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Showing posts from 2011

Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Report

Delivering Energy Efficiency to
Middle Income Single Family Households

A study released today by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) identifies steps that energy efficiency program managers and policy makers can take to deliver significant savings on home energy bills to middle income U.S. households.Middle income households – those making about $32,500 to $72,500 per year – account for a third of total U.S. residential energy use and figure prominently in meeting energy savings targets that now exist in most states.
The report offers a variety of strategies for making inroads on this challenging market, including:
Improving the effectiveness and appeal of outreach efforts specific to this market;Increasing access to financing through credit enhancements, alternative underwriting, and new financial products;Addressing health, safety and building structural issues in conjunction with efficiency upgrades;Bringing additional complementary public policies into…

HAS Manhattan gone MAD?

December 18, 2011 Rules Stretched as Green Cards Go to Investors By and Affluent foreigners are rushing to take advantage of a federal immigration program that offers them the chance to obtain a green card in return for investing in construction projects in the United States. With credit tight, the program has unexpectedly turned into a mainstay for the financing of these projects in New York, California, Texas and other states.
The number of foreign applicants, each of whom must invest at least $500,000 in a project, has nearly quadrupled in the last two years, to more than 3,800 in the 2011 fiscal year, officials said. Demand has grown so fast that the Obama administration, which is championing the program, is seeking to streamline the application process.
Still, some critics of the program have described it as an improper use of the immigration system to spur economic development — a cash-for-visa…

The Metro Movement

By BRUCE KATZ Amid recent calls that government needs to be put in the hands of the states, people seem to be forgetting that many state governments are bordering on dysfunctional. Albany is a national laughing stock. California has given new meaning to the term "ungovernable." Governors Sanford, Blagojevich and Paterson are late-night talk show punch lines.
Enlarge Image Getty Images In November, 37 states will hold elections for governor. State candidates will likely hit the campaign trail calling for a heavy dose of reform: Tighter ethics rules for legislators and more aggressive enforcement of those rules. New codes for lobbyists and lobbying. A commitment to transparency in decision making.
Yet the Great Recession and the fiscal meltdown require states to do more. Most critically, they must do the hard work of overhauling their bloated networks of local governments (all created by state law) so that they align more closely with the metropolitan geography o…

Brain drain? Many young South Floridians seek brighter economic prospects elsewhere

Three recent studies reveal that South Florida suffers from an unhappy confluence of economic and demographic factors that prompt younger residents to seek a brighter future elsewhere Lauren Hord, 31, moved back to Seattle from South Florida in August of this year with her kids Biala, 2, and Harley, 3. Courtesy of Lauren Hord By Deborah When Christina Caldwell moved back to her native Miami after living out west for six years, she planned to remain. But after two years of dead-end jobs as a bartender and receptionist, she left for California — for good. She now makes more than $100,000 a year at a post-production company in Venice Beach.
“I would never, ever move back to Miami,” she says.
Christina is not alone: South Florida is losing young people in droves, according to recent national and local studies. The area’s high unemployment rate, lack of innovative jobs and huge income gaps have created a…

Working Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico.

The Mexico Institute, part of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, is pleased to present its newest publication, Working Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico. The report looks at the ways in which regional economic cooperation can enhance competitiveness, stimulate growth and create jobs.

Mexico already buys more U.S. products than any other nation except Canada, but more than just an export market, Mexico and the United States are partners in manufacturing. Through a process known as production sharing, the two countries actually work together to build products. Imports from Mexico are therefore unlike imports from any extra-continental partner in the way they support U.S. jobs and exports. A full 40% of the content in U.S. imports from Mexico is actually produced in the United States (See page 17 of the report). This means that forty cents of every dollar spent on imports from Mexico comes back to the U.S., a quantity ten times greater than th…

Local and regional governance crucial to sustainability debate

-UCLG Press Release-

Local and regional governance crucial to sustainability debate

500 local and regional leaders came together in Florence for UCLG World Council

At the invitation of Matteo Renzi, Mayor of Florence, the City of Florence hosted 500 local and regional representatives from over 40 different countries gathered in the UCLG World Council from 9 to 11 December.

