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News & Notes

→ The Atlantic Cities: 8 Urban Policy Ideas for Obama’s 2nd Term

If you look at any electoral map, it is clear that Democrats dominate in urban, walkable places. Republicans dominate in the countryside and do well in the suburbs — especially in the South, the corn belt, and the Rocky Mountain states.

The problem for Republicans is that the electorate is increasingly urban. Young people want to live in walkable, urban places, and they see elected officials ignoring their concerns. Millennials are aligning themselves with growing urban minorites — African Americans, hispanics, and Asian-Americans — who identify strongly with the Democratic Party.


→ Better Cities & Towns: The electorate becomes urban — will the Republican Party adapt?

If you look at any electoral map, it is clear that Democrats dominate in urban, walkable places. Republicans dominate in the countryside and do well in the suburbs — especially in the South, the corn belt, and the Rocky Mountain states.

The problem for Republicans is that the electorate is increasingly urban. Young people want to live in walkable, urban places, and they see elected officials ignoring their concerns. Millennials are aligning themselves with growing urban minorites — African Americans, hispanics, and Asian-Americans — who identify strongly with the Democratic Party.


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Videos of Irene flooding

While many Rhode Islanders were out of power for up to a week, we escaped from the worst of Irene’s wrath.

Vermont was devestated by flooding related to the storm. In this video a 141 year-old covered bridge in Lower Bartonsville is swept away by flood waters.

This covered bridge built in 1870 could not survive the raging water of the Williams River in Lower Bartonsville village in the town of Rockingham, Windham County, VT. We were hoping all day the water would not reach the top of the abutment but the bridge lost its battle rather gracefully as it floated a bit down stream before breaking into pieces.

Our town has set up a fund to rebuild our historic bridge.

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News & Notes

→ Developers Rediscover Newark [National Real Estate Investor]

For four decades, no new hotels were built in the central business district of Newark, N.J. Crime rates were so high that lenders were reluctant to finance new construction.

But the city’s fortunes have been changing. The number of crime incidents fell from 47,000 in 1999 to 25,400 a decade later. And there is a sense in the business community that the beleaguered city’s time has come.

In April, contractors broke ground for a new $35 million Courtyard by Marriott. Nearby, a developer is proceeding with plans for an upscale, $23 million Hotel Indigo. But hotels are not the only sign of progress. Standard Chartered Bank, a major British institution, just completed a 12,000 sq. ft. expansion of its office space. And Pitney Bowes, a mail service firm, moved to a 76,000 sq. ft. location in Newark.


→ New Study: Infrastructure as a Strategic Priority [The City Fix]

Urban Land Institute, in collaboration with Ernst & Young, released a report on the global infrastructure trends and activities in 2011, and the U.S. infrastructure policies that aim to repair and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, including roads, transit and ports. Within the theme, “Downscaling Ambitions and Finding Creative Solutions,” the findings of the study overwhelmingly point to a strain on U.S. cities to maintain assets and build infrastructure projects.


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News & Notes

→ The TransportPolitic: Making Sense of Amtrak’s Vision for the Northeast

Let it be known: Amtrak’s focus is on the Northeast Corridor. While Congress may require it to provide long-distance, cross-country services, the public company owns most of the rail corridor between Boston and Washington and it intends to exploit it fully… If it gathers sufficient resources to do so.


→ Planetizen: More Vehicles Than People

Historic Massachusetts towns have reached a new milestone — the number of vehicles on the road have outnumbered the population of people. Ann Sussman looks at this “demographic” shift, and what it means for people living in the shadow of Emerson and Thoreau.

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Watch season 2 premiere of “Brick City”

Brick City” is the Peabody Award winning Sundance Channel series which follows Newark, NJ Mayor, Cory Booker. The series combines a reality style tailing of the mayor at work with citizens of the city and others to tell a compelling story of Newark. This is not a slick media piece released by the city as a marketing tool, the series tells the real story of Newark, and it is often not pretty.

