village.

Special Little Italy District (Manhattan)

The Special Little Italy District was established to preserve and enhance the historic and commercial character of this community. Special use regulations protect the retail area along Mulberry Street. Other regulations encourage residential rehabilitation and new development on a scale consistent with existing buildings, discourage the demolition of noteworthy buildings, and increase the number of street trees in the area.

Special Madison Avenue Preservation District (Manhattan)

The Special Madison Avenue Preservation District is intended to preserve and reinforce the unique character of Madison Avenue and the surrounding area (from 61st to 96th streets). Bulk and street wall height provisions limit the height of new development to the scale of existing buildings, require a continuous building facade along Madison Avenue, mandate continuous ground floor development of a selected list of appropriate shops, and require the provision of usable recreation space at rooftop levels. Within this district the maximum permissible floor area ratio is 10.0. Since building height is limited, greater building coverage is allowed.

Special Manhattan Bridge District

The Special Manhattan Bridge District was established to preserve the residential character of this Lower Manhattan community, to minimize residential relocation on development sites, and to provide for selective demolition and rehabilitation of existing buildings. A special floor area bonus is allowed for the provision of new community facility space and/or dwelling units for low- and moderate-income families. Within this district it is possible to transfer development rights from a site containing existing buildings to a new development. The district mandates that street trees be planted in connection with a new development. Unless renewed, this district was designed to “lapse” on September 1, 1991. Have to update this, any of you all have a line on this…

Special Manhattan Landing Development District

The Special Manhattan Landing Development District guides off-shore development from Battery Park to the Manhattan Bridge along the East River. This district is under review.

Special Midtown District (Manhattan)

The Special Midtown District was established to guide all development within the midtown central business district. The special district includes three areas of special concern that are subject to additional regulations. These sub-districts are: the TheatreSubdistrict, the PreservationSubdistrict and the Fifth AvenueSubdistrict.

The Special Midtown District has a base FAR of 15.0 along avenue frontages and an FAR of 12.0 in the mid-blocks. The base FAR in the Preservation Subdistrict is 8.0 in order to restrict development on the side streets surrounding the Museum of Modern Art. The base FAR of the Theatre Subdistrict core (on Broadway and Seventh Avenue frontages around Times Square) is set at 14.0 FAR, the FAR in the mid-blocks between Sixth and Seventh Avenues is set at 12.0 and the FAR in the mid-blocks between Broadway and Eighth Avenue is 10.0.

The core of the Theatre Subdistrict has the highest concentration of legitimate theaters and entertainment-related uses. The Theatre Subdistrict requires a City Planning Commission special permit for demolition of any of the 44 legitimate theaters that are not designated landmarks.

The Theatre Subdistrict has a special use and signage requirements (in keeping with the character of the area). A flexible development rights transfer provision has been established for the preservation of landmark theaters. In the Theatre Subdistrict, a new building above a certain size must reserve at least five percent of its floor space (not FAR) for entertainment and theater-related uses. Areas located outside the Preservation Subdistrict and the Theatre Subdistrict are eligible for an as-of-right FAR bonus for urban plazas, through-block galleries, and theater retention. The only bonus available in the Theatre Subdistrict core is the City Planning Commission special permit bonus for rehabilitation of listed theaters. The Preservation Subdistrict is not eligible for any floor area bonus. Other remaining areas can receive a floor area bonus for subway station improvements and for rehabilitation of theaters.

Certain urban design features, such as continuity of street wall and retail uses, off-street relocation of existing subway stairs, and provision of on-site pedestrian circulation spaces are mandated. The special district also includes certain use and signage controls for the Fifth Avenue and Theatre Sub-districts. Special daylight evaluation criteria are included to ensure the availability of light and air on midtown streets. The Special Midtown District represents a shift away from discretionary zoning to more predictable, as-of-right development.

Special Natural Area District (the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island)

The purpose of the Special Natural Area District is to preserve unique natural characteristics, such as aquatic, biologic, geologic, and topographic features having ecological and conservation values, by reviewing all new developments and site alterations on primarily vacant land. Natural features are protected by limiting modifications in topography, by preserving tree, plant, and marine life, and natural watercourses, and by requiring clustered development to maximize the preservation of natural features.

Under the regulations of the special district, the City Planning Commission must certify that all new development in mapped natural area districts meets applicable preservation standards.
Special natural area districts have been mapped in the Greenbelt and Von Briesen Park areas of Staten Island, in Riverdale, and in Fort Totten. These areas are endowed with steep slopes, rock outcrops, creeks, and a variety of botanic environments.

Special Northside Mixed Use District (Brooklyn)

This mixed-use district is designed to meet the needs of a neighborhood where housing and industry co-exist. The City Planning Commission selectively mapped mixed-use areas — R(M) when the area is primarily residential and M(R) when it is industrial — to allow controlled residential or light manufacturing expansion where such uses can grow and function without conflict. This and the Coney Island district were the forerunners of MX (I know I worked on them).

R(M) and M(R) districts combine the regulations for R6 and M1 areas. In an M(R) district, manufacturing uses are permitted to develop in the same manner as in any other M1 district. Existing residences may be enlarged and new residential construction is permitted as-of-right on blocks that are already primarily residential. New residential construction is permitted on certain other sites after approval of a special permit by the City Planning Commission.

In an R(M) district, residential uses are permitted to develop in the same manner as in any other R6 district. Limited expansion of selected light industries that do not conflict with residential uses is permitted. Other industries become non-conforming and are allowed to remain but not to expand. New industrial development requires a special permit from the Commission.

Special Ocean Parkway District (Brooklyn)

The purpose of the Special Ocean Parkway District is to strengthen the existing character and quality of the community and to enhance the scenic landmark designation of Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. All new community facility developments or enlargements are limited, except by special permission, to the residential bulk regulations of the underlying districts. All developments with frontage on Ocean Parkway are required to provide a 30-foot unobstructed front yard, subject to limitations on paving and landscaping, thereby preserving the character envisioned by the original designer of the parkway. Accessory off-street parking for all new developments must be completely enclosed and all new developments along Ocean Parkway are required to provide street trees. Isn’t that special…

Special Park Improvement District (Manhattan)

The Special Park Improvement District was created to preserve the character and architectural quality of Fifth and Park Avenues. It limits the height of new buildings to 210 feet or 19 stories, whichever is less, and mandates street wall continuity.

Special Planned Community Preservation District (the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens)

The Special Planned Community Preservation District designation protects the unique character of well-planned communities that have been developed as a unit. Those communities characteristically have large landscaped open spaces and a superior relationship of buildings, open spaces, commercial uses, and pedestrian and vehicular circulation. In many cases, they have been threatened by development pressures. No demolition, new development, enlargement, or alteration of landscaping or topography is permitted within the district except by special permit of the City Planning Commission. Preservation districts have been mapped in Sunnyside Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Parkchester, and Harlem River Houses.

Special Scenic View District (Brooklyn)

The Special Scenic View District is intended to prevent obstruction of outstanding scenic views as seen from a public park, esplanade or mapped public place. No buildings or structures are allowed to penetrate a scenic view plane except by a special permit of the City Planning Commission. To protect the waterfront view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge, a special scenic view district has been mapped for the area west of the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade.

Special Sheepshead Bay District (Brooklyn)

The Special Sheepshead Bay District was devised to encourage development that will strengthen and protect the neighborhood’s unique waterfront recreation and commercial character. In the area immediately north of the fishing fleet wharves, commercial uses are restricted to uses that support waterfront and tourist-related activities.

All new development along Emmons Avenue must provide widened sidewalks, street trees, and plazas which may contain sitting areas, landscaping, kiosks, and cafes. Floor area bonuses are provided for plazas, arcades, usable residential open space, and additional accessory commercial parking. Special density and height limits have been established. This district is under review.

Special South Richmond Development District (Staten Island)

The Special South Richmond Development District was established to guide the development of predominantly vacant land in the southern half of Staten Island. The special district maintains the densities established by the underlying zones and ensures that new development is compatible with existing communities.

To maintain the existing community character, the district mandates tree preservation, planting requirements, controls on changes to the topography, height limits, and setback and curb cut restrictions along railroads and certain roads. It restricts construction within designated open space (a defined network of open space set aside for preservation in its natural state). To preserve designated open space without penalizing the owners of such space, owners are permitted to transfer development rights from the designated open space to the balance of their property. A topographic survey and a report on the availability of public services must be submitted by the developer as a prerequisite to any application for development. A performance bond must also be provided to assure continued maintenance and improvement of public open space.

Special South Street Seaport District (Manhattan)

The purpose of the Special South Street Seaport District is to facilitate the preservation and restoration of the seaport’s historic buildings in accordance with an approved development plan. The low scale of the seaport is retained by transferring development rights above the low buildings to specified neighboring locations for commercial development.

Special Transit Land Use District (Manhattan)

The Special Transit Land Use District relates development along Second Avenue to a future subway line. The special district requires builders of developments adjoining subway stations to reserve space in their projects, by providing an easement, for public access to the subway or other subway-related use. The resulting new subway entrances and mezzanines would be airy, attractive, and functional instead of sidewalk obstructions that impede pedestrian circulation. The district is mapped at locations between Chatham Square and East 126th Street

Special Union Square District (Manhattan)

The Special Union Square District was established to revitalize the area around Union Square by encouraging mixed-use development. Its urban design provisions are designed to provide compatibility between new development, existing buildings, and Union Square Park. The district mandates ground floor retail uses, off-street relocation of subway stairs, and the continuity of street walls. Special streetscape and signage controls enhance the physical appearance of the district Within this district a floor area ratio bonus for subway improvements are available by special permit of the City Planning Commission.

Special United Nations Development District (Manhattan)

The Special United Nations Development District attempts to guide the development of the midtown area adjacent to the United Nations. A major feature of the district regulations is a unified design concept. The basic floor area ratio for the district was increased from 10.0 to 15.0 to promote special public amenities needed in the area and to implement the development plan.

Crisis Management

As a planner interested in establishing strategic advantages, one of the first things to get done is an assessment of readiness. A good risk assessment helps reduce the need for crisis management. The risk list can be a very basic set of public responsibilities – fire response is the classic example of a known probability. Responding to the unknown, on the other hand, is a difficult policy to establish – stop and fisk comes to mind when a police power clashes with an unknown probability. Setting aside a resource that may never be used or using one without legitimacy weakens the public power to protect its citizens. To put the “unknown” into perspective I organize my thinking with four components in mind.

It matters little if you are one family or the president of a large company or a nation. You can do a risk assessment, outline actions that reduce them, consider what needs to be insured and how each risk is shared in your community, region, or world.

Risk AssessmentReducing RiskInsuranceRisk Transfer
Prioritized probability based on global capacity to harmPlan measures that will lower physical vulnerabilityProduce and provide reservesCouple data with reinsurance strategies
——————————————————————-——————–
Assess human vulnerability with analysis by typeSet control measures by unique locations and local conditionsReserve funds, to assure services drive supply demandsDevelop regional approaches to pool insurance risks
———————–———————–——————-——————-
Integrate information on probabilities with a fiscal strategyEstablish responsive comprehensive protocol refined by priorityLocalize “rainy day” systems to deploy first response systemLong term debt plan with international financial institutions

Using these four columns, an assessment of impacts from global warming to a rapidly spreading virus on your town, city, or world can be very effective. I pulled this table from my files because learned how the national office on pandemic response planning got opened, then closed over the years. The nations of the world have let crisis policy slip into the fog of “it can’t happen here or now,” or worse, “if it happens, the loss can be absorbed.” Allowing this “roulette-table” thinking at the top does not increase the invulnerability of decision-makers. As any psychologist will tell you, assuring shared vulnerability is a source of courage, especially when it is needed greatly.

Preventing natural disasters is not possible. For example, GHGs entering the atmosphere occur naturally; as do viruses, however, the confirmation that the increase is dangerous only leaves human actors to respond with “decisions and actions” and, hopefully, the skills to mitigate two results. The physical damage to people and the impact on their output.

The Program

The use of the term “program” requires an explanation in the following discussion of managing crises.  Please imagine the word “program” as a single entity for managing all human affairs. Now see it as having control over any change that endangers a community and that it is good at its job.

Assigning a value to solve an imagined problem has a long list of practical trials that analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty in actuarial programs. Here, the problem is not solved, just the loss of all or a portion of the impact. It is paid in cash, in support of recovery, post-trauma. We are entering a period of earth’s 4.5 billion-year history when that will not be enough. It was only 2.5 million years since humans began flaking stone into tools and only the last 100,000 in which this practice became lethal.

Solving a problem based on a variable that has not been set previously is a matter of setting default values with preemptive power over the unknown. However, once a value for preventive action is defined, the “if this,” “then that” condition occurs. Once again, releasing the post-trauma solution.  Not good enough.

A no value, non-declared variable occurs due to the complete suspension of judgment. The cause is indeterminacy within the program.  In this case, the program selects all undefined variables as equal and assigns all of them to a recurring cycle. What can be made to recur reveals the control methods equivalent to the complexity of the recurrence. For its practitioners, this is the release of an intuitive learning process plus math.

It is time for an example.  Statistical epidemiologists break up a population into cohorts and apply versions of the SIR model – susceptible, infected, and recovered or removed (described here).  The math expands to define “exposed” but not infected and other variables as they wish.  The center of the COVID-19 experience reveals to its analysts a long list of possible no value, nondeclared variables that could exist ahead of any occurrence.

Next, the ratio of recovery to removal reveals a death rate, and an infector/infectee ratio estimates the serial interval. The ordinary flu transmits in 3.6 days, where a 95% confidence interval would be from 2.9 to 4.3 days with a standard deviation of 1.6 days.  The method of per person/per place transmission is known; mitigation steps can be taken. If you prefer “a devil in the details” approach, I recommend the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME Univer­sity of Washington). They produce The Global Burden of Disease report on every illness and injury in the world every year.

A disease transmitted from person to person reveals the “reproductive number” to evaluate transmission rates followed by subsequent measures of time for transmission and mitigation recommendations. The serial interval or the period when infector/infectee becomes infectee/infectee becomes known. Action can be taken.

It’s time for a metaphor. Serological tests require massive numbers to identify antibodies, immune response in a population leading to preemption safeguards, quarantine periods, and social distancing policies. Silos filled with nuclear warheads dot the earth for a known threat culminating in a theory of mutually assured destruction. The same approach to viral infection in the population should be equal to the associated uncertainty of war, as it carries a similar (if not higher) range of no value, nondeclared variables.

New policy frameworks will demand a far greater assessment of risk, methods of reduction, and shared transfers of technology. We are one family and drink from cups full of speculations and opinions and must know that wisdom comes from emptying these cups.

American Health Care Crisis

The “If Not Now, When?”

Since 2010, 100 rural hospitals have closed, and another 430 are at risk, yet 30 million Americans cannot get regular care, of which 63% are racial and ethnic minorities. These are the facts, the American health care crisis ends when everyone will routinely see a doctor regardless of their income.

Danger+Opportunity

A crisis is composed of two “hanzi”– danger and opportunity. Now more than ever in American history, everyone needs primary and mental health care, dental, and low-cost prescription drugs. To help make that happen, the Defense Production Act authorizes resources of the National Guard, the Army Corp of Engineers, and others to assist providers in opening shut down hospitals, support existing facilities and expand community health centers in every community. Activating the Medicare System to pay for all COVID-19 emergency and related medical bills is the way forward. Do it now. Don’t argue with zombies.

