We've been working extra time here at Strong Towns to get a few special things ready for release. I can't preview them now except to say that you will want to check in every day next week. Trust me. Every day. (And isn't that always true anyway?)
The result is that I have not read much news this week, my Google Reader is overflowing and in need of a few hours of sorting and I'm dead tired. Sorry. This Friday's News Digest is going to be brief and gratuitous. So to the brave and foolish amongst Strong Towns advocates....
Here is this week's "news":
- A huge shout out to Kaid Benfield at NRDC who listed the Strong Towns blog as one of the blogs he routinely follows. In his writeup, he said this about the STB:
This is a fairly new site, but so far I am impressed. The three Minnesotan writers of Strong Towns take a decidedly polite and low-key approach to their advocacy, which is largely based around the notion that the places that survive the best will have good urban form because good urban form is much stronger financially and economically than sprawl. They write in manageably short chunks of words rather than extended essays, but each is well-written and persuasive. Their point of view has very little to do with the environment, at least explicitly, and that helps make it more interesting to me.
That is very kind praise and we thank Mr. Benfield for the link love.
- The City of Los Angeles is looking to privatize some parking ramps in order to close their budget gap. I'm sure they will use the money to build more roads to supply plenty of customers for the new operators. If we're going to pawn the silver shouldn't it be for something that has a chance of paying us back someday? Are credit agencies so dumb as to think this is a wise strategy?
"This is a critical piece of our strategy to maintain the city's financial standing and credit rating," said City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the top budget analyst at City Hall.
- The amount of money available for transportation projects is shrinking. When is someone (besides us) going to stop to ponder why this is? Let's consider the options....
- Someone poured water on our paper money supply and it is now experiencing "shrinkage".
- A movie used to cost a dime and now it costs ten bucks. Come on - a dollar is not what it used to be!
- Our politically-driven, debt-induced approach to infrastructure has built a massively bloated and inefficient transportation system that we have no imaginable means to financially sustain.
If you picked (3), you may be called cynical (or "polite and low-key"). You know, if we only had another nickel, we could fix the entire thing. Doh!
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood delivered that somber message in a visit to the Twin Cities this week. He made clear President Obama's opposition to the nickel (or more) increase in the federal fuel tax needed to launch a significant transportation overhaul. "The president is just not going to be for that as long as people are hurting," LaHood said.
- I thought the "(or more)" in that last quote was kind of cute. Like a kid asking for some spending money for Friday night. A nickel would be nice, but you know....more would work too. You can almost picture Secretary LaHood kind of kind of shrugging his shoulders and looking down at his shoes.
- Last week I busted out a video from Disney that was presented to me as "I love the whole world." Since then, I have been educated by the two year old in my life that Boom De Ya Da is part of her music spin (she does not have an I-Pod...yet) and I also found out that the Disney video originated from a spot put together by the Discovery Channel. I'm super-hooked now, and you can ask anyone here and they will tell you that I have been singing Boom De Ya Da over and over again all week. Do yourself a favor and join me. Or as my five year old says, "Totally. I'm goin' again."