Those of you that regularly read this blog (I'm amazed at how there are more and more each day - thank you, and please pass our site on to others) know that I am a huge fan of the Minnesota Twins. This last week put me in a position to 1) attend my first Twins game of the year (we won), 2) attend a Colorado Rockies game in beautiful Coors Field, and 3) select my seats for the brand new 2010 Minnesota Twins OUTDOOR stadium. It was a lucky break to be able to fit this all into a busy planner schedule. Go Twins!

Since I was at CNU last week and was blogging about the conference, there has been no news digest for a couple of weeks. That is going to make this a long one. Enjoy!

  • We work in a community with a large coal plant. I did not realize that knowledge of this facility (or the ability to use Google Earth) made me privy to national secrets. This seems bizarre. Can't you just look for a coal plant and, presto, you will find ash? Am I missing something?
  • Still on the energy theme, I thought the following was an interesting graphic from The Economist. The reader comments on this one are worth reading too.

  • I find it fascinating when planners and community activists decry toll roads and other "outsourcing" of the long-term cost of operating and maintaining public infrastructure, yet have no othet realistic plan to pay for these systems (unless trillions of magical dollars dropped from heaven is a realistic strategy). Now we have this article from the NY Times. Some quotes:

"What happened? The financial crisis, for starters. The easy money that Wall Street was counting on to finance its purchases has largely disappeared. Then the Obama administration unintentionally damped interest with its $787 billion economic stimulus package, a windfall that local governments are now racing to spend."

....

"The stimulus money, as well as other infrastructure money promised by Congress, has provided temporary relief for cash-poor municipalities. But this situation will not last forever."

  • I spoke too soon - it appears we do have a plan, of sorts. That plan: commit to spending and figure out how to pay for it later. Sound familiar?
  • I found this column by George Will to be fascinating. He references a New Republic article, "The Green Bubble: Why Envinonmentalism Keeps Imploding" to make his point that Americans are fickle about their "greenness". I agree that a sustainable environmental movement needs to appeal to American's minds, and wallets, and not just guilt. This is doable, by the way.

"Green consumption became "positional consumption" that identified the consumer as a member of a moral and intellectual elite. A 2007 survey found that 57 percent of Prius purchasers said they bought their car because "it makes a statement about me."

  • The premise of this article - that we should invest more in failing areas of the country - is something we could debate to no end. Here's an eye-opening quote from the article for those who that believe government subsidy of rural areas will continue well into the future:

The U.S. Conference of Mayors complained this week that urban areas haven't been given a large enough share of stimulus funds.

  • I plan to write an entire blog post on this article some day. Deconstructing failing American cities - I'd be willing to give the mayors in the prior article the money they are looking is this was their plan.
  • Another example of journalists - or at least headline writers - not being good at math. Either that or not caring. When you go to the casino with $1,000 and you lose $950, find a journalist to cheer you up when you turn your remaining $50 into $55 playing nickel slots.
  • Sorry, honey. I realize it is a tough time in the news biz.
  • I have been trying to find a byline on this article to determine where this new term - "The Wright County Effect" - originated. Sorry I am not at liberty to comment further, except to say that there is much more to the "Wright County Effect" than this article alludes to.
  • As someone who attends more than ten evening meetings a month in small towns across Minnesota, I've driven through my share of small towns at late hours and happened upon the friendly police officer parked right at the edge of the speed zone waiting for that fool who happened to not notice that, despite no change in landscape, a sign has been erected signalling a dramatically lower speed. In my travels, this has in fact happened to me quite often. It makes me appreciate the honesty in this article.

"My goal is to find some revenue sources that are on the backs of a user fee -- whether it's creatively using our parking meters or whether it's looking at some of the innovations that could be forced on us anyways by the state with red-light cameras."

  • I think I can pinpoint when that trend started: 1949, to be precise. That is from my local paper, and it is a big reason why you have to love small towns, at least the way they used to be.

60 years ago (1949)

The practice of putting coins behind windshield wipers for police officers to put into parking meters, thus preventing overtime parking tickets, must be discontinued, said police chief Tom Templeton. The practice has become widespread.  

  • Here is a great article that touches on land use policy in Minnesota and why it has failed us on so many levels.  
  • I'm glad we have people that study things like this. I never imagined it would be preferable to live near a park. (Actually, this is where planners hurt themselves by falling for the notion that we need to statistically prove even the most obvious observation).  
  • I'm kind of upset that I am not allowed to imbed this video. Venice is the most beautiful city I have ever visited, which adds to the irony and humor of that flick.  
  • And finally, as promised, a little something to poke fun at those "boomers" out there.