The Real Test: Solving the Economic Crisis

  1. No layoffs, a livable wage, equity to the government, and workers on corporate boards
  2. Use Federal Reserve under section 14(2)(b) will buy short-term municipal debt securities.
  3. Stock buybacks and bonuses for executives will be banned
  4. Ensure no corporation profits from the economic pain of COVID-19 people
  5. Ensure every employer in crisis gets emergency credit extensions and loans
  6. Suspend all Farm Service Agency loan payments  
  7. The government will price all prescription drugs developed with every known form of tax code/taxpayer dollar and take patents from pharmaceutical companies for emergencies and for cause due to violations, give license to generic companies.

All crises are opportunities, even COVID-19. Many small and medium-sized businesses will go out of business. The large corporations will seek and take new markets. We need resources to document our prevention failures in health and economics. We will need to know who, how and where these failures occur, region by region, state by state. The unintentional impacts of ‘for the good financial care’ need to be understood because it can suppress thoughtful interest and protest movements. It also provides time for “big-capital” to choose what it needs and take what it wants even as it adds public resources to continue downward pressure on American wages.

Consider how direct-cash-payment for small and medium-sized businesses payrolls extends the economic crisis if it includes $2,000 cash payments per person/employee every month as needed. That 40% of our people who could not afford a $400 emergency is moot as it is unlikely to occur all at once, and yet now seems possible. A moratorium on bills due (i.e., evictions, foreclosures, utilities, mortgages) could be one of those everything all at once $400 problems so again, to “who, how and where,” we must add when.

More capital and expanded capacity for existing safety net programs are desperately needed, but ineffectual for systemic change. Unemployment insurance to cover 100 percent of prior salary with a cap at $75K/year could also command some brain-power participation by advancing a job/GND/health corps challenge. Do not waive the payments on student debt held by 45 million Americans due to the COVID-19 crisis without paying down a sizeable chunk of the principal on the $1.6 trillion we now hold. On that point, set a precedent with that down payment in a way that will assure a future of tuition-free public colleges, universities, and trade schools.

My Hometown

The single greatest asset in my Congressional District (CD9) is a vast combination of health service and education institutions that are in part, a testimony to the chaos of the American Health System on the one hand, and a story of extraordinary health service heroism in the United States on the other.

The American Community Survey ACS estimates a total of 691,000 people have health insurance of which 430,000 have private insurance, and 318,000 have public coverage. About 65,000 people are without coverage. The Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Kings County Hospital Center and the Downstate Medical Center are the district’s largest employer and an excellent partner in seeking the means to provide effective service to low- and moderate-income households. Because of this economic fact, they struggle mightily to provide essential ounces of prevention too often highly distressed population, and for the lack of prevention, hemorrhage frightening levels of debt in the pounds of cure we call our hospitals.

The above was sent to plan@berniesanders.com. It was a great run, Senator Sanders. There is no reason to slow down now, just point yourself in a slightly different direction. You would have been a great President of the United States. You made a new path by walking for all of us. Thank you.

Need Facts?

When confronted with an obvious untruth you need facts, that is of course if you haven’t been talking with one of Paul Krugman’s zombies, an excellent book by the way.



Every voter has elevated emotional triggers because voting has changed from a handshake into an algorithm of who you are and what you think. The science used to manipulate self-interest emotions used to be “smallish” – found in neighborhood meetings, the coffee klatch, and rallies, cold-calls, canvasing with mail and leaflets, in hand. The activities led by these organizations of data feel reasonable and responsible.

We are entering worlds built of “new systems” that are without this kind of personal dispatch. Concrete personal data drawn from media draws down the metadata of human behavior. This data range is vast from liking and disliking candidates on a scale that brings the likelihood of staying home. All of the old simple “spoils” go to the big guys now, and we knew who they were for a while, not so much anymore.

If parsed, the kicker will show your zip code, county, or state or whether there is a likelihood that you changed your hair color. The former is legal, and the latter, not so much without a warrant that has your name on it. Even though I recently sent $10.48 to Hillary Clinton’s PAC “Stronger Together” just before 23 November 2017, I suspect that the PAC was not the only agency made aware of this action. The transfer from me to AmEx to Hillary entered easily, but I left with a long list of portals with any number of windows attached that you or I am unaware of.

Efforts to achieve data results from the things we do build on formulas no ordinary person fully understands. The first warnings regarding the entrance of these activities into American life are evident. Beware of triggering an American version of Article 50 (Brexit). I have no idea of what that might look like in the USA. Still, I suggest starting research on your Internet Service Provider (ISP) activities regarding all of the metadata associated with you and everyone you know. Here is the next kick. If you “half-agree” with my premise, are you more likely or less likely to use one of the following resources and attempt to get answers?

Fact CheckersDescription of the fact checking service
Snopes.comA proven and reliable debunker of false statements.
FactcheckAnnenberg Public Policy Center’s focus on political statements.
PolitiFactThis site started in the early part of the 2008 presidential cycle
VerbatimExamines claims y elected officials, political appointees, and political candidates.
BallotPediaA professional encyclopedia of American politics and elections.
OpenSecretsTracks money in U.S. politics – nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit.
TruthorFictionA mishmash and hodgepodge of all the bull on the internet.  Lacks focus.
C-SPANHow to use the C-SPAN Video Library and different ways to search for content.

The Elements of Four Problems

The failures of planning, architecture, and engineering are vast. Only a third of the earth’s landscape is urban. It holds over half the human population, and its growth will not stop until forced. The following seeks a new value system for three professions. These are the professions of architecture and engineering and the public disciplines of city and regional planning. Your bones tell you, you smell it because these professions enable the destroyers. The undisciplined confusion in the eyes of the political speakers adds to these aches and troublesome aromas. It is not necessary to sweep away the sticky multiple versions of the truth offered in the political speech of our modern lives. The clear mind of science will rise in the wake of these failures This is a call for an acelleration of action in that simple pursuit.

RLC

The densest regions of the human habitat are near natural resources and the ocean. These locations are instructive of an adaptation to restraint as well as, the failure to do so. Their locations and populations range from heartbreaking failures to soaring enclosures of fully actualized human potential. This duality is now squarely before the change-makers who are builders. The rationalized contradictions of “have” and “have not” have become the tragedy of the knowing and the unknowing.

Core Elements of Planning, Architecture, and Engineering Practice

The following components describe the foundation of the builders

  1. The practice knows that humans experience the world through their bodies.
  2. The practice focuses on specific purposes for buildings and built environments for humans to provide experiences of the world.
  3. The practice builds environments made of materials drawn from the earth’s crust, for which there is a timeless responsibility.
  4. The quality of an architectural solution derived from demonstrations of extraction processes includes responsibility for all human experiences in creation, use and disposal of each product.
  5. Demonstrations of quality derive from combinations of functional and technical requirements.
  6. Brining finished materials into coherence produces an aesthetic experience assigned by its users.
  7. Standards of practice develop through deliberate periods of training, reflection, evaluation, and routine performance tests to establish a measure of expertise.

The first six elements of the profession are easily understood, even admired. The failures that arise in this century rest in the omissions and exclusions of the seventh.

The desire to build a city of gold or a shed in the forest does not require the expertise of architecture and engineering (A&E). It does require the confidence presented by preexisting, demonstrable products of builders. Regretfully, the solutions are, therefore, retrogressive on all aspects of economic and social change.

The fundamental failure of the design function is how it produces experiences, generally known as aesthesis. The result can range from a sense of safety to the hedonic However, the ability to love, like, or appreciate your environment, yourself, and other people as part of that experience is vital. This function requires the A&E professions ignore levels of psychological and physiological knowledge. This is due to a “first” principle of A&E. Remaining accountable to the desires of the bill payers and only as accountable to government as the law requires. The responsibility for design has been allowed to remain indeterminate, weak, and at best damaging. The twenty-first century will require far more aggressive leadership.

At the center, the human ability for profound learning can anticipate and empathize with knowledge. For example, Whitney M. Young Jr raised racism in A&E in 1968 at the 100th convention of the American Institute of Architects. A few years before his accidental death (1971), he put a deck of cards on the table and explained that they were the problem to the AIA membership.

“Now, you have a nice, normal escape hatch in your historical, ethical code or something that says, after all, you are the designers and not the builders; your role is to give people what they want. Now, that’s a nice, easy cop-out.”

Whitney M. Young Jr.
Read the complete speech here.

Providing the service of design expertise to meet severe challenges such as “sustainability” exists, but it is weak. The desire to end development practices that contribute to racism is supported, but with actions subservient to the historical, ethical code used as an escape hatch.

Demands to improve the human experience with the world require steps well beyond establishing the coherence of place. Confirming a sense of safety, comfort, accessibility, mobility, novelty, color, harmonics produce a long set of demands for consistency in recognizing human rights. The designer’s spatial and aesthetic productions require a new social resonance in the 21st century. An open and uncertain intelligence essential to understanding every human need is far more than the physical. The space-makers knowledge of existence will need to grow in service to a higher cause and purpose in service to humanity, not the bill payers. In failing to take the professional unity required by these steps, architecture and engineering will not improve the human condition, and the world must ask why? You must ask.

The following four topics summarize research and analysis of social and economic issues affecting the professional and non-professional urbanization of the United States. It began with the idea that a small laboratory on the idea of breaking some rules in one medium-sized A&E firm could reveal the brilliance of design as power. The topics outline an Occam’s Razor set of four simple steps by the professions of city planning, design, architecture, and engineering that might save us all.

Four Topics

Challenging Planning, Architecture, and Engineering Practice

Topic One: The Arc of History Is an Act of Construction

For the last few thousand years, humanity has gathered and shaped materials from the earth’s crust. It now occurs at a rate unprecedented in any other period. Yet, from Fordism to now, history does not describe the cost of this change as safe practice in any sense of the word, but as one designed to be continuously more profitable.  

As a national policy, this practice pushed manufacturing labor out of the United States to less regulated, lower-cost areas in trade for lower-cost goods at home. Globalization is a well-documented force of history; however, its impact on the city-building trades is a research and development task tossed like a ball to the city-builders, the designer, planner, architect, and engineer, and they can’t catch.

Yes, individual projects represent extraordinary exhibits of design and technical expertise. Still, they are caves in the storm of urbanization history as it spreads the poisonous mass of human endeavor “as construction” across the surface of the earth.

Cities cover the earth’s prime locations, and yet they remain little more than a vague notion. As a stimulant to further discussion on this topic, I refer readers to “How cities took over the world” (here). The project experience of the A&E firms expressed by those in the graphic (below) and as many other contributors would care to recommend is needed. The Guardian (here) offers readers an extensive review of the earth’s urban reality. A video illustrates (here) the explosion of cities in the last two seconds of a three-minute presentation covering 4,000 years of urban development, or 9,000 if you want to go Neolithic.

Becoming the main producers of “exceptions to the rule” is painfully shallow.

The growth of architecture and engineering as a professional force surpasses all others in city-building, yet it remains undistinguished in its expression of political power. Management companies such as McKinsey & Company noticed this as a productivity problem in 2017 (here). Its city-forming capacities and influence are self-suppressed in preference for the praise of management as an art. The construction problem is one of productivity lagging behind all of the other major economic sectors. In 2017 productivity became different. It also justifies the significant benefits of some rather hefty billing for the fix as follows:

  1. • Reshape regulation and raise transparency.
  2. • Rewire the contractual framework.
  3. • Rethink design and engineering processes.
  4. • Improve procurement and supply-chain management.
  5. • Improve on-site execution.
  6. • Infuse digital technology, new materials, and advanced automation.
  7. • Reskill the workforce.

A careful reading of these seven ideas will introduce tensions that pull in opposite directions. You can point to the conflicts down the list, the grinding spasms of cultural injections on the themes of social justice, efficiency, and the twists and turns of new technology.

Over the last four thousand years, from Alexandria to the Erie Canal, the practice has turned away from recognizing how it shapes the world as a disabling force in preference to its services as an expression of the imaginations of capital. This behavior needs to stop.

The global A&E practice has developed in service to those who desire to build cities at a development rate rightly criticized as endangering the well-being of life. In this context, the thousand-year arc of history exhibits urban life brought to its knees many times in countless submissions to the destructive forces of black death, war, resource overreach, and the anticipatory ignorance of central governance. This behavior needs to stop.

The thread in this demand for discussion asks participants to examine this history with the presumption of a continuously urbanizing, global system, structurally and destructively embedded in or alongside another world that uses only what it needs, wastes nothing, and obtains its energy from sunlight. Looking forward and back, questions regarding the medium- and long-term must recognize the incompatibility of these two systems as currently intended. How can the destructive forces of each establish balance, and at what cost to human life?

Preceding our few thousand years, millions of species have come and gone over the last four billion years. In this context, the genius of time is the formation of well-informed and reflective humans, capable of explaining and understanding the universe well enough so as not to become its victim. The first question of history that points to this future of knowledge must discover an urban world generous with the earth with near-perfect information. The history of urban construction needs to change. Finally, can the powerful development expertise of actors such as those exhibited above become more mindful of this challenge. What forces are needed to get more effective thinking, and where necessary, force corrective action?

Topic Two: Erase the Contract

Architects and engineers have defined a set of professional restrictions on themselves. They also accepted limits demanded by investors (public and private). As the classic phrasing in the contract documents describes, A&E work shall be limited work. A&E provides two services design and construction documents, or more directly, build design expertise reputations to “get the job” and “documents” that get a project built.  

When a building is to be built, the process begins for the construction manager when there is an agreement between the owner and the architect followed by a separate agreement between an owner and the architect called the B132 agreement between the owner and a construction management adviser. This agreement follows the A232 that outlines the general conditions of the contract of construction. Following this step, the litigious nature established by these first two agreements sets into motion the possibility of many other contracts designed to avoid complaints.

The climate warming crisis has encouraged a process for implementing the concept of “sustainability” into every project as an exhibit (E 235).  The process for change orders and the steps necessary to acquire certifications for payment, new construction change directives, and ultimately a certificate of substantial completion sets forth the final payment elements of the initial contract between owner and contractor.

After these two tasks (get the job and sign documents), A&E is without power and trapped in binding contracts of its own making. It can observe well-paid union workers in conflict with the non-union worker through strategic “divide-and-conquer” tactics to accomplish a profit. Profit, of course, is essential. It is only the term and structure for defining returns and accruals that are in question — the result involves the intervention using public funds for supply-side subsidies and demand-side incentives of public policy.

Change in response to unmet human needs is injected into the city-building process to lower the cost of money or support efforts to produce better and safer environments through various zoning and construction regulations. The result is a maze of contractual requirements. Finally, A&E remains relevant in examining a long list of issues and concerns related to the use of building materials and construction practices to maintain public welfare and prevent litigation on a project-by-project basis. In addition, the knowledge drawn from the application of technology in planning, architecture, and engineering in city-building has the power to prove that humanity is not an infestation but an instrument capable of understanding the full complexity of all the conditions in which a building is made, not as an object in space, but as an addition in a community where much more needs to be done and with whom new partners are needed in a very different type of contract.

Efforts to change the system from within have introduced technology and law to produce contracts, such as presented by the Integrated Project Delivery introduced by the American Institute of Architects in the mid-2000s (AIA pdf here).

As a stimulant to further discussion on this topic, refer your readers to the implementation of IPD ( pdf here) that reviews a dozen projects in the United States. I also ask you to refer project experience of A&E firms expressed in the graphic (above) as it relates to the construction trade organizations exhibited in the graphic (below) along with as many other “workers organizations” as you would care to recommend with one additional component – add your focus on the expertise of the construction trades as exhibited by their union representation and by spending about three minutes with some people talking about their life-experience in construction.

