Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: Midterm Preview

Hello Everyone:

It is Wednesday, so you know what that means?  Time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today we are going to take a look at the midterm elections.  Before we get going on what to expect, some news items. 

 First, White House senior advisor and Mr. Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner had his security clearance downgraded from "top secret" to "secret" by Chief of Staff John Kelly.  This is big news because as a senior advisor, Mr. Kushner was privy to state secrets. This news comes after Mr. Kushner filed numerous amendments to his original application.  This development would have never happened if it was not for former staff secretary Rob Porter.  More Jared Kushner news, CNN, the Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as numerous real news outlets are reporting that Mr. Kushner was the target of foreign attempts to manipulate him.  Yours Truly wonders how much longer the princeling will remain in the White House?  Speaking of White House comings and goings, Communications Director Hope Hicks handed in her resignation.  Sources say that she planned to leave for a while but the timing of the announcement leads Blogger to think otherwise.  Ms. Hicks testified yesterday before a the House Intelligence Committee.  Her answers were mostly evasive but admitted to telling white lies to appease her boss, but not when it came to alleged collusion with Russia.  Makes you wonder.   Alright, on to the midterm elections.

What are the midterm elections?  The midterms are elections that take place half way through the president's term.  This is a chance for people to elect their representatives, senators, governors and state legislators. Typically, they are referendums, more like an "evaluation," on the party in power, in this case, the Republican Party.  Judging by the current state of affairs, things are not looking too good for the Republicans in Congress and the statehouses.  Allow Blogger to set the stage in House of Representatives.  Currently there are 179  seats that are solidly Democratic and 174 seats that are safe in Republican hands.  Eight seats that are likely to go blue and 26 seats that are likely to go red.  Ten seats that lean blue, 18 that sway red, and 20 that can go either way.  In the Senate, Republicans hold a razor slim 51-49 majority.  This means that both houses of Congress are ripe for a blue takeover.  To wit, the hashtags #bluewave and #bluetsumani have been popping up around the social media, indicating the excitement Democrats feel over the possibility of re-taking control of Congress.

There is evidence to suggest that this feeling may be fact.  A new CNN/SSRS national poll suggests that Democratic voters are more pumped about the midterms than their Republican counterparts.  Chris Cillizza reports, "A majority of registered Democrats--52%-- say they are either 'extremely' (30%) or 'very' (22%) enthusiastic about 'voting for Congress this year" (; Feb. 26, 2018; date Feb. 28, 2018).

On the other hand, Republicans are looking forward to the midterm elections like someone about to have their teeth drilled.  "For Republicans, 17% say they are 'extremely' enthusiastically about voting this fall while another 23% say they are 'very' enthusiastic." (Ibid).

What can takeaway for this information?  "Almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans are 'extremely' into voting this November.  And history tell us that, especially midterm elections, the most enthusiastic and passionate voters usually vote..."  (Ibid)  Everyone else, not so much.

What are the issues that has Democrats eagerly going to the polls?  At the forefront are gun control #MeToo.  Although Americans have expressed more satisfication with a strong economy and the prospect of lower taxes that will increase their paychecks.  That does not mean the economy will take center stage in November. Gun control, sexual harassment and violence continue to generate more passion and energy among two of the most critical components of the Democratic coalition: women and young voters.

John Hardwood reported on CNBC, "[young people] the constituency speaking out the loudest in the wake of the massacre of 17 students at a Florida high school" (; Feb. 20, 2018; date accessed Feb. 28, 2018).  The surviving students and their supporters rallied around the issue of gun control, generating a loud and ferocious backlash against the National Rifle Association and their Republican allies.  Some of the NRA's corporate sponsors heard the message loud and and clear.  Delta Airlines has ended its discount program with the the organization, prompting a boneheaded Geogia state legislator to threaten to kill an airplane fuel tax break for the airline, if the company did not reinstate he discount. Today, Dick's Sporting Goods announced that it was no longer selling semi-assault rifles and ammunition. 

Reports of that the president kept top White House aide Rob Porter on the job despite FBI reports of repeated domestic violence allegations; sexual harassment and violence rippling across every facet of American society have uncovered a major problem the Republicans have with attracting women voters. This includes Mr. Trump, the target of multiple sexual harassment accusations.  This makes the Republicans very vulnerable among female voters.  These reports have energized more women to stand for elections.  

However, there is a glimmer of hope for the Republicans.  Mr. Hardwood writes, "On issues, [a Quinnipac Unversity Poll released Tuesday] it showed Republicans at near parity with Democrats in voter opinion their handling of the economy,mother federal budget and infrastructure. Republicans have a clear opening to battle on that terrain" (Ibid). 

A big factor in he 2018 midterms is voter turnout.  A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted a survey in January revealed that Democrats are as likely as Republicans to cast their ballots in this year's midterms.  This is break from the two previous midterms, in which Republicans were more eager to to the polls (; Feb. 4, 2018; date accessed Feb. 28, 2018).  Democratic National Committee leaders are hoping that anti-Trump feelings can enhance the party's chances to regain control of Congress. 

In the previous midterms, Republicans have been able to parlay increased conservative enthusiasm and disapproval of former President Barack Obama into consecutive victories and control of Congress. That was then and this is now.  Now is more Americans expressing disapproval of Mr. Trump. Also, some of the Trump voters are feeling a sense of buyer's remorse--are less motivated to vote. The diehard Trump voters are thoroughly committed to turning out to vote--"74 percent of Republican-leaning voters who 'strongly approve' of his job performance saying they are certain to turn out" (Ibid).

Does this mean we can definitely expect a "blue wave" in November?  Right now, the polls say that Democratic takeover of Congress in November is possible.  Then again, all the polls said former Secretay of State Hillary Clinton would win the White House and we know how that turned out. We still have a long way to go until the November 6 Election Day and anything is possible. One thing is certain, you need to make your voice heard. Register to vote, if you have not and vote if you have. If you will be turning eighteen before Election Day, you can pre-register.  Check with your state's Secretary of State office. We will talk more on this subject between now and then.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Race To Top, One Toke At A Time; February 5, 2018

Hello Everyone:

DACA recipients are breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the United States Supreme Court.  The high court decided on Monday not hear the Trump administration challenge to ending the executive order issued by President Barack Obama.  This means that DACA recipients can continue to file renewal applications.  If you are eligible for relief under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival act, make sure you maintain you eligibility and get that application into  Alright, onto today's subject: California's race to the top of the cannabis pile.

Recently, the city of San Francisco announced that it would expunge or reduce the sentences for all cannabis-related criminal convictions, misdemeanors, and felonies, going back to 1975.  This is good news for the thousands of people who are serving time or served time for pot-related crimes.  They are now eligible to have the cases reviewed; either be released from state prison or apply for housing, jobs, and other basic essentials that they were previously barred from because of their past drug convictions.  

Brentin Mock reports in his CityLab article "California's Race to the Top on Cannabis," "In essence, San Francisco is resetting the clock on the War of Drugs, at least for cannabis.  The city is expanding upon Proposition 64, the state law that went into effect this year that makes amnesty for weed-related crimes a condition for legalizing cannabis in California."  In the interest of full disclosure, possession and use of marijuana is still illegal on federal property, this means you have to get rid of your pot before you go to the airport.  Airports are federal property.

