Category Archives: Politics

Corruption Part 2: Why Do We Continue to Tolerate Dishonest Leadership?

If information from maxalt online a respectable source raised suspicion that a local police officer was accepting bribes, this community would rightly insist that that officer be pulled off the street until an investigation took place and his name was cleared.

Why do Clevelanders not insist on the same standard for that man’s boss’ boss’ boss, a City Councilman? FBI tapes have revealed that Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney was part of a plan to fix contracts by a contractor who admits to bribing public officials. Rather than answer to the charges, Sweeney refuses to even respond to them formally when http://pharmacy-online-24hour.com/lozol-online.html requested by The Plain Dealer.

Politicians should be held to canadian pharmacy at least the same standard as their distant subordinates. Elected leaders like Sweeney who are suspected of using their position of public trust in commission of a crime should be omnicef pharma removed from office until the public can be reasonably assured otherwise.

This region cannot afford to tolerate even the suggestion of corruption anymore; the information raised about Sweeney goes far beyond that. He should step down. I am circulating a manjishtha online petition to http://viagra7pharmacy-online.com/buy-grifulvin-online.html this effect and I urge http://cialis7days-pharmacy.com/levitra-price.php other levitra soft conscientious Clevelanders to 7days pharmacy sign it at:

https://www.change.org/petitions/cleveland-city-council-city-council-president-martin-sweeney-should-step-down-2#

-A.S.

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The Presidential Election in Ohio in Two Short Videos

Well, done!

 

 

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The National Review's Imaginary Plot Against Ohio Suburbs

This post originally appeared at Streetsblog.

It’s presidential election time in Ohio, and boy does Stanley Kurtz at the National Review have a scoop for the good, unsuspecting citizens of the Buckeye State. Northeast Ohio political leaders and President Obama are working on a sinister plot to redistribute wealth from suburbs and give it to cities!! (Socialism!)

Stanley Kurtz, author of a book claiming President Obama is a socialist, sees a vast conspiracy to rob the suburbs in Ohio. Photo: ##http://www.eppc.org/scholars/scholarID.81/scholar.asp## Ethics and Public Policy Center##

Kurtz has found a bogeyman in the concept of “regionalism,” which has for decades been promoted (and by that I mean talked about more than acted upon) by suburban and urban leaders alike in Northeast Ohio — the most populous region in the state — as a way to improve the region’s economy by reducing government waste. Sounds pretty sinister, right? Well, Kurtz is sounding the alarm for Ohio suburbanites (coincidentally, the mightiest base of political power in the all-important swing state).

“The president and his fellow Democrats are coming for your tax money,” writes Kurtz, a “fellow” with the Koch brothers-backed “think tank” the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Redistribution is the goal, and suburban Ohio is target No. 1.”

Before I explain how wrong and crazy that is, let’s back up for a second. What is regionalism? Is regionalism socialism? Here is how the concept is generally understood in Northeast Ohio…

The problem, for Cleveland and its suburbs, is that there are 59 distinct municipal governments in Cuyahoga County alone. Each of these government entities manages a police department and a streets program, employs a council clerk, and so forth. That makes government service provision in Northeast Ohio relatively costly and duplicative. In other words, it makes taxes high. That is generally considered to be bad — an obstacle to revitalizing the economy. And fixing the economy is priority number one in Northeast Ohio — home to Cleveland, Youngstown, and other cities likely to appear on Forbes’ annual Most Miserable Cities list.

“It’s just laced with failed ideologies. It’s fear mongering.” — William Currin, mayor of Hudson, Ohio

Okay, stay with me here. This fragmentation in government also encourages intercity competition for employers. This means that a lot of local governments spend substantial public resources luring businesses to hopscotch from city to city around the region, collecting tax breaks, without adding any jobs or true economic gain. Again, in Northeast Ohio, this is almost universally understood to be a bad thing. Out of 59 government entities, 49 have signed a voluntary “anti-poaching” agreement.

But to Kurtz, this kind of cooperation between suburbs and the central city is not common sense or good government — it is self-evidently a diabolical plot.

