Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why I've been off the air

I've been keeping up this blog since 2003, but this summer I went off the air for several months because of some events that absorbed a great deal of my time and energy.  My mother died in July at the age of 93, in Pasadena, California. I became the executor of her affairs, there have been many things to attend to, and the emotional side of a loss like that is never easy, as I'm sure you know.

At the same time, through a chain of unusual circumstances I ended up teaching an intensive summer course on urban politics at UIC. Then on the heels of that, I went to Australia for a week to give the keynote address at a conference on condominium housing (which they call "strata title").  This was a fantastic conference in an amazing country, but by the time I returned I was behind in my work. To add the final straw, I was made head of the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I've been on the learning curve with those additional responsibilities, in addition to teaching two Fall courses with a total of 172 students.

All three of my children started at new universities--two as freshmen and one as a graduate student--and that meant move-outs and move-ins.  I certainly logged some travel miles--this summer I had trips to Israel, Australia, Phoenix (driving back with my oldest son in a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder with 200,000 miles and no air conditioning, in July), Los Angeles, and Springfield, IL.

So that is why I haven't been able to stay current with this blog--but I hope people will continue to send me items, because I'm back on the air.

Is living in a steel box the future of housing?

Coming to a condo association near you, someday?

Friday, October 09, 2015

South Carolina: HOAs do a terrible job maintaining dams, causing massive flooding

I've been away from this blog for quite a while because events in my life made it hard for me to focus on it. I have a lot to report on and I'll try to get to it over the next week or so.

First up:  the media has reported extensively on the massive flooding in South Carolina. One angle hasn't been reported much, even though it is at the heart of the problem.  South Carolina is one of these states where they brag about how low their taxes are and how useless government is. But the reason the flooding is so bad is...privatization. They keep taxes low by not spending much public money on maintaining infrastructure like, oh...dams, for instance. Instead they trust developers to build them, and homeowners' associations to maintain them.  And surprise, surprise!  Many HOAs are doing a perfectly terrible job of maintaining the earthen dams that keep water from wrecking other people's neighborhoods.