Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum: March 30, 2016

Hello Everyone:

It is Wednesday, non-existent WiFi in Blogger's usual workspace or not, it is time for the March 30 edition of Blogger Candidate Forum wrap up.  This past weekend three states held Democratic caucuses: Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington.  Senator Bernie Sanders was the big winner, sweeping all three state races.  Congratulations to the Gentleman from Vermont.  This week there is a small lull in the primary action, nevertheless, things have not been quiet on the candidate front.

By now, word has spread throughout the known galaxy that Republican front runner, Donald J. Trump favors some form of punishment for women who receive abortions, if the procedure is outlawed.  The men who impregnate these women would not penalized.  Blogger finds this oh so problematic on two fronts.  First, for a party that favors less government intervention in the daily lives of Americans, it seems that when it comes to a highly personal decision that a woman makes with her doctor and the father (if he is in the picture), the Republican Party has no problem with government intrusion into a person's daily life.  Blogger understands that not everyone is in favor of a woman's right to decide what to do with her body.  After all, what does a "poor little woman" about her body?  "The poor dear" should leave that decision to the ones in the seat of power who know better.  In all fairness, Blogger understands that there are those of you who object to abortion on religious grounds.  Blogger has no problem with that.  The problem here is the Republican party's insistence that a highly personal and difficult decision should be regulated by law.  Mr. Trump is giving voice to those who think that something so difficult, terminating a pregnancy, should be penalized if becomes illegal.

The second problem with Mr. Trump's position on abortion, aside from its incoherence, is that he is contradicting is previous views.  Donald Trump declared himself pro-life, now it seems that he has reversed himself.  Blogger would be surprised but in Blogger's opinion, his scattered position is more out of convenience.  Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared that he is not a politician, yet he very facile at playing the game.  Say whatever he needs to say to make himself attractive to a segment of voters. There is nothing wrong with that, all politicians play the game.  However, in doing so, Mr. Trump is alienating one group of voters the Republican Party desperately need, women.   Women voters have proven to be a potent voting bloc in the last few elections.  Mr. Trump's misgyonist comments and tweets, coupled with his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's arrest for simple assault on a female reporter, have led party officials to wonder how things got so out of their control.  When you factor in Mr. Trump verbal assault in Senator Ted Cruz's wife, stemming from a Cruz for President Political Action Committee's salacious post of Melania Trump, what you get is utter chaos.  Blogger almost feels obliged to apologize to the global readers.  Trust Blogger when yours truly says that the insanity is typical of American elections.

Naturally both Sen. Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton have responded to Mr. Trump's views on abortion.  To paraphrase Sec. Clinton "This is the Republican front runner."  Sen. Sanders was equally appalled, to say the very least.  Speaking of Sec. Clinton, even though she still leads in the delegate count, yours truly still wonders why she threw her hat in the ring.  Blogger wonders why such an accomplished brilliant woman, like Sec. Clinton, decided to run now?  Blogger feels that her best opportunity was in 2008 but then-Senator Barack Obama ran a better campaign.   Yours truly guesses that Sec. Clinton wanted to erase the ghosts of the previous effort and felt that this year was her best chance.  Had Sec. Clinton been the Democratic nominee in 2008, yours truly would have voted for her, no question.  Now Blogger is faced with the task of deciding between two formidable candidates on the Blue Team.  The Red Team candidates are a sorry lot.  Although, something is troubling Blogger about Senator Bernie Sanders.

Over the past weekend, Blogger checked out the viral "Birdie Sanders" video.  You know the one where a bird landed on the podium from where Sen. Sanders was speaking from.  As charming as it was, including Sen. Sanders's "dove of peace" comment, Blogger had a chance to check out the crowd.  What yours truly saw was bothersome.  The crowd was mostly young white men and women-i.e. Millennials.  Blogger has always had the impression that the Democratic Party was the party of inclusion.  To wit the difference between the 2012 Republican and Democratic Convention.  At the Republican Convention, the cameras featured crowd shots of overwhelming White, Anglo-Saxon People with a token brown, black, and yellow face.  On the other hand, crowd shots at the Democratic Convention feature men and women of different races, ethnicities, gender preferences, and abilities.  This, to yours truly, seemed more like the real America.  The Sanders crowd reminded me of the 2013 Republican Convention.  Not sure why but it did.

Regardless, primary madness is set to resume on April 5, when voters in the State of Wisconsin go to the polls. Good luck to the candidates and the voters. Blogger will present the primary wrap next week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Hello Everyone:

Technical difficulties have forced yours truly to go mobile.  Fortunately, have iPad,will travel and travel Blogger did to the local bookstore cafe.  Given this unanticipated down time, Blogger has decided to put some thoughts out into the digital universe about current affairs.

What do Beirut, Lebanon; Ankara, Turkey; Mosul, Iraq; Lahore, Pakistan all have in common?  They were the sites of terrorist attacks that injured and killed scores of people; scarring the psyche of the survivors and the inhabitants of these places.  They are not the only non-Western cities that have come under attack by individuals with twisted ideas of religion.  Terrorists have attacked cities in the Middle East and Africa, yet no one mourns the loss of life.  There are no clever hashtags for the victims and the cities.  Monuments, around the world, are not lit up in the Turkish or Iraqui national colors in solidarity with victims.  Why is that?  Why do we not mourn the victims of terror in the Middle East or Africa?  To paraphrase the famous line from William Shakespere's Merchant of Venice, "If you prick them, will they not bleed?"

Blogger believes that we have become so inured to the senseless violence that we avert our eyes.  After all, we think, countries like Pakistan and Iraq are hotbeds of terrorist activities so another day, another explosion or shooting is not news.  Yet when it happens in Brussels, Belgium or Paris, France, we are horrified.  We are quick to demonstrate our solidarity with the victims.  Perhaps, this is the intention of those who commit these crimes.  Attack a Western country and shock the senses.  Attack a city in the Côte d'Ivoire and no one in the West will bat an eyelash.  This, unfortunately, is true.  When the news broke of the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls in Nigeria, what did the West do?  Protest, come up with clever hashtags, and then what?  There are girls still missing in Nigeria-there families may not ever see them again.  When a priest was crucified this past Good Friday, did it make the news?  Briefly but then it was back to matters at hand.