‘The vitality of architecture does not stand on the strength of its foundations or the vision of its builders. 
It stands on the dignity of life formed in the heart of all of its creators.”

I offer the following change tactically aimed at a far more significant change in the city-building contract than exhibited in the well-intentioned tinkering offered by the IPD program. First, I would include a demand to recapture a resource such as building information modeling systems (BIM) as a public responsibility. It is adopted widely and somewhat inappropriately by construction management firms in contracts with owners and developers. It belongs elsewhere in a new partnership.

If significant improvements in system management toward a practice of architecture and engineering are to occur, it must defer to people’s lives in priority over the property. In response to demands for resilience, it must meet sustainability goals to weather the next storm, fire or rage. A new relationship between the construction trades, their unions, and A&E can produce the balance needed to move forward as a force for political change. Accepting this idea may be essential to eliminating the destructive forces of raw capital at work globally.

An improved concept of change that gets well past the profitability of managing time is needed. The cold industrialization of construction awaits on the global factory floor. In this writer’s mind, a new alliance of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) are the best means toward retaining the art and humanity of architecture with the precision of science and engineering sustained by the heart and soul of its human builders. Technology makes many contributions to city-building that offer exhilarating promise. The embodied energy in building materials is sustained for centuries if they are recyclable. All surfaces would collect tactile and energy from the sun, the movement of people and goods occurs seamlessly. When events are made to recur, there is proof of control. With these proofs, one other human problem requires careful examination in the United States because it is the most diverse society on earth.

The argument in this brief look at changing the city-building contract must occur between design, the technology of architecture, and engineering with the construction trades and its workers. Without this change, the city-building professions will fail in their contract with humanity.

Topic Three: Change the Concept of Change

Building diversity is an adjustment of social justice and a step toward extraordinary new powers for change.

Open processes that value human dignity, fair wages, health, and safety occur in countries with the capacity to make a democratic change. Instead, over the last fifty years, public regulation and litigation regarding the safety of construction sites have made them marginally protected. Elsewhere in the world, the record shows construction labor as a struggle with death, and if not death, despair.

Investors know creativity is in the major urban centers, and the time to capture it is now.  When business and government leaders put options on the table that don’t create change, the policy is not to create change. The CEOs from small to massive A&E firms recognize the prevailing narrative of a nation’s white, male, racial preeminence and how it is represented in their businesses today. However, they should see it in the context of a rapidly changing American value system aimed at high levels of fairness that eliminate wrongs, thereby opening an exponential capacity for growth through innovation.

As the more responsible power holders take a good look at the nation today, they will discover how to shift the subtle and corrosive ideology of gender and racial pre-eminence that is white and male toward greater inclusion. They will learn how it creates the invisibility of all others. The first step is to identify the privileges that have enabled past “rights” to continue for so long that they have become today’s “wrongs.” In the light of a society that seeks to improve its understanding of itself, the demand (while painful) for a “facts are friendly” approach to solving problems is paramount.

Nearly 40% of the U.S. population are people of color. Yet, their lack of representation in many influential fields reveals obvious “white race preeminence” that remains unchallenged. Department of Labor (DOL) numbers to back that up are:

  • From 2009 to 2018, the percentage of black law partners up from 1.7% to 1.8%.
  • From 1985 to 2016, the proportion of black men in management at U.S. companies with 100 or more employees barely budged–from 3% to 3.2%.
  • People of color held about 16% of Fortune 500 board seats in 2018.
  • A 2018 survey of the 15 largest public fashion and apparel companies found that nonwhites held only 11% of board seats and that nearly three-quarters of company CEOs were white men.
  • In the top 200 film releases of 2017, minorities accounted for 7.8% of writers, 12.6% of directors, and 19.8% of lead roles.

As a stimulant to further discussion on this topic and resistance to it, I will refer readers to two discussions on the implementation of diversity (AIA pdf here, a research article here) that addresses a range of issues. First, the task of linking A&E to the Construction Trades experience offers lessons in race and gender in both of their ranks.

At first glance, architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms have improved gender balance, significantly influencing education and training programs. The construction trade unions have improved racial access and trust in diversity with added strength in the transparency of pay equity and negotiations for health insurance services in their ranks. There is a strong win/win potential in developing this relationship through education.

An alliance of knowledge and choices in career ladders between the building trades and city-building professionals can produce more participation levels from designing a building to building one. The enrichment for a cross-disciplinary engagement in the challenges faced in city-building is infinite in its possibility. It is capable of crushing the intellectual silos in which the trades and professionals find themselves trapped.

Topic Four: Realign City-Building

Until recently, the history of the construction industry regarding change issues has been not to allow social change. The history of A&E, however, illustrates policies more responsive to demands for change. For example, the focus on education serves greater gender-balance positioned to achieve equity; A&E policies are also eager to adopt new technologies to their portfolio of problem-solving tools.

Few evaluation systems address social change and sustainability beyond the capacity of marketing to claim “steps.” Departments of Commerce (Census) and Labor produce measures for evaluating business and industry responses to social demands. Agents can claim modest advances in broad areas such as social justice and point to specific areas such as sexual harassment. However, steps in preventing environmental damage do not quantify threats to future generations effectively. Vague, and in many cases, unverifiable measures are used on a project-by-project basis with impunity. Draw a line around the city. Inside unlimited growth is on offer if nothing damaging can go outside that line. With this alignment, there may be enough time to make it work. If not, I fear doom awaits full expression in the screams of the impoverished.

Leadership is Available

Spend a few minutes with Peter Calthorpe (TED)

On the question of accountability, these issues concern any thinking person. The design professions and construction trades can take a more substantial leadership role in public policy. There are more questions, and please offer them, but the best of them to seek opinions as follows:

Thank You

Yep, this is a tunnel search.

Please contribute facts, names of places, numbers, sources, and resources to help this little think tank community explore some ideas and define the problems presented in each of the following questions. Our focus is simple — no one is as smart as all of us.

1

Should the A&E community enter into alliances with the construction trades industry to make both more responsive to social and environmental challenges?

Knowing that an alliance with the construction trades is not considered possible at this time, what strategies might you offer or what purposes might this action serve?

Please respond: link to email here

2

Is it possible for you to envision forming a highly trained architecture, engineering, and construction industry as a highly advanced technological force in the city-building world? If yes, what national and global structures would you deploy (real or imagined).

Knowing that the top annual billing rate for the world’s largest A&E firms falls short of a billion U.S. Dollars, consider your answer in terms of taking full development control.

Please respond: link to email here

3

Through legislation and changes in central governance policy, will it be necessary for A&E to develop the capacity to establish a controlling and deciding role in every expenditure related to urban preservation, re-development, and construction?

This question presumes an inability of nation-states and global regulatory bodies to establish ground rules for managing the displacement of millions of people over the next half-century.

Please respond: link to email here

4

Can A&E define and resolve the challenges of the next two decades that predict enormous physical damages to the urban infrastructure of America?

Please respond: link to email here

The question imagines the availability of substantial capital to resolve coastal and southern border disruptions in new multi-national business partnerships designed to define specific levels of design expertise rapidly when needed.

5

Will A&E lead in its capacity to design and plan environments that respond to the vast creativity embedded in the social and economic diversity unique to the United States?

The representation of the American population’s multi-cultural, ethnic, and racial composition is considered a valuable asset. Can A&E in the United States respond effectively in resolving issues?

Please respond: link to email here

6

Will AEC envision new ways of life that focus on the humanity embedded in our shared realities that produce new forms of comfort in life and health in living with the knowledge that we sustain the joy and laughter of all those who wait in the deep future?

Asking for your theory of change in this closing question seels reflection on all previous answers with the idea that some elements of hope for leadership in the profession will become possible, if not in your heart, then in your imagination.

The challenge is to combine design skill and construction knowledge and the progressive nature of labor unions, architecture, and engineering to create the opportunity to save us all or save anyone who looks into the eyes of a six-year-old to know that we had better try hard and start now.

Election Districts

I am interested in working for elected leaders by organizing election districts closest to polling places. I’ve moved the d-base driven map to a “view only” link. If you are interested in becoming a strategic partner, using a digital toy (graphic below) let me know. If any of you have political skills let me know and read about the idea below.

Doing more in connection to the political people that have power over billions of dollars for NYC and NYS means getting more people to pick their number ED polling place. If you would like full access to this data, get back to me. (Contact)

All you have to do is request a link to enlarge this map, locate where you live, identify the name and location of the polling sites near your home. Vote and get out the vote, because at this point we need real change.

Again: locate where you live, identify the name and location of all the polling sites near your home just in case you feel like organizing more people especially if you are interested in a little canvassing party near where you live or work.

Use this Poll Site finder for a quick look at where you would vote based on your address and if there is an early voting location in the future. Ranked Choice is also in our future.

Brooklyn voters are electing new representatives to the United States Congress – they will be fighters, free of corporate domination and responsive to our needs in housing, health, and community economic development. Vote in the 2020 primary, and we will have a chance and all of our networks will fold into the other. There will be strength and resilience.

Recommend a candidate for any office. (State Board of Elections Deadlines)

Comment below and I’ll ask you to help by sharing your thoughts, stake out some election districts and put a person in The United States Congress that can do more than ride high percentages of incumbency into office based on our complacency.

Volunteer Here for the Ninth Congressional District

  1. Find Election Districts you can work and get your data.
  2. Go to the City Data Map HERE if the one above is difficult to use.
  3. Share that information using the form below and work the district for voters.
  4. Build a canvassing plan with us. Your polling place, and key nearby locations
  5. Find and motivate more people. The average in EDs is around 800 Dems.
  6. Get voters out on Primary Day. That is the election.
  7. Get voters to vote Tuesday, November 3, 2020 for the win back the Presidency!
  8. Develop a schedule to convince voters to vote —
  9. You can examine data from your census tract(s) (HERE)

Please drop us a line. Thanks to all who have already. I plan on working the Election Districts around the Erasmus H.S. and the transit stations (B & Q) from Church Avenue south through to the Cortelyou Station. Just waiting for someone to lead.

If you would like to see some AOC type energy for our part of New York – volunteer!!

Social Policy Politics

Two rules embedded in the culture of politics as sport say people get nothing without a “win,” and second people must protect themselves and others from what they want. The inherent contradictions of these two rules in the context of this summary comes from tweets by the Social Policy People (SPP), the Tax Accountability People (TAP) and the Fact Checking People (FCP).

The Sport of Social Policy Politics

The strategic nature of sport includes “the fake,” or “jukes,” and other team behaviors that overwhelm or confuse opponents. The remaining components of leadership needed to achieve a political end require a series of projects, guided by priorities and measured by the policy. Each project (or play) requires a full understanding of the resource implications of each effort and an evaluation scheme useful for producing adjustments, new strategies, projects, priorities, and policies.

June began with the Urban Institute’s (UI) promotion of the Fiscal Summit. One of the preliminary papers was on a fiscal policy entitled what if “Congress does nothing” (here) that describes the exponential growth in the debt neatly packaged for a takeover by the “other party.” At the end of June, UI Tweets took a look at the cities that make homelessness a crime and the increase in the demand for affordable housing.  The Urban Institute’s remaining concerns in June were many, such as the difficulty of lowering the cost of higher education.

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) focuses on policies that hurt the most vulnerable. This month’s argument looks at changes in the Official Poverty Measure proposed U.S. Office of Management and Budget that would increase the number of children and families in poverty enact a new poverty calculation that would underestimate the number of children living in poverty. They have a laser on the needs of the nation’s children. So why is it such a difficult argument to win?

The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) focused on how the tax policies (2017) are not benefiting distressed neighborhoods as promoted using the tools offered in the Opportunity Zone program. Finally, June closed with the launch of a video (here) on a program in Detroit known as “The Promise Path from the What Works Media Project.

The Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) provides excellent summaries of research on structural inequality. It gives means for disrupting systems that produce disadvantages for low-income people of color. Central to this point is their focus on solving the concentration of poverty problem with instruments such as housing choice vouchers. The NYC-based Furman Center’s research on combining mobility with housing opportunities (2016) recognizes how making multiple choices within a whole community is a far more enriching set of means to escape disadvantage. June’s tweets point to a robust set of American blind spots for which answers are held easily with political will.

To get to the political will, the tweets of the Tax Accountability People may have the insight required to examine the “all for one and one for all” question that confronts America and the fact that the country’s public affairs no longer appear public. For this reason, the Citizens for Tax Justice and theInstitute on Taxation and Economic Policy do not support “free file programs” as it stands to entrench a corrupt system further. A second tweet points to an example. The manipulation of the tax code by just one company produced a $4.3 Billion tax “dodge.” They also join in the criticism of Opportunity Zones as corporate welfare without the means to prove even a hint of benefits for working people.

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) pointed its tweet readers to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the problem of #AnonymousCompanies that hinder inquiries into political corruption and a long list of criminal enterprises (read testimony May 2019).

The solution to the offshore economy problem is “beneficial ownership” legislation by those who recognize the snake has started to eat its tail using the fangs of anonymous shell companies with poisons affecting national security by promoting tax evasion and evading compliance. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) defines the problem (here). It presents the details via an Atlantic Council in an excellent (first hour) webcast on how the offshore corrupts the onshore (here). In addition, the link with the Offshore Economy is available (here). Added discussion on the subject is (here) among all Think Tank People (here).

The Taxpayers for Common Sense like to point to the ongoing absurdities as appropriations go final. Examples are summer increase in ethanol fuel mixes, disaster aid drama, and ideas like only farmers who actually farm should get ag bucks, and a long string of gives in taking resources (gold, silver, copper) from federal land royalty-free. An observation attributed to Winston Churchill is popular among American politicians that we as a government will do the right thing, but only after examining all possible alternatives.

Journalism’s Heart Needs a Blue Check-mark

Throughout its history, the heart of journalism has been to double-check the facts. Therefore, the new services of the information age offer a detection system for the “fake facts.” Journalists and the ordinarily curious now have over one hundred outlets worldwide exposing misstatements, inaccuracies, and lies. It may only be a matter of time before one of them is compromised. Still, these entities are screwing it up.  Here is how.

The cash flow is built on ad dollars, demanding our attention drawn to base instincts. It is what I and others call a path to the end of history. But, there is another way, it leads directly to leaders, and we need them to stop lying by ignoring those they lead yet pretending not to do so.

Aside from getting overextended at Snopes, the acquisition of the “On The Issues” website will yield the instrumental analysis that agents from afar can bring to local affairs. Until the end of Snopes’ legal troubles, ads will be oppressive if you can send them a couple of bucks.  In contrast, Ballotpedia for candidate data and Open Secrets on the money trail yield ordinary decision-making help. An example is how corporate #pride support runs counter to the PACs they fund. Moreover, Ballotpedia’s API is a vast storehouse of political information. Organizations of voters are free to explore its usefulness (here) and decide if a purchase of API keys adds insight.

The observation of media bias is the niche set by Fact Check, focusing on misleading and false claims. The best feature is the left side panel.  An example is a viral Facebook post claiming Congress gave itself exorbitant pay raises while cutting Social Security. The 2018 Players Guide reviews sources of TV ad cash, annotates transcripts of statements made by POTUS45, and searches Facebook to debunk false stories, among several other opportunities to get to specifics.

PolitiFact is famous for the “Pants on Fire” truth-o-meter, and Politifact NY pulls their banner to focus on the gaffs of local leaders such as the mayor and its senators to provide items of local interest.  It is essential to check both, one of the more interesting is how what looked like an AOC screengrab was, in fact, a parody account AOC Press Release (parody). Her real account has a “blue checkmark” that Twitter uses to indicate account authenticity.