The second season premieres Sunday evening on the Sundance Channel, Huffington Post is hosting the first episode on their site now, which is embedded below.

You may have heard that Cory Booker has been all over the Twitter regarding his city’s epic snowfall this winter. I follow him, the guy won’t quit. Here’s video from the New Jersey Star Ledger letting you know, that you should indeed believe the hype.

I’m all about setting up a playdate for Cory and Angel.

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News & Notes

→ The war on trains [History Eraser Button]

What the hell is going on? Opposition to trains is not some kind of Tea Party platform. You aren’t hearing anybody talk about it on Fox News or AM radio. There’s little if any populist rage against trains. Rail improvements have bipartisan support at the federal level. Trains make sense and have a proven record of helping boost local economies; they’re pork projects in the best sense of the word. [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie, especially, serves a constituency in New Jersey that depends on trains to get around every day. Additionally, in my experience, state politicians are deeply reluctant to kill projects that divert federal funds to local construction companies. And even if trains aren’t your favorite thing, and even if you think they require too much taxpayer money, they’re certainly cheaper than highways.

→ Miles Not Gallons Could Be Key to Road Upkeep [Miller-McCune]

“Tying the funding of our transportation system to a tax levied on a commodity, the consumption of which we’re trying to discourage, is probably not the best way to go,” said [Jeff] Shane, a partner at the Hogan Lovells law firm in Washington and a former undersecretary for policy at the Department of Transportation.

→ Select Bus Service Debuts on Manhattan’s Busiest Bus Route [StreetsBlog]

→ Transit Mode Share Trends Looking Steady; Rail Appears to Encourage Non-Automobile Commutes [The TransportPolitic]

→ As Suburban Poverty Grows, U.S. Fails to Respond Adequately [Next American City]

Over the last ten years, more than two-thirds of poverty growth in the nation’s metro areas occurred in the suburbs, and there are now 1.6 million more poor people living in the suburbs than in center cities. Since 2000, there has been a general increase in the nation’s poverty rate, but it has been far worse in the suburbs than in the cities—a 37.4% increase versus 16.7%. Though the poverty rate remains higher in central cities, the number of poor suburbanites is growing quickly.

Transit providers have been hit hard, too, but the fact is that the suburbs are not ready for the spread of the poor to the suburbs. That’s because areas of lower density are difficult to serve by buses and trains without expenses going through the roof and low ridership. Many new construction projects are for big expansions of the rail network downtown, where efficiencies of scale ensure actual use of these lines. In big metropolitan areas, the lack of fast transit has increased travel to work times significantly, making life harder for those who live far from their jobs—a frequent issue for those who live in the suburbs. Because for these people there frequently is no choice but to rely on the car, this means that there is no option but to reduce the number of trips taken, which is apparently what is happening to many households. But that is equivalent to less mobility for the people who arguably need it the most!

→ The High Cost of Electric Cars [Next American City]

“Am I the only one who sees GoogleCars as an improved means to an unimproved, even catastrophic end? Ice caps are melting: have a robot car!” So wrote Alex Steffen of Worldchanging on Twitter earlier this week. To reply: Alex, you’re not the only one.

I sent a similar Tweet from the Better World by Design conference when the keynote featured a slide about “Sustainable Urbanism” that showed a single family detached McMansion with an electric car in the garage. Neither sustainable nor urban in my opinion. The next speaker, from Better Place then went on about the virtues of electric cars and smart grids.

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Sundance Channel documentary looks at Newark

Created and directed by the award-winning filmmakers Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin, BRICK CITY, is a five-part documentary series that captures the daily drama of a community striving to become a better, safer, stronger place to live. Against great odds, Newark’s citizens and its Mayor, Cory A. Booker, fight to raise the city out of nearly a half century of violence, poverty and corruption.

Brick City is a five-part series that actually ran last week on the Sundance Channel, however it is being repeated through October (schedule). Next American City has a short review, here.

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