San Francisco's amazingly progressive ordinance is not the only one attempting to incorporate racial equity into the newly legalized cannabis landscape.  Cities across the "Golden State" and other states are increasing the "racial equity quotient" in a variety of ways, "in what looks like a race to the top seeking true racially and economically inclusive outcomes."  While civic leaders figure out a way how to make real racial equity happen (; July 21, 2017; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018) in policy making, the newly legalized pot experiment is serving as a test case, "and is already proving itself sticky enough that cities are almost competing to be the most weedfully woke."  

Oakland started the trend last year when it intiated it cannabis equity assistance program (Ibid; April 27, 2017), intended to help people who either lack the capital to start their own business or are restricted from doing so because of past convictions.  Mr. Mock reports, "On the same day that San Francisco made its announcement, Oakland revealed the names of the first class of people to receive permits for opening cannabis dispensary [; Jan. 31, 2018; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018] companies under that equity assistance program."  Eight permits were iniatially awarded; six went to companies owned by individuals who met the program's low-income threshold (less than the median income for Oakland: $56,300 per one-person household) or who had weed-related criminal convictions dating back to 1996.  The majority of these companies have pledged to staff part of their enterprises with formerly incarcerated people.  One of the benefits of this program is that there will be 29 pot-related business locations across the city how will not have to pay rent and have their security costs covered for three years.

It is not just the bluer-than-blue city of San Francisco that is implementing this program.  Blogger's hometown of Los Angeles also instituted a cannabis social equity program (; Nov. 20, 2017; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018) that "prioritized business permits for people with low incomes, who have lived in area area ravaged by the drug war, have criminal records (because of past weed prohibition), and who plan to hire at least half of their workforces from local residents."  Further, Oakland and L.A. are making permits a priority for individuals who may not meet the criteria but are willing to finance or lease space to applicants who fully qualify for this program.  Oakland has set a goal of awarding equality permits for existing cannabis companies that already have a foothold in the market (Brentin Mock adds this aside, "some companies have been operating under the state's medical marijuana law, which has been in effect for years").  Los Angeles wants "to do a two-to-one match between equity businesses and the grandfathered companies they need to catch up with."

Last November, the California state legislature approved the creation of a Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equaity program (; Nov. 14, 2017; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018).  The eligibility requirements are similar to equity programs in San Francisco, L.A., and Oakland in that permits are designated for people who live below the federal poverty levels and have been affected by the drug war.  Like the above cities, Sacramento is helping to expunge the records of would-be business owners who have previous drug crime convictions.  Sacramento is also offering business and technical assistance to permit applicants.

East of the wild blue west, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maryland also enacted equity programs for their states' medical marijuana permitting process.  Brentin Mock adds, "though there have been problems (; May 4, 2017; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018) with the roll-outs (; June 29, 2017; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018).

Hood Incubator (; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018) is an Oakland-based organization that works with formerly incarcerated individuals and people from the poorest African-American and Latino communities to get them ready for opportunities in the cannabis industry.  In mid-January, the organization announced a $1 million partnership with cannabis technology company Eaze (; Jan. 18, 2018; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018).  Hood Incubator will work with the California-based company to expand the scope of its work, including "expungement clinics and business workshops, as well as well as developing more progressive policies for cannabis-business-friendly cities and states to adopt."  One of their first joint (slight pun intended) ventures is the establishment of a Cannabis Equity Strategy Manifesto "that will curate and build upon the best practices from jurisdictions that currently have an equity program, to create a model policy for all future cities and states looking to get into the cannabis market."

Hood Incubator's co-founders and directors Lanese Martin and Ebele Ifedigo are concerned that the incentives, offered by some cities, may spur companies to help minority-owned businesses for all the wrong reasons.

Lanese Marting told CityLab,

Some people aren't partnering (with equity applicants) because this is the most viable thing for their business, they're partnering because they want to get a license which means there is an ulterior motive.

Heavy regulation of the pot market at the state and city level aside; "and maybe the federal level [; Jan. 11, 2018; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018] if Senator Cory Booker has it his way," there still need to be real measurable growth in revenue and profit in this sector.  The 2017 Cannabis Insdustry Report (; date accessed Feb. 27, 2018) from New Frontier Data reported,

The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $6.6 billion in 2016, and annual sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% to reach more than $24 billion by 2025.

These projections are only based on the states where pot is legal. 

It is quite startling to think about how quickly the cannabis market has grown "despite the heavy-handed regulations and civil rights controls evinces the potential of this industry to not only be a gamechanger for health and capital, but for race relations."  What is truly startling is the lengths a lot of people are willing to go to properly address past and present racism-or, at least, get some really good pot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: ACE Is Not The Case; February 21, 2018

Hello Everyone:

It is Wednesday some it is time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  Before Yours Truly gets started, a friendly reminder that Mid-Term Election primary season is almost here.  Are your registered to vote?  You are not?  No worries, you can go to for any and all information.  If you are registered, good for you, now go out and make your voice heard loud and proud.  

Now, more than ever, it is important to make your voice heard.  The good citizens of Parkland, Florida are still reeling for the horrific school shooting on February 14, 2018.  We know the details, an armed former student entered Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School and went on a shooting spree.  By the time the shooter, Nikolas Cruz (a pock on his name), was done seventeen people were dead, including hero Aaron Feis (a blessing on his name), a coach and security guard who shielded students form this monster.  What followed was the usual routine of insipid moments of silence, thoughts and prayers.  Crisis counsellors were dispatched, funerals and vigils planned.  However, the survivors refused to sit quietly in the corner, mourning their losses, instead they took action.  Led by Emma Gonzales and David Hogg, the students, their parents, and concerned citizens rallied to call for sensible gun control laws.  These are the kind of laws that make it harder for people to own semi-automatic weapons and ammunition, like the kind used in Parkland and Las Vegas.  Even more heinous are the blithe dismissals of these brave young Floridians as "crisis-actors" or "having been indoctrinated into left-wing ideas about gun control."  Before yours truly moves onto the next thought, please support the March for Our Lives on Saturday March 24, 2018.  For more information check your social media pages and

While Parkland officials figure out what to do about the aftermath: inspect the school for any physical damage and decide whether or not to re-open the campus.  The harder job is assessing the long-term psychological damage done to the students, teachers, staff, and community.  Mimi Kirk writes in her CityLab article "Where American Kids Are In Crisis," "Among kids exposed to traumatic violence, short-term symptoms immediately after such incidents include trouble focusing, managing emotions, and negotiating relationships.  The effects of childhood trauma also show up later in life [; Dec. 4, 2017; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018]: As adults, children who witness violence will be more likely to suffer who witnessed violence will be more likely to suffer from depression, deal with substance abuse, and struggle with obesity."

Amazingly, American school shootings are quite a rare form of childhood trauma--perhaps "less so than they used to be [; Feb.14, 2018; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018]."  Other experiences can leaving a lasting psychological impact: Parental incarnation and economic hardship, are far more common.  Ms. Kirk shares a new report from Child Trends (; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018),a Bethesada, Maryland-based non-profit that does research on ways to improve children's lives. Ms. Kirk reports, "[Child Trend says] almost half of all American children have experienced at least one potentially traumatic 'adverse childhood experience,' or ACE."

In The Prevalence of Advers Childhood Experiences, Nationally, by State, and by Race or Ethnicity (Ibid; Feb. 20, 2018), co-authors Vanessa Sacks and David Murphey incorporated data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Heath (; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018) to reveal which children 17 and younger are more likely to experience some trauma, and where these children live.

The co-authors focused on information regarding the ACEs:
Parental divorce or separation
Parental death
Parental incarceration
Violence among adults in the home
Victim or witness to neighborhood violence
Living with a mentally ill adult
LIving with someone who who has a substance abuse problem
Experiencing economic hardship often, such as the family finding it difficult to afford food and housing.