Truth or Fiction also attempts to be instructive of the new media world. One element is to be wary of “text against a colorful background” without citation can spread toward viral. Examples are SCOTUS rulings, the killing of Christians by Muslims, or that HR1 provides for noncitizens voting.

“To remain an active, political actor with a moral compass and a backbone for change believe me when I say pick true leaders by becoming one yourself. Do it the best way you know-how and be intelligent about leading and following. We do live in exciting times, and be prepared to be so, knowing it to be the oath of 2016 to 2020.”

Rex L. Curry

That is June

The March 2019 summary (here) introduced all the organizations selected for the Tweet-O-Rama and the Random Tweet-O-Rama. The idea is to learn something from the wits from this vast new area of the blah blah world.  The April summary (here) examined the Think-Tank People. In May (here), I looked at the organizations working to produce a good economy combined with voter rights organizations. With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to look at politics as a sport and as a practice that is now very different from the role of leadership that it implies. Please enjoy June, everyone should, and then July (here) for a look at the one thing of great importance – housing (here)

Note “Hacking Corruption: Tech Tools to Fight Graft in the Americas” is also interesting from the Atlantic Council (May 30, 2019, Read the Publication as a PDF)

Political Waters

Jeff Goodell at Long Now Foundation

Goodell is a journalist focused on energy systems and climate change. At the end of his talk, Jeff Goodell was asked what he would do with $200 billion. His answer was surprising. He said he would spend it all on finding ways to improve the quality of political change and its ability to adapt to solving big long-term problems. He said we have the intelligence and capacity to deal with the problem of a constantly rising sea. Still, first, it must be recognized as daily and inevitable by our leadership. He adds this is a problem that will last for several centuries, so we might as well get started.  His full discussion of “The Water Will Come” is available at the Long Now Foundation.  His five main points are below. Buy “The Water Will Come.”

1. Gravity

Sea rise is like the existence of gravity. It is all around us; it is happening now every day. Like gravity, the increase in seawater is subtle, and it is a fixed part of the world because you cannot make water go away. All you can do is watch it get redistributed. In every locality, the hydrology of the rise will be unique. The conservation of matter remains the physical driving principal – added moisture in the atmosphere; the higher intensity in storm surges is part of a global system with a deep billion-year-old history.  The need for action to deal with sea-level rise and adapting to it is not physical. It is the hyper-political “not on my watch” principal. They are incompatible. What we can do today is the value to instill in leadership.

2. Rate of Change

The geological record covering billions of years shows 25 to 60 feet of sea-level rise is part of the system, leaving the central question’s time and rate. Jeff refers to Richard Alley as the world’s top ice analyst (climate scientist) who finds the rise of 15 feet by 2100 “is not out of the question.” The geological record also suggests the sea rise occurs in pulses, but the historical average is 13 feet per century. Huge unknowns remain. How will trillions of tons of water change the sea due to the catastrophic collapse of Antarctica? How big and fast questions will last for a century and vary in probable impact in places worldwide. Definitive answers to these questions drive political policy toward resilience. For example, the effect of climate change in the form of “storm surge” on the value of the coastal property is top on the list. The political response, on the other hand, is little more than a finger in the dike.

3. Value

Long before any individual city or region comes up with mitigation resources, the “troubles” will have spoken and measured in dollars. A part of the American culture is that it tends to leave the important things unsaid. For example, the coastal states are losing property value. People are selling (caveat emptor) and moving to get ahead of their sea rise fears following one experience: a sunny day flooding or a crushing surge in the ocean’s new normal. Others take advantage of generous publicly funded encouragements to sustain tax revenues with “move to the shore,” campaigns deemed essential to borrow long term financing for local “fixes” (higher roads, bigger dunes, pumps, and so on) and. In political words, what we have here is a capital mess with a Catch 22 attached.

4. Resilience is Now

There is no way to know what plan will work best or who will call for spending and take the win/lose leadership responsibility to protect against the impact of sea rise. Goodell has traveled the world and has seen brilliance and stupidity. Some jurisdictions pump the water from one place to another. Others raise buildings, but protecting a city is a very different problem. The who is in and outside a mitigation area screams substantial social justice issues on why protections planned for one locality are not in another. Resilience policies are in response to ongoing “chaos costs” because it is too late to achieve sustainable development for five main reasons outlined by Dennis Meadows over a decade ago.

  1. Public discourse has difficulty with subtle, conditional messages.
  2. Growth advocates change the justification for their paradigm rather than changing the paradigm itself.
  3. The global system is now far above its carrying capacity.
  4. We act as if technological change can substitute for social change.
  5. The time horizon of our current system is too short.

5. Why “Catastrophic” Resolution?

The business models used to treat climate change as an economic opportunity is often disguised by waiting for catastrophe. Nevertheless, there are places far less driven by profit-making than the quality of life that may be getting it right and doing so in a timely way.  Lagos is a floating place to live, others in the Netherlands and similar geographies find ways for the sea to take what it will. The re-building design for a flooding world is easily envisioned across the economic spectrum of engineering. Geo-engineering work will attempt to physically alter the atmosphere by buying time or opening Pandora’s box but will not stop the sea-level rise. The question “what now” will help regions know what to do, the skills exist, and get them. To get creativity from skill, it will be necessary to make climate change risks transparent to get the markets and governments to function.

What?

North America’s coastlines are urban, dense, and represent 80% of the nation’s GDP. From the islands of New York City to Virginia’s shipyards to the North and South Carolina beaches’ soft links and from Savannah to Miami, the sea is rising. From hot and sunny New Orleans, Louisiana to San Diego, California, and way up north to the cold and wet of Seattle, Washington, the sea is rising. It took three centuries to build this coastline, and this investment continues.

To sustain these economic giants as viable will require a new force capable of combining political will, economic genius, design, and engineering brilliance and bringing it to the forefront of our thinking. They are all unique urban environments requiring solutions specific to each place’s geology and hydrology, but they are all equally threatened. There are no “need to know” problems, only the need to make an effort. The alternative to a successful push for democratic transparency on these problems will be an authoritarian process that will choose winners and losers the way despots have always chosen.

9th Congressional Data

The Ninth Congressional data is very revealing and worthy of spending the time to understand it by size, shape, and its many places as defined by our representative to Congress.

CD9 & Stress

Exploring the following group of analysts will produce one of the more fascinating introductions to key indicators of economic stress. Have a good long look at the work of the EIG. It will give you an RTC. Put your zip code in the search box and for the Ninth Congressional District, insert NY-9 in the map below.
In NYC, opportunities to become involved in innovation for economic recovery could be the Ninth Congressional District. Find people who have read Section Subchapter Z— Opportunity Zones in the Tax Reform Act.  (pdf is HERE)  Only 25% of CTs (defined as low-income can be nominated by the State.  NYC has several of these ‘zones’ from previous designations.  (EIG explanation).   If anyone has any insight into this EIG outfit, please share.

The Ninth CD is the only one that is all in Brooklyn

go ahead drop me a line or comment below:

Corruption

A look at the last few years in NYS to go forward.

“The examination of people that get swept up in offering or receiving a corrupt benefit reminds me of the punchline in a joke describing a negotiating process.  ‘You and I have already decided what you are; now we’re just haggling about the price.” The ‘what you are’ list that society would see eliminated with the threat of punishment and mitigation resources is compelling and long.” It has not helped.

Rex L. Curry

Embezzling, conspiracy, extortion, mail and wire fraud, bribe solicitation, tax evasion, intentionally soliciting illegal campaign contributions, and judicial extortion payments have all been committed by New York political leaders, include theft of honest services, bribes and kickbacks, felony, and a variety of misdemeanor charges. The results involve expelling leaders from office, hefty fines, and terms of imprisonment.

Most of those in the photo collage (above) did not commit a major crime. It is everyone since 2000. Of the forty-eight state political leaders arrested from 2000 to 2018, fourteen went to prison, less than one per year.  It is statistically embarrassing.  It is alarming due to the expected “high-bar” of public service but not out of line with bad human behavior in general. Over 18 years, troubles with the law affected fourteen Republicans and thirty-four Democrats, representing a third of NYS lawmakers (source listing the crimes).

Seriously, How Bad Is It?

I pulled arrest data by state from Table 69 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program (UCR) to make a comparison. I culled it down somewhat roughly to executive/professional collar crimes.  Annually all arrests in New York State average in the area of 260,000, of which fraud and embezzlement make up about 7,000 arrests per year.

The idea that this is a “few bad apples” issue is wrong. Legislators (including staff) are hagglers in every aspect of their political lives. Those who get out of control and get caught end their careers in political life and much of their personal lives. None of us are saints, nor do we expect our political representatives to be candidates for divine recognition.  What I (we, people) want is an aggressive public effort to discover wrongdoing whenever there is a hint of it.

The concerns of an ordinary, reasonably thoughtful citizen are focused on the growing number of new ways our leaders are corruptible in today’s political climate. The front of the line has people (corporations) who want a part of the state’s $10-14 billion in capital budget spending or a few more campaign bucks, but today that line extends around the block and back ten years to Citizen’s United vs. FEC (SCOTUS pdf).

The New York State annual operating budget is approaching $180 billion, and it will make yearly capital investments between $11 to $14 billion (2020 Report pdf). New York City’s budget is approaching $100 billion. While it is a “creature of the state,” a discussion of corruption and money requires a separate review that connects the nation’s metropolitan regions to the political process embedded in public benefit corporations that cross state boundaries. NYC’s creation of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) has proven to be a highly effective provider of facts in this regard. The New York state legislature is considering a similar option.

Well-funded investigation divisions in the Attorney General’s local and state offices, the Election Commission, the Controller, and the FBI are institutions that citizens need to believe are doing their job well and with integrity. Unfortunately, they cannot confirm the political honesty of all the people who seek to lead. Still, they can “follow the money,” which is where a network of community-based and national advocacy groups plays an essential function if unbreaking our democracy is to get some local traction.

Essential Institutions

The Office of the Attorney General led by Letitia James (D) went from New York City’s Office of Public Advocate with a budget less than $4M budget to the AG’s $230M+ statewide operating budget. Drilling down into the role this office plays in preventing political corruption is on the public’s radar. A detailed look at AG’s responsibilities and resources is ongoing.

The New York State Comptroller is the State’s chief fiscal officer ensures that New York State and local governments use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently. It is the sole trustee of the $207.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. An audit released March 31, 2018, revealed the fund as one of the world’s largest institutional investors. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit to find out if Empire State Development had met its statutory reporting requirements and revealed that between April 2012 and September 2016, 17 programs didn’t undergo mandatory, independent evaluations, and public reports weren’t issued on 12 programs that received more than $500 million in total funding. 

The New York State Board of Elections is responsible for administering all laws relating to elections in New York State and operates with a budget of about $12M.  Another $41M is from legislation reauthorizing the BoE obligates expired budget authority through )reapportionment. The role of BoE will also be the subject of a detailed look at NYS through the lens offered by proposed legislative changes in voting practices and campaign financing at the city and state level.

The strategy of changing local laws to bring about national change begins at the local level. For example, in New York, the citizens have the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.  The question is, how well do the Laws of New York State legislature and the home rule work of NYC hold up against the demands for change by RepresentUs and the work of its NY Chapter. This link will lead to a report on JCOPE’s reports (here).

An argument for one other institutional analysis of political behavior (both APAs) or private, professional psychology or psychiatric team. As this review of NYS implies, it is not just the money. It is the power for the imbalance that money represents. See the post Control vs. Balance for a look at the control balance theory.

Examples Worthy of a Close Look                       

During policy and budget negotiations, the give-and-take practices of a healthy democracy are like fencing. Participants will thrust, and reprise, even produce the third intention.  Another often-used metaphor is, if not achieved after three attempts, punt.  Give the other side a try if you can get them in the game.

The most severe forms of corruption occur in the reverse of the authorized/allocated condition where funds are authorized in the sense that they will meet a need or support a project on which there is consensus. Still, the actors who seek the funds use a strategic means to secure the allocation. Understanding this fact is the best way to find the line in the sand that matters. It helps separate political banter and partisanship from what is factually determined by standing authorizations and measured allocations to which the actors can be held accountable.

Since 2010 concerns regarding the economic recovery of Western New York were agreed to politically and based in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and the surrounding counties.   With “we have to do something” well established, a good analysis offered by the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBC) finds the current NYS Budget in the areas of growth and reductions by program reasonable. It points out that steps to improve transparency and accountability continue to make outcomes obscure — see (10 Billion Reasons).

The following examples illustrate corruption as an agent of change at the state level. The dangers of attacking public institutional efforts to implement reforms are critical and should not be part of political dialogue unless it is an independent evaluation of excesses and errors. The Senate has offered solutions that would prevent the condition in which New Yorkers find themselves. Unfortunately, it is your busted, “post-trauma” and catastrophic resolution policy ending in the prosecution of criminal intent.  That is not good enough.

When a Corporation Controls a Market

The Cor Construction Company is a mid-sized, upstate development corporation that got greedy for a guarantee. Despite the bid-fixing controversy, Cor still boasts of 50 employees and many large development projects. Like a business remains interested in drawing on the NYS investment in their economic sector and sections of the state requiring more jobs and economic development. Just outside of Syracuse, Cor built an attractive building for $15 million in state funding. Unfortunately, the project also resulted in discovering significant crimes, bid fixing, and bribery by company executives involving a top aide in the governor’s office and many others.

As the dust of litigants continues to settle, the state gave the building to a nonprofit corporation created by Onondaga County for one dollar. With about $2M in additional seed funds, the project became the Greater Syracuse Soundstage (GSS).  Not exactly Kaufman Studios, but it remains a capital investment that is not forgotten, it is in local hands, and the pressure to return on that investment continues.  With more local control, it is likely to be successful but slow.  Will the forgetful citizen of the state follow up on this public investment?  Will the GSS succeed, create jobs, become an important new institution.  Who wants to follow that one, if it is you leave a reply?

When a Corporation Walks Away

The $90 million used to build the factory for the Soraa LED lighting company resulted in them leaving the deal with no penalty even though its developer was implicated in the bid fixing, bribery, and wire fraud by the agent in charge of the project. Meanwhile, NYS added up to $15 million more, so NexGen Power Systems, a semiconductor company, would retrofit and lease the plant outside Syracuse. Lesson learned: in the new deal, NexGen will repay $2.5 million if the company failed to create ten jobs in 2018 – it did.  Another $2.5 million will be due if it fails to employ 30 people by the end of 2019.  Another $2 million will be due if it failed to have 58 employees in 2020. Known as “clawbacks,” the company agrees to 290 jobs by 2024 measured in annual increments increases requiring $2M payments each of the next four years.  As in the case of criminal prosecution, the practice of assuring accountability or the lack of it stands with those who hold the clocks and triggers of fact. Will these targets are met, or penalties assigned? Who will follow that one if it is you leave a reply?

In these two examples, and the slow appeals process only leaves names to follow to learn if punishment is a real deterrent – these are Alain Kaloyeros, Stephen Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, (Cor) and Louis Ciminelli, (LPCiminielli) and Joseph Percoco. All of whom are appealing prison terms. Also, watch for Fort Schuyler Management Corp., a corporation created by SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which oversaw the corruption-tainted projects regarding all the above.  It may be the reforms proposed will not occur unless the law provides its proof as a deterrent. at

When a Corporation Gets it Right

The Western part of NYS is economically depressed. Increased public spending demand falls on the shoulders of its local development agencies and the state. New York is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) and its ten regional economic development councils. The state’s human capital investment arm is the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) system.  It also works with several community-based nonprofits partners who are asked to play a role or develop initiatives.   The two examples above were obvious screw-ups that need follow-up. To sustain trust, the CEO of Empire State Development will point to the positives Howard Zemsky — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, (3,000 jobs) for $31 million in grants and tax incentives. He will also tell you private-sector jobs continue to grow in NYS, and he’ll give EDC credit.  Should we? If you want to follow that one, leave a reply.

