The Case For Localizing Federal Transportation Policy

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

[This article has been modified and updated from a Capitol Hill briefing I gave for the Cato Institute. You can watch the full speech here.]

Should the federal government dictate urban policy? This seems to be the default assumption among many Republicans and Democrats, for pet issues ranging from housing to infrastructure to immigration. But for those who care about cities, this approach may be wrong for two reasons. The first is that the federal government redirects tax revenue away from cities and into less productive rural areas, amounting to a raw deal for major metros.… Read more

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A Conversation With Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Oklahoma City, OK–With Donald Trump’s election—along with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and Republican governorships in 31 states–this would seem like a golden age for the GOP. And yet something about the party feels unsustainable. Their branding, now rooted more in nativism and white identity politics than in promoting liberalized markets, is unpopular in urban areas. According to an Atlantic Magazine report, this recent election, for all its supposed race and gender divides, was really about city versus country.… Read more

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Oklahoma City’s MAPS Is A Model Public Works Program

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Oklahoma City, OK–There have been numerous failures throughout the history of public works initiatives, with different major U.S. cities subject to bureaucracy, graft and poor design. And then there’s the program in Oklahoma City. Since 1993, the state capital has pursued multiple stages of its Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), funding structures that have been credited with reviving the city. And it has done this the right way, following accounting principles that seem lost on bigger cities. Recently I visited some projects and spoke with officials who were instrumental behind MAPS, to hear what other cities could learn…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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San Antonio: Growth And Success In The Mexican-American Capital

[Originally printed in the San Antonio Business Journal (paywall) and republished by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism]

 

[Ed’s note: this was part of a larger project by Joel Kotkin’s think tank, the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, to explain the growth of Texas’ cities. Scott’s essay is on pg. 40 of the pdf.]

 

San Antonio, TX — For decades, as many U.S. cities declined, and others became overly exclusive, cities in Texas evolved into places of opportunity. Due in large part to liberalized economic policies, the state’s “Big Four” metro areas — Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio — consistently rank among the nation’s leaders in population growth and job growth, experiencing the rapid urbanization once common among America’s legacy cities.… Read more

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Does President Obama Have A ‘Regionalism’ Agenda?

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

[Editor’s note: Scott wrote this article in 2012 after President Obama’s reelection, and provides a modified version here. It reviews a book claiming that the president would use his second term to usher in a “regionalism” agenda bent on controlling local land use. The book was an interesting precursor to Obama’s recent urban policies, which some have found extreme and others mild. Scott will use the president’s final 6 months in office to analyze these policies, both for Market Urbanism and Forbes.Read more

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When Outsourcing Works

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Oklahoma City, OK–Many public services are now outsourced. From education and transit to garbage pickup and park maintenance, there’s a notion that nongovernmental organizations can do things better. Certainly, privatization has seen its share of successes and failures. But one of those successes is economic development — at least in Oklahoma City.

Since the beginning, economic development in Oklahoma City has been handled not by a public entity as in many cities, but by the Chamber of Commerce. Putting the chamber or other private groups in charge of economic development has long been common at the local level.… Read more

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puertorico

Puerto Rico’s Business Climate Problem

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Juan, PR–Puerto Rico has defaulted, again. After failing to pay a $58 million bill in August of 2015, it defaulted on May 2 on $422 million in bond payments. This has reignited calls for Congress to bail out the U.S. territory, helping fix a financial situation harmed by unfunded pension obligations, rampant welfare reliance, and a near decade-long recession. But a bailout wouldn’t address the underlying conditions that have discouraged growth. For this, the island needs a better business climate…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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The Perils and Promises of a Popular Yet Controversial Financing Method

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Tax increment financing (TIF) is one of the most popular financing techniques in a locality’s toolbox. It’s also one of the most unpopular methods among some policy wonks. Intended to eliminate blight in the poorest neighborhoods, TIF projects are often criticized for funneling money away from core services and to neighborhoods that are neither blighted nor poor. But the problem with TIF isn’t the policy itself. When applied properly, TIF can bring the notions of value capture and financial accountability to public works…[read the rest at Governing]… Read more

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In the Birthplace of Jazz, Noise Complaints Get Louder

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

New Orleans, LA–New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. It’s also where the blues and so many other genres have been refined. It still swarms with buskers — street performers — random parades and live music bars. But recently tension has grown between those who make the music and those living near it. Although the city’s initial response was to tamp down on the noise, it has since launched an educational campaign called Sound Check to reduce complaints while letting the music play on.… Read more

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Amid Fiscal Collapse, Chicago Teachers Union Demands Pay Raises

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

The Chicago Public School system is in shambles, worsened by a combination of recent events. First is that CPS has received several credit downgrades, attaining that all-too-familiar Chicago characteristic: ‘junk bond’ status. Second is that CPS is dealing with a $480 million budget shortfall that it wants the also-broke Illinois state government to cover. Third is that Chicago’s school system, already facing academic failure, may cut staff and close facilities. And compounding all this is that CPS must deal with a Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) who, oblivious to reality, keeps demanding more for itself…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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