Kurtz has a high-pitched, tone-deaf warning for Cleveland: Watch out, Obama is trying to make you like Portland, or — gasp — Minnesota. In Kurtz’s writing, “Portland” and “Minnesota” are cautionary tales.

Kurtz uses Portland and Minneapolis as bogeymen not just because he holds their values in disdain. He is warning that policies they’ve adopted — urban growth boundaries and tax-sharing agreements — could follow from a few of Cleveland’s rather toothless regional planning efforts.

But Kurtz isn’t interested in discussing whether those tools might actually be beneficial to Ohio residents, whether they live in cities or suburbs. Nope. I mean, if you follow that line of inquiry you would have to arrive at the indisputable fact that both Minneapolis and Portland are far healthier places, economically, than Cleveland, whose absence of land use planning has helped make it an internationally renowned poster child for urban vacancy.

Kurtz doesn’t go there. Just the suggestion that urban growth boundaries or tax-sharing could happen — that is reason enough for suburbanites to hightail it from camp Obama, like, well, suburbanites from Cleveland. At least, that seems to be his suggestion.

It’s true that voluntary tax-sharing agreements have been promoted by regional leaders in Northeast Ohio, most notably the Regional Prosperity Initiative, which — radical left-wing organization that it is — receives financial support from the regional chamber of commerce.

William Currin, the mayor of Cleveland exurb Hudson, is a leader of the Regional Prosperity Initiative steering committee, which helps promote tax-sharing agreements. He pointed out that these agreements are only undertaken voluntarily, and “everything they propose is of mutual benefit to the communities involved.” Currin, who is a political independent, said he was disgusted by Kurtz’s article.

“[Kurtz is] trying to politicize a nonpartisan issue: reducing the cost of government and protecting the sanctity of local government by collaborating with each other where we should collaborate,” Currin said. “It’s just laced with failed ideologies. It’s fear mongering. They’re trying to connect it to Obama. There is absolutely no connection at all. There is no grand conspiracy here under any circumstances.”

Currin said his organization looks at examples like Louisville — with its merged city-county government — as a model as much as Minneapolis. He added that, as tax-sharing agreements have evolved in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis has become the biggest contributor.

If you actually examine the way money flows in Ohio, you might notice that suburbs and rural areas are often beneficiaries of “redistribution.” Over the past few decades, for example, the state of Ohio and local governments have provided tax incentives for 14,500 jobs to move farther from the city of Cleveland.

Ironically, Kurtz holds up poor victimized Avon, Ohio — an affluent Cleveland exurb — as an example. Leaders of Northeast Ohio’s metropolitan planning agency, NOACA, forced Avon to agree to tax-sharing in exchange for a brand new interchange that was designed to spur private development, not solve any pressing transportation need. Numbers from the Ohio Department of Transportation, however, reveal Avon to be more a beneficiary of redistribution than a victim.

Source: ODOT

This chart shows shows per capita transportation spending in Avon (median household income $81,000) versus Cleveland (median household income $27,000) in 2009. It shows the direction that redistribution has long flowed in Northeast Ohio: out, out, out — away from the central city.

According to a 2003 study by Brookings: “In Ohio, however, urban counties consistently took home a smaller share of state highway funds than suburban and rural counties relative to their amount of vehicle traffic (vehicle miles traveled), car ownership (vehicle registrations), and demand for driving (gasoline sales). On the flipside, rural counties received more dollars for each indicator of need than did urban or suburban counties.”

What I want to know is, where were Kurtz and his friends at the National Review when that report was released? Did they decry “redistribution” from cities to rural areas? Of course not. The truth is, writers like Kurtz don’t really have a problem with “redistribution” when it benefits their constituencies.

At its core, Kurtz’s article isn’t about policy. What he’s is setting up is a discussion about identity — suburban versus urban. And in many regions, including Cleveland, where the central city is 53 percent African American, Kurtz’s ideas amount to a thinly veiled appeal to racial identity. You don’t have to strain your ears too much to hear the sound he’s making… it’s a high-pitched whistle.