The ESD is a business. Of its $77M in annual operating budget (pdf) for 2020, just $9M is from NYS program-specific budget appropriations and some federal funding. The ESD runs on commercial receipts, its assets, fees, and bond financing. As the NYS Controller recently observed, it may be a small agency, but its reach and economic power are considerable. Corruption can occur honestly through stupid eagerness aimed at capturing fast-moving capital. If the Great Recession of 2008 or the ridiculous excess of Wells Fargo and others is not a signal to this, then the world is going blind.

What Will NYS Legislators Do?

Three bills (S6613B, S3354, S3984A) to address this question are supported (see descriptions below plus a snowball).  They have passed the Senate, still await the Assembly, and are not codified (Article VII) as law.  Briefly, they:  1) create a “database of deals” on economic development, 2) establishes a unified economic development budget, and 3) reforms procurement by restoring the State Comptroller’s oversight of contracts made by SUNY and CUNY, and the state’s Office of General Services to heighten the quality of monitoring.

A unified economic development budget on the costs of all economic development programs is essential; the use of metrics for comparability across all programs would confirm benefits from private sector participation. All these steps can lead to program design improvements and the efficiency of public tax and capital expenditures.

The Senate is calling its passage of ethical reforms historic.  The thing to pay attention to is that they do not carry the force of law yet, and there is a lot more left—voting reforms, an independent redistricting agency ready to go following the 2020 census, etc.

The number of those who have a strong interest in ethical reforms in the NYS legislature needs to grow. Their numbers are few. A strategy toward “exponential” participation is needed. The question is direct. When will you know if and how any of the following reasonable ideas become law and have access to the final content?  Take one step, leave a reply to subscribe.

Developing a Searchable Subsidy Database S6613B

Sponsored by Senator Croci, it requires creating a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would benefit New Yorkers and policymakers by helping monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state’s economy create jobs. The database would include the participant’s name and location, the period of received economic development benefits, the type of benefit received, and the total number of employees at all project sites.   The number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project is in the contract.  The number of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, canceled, or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant. 

New York State Procurement Integrity Act S3984A

Sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), it prevents self-dealing in the government procurement process by enhancing the integrity, transparency, and accountability of the state’s procurement process. Historically, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has performed this essential oversight function. Still, in recent years OSC’s ability to do so has been eroded by executive and legislative action. The bill, called the New York State Procurement Integrity Act, would:

  • restore the state Comptroller’s independent oversight (eliminated in 2011 and 2012) of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts; 
  • expand the Comptroller’s oversight of the procurement process to include contracts over $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation; and 
  • prohibit state contracting through state-affiliated not-for-profit (NFP) entities unless explicitly authorized in law;

Making Economic Data Available to Help Measure Effectiveness S3354

Sponsored Senator Liz Krueger (D, Manhattan), directs the state Division of the Budget (DOB) to prepare an annual Unified Economic Development budget that outlines the aggregate amounts of state investments in economic development projects statewide, the benefactors of these investments, and the number of jobs created or retained by businesses as a result of this development assistance. The legislation also standardizes the types of information that state entities and recipients of development assistance must report to the DOB.

Lastly, there is this little snowball:

Creating an Independent Budget OfficeS2325

Sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), it creates the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. At least 23 other states, including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, and Vermont, have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.

Oddly interesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office is not mentioned in the Senate’s description. It is a precious independent tool concerning the city’s massive OMB.

Help to find out what it will take to get these measures passed and signed by the Governor.  One more time — leave a reply.

Ranking Leaders

“Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) improves democratic participation for three reasons. First, it feels ethical and principled; second; it reduces conflict through majority rule by supporting more choice. Third, RCV supports a politics of joy and civil argument.  Finally, in a society that tends to leave the critical things unsaid, RCV is cheaper. It avoids the cost of close race run-offs and recounts. The second and third picks of voters remain choices and get used if none of the candidates get to the 50+% threshold. Democracies require consensus to function, and that means we can make choices on issues and for people to which we can agree to some extent. Ranking your options is a step in that direction.”

Rex L. Curry

Two party systems should become more sophisticated than a thumbs up or down decision with obvious limits in our ability to choose leaders. The ranking alternative not only expands the values inherent to voting; it encourages and builds new practices in leadership and encourages people who want to lead to find their way in politics. We should also never forget an idea in the United States Constitution that says we have to work for a perfect union. To this end, the popularity of RCV is significant. Given Maine’s experience presents one difficulty. The possibility of litigation and its cost. If there is pivot point to watch, that will be it.

Watching and reviewing the Maine experience will be useful in this regard as the practice is now settled law. With this precedent, it is the first state to use RCV, and the lessons here have been rewarding.  I would refer you to three articles presented in chronological order to illustrate the path taken, the questions asked and the lawsuits filed to get it done. The first article examines the prospect and examines its impact, the second article reviews the litigation on this legislation over the next year or two, and third, the actual practice of voting in Maine today as described by the League of Women Voters.  Praise the victories of suffrage. 

  1. Ranked Choice Voting: What’s in it for you? August 2016 (here)
  2. Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Experiment Continues November 2018 (here)
  3. How Does Ranked Voting Work (Main LWV website) (here) also see (cool video)

Watching the New York Experience begins by testimony on May 2nd or by write to the Charter Revision Commission to tell them to put RCV before voters on the November ballot. Ranked choice voting will advance voting practices as if it was the 21st Century.

Imagining a similar process for the voters of New York City as a creature of New York State is a daunting one, but this is one of those “fix-it-even-if-it-isn’t broke” ideas worthy of your efforts, sweat and I don’t think I’m nuts, blood for the bank, if necessary. Lowering the cost is the sane approach that calls for “instant run-offs” that takes into account a voters second and third choices. A bill in the New York City Council does that is (here),

Common Cause took up the mantle on RCV (here) and defined the issues as follows: voting as “the lesser of two evils” is part of the political value system and needs to change. Accepting the value of the majority vote win on the other hand is vital, today that is no longer true and that needs to change. The NYC Public Advocate’s win with 33% of the vote is a still win, but politically it can be used as a criticism. Ranked choice solves that problem by confirming the existence of voter confidence. Lastly, the overall downward pressure on the validity of the vote with algorithms allows political power brokers to ignore whole sections of he population and reduces elections to battleground states or neighborhoods.

The opportunity to make this happen is this year because the 2019 Charter Revision Commission is considering the placement of Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot by voters in November. The opportunity to show support will be in Borough hearings- locations and dates are TBA . The Commission’s website was launched 3 April. It is a bit difficult to navigate, but covers the bases well with links from “lists” to sections with more content.

They have two in-depth articles on the subject. The Tipping Point — The Impact of Candidate Field Size on Multi-Candidate Primaries in New York City 4/2019 and A Case for Ranked Choice Voting in New York City, 11/2018

The articles make sense, much of the critical thinking is complete, and it is top on the list of the commission’s voting reform proposals. The Charter Commission offers a look at what this revision of NYC’s voting system would be like:

Note

Let NY Vote that continues to enjoy many successful election reform campaigns At one time they included ranked-choice voting on its list of reforms and then the calendar item went 404 – files not found. (URL here). The priority of getting the vote in the hands of people from whom it has been taken is the current priority. Several political districts in upstate NY get to count the population of their prisons to determine the apportion public office, but this population is not allowed to vote.  If advocating for a ranked choice system of voting in NYC is less of a priority than work that increases voter participation in the process, I recommend attending their events.

Represent Us is putting this idea on there national list of victories and the New York Chapter is calling out all of their recent success and making sure the city’s representatives understand a the power of a very strong movement in the grassroots of every election district. The message is simple if you are in politics — pay really attention.

My Represent Us Story

The folks at Represent Us in local and state elections all over the United States present three major issues in Unbreaking America (above). Every once in a while people get their act so together that you know exactly why you have to do what you have to do. Watch it.

In 2018 When Indivisible established a network I did some homework on my political back yard. I conducted research and built some tools. I live in Brooklyn. I use the Ninth CD as a lens capture a view of local and state representatives. Take a look at it below. I am looking for some help for 2020, 2022, 2024.

What I Found

Represent Us is correct. Yvette D Clarke received 82% her of campaign contributions ($537,295) from outside her district. (Rank: 206 out of 421.) and she received 32% of campaign contributions ($211,772) from outside NYS. Source: the Center for Responsive Politics.

Who or what Clarke represents becomes a logical, honest question. RepresentUs asks this question of every single member of our city, state and federal legislature. Corruption can be removed only one way by the people.

Finding a new member of Congress. Clarke ranks 381st among the 435 in the House. She had estimated net worth of $115,502 in 2014. This is super important because the average net worth of a U.S. House of Representative is over $6 million (2014) despite the annual salary in the House is less than $200,000.

I took a look at every election district in the Ninth Congressional District (see NYC Election District Map here). I want you to use the location tool and share your ED with me if you live in the Ninth or know some one who does. In the 2018 primary I gave some friends and myself some instructions and tried to elect Adem as a replacement for only one reason. Change works. Clarke is still in office, but it was fun trying.

The proof came with AOC. New people with voter backing make a real difference because most incumbents have stopped paying attention to their districts and they tend toward complacency with a 98% re-election rate.

NYC’s Network of Election Districts

The table below describes registered voters by party in the Brooklyn’s Ninth Congressional District by status. The shock is in the number of voters it took to re-elect Clarke for yet another term in the tables that follow.


All Voters in the Ninth CD

Ninth CDDEMREPCONINDOtherTOTAL
Active275,79925,427 9557,35255,498365,031
Inactive 28,635 2,519 109 983 7,039 39,285
Total304,43427,9461,0648,33562,537404,316

New York City is a city of Democrats and Independents. It is the cities that make New York State blue. The Democratic Primary is the most important vote if a change is needed. When 10% of the people of the Ninth make that decision the Represent Us video above is frighteningly accurate.

All Who Voted in 2018 Primary

CandidatesVotes%
Yvette Clarke (incumbent)16,20253.0%
Adem Bunkeddeko14,35047.0%
Margin 1,8526.1%
750,000 People and 276,000 Registered Democrats

One More Thing

If you are interested in “working the Ninth for 2020” let me know with the reply option below. All the rest of the effort can be seen (here) in various, largely unedited narratives about the Ninth. A more detailed volunteer form is here. The tool I use takes the Ninth CD and links that to local and state representatives using the two menus below. This is far as I’ve gotten. It is a big job. Thanks for reading.

April 2019/2020

“The tweets on April 1, 2019, from the think tank people (TTP), are unlikely to be taking advantage, but I’ll leave that for you to judge. Many of the observation are through to the end of the month and new ones for 2020 are noted. I also recommend looking at the tweet rate as another algorithm worthy of observation, some are hourly, others one or two per day or week.  Others are once a month suggesting a grounded fear of jibber-jabber. Please enjoy the 2020 additions” 

Rex L. Curry

2019 Acton’s reaction to the world is “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the name of its founder it presents a combination of secular and religious overlays.  Acton offers a set of videos on the role of the Federal Reserve (before and after the Great Recession) on aggregate demand and the reserves of cash required. It is produced by the Marginal Revolution University.  Acton evaluation of socialism as a moral argument with economic flaws is a refreshing appraisal of the political din. A series of podcasts can take you to new insights in calm rational terms.

The 2020 Acton remain as consistently conservative critic of the status quo of anger over clear headed thinking. The lack of a level playing field on social media is criticized, but regulaton vs. innovation remains difficult to resolve. The provision of “texts for meditation” is a service worthy of enhanced civil dialogue.

In 2019 ,The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) bold tweets found Medicare quite popular in a recent poll. The count was 71% are in favor of a health insurance “guarantee” for all Americans, but 60% opposed if they had to pay for it. An attack on a GAO report based on the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, found “52 percent of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings in a “DC plan or IRA” however Factcheck.org described the tendency to leave the DC and IRA qualifier out. (source) Efforts to correct were also reported yet remained a whisper in comparison to the AEI attack on the GAO.  What happens when a nation’s institutions face subtle accusations of lying and time is spent baiting those who argue that some sections of the economy (health, education, transport) should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole for the good of whole?

2020 AEI  In an unusual bit of candor , pointed out how the representatives from blue cities and states expressed heightened concern about the virus, while representatives from red counties and states took little notice in a cold bit of political calculus. AE was among the first to join the cry of concern regarding arrival of an “economic crisis.” and they have been consistent critic of “America First” policy as internationally damaging. The AEI view on the humanitarian crisis was expressed by opposing a loosening sanctions on Iran.

The 2019 Aspen Institute opens with the idea that online activism is useful but insufficient if “Building America’s Next Great Awakening” is to be successful. Eric Liu clearly defines the push back against the dull odors of monopolized, institutional power willing to concentrate ineffectively on radical inequality.  Aspen recommends a review of his discussion of power (TED). Aspen is also about balance in its promotion of ways to sharpen our vision in a series of Business & Society podcasts launched this month (here). Swing over to the business integrity people (BIP) to see if the folks there will pick up on it after the official launch on the 18 April 2019.  If you need think-tank people (TTP) that have an interest in pushing the limits of every boundary to assure that your fear is not of change, but of loss.

See the Five Best ideas every day

2020 Aspen. For years they have assigned a team in partnering with TIME, to pull the five best new ideas every day from a long list of news sources. As far as the daily press is concerned, this is a reasoned selection and therefore a good editor’s pulse service.  March began as business usual, with interesting articles choices, but as April began, the virus was viral in the news and no different in Aspen’s best five. As far as ideas are concerned one out of five ain’t bad.

In 2019, anyone who has taken a glimpse at the enormity of American Defense Industry will find the Atlantic Council’s defense of democracy well validated in their celebration of NATO and its newest members hitting the ten-year mark (#Albania and #Croatia) while seeking to include Cyprus.  It is without surprise that NATO’s weighted connections and conference in D.C. this first week of April is entitled #NATOEngages to assure the alliance. The general pressure to increase spending as a percentage of GDP is having a destabilizing and disturbing effect on domestic affairs as expected. Following NATO, a strong interest in cyber security, engagement and sanctions is described.

The 2020 Atlantic Council view centered on cash. “What is clear is that, in a crisis, the Federal Reserve is the indispensable central bank. This is followed by serious worries in the governance of th EU in relation to a degraded NATO military. Another issue popular at the AC is the comparison with the Chinese state managed capitalism and the American decentralized approach. Specific stability concerns regarding the more authoritarian vs. the bubble up forms should turn directly to how these two designs will de-isolate individual countries, with high poverty rates and bad health infrastructure.

The 2019 Belfer Center is looking straight at Russia and China through the lens of the Pacific Rim. The growing complexity of “safety-critical technologies” in this vast region of the earth is an opening for a change in policy.  First, question the importance of the Middle East in comparison to threats to power caused by climate change on Pacific Rim nations. The center also enjoys its privileges and offers a wide range of important players in world affairs to sit and talk for the benefit of their students and faculty.  A link to Foreign Affairs offers one free article a week. If you are interested in foreign affairs, Belfer is a TTP stop.

