Eminent Domain Documentary Creating a Buzz on Indie Film Circuit

Date: 11 Jun 2009 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

More than nine years in the making, the independent film ”Begging For Billionaires: The Attack on Property Rights in America” was selected as a “Best of Fest” feature by the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival and won “Best Documentary” at the Texandance International Film Festival.  In 2005, a divided U.S. Supreme Court gave city governments the authority to take private homes and businesses by eminent domain and transfer ownership to private developers for the purpose of building things like shopping centers, corporate office towers, luxury condominiums and professional sports arenas.

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Community-Owned Sports

Date: 15 May 2009 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Sports, unlike any other business, generates a sense of civic pride and community identity. New Yorkers don’t cluster around the television to cheer on Wall Street investment bankers; Detroit citizens don’t congregate in bars to watch Ford or GM workers build cars. But rooting for the Yankees and the Tigers and the Knicks and the Pistons is a natural communal activity. This web page identifies rules, and models, of organized and professional sports that allow us not only to root for the home team to win, but to root the home team in place.

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Is Eating Local the Best Choice?

Date: 31 Dec 2008 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Some 30 years ago NASA came up with another BIG idea. Assemble vast solar electric arrays in space and beam the energy to earth. The environmental community did not dismiss NASA’s vision out of hand. After all, the sun shines 24 hours a day in space. A solar cell on earth harnesses only about four hours equivalent of full sunshine a day. If renewable electricity could be generated more cheaply in space than on earth, what’s the problem?

A number of us argued that the problem was inherent in the scale of the power plant. Whereas rooftop solar turns us into producers, builds our self-confidence and strengthens our sense of community as we trade electricity back and forth with our neighbors, space-based solar arrays aggravate our dependence. … Read More

NY Public Library ‘Trades Naming Rights’ to Greedy Hedge Fund Billionaire for Big Bucks

Recently, the New York Public Library announced it would rename its main library the Stephen A. Schwarzman Library in return for his contribution of $100 million to its $1 billion capital fund drive. As a born and bred New Yorker, I recoiled at the news and the message it sends to future generations of New Yorkers.

The 42nd Street library is by all accounts the jewel in the crown of the New York Public Library system. In both form and function, it honors the word"public." Henry Hope Reed has accurately described the library as "a people’s palace of triumphant glory." … Read More

Voter fraud? No, voter suppression.

Why are we hearing so much about voter fraud and so little about election fraud? After all, the odds of someone voting fraudulently are about the same as those of an American being struck and killed by lightning.

A microscopic evaluation of election data in the 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington state revealed that voter fraud occurred approximately 0.0009 percent of the time. An analysis of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004 percent.

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Sunny Post-Partisanship Sounds Nice, but What’s Obama’s Larger Vision?

Responding to criticism that President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet is composed largely of recycled Bill Clinton appointees, Obama’s close advisor David Axelrod told the New York Times, "He’s not looking for people to give him a vision. He’s going to put together an administration of people who can effectuate his vision." A few days later, after introducing his foreign policy team, Obama himself declared, "I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made.”   

Which leads to the inevitable question: What is Obama’s overarching vision? What is the philosophical framework that will animate his administration and guide his cabinet officers to adopt policies different from those they embraced in the past? 

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Election Methods and Equipment

Date: 1 Dec 2008 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

While some reformers believe that campaign finance reform will cure many of the ills of our election process, others feel the key is proportional representation, or other, related reforms.  Some have begun to question the very equipment we use to vote.… Read More

Unified Development Budgets

Date: 25 Nov 2008 | posted in: governance | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

As Greg LeRoy (GoodJobsFirst)points out, "As states grapple with their worst deficits in more than half a century, policymakers seek better data to help with budgeting decisions. But most states spend the bulk of their economic development budgets almost invisibly, in uncollected taxes, a.k.a. ‘tax expenditures.’"… Read More

Campaign Finance Reform

Date: 25 Nov 2008 | posted in: governance | 1 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In the United States, candidates for public office have always needed money to run for public office. To get it they have often depended on wealthy contributors expecting favors in return. In 1971, the federal government passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), in an attempt to combat this phenomenon. The FECA (which was amended several times until 1979) put a cap on the amount a single donor could contribute to a campaign for federal government, and required public disclosure of these contributions.… Read More

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