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The Politicization of Transportation in Ohio

Hey, guys! Your loudmouth Rust Wire editor recently appeared on a podcast produced by some very smart urbanists in the city of Cincinnati. Angie Schmitt and the folks behind the awesome blog Urban Cincy got to discuss how transportation projects have been politicized in the state of Ohio, in particular sustainable urban projects like the Cincinnati Streetcar and Cleveland’s West Shoreway project. If this is the type of thing that floats your boat, and I happen to know there are at least four people in this region for whom it is, click away and prepare to have your mind blown!

Follow this link to listen to the podcast; other Urban Cincy podcasts can be found here.

http://www.urbancincy.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/player.js

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Here’s the description Urban Cincy provided:

On the seventh episode of The

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UrbanCincy Podcast, Angie Schmitt of Rust Wire and StreetsBlog joins the UrbanCincy team to discuss what happens when transportation investments become highly politicized. We discuss Representative Steve Chabot’s attempt to block federal funding for light rail and “fixed guideway” projects in Cincinnati; Governor John Kasich’s rejection of federal funding for the 3C Corridor high-speed rail project; and Hamilton County’s efforts to block sewer upgrades contemporaneous with the Cincinnati Streetcar project

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A Growing "Quality of Life Gap" in America?

This post originally appeared on Streetsblog.

For a while it didn’t seem certain, but after a critical vote earlier this month, it looks like California’s on track to build high-speed rail. And, I’ll be the first to admit, California — with two large, global metros just a few hundred miles apart — is a great place for it.

Despite some reservations about the costs and feasibility of the plan, people all over the country who care about sustainable transportation were generally happy to see America moving forward. But in Wisconsin and Ohio and Florida, the news was bittersweet. James Rowen at Milwaukee-based blog the Political Environment again mourned the $810 million in federal passenger rail invested spurned by Governor Scott Walker. (Shortly after Walker’s decision, the LA Times gleefully wrote, “Thanks a billion, cheeseheads.”)

As great a day as it was for sustainable transportation, it also concerned me a little. Ohio and Wisconsin forfeiting billions for high speed rail to California is perhaps the clearest illustration yet of the growing divide between regions willing to invest in a livable future and those that are not.

It seems that America is on two divergent paths. Progressive cities are engaged in something of an arms race to design neighborhoods and build infrastructure to enhance the quality of life. In Portland, they have streetcars, light rail, and neighborhood greenways. In New York, expertly-planned public plazas are making the central business district more attractive and reclaiming neighborhood streets for pedestrians. Soon the city will add a world-class bike-sharing system to go with its growing network of protected bike lanes. Seeming to recognize how these projects help to attract talent and investment, Chicago jumped in the game last year, with newly-elected mayor Rahm Emanuel promising to build 100 miles of separated cycle tracks and moving quickly to improve the city’s bus network.

Meanwhile, Ohio and Wisconsin — where talent and investment are no less needed — seem to have chosen a different path. Their Luddite governors are responsible for the painful loss of rail funds. And while there are counterexamples — Cincinnati and its streetcar, or Madison and its bike-share system — these places are moving much more slowly to adopt the kind of infrastructure that’s making places like New York and San Francisco increasingly desirable.

The obstacles in these regions are many. At the top of the list, you have harmful political decisions — typified by the unilateral rejection of passenger rail by Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich. And political resistance is reinforced when locals who prefer transit and walkability move away, as young, college-educated Midwesterners have been wont to do.

 

Even where there is political recognition of the desirability of bike and transit infrastructure, these places may not have the money to expand them. For example, Cleveland, where I live, does not own a machine that can alter the striping of city streets to, say, make room for bikeways. Detroit can barely afford to keep its bare-bones transit system operational.

It doesn’t get any easier to invest in things that make your city desirable if people are leaving your city. The danger is that, when it comes to giving people the option of safely getting around without driving, much of the country will simply get left behind.

You can see this pattern at work when you look at the level of support for transit operations in different regions. Yonah Freemark, a master’s student in planning and transportation at MIT who writes The Transport Politic, examined transit spending by region and compared it to median household income. He found the two — wealth and transit funding — are strongly correlated.

