|United States Capitol Building|
It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum. Before we get started on today's topic: Red State Blue City, a word about current events. Last Thursday's Senate testimony by former FBI director James B. Comey was quite the spectacle. For nearly three hours, the Senate Intelligence Committee listened to and questioned Mr. Comey on whether or not he felt pressured to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's interactions with the Russians. The biggest revelations: Mr. Comey leaked non-classified memos to the press in hopes of getting an independent counsel appointed to oversee the investigation (done) and the White House lied about his dismissal. This was followed by yesterday's testimony before the same committee given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who appeared to convienently suffer from a memory lapse. Not looking too good for the White House. One more thing, best wishes for a full and speedy to Louisiana Representative Steven Scalise and the brave Capitol police officers. The Congressional Democrats are hosting a unity dinner this evening better get to know their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Sad that it took a shooting to knock some sense into Congress. Alright, on to today's subject.
|Red State Blue City|
In his POV column for CityLab, "Red State/Blue City Isn't the Whole Story," Bruce Katz writes, "Increasingly, these electoral divisions are spilling over into open warfare as meddling states attempt to preempt or circumscribe the ability of their cities to reflect the views of their own residents. It is a riff on the two sovereigns-the office of head of state can be delegated to several people (i.e. governors who administer over territorial matters); a governor can delegate jurisdictional authority to several people (i.e. mayors). Herein is where the conflict lies.
|High rise buildings in Houston, Texas|
Photograph by Mike Blake/Reuters
Mr. Katz writes, "Advocates of local control and the progressive resistance are rightly bringing attention to state-local preemption, but that focus gives on a partial picture of the complex structural relationship between the states, their localities, and their citizens." This relationship is the forgotten part of federalism, which is often viewed as a conflict between Washington and the states.
|The I-65 intersection the I-20/59 in Birmingham, Alabama|
The individual states also decide how to apportion federal resources, sometimes doing so in a manner that undermines cities and urban counties. One example is the state of Alabama's decision to go ahead with a major reconfiguration of interstate 20/59-that would expand the six-lane elevated freeway to a 10-lane beast; reducing access to downtown Birmingham from three exits to one. (http://www.al.com; date accessed June 14, 2017) Mr. Katz notes, "Clearly, 1960s-style transportation solutions are alive and well. This is just one way out-of-touch-state interests can preempt local know-how and disserve quality of life."
|Woman photographing the harbor|
Remember during one of our discussions ("The Consequences of Being a Sanctuary City; Feb. 1, 2017) when yours truly quoted Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, ...Cities exist at the right of the state. Here is how: the states and state constitutions outline the fundamental rules for jurisdictional governance. They determine the city boundaries and municipalities that fixed or flexible, curtailing not only land expansion but also the tax base. Further, the states also determine what taxes cities can collect from their residents: "Currently 42 states constrain local fiscal authority through tax and expenditure limitation, which can sharply restrict a local government's ability to raise revenues." Finally, the state have broad power to decide how much authority is delegated to municipal or regional governments. They can exercise control over the quality of local economic growth through invests in primary through high schools. higher education, and workforce development. Can you begin to understand what Mayor Peduto said about the cities exist at the right of the states?
In certain respects, red meat Texas is structurally more progressives than blue blood Connecticut. How is this possible? Texas's major cities have large footprints-"Houston's land mass is 610 square miles-and a broader tax base with more residents, more homes, more companies, and more consumer establishments. Hartford, on the other hand, sits on jus 18 square miles and las a large concentration of poverty; it's literally too small to success." Tis quite true in cities that are also state capital, like Hartford, dense with tax-exempt buildings and institutions.
He also proposes that "These reforms should particularly focus on how cities and counties address the dramatic fiscal pressures that accompany the decline in federal discretionary spending and the rise in local pension and other liabilities." (http://www.citylab.com; Jan. 18, 2017; date accessed June 14, 2017) He points to the United Kingdom and Northern Europe as model for adapting these challenges. "In Manchester, England, for example, community deal enable cities to move resources across siloed health and services. In Copenhagen, public authorities like port authorities have been restructured to leverage the value of underutilized public land and buildings for infrastructure finance." Denmark also established a negotiated budget-making procedure between state government and cities.
Bruce Katz also suggests, "Cities and localities' constituency groups could organize a commission to advance these kinds of reforms by seeking funding from philanthropy and participation by community leaders who have not succumbed to our current poisonous partisanship." Easier said than done.
News break: the Washington Post is reporting that President Donald Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Regardless, the United States needs to come to its senses and reclaim the center. The forgotten side of the federal republic is a good starting point.