The 2020 Belfrer set of tweets (April) is also a strong pulse center with retweets from other major interest and issue groups in the world. The selection is clear headed, multi-issue and thankful unsoaked in COVID-19 insights in multiple posts.

The 2019 Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) reaction to political pressures affecting “speech” within the university is direct. In response to President Trump’s Executive Order that pulled out the government’s big research funding stick they ask one question, “What is the litmus test?” Universities cannot model the current behavior in national politics; the idea of a government agency intervention to monitor compliance for funding is an insidious act. BPC mentions a leadership guide from Sanford Ungar (Free Speech Project) at Georgetown University.  His report “Informed and Engaged” describes the launch of the Free Speech Tracker.  Message at the Executive Order level have uneven qualities, while the search for instances and causes of incivility on university campuses is where the thinking caps belong. Solving students in debt, children in poverty, the people on opioids should be on the bipartisan-do list, but it feels doubtful.

For 2020, the exposure of outfits like AEI that encourage the use of misleading statistics and psuedo science to argue that social inequality is caused by genetic inferiority in society that is working very hard to eliminate discrimmination based on “groups.” In the tracker you can find a student made video in 2017 that shut down a Charles Murray talk, not to attack speech, but to stop fueling culture war the using bad science.

After a year of peeking into this group, you will fined it to be excellent on data sharing ideas, and insight into parlimentary proceedures that support compromise and growth in the use of those that do not.

I found the 2019 Brookings Institution (BI) focused on the “divided politics” situation as tribalism and turning to a description of Brexit as if it was a warning. Brookings also brought to our attention a survey of 93 leaders from government, NGOs, and others to share their view of global development. The title is Disrupted and points to fragile governments and climate change as principal sources for many policies going “tribal.”  The underlying premise is small groups can make significant changes, and that forces questions about the responsibility to make them good ones. A set of tweets that lead to improved understanding of what middle class means. April is a good month to spend some time with the TTP because of the focus on income, credit and taxes at their Center on Regulation and Markets.

The 2020 Brookings Institution is gearing up to produce a finally detailed cost of policy timeline analysis, while plans to measure the economic impacts over the next year. Communication is the foundation of lasting and useful facts. As a large public events organization you will find them at Apple: https://apple.co/2Q2jeFl  Google: https://bit.ly/2trN6mJ 
and Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2M6gMfW  The crunchers of the GDP will find parcing day toward the metroregions will capture 90% of the economic success iniatives and only 10% of the errors. This is a tough place as the political power might be elsewhere.

The 2019 Carnegie Council (CCEIA) serves as a judge of fact and includes an interest in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain technology, and cybersecurity.  The possibility of a revolution in network collaboration will require the vision of people such as Eric Liu and Sanford Ungar. There is a way to avoid the negatives in “tribalism” that forces the decline of democracy. Eric offers a stinging left jab, and Sanford follows with a hard right- cross. The simulated anger and the provoked loss of faith in long-standing public institutions can be proven.  Fund them just enough to fail on safety net issues in marginalized communities. 

In 2020, and early in March the Council said to Congress if you want to escape a recession – send people money now. The crisis peaked in April. Lesson from the Council – there is no fast action plan in the U.S. for anything other than war, but the White House is at war with itself.

The 2119 Carnegie Endowment (CEIP) direct emphasis on the voice of women in world affairs is having an impact.  Bill Burns article “The Lost Art of American Diplomacy” (here) describes the current disdain for its powers as a stimulus for rebuilding its “first resort” capacity.  Redefining diplomatic problems breaks the easy dependence on muscular military instruments with facts instead of political assertions used “to mask a pattern of retreat” designed to inflame aggression.

The 2020 Endowment took time and a variety of subtle tweets to point out that countries that do not handle an infectious disease well loses trust, become the subject of local to global propaganda and bad press in general.

The 2019 CATO Institute focuses on ways Medicare can control drug prices without impacting the system overall.  A reasonable disruption for a “patients first” approach follows a long list of price hikes that are the product of monopolistic behaviors. Turning to a related point, getting low congressional interest toward a serious concern in patent reform suggests that CATO would pull out Bernie Sanders’s 2005 idea for the Medical Innovation Prize and break up big drug pharma with concessions on generics.

The task of turning down the rhetorical din into something the TTP can stomach was promoted in a tweet by CATO when Alex Nowrasteh’s Washington Post article on “patriotic correctness” vs. political correctness. It yields hope that we haven’t been driven quite mad by the “silly-stupidness” as a dear friend calls a lot of that right/left speak. 

The first 2020 Cato tweet that caught my eye was, “Tariffs in a Pandemic are Taxes on Lifesaving Goods.” As most people who are hurt by a pandemic are low- and moderate-income in older urban areas, the benefits are still shared unevenly and punitively in the case of a pandemic. Another irony is the complaint against misinformation on COVID-19 and the complaint under the heading of combating populism. Do I sense pandemic unity?

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) interest in disproportionality has a top example the demand by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to fire its Chair, Adam Schiff, is an “eye off the ball” problem and exhibits the shallowness of acceptable political behavior. Perhaps a name change is in order.  I suggest the Center for Snarky Security.  Beware of angry but hungry TTP people.  

The Center for American Progress (CAP) honed the potential of emoluments violations because the House has the power to compel the IRS to release Trump’s tax returns. The Center shares an agenda item with the BPC in work needed to improve women’s labor force participation. Two problems require a solution to the quality of paid family leave and access to affordable childcare. The lack of both is part of the “war on workers.”  Brookings is on the same page under the heading of the pay gap.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) sees expanded resettlement programs as a refugee issue to pressure off the perversely facilitated asylum backlog. The Department of Homeland Security is in disarray with southern border troubles. Is the wall-threat and lack of reform causing the crisis? Policies in favor of diversity have been evident since the 1960s; however, the lack of a powerful north/south relationship has weakened instead of strengthened since NAFTA was established.

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) exhibits the need for adaptable technologies in military hardware and brings up the historical “renewed great power competition” problem about the United States, China, and Russia’s claim of sovereignty and believe other countries that are not great powers are not sovereign.  All kinds of cyber weaponry operated by new technologies re-opens the debate on the billions spent on “star-wars.”   

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CNPP) recognizes chipping away of safety net program funding in the Federal budget. Early in the month protecting SNAP (nutritional assistance) for vulnerable people is top on their list. The Center’s focus on state and local budgeting reports reduced the health care costs through caring society investments in education, income, food, housing, transit, and recreational support services are provided and encouraged.

The Claremont Institute (CI) claims to restore American principles as “originalists,” as if the founders of the U.S. Constitution remain the preeminent experts over our national life.  Historical desires hold tightly to the past as a measure of our time centuries later.  It is difficult to read these arguments based on values by institutions that have not or refuse to read and confirm the truth of Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law,” B&N and who remain satisfied with jabs around the edges at the whiteness of that law.  Law made racism impossible to understand if you are white. It is impossible to recognize if you have never read or ever encouraged to read anything in the enormous body of work by Derrick Bell or the writers who stand on his shoulders, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates. For centuries, cultural power is the only available tool, and because of that, it is far too easily altered and appropriated without a clear set of goals. Thanks to Avik Roy’s retort to Bill Voegeli on CI’s website, those goals might find a scrap of common ground with the right. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ voice is current (here), and he offers firm ground because the U.S. has participated in reparations four times.

The Commonwealth Fund (CF) takes us to the daily battle for a healthy America. Their tweets are regular attacks on the role of health professionals who care for modest income patients or those who are one crisis of poor care or one “surprise bill” away from full-blown poverty.  Just what America needs, a little more depression and anxiety on a bet-hedging that it won’t be too many of them or too weak to build guillotines.  

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) sends tweets on how globalization counts how to make the American worker more competitive by researching ways to eliminate unions and attacking the Kigali Amendment as a “job destroyer.” There is an unusual combination of politically conceived demands with crony-appeal and others that stand on more rational grounds. They need to choose.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is impractical with the global map. It leaps to review every crisis affecting American hegemony. The Council also pointed out the top ten countries for women’s workforce equality, and the United States is not on the list. You will compare other nations’ top-tier tax rates for comparison to those proposed by the 2020 Democrats. A detailed analysis of foreign aid for 2016 will be useful if it leads to 2020 comparisons. The UK’s only land border (after Brexit) is with Northern Ireland.  Is irony is back?  CFR points to an oddly similar border with Mexico as a related security discussion that can put you in a world where Japan gets its groove back with some severe armament. Bottom line, a run-through CFRs tweets can tease you into thinking that this institution is in total control.  Oh!

The Discovery Institute’s (DI) first tweet to my gaze talks about “pathological altruism” as one of the big awful things to discover.  They think they do good, but they know not.  DI is a wonderful break into the world of thought about problems instead of the ones “all of the above” seem to find. Every new second with DI is worth an hour everywhere else.  Columbia’s Earth Institute (EI) is next on the list in the current alphabetical order (that may require another form of organizing).  The EI tweets focus specifically on the next generation, also known as students and life-long learners, for a welcome sense of hope. One promotion with the “New School” asks a simple question: How do we know what cannot be known?” Where else but for the next generation would you be presented with butterflies tasting the salty tears of rainforest turtles to discover the importance of the complexity that beats the heart of diversity.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) added to the idea that we should have a more rational “thinking about important stuff days.” I pick up something new about EPI’s constitutional questions in their tweets.  The demand for a “more perfect union” during February is one of them.  February is a month of American history that has many important days related to the African-American experience.  April gets the ‘thinking day” attention of EPI on women rights regarding equal pay.  A Native-American gets .58, African-American and Latinas get 0.53, Asian 0.61 and White 0.77 of the $1.00 of white men. Overall, the “many” vs. the “one” debate requires the patriarchy to change in all these groups. In the name of perfecting our union, a routine injection of steps of fairness with the proof of balance defines equity, wages, skillsets, and safety nets.   

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Democracy and Technology, TechFreedom, Human Rights Watch, and 34 others are demanding the reauthorization or Section 215 to end NSA’s phone data collection. 

The Brennan Center has the best summary of selected government surveillance programs (here).  Getting into this subject by looking at all the trees (felled, standing, old, or sapling) will miss the new way the forest gets your attention. The digital forest, but like the old-growth forest, too can take something from you forcefully like a hungry bandit and offer you something you need or want at the same time. Trade began as a neighborhood/tribe thing that became a village or city thing, then regional, national and global. Instead of looking into the old forest, a new digital forest wants to look at you, your tribe, and your place on the planet.  The moral authority function of human judgment is why humans build cities and turn forests into parks.  The time is now to look deeply into ourselves in cities and leave the old wood alone, revered as the place from which we came.

The Freedom House looks at the demand for human rights in places under threat of violence and works to protect these rights when won, yet far too easily lost.  The FH sees an erosion of democratic political environments and points to more than 2.5 billion people FH designates as “Not Free” and more than a third of the earth’s population.  The number of “not free” is growing due to a decline in political rights and civil liberties. The Annual “Freedom in the World” report each year is getting more frightening.  In April, the concerns focus on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Russia’s disconnect from the Internet.  The growing interest in ranking internet and digital rights exposes an inability to clarify how user information is secured and encapsulated or closed and contained in authoritarian regimes.  Expanding the Global Magnitsky Act as an accountability tool is appreciated by FH.

The Guttmacher Institute examining global population issues and ideologically-driven political interference disrupt the professional connection between doctor and patient, lawyer and client.  These disruptions reduce these critical relationships’ safety and dignity and adversely affect a woman’s quality of life. The growth of blatantly unconstitutional and radical state-level laws aimed at a SCOTUS trial is a blatant money grab on settled law.  At the current federal level, rules governing the national use of funds are coercive in intent and practices that assault women’s access to reproductive health services, especially if they are low and moderate-income.

Heartland Institute looks to free-market solutions to the social and economic problems in the United States. When free-market solutions meet over 90% of human issues, needs, and concerns, it seems odd that attempts at getting into the 10% where it fails are threatening.  Most of the tweets are clear political shots when any entity does not see profit first and all other consequences second. The twitter-sphere tempts childishness, so it prompts you straight to their websites.  For example, a letter to POTUS45 seeks funding for a climate security commission as a voluntary offer to debunk science reports on climate change. Their interest in demonizing people interested in Democratic Socialism is an equally deliberate attack on any attempt to reduce excesses in the free-market system.  It leaves one deaf to any other point as valid. Heartland needs a transplant, and a heart may not be enough. Facebook canceled their ads.

I suppose it is appropriate that the Heritage Foundation (HF) is next up in this alphabetical Tweet O-Rama of think tanks. Here you will find the narrative tones exalting the glory of capital markets. The wonders capital has brought to the world. What would we do without money to sustain whole new classes in newly enriching ways? Most of the tweets are useless jibes and retweets of the favored. Go to their website to get the strategy.   Under “Heritage’s Perspective,” you will find a series of “read/listen more” teasers. I will summarize my first impression using the following, well-crafted, run-on sentence:

Of course, the transgender ban is logical. If you have a hovercraft, gerrymandering would be much more fun, along with the ability to take shots at Theresa May’s failure as a conservative within the confines of a robust pro-life agenda. Finally, college admissions are rigged, haven’t they always been so? 

The Hoover Institution (HI) is pleased to give me ten reasons by progressives shouldn’t hate POTUS45 and get this; they quote CNN. Here goes: 1) The economy, 2) not appalled by lies because 3) he’ll stop the socialists, 4) they believe his caring, empathic rhetoric, 5) he is the same at every rally, suit, tie hair and all, and 6) keeps trying to keep promises and goes against his party, 7) people see moves against a sitting president is all political BS and 8) media bias is clear.  The last three are reasonable ways to understand his loyal base,  8) it is the east and west coast vs. the hollowed-out interior that has grown to include battleground states, 9) despite everything “the family” is holding together, and 10) he is a performer and entertains. Even looking at conservative sites will produce cross-over insights.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) attention is on the reconciliation efforts in Rwanda as a lens focused across the globe from Libya to Venezuela and on to specific concerns such as the 500th day since Azory Gwanda “went missing” in Tanzania (#WhereIsAzory?”), and the secret Khashoggi murder trial and beatings in Nigeria and so on.  Malaysia decided to leave the ICC very quickly. HRW is livid with the cancelation of an ICC prosecutor’s visa. NGOs mag get a break from the Egyptian government. The triple bottom line utilizing “truth commission” practices yields a sliver of hope.

Common Ground Alert!

The Independent Institute has David J. Theroux’s magazine, the Independent Review. Its messages have a unique California vantage point that puts the facts on the table and tries to make you think. For example, in response to the recent POTUS45 request to make more room for a conservative speech on campus, this quote is in its article.

“The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that in 2017, 39.6 percent of the 449 colleges it analyzed “maintain[ed] policies that seriously infringe[d] upon the free speech rights of students” (source).

A Republican, Ronald L. Trobridge wrote the article, noting it would be inappropriate and probably illegal to ask applicants applying for a teaching job if they were a conservative or liberal. The applicants want to be professors exploring ideas, not politicians. 

I find more progressives teaching because they have something to say.  Trobridge ends the article by saying it is OK if you fail and get a “D” in a class if “principles” are involved.  I wrote a paper that successfully delivered my views under the heading “democratic socialism” in a classroom (applause, request for more information, and so on). I was pulled into the faculty office and given that “D” myself.  I should preface that this was just after the assignation of John Kennedy. I remember how frightened, McCarthy-like frightened the teacher seemed. Knowing pain has the potential for being self-inflicted yet knowable and understandable is good. The alternative is to have that pain secretly imposed with malice and intent.

