Thursday, July 01, 2004

The University of Montana School of Law: Robert G. Natelson
I was right. Here's his web page. Check out his publications list and tell me he shouldn't be allowed to teach constitutional law. Good grief.
Natelson seeks regents' help in clash with UM Law School

HELENA - University of Montana professor Rob Natelson, accusing the Law School of discriminating against him for years because of his conservative political views, has asked the state Board of Regents to overturn a decision denying him the opportunity to teach constitutional law. Natelson, who has twice run as a Republican for governor and led several ballot-issue campaigns to limit taxes, filed a formal appeal this week with Regents Chairman John Mercer of Polson. He asked that the regents consider his request or assign it to Higher Education Commissioner Sheila Stearns rather than allow it to be heard on the UM campus. He asked the regents to reverse the Law School decision and order him to be transferred to the constitutional law teaching vacancy. Natelson urged the regents to admonish the Law School "to reassess its policies and practices to assure that faculty members of all viewpoints receive equal opportunity and treatment in hiring, promotion, work practices, merit pay and faculty awards, and that there is greater viewpoint diversity among faculty." In addition, he asked the regents to order the Law School to file "a plan of affirmative action (but not preferential hiring) to assure that the goals of equality opportunity, equal treatment and intellectual diversity are met." This may include, he said, "reassessment of intellectual political bias, faculty sensitivity training and basic education in federal and state provisions against illegal discrimination."

The article goes on at considerable length from there. Unless I am badly mistaken, Prof. Natelson is the author of a fascinating law review article that I have cited numerous times. It is: Robert G. Natelson, "Comments on the Historiography of Condominium: The Myth of Roman Origin," 12 Oklahoma City University Law Review 17 (1987). He debunks the industry-promoted false history of condominiums that says they date back to "the hills of ancient Rome." Instead, he shows, the origins of condominium property lie in medieval German law. He traces the idea through history, until he shows that condominiums arrived in the US in the early 1960s by way of Puerto Rico. If you want more, you can read about German "story property" in Rudolph Huebner's A History of Germanic Privat Law, published back in 1918 and re-issued by Augustus M. Kelley in 1968.
Anyway, I think Prof. Natelson is quite a capable scholar, and if he is being denied the opportunity to teach constitutional law because of his political beliefs it would be a sad state of affairs.

Monday, June 28, 2004 - Housing crunch revives old cities
USA Today produces yet another excellent piece on housing trends. This one is co-authored by Haya El Nasser, who is as knowledgeable about housing trends as any journalist in America, and it includes analysis by Bob Lang of Virginia Tech, who is on my short list of A Number One urbanists.
The quest for affordable housing is fueling the explosive growth of suburban cities in the Sun Belt and even reviving some old industrial cities in the Northeast, according to population estimates out Thursday.Census numbers for 2003 show that cities grow when jobs are plentiful and housing costs are relatively low compared with the rest of their regions. (Related story: Rejuvenated cities capitalize on location) "It's the scramble for value," says Robert Lang, urban expert at Virginia Tech and author of Boomburbs, an upcoming book on large, fast-growing suburbs. "People are finding back doors into the hot places." The hottest places are still concentrated in the Sun Belt. Since 2000, eight of the 10 fastest-growing cities with more than 100,000 people are suburbs of Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas: Gilbert, Chandler and Peoria, Ariz.; Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana and Irvine, Calif.; and Henderson and North Las Vegas, Nev. The other two are Port St. Lucie and Cape Coral, Fla. The hunt for affordable housing also has helped reverse declines in older cities within commuting range of strong job centers. Cities in New Jersey and Connecticut are enjoying some of the spillover from New York's prosperity. Immigrants who are first-time homebuyers often gravitate toward older areas that offer comparatively cheap housing and good transportation to major job markets.

This is a good story, and so is the related one about smaller "micrometropolitan" areas taking advantage of these trends. I suggest following the link to the story and reading the whole thing. Thanks to Fred Pilot for sending me this link.
Catching a Wave Out of Pricey California
By Stephanie Simon and Lianne Hart, Times Staff Writers
AUSTIN, Texas — Soaring property values in California have made many homeowners there rich — and many real estate agents here delighted. In an exodus that some demographers say could reshape the American landscape, young professional families are increasingly fleeing the exorbitant coast for Austin, Dallas or San Antonio, for Atlanta, Denver or Phoenix, for Charlotte, N.C. They're selling their cramped "starter homes" in California, some worth $500,000 or more, and buying luxury homes, for cash, in the nation's interior.

Folks like this have been leaving California for fifteen or twenty years, and there is much more than home price differentials driving them out (although that is obviously a major incentive). There are other negatives, such as crime, high taxes, an anti-business political climate, massive illegal immigration that is swamping local government with social service burdens, failed public schol systems, and nightmarish traffic problems. On top of it all, the state's political leadership has been a complete disgrace for a long time, proving itself incapable of solving any major problem except self-perpetuation, which is why Der Governator was swept into office. I lived in California for almost thirty years before my wife and I left in 1990, and it is sad to see what has happened to it since. But California's loss is some other state's gain, so all these young professional types will presumably make Arizona, Nevada, Utah, or some other state a better place to live.