Ms. Sacks noted that these are not the only sets of ACEs, they change over time as more scholarship on trauma becomes available.  Mimi Kirk writes, "For instance, experiencing violence in one's neighborhood and homelessness didn't used to be considered ACEs; they are now."  Some scholars are now calling for racism to be added to the list.  One thing is certain, "The more ACEs a child experiences, rather than any one particular one, the more likely they are struggle later."

The most common ACEs experience by American children are economic hardship and divorce or parental separation.  Specifically, "one in every nine kids has experienced three or more of them."  Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota led the way with most children with no ACEs, however, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, and Ohio saw one and seven children experiencing three or more ACEs.  Ms. Kirk writes, "Arkansas had the most ACEs, with 56 percent of all children experiencing at least one, and Minnesota had the least at 37 percent--which still more than a third of the state's children."

Vanessa Sacks told CityLab, "it's difficult to ascertain what cause such stark differences among states, one factor stands out: Some of the state's with the most ACEs are also those with a high rate of child poverty."  While Ms. Sacks and Mr. Murphey did not study the differences between urban and rural children, the 2011-12 National Survey of Children's Health, The Health and Well-Being in Rural Areas: A Portrait of the Nation 2011-2012, concluded that rural children were more likely to undergo ACEs than urban children--partly due to the fact that rural children are more likely to live in poverty than urban children (; April 2015; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018.

Race is also determinant of whether a child is more likely to experiences ACEs.  Ms. Sacks told CityLab,

In almost every group of states we looked at, as well as nationally, white and Asian children have the lowest of ACEs, while black and Hispanic children tend to have the highest.

if we quantify this, it translates to "61 percent of black children, 51 percent of Latino children, 40 percent of white children, and 23 percent of Asian children having at least one adverse experience"

After economic hardship, separation or divorce, Caucasian children are most likely to experience an adult with mental illness or substance abuse, for African-American children are more likely to experience parental incarceration, the second most common ACE.  African-American children are also more likely to experience the death of a parent or guardian.  For Latino children, the next most common ACEs are: living with an adult dealing with substance abuse and parental incarceration.

The last Survey of Children Health was done in 2011-12, but the ACE statistics have remained consistent.  Ms. Sacks said,

This sobering,.... The persistent percentage of children with three or more ACEs is particularly distressing, because we know the host of negative outcomes associated with having multiple experiences.

To better understand the overwhelming nature of the problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics and issued a call for doctors to screen their patients for possible traumatic experiences, going as far as to publish guides on how to proceed (; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018).  Mimi Kirk reports, "Screening can involve looking for signs of stress, such as recurring nightmares or thoughts, or re-enacting Taurus through play.  Children can also appear withdrawn or preoccupied.  Stanford University child psychologist Hilit Kletter told National Public Radio, Teachers will tell parents [their child] seems to be in a daze in the classroom (; March 2, 2015; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018).

Professionals who work with children--such as pediatricians and social workers--can refer those families who they have identified as dealing with ACEs to the proper services, like counsellors to help deal with a parent or guardian's mental illness or the right office through which to apply for food assistance.  However, there is a very simple straightforward way to help: "If a child has just one caring trusting adult in their life, research show [; Aug. 11, 2015; date accessed Feb. 21, 2018] that the relationship can buffer the effects of trauma."

They key to this highly vexing situation is ending the cycle.  Mimi Kirk writes, "When a parent has experienced a high number of ACEs, chances are their children will as well--often the same ones, such as depression or substance abuse."  Further, there studies that indicate that "when a woman experiences topic stress during pregnancy, it acts as a kind of prenatal ACE, interfering with the fetal development and negatively affecting outcomes later in life, such as educational attainment and income."  Ms. Sacks adds, When pediatricians are screening the child,..., they're really screening the household.

Although most pediatricians do not routinely screen for ACEs, Vanessa Sacks is optimistic, as policy wonks, state and civic officials are increasingly calling attention to youth trauma.  Mimi Kirk reports, " of 2017, 20 states had passed or had pending legislation that mentions ACEs, including bills that set aside funds for research and prevention of social problems like opioid addicting."  Ms. Sacks adds, There's an increasing awareness that these experiences are a really important public health issue.

As the effects of the Parkland shooting and related shootings in Texas and Las Vegas continue to ripple out, the growing attention given to Adverse Childhood Experiences suggests that the long-term effects of trauma need to be part of the national conversation.  Of course, this may be meaningless to the families of the victims and survivors of the Parkland shooting.  The shooter was a former student.  The Federal Bureau of Investingation was alerted by a concerned citizen in September.  The FBI failed to follow it up. The students knew the shooter was troubled and dangerous.  No one paid attention to the YouTube videos and social media posts.  Now seventeen people are dead.  No more thoughts, no more racers, no more moments of silence.  Today's listening session at the White House will probably lead to nowhere.  What will be more effective is voting out state and federal representatives how continue to turn a deaf ear to the survivors.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: Unintended Consequences; February 4, 2018

Hello Everyone:

Time for another edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  A couple of agenda items: First, thanks to another federal court ruling, Customs and Immigration Services will continue to accept renewal applications beyond the Trump administration imposed March 5th deadline.  For more information, please go to   Second, it is almost Mid-Term Election primary season.  If you are registered to vote, good for you, do not forget to vote.  If you are not registered to vote, stop reading and go to  Speaking of elections, our subject today is the Trump tax cuts and the Electoral Map.

Tax cuts are typically founded in economic terms but, as Richard Florida writes in his CityLab article "How Trump's Tax Cuts Could Change the Electoral Map," " but they have clear policy aims and implications."  A lot of ink has already been spilled over how the Trump tax cuts are aimed at undermining the blue states and cities.  Their common feature is that they already expensive places to live and, under the administration's plan, costs will dramatically rise.  He adds, "...since residents will no longer be able to deduct their high state and local tax bills and the interest on their mortgages for pricey homes."

A recent New York Times op-ed (; Feb. 1, 2018; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018), by Will Wilkinson of the Nishkanen Center, posits that "the long-term result of the cuts may be unwittingly undermine the GOP's advantage on the electoral map, by encouraging new migration of talented people who will gradually turn red or purple states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina into blue states."  Mr. Wilkinson writes, 

The tax act's ceiling on deductions is likely to make many blue-state metro areas even more expensive--at least in the short run.... With the Republican changes to the tax code, the high-cost dynamic that has effectively redistributed some probable Democratic voters from left-leaning to right-leaning sates will be thrown into overdrive. (Ibid)

This is compounded by the impact of the corporate tax cut, which powers new job creation and new investment in the red states, where the dollar goes further.

If you go to (Jan. 5, 2018; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018) you can check out a helpful series of maps that provide empirical data on the subject.   The first map presents data on "Cities that Gained the Most Workers" in January of this year.

According to the report, "LinkedIn Workforce Report United States January 2018, major Sunbelt cities such as Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix are creating jobs and attracting workers at a faster pace than New York or San Francisco.  The biggest gains were in Sunbelt knowledge hubs like Austin, Charlotte, Tampa, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach, as well as typical blue state cities like Seattle and Portland.

The next two maps illustrate where the red-state bound labor force comes from.

Beginning with Atlanta.  It experienced its biggest gains from New York and also attracting workers from Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami, as well as smaller cities in Georgia and the Southeast.

The city of Dallas drew workers from New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, also from Atlanta, Houson, Lubbock, Bryan-College Station, and surprisingly, Hyderabad, India.