Racism, bigotry, and mysgony all factor into this seeming disregard for the Middle Eastern and African lives.  Terrorists know this and use it to their advantage.  They reason, the West does not care about brown and black faces.  They use our vile history of bigotry as a platform for recruitment.  Another factor of why we do not show our solidarity with terror victims in the Middle East and Africa is the current climate of religious fear.  In the United States, we have presidential nominee candidates who play upon Islamophobia to further their aims.  Islam, like Catholicism and Judaism before it, has become "the other."  Something suspect and feared.  Practitioners of Islam are always up to no good, would be terrorists or in contact with terrorist organizations.  While Blogger believes that everyone is entitled to practice or not practice any religion or no religion, however, when something beautiful as religious devotion is used as a pretext for violence, then it is time to take active measures.

What kind of active measures?  This is a hard question to answer because it is far too easy to fall into the trap of simplistic answers.  One presidential nominee candidate has suggested securing and patrolling Muslim communities; another declared that all Muslims should be banned from the United States until further notice.  Carpet bomb the Middle East?  Of course, drag the United States into a protracted conflict in the region.  In short, there is no simple solution.  We must acknowledge the victims of terror, wherever they are and turn our focus toward a long-term, multi-pronged solution.  The victims of terror, around the world, deserve our compassion.  They deserve better than hysterical solutions or worse, increased bigotry. They deserve to be remembered for the vibrant lives they have led.  Their surviving families deserve our empathy and love.  Beirut, Ankara, Mosul, and Lahore may not be glamourous European capitols but they are places where human beings live, work, play, go to school, laugh, and dream.  Remember this the next time someone comes up with a clever hashtag.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum: Western Tuesday Wrap Up

March 22, 2016 Primary results
Hello Everyone:

It is a very beautiful Wednesday afternoon and it is time for the weekly Blogger Candidate Forum Primary wrap up.  Congratulations to Sec. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump,  Senators Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).  They were the winners of the Arizona primary (Sec. Clinton and Mr. Trump), the Utah Caucus (Senators Sanders and Cruz) and Idaho Caucus (Sens. Sanders and Cruz-held on March 8th).  Meanwhile, Sen. Sanders nicely rebounded from getting swept in last week's primaries-winning the Idaho and Utah Caucuses winning 33 delegates in total.  You are all probably wondering what happened to Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio).  So is the Kasich campaign.  Gov. Kasich failed to capitalize on his victory in Ohio last week and came in a distant third in Arizona and very distant second in Utah.  Let us see where things stand at the moment.

The remaining candidates
Where do things stand?  Big picture-Sec. Clinton and Mr. Trump ran over their rivals in the Arizona primary.  This was good news for both frontrunners who are hoping to avoid a prolonged nomination battle.  Sec. Clinton added 75 delegates to her tally.  However, Sen. Sanders came roaring back in the Utah and Idaho Democratic caucuses, adding 33 delegates to his total.  While Sen. Cruz struck back in the Utah Republican caucus, picking up an additional 40 delegates.  As of right now, Mr. Trump has 738 delegates and Sec. Clinton has 1,223 delegates.  When you factor in the number of unplugged delegates, the number jump to 739 out of 1,237 and 1,690 and 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination respectively.  Yours truly knows, this is a lot of math to figure out.  Blogger is not even going to try to figure it out.  Rather, Blogger prefers to focus on the analysis.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)
Sen. Bernie Sanders was expected to do well in Idaho and Utah.  The Gentleman from Vermont lived up to those expectations.  Be that as it may, the Senator does still face an uphill battle to secure the nomination outright.  His success is due largely to his appeal to progressives.  At a campaign event in San Diego, California, Sen. Sanders took credit for record-breaking turnouts. (; date accessed 03/23/16).  Despite his lopsided loss, the Senator took a moment to point out that he won ten primaries and caucuses so far and accurately predicted that he would win two more before the night was over.  Still, Sec. Clinton's commanding victory in Arizona was a much needed psychological boost, especially as the circus heads into states like Alaska and Washington, where Sen. Sanders is likely to win.  Any losses could highlight any lingering doubts among Democrats.

Speaking of Sec. Hillary Clinton, at a campaign event in Seattle, the former Secretary of State used her time at the podium primarily to address the horrible events in Brussels, Belgium and take aim at Mr. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.  Without directly mentioning the gentlemen, Sec. Clinton told the crowd,

Secretary Hillary Clinton
The last thing we need, my fired, are leaders who incite more fear...In the face of terror, America doesn't panic.  We don't build walls or turn on our allies.  We can't throw out everything we know about what works and what doesn't work and start torturing..." (Ibid)

Despite her victory in Arizona and last week's clean sweep, Sec. Clinton continues to struggle in predominantly Caucasian states that cast their ballots in caucuses.  The tenor of Democratic contest has made Blogger truly happy.  Instead of engaging in ad homonym attacks and vulgarity, both Sen. Sanders and Sec. Clinton have chosen the high road.  This is excellent new for anyone who wants a campaign that is about a vision for the next four years.  Blogger still believes that Sec. Clinton will be the Democratic standard bear in the fall, barring a meltdown.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Meanwhile, over on the Republican side of the aisle, Donald Trump continues his march to securing his party's nomination outright notching a victory in Arizona Tuesday evening.  However, Sen. Ted Cruz continues to chip away at the delegate count securing a victory in the winner take all Utah caucus yesterday evening.  Sen. Cruz garnered more than 50 percent of the vote to take all 40 available delegates and keep hope alive for the anti-Trump faction.  Donald Trump lost in a landslide to the Gentleman from Texas: 14 percent to 69 percent (Ibid), a not to kind reminder of his challenges with the Republican party's religious voters and the queasiness of many conservatives over the possibility of Mr. Trump as the party standard bearer in the fall.

Donald Trump's blew past the combined efforts of Sen. Cruz and Gov. John Kasich to an easy win in Arizona.  His commanding victory was due to the "Grand Canyon State's" generous early-voting laws, proving that he could win in a closed Republican primary where Democrats and Independents are prevented from voting.  The win was a resounding rebuttal to Sen. Cruz's assertion that Mr. Trump would struggle in the remaining contests because many of them were closed Republican primaries.  Mr. Trump's real weakness is in caucus states, "where organizational strength and be decisive." (Ibid)  However, after Arizona, there are more such contests.

Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio)
In the mean time, Gov. John Kasich is resisting calls from the Republicans to drop out of the race and join Jeb Bush, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), and former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney in supporting Sen. Cruz.  In a fit of hubris, Gov. Kasich rejected the call from party officials "...saying that he, not the Texas senator, was the best option to stop Mr. Trump."  However, the results from Utah and Arizona diminish his argument.  The Kasich campaign was dealt a blow when the governor not only failed to win any delegates but also by the surprise endorsement, Wednesday, of Sen. Cruz by Mr. Bush.  In a statement, the former Florida governor called the Texas senator a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.  That had to hurt the Kasich campaign.  Even Sen. Cruz pressed the matter calling Gov. Kasich a ...complicating factor in a head-to-head competition between him and Mr. Trump.  Yet, the Ohio governor presses forward as the Republicans head to Wisconsin on April 5 and his advisors maintain that the final 20 state stretch in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and West Coast will better position Gov. Kasich to stop Mr. Trump.  If Blogger were picking a candidate for the fall, right now yours truly would have to choose Mr. Trump.

Needless to say this presidential election cycle is rapidly becoming one wild ride.  One has to wonder how much longer can Gov. John Kasich sustain his campaign?  While Sen. Bernie Sanders's campaign platform continues to resonate loudly among voters, you have to ask yourself how much longer can he continue to battle the Clinton juggernaut?  This not to say the Sec. Hillary Clinton is the ideal candidate, far from it.  She has her glaring weaknesses and the ongoing investigation into her emails during her tenure as Secretary of State hangs over her campaign like a dark cloud.  Both Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are running on pure hubris.  Eventually it will catch up to them both.  Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, this campaign is a wild ride to the finish.

Program note:  Blogger Candidate Forum will be presented once a week, on Wednesdays, beginning March 30.  This will continue through the conventions and the General Elections.  Please check the blogs for updates.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum: Donald J. Trump

Donald J. Trump
Hello Everyone:

It is Tuesday, a grim Tuesday, which means it is time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today in the forum it is businessman and Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump (  Before launch into our profile, Blogger would like to send out love and good thoughts to all the readers in Beirut, Paris, Ankara, and Brussels.  Blogger wants you all to know that we love you all, hope that you all safe, and with your loved ones.  Yours truly hopes that we do not have add to this list of terrorist attacks anymore.

Now let us meet the candidate.  Mr. Trump is a native of Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York.  He is a graduate of Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, a successful real estate developer, and best selling author.  His book The Art of the Deal is considered one of the must successful business books of all time.  Mr. Trump was also a top contributor and fundraiser for Republican candidates in 2014.  He is also very active on the social media, advocating for Conservative causes.  The Trump name is also synonymous with prestigious addresses in the United States and United Kingdom.  Donald Trump is the Emmy-nominated host and co-producer of the reality competition series The Apprentice and his signature phrase, "You're fired!" is the third greatest television catchphrase of all time.  Mr. Trump is married to Melania Trump, the father of five, and the grandfather of seven.

Healthcare reform

Healthcare Reform

Like his fellow Republicans, Mr. Trump would love nothing more then to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Mr. Trump blames "...totally partisan votes in the House and Senate and signed into law by the most divisive and partisan President..." for the passage of the "...incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act."  Mr. Trump proposes a seven point plan intended to lower healthcare costs.  He believes that reform efforts must begin with Congress, insisting that the House and Senate must do the following:

1) Completely repeal Obamacare...
2) Modify exiting law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines...
3) allow individuals to full deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under th current tax system...Review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to endure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
4) Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts.  Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate...
5) Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals...
6) Block-grant Medicaid to states...
7) Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products...

Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Administration Reforms

The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs is woeful.  Veterans, who have proudly served this country, have gone without much needed care.  To remedy the problem, Mr. Trump proposes a three-point plan that will:

1) Ensure our veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it...
2) Support the whole veteran...  Mr. Trump pledges to increase funding for Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and suicide prevention.  Increase funding for job training and placement, educational support, and business loans. Support the needs of younger and female veterans.
3) Make the VA great again...the Trump Plan calls for the firing of corrupt and incompetent VA executives, End waste, fraud and abuse, Modernize the VA, Empower caregivers to make sure that veterans receive prompt quality attention, hire more veterans to work with veterans, and place satellite clinics in rural and underserved areas.

Tax reform
Tax Reform

The American tax code is one of the most mind numbingly complicated set of laws known to humanity.  Although, the United States has a progressive tax system, the current tax code seems to favor the wealthy.  Mr. Trump proposes tax reform that will let middle class families make ends meet with four goals:

1) Tax relief for middle class Americans...
2) Simplify the tax code...
3) Grow the American economy..
4) Doesn't add to our debt and deficit...

If a taxpayer is single and earning less than $25,000 or married and jointly earning less than $50,000, under the Trump plan no taxes will be owed.  All other Americans will have a simpler tax code, broken down into four brackets 0, 10, 20, and 25 percent.  Further, there will be mo marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax while providing the lowest tax rate since the Second World War.  Businesses, regardless of size and freelancers, will pay no more that 15 percent of their income in taxes.  The plan also pledges no inheritance tax.  The proposed reforms would be paid for by closing or reducing loopholes available to the wealthy, a one-time repatriation of corporate cash from held overseas, ending deferrals of corporate taxes on overseas earned corporate income, and reducing or closing some corporate loopholes.

Customer shopping for a pistol in Tinley Park , Illinois
Scott Olson/Getty
Second Amendment Rights

Like Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump is a firm believer in the Second Amendment of the Bill Rights, "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon"  Mr. Trump believes that the Second Amendment is a fundamental right and the first freedom of all Americans.  He believes that the Second Amendment is about self-defense and the protection of family, a concept upheld by the Supreme Court.  That said, the Trump campaign proposes a three-point plan intended to preserve the right of law abiding citizens keep and bear arms.

First, enforce the laws currently in place.  Mr. Trump cites a Virginia program-Project Exile-which prosecutes a violent felon for using a gun during the commission of crime.  Under this program, a convicted felon is prosecuted in federal court and given a mandatory five-year sentence.  No parole or early release.  Mr. Trump cites a 60 percent decrease in the Richmond murder rate, a success in his opinion.  Why is this important to gun owners?  Mr. Trump believes that they are the first ones blamed by the media when criminal misuse guns.  Mr. Trump would also empower gun owners to defend themselves and enact a national carry law.  Second, Mr. Trump proposes fixing the mental health system.  The mental health system in the United States is the absolute best in the world.  Some of the most heinous mass shootings have been committed by individuals who were red-flagged by mental health providers and subsequently ignored.  Mr. Trump would expand mental health treatment, focusing on patients who are mostly a danger to themselves.  Finally, Mr. Trump would defend the rights of law abiding gun owners by expanding background checks to include criminal and mental health records, allowing a law abiding citizen to purchase a gun of their choice and ammunition, and enact a National Right to Carry Law.

