Friday, December 05, 2008

Urban issues get higher profile

Folks in the urban planning and development worlds are cheered that Barack Obama says he's creating an Office of Urban Policy.

It's about time some president did this. It makes plenty of sense, and it shouldn't have taken a Democrat from a big city to have recognized it. The problems and issues exist and the government has to deal with them regardless of who's in the White House.
And perhaps the incoming North Carolina governor, Bev Perdue, should take the notion and set up something at the state level. North Carolina's cities share some uniquely urban problems, but few people at state level are focusing on them.

For the White House job, I haven't heard many names mentioned.

But for Transportation secretary, one name I've heard while gossiping with several people is Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Portland, Ore., (at left, and note bicycle lapel pin an early and ardent supporter of Smart Growth. But take that just as gossip. I have no pipeline to the Obama transition office.


barkomomma said...

No pipeline to the Obama transition office? You should talk to Tonya Jamison! She know wassup! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if African-Americans - Tonya Jamison included - realize that the reason Obama was elected President by white folks like me is because we felt he is well-educated,morally acceptable and has the potential to be a great leader. Not because (and he didn't) have welfare childen out of wedlock, or considered the Earned Income Tax Credit and other welfare programs to be an entitlement, or spoke "Black Englsh".

I hear many African-Americans tell one another that things will be different after January 20. Great! As long as that means welfare rolls and the number of single-female African-American families will be reduced, that I'll be able to understand the voice on the speaker at the fast-food chain, and that people will actually be willing to work....hard. Right?

Cato said...


What problems do you want an Office of Urban Policy to address that haven't already had bales full of cash thrown at them by other federal authorities? (I'm talking about real problems, not the my-bike-lane-doesn't-go-by-Starbucks kind you get in gentrified areas.) What do you think HUD stands for?

The problems that cities have are inextricably linked with the economy, but also our policies regarding education, trade, law enforcement, immigration, and poverty. What is an Urban Policy office going to do about a place like Detroit or even Buffalo?

Read Thomas Wolfe's "Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers" for a delightfully cynical view of these kinds of things. If nothing else, it's a fun little piece by one of our liveliest, and most urbane, writers.

Anonymous said...

Do you even know what this new Office of Urban Policy is supposed to accomplish?? If so, you omitted its mission. And iff you are not aware, why such enthusiasm??? For all we know, the O.U.P. is foreashadowing of Obama-style job creation. And I, for one, am not down with O.U.P. Yeah, you know me.

Jumper said...

I must agree with Cato. HUD is the proper place for this. Bravo to Sen. Obama for noting the importance of these matters. And let us hope HUD will soon be run with such issues regarded and studied deeply. But competing bureaucracies may not be needed so long as management (the upcoming administration)stays on-task.

Jumper said...

I ought to note, it's pretty much the last sentence in paragraph one I agree with Cato on.

Anonymous said...

The incredible significance of this election African-Americans truly believe that this president is going to do anything but try to make this country better??? Did Jackie Robinson do anything but try to be the best ball player he could be. Not the best "black" ball player, just the best player. Barak Obama is going to be a great leader, period! He is not going to make life easier for those who don't wish to do much of anything.

Cato said...

What, you don't like Tom Wolfe?

Rick said...

Looks like the urban issue of transit could shaft the other liberal issue of union labor at the automakers. Regarding the Auto bailout on yahoo.

"Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana announced he was against the measure because of a provision to bail out transit agencies. The bus and rail systems could be on the hook for billions of dollars in payments because exotic deals they entered into with investors — which have since been declared unlawful tax shelters — have gone sour."

I wonder if Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Portland, Ore had anything to do with setting up those types of unlawful arrangements? Could you check into that for us Mary?

Pathmaker said...

As a planner, I would hope an office of urban policy actully would reign in other government program that damage cities ...Federal Highways, HUD,FHA, EPA, and Commerce to name a few. Absent an urban policy that values and protects cities, these stovepipe agencies historically hurt cities over the years through their unilateral decision making.