The story gets a little more complicated when we turn our focus toward "out-migration from big, blue, superstar cities.  These workers are heading not only to other expensive blue-state knowledge hubs, but also less expensive red-state cities."

Taking a look at Blogger's hometown of Los Angeles. Mr. Florida reports, "L.A. has lost people to Dallas, Austin, Phoenix, Nashville, and Denver.  The number-one place it has lost people to is Las Vegas."  Right behind Las Vegas are the liberal bastions of Seattle and, oddly, the vastly more expensive San Francisco.  Just as fascinating, L.A. gained the largest share of workers from New York, Chicago, and Boston.  Must have been mild winters and laid back lifestyle.

Taking a look at New York, for a moment.  Workers leaving the city headed towards Dallas, Atlanta, Raleigh, Charlotte, Tampa,and West Palm Beach.  However, other expensive cities like  Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle experienced the biggest gains in New Yorkers heading west.

Next, we have a chart from (Jan. 30, 2018; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018), "7 LinkedIn Data Points That Will Help You Recruit Software Engineers in the U.S.," that tracks the "Top Paths for those that Changed Regions," that provides additional information on the flow of workers between blue and red state cities today.  Richard Florida writes, "The chart shows the top paths for highly skilled software engineers who have the potential to make a big impact on urban economics.  These paths are essentially between the Bay Area [San Francisco and the surrounding area], L.A., New York, and Boston."  Essentially, when it comes to this highly prized labor force, "expensive blue-state cities 'trade' a lot of workers with each other."

Bottom line?

As we have seen, there is evidence of a talent migration from expensive coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles to Sunbelt metropolitans in the red and purple states.  The Trump tax plan may accelerate this trend over time.  Mr. Florida speculates, "Still, such a shift will do little to change America's deepening spatial inequality."

The bulk of this trade is, and will continue, to be between big cities.  It will either be a trade between two big liberal cities, or to a thriving red state metropolitan like Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Austin, or North Carolina's Research Triangle.  Those areas have a lower cost of living for knowledge based workers and professionals than New York, San Francisco, L.A., Boston, and Washington D.C., but they are not exactly bargains.  Really.

However, Sunbelt cities like Houston and Austin are experiencing levels of inequality and economic, what Mr. Florida refers to as the "new urban crisis," that could give their more pricey coastal peers some serious competition.  Further, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas are the hubs of the some of the world's biggest megaregions (; March 12, 2014; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018), with economies that are among the 25 largest in the world, larger than Australia, Switzerland, or Hong Kong.

Ultimately, the consequence of the Trump tax cuts will be a migration of talent from the large, extremely expensive coastal metropolitans to large, not-quite-as-expensive blue metropolitans in red states.  The electoral map will look wee different, but will remain very uneven and unequal.  Richard Florida writes, "In fact, the backlash that has already registered in our national politics is likely to cause an even greater earthquake in the politics of these increasingly cosmopolitan Sunbelt states in the future."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Misdiagnosis? Updated February 26, 2018; January 25, 2018

Hello Everyone:

Here is a breaking development in the Rob Porter scandal Yours Truly reported yesterday: It seems that  the White House did know about domestic violence accusations made by Mr. Porter's ex-wives the past summer and chose not to do anything about it.  In testimony today, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray contradicted the White House timeline, telling members of Congress that that his agency did complete a full background check, necessary for security clearance, and submitted its written report in July of last year.  The report was submitted to the White House, who opted to ignore it.  Blogger guesses that it ended up in the circular file.  Shocking.  Even more shocking, Mr. Porter was in recent discussions about a promotion just before these allegations came to light.  Maybe shocking would not be the right word; more like typical for this administration.  Truthfully, at this point it would take federal marshals descending on the White House and marching its occupants out in shackles for Blogger to be shocked by anything related to this administration.  Alright, enough about that and on to Modernism and mental disorders.

"You are where you live" and where you live affects the way you filter the world (; July 14, 2017: date accessed Feb. 13, 2018).  For example, a prison is specifically designed to create a psychological impact as much as a brightly lit pre-school or a serene hospital.  In essence psychology as played a key role in the making of architecture.

Darren Anderson asks this question in his CityLab article "The Perils of Diagnosing Modernists," " Might we discover then that form follows dysfunction?"  This is what Ann Sussman (; Nov. 27, 2017; date accessed Feb.13, 2018) and Katie Chen (Ibid; Aug. 22, 2017) in their essay for Common Edge, "The Mental Disorders that Gave Us Modern Architecture."  The co-authors focused on two giants of Modernism: Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, suggesting that the "minimalist ahistorical buildings originated in part from autism (in the case of Le Corbusier) and post-traumatic stress disorder (Walter Gropius)."  They imply that "Modernism,..., was a path emerging from neurosis and one that never should have been followed."  Blogger knows you are scratching your collective heads, wondering "huh?"  Let us continue.

Mr. Anderson concedes, "At first glance, they might have a point."  Le Corbusier was emotionally distant and his austere aesthetic appeared to reflect his sense of remove.  He writes, "His desire to reduce buildings into geometric components could be seen as monomania [an exaggerated or obsessive enthusiasm for one thing], as evidenced by his own rhetoric, having once said,

I am possessed of the color white, the cube, the sphere, the cylinder and the pyramid... Take the whip to those who dissent.

Le Cobusier's Ville Contemporaine (1922) and Ville Radieuse (1930) suggested replacing historic streets with anonymous tower blocks.  From any other architect or urban planner, such a proposition would be considered heresy, but can be excused if Le Corbusier saw the world differently.

As tempting as it is to write off Le Corbusier as austistic, it is just as easy to dismiss Walter Gropius as permenantly scarred by his battlefield experiences during World War I.  Walter Gropius's experience, even by the grim wartime standards, was amazingly disruptive.  Mr. Anderson writes, "He survived a plane crash with a dead pilot at the controls.  He spent two days and nights buried alive with corpses after a shell blast, surviving because a chimney provided him with air.  He was shot at repeatedly finding numerous bullet holes in his clothes."  In 1915, he earned a rest from the battlefield due to insomnia caused by nervous tension, but returned to the trenches.  No doubt, Walter Gropius lived with those harrowing experiences for the rest of his life.

Putting aside the legitimate question of "how much of an influence these two figures had on the actual contemporary buildings we live in, whether modern architecture can be modern architecture can be regarded as a singular movement and not a vast complex and nuanced plurality of individuals, styles, and forms--or whether seeing the world differently is intrinsically bad thing--the evidence that modern architecture  is founded on 'disorders' is highly questionable."

Le Corbusier's self-sufficiency was hardly out of character for a middle class Nietzche-reading Calvinist from Switzerland.  He was also quite self-aware of his introverted character; "sending a postcard to his parents in 1909 with a self-portrait as a condor on mountain top."  However, his aloofness was balanced by his desire to connect, once stating,

I felt [on a visit to Italy] an authentic human aspiration was gratified here; silence, solitude, but also daily contact with mortals.

More comfortable being reserved, he repeatedly stressed the utmost emphasis on enjoying the life-giving force of love and friendship.

In his private life, Le Corbusier lived the life of an ascetic, admiring the monks of Mount Athos--evident in the monk cell-like characteristic of his designs.  However, they were not stark prison cells, rather, more like attempts to create a haven amid the chaos of modern life.  He wrote in his seminal book Toward a New Architecture (1923), Where order reigns,...,well-being follows.  He dreamt of a life with obstacles, distraction, and clutter (Blogger's kind of life).  He recognized that for all the benefits of community, people still craved privacy.  Therefore, "It could also be argued that, far from autism, his attraction to minimalistic order originated from his vision."  Interestingly, Le Corbusier began his career as an engraver with a Art Nouveau inclination but gave it up for architecture, suffering from chronic eye problems, ending in a detached retina and near blindness.