This is the last of our candidate profiles. Beginning next week, Blogger Candidate Forum will be presented on Wednesdays and will focus on the primary wrap ups.  Yours truly will continue with the weekly column all the way to the General Elections on November 8, 2016.  As always , Blogger encourages everyone to check out the individual candidate websites ( Blogger will decide on Primary Day in California.  To all the American readers, if you are a native born or naturalized citizen, aged eighteen or over, please make sure you are registered to vote.  Tomorrow, we will have our weekly Primary wrap up from Idaho, Arizona, and Utah.

Ankara And Brussels

The aftermath of terrorism in Ankara, Turkey

Hello Everyone:

Before we enter the Candidate Forum today, yours truly would like to take minute and talk about the terrorist attack in Ankara, Turkey and Brussels, Belgium.  It seems that there is no end to the senseless acts of terrorism being perpetrated around the world.  Whether it is in a market place in Ankara or the airport and subway station in Brussels, it seems that no place is safe.  There seems to be no shortage of people willing to commit blow themselves up for what, who knows why.  Actually, the reasons why are very clear to those who commit these acts but for the rest us, we are left wondering how and why.

Memorial to Brussels attack
Brussels, Belgium
This being a Presidential election cycle, already candidates on both sides of the aisle have offered their prescriptions-everything from "securing Muslim communities" to strengthening American resolve to destroy the perpetrators.  Terrorism is an important but complex subject that cannot be addressed with simple pronouncements.  The fight against terrorism requires a multi-pronged solution.  Of course, that is of little comfort to the victims and their families.  Right now, the only thing we can do is offer comfort and our prayers.

Let us hope that one day we do not have to look over our shoulders or live in fear.  One day we will all live in peace.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Suburban Resegregation

Property closed
Hello Everyone:

Today we return to the subject of suburbia.  Specifically, we are going to look at how segregation is returning to the suburbs.  Amanda Kolson Hurley of CityLab recently interviewed Myron Orfield, the director of the Institute for Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota, for her article "The Problem of Resegregation in Suburbia."

Myron Orfield is a civil-rights attorney, a former state legislator, professor, the author of books on regional governance and suburban development.  In 2012, Mr. Orfield co-wrote a paper in which he described the state of integration in American suburbs as "fragile" and called for more enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to end illegal practices such as mortgage discrimination and racial steering.  Two years later, Mr. Orfield published a paper examining the reasons for segregation in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and their suburbs.  This prosperous regions is deeply segregated.  Ms. Kolson Hurley writes, "Orfield helped a group of Minneapolis inner-ring suburbs file a complaint with HUD over the state's allocation of affordable housing in their jurisdiction (they allege they have more than their fair share of it, while whiter, wealthier suburbs are allocated less)."  Mr. Orfield's prescriptions for integrations and opinions on affordable are polarizing locally.  The following are excerpts from CityLab's interview with Myron Orfield.

Myron Orfield
Amanda Kolson Hurley: How did you become so interested in the issue of spatial segregation?

Myron Orfield: There were a lot of, I think, pretty formative experiences.  One was running for the legislature  I was running in a district where part of it was desegregating and part of it was gentrified...I had a very strong sense, having grown up in this place, what it was like when it had integrated schools and neighborhoods.  After I finished law school, I taught in the University of Chicago...I spent two years [studying] the Chicago court system.  That experience, to see, a totally, completely, wickedly segregated system.

Illustration os spatial segregation

AKH: You've written that diverse suburbs are more common than a lot of people realize, but you all characterize them as quite fragile.

MO: One of the things that was interesting: about 44 percent of the people who lived in the suburbs in the United States lived in racially integrated suburbs.  The suburbs of the United States were much more integrated than the cities....You had these places that are suddenly integrated, and they're very big, and they're very important.

This is where race relations in the United States are the best.  These are governments that to be bipartisan and do a pretty good job, provide pretty high-level services or pretty affordable taxes...That's the good news.  The bad news is that we don't really deal with housing discrimination as much as we should.

There are all sorts of things that changed with the Fair Housing Act, but we still don't do anything about steering.  Steering is rampant.  There are all sorts of studies that show  that black middle-class families are steered to parts of the suburbs where schools are racially integrated and white families are told that those same schools are no good.  Mortgage lending discrimination is terrible.  A black family that earns $157,000 is less likely to qualify for a prime loan than a white family that earns $40,000....Black people, even if they saw these place and were shown them by realtors, they can't get the jumbo loans.

The Resegregation of Suburban Schools
Edited by
Erica Frankenberg and Gary Orfield

AKH: What is the threshold where integration become resegregation?

MO: Our research finds that neighborhoods that are more than about 30 percent non-white, within a couple of decades, two-thirds of them will become predominantly non-white.  Neighborhoods that are less than one-thirds non-white in more than a decade will remain integrated.

The 30 percent is when you're thinking about trying place, when you look at court decisions or school decisions...they try to locate as much affordable housing that are 70-percent white or more that aren't in the pattern of transition.

AKH: Can we change people's preference about where to live?

MO: We have to.  The experience shows that when people have a chance to I've in stably integrated communities or they have a chance their kids to stably integrates schools, their preferences changes,...I've studied 16 places that have metro-wide schoo desegregation, and white flight essentially stopped in these places.  The Supreme Court overturned the metropolitan [school desegregated] remedy in Detroit but allow the Louisville one to stand.  All the neighborhoods that were integrated in Louisville in 1970 are still integrate.  None of the neighborhoods that were integrated in Detroit in 1970 are still integrated...

AKH: Are there other examples of places that have maintained or manages integrated relatively well to this point?

MO: Portland and Seattle...

Seattle, Washington
AKH: They don't have that many minorities, though

MO: They have the same percentage as Minneapolis.  We wrote this article called "Why Are the Twin Cities So Segregated?"...[Minneapolis has] 90 schools that are more than 90 percent non-white.  Portland has 2, and Seattle has got 25, even though they've go a million people than we have.