The Inter-American Dialogue has a laser focus on Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, and Haiti. One of those lasers looks at “remittances” as a significant largest financial assistance source ($85B) moving from north to south Read IAD’s report #Remittances2018 here.  The overall energy company impression is best in the first few minutes from Lisa Viscidi (here) via Bloomberg and sharp on China in the region. 

The James Baker III Institute for Public Policy is all over Venezuela in the “let freedom ring” mode with VP Pence as the VP Pence at Rice University. The rapid turnover in Trump’s high-security positions became a central concern in mid-April.

The Kaiser Family Foundation aims at a healthier America to see our lower-income population’s health problems as central to the reform effort of a national policy to eliminate bias.  One example of this is 90% of uninsured poor adults reside in the South.  The high cost of indigent care is very carefully tracked by going to the detail such as the 212% increase in deductibles woven into health care policy. Overall, “health” remains a thread in the tweets of several of the tweeters in tanks. The focus on health is seen as an attack aimed at the drug cartel responsible for 1.9 million opioid-addicted nonelderly adults is a “give” in the ongoing attack on the ACA. The general call for Medicare for All in the number of bills introduced can be examined (here).  April is a cruel month.

The Lexington Institute points to a major health problem, AKA war, and in April – the need to defend against “hypersonic weapons.”  Fentanyl from China is not being well tracked or seized and, like cyber – put in the context of an invasion. Pounding the table for continuous improvements in defense postures belongs to Lexington. From micro-tracking devices on everything to brand new B-21 Bombers circling the planet, military reform is consistently cloaked in terms of modernization.  I believe in defense with a bid “D,” but try to find an economist looking at what happens when too much money chases too many goods?  The rich country answer is you get the acceleration of products fashioned, more than the military needs, and then send it to police jurisdictions just in case of an invasion?

The Ludwig von Mises Institute (LMI) After calling out a civil war battle anniversary, the LMI attacks @AOC for her interest in “socializing the economy” by advancing arguments for a climate change strategy and a rapid reduction of fossil fuels because it makes no economic sense without a clear and largely unregulated role for private capital and property. Western economists promote fungibility and discount entrepreneurs’ negative role as minimal no matter the amount owned or how much or what we consume.  The flaw in this argument is obvious. It cannot be proven to be a flaw until it is too late and the mystery of “market correction” capital implements repairs.  Nevertheless, there are some useful arguments for their critique of the GND“ debunked.  Nevertheless, Tomas Piketty (summary) has a refined approach to the problem of vast patrimonial capitalism and the threat of an oligarchy.  One example is how the “estate tax” was renamed “death tax.” The average annual income of $12M to the CEO may be why $36,000 is the ordinary worker’s national average.

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MIPR) work on post-industrial cities sees opportunity in Aaron Renn’s report through new ground planning while awaiting private market corrections.  There is a long list of a post-industrial urban center with under one million in a population that has lost 20% or more of its people from a previous peak. (DOWNLOAD PDF).  The mysteries of fungible capital became unavailable to these cities to fix municipal finances, reform or restructure dysfunctional institutions, and rebuild public services. The MIPR has NYC recovery from a similar abandonment of capital as “the bank is in trouble” solutions for growth with fiscal discipline.  Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Saginaw, Danville, Johnstown, and so on were not so lucky, and MIPR gets into the why and how.  There is no snipping in their tweets, just honest statements leading you to real thinkers and solid proposals.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has a broad approach. They are attracted to the economics of the housing crisis, immigration reform, the revival/survival of manufacturing, and the promotion of a book on “the corporation.”  Challenges to the federal debt level, the rise of right-wing terrorism,   

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has the last word on the economic forces shaping the world’s future.  The use of their Twitter feed is to announce working papers fed by the wealth of U.S. Census data on every aspect of American life, from micro-marketing strategies and consumer response to mandated protection disclosures.  An interesting analysis of “patent trolls” by them and them to license them vs. using links to health and drug policies that hide the demand for larger generic markets.  NBER produces papers like a factory would include cars. There is something for everyone without a hint of political purpose: the facts, just the facts.

The New America Foundation is similar in its “life is complex” approach to science and the art of political change.  The New American Weekly (Edition 243) produces their “fellows” residents in NYC or LA.  They have a functional analysis of why the right-wing got control of a swath of state capitals. 

On 18 April, the New Democrat Network (NDN) asks its participants to do some background reading to gain an understanding of Trump and to have a discussion of their findings. The series of papers are swept under the heading of “patriotism and optimism.”  Their criticism of trade policy points out the general decline of manufacturing fear of change

The Open Society Foundation (OSF) lays it out as clearly as possible; the world needs care, hope, democratic climate action, and continuous revelation on equality’s meaning and purpose. In all of these areas, the OSF works to lead by example and with others who do so with a healthy set of retweets from publishers such as The Guardian.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) would be wise not to repeat presidential threats unless until there is an actual implementation, then call it was it is.  Trade talk/war/talk and all of it on Mexico’s critical relationship to its northern border with very little attention paid to the south.  Economic nationalism in Chinese is like the German role in the EU State-owned companies in China, and sector-specific American interventions are hypocritical behaviors.  Central Bank control systems are in little trouble given “hyperinflation” flags fluttering in the breeze of a credit crunch.

The Public Policy Institute of California is way cool. In April, they have a thing for retweeting the Maddy Institute reports on the 2020 Census and how immigration policy might get framed through the election.  Next, the next great drought will have less remote sensing data available due to USGS and NOAA cuts, even though the water grid crisis continues to loom.

As a nonprofit, nonpartisan, organization the Rand Corporation is committed to the public interest and considered a trusted source for policy ideas and analysis. They would also admit a rise in the threat to communities worldwide likely to become less safe, secure, and healthy amidst the prosperous. Rand opened April up with a century-long review of the “political objectives of U.S. Military interventions and puts reduced success on “ambitiousness.”  Calling out Iran as a terrorist nation fits that bill. The next message somewhat ironically promotes SEL for social and emotional learning as a “measures” issue. They are delighted with the student achievement success of the Principle Pipelines project. Military complex interests are in cyber currency and terrorism.  Billions needed to cover the cost of meeting California’s new 2030 Seismic standard in the contract. 

The Reason Foundation libertarian ideals separate themselves from the wing-flapping left or right with a value system that remains adaptable to changing times if they lead to a limited federal government.  The logic of it is the states of the republic remain the leading laboratory for building a democracy.  The surprise is they find Pete Buttigieg, the “most interesting” Democrat. The challenge to the “qualified immunity” doctrine governing police behavior as “notorious” and disagree over labeling immigration policy.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is one of many doing the thinking needed most by the thoughtful over the next decade.  Goals for the earth and energy for humans are becoming more critical, and where else would you be able to discover the “Rs 10.000-crore FAME-II scheme?”  Just in case you are an advocate for less jargon globally, this is about India’s move to incentivize vehicle electrification. I ran a national community design center conference for several years.  The Pittsburgh Design center incentivized bicycling with a Pedal Pittsburgh Campaign.  RMI recently organized the screening of National Geographic’s documentary, Paris to Pittsburgh. RMI knows solutions to climate change will be implemented in cities, not the mountains.

The Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) works in social science research on inequality, the working poor, immigration, and the economic behavior of the actors involved. Themes in education tie it together from the impact of information technologies on the contributions of individuals such as Brian Powell and James Rosenbaum.  Timothy Bartik was asked to respond to a new report from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) regarding the decline in the working-age population expected through the 2020 Census. The report suggests a “heartland visa” immigration policy to replace losses in the area of the country where the reduction of working-age people is most pressing.

The thinking of people in the Third Way tank is an ambitious center-left organization aiming its resources clean energy, education, health care, national security, and the social policy and politics it will take for high-quality results in these areas. Their @TWPolitical feed is exciting. It examines challenges to the democratic party and examinations how the republic is collapsing and what can be done to save it in an author/speaker series.  April is about Michael Tomasky’s book on both subjects. Next on their priority list asks for the “fastest path to zero,” and no one has to request the meaning of zero, so that a good thing.

The Urban Institute (UI) continues to pound the table to get people to see cities as the answer.  The failure of political discourse in urban policy has required all institutions to seek a humanitarian response in the fight to sustain and establish the quality urban life of a diverse nation. This experience led UI to compile two extensive case studies by the Center on Nonprofits Philanthropy (CNP). The depth of the nonprofit housing and community-based development organizations in large cities has established a long list of social service programs’ innovations by breaking glass ceilings and building capacity with proof.  In turning fifty, UI is taking the definition of knowledge as experience plus reflection by examining the bias built into the demand for transformations since the 1965 Voting Right Act, the Higher Education Act 1968, and the Fair Housing Act comprising the core of the Great Society. If the next fifty years of America’s community development future from suburban to core centers is a concern. Will the answers about courage be found in that history?

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars tips the balance of American hegemony in the sheer number of people attracted to this subject where a great deal is said, but results are elusive. The initial Wilson vision became focused in his honor – 1968.  They stand with Jefferson’s notion that an informed and active citizen can be trusted with their own government. This organization believes it is building tools for that citizenry to join the national conversation. The tweets generally promote local events, but for a fascinating archive of public policy history, the center’s “Sources and Methods” blog is an insightful look at today with each visit.  

It seems appropriate for the Worldwatch Institute to conclude this lengthy effort to summarize America’s think tanks just for April. In contrast to the incessant attempt at understanding the complex communications of human, their institutions, and nations, April opening tween asks us to think seriously about the ecological impact and minimal psychological benefits of pets, the number of shipping containers and other sources filling the global ocean with everything from vintage Garfield phones to the micro-bead plastic you now consume with every bite from the sea.  The Institute handed the world its most significant economic challenge – come up with a way to assure human well-being and minimize consumption. The knowledge that an institution like “Black Friday/Cyber Monday” can devastate America’s climate future does not seem to help.  WI tweets carefully – one interesting lesson is the ability to quickly scroll down to their 2018 interest in altering the circular economy with the idea of “degrowth.”  Just keep swimming, keep swimming.

On the Delivery of Quotidian Jeremiads

Loving the English language is not easy, but it is fun. The think tanks can lead you down some interesting new paths covered in rabbit-holes, and a few Kool-Aid stands. With or without Congress’s consent, the President of the United States can threaten many kinds of civilizational catastrophe. The American President’s election is not a routine political occurrence; it is the release of a specific set of prejudices plus immense power. The short history of the United States also exhibits this power distribution by wealth and its penchant for significant error inherent to inherited wealth.

Here is another think-tank thought stimulation. De facto segregation is a myth; racism is a created thing, and its proof is daily and routine. It is a quieter thing now, an experience like watching the minute hand on a classroom clock; the movement is subtle because patience for an exact moment of freedom grows thin, and in the sweep of a second hand, it comes and goes.  The depth of America’s diversity challenge should not be unfathomable for the joy of its existence. Yet, there are times when the quality of human discourse is pressed for improvement so hard, we barely notice (here) or here

On T.S. Eliot

The lesson in sharing Eliot’s literary genius is that it does not excuse his anti-Semitism. It complicates the reading of “The Wasteland” with feelings of unwanted complicity. We should be able to read and reread his best poems, see the beauty and wisdom without fear of his bigotry. The message includes caution and resistance to all those who would use hatred as a power source in all political speech.

April is the cruelest month breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

These four lines capture a bit of the human soul. The reader wants to assign Eliot’s soul to a permanent place “beneath the rats” because his “icy dismissiveness” was assigned to an entire people. The reader’s judgment of his character is critical but not one I would assign to his tribe without the proof pulled from each member’s heart.

The March 2019 summary (here) introduced all the Tweet-O-Rama organizations and the Random Tweet-O-Rama. The idea is to learn something from the wits from this vast new area of the blah blah world.  The April summary (here) examined the Think-Tank People. In May (here), I looked at the organizations working to produce a good economy combined with voter rights organizations. With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to look at politics as a sport and as a practice that is now very different from the role of leadership that it implies. Please enjoy June, everyone should, and then July (here) for a look at the one thing of great importance – housing (here)

Paradise and Panama Jitters

“Global finance has expanded without accountability. However, the good news is that the attempts to take down journalism as an agent of facts are failing. Instead, a network is lining up like dots across a landscape of searches for truth. It is sustained with anger, vengeance, honor, and integrity, and it looks to me like two things. First, the attacks are a “tell” that makes the managers of extreme wealth very unsafe and conservative (to a fault) poker players, and second, the enormous flow of capital is producing a logic similar to that of a cancer cell. I predict Pandora for “all gifts” including the world evils.”

Rex L. Curry

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) pointed its tweet readers to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the problem of #AnonymousCompanies that hinder inquiries into political corruption and a long list of criminal enterprises (read testimony May 2019). To wonder why the FBI is under attack is not to understand the facts. See why we need more financial accountability people (here).

Face it. We have a terrible case of the jitters. After all, Wilbur Ross became the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 2017, right after his name was in releasing 13.4 million documents known as the Paradise Papers in 2016. That leak came from an off-shore finance management legal firm Appleby containing the names of more than 120,000 people and companies that hide capital. I don’t know why Mr. Ross wants that particular position of power, but it gives me the jitters.

Before Paradise, we had the Panama Papers. Remember? It became “news” following the “leak” of 11.5 million documents from another managing law firm – Mossack Fonseca, a team of journalists, gathered to finish the work of John Doe, whose identity remains unknown. During the data analysis, journalists (not government officials) have gathered worldwide to develop a plan. Their work covered many months of traditional journalistic practice before releasing newspaper stories designed to expose how billions of dollars were hidden killed from governments. A film summarizing their experience became available in March 2019.

Pandora (Frontline PBS)

The work to expose the cancerous practices of extreme wealth management continues. Given global conditions, even the honestly gained wealth is managed without an interest in investment to improve global conditions. Following the release of findings focused on public figures, the known investigators have been harassed, killed, and others attacked with “alternative facts” and lawsuits.  When it takes ‘whistleblowers” to produce the momentum for reform, be worried. The tale of two worlds requires the distasteful cleaning of the world’s corporate laundry. Forcing it out of these poorly managed financial machines may not occur until wealth becomes meaningless.

The wealthiest Americans have so much more money in 2020 that even Bernie Sanders has difficulty explaining it. That wealth is thanks to the 2017 tax overhaul by Republican Party. As recently as 2018, the estate tax was $20 billion for the treasury from nearly 5,500 families. In 2020, $9.3 billion in estate taxes were paid by 1,275 wealthy families. In the last five years, U.S. billionaires have doubled net worth. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, it is more than $5 trillion.

To Act Go (here), it leads to an old list of billionaires, pressing for trillion, and to what end? Again, action writers in the tradition of “the papers” are sought.

Need to Know List

An Essay for Reading Tweets from the Left

The United States is composed of thousands of institutions and organizations drawn from the profound beliefs and principles of liberty outlined by The Founders. Since then founding, the laws of protection for the growth of liberty and development of American principles have flourished. The continuous emergence of political organizations that seek to provide the best in human life for individuals has succeeded. In part, these efforts are defined as progressive or conservative, democrat, republican, libertarian, green, socialist, working family, and so on (see list below).  We live through these institutions and expect them to be dispositive of most problems given two provisions – civility in discourse and respect for facts.

