This week was exhausting but great. I had two wonderful meetings: an open house with the good citizens of Livonia Township and a second with the planning team in Maine Prairie Township, both in Central Minnesota. They were fantastic learning events for me and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with both of these townships. Makes the exhaustion at the end of the week worth it completely.

The week prior to the 4th of July and my hometown is starting to get crazy busy. Hope you enjoy your weekend and this week's news.

  • Not everyone is suffering in this economy. The unique experience known as the flea market is booming.
  • And consider what happens to our local governments that are funded primarily by the property tax when property values decline (which they have) and then fail to rise dramatically (which they will). This meeting might get a lot bigger.
  • And that should be apparent to everyone, despite the short-term programs in place to stabilize things. We all know we can't really afford much of what we see happening each day. We know this.
  • But that loss of revenue from property tax won't keep our small towns (and suburbs) from trying to recreate the town square and other natural meeting places that used to exist in every town with the favorite project of all failing places: the community center.

20 years ago (1989)

(Adv.) Passbook Savings 5.50 percent Interest, Readily Accessible. One Year Certificate of Deposit pays 9.0 percent, or 9.31 percent annual yield. Credit America Savings in Brainerd.

30 years ago (1979)

Brainerd motorists are facing a gasoline crisis in the next few days due to independent trucker blockades of oil refineries around the state. Service stations will start rationing purchases today and will also restrict hours of operation. 

  • Here is an argument against bulldozing single-family homes to restore a bottom to the housing market and abandon the least-efficient housing in our system. The author equates this idea with Urban Renewal, the failed policy that helped kick off the development binge we have been on for the last two generations. That is overly simplistic and forgets a key difference: Urban Renewal removed "blight" in poor neighborhoods to make way for highways. A modern-day demo of suburbs would remove highways, houses and related support infrastructure to retreat back to a more economically viable position. The latter is more like pruning the rose bush to allow it to grow better.
  • Here is another argument against the idea, this one suggesting that we keep these places as some type of a museum to what was. I'd personally rather get my culture somewhere else.
  • Even if you don't believe in downsizing, converting our 28-foot wide, asphalt-paved, highway-shouldered rural roads to something more appropriately sized and scaled is going to be essential. Michigan, seemingly the canary in the current mineshaft, has already reached this conclusion.
  • I had read a little about a constitutional amendment regarding growth management being proposed in Florida, but an opinion piece in the Orland Sentinel made me want to find out more. Not sure what public planners are "experts" of exactly.

Campaign consultants would quickly replace public planners as the "experts" on growth management. Citizens without the deep pockets necessary to wage high-priced media campaigns would be left without recourse or representation. Ultimately, many communities would suffer one of two extremes: rampant overdevelopment or no growth at all. 

  • If you read our posting this week on the evolving rural/urban power dynamic, you will be able to put this article into context. They are not coming for your guns - they are just going to stop subsidizing you (an me too, actually).  
  • I do a weekly radio segment on KAXE out of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and am aware of the phenomenon of John Latimer and his phenology observations. Congrats on making it into the NY Times, John. 
  • I recommend reading this entire article regarding the correlation between health care spending and quality of care (summary: there is no correlation). It provides a good backdrop to the reform discussion and perhaps points a way to both solve some of our economic problems AND make the world a better place. 
  • One of the more bizarre scandals the Catholic church has had to deal with (or not) in recent years. This guy was actually a priest at my church years ago.
  • Here is a great story, with photos, of a guy that decorated his basement with $10 worth of sharpies. Sounds odd, but it is very cool. Check it out.
  • And finally, while realizing that there is no connection between Michael Jackson and this blog, I can't help but add this video. I was in 5th grade when Thriller was huge and, while not a huge Jackson fan today, feel a little odd knowing he has passed away. This video - and watch the entire thing -  demonstrates that the world, at least pop-culturally, is flat and that Jackson had a major impact on it.