AKH: The difference--

MO: It's the poverty housing industry...They never got the poverty housing industry.

Portland, Oregon light rail
Flickr user Trimet via Creative Commons

AKH: You're very critical of affordable housing developers [who Orfield terms the 'poverty housing industry].  A lot of people would say those developers are just trying to build housing for people in their neighborhoods or close to where their connections are.  What's wrong with that?

MO: In lots of places, there's no movement to build in whites suburbs.  There's no framework for integration.  When these [developers] is when they pull apart or resist movements toward integration.  These big groups want to keep all those resources dedicated to poor neighborhoods.

AKH: Why is that?

MO: My analysis is that they have got a very strong business model that really works for them in poor neighborhoods...There's multiple sources of funding that aren't available other places, because the cities usually chip in, the foundations chip in.  If you build in a white suburbs, you've got to got to 20 or 30 or 50 meetings, and your profit margins are going to be smaller.

Minneapolis Warehouse District
Minneapolis, Minnesota
AKH: it sounds like they're pretty efficient at delivering housing on the model they've developed.

MO: No--it's very expensive.  If you're going to build a unit in North Minneapolis, it's going to cost $400,000.  If you build in Eagen..., it's going to be $133,000.  {Critics] characterize my positions as saying there should no affordable housing built in central cities...I just say you have to build somewhat more of the affordable housing in a pro-integrative way...moving the ball forward on integration.

AKH: Why not just launch an all-out assault on redlining and the the lack of investment in majority-minority neighborhoods?

MO: I always figure this spatial inequality is based on six things at least:...steering,...,mortgage lending discrimination,..., discrimination by buyers and sellers.  Then the government builds all the affordable housing in poor neighborhoods.  The school districts always gerrymander the poor kids into the power school district...then [government] switch zoning.  That's six things.  Every time you sue one of these people, they always say it's the other person...or it's the combination of the other five people.

AKH: What can desegregating suburbs do, realistically?

MO: It's hard...A fundamental tenet of all the thing that I believe that [a solution] has to be metropolitan.  Reynolds Farley [...University of Michigan] and [Charles] Clotfelter [...Duke University] say this: If you create a world where it's very easy for whites to move move a few blocks away and not be involved, there's almost no way you can keep a place integrated.

Stable integration is almost as much a function of covering a whole area as it si of any long as you have an east white enclave to move to, [nowhere] is stable.

This post is taken from an interview that was edited and condensed for length and clarity.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum March 15, 2016 Primary Wrap Up

Primary results for March 15, 2016
Hello Everyone:

Did you catch any of the primary results from yesterday's mini-Super Tuesday II?  If you are a Hillary or Donald supporter, you were celebrating all evening long.  Congratulations to Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump on their victories in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio (Secretary Clinton).  Congratulations to Gov. John Kasich on winning his home state of Ohio.  Blogger would like to thank Senator Marco Rubio for his campaign.  Senator Rubio formally ended his campaign last night after failing to win his home state of Florida, despite his wins in Minnesota, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.  If you are a Senator Bernie Sanders supporter, you might be wondering what happened to all the momentum from Michigan?  So is Blogger.

Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders was carrying a lot of momentum following his upset victory in Michigan and was excepted to present a formidable challenge to Secretary Clinton.  Based on the final tally, Sen. Sanders kept things close in Illinois and Missouri (49%-50%) but in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, Sec. Clinton ran away with the wins (64%-33%; 55%-41%; 57%-43%) (; date accessed 03/16/16).  If you are following the delegate math (or making some effort like yours truly),
Sec. Clinton has 1,599 delegates in her corner to Sen. Sanders's 844 delegates.  In order for Sec. Clinton to win the nomination outright, she needs another 784 delegates while Sen. Sanders needs another 1,539 delegates.  The Sanders campaign are wondering what went wrong.

Election worker in Ferguson, Missouri
The results from Tuesday seemed to counter his passionate arguments against free trade that served him served well in the industrial Midwestern states.  The Sanders campaign spent heavily in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri trying to win those states.  However, by early this morning, the Associated Press called the Illinois primary election for Sec. Clinton; making Sen. Sanders's bid increasingly quixotic.  At a campaign event in Arizona (they hold a primary next week), Sen. Sanders continued to blast away at the grim state of the American economy.  After her upset in Michigan, Sec. Clinton was becoming increasingly frustrated over how her extremely detail policy positions were a tough sell in the Midwestern states.  Fortunately. the Clinton campaign was able to retool the message so that it sounded better in the Midwest.  Another factor in Sec. Clinton's victory was her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Former Pres. Bill Clinton, 2016
 Pres. Clinton is a charismatic speaker in the same vein as late former President Ronald Reagan.  He was dispatched to Akron and Toledo, two predominantly Caucasian, working-class cities.  Her victories in Florida and North Carolina were due to minority voters.  Where do the Democrats go from here?  Blogger believes that the blue team will continue to wage campaigns of substance-focusing on actual issues that affect Americans rather than bluster and personal attacks.  Based on the numbers, barring a complete melt down by the Clinton campaign or Sec. Clinton being march out of her headquarters in handcuffs, Blogger predicts Sec. Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in November.

Sen. Rubio, Mr. Trump, Sen. Cruz, Gov. Kasich
Over on the Republic side of the ticket, Donald Trump continues to steam roll through the primary season.  Although, Blogger has an eye on Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.  The Gentleman from Texas continues to chip away at the Trump hegemony, picking up delegates when and where he can.  Although he did not win a single primary last night, Senator Cruz did pick up delegates and is currently tied with Mr. Trump in Missouri with 41 percent of the vote counted so far.  Gov. John Kasich's (R-Ohio) win in his home state was a speed bump for the Trump battle wagon.  Unlike Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who was soundly beaten in his home state by Mr. Trump and preceded to formally end his campaign.  Blogger predicted this development.  It was not for lack of trying, the Gentleman from Florida seemed like an earnest enough candidate, nice guy, family man but this is not the season for nice guys.  Sen. Rubio's exit appeared to be the curtain on the moderate wing of the Republican party.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump continues to be the main event in the Republican primary elections.  His success continues to baffle the Republican party leadership.  However, Blogger can understand the attraction Mr. Trump has for people.  Mr. Trump is viewed as a straight talker, a successful businessman who will be able to negotiate with world leaders.  His appeal is not just limited to working-class voters with limited education.  Mr. Trump has found an audience with better educated, white collar, middle class voters.  However, Mr. Trump's luster has dimmed recently amid reports of violent clashes between supporters and protestors; his ad hoc ad homonym attacks on his rivals and journalists.  These disturbing reports have the party leadership, moderates, and mainstream Republicans very troubled over the prospect of Mr. Trump as the standard bearer in the fall.