American institutions focus on social and international justice, civil rights, and liberty in the context of human rights for all people. Many of them work to assure equal opportunity, good educations, environmental preservation, conservation, and human health advocacy. As they are plentiful and varied, their progeny continues to expand in the service of new constituencies who are emboldened to be free in a search of technological advancements in cultural change through art, and science. All these activities are constitutionally guaranteed. These institutions implement programs to produce predictable results that seek to hasten or slow social change processes, increase or reduce costs and protect local interests and specific assets held in private trust or on behalf of the public good. There is no hard proof that the physics described by Newton’s laws of motion are in play in these processes, yet it feels as if proof isn’t necessary for observing the many failings of power in the accelerated rate of change in which we find ourselves.

“Reducing the hard-punch capability of American hegemony has been difficult from the first use of the Atomic bomb all the way down to the colloquial definition of Americans as “people who buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.” The power to be that free includes a capacity for hate and injustice that cannot be rationalized, only disliked, and deterred.”

RLC

The belief of progressives and conservatives is that different worlds are possible. Both see the basics of air, water, land, and food as the most powerful natural resources on the earth, and once brought under the control of specific energy sources and industries, a sustainable environment is possible within an equitable economic system. In this system, only then can children be protected without wealth. Putting the force of these ideas in a global context redefines national security needs all the way down to a sense of personal safety best defined as freedom from fear. It is in the global realm of competitive personal protection that political actors become irrational. The rise of evil forces, demonizing recalcitrant actors, or the outright taking of spoils through conflict raise the walls of ignorance.

What everyone knows is why political divisions form in the debate on a proposed action. The benefits of assigning specific public expenditures in a three-branch system of government are to sustain debate to correct errors of judgment in a changing world. One branch creates two sets of representatives from every aspect of American culture. Their job is to write laws, see to an evaluation of the implications of their implementation, and adjust accordingly.  When failures in this process occur, the legislative practice is further evaluated and judged in a federal court system. The nationally elected leaders are the President and Vice-President. The Executive Branch is the final authority of Congressional actions subject to veto, amidst the ongoing churn of public elections, and the final arbitration of the Judicial Branch.

Human survival mechanisms will distort self-protection behaviors (i.e. fight/flight) in social groupings and this fact does not exclude complex global corporate and national government power-sharing systems. Entire social structures build supports eager to give meaning and purpose to the human experience of power. Communication of spiritual and community values, movements for social change, and reflections on past movements all push for a wide range of cultural transformations. New theories of change among the institutions confronting the need to adapt to new conditions include personal interaction with natural events that have a manmade feel about them. If each initiative defines an outcome-driven process, a practice based on evidence for action is drawn from detailed performance measures undertaken routinely by trusted parties. No matter how or where the idea for change occurred or the credit becomes needed, the results should be trusted. Time is the great judge of failure and success unless one cannot outrun the bear.

The task for staff is to find the counter punch organizations among the following largely progressive organizations. The primary mission is to get people to pay attention, express issues of concern, and vote on them in every election.  The list work got started with a project called START.

The Original START Study Guide is Here

For an excellent description of START, see “Acting in the Big Picture: New study guide builds on history, hope,” by Linda Pinkow, Dollars & Sense, Number 273, Nov/Dec 2007, p. 9. It was the inspiration for building the Tweet O-Rama pages found in the menu under The Synergy Project.s

The “tweet” is a way not to be distracted by the “big picture”, such as “we are all f’n doomed” problem, or if you are as rich as some of my friends, you plan, build and stock a $20 million hideaway, to avoid being in the “all” category.

List 1: Electoral Politics Organizations

The major electoral categories on the progressive side are political parties, namely the Democratic, Working Family, Green, Labor, DSA, Socialist, and the CCDS. A complement of state and local legislative groups is composed of BISC, SIX, and Progress Now.

Democratic National Committee/Party

Works for job creation, equal pay, education, health care, and clean energy.

Working Families Party

A progressive political organization that sponsors candidates in 7 states and fights nationwide for an economy that works for all and a democracy in which every voice matter.

Green Party of the United States


Labor Party

A few democratic socialists advocate for a broad-based social revolution while predicting the possibility of an undemocratic and violent seizure of power by a single political party. As history repeats, see blog to see if they might be right.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

The largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of Socialist International. Extending political democracy to greater empowerment in the economy, in gender relations, and in culture.

Socialist Party (USA)

A political party of, by, and for working people, founded in June 1996 by delegates from hundreds of local and international unions as well as individual activists.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)

The achievement of the socialist vision requires the production of wealth controlled by the people participating in a broadly framed democracy serving political and cultural life. I found a link to the Left University that offers many interesting resources (here). One of the best is the analysis by David Schweickart out of Loyola University below.

If only “the left” had the sound technicians as polished as those of TED and a few others.

In Sweden talking to a few students.

Think Tank People

“The Economist explains the role of think tanks as filling “the gap between academia and policy making.” I made a list for tweet scan to get a sense of that gap. It ain’t no gap – it’s a chasm, no an abyss.

The role of professional academic researchers move with the dedicated pace of a peer review and thus, very slowly. Journalists produce daily descriptions of events and are fast but not dispositive.

The job of a think tank is to make some sense of the day-to-day world over the course of a year or more and develop policies that make each day better than the one before. The good ones make the academic rigor of research as accessible a news story. The list below is not exhaustive and developed as a test using their twitter feed. Which of the following are most accessible?” Or, take a look at On Think Tanks.

Rex L. Curry

Acton Institute

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord John Acton (1834-1902). Acton seeks ways to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing.

American Enterprise Institute

Aspen Institute

Atlantic Council

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Bipartisan Policy Center

Brookings Institution

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Cato Institute

Libertarian and non-interventionist

Center for a New American Security

Center for American Progress

Center for Immigration Studies

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Claremont Institute

Commonwealth Fund

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Council on Foreign Relations

Discovery Institute

Earth Institute

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Freedom House

Guttmacher Institute

Heartland Institute

Heritage Foundation

Hoover Institution

Human Rights Watch

Independent Institute

Inter-American Dialogue

James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

Kaiser Family Foundation

Lexington Institute

Ludwig von Mises Institute

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

National Bureau of Economic Research

New America Foundation

New Democrat Network

Open Society Foundation

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Public Policy Institute of California

RAND Corporation

Reason Foundation

Rocky Mountain Institute

The Russell Sage Foundation

Third Way

Urban Institute

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Worldwatch Institute

Tweet-O-Random

“The Twitter feeds below are a random selection tied to a large set of “feeds” in the Tweet O-Rama – a large list of watchdog, housing, accountability, consumer, tax, vote protecting, public policy and business integrity people. I make them available to myself for a fast review of the times, sort of a person am I thinking clearly, litmus test. The “keyword” programs that hunt down story trends are cold and grabby. I like to stroll through them for the sense of humanity that remains in the issues people seek to resolve.

I recommend scanning them regularly for what is relevant to them all from day-to-day. As a whole, Tweets represent a spectacular display of what is important to people in groups at the moment. They are not doing well, or maybe it’s just the moments that are not that good. Consider the following selection found in the randomness of tornados, hurricanes, floods, and fires.”

Rex L. Curry

Before you go to the list, first, know that all core documents, assumptions, and arguments that require more testing for data will dance like angels on the head of a pin and achieve nothing. We live in a world of catastrophic resolution (CR). Understand the practical misuse of argument in a diverse, divided country like ours is fully engaged in CR poof.

Garrett Harden’s 1960s thesis regarding the “tragedy of the commons” is true, but our innocent actions are no longer innocent. One balancing element might be the Creative Commons offer of a more open process. Nevertheless, even in the current mess we find ourselves in, observers can see some things with abundant clarity.

Change toward anything better will not work without mass mobilization toward specific tests at the community-based action level of change. Moving the argument from the “atmospheric gas” problem to practical issues under the heading of resilience will shift the argument toward those tests. Every planning director and political leader should be asking questions such as 1) How many homes will flood or burn, and where is it most likely now and in ten and twenty years? 2) Can this region or nation handle that number, and does it have a resilience plan?

Getting blown to pieces, flooded or burned out of a low-cost, no cellar home, then fleeing, returning, and repeating is not a plan. It is climate change roulette. Once the gamble is recognized as such, the questions can get smarter. Participants will look for efficiencies and redundancies in the food and water supply, the energy grid, the quality of emergency response, the replenishment of local mitigation budgets, and so on.

The spread of single-family buildings from huts to mansions across the American landscape is our energy reality. We live where we live. It was shaped by national policy and cannot be reinvented easily in the face of new challenges. The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 is a central part of why we live where we live.  The initial expenditure was $26 billion, today that would be $242 billion. The highway spread us. The act was designed in part to protect against the thermonuclear war. Still, it also produced enormous land development wealth, a cheap place to live for everyone post-WWII to the present, and automobile industries that became globally duplicated. An investment in the nation’s future, even for purposes of research on alternatives, is inconceivable today. Yet, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports the cost of severe weather and climate disasters to be $91 billion in 2018.

A self-criticism arose during the anti-war and civil rights movement of the 1960s youthful vision of the world. Progressive Americans had to do more than talk to the already convinced. Enough of them added walking that talks itself into new places of culture, economy, and outlook. Americans still need to mix it up because a similar problem remains today after well over a half-century. There are people to listen to and learn from regarding trustworthy improvements in the argument for a better future. Quality leadership remains easily accessible. There is a chance to sustain the vitality of sacrifice in confronting new challenges.

I like David Roberts at Vox on renewable energy, and Amy Harder of Axios is a favorite of mine on energy politics. Grist has Nathanael Johnson exploring, God help us nuclear energy and World Resources Institute offers the big picture with reasoned care.

The Random Tweets

The following tweets are written by people close to the ground who can be aware of tests for organizational, political, and technological changes that meet a local condition and prove a positive change. Feel free to add some. The well of ideas is plentiful. Finding the thread of principle that ties them into a thing called mobilization is the real task at hand. Have a look.

Axios

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Dani Rodrik’s Tweets

Dot Earth

Energy Institute at Haas

Environmental and Urban Economics

Environmental Economics

Jeff Goodell

In 2005 his book “The Water Will Come” would not be flying off the shelves around the world as they are in 2019.

Grasping Reality with Both Hands (Brad DeLong)

Greg Mankiw’s Blog

Grist

Harvard Environmental Economics Program

Jeffrey Frankel’s Blog

Larry Summer’s Blog

Long Now Foundation

Take a break — listen to the long term thinking people. Look for the Jeff Goodell presentation about his book “The Water Will Come.”

Making Sen$e | PBS NewsHour

National Bureau of Economic Research

Now This

Their production of Congressional hearing on why corruption is getting ripe in nearly every political venue starts with one interview and a unique analysis (here). For the rest of it, that is why we call this is the tweet-o-random.

Resources for the Future – Common Resources

The Conversation: Analysis, Research, News and Ideas

Vox

Catastrophic Resolution

Good for the City in Small Pieces

“Some years ago, and a year or so after the 9/11 disaster, I was standing near a conversation at a town hall session, when a constituent decried failing systems in service to the simple act of voting – long lines, ill-trained, confused poll workers, broken machines, deplorable participation rates, falling registrations, and so on.  The Senator, politely nodding, said, “Little will happen on any of these issues until voting breaks down completely. Only if that happens can action with money be taken, in the meantime…” when the constituent interrupted and said, “But Senator, all the dots are in a row here,” it was like being slapped.”

Rex L. Curry

The policy of catastrophic resolution is supported as a congressional decision-making model. It trickles as policy all the way to cities. In New York City, as an example, the policy is to wait until the water main breaks. “It is the only way to find them to fix them.” claimed the officials with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at the time.

While reasonable in one sense, it has become a disease of denial regarding the value of prevention. Today, a variety of life-denying systems within the western economies are held by self-styled anthropophagus-like altruists whose logic would destroy the village to save it and govern at an “arm’s length” with the help of psychopaths they put into public offices. They are not the oligarchs of old that hold the spoils of war. In their worlds, surrounded by the obsequious kindness of others, I believe many of them do not know what they do or have done to damage the future. The clutch of sycophants in their spheres quietly whisper in a gaggle of insistence, saying there is no need for decisive action on the unprovable loss of a single species or global breakdowns in seasonal patterns that bring fire, drought, and thunderous waves from a rising global ocean or the searing heat across ever-widening dry plains. The policy of “no need without undeniable insistence” must not occur.  There is a need for revolution, and I think I know where it might begin.

The synergy of dense urban living appears to create or at least support the rise of conditions that prevent damage to future generations as it defines and solves problems squarely ahead. It can be sloppy. However, most of the cycles of sloppiness are short, cover small geographic areas because only parts of the systems that glue the city together fail at any one time. A city in constates of repair is a city with powerful expertise. When an ancient, wood water main breaks, a sewer fails, a gas line leaks and an electric power loss occurs, only a few people are affected and only for short periods because of compacity. A word that describes many people nearby that know exactly what to do or how to get it done.

ConEdisons Outage Map shows the number of customers affected by location.
New York City’s “Outage Map” by Consolidated Edison
illustrates outages for 3.5 million customers by location.

If you are in a dense area you can experience compacity (the feeling of density) by taking a walk for fifteen to twenty minutes in a reasonably straight line, make four right turns to get back where you started, and you have probably walked a square mile. On average, you have enclosed 30,000 to 80,000 people, miles of road, and thousands of homes. If you are in New York City, you may have come across multiple subway stations, several hundred commercial retail, institutional service, and public facilities such as schools, police, and fire stations. All in a little over a one-hour walk. Amazing.

The central and overriding responsibility of political leaders and public and private service agencies is to assist in the readiness of people to respond to problems of any kind or any sort. They should know and understand this capacity as it represents the beating heart of NYC’s future. In every one of these square mile enclosures in any one of hundreds of neighborhoods, the capacity for positive change is undeniable. Still, it needs to be taught as a practical matter of citizenship, of what to do or not when the need for help is immediate or anticipated like the tide.

If or when a city’s potential for positive change or the need for occasionally rapid response is denied or obstructed, it is readily recognized as a conflict against humanity in the place where it occurs. The origins of the forces behind these life-defining conflicts may begin as “person-against -person,-nature, -self, -society, -technology or the raw unknown. These are not the elements of fictional narratives. They represent the day-to-day experiences of regular people. They produce these occurrences of conflict with relish in all things, from the simple exchange over the price of bread for currency to a course in high-school algebra for a grade. They are all things wrought by the compacity of urban life that are continuous and in many ways unrelenting.

In many places throughout the city, your walk would have included observing a highly diverse population. You would have heard many voices speaking combinations of familiar and unfamiliar words. Your opportunity within this environment to purchase and consume your requirement for protein or clothing, a laugh, or a smile is easily acquired. Your business is appreciated. A twenty to thirty-minute train ride will take you to some of the world’s finest hospitals and universities or airports and trains to see far-off places. All of these little break-downs and celebrations renew the place and the person.

 

 

 

Fact Checking People

“Facts are things known that need to be proven routinely. A word of caution my Dad said, ‘Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see.’ Do that, and you get better questions.

The desire of political “camps” is to communicate messages first and facts second. Media advisers and psychologists find the proof of communication in persuasion leading to action. That is it, nothing else. Millions of votes or cans of beer are the proof needed, and ethical communications standards are not required. The friends of the “fact-checking world” help to give writers perspective and the ability to set personal standards.”  

Rex L. Curry

Snopes.com        

A proven and reliable debunker of false statements

FactCheck                     

Dedicated to public education on media bias and deceptive news practices 

Annenberg Public Policy Center’s focus on political statements

Politi Fact           

Rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others in American politics

BallotPedia        

A professional encyclopedia of American politics and elections

Open Secrets      

Tracks money in U.S. politics – nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit

Truth or Fiction

A mishmash and hodgepodge of all the bull on the internet, but lacks focus

Tech Transparency Project