The main decisions of the UCLG World Council focus on the definition of the UCLG Strategy for the coming six years and pay particular attention to the contribution of local and regional authorities to the international debate on sustainability around Rio +20.

In his opening address, the President of UCLG stressed that building governance from the bottom up will be crucial for the future of our planet. Our citizens are taking the streets demanding solutions. We the local and regional leaders will need to be engaged in the global solution that is being sought. The Florence Declaration, recalling the core values of the citi…

Lincoln's Dissertation Fellowship Program announced

The annual C. Lowell Harriss Dissertation Fellowship Program of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy invites applications from doctoral students who are writing dissertations in fields that address these areas of interest:

Valuation and Taxation
Planning and Urban Form

This fellowship program provides an important link between the Lincoln Institute’s educational mission and its research objectives by supporting scholars early in their careers. Please distribute or post this information in your academic department. Applications are due by email on or before February 1, 2012.

The description and Dissertation Fellowship Program Application Guidelines are available at our Fellowships page; or download the guidelines directly.  If after reviewing this material you have further questions, please contact

Information about other fellowship programs for graduate students at universities in Latin America or China is available here.

IDB launches plan for Latin America’s emerging cities

Goal is to improve infrastructure by supporting sustainable investments. By Ligia Hougland for—29/03/2011 “In Latin America, emerging cities have a role to play in climate change or they could become victims of that change,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank. (Ligia Hougland for
CALGARY, Canada – Latin America, along with the rest of the world, is becoming more urbanized every day.
That’s what Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said during a presentation on the Sustainable Emerging Cities Platform during the organization’s 52nd annual meeting in Calgary, Canada.
Moreno said despite the fact that cities like Cairo, Egypt; Mumbai, India; São Paulo, Brazil; and Mexico City receive the bulk of the media’s attention, most of the world’s urban centers are small or medium-sized cities.
Moreno also pointed out there are more than 3,500 medium-sized …

Another Climate Change report for Cities

The fourth issue of United Cities is online This issue features a special report on Climate change, sustainable cities and aid effectiveness. The fourth edition of United Cities adresses questions such as: What can cities expect from Durban COP17 meetings? Why local governments can be vital development partners? How can we get citizens to think green? This edition features an interview with the Secretary General of UCLG, Josep Roig and with the President of Metropolis, Jean-Paul Huchon. Read the fourth edition in e-readable format La quatrième édition de United Cities est en ligne
Cette édition contient un rapport spécial sur le changement climatique, les villes durables et l’efficacité de l’aide. La quatrième édition de United Cities répond à une série de questions comme : que peuvent attendre les villes des réunions de Durban sur le changement climatique ? Pourquoi les autorités locales sont des partenaires essentiels du développement ? Comment les citoyens peuvent-ils penser écologique…

On Writing

Your ability to exchange ideas, collaborate with others, and ultimately succeed hinges on the ability to write effectively. Here are some timeless tips, straight from the pens of the world’s most renowned authors, to help you develop both style and substance.


I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret. ~Matthew Arnold

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them. ~John Ruskin

Try to always write with your readers in mind. What do they need to know and want to know? If you have nothing to say, or what you say has no meaning for the reader, there is no point in writing it.


I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil. ~Truman Capote

Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very. Your edi…

City Finances in America

November 16, 2011 Mayor Urges Detroit to Accept Drastic Action to Fix Finances New York Times By DETROIT — In an address broadcast live on television stations across this city, Mayor Dave Bing told Detroit on Wednesday evening that its finances were in dismal shape and that without major concessions from unions, the privatizing of some city services and layoffs, Detroit would run out of money by early next year.
“Simply put, our city is in a financial crisis and city government is broken,” Mr. Bing said, adding later: “The reality we’re facing is simple. If we continue down the same path, we will lose the ability to control our own destiny.”
He asked for big pay cuts from city workers, a rise in the corporate tax rate and a lowering of payouts from the pension system.
Mr. Bing’s remarks were rare for a mayor, even in long-troubled Detroit, both because of the depth of the problem he outlined and because of the audience he chose to share…

Goodbye, Sidewalks: London Planners Break Down Boundaries Between Cars and Pedestrians