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio)
  Gov. John Kasich lives to fight another primary.  While this may not be the season for nice guys, Gov. Kasich seems to be the exception to this statement.  Say what you will about his platform but he may be the best hope to stop Mr. Trump's brand of fiery conservatism.  His brand of conservatism is a throwback to Pres. Reagan, which may not continue to resonate over the overheated rhetoric.  Yet, Gov. Kasich and Sen. Cruz may be the best chances to slow Donald Trump's progress.  Blogger has to wonder how much longer will Gov. Kasich remain in the race.  Granted he won his home state and had the governor not won Ohio, he probably would have dropped out.  If anything, it is entirely possible that he could be a possible running mate to the eventual nominee-acting as a moderating influence on a firebrand nominee.

What does trouble Blogger is the potential of troubling Republican Convention this summer.  By troubling, Blogger implies a riotous convention that has not been seen since the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.  While the prospect of a nominee emerging after multiple rounds is not so bad, what is troubling is who the nominee will be.  This has prompted some Republicans to consider forming a third party to counter the eventual nominee.  The problem with this is that it would siphon votes away from both parties and throw the election to the House of Representatives or, even worse, the Supreme Court a la Gore v. Bush (2000).  All Blogger can say is hold your breathe and hope for the best.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum: Governor John Kasich

Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio)
Hello Everyone:

It is Tuesday, which means it is time for Blogger Candidate Forum. Today it is Governor John Kasich's (R-Ohio) ( turn in the Forum.  Before we meet the candidate, Blogger just wants to remind American readers to register to vote.  If you missed out on the deadline for your state's primary election, there is still time to register for the General Elections on November 8, 2016.  Please consult your state's Secretary of State office for information.  One more item, tomorrow Blogger will bring you the weekly Primary Election wrap from Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio.  Now, let us get know Gov. Kasich.

Gov. John Kasich is originally from McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. Gov. Kasich was a successful investment banker, best-selling author, and FOX News commentator before turning to politics.  As a member of Congress, Gov. Kasich served as the chair of the Budget Committee, leading efforts to balance the federal budget and on the House Armed Services Committee.  Gov. Kasich is married and the father of twin sixteen-year-old daughters.

American Economy
Kasich Action Plan

Gov. Kasich targets Washington D.C. as the source of America's economic problems.  He blames weak economic growth on the federal government doing too much.  The Kasich Action Plan calls for smaller government that is less costly and more responsive to the people's needs in order to get the economy moving again.  Gov. Kasich pledges that in his first hundred days as president, he will send Congress "a comprehensive plan that creates the climate for job creation by balancing the budget in eight years, cutting taxes for families and businesses, reining in federal regulations, tearing down barriers to increased energy production, and returning major responsibilities back to our states and communities..."

Pres. Ronald Reagan on the federal budget
To accomplish these goals, the Kasich campaign pledges to balance the budget and keep it balanced by working with Congress to pass a resolution amending the Constitution, requiring a balanced budget.  The second component of the Kasich Action Plan is reducing taxes and making the tax code more simple and fair.  Gov. Kasich believes that high taxes and complicated tax codes are barriers to growth.  As president, Gov. Kasich will work with Congress to reduce personal and business taxes, simplify the Internal Revenue code, and undertake a top-to-bottom audit of the tax system to remove barriers to innovation, eliminate bias and corruption in the Internal Revenue Service.  Common sense regulatory reform is another part of the Action Plan.  As president, Gov. Kasich pledges to reduce federal power in transportation, education, the workforce, Medicaid, and low-income public assistance; returning it to the individual states.  Gov. Kasich believes, "Not only do states have the ability to execute faster and more efficiently, but because they are on the frontline they better understand American's needs and can be more responsive to them." A fifth component of the Kasich Action Plan is low-cost, reliable energy, which the Governor believes is the backbone of the American economy.  Gov. Kasich believes "that Americans need an energy that encourages more energy production from a broad based of sources.  At the same time we need environmental regulations that strike the right balance between needed protection and the needs for jobs."  Finally as president, Gov. Kasich would dismantle the Department of Commerce, transferring the essential work to other agencies and eliminate unnecessary programs, political projects, and bureaucracy.

Healthcare blue cross
A Conservative Approach To Better Health Care

Like his fellow Republicans, Gov. Kasich would love to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with initiatives that improve access by actually lowering costs without interfering in personal health care decisions or imposing any burdens on job creators.  Additionally, like his colleagues, Gov. Kasich believes that ACA has restricted access to affordable health insurance and driven up the costs of health care "approximately 80 percent in Ohio's individual and small group market and raised taxes to help subsidize health insurance coverage for families making up to $94,000 annually."

Gov. Kasich's conservative approach to health care is two-pronged: improved primary care and rewarding value over volume.  Improved primary care means a more patient-centered practice that take the extra step to keep people healthy and control costs.  This could translate into more preventive care that might reduce health care costs.  Under the proposed Kasich health care plan, doctors, nurses, therapists, hospitals, medical device manufactures, and pharmaceutical companies would have incentives to work together while keeping costs down.

National Security
National Security Plan

Gov. Kasich believes that it is past time for the United States to lead the fight against terrorism and resurgent powers.  The governor has proposed a comprehensive plan to defeat IS, strengthen the military, and work with allies to confront ongoing threats to mutual security.  While he believes that military intervention is necessary, Gov. Kasich also emphasizes the re-assertion of the Western values of democracy, human rights, and individual freedom as a path to secure long-term American stability and way of life.