Le Corbusier's infamous line, A house is a machine for living, is frequently used to demonstrate something was off with him.  Regardless whether it supports a diagnosis of autism or a dismissal of an architect as a cold insensitive technocrat, it is not the full quote.  When this sentence is placed in context to the full quote, a more humanistic side, 

A house is a machine for living in.  Baths, sun, hot-water, cold-water, warmth at will, conservation of food, hygiene, beauty in the sense of good proportion.  An armchair is a machine for sitting in and so on.

Ever the master of self-promotion, Le Corbusier knew that this concept would controversial, quoted in Simon Richard's Le Corbusier and the Concept of Self (2003):

A long time ago, I jumped in where angels feared to tread... a thousand utterance have bee produced to bat me for having dared that utterance.  But when I say 'living' I am not talking of mere material requirement only.  I admit certain important extensions which must crown the edifice of man's daily needs.  To be able to think, or meditate, after the day's work is essential.  But in order to become a center of creative thought, the home must take on an absolutely new character.

Darren Anderson writes, "What would characterize this new character is suggested by words that recur often through his writing--love, poetry, spirituality, and art."  This makes sense because Le Corbusier was a lifelong painter and sculptor.  The need for clarity was equalled by his desire that space be useful.  Presciently, in the face of housing shortages and slums, he offered a vision of sun, space, trees; that is all what all cities need, adding landscape, protective zoning, swimming pools, childcare, and retail arcades.  Rather at odds with the image of a person who could not relate to people.

Then there is the case of the "solitary and traumatized Walter Gropius."  If Walter Gropius was as horrifically emotionally damaged as portrayed, it certainly did not stop him from leading the Bauhaus, perhaps the most influential design school of the previous century, or becoming, in exile, the most influential professor of architecture at Harvard.

As head of the Bauhaus, he assembled an exceptional, albeit unconventional, faculty that included Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.  Throughout his storied career, he collaborated extensively out resourcefulness and camaraderie, rather then an extension of his military career.  Mr. Anderson writes, "It can be said that collaboration was at the very heart of Gropius's vision for the Bauhaus; a realm where the barriers between disciplines could be broken down in the name of better living through design."

Walter Gropius's architecture was "sober, stylish, and considered, especially in comparison to his wild Expressionist comrades at the war's end."  Mr. Anderson describes Walter Gropius as " most accounts, highly intelligent, professional, loyal, and charming."  American architect and former student Paul Rudolph called Walter Gropius, the most dynamic man I've ever come into contact with.  The National Socialist party newspaper Volkischer condemned him not as a "neurotic degenerate or inhuman control-freak but as that elegant salon Bolshevist."

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that if Walter Gropius suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, he hid it amazingly well from his students, collaborators, and buildings.  In his will, he wrote,

It would be beautiful if all my friends of the present and of the past world would together in a little while for a fiesta--a la Bauhaus--drinking, laughing, loving.

Walter Gropius may have been scarred by his wartime experiences but he was not imprisoned by them.

Darren Anderson writes that in their article, "The Mental Disorders that Gave Us Modern Architecture" by Ann Sussman and Katie Chen "make grand claims as to Le Corbusier's 'hyperarousal' and his inability, rather than simple unwillingness, to maintain social relationships.  Similarly, they make unsubstantiated inspirations that Gropius's brain had shrank due to repeated near-death experiences."  In short, post-mortem speculation is pointless.  Mr. Anderson continues, "What is demonstrably untrue is that's Modernism was instrincally a dysfunctional byproduct of the Firs World War."  Well, yes.  Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Modern architecture had been germinating for thirty years prior to World War I, partly inspired by Japenese architecture following the formal end of the its isolation era; partly as a reaction of the decorative excess of the Art Nouveau and the rigid adherence to academic period styles.  The former was acknowledged by Walter Gropius in his book collaboration with Kenzo Tange and Yaushiro Ishimoto, Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture.  The famous architecture aphorism "Form follows Function," was coined not by a Modernist but by the 19th century master of ornate skyscrapers Louis Sullivan.

In Europe, the move towards minimal architecture had been going on long enough to create a generational divide, backlashes, and synthesises.  By the end of the 19th century, there were already architectural gems built in this new minimalist manner including Maison du Peuple (1896-99;; date accessed Feb 20, 2018) by Victor Horta; Sanatorium Purkersdorf (1904-05;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) and Stoclet Palace (begun 1905;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) both by Josef Hoffman and Steiner House (1910;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018).  More fanciful architects such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Otto Wagner were designing proto-Modernit buildings that skewed toward geometric forms; the former's Glasgow School of Art (1897-1909;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) and the unbuilt Concert Hall (1898; date; accessed Feb. 20, 2018), the latter's Austrian Postal Savings Bank (1903;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) and the steel and concrete Villas (1886-1913).  As we can see from these stellar pre World War I examples, Modernism did not spring forth as a reaction to the horrors of war.  Rather, "The Modernists sped up this process in an accelerated evolution rather than revolution."

You can also make the case that the need to create order out of chaos was a response to the Industrial Revolution and attempts to implement new technology to mitigate the ill effects.  Once again, this began before Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius made their mark.  For example, Tony Garnier's well-known modernist Cite Industrielle (1904-17;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) was inspired by Ebenezer Howard's Garden City (1898).  Far from being a tabla rasa for the sake of it, "clean and rationalized space was tied to health and efficiency."  Jan Duiker's Zonnestral (1925-31;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) and Finnish architect Alvar Aalto's Paimio Sanatorium (1933;; Nov. 17, 2016; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) are examples of Modernism 's focus on treating the maladies not a representation of them.  Margarete Schutte-Lihotzky's Frankfurt Kitchen (1926;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) became the model for more efficient kitchen design.  Modernism even had a soul, Darren Anderson calls this period "...a new golden age of church building,..." that began with Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark concrete and glass Unity Temple (1905-08;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018), intended to let the room be the architecture outside. Concrete was already being used before the war in such buildings as Auguste Perret's Rue Franklin Apartments (1902-04; hidden; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018), Garage Ponthieu (1907;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018); the Packard Automotive Plant by Albert Kahn (1905; ; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018) and Robert Maillart's Giesshubel (1910;; date accessed Feb. 20, 2018)

If these examples were the manifestations of compulsive behavior, then by coincidence, the new buildings methods were increasingly cost efficient, easier to put up, and safer for the occupants.  Further, if we give take into consideration Ann Sussman and Katie Chen's claim of concrete as an example of abnormal fixation, you have to wonder if the the anonymous architect of oneof the Roman Empire's greatest monuments-the dome of the Pantheon (125 CE)-was emotionally scarred by Trajan's wars with the Parthians.

The aversion to ornament and the trend towards more clear and undecorated architecture was already well-established before Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius's period of significance.  Austrian architect Adolf Loos rowed against the slavery of decoration bound to centuries of privilege.  His famous essay Ornament and Crime (1910) trumpeted,

Soon the streets of the town will glisten like white walls.  Like Zion, the holy city, the metropolis of heaven.  Then we shall have fulfillment.