Freemark examined 15 metro areas, finding that wealthier ones were funding the operation of their transit systems at proportionally higher rates than their less affluent counterparts. A 50 percent increase in regional median income is associated with a 220 percent increase in transit spending, he found. The reason, he determined, is pretty simple: Areas that have more money can invest more money in transit.

Freemark’s conclusion was that funding transit operations at the local — rather than the national — level perpetuates inequality. Detroit’s poor transit forces lower income folks who can manage it to own cars, an enormous burden they might avoid in a wealthier metro with better transit. ”Regions that are already well-off are making themselves better off, while those that are poorer are reinforcing their economic problems,” Freemark concluded.

Giving states more control over bike and pedestrian funding, as the recently passed federal transportation bill will do, could have a similar effect on street safety. The new bill lets states forgo spending on these modes if they choose. That’s very likely more bad news for places like Ohio and Wisconsin.

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Improving Bicycle Safety in Traffic: Lessons from Michigan

Source: flickr.com

I have long felt that bicycle commuting during the evening rush hour was more stressful and perilous than my morning ride. While motorists tend to be more wary in the morning due to the presence of school children and buses, the evening commute tends to feel a bit like a free-for-all, as if all motorists were trying to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 at the exact same time. Well…now I have definitive data to back my up my intuition. It turns out that 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m IS the most dangerous time period of the day to be a bicyclist out on the roadways.

On April 30, 2012, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) released a detailed and comprehensive report on roadway safety that was prepared by T.Y. Lin International and Western Michigan University (WMU). Entitled, Sharing the Road: Optimizing Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Vehicle Mobility, the report with appendices is several hundred pages long, but contains a wealth of information from the 2005-2010 time period that is useful to bicycling advocates and others. Here are a few juicy tidbits pertaining to bicycling:

  • Youth (ages 5-15) involvement in bicycle crashes in Michigan is higher than national statistics: 32.4% compared to 26.8%.That means nearly one-third of all young people in Michigan are involved in a bicycle crash and one-forth of those (25.3%) are fatal/serious.
  • In all other age classifications, Michigan’s rate is lower than the national data, except for those 65-74 years old.
  • Men are involved in 81% of all fatal bicycle crashes in Michigan.
  • Bicycle crash locations are nearly evening spilt between intersections and non-intersections (49% to 51%).
  • Despite the perceived safety of a signalized intersection, almost half of all fatal and serious injury bicycle accidents (48.9%) took place at signalized intersections.
  • More than half of all fatal/serious injury bicycle accidents took place on two-lane roads (56.6%), followed by five-lane (13.8%); four-lane (12.9%) and three-lane (9.7%).
  • Together, 25 and 30 mph streets (neighborhood and downtown streets) accounted for 75.5% of all bicycle crashes, but the majority of fatal bicycle crashes took place on streets/roads with a speed limit of 45 mph or greater even though they comprised only 19% of the crashes.
  • Between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., 27.2% of fatal and serious bicycle crashes took place, followed by 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (21.8%); and 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (18.5%).
  • The day of the week made almost no difference for fatal and serious injury bicycle crashes in the 2005-2010 time frame, ranging between a low of 151 on Sundays to a high of 220 on Wednesdays. The average is 192 and the weekday average is 205.2.
  • More than two-thirds (71.2%) of all fatal and serious injury bicycle accidents took place during daylight hours and 89% where when the pavement was dry.
  • Alcohol was not involved for the motorist or bicyclist in 70% of the fatal and serious injury crashes.

Now that the sad and sorrowful crash data have been accumulated, what next? To MDOT’s credit the report also identified and studied many possible solutions at length. Some of the results of this analyses may be a bit disappointing, particularly for road diet advocates like myself. Among the improvements analyzed related to bicyclists at intersections were bulb-outs, roundabouts, bicycle signal detection, bike boxes, two-stage bike left turn, combined bike/turn lane, and bicycle signals. Along corridors, improvements considered included paved shoulders, road diets, raised medians, bike lanes, shared lane markings, buffered bike lanes, colored bike lanes, contra-flow bike panes, left side bike lanes, and cycle tracks.