Gov. Katich's approach to defeating IS involves a complex collaborative strategy involving military action and intelligence sharing with European and Middle Eastern allies.  Gov. Kasich has identified Russia and China as regional aggressors.  He believes that America's unwillingness to lead the charge against terrorism has erroneously signaled to these nations their belligerent expansionist actions will be tolerated.  The governor has proposed strengthening new NATO member states on the front lines with Russia by "...supplying them, repositioning existing U.S. forces onto their eastern borders supported by a new, strong, integrated air defense system there,..."  In order to stand up to China, Gov. Kasich  proposes working with regional allies to "...significantly increase our military presence in region and ensure freedom of navigation for the $5.3 trillion in annual trade..."  As part of his national security plan, Gov. Kasich would increase military spending by $102 billion for improvements to conventional capabilities and create a cyber defense system.  This would be accomplished with a strong economy and streamlining military bureaucracy to the process of getting supplies and material to the troop is more efficient.  He would also renew our alliances with our allies, especially in the Middle East and a recommitment to American fundamental values of tolerance, democracy, civil and individual liberties.

Quick primary update: Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump won the state Florida.  Senator Marco Rubio has officially suspended his campaign.

The Second Amendment
Defending The Second Amendment

Like Senator Ted Cruz, Gov. John Kasich is a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and has enacted sensible gun control legislation that defends this  right.  As president, Gov. Kasich would remove heavy restriction for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms.  Gov. Kasich opposes President Barack Obama's gun control executive orders.  Further as governor, John Kasich has removed hunting and fishing licensing restrictions and expanded hunting rights in Ohio.

Quick primary update: Secretary Clinton has won North Carolina.

Budget Control
Fiscal Responsibility And Balancing Budgets

Fiscal responsibility and balancing budgets are an important value for Gov. Kasich.  The governor trumpeted his success balancing the Ohio state budget, implementing conservative budget policies to create jobs and bring common sense to government.  As chair of the House Budget Committee, John Kasich led the effort to balance the federal budget by cutting taxes, paying down the national debt, and generating a projected $5 trillion surplus.  In Ohio, the governor was faced with a 350,000 loss of private-sector job loss and a massive $8 billion projected budget shortfall, burdensome regulations that blocked job creation, a failed economic development model when he took office in 2011.  By making job creation a top priority, Gov Kasich helped create hundreds of thousands private-sector jobs and reduce the state's unemployment rate.  He also helped grow the state's "rainy day" fund and reduced the size of the state's bureaucracy.  Since 2011, Gov. Kasich has enacted a $5 billion in tax cuts, including eliminating the estate tax, reducing the state income tax 16 percent, eliminating income tax for small businesses, and provided targeted tax relief to low- and middle-income workers.  

Quick primary update: in a blow to the Sanders campaign, Secretary Clinton won Ohio.  Gov. Kasich is projected to win the Republican Ohio primary

As always, Blogger encourages everyone to check out the candidates's website  American readers, please remember to register to vote, if not in time for your state's primary, then for the General Election.  Blogger will make her decision on California's Primary day.  Tomorrow is our Primary wrap up and next week the forum will feature the one candidate you all have been waiting for....

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Creative Class And Sen. Sanders


Bernie Sanders at a Los Angeles rally
Hello Everyone:

A Facebook post by one of Blogger's friends inspired today's post on Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).  Said friend bemoaned the current presidential nominee choices.  Speaking of which, just a reminder that Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) is in the Candidate Forum tomorrow.  This led yours truly to quote House of Cards's Frank Underwood, "we get the leaders we deserve."  It made Blogger wonder about Senator Sanders.  Specifically, what were the circumstances that brought the Gentleman from Vermont to the forefront of the national conscious?  Richard Florida explains in his CityLab article, "How Burlington's Creative Class Explains Bernie Sanders," that it was city's long held values of education, innovation, and tolerance that helped propel Sen. Sanders to the national stage.

Map of Scandinavia
Sen. Sanders is fond of pointing to the Scandinavian and Nordic countries-socialist democracies with larges shares of the creative class-as his examples of economic prosperity.  Countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland all rank high on the  Martin Prosperity Institute Global Creativity Index (  Mr. Florida writes, "These nations are prime examples of what the political scientist Ronald Inglehart calls, post-materialist nations, which unlike traditional socialism, value self-expression over material goods."  No coincidence, they strongly resemble Vermont's capital city.

Burlington, Vermont is the state's largest city and an important university hub.  It is also where Sen. Sanders served as mayor from 1981-1989.  The city is home to the University of Vermont and private schools Burlington College and Champlain.  As a metropolitan, Burlington, despite its small population, is a talent attraction. An article published in August 2015 in the New York Times declared that like the Senator, Burlington

...has long embodied the earthy progressivism and can-do independence that define the state's spirit.  

Mr. Florida points out, "In fact, the city was the first in the U.S. to fund a community land trust and run entirely on renewable energy."

Richardson Building (1895)
Burlington, Vermont
Burlington has a large share number of creative class residents-higher than the national average (who make up about one-third of the workforce).  Burlington's population of creative class residents is equal to Boston and San Francisco, and ahead of creative class hubs such as: Seattle, Baltimore, Denver, and Austin.  Surprised?  So is Blogger.  Essentially, "Burlington ranks 20th in the U.S. in terms of its creative class share, with creative class members making up 38 percent of the total workforce."  On Mr. Florida's Creativity Index, Burlington ranks 15th in the United States.  Individually, the Burlington metropolitan area ranks 11th in technology.

The number of creative workers living in Burlington exceeds the national average in professions such as: architecture and engineering; arts, design, entertainment, sports and media; business and finances; computers and mathematics; education; and healthcare.  Burlington also seems to have a more sporty population, ranked 8th in the number of people that walk to work and 334th in the number people that share rides or drive to work alone.

Burlington, Vermont downtown
Essentially, Burlington is a creative class nirvana "complete with an active, open, and tolerant environment, a highly urban structure, and a healthy share of workers in fields such as architecture, engineering, and high-tech."  While the service sectors still composes the majority of the labor pool (almost 50,000 employees), the creative sectors (41,560 employees) surpasses the traditional blue-collar workforce.  One explanation for this phenomenon is Burlington's population is over 90 percent Caucasian and about eight out of ten creative class jobs in America are held by Caucasian.

However, despite Sen. Sanders's affections for Scandinavia, the indicators of widespread property of his home town is less inclusive than Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.  To quantify this disparity, Burlington's income inequality (based on the Gini coefficient) competes with the U.S. as a whole (about .45), " is substantially worse than in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland (with Gini coefficients of around .25 to .30) making these countries far more equal places to live."