Mr. Anderson writes, "There was a certain logic to his messianic proclamations; he recognized that times were changing fast and architecture needed to adapt.  It made little sense to spend time and effort carving details into on building whose function would soon change."  Carving ornament into stone seem neurotic on its own, writing, he modern or mentalist is a straggler, or pathological case.  He rejects even his own products within three years.  Italian Futureist Antonio Sant'Elia seconded that thought in his 1914 manifesto, declaring,

The decorative must be abolished...the importance of the facade must be diminished; issues of toast must be transplanted from the field of fussy molding [...] Let us make an end of monumental, funereal and commemorative architecture.

Modern architecture was about the show, not tell.  Frank Lloyd Wright even encouraged this concept in  An Autobiography (1943), writing, Let us abolish in the art and craft of architecture, literature in any symbolic form whatsoever.

Darren Anderson observes, "It seemed particularly anachronistic to keep carving caryatids and gargoyles in a developing world's of steel and glass, electricity, cinema, and modern signage."  Indeed, it seem ridiculously out-of-date to keep carving caryatids and gargoyles for buildings that were more dynamic and streamlined, a reference automobile design.  Streamline Moderne was inspired by ship design.  Le Corbusier showed an affinity for cars by writing a book dedicated to them and co-designing a car.  By contrast, Walter Gropius preferred rail cars.  Both architects brought these lessons into their own work.  Mr. Anderson writes, "The spirit was one of inspiration rather than alienation."  Le Corubsier announced,

We claim in the name of the steamship, of the airplane, and of the motor car,..., the right to health, to logic, daring, harmony, perfection.

Although architects are not immune from egotism, Le Corbusier exhibits an element of humility in this state.  Walter Gropius's Total Theater (1927;; date accessed Feb. 26, 2018) was intended as a modular building "where the vision of the architect would not impeded the set designer or audience, a building impersonal that it never restrains him from giving full play to his vision and imagination, a building whose spatial treatment stimulates and refreshes the human spirit.

The Fagus Factory (1911-13;; March 28, 2015; date accessed Feb. 26, 2018) in Alfeld, Germany is the best example, according to Mr. Anderson, of all these developments.  The Fagus Factory, designed by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, brought Modernism out of its long incubation period.  Mr. Anderson writes, "Gropius did so not through transparency.  By constructing a glass curtain wall, a relatively recent technological innovation, he offered factory workers access to natural light."  This innovation allowed Walter Gropius to fulfill his dream of an architect who, as he boldly declared  at the Folkwang Museum in 1911,

...will attend not only to light, air, and cleanliness in the design of his buildings and work spaces, but will also take cognizance of those basic sentiments of beauty that even uneducated workers possess.

It is pretty easy to forget that earlier buildings were unsafe, dark, dank, inefficient edifices.  He followed up the Fagus Factory with his Factory and Office Building (1914) for "the Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne with it glass spiral staircase offering access to work spaces as well as dance floors and a restaurant."  Mr. Anderson observes, "It is astonishing that these fragments of the future were con structured in the age of the Kaiser.  And it is evident that Walter Gropius's form of Modernims was already fully formed before he fired a single shot in combat."

There is no denying the fact that the First World War had an enormous impact on architecture, as well as every element of Western life.  Our contemporary understanding of pre-war societies may have been filtered through a Downton Abby prism, "but there was little enthusiasm or money to begin building palaces or carving heraldic symbols for regimes that had sent millions of young meant to be multilateral int eh trenches."  

Darren Anderson finds part fault with the architects touting Year Zero credentials, it is pretty easy to make the case that Modernism has no need for tradition.  Once the Modernists bluster settled down, they had to concede that yes, Modernism had use for tradition.  Le Corbuiser acknowledged,

Today I am accused of being a revolutionary,.., yet I confess to having had only one master: the past: and only one discipline: the study of the past.

When he looked for clarity and grandeur, he focused on the Parthenon.  His declaration that a new age has begun  was qualified by the addition of a new Middle Age.  He continued,

 I chose the most zealous fighters for a cause, those to whom, we, we of the 20th century, are now ready to become the equals: the early Medieval architects... logic, truth, honesty.

Walter Gropius also sought a historical model and name for the design school he founded.  For this purpose, he recalled the medieval guilds where the different crafts would collaborate and integrate their talents, using Lionel Feininger's gothic cathedral woodblock print for the cover of his Bauhaus Manifesto (1919).

It is very useful especially to examine and question the places that we inhabit and the people who make them.  It is also important to continue to question the places and their makers even after we arrive at a tidy answer.  Ann Sussman and Katie Chen's  essay for Common Edge "The Mental Disorders that Gave Us Modern Architecture" offers all too pat reason why Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier designed the way they did.  Dismissing Le Corbusier's uncluttered aesthetic to autism and Walter Gropius's monolithic buildings as a byproduct of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder does a real dis-services to these very real mental illnesses and disregards the decades Modernism spent gestating before springing forth in the early 20th century.  Attributing Modernism to mental illness also ignores Le Corbuiser's interest in polychromy and Walter Gropius's use of the vernacular.  

Darren Anderson writes, "At the age of 3, Louis Kahn was horrifically burned and scarred for life, having red hot coals into his apron.  His buildings and teachings are awe-inspiring and meditative."  Frank Lloyd Wright had a long and fruitful career following the tragic death of his lover, her children, and colleagues after they were murdered by a hatchet-wielding "crazy guy" who burned down Taliesin.  Frank Lloyd Wright carried that burden yet, as he continued and got, he drew inspiration from around the globe.  Trauma is everywhere but how an individuals chooses to deal with is idiosyncratic.  Free will aside, there are so many components that factor into design and decisions that should make us question any and all encompassing reason.

Ann Sussman and Katie Chen's article provide with thought provoking and useful questions and tools but we should be cautious about mistaking one element for the whole puzzle.  We, the consumers of architecture and design, are part of the connection between architecture and psychology.  Assigning modern and traditona to simplified binaries is also a dis-service by failing to recognize that "beauty and utility exist in all styles and ages, e limit ourselves when we can ill afford to."

Monday, February 12, 2018

What Can Cities Do About Immigration; January 23, 2018

Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a fresh week on the blog, coming to you from the usual hideout.  The Winter Olympics, from PyeongChang, South Korea, are upon us.  The Winter Games opened with all the appropriate pomp and ceremony, including crowd favorite Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless oiled up Tongan flag bearer.  The big news was North and South Korea walking in together, under one flag.  Definitely a moment in history.  Even Vice President Mike Pence's sour expression and feeble attempt at protest could not dampen the excitement of the moment.  Blogger is happy to report that the United States has won medals in Team Figure Skating, Luge (a first), and Snowboarding. Go Team 

Second, Mr. Donald Trump's big beautiful infrastructure plan has finally been released into the atmosphere.  As promised, it seeks to turn $200 billion, doled out in the form of grants to the states, into $1.5 trillion in new construction.  The administration is hoping the announcement of this intiative will divert attention away from the fact that over the weekend, two of Mr. Trump's closet aides, Rob Porter and David Sorenson, were forced to resign in disgrace over allegations of domestic violence.  His aide, former staff secretary Rob Porter, was one of about thirty people working in the White House without security clearance.  Apparently, Chief of Staff John Kelly knew about it, yet gave Mr. Porter more responsibility.  For what purpose is anyone's guess but suffice it to say, this should never have happened.  Of course never one to pass a good moment to tweet, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to defend Mr. Porter, saying he believed in his innocence, wishing him well, and lamented how he was never going to recover from these accusations.  Domestic violence is a serious felony crime that often goes unreported because of men like Mr. Trump who refuse to believe the individuals who report them.  This should never ever be the case.  Too often, reports of domestic violence get swept aside, considered a private matter.  No they are not.  Alright, on to today's subject: Immigration reform.

