Workers cast adrift by technology. Last week we learned that the economy added 236,000 jobs in February. Better than a sharp stick in the eye, to be sure. But it still isn’t enough. Average job growth over the past six months has been about 190,000. At this rate, it will take the economy 5 years to absorb the increase in the ranks of the unemployed since 2007, plus new workers entering the labor force. And don’t forget the 8 million working part time who would prefer full time employment, 3.6 million more than in 2007.
How do we square persistently tepid job growth with the other big economic news of the week, that the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit new highs? Why can corporate profits be strong while employment growth remains weak? This brief essay will address only one of the many reasons: This recovery has simply left many workers behind. Read more »
On assignment out here in Arizona, I’m led to compare it to my adopted state of New York. First, there’s the weather: no snow, warm temps, bicycle-friendly year-round. Out here, of course, that’s a normal winter.
The big city dominates state politics. Here the city is Phoenix. With two-thirds of the state’s population, the Phoenix metro area carries a big stick. Arizonans living elsewhere complain that they have but a small, quiet voice in state political circles and that the interests of Maricopa County (Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, etc.) rule. We’ve got our big city, of course: New York City alone accounts for just over 40 percent of the state’s population. Add in Long Island and Westchester and Rockland counties, and metro New York’s share rises to 61 percent. Read more »
The fiscal crisis club has a new member: the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Faced with staggering debt payments it simply can’t afford, the capital city is weighing its options. And none of them are particularly pleasant. Does the city file for bankruptcy? Does it make use of Pennsylvania’s Act 47 fiscal emergency program and avail itself of state oversight? Does it raise the property tax levy to an unimaginable level to resolve its structural budget gap?
The unfortunate reality is that Harrisburg isn’t alone. Hardly. Local governments across the country, many of which were struggling long before the economy collapsed, have witnessed their fiscal wherewithal stripped to the bones in the past year. Just Google “city fiscal emergency” and watch the lights dim as you click the search button. Los Angeles has proposed closing all non-public safety operations two days per week. The word “receivership” has been uttered in Detroit and Toledo. And layoffs and programmatic cuts are pending in cities from coast to coast.
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School Board President Malik Evans and CGR are portrayed as being on different sides of this “mayoral control” discussion. Yet we agree that community opinion matters. The response of CGR was to conduct a poll with our partner, Metrix Matrix. At a forum televised by WXXI last Thursday, Mr. Evans suggested a referendum. But it amounts to the same thing—what the community thinks about this issue is important.
We’ve had two helpful forums on the topic. After the City Administration postponed several planned public meetings, the Rochester Business Journal’s forum was the first. School Board Commissioner Van White and Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski spoke against the proposal. In addition to remarks from Mayor Duffy, panelists Margaret Raymond from Stanford, Kenneth Wong from Brown, and Dennis Walcott, NYC’s Deputy Mayor for Education, spoke in support.
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Reaction to CGR’s survey on mayoral control, conducted with partner Metrix Matrix Inc (MMI), has reinforced what the survey revealed: Our community cares deeply about this issue and the education of our city’s children. The only prior test of community sentiment was a relatively small telephone survey of parents. Yet parents-to-be, grandparents, resident property owners, renters, and resident business owners all have a stake in the effectiveness of the schools. And all can vote in Board of Education and mayoral elections.
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The results of village elections on March 16 cast a ray of hope that perhaps New Yorkers are finally willing to take responsibility for deciding the future of local governments across the state. In five villages, from Port Henry in the east to Randolph in the southwest, voters went to the polls to decide whether or not to dissolve their village and merge with the town. Four villages – Seneca Falls, Perrysburg, East Randolph and Randolph – chose to dissolve, while voters in Port Henry elected to keep their village government. In addition, voters in the Village of Saugerties agreed to dissolve their police department and consolidate with the town police department, and Village of Medina voters chose to abolish their court and merge with the town courts.
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My Chicago-area brother & I engage in a friendly competition over whose political culture is more entertaining. It is a contest I would like to lose, although my hopes have been dashed in recent months. Even with former governor Rod Blagojevich competing in the new season of The Apprentice (begins Sunday!), New York is winning handily. The best capsule summary goes to Baruch’s Doug Muzio who dubbed New York politics “Rod Serling meets Lewis Carroll.”
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The financial problems of the nation and many large states—California, Illinois, New Jersey and certainly New York—present a problem that is challenging economically and hazardous politically. Since it’s impossible to separate the economics from the politics, it is truly a Gordian knot – rather than untying the knot, Alexander the Great sliced the Gordian knot in two with a single, bold stroke of his sword.
The Congressional Budget Office forecasts the federal deficit to decline from about $1.5 trillion in 2009 to $608 billion in 2014, then rise to nearly $800 billion in 2020. This is a hefty deficit, particularly when you consider that we had a surplus as recently as 2000. Then consider that the cumulative public debt, which currently stands at $7.5 trillion, is expected to nearly double by 2020 to $14 trillion.
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The Center for Governmental Research has begun a partnership with the Rochester City School District. We’ve been invited to support implementation of Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard’s Five Year Strategic Plan.
I’m a planning skeptic. Often the process of planning is so exhausting that we declare, “It’s done!” when the ink is dry. We forget that the plan serves only to lay out the course and load the starter pistol. The plan is too-often ignored. We continue going about our tasks as though nothing had changed. To the Superintendent’s credit, many of plan’s strategies codify activities already underway. In fact, the first of the five years was 2008-09. Like all good leaders, Brizard is impatient about his plan.
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Remember “mutual assured destruction?” MAD was the dominant principle of the Cold War: The Soviet Union would not attack us as long as we retained the ability to retaliate. They might surprise us and obliterate New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, but our nuclear subs and hardened silo-based missiles would respond in kind, turning Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Vladivostok into historical footnotes (if mankind survived to write any more history).
A kind of financial “MAD” became our consolation in the 1990s as China continued to accumulate foreign exchange, the vast majority of which was in dollars (or financial assets like bonds that were priced in dollars). At present, China’s holdings of dollar assets top $1.5 trillion, says the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
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