Ben & Jerry's in Burlington, Vermont
What interests Richard Florida about Sen. Bernie Sanders's version of "socialism" is its resemblance to the creative class variation rather than the more traditional working-class version of socialism.  Fascinating how Mr. Florida put the word socialism in quotation marks when referring to Sen. Sanders's concept.  Perhaps the reason for is the Senator's focus on economic equality combined with innovation resonated with Burlington's creative class so much that he was re-elected mayor three times.  It also seems to be resonating with millennials across the United States.  What is apparent is that the creative class has formed the trajectory of political career.  The question still remains will the support of the young, creative workers across the United States be enough to propel Senator Sanders all the way to the White House?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

More On SB5232 And SB720

Michigan Central Railroad Jackson Depot
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
Hello Everyone:

We are going to switch gears from the Primaries to the ongoing story in Michigan of a pair of bills that would upend the state's historic districts.  Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News presents the arguments both sides of this issue in his recent article "Battle lines drawn over Michigan historic districts."  In three previous posts: "Historic Preservation As A Tool For Good" (02/08/16),  "Why We Need Historic Districts, A Follow Up (02/17?16)", and Look Elsewhere For Reasons" (02/29/16). we talked about the reasons for historic districts.  Now we are going to look at the reasons for and against historic districts. Currently, the measure was formally introduced a few weeks ago in a committee of the Michigan House of Representatives.  The companion bill is expected to be introduced in the State Senate.  Preservationists fear that if passed, these bills would destroy the 1970 state law that created historic districts.  Let us first have a look at the argument in favor of this bill.

Rep. Chris Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids)
Representative Chris Afendoulis sponsored HB 5232 while the companion bill, SB 720, was sponsored by state Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford).  Rep. Afendoulis told Mr. Aguilar,

Our goal is not to hurt historic preservation but to protect local property owners.

Supporters of the bill contend that they want to modernize the original 1970.  However, few on the opposing side of the argument actually believe this statement.  Just to give you all an idea of how polemic this issue, supporters for and against the bills have packed public meetings, debated the matter on the social media, flooded politicians with emails and phone calls from every corner of the "Great Lakes" state.  James Turner, a Detroit resident and adviser to the National Trust for Historic Preservation said,

This is the most serious threat to historic preservation in Michigan since the local historic districts were enacted...It is not just neighborhoods, but even the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Detroit benefits from historic districts.

Senator Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford)

Louis Aguilar writes, "Historic district are a popular way to protect notable neighborhoods, homes, skyscrapers, industrial buildings and other sides such as parks."  He points out that once a historic district is established, it is had to demolish a building or structure.  Actually, there are additional layers of protection that require alternative plans to demolition.  Mr. Aguilar add, "When changes are made, modifications usually must adhere to strict guidelines aimed at preserving the original character of the building or place."  While this statement is mostly true, a property can do replacements-in-kind.  The strict guidelines Mr. Aguilar speaks of are designed to maintain the historic defining features of a property and prevent inappropriate changes and modifications.

There are currently 78 historic districts in Michigan, encompassing 20,000 homes.  Historic preservation advocates point to data which shows historic district increase the value of a property.  However, some state Republicans counter that preservation has become a cudgel.  They handcuff property owner rights and give too much power to unelected officials.  Kent County Republican chairman John Inhulsen and supporter of the bills told Mr. Aguilar,

The system is broken...You'd be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn't support historic preservation...But I think homeowners should have more say about their properties than some unelected board.  If you buy into a historic area, I think most people know the value of that and will protect that.

East Ferry Avenue Historic District
Detroit, Michigan
The bills in the Lansing statehouse would make major changes to the current historic district law.  Among them are:

*They would overhaul who serves on local historic district commissions.  State law currently says those appointed to local historic commission should "demonstrated interest in or knowledge of historic preservation  The bills require that that any historic commission should include a local elected official, local developer and at least one resident from the proposed historic district.

* The bills would require two-thirds of property owners in the area to approve historic districts; no such vote is needed now.  After that, two-thirds of the local government body must approve it; no such approval is needed now.

* A historic district could be eliminated through the same two-thirds approval process that it takes to create one.

* Local historic districts would longer have to follow federal standards of what is historic.  Local historic districts use federal guidelines now as their main criteria for establishing a historic district Those guidelines now as their main criteria for establishing a historic district.  Those guidelines cover a wide range of what to preserve and what kind of changes are allowed.

Krause Memorial Branch Library
Rockford, Michigan
Condemnation for the bills have come from several municipal governments.  The Detroit City Council is among the local government bodies that passed a resolution denouncing the measures, "contending they will deny communities a key economic took that protects local cultural legacy."  Detroit Council member Mary Sheffield, whose district includes the Indian Village, Boston-Edison, West Village historic districts and the Mies Van der Rohe homes in Lafayette Park told Louis Aguilar:

I have gotten tons of emails, tons of phone calls from residents who oppose this bill.

Brush Park Detroit, Michigan
Ms. Sheffield also represents the Brush Park historic districts and cites the former Brewster-Wheeler Recreation Center as an example of the efficacy historic districts.  The former Andrew Carnegie-built library was scheduled for demolition.  Fortunately, Ms. Sheffield and city officials implemented historic district protection measures to put off demolition.  This gave them some time to find a new use for the place where boxer Joe Louis trained. Happy to report that the former recreation center is part of a $37 million future mixed-use residential/retail development.  The building will be re-purposed as a restaurant with a rooftop beer garden, basement bar, performance space, and office space for non-profit groups.

Council member Mary Sheffield
Mary Sheffield enthuses,

That's the real power of historic districts...These bills could politicize the debate of what is historic.  What we currently have in place allows extensive community input.  The goal is to protect and preserve.

Rep. Chris Afendoulis and his fellow supporters of the bills state that their goal is to give property owners more say in the process, not destroy historic districts.  Louis Aguilar writes, "It's part of a Republican campaign being waged in several states, including Wisconsin, where similar legislation has passes.  In Utah, similar legislation has been introduced.

About a week ago, Rep. Afendoulis introduced a new version of the measure that he hopes will down some of the criticism.  The new version eliminates the requirement of that two-thirds of a municipal government body must approve any district, giving it veto power.  However, the latest draft has not eased the criticism.  Nancy Finegood  the executive director of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network said,

He had made it even worse by adding an additional two-thirds vote...His intent is clear.  He wants to make it impossible for any new (historic districts) to be created and extremely easy for existing commissions' decisions to be influenced and politicized.

There is more to come.