  • Roundabouts showed an overall decrease in all types of crashes by 35%, injury crashes by 76% and fatal crashes by 89%. They also are one of the most expense improvements, costing between $250,000 and $500,000.
  • Road diets reduced all crash types anywhere from 14% to 49%.
  • Raised medians reduce all crashes by 40%, and by as much as 69% at unsignalized intersections.
  • Bike lanes can reduce bicycle crashes by 50% and are most appropriate on streets with average daily traffic volumes exceeding 3,000 and posted speeds between 25 and 35 mph.
  • Buffered bike lanes are preferable on roadways with speed limits exceeding 35 mph.
  • Shared lane marking (sharrows) were found to increase bicyclist visibility to motorists, reduce the occurrence of wrong-way riding, and riding on sidewalks.
  • Green, high-visibility bike lanes will be added to the next version of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  Where tested, these have been shown to improve safety through a variety of measurements.

Unfortunately, specific numerical data for some of the options listed above were not provided (perhaps due to a low number of previous studies). Instead summary charts were utilized that rated improvements with terms such as “reduce,” “no difference,” “better,” and “worse.” A separate column rated the estimated cost for each from “low” to “high.” The review also did not appear to judge improvements in combination, but instead each on it’s own merits.

The preparers of the study did make a number of useful recommendations to MDOT and provided a terrific document entitled Best Design Practices for Walking and Bicycling in Michigan. Here is a list of the most bicycling-pertinent recommendations from the report (not as many as I had hoped for):

  • It is suggested that this could be the basis for a separate Michigan Design Guide chapter dedicated to accommodating bicycles (instead of under “Miscellaneous Structures”).
  • It is recommended that this guidance (shared lane markings) should be incorporated in the Michigan Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD).
  • It is recommended that MDOT should permit the establishment of target speeds as a potential solution when conducting speed studies, using the ITE proposed recommended practice Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities.

All in all, the report is very comprehensive and does address most, if not all safety issues raised by bicyclists. At the same time, it would have been useful to include data on the effects of combined improvements and consider the mobility challenges that bicyclists and pedestrians face with same degree of importance that is given to motorist mobility. There always seems to be an inherent default towards the motorist, when in fact the term “transportation” is meant to apply all forms, not just cars.

by Rick Brown

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Rochester, Crime and the "Single Diaper Theory"

 

Like much of the Rust Belt, Rochester, New York has seen its share of warm temperatures this summer, and with it, a near doubling in the number of gun assaults, to an appalling 95 shootings so far this year. Always eager to try old, failed ideas from other cities, Rochester has taken a page from Rudy Giuliani’s Broken Window Theory playbook and chosen to target petty crimes with a new idea some are calling the Single Diaper Theory.

Rochester has around 350 corner stores, and according to the local paper’s math, police respond an average of 21 times a year to each of these corner stores, with the worst 25 averaging 80 responses a year. City Hall contends these corner stories are a nexus for crime, but because efforts at dealing with the drugs, prostitutes, underage liquor sales, food stamp fraud and loose cigarette sales that are so popular in or around these stores has been difficult, it is time to take a different tact and target the last hold out–the illegal diaper dealers.

It seems store owners in less affluent parts of Rochester are breaking up packs of Pampers and selling diapers individually at an incredible mark up. Not only are these diaper sales illegal, but City Hall has taken the position that crimes like this contribute to a culture of lawlessness, and with this lawlessness comes an increase in gun violence. City Hall’s new theory is that by stopping petty criminals like bicyclists without bells, drivers with damaged taillights and yes, even those dealing in loose cigarettes and single diapers, they will get guns off the streets.

Critics of the plan suggest that those using the illegal diapers (primarily infants and toddlers) are rarely involved in gun crimes. Diaper buyers claim that they are not trying to break the law, but simply trying to diaper their children. Many say that they would prefer to buy a large pack of legal diapers, but simply can not afford to, forcing them to choose between buying illegal single diapers from the corner stores, or having no diapers at all.

As the summer of gun violence continues, City Council plans to take up the issue in the coming weeks. Until then, it remains to be seen if City Hall’s crackdown on the illegal diapers will have an impact on the recent rash of gun crimes in the city, or merely replace one rash with another.

 

— Clarke Condé

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