One the biggest priorities in the Trump administration is reducing immigration by any and all means necessary, even it means shutting down the federal government.  While the nation tries to make sense (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) of all the confusing messages (; Jan. 11, 2018;  date accessed Feb. 12, 2018)  coming from the White House; Congress madly dashes to create a reform agenda (; Jan. 17, 2018; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) that will engender bipartisan support.  Taking a look at the national conversation on immigration, it is not too difficult to sense anger, dysfunction, and basic disagreement over what it means to an American (; Jan. 20, 2018; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018)

Juliana Kerr offers a glimmer of light at the end of the immigration reform tunnel in her CityLab article "Want Immigration Reform? Look to Cities," " the local level, things look quite different: Cities across the country are consistently, decisively, and increasingly leading with polices of migrant inclusion and integration."

Here is a real fact, "There are over 244 million migrants [; Oct. 25, 2017; date accessed Feb.12, 2018] today, contributing 9.4 percent of global GDP."  Since most of the immigrants live in metropolitan (; Dec. 1, 2015; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) regions, cities large and small acknowledge their stake in the ongoing debate and are creating polices to promote the social and economic inclusion of migrants and refugees.  The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which Ms. Kerr is the director of the global cities and immigration, has studied the economic impact of immigration for over 10 years and offers nonpartisan solutions to the contemporary realities and analyzes how cities can remain competitive in the global economy.  When it comes to immigration, two key issues intersect.

Juliana Kerr writes, "While we prepare for the next federal-level showdown over immigration policy, cities can institute practical initiatives, may of which which were recently highlighted at the 2017 National Immigration Integration Conference [; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018]."  Here several way to approach the issue writhing and without city limits.

"Create a mayor's office for immigrant affairs or new Americans"

A mayor's office for immigrant affairs would be tasked with providing a variety of services in support of immigrant integration.  These service would include financial literacy, citizenship workshops, and access to Englingh language classes.  New York City (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) established The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in 1984 however, between 2008 and 2015, there has been marked increase (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) in the number of similar offices opening up in cities such as Atlanta (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018); Chicago (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018); Nashville (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018); and Seattle (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018).  This has expanded to cities such as Anchorage, Alaska; Fargo, North Dakota, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.  These cities were chosen for the New American Economy's Gateways for Growth (; Sept. 12, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) awards, which "which provides matching grants and technical assistance to develop strategic plans for immigrant communities."

"Reassert municipal law enforcement's commitment to public safety"

Contrary to what Mr. Trump and his administration says, the sanctuary city movement (; Jan. 26, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) does not provide immunity to any and all undocumented immigrants.  Once again, it does not: rather it "...reasserts that cites will not use limited local enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws."  This was the rationale behind Los Angeles Mayor Eric J. Garcetti's excutive directive "Standing with Immigrants: A City of Safety, Refuge, and Opportunity for All ( March 21, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018).  Mayor Garcetti's executive directive was designed to "enhance public safety for all residents."  In Los Angeles, police officers are not allowed to arrest a person solely based on their immigration status, because,

...when people feel confident that they can come forward as a victim or a witness to crime, irrespective of immigration status, the police department's ability to protect and serve all is enhanced.

"Develop programs to support undocumented residents"

The cities of Seattle (; April 5, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018), Washington D.C. (; Jan. 9, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018), and Los Angeles (; June 21, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) have established defense funds (; Jan. 9, 2017) to cover legal fees facing deportation.  Juliana Kerr writes, "The late San Francisco Mayor  Ed Lee non ounces the city would cover [; Sept. 21, 2017 date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] the DACA renewal application fees for residents. Chicago offers the Star Scholarship [; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018]--free education at City Colleges of Chicago--to all who qualify, regardless of immigration status."

"Implement municipal ID programs"

A municipal identity card provides everyone (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018)--regardless of citizenship status--with access to important benefits like a library card, pre-paid debit cards, and public transportation.  Chicago launched its "CityKey" (; Dec. 14, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) this past December, which began as an identity card to help undocumented immigrant feel part of the city.

"Explore strategic priorities with city council members"

There are several other strategies in process that more cities can take on, test, and adapt it to meet their needs.  Ms. Kerr reports, "Salt Lake City, for example, is looking into the possibility of offering a tax credit to companies who provide ESL [English as a Second Language] to employees."  In the Rust Belt city of Akron, Ohio, immigrants are a demographic life saver (; March 23, 2017;  date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) as the city's native-born population continues to dwindle; "the city recently released a 'strategic welcome plan' [; Oct. 18, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] to be a more welcoming place in an era of federal hostility."

"Join coalitions for collective action"

Some meaningful actions go beyond a city's limits.  One example is Cities for Action (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018), a coalition of 150 American mayors.  An organization like CFA can enhance individual efforts and provide a sharing platform for best practices and add their name to a group statements such as the letter that demanded the administration continue Temporary Protection Status for Salvadoran in the U.S. (Ibid).  Another example is the Welcoming America (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) network, a non-profit agency founded in 2009, to provide support to inclusive communities.

"Collaborate with suburban leaders"

This is crucial to bridging the urban-suburban divide around the subject of immigration (; Dec. 5, 2016).  Ms. Kerr writes, "The 2016 Chicago Council Survey highlighted this phenomenon, with outer-ring suburban residents 15 percentage points more likely to support deportation and reject a path to citizenship."  To close the gap, some urban mayors, as in Boston and the Chicago Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) have begu meeting with community leaders to develop a regional approach toward immigration.

"Push for change at the state level"

Goes without saying, change in immigration strategies is also in the best interest of a state.  Civic leaders are working with state officials to enact state-level laws (; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018such as offering drivers' licenses and offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants (California does this).  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner followed Chicago's lead and signed the Trust Act in August 2017 (; Aug. 28, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018.

"Demand a seat at the global table"

As cities and metropolitan regions absorb more migrants and refugees, they can no longer be ignored by internal agencies.  Juliana Kerr reports, "Many cities signed a petition requesting a role [; Dec. 5, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] in the UN's Global Compact on MIgration."  Mayors representing New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia have insisted "that it is imperative that municipalities be included in global cooperation, even if the country has withdrawn [; Dec. 3, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] national-level engagement."  The cities must work aggressively and consistently to be active participants.

Absolutely there are plenty of things cities cannot do to aid immigrants and refugees: they may not be able to increase the H1-B (temporary worker) visa quotas, grant legal status to undocumented immigrants, or expand TPS.  However, with innovative municipal policies and collective action, they can build the necessary momentum and create norms for badly needed reforms.  While the Trump administration continues to plod its way through how to proceed, cities need to keep moving forward as champions of inclusion and integration.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: How Are Going To Pay For This?; February 2, 2018
         ; January 23, 2018

Hello Everyone:

It is a gorgeous and sunny Wednesday, which means time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Once again, Yours Truly is coming to you from an undisclosed location, thanks to a scheduled event at the usual place.  Quick reminder to American fans and followers, Mid-Term Election primaries are almost here and if you if have not registered to vote, stop reading and go to for information.  Also, if you are DACA-eligible and still need to renew, please stop reading and go to for the application and all information.  Alright, on to the next agenda item.

