Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's Bush's fault!!
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Police found cases of food, clothing and tools intended for hurricane victims at the home of the chief administrative officer for a New Orleans suburb, authorities said Wednesday.Officers searched Cedric Floyd's home because of complaints that city workers were helping themselves to donations for hurricane victims. Floyd, who runs the day-to-day operations in the suburb of Kenner, was in charge of distributing the goods.
Real estate prices force Aspen Board of Realtors to move their office out of Aspen

I think this is one of the signs of the Apocalypse. And no, I didn't get this from The Onion.

ASPEN, Colo. --Sky high real estate prices in this resort city in the mountains have driven yet another business out of town: The Aspen Board of Realtors.The board was renting an office at the Aspen airport because of the cost of real estate in the city, where even a small house can cost $1 million. Now, the board has purchased a spacious office in Basalt, 10 miles from Aspen, said Brynne Kristan, executive vice president of the board. Kristan said the board had hoped to own its own office in Aspen: "We thought we'd be real estate owners ourselves," Kristan said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Guardian: Hurricane aid used 'to test out rightwing social policies'
President Bush's multi-billion dollar reconstruction plans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are being used as "a vast laboratory" for conservative social polices, administration critics claim. The White House strategy involves the suspension of a series of regulations guaranteeing the going local wage and affirmative action for minorities, while offering tax incentives for businesses in the affected region. Education aid for displaced children will include $500m (£276m) in vouchers for private schools, while a senior Republican has also proposed a new law permitting a wide-ranging waiver of environmental regulations.

Add to that a homeownership initiative that will involve zillions of condo and townhome units, all with private governments run by poor people with no education. Just what New Orleans needs.

We are looking at an effort to transform an entire city. I think the rhetoric is that they are taking probably the worst city-sized example of failed welfare state policies and using ideas from the Republican playbook to make it into a success. If this works, we will have a new paradigm for urban renewal. If it doesn't work--and I can think of one other Bush administration transformative effort that isn't going according to plan--then what? I suppose we will hear that having started we can't stop or even talk about stopping or changing course, because that will only embolden the terrorists. Oops. That's the other example.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Proposed subdivision sparks debate
Nancy Levy sends this interesting public/private controversy with lots of juicy details...
Homeowners up in arms over HOA: HOA say rules are to improve neighborhood
From Nancy Levy comes this saga of disgruntled HOA residents who say their HOA is turning them into Stepford people...

Kathy Krueger is fed up. The Sun City West resident says the Home Owners Association Board is turning her Sonora neighborhood of 182 homes into a "Stepford" enclave with clipboard-wielding monitors who check weekly for violators. "Our president and vice president keep imposing stricter covenants," said Ms. Krueger, who moved into her Maya Court home in 2002. "They are arbitrarily changing the rules." The Sonora HOA president, Ken Foley, denied the charges.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Critics Fear Trailer 'Ghettos': Right, Left Target FEMA Initiative
On the sprawling, dusty grounds of Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant and Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Tex., the recreational vehicles and mobile homes are arriving at a rate of 100 a day before being shipped out to the fringes of Hurricane Katrina's disaster zone. Those trailers, among 300,000 to be purchased with nearly $5 billion of federal money, have become a focal point of criticism of the Bush administration's early rebuilding efforts.

With another hurricane bearing down on the region, putting people in trailers doesn't seem like a real great idea. In the long term, watch for the rebuilding of New Orleans to be a huge boon to developers who specialize in common interest housing. Condos, townhomes, HOPE VI-type mixed income developments--the sort of thing that the feds did to replace public housing projects in Chicago such as Cabrini Green.