Advocates for livable streets usually push for more sidewalks and bike lanes to protect pedestrians and cyclists from cars. Division is seen as the key to safety and participation. But a new project in London questions the idea of barriers to begin with, envisioning a "shared space" for the intermingling of vehicles and walkers. It may seem chaotic, but planners believe it could foster a more accessible, safer, pedestrian-friendlier thoroughfare by forcing everyone to slow down and be aware of who's on the road.
Exhibition Road in London—a half-mile strip in the city's cultural heart that draws 11 million visitors each year to its numerous museums and cultural institutions—will reopen next month without clear lane markers or curbs. As The Guardiandescribes it, the new design "is about suggestion rather than certainty." Similar projects on other streets in London have decreased accidents involving pedestrians, showing that both walkers and drive…

The Truth about America

Op-Ed Columnist The Inequality Map By Josh Haner/The New York Times Published: November 10, 2011 Foreign tourists are coming up to me on the streets and asking, “David, you have so many different kinds of inequality in your country. How can I tell which are socially acceptable and which are not?”
This is an excellent question. I will provide you with a guide to the American inequality map to help you avoid embarrassment.
Academic inequality is socially acceptable. It is perfectly fine to demonstrate that you are in the academic top 1 percent by wearing a Princeton, Harvard or Stanford sweatshirt.
Ancestor inequality is not socially acceptable. It is not permissible to go around bragging that your family came over on the Mayflower and that you are descended from generations of Throgmorton-Winthrops who bequeathed a legacy of good breeding and fine manners.
Fitness inequality is acceptable. It is perfectly fine to we…

Extra Aid

Foundations Play an Increasing Role in International Development Although foundations have boosted their involvement in global issues over the past decade, questions remain as to whether philanthropy is equipped to play a larger role in international development, the Guardian reports.
According to The Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances 2011 (35 pages, PDF), a new report from the Hudson Institute, official development assistance from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development members totaled $120 billion in 2009, private capital investment in developing countries totaled another $258 billion, and global remittances — transfers of money by workers in foreign countries to their home countries — totaled some $174 billion. While the $53 billion total from philanthropic sources lags those figures, it represents a significant chunk of total funding for international development activities.
According to Dr. Noshua Watson, a research fellow at the UK-based In…

Cooking the Books

Fight over Argentina’s inflation rate pits government against private economistsBy , Published: October 31Washington Post BUENOS AIRES — Graciela Bevacqua’s work, compiling inflation figures that turn out to be sharply at odds with Argentine government statistics, clearly irritates officials. First came a $125,000 fine, followed by a criminal complaint against her team of 20 university students.
These days, with the government basking in President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’sresounding reelection victory last month, Bevacqua and a smattering of economic consultancies that compile inflation figures make up a lonely dissidents movement.
Facing government sanctions, most continue to calculate their own inflation figures. But they do it quietly, their findings used mainly in private reports issued to clients, economists sanctioned by the government said in interviews.
“I feel that I am carrying out serious research and providing an alternative to the government p…

My Favorite Authors: William Julius Wilson

William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He is one of only 20 University Professors, the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member. After receiving the Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1966, Wilson taught sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1972. In 1990 he was appointed the Lucy Flower University Professor and director of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. He joined the faculty at Harvard in July of 1996.

Past President of the American Sociological Association, Wilson has received 44 honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and New York University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, Wilson has been elected to the …

The Design of Cities, Intelligent or Otherwise


Swiss Dots Downtown Detroit as seen in the documentary "Urbanized."
New York Times By A. O. SCOTT Published: October 27, 2011 Those of us who live in cities — more than half the world’s population, according to many recent estimates — experience them mainly at eye and street level. Each urban environment has its own character and can therefore seem more like the result of natural processes than of complex human intentions. A city develops organically, through the complex interplay of economics, biology and countless local, individual decisions, but also by means of planning on the part of architects, engineers and politicians.

The mingling of design and happenstance is, to some extent, the deep subject of “Urbanized,” Gary Hustwit’s fascinating, idea-packed new documentary. In this remarkably concise film — which could easily have sprawled to 15 hours on public television — Mr. Hustwit and his crew survey both the challenges and promises facin…