Blogger supposes you all have heard the new that Mr. Donald Trump wants a big French-inspired military parade.  Seriously.  No real reason for it, he just wants to waste taxpayer time and money showing off how much he loves the American military.  Blogger has a better idea on how to display your affection bordering on obsession for the military.  Instead spending all the time and money on a one-off event, how about using it toward creating state-of-the-art medical and mental health facilities for veterans.  While we are on the subject, how about establishing a programs that support military families?  Much better use of the millions or billions you want to waste on a parade.  Another suggestion for all that taxpayer money, improving the American infrastructure system, which brings us to today's subject.

One of the things Mr. Trump campaigned on was fixing American roads, bridges, electrical and plumbing systems, airports, and so forth.  Yet, it seems that his priorities are more focused on building a border wall and a big splashy military parade.  Blogger digresses.  Of course the White House has a plan for repairing infrastructure.  We start our discussion with a leaked document (if you believe the headline and the document itself), published by Axios (; Jan. 22, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018), "No numbers, no funding sources, no percentage matches, reported by Laura Bliss in her CityLab article "The White House's Leaked Infrastructure Plan Is a Road Map With Few Details."  The fact that Ms. Bliss questions the veracity of the document, tells us that either it is just a draft and not the final version or its contents are not certain.  Regardless, let us take a look at it.

Ms. Bliss writes, "President Trump has been promising a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild the nation's crumbling roads, bridges, and water pipes since will before he was elected.  A year and nearly a month on, the promise has not materialized.  Although, some sort plan in principle has emerged, calling for an infrastructure spending package of about $1.5 trillion (; Feb. 6, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018), the plan is still light on specifics

The source of the document may have been Jeff Davis, a lobbyist and senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, and Reuters reporter David Shepardson, both of whom "tweeted that the document's metadata reveal it author to be a member of D.C. lobbying firm."  The administration remains tight lipped, telling Axios:

We are not going to comment on the contents of a leaked document but look forward to presenting our plan in the near future.

Despite its dubious origin, the document appears to be in concert with ideas the administration has presented in meetings with infrastructure experts.  Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution Metroplitan Policy Program told CityLab via email,

Everything looks exactly like what we and other were briefed on.

In essence, the leaked document presents three federal funding programs without specifying their cost.

The first and largest program is the Infrastructure Incentives Iniatitve.  Ms. Bliss writes, "This program would use 50 percent of the unstated total funding amount to encourage state, local and private investment in core infrastructure by revising incentives in the form of grants."

Projects eligible for this program include surface transportation, passenger trains, clean drinking water, hydropower projects, and a variety of similar projects.  The federal contribution would be limited to 20 percent, "a dramatic decline from the 40 percent the government currently [ays on average for transportation and water infrastructure build-outs according to the Congressional Budget Office [; March 2017; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018].  Transportation consultant and researcher Yonah Freemark tweeted, "urban transit projects often receive even more--upward 50 percent--from the feds" (; Jan. 22, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018).

The second programs is the grandly titled Transformative Projects Program which would allocate 10 percent of the total outlay to support exploratory and ground-breaking ideas in "transportation, water, energy, telecommunications, and commercial space."  As much as 80 percent of federal funds could be earmarked for capital construction costs.  Laura Bliss opines, "Perhaps Elon Musk's famous 'verbal approval' for building a Hyperloop along the northeast corridor [; Dec. 13, 2017; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018] wasn't such a joke after all."  

The third program is the Rural Infrastructure Program, which would set aside 25 percent of the funds toward transportation, water, energy, and broadband iniatives in rural communities that require federal monies to get built.  These programs were outlined in the leaked document, with no specific monies attached to them.

In his maiden State of The Union speech, Mr. Trump boldly announced that he intended to turn $200 billion in federal money into $1.5 trillion dedicated to fixing America;s infrastructure by leveraging local and state tax revenue and private investment (; Feb 2, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018)  An administration spokesperson told CNNMoney that "their internal estimates found that the $200 billion could shake looks a total of between $800 billion and $1.5 trillion in other investments,...," but failed to further elaborate on the point.

Lydia DePillis wrote in her article "infrastructure plan rests on some strong assumptions," that progressives have criticized the proposed $200 billion as pitifully inadequate, "saying that states and cities are already burned by pension debt and would not be able to raise enough money to finance the 80% of the cost of major project as a leaked draft (; Jan. 22, 2018) said would be required..."

Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois told a press call arranged by the liberal advocacy group Progressive Change Campaign Committee,

While [Trump] just gave away trillion in tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, he is putting a pittance on the table and expecting cash-strapped state and local governments to come up with the lion's share.

Left leaning think tanks such as the Economic Policy Institute (; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (; Jan. 30, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) also expressed skepticism, "pointing out that the Trump administration has previously. Proposed large cuts to infrastructure spending by Amtrak and programs like TIGER grants [; Oct. 18, 2017; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018], an Obama-era pot of money for transportation projects awarded on a competitive basis."

Speaking to CNN, Jeff Davis, of the Eno Center for Trasnportation, said that "while it's feasible to drum up $1.5 trillion in total spending with $200 billion in federal money, the proposal relies on some dubious assumptions."

To help us better comprehend the White House's position, Mr. Davis explained the math.  "According to the leaked document, half of the $200 billion will go toward incentive grants that can only make up 20% of any given project, so that part would lead to $500 billion in total investment."  Are you following along?

Next, "Another $70 billion would go toward grants for rural areas and 'transformative' projects that are more experimental, with the Feds picking up between 30% and 100% of the tab."  Mr. Davis went on to state "that amount can leverage $20 billion, so let's be generous and round up the total to $100 billion."

According to Mr. Davis's calculations the "$170 billion from Washington has gotten us to $600 billion in total investment with $30 billion in federal spending."  This begs the question, "Where does the extra $400 billion to $900 billion come from?"

Most of it is found in the fine print of the leaked draft of the insfrastructure plan (; Jan. 22, 2018).  The additional billions would come from increased funding for the federal infrastructure credit programs (; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) that provide lines of credit, loans and guarantees to transoportation agencies and utilities a wide variety of projects.

Lydia DePillis reports, "Recent loans through these programs have leveraged about $15 million for every $1 million of credit assistance.  If such loans were only part of a financing package, the leverage ration could get as high as 45-to-1, although Davis found in 2015 [; Dec. 15, 2015; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018] that there weren't enought projects that could qualify for assistance under the program's rules."  These projects were considered to big of a credit risk or lacked the proper permits.

Jeff Davis told CNN, These assumption may be fanciful, but they are bipartisan.  Mr. Davis pointed that Democrats have also attempted to leverage small amounts of federal capital to bring in large amounts of private and local money.

People who create private investment in public infrastructure through, for example pensions and private equity funds, believe that the administration proposal could make a lot of deals happen that would not happen otherwise.

Kent Rowey, a partner at Allen and Overy a firm specializing in public private partnerships, told CNN,

Literally dozens of these funds have raised for the purpose of investing in infrastructure,... There's more product than demand at the moment, because we haven't had the catalyst at the federal level to really kick it into high gear. ...It's a terrific idea.

Private investors can see a return through user fees like highway tolls, or dedicated revenue streams, such as sale taxes.  However, Mr. Rowey admits "that model works best in large population centers with robust tax bases, not rural areas or shrinking Rust Belt towns that could really use the help."

Further, a report issued by the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee (;  date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) posited that "relying on private investment is risky and can cost more than direct taxpayer funding, since investors expect a healthy return."  The report observed that previous public-private partnerships have not been negotiated properly, shutting out competition that could have resulted in better pricing and public services.

What this all mean at the end of the day?  While it is theoretically possible to turn $200 billion in federal funding into $1.5 trillion dedicated to repairing America's crumbling infrastructure, it probably is not the smartest idea.