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Monday, January 09, 2006

A new year survey

It's 2006 and time to resume writing things for my faithful one or two readers. I've been on vacation and there's nothing more fun than staying as far away from one's place of work (the laptop in my study) unless it's to play Roller Coaster Tycoon. They've now reached the third iteration of this fun game, and managed to reduce all the fun of designing coasters and making a good theme park into a mish-mash of cutesy graphics. Congrats.

Anyway, here's a survey of interesting things in the world since I last touched the keyboard:
1. Courtesy of 28th Avenue, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean stuffs Wolf Blitzer's attempt to be a Republican pretty boy. No, Wolf, Jack Abrahamoff gave money to Republicans for votes. No Democrat received any money from Abrahamoff. None.

2. In the spirit of the New Year, former state finance commissioner John Gunyou tells the Minnesota Legislature how to govern. My favorite? Focus on what matters. Here's a hint: The future of our state is not inextricably linked to guns, gays, gambling or gametes. And for those who may have forgotten, Change that silly law that pretends inflation doesn't exist. That's the law that says we don't calculate inflation for expenses, just for income. And we thought Enron played cheap.

3. Eminent domain. Whereas previously eminent domain was reserved for public goods like highways or urban "renewal," there was a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court last year allowing cities to use eminent domain for private economic development. In other words, if the city thinks your plot of land is worth more as a Target than the Johnson family residence - goodbye! While Supreme Court justices might call it constitutional, legislators are realizing it may be hard to win re-election if the government grabs constituent land for private use. One bill in Congress threatens to withhold federal economic development funds from municipalities that use eminent domain in this new fashion. However, that might not be threat enough if the potential tax windfall is greater.

4. The peace process in Israel is in as frail a condition as its prime minister. Ariel Sharon's bold strategy to unilaterally withdraw from Palestinian territories represents a badly needed move in the peace process and its unclear if this strategy will long outlive the ailing PM. By pulling many hawks on the right into a centrist coalition, he had a rare chance to solidify support for setting permanent borders. The Christian Science Monitor examines some of the potential consequences if Sharon is unable to return.


Camdenbrick said...

Camden New Jersey is the future Greenwich Village for Urban Pioneers. One subway stop from the hip parts of Philadelphia. Property in Camden goes for next to nothing, and they offer all kinds of incentives for people to live there. It is as rough and tough as a city in America gets but if you are rough and tough it is worthwhile. Rutgers University has a pretty large campus. Living near it is adveturous. But the only places to hang out are in Philly.

Camdenbrick said...

The largest pending eminent domain case is in Camden, New Jersey. The city is trying to take 1,200 homes for a private development.

"Cramer Hill" is the neighborhood has the story. is good.