Plan It and They Will Build

Urban planners can take a page from the “Field of Dreams” movie’s playbook.  In the movie, Kevin Costner built a baseball diamond in a cornfield and his dreams came true.  Planners around the world are finding that this technique can work for reshaping cities, too. In the old days of “master planning” lots of night… Read More

Sachs Defines Essential Infrastructure “Long Game”

Jeffrey Sachs recommends:  Rather than trying to deploy construction workers within the next 60 days, I propose that we envision the kind of built environment we want for the next 60 years. With a shared vision of America’s infrastructure goals, actually designing and building the new transport, energy, communications, and water systems will surely require… Read More

Flint Not Alone In “Municipal Trifecta of Doom”

Flint Michigan’s water problem will be repeated around the country.  Race may be an issue.  Low income residents are definitely an issue.  But the cause is the “municipal trifecta of doom”:  aging infrastructure, declining revenue base and higher costs for municipal bonds. “About two thirds of all infrastructure in the United States is financed by… Read More

Needed: An “Academy Awards” for Cities

America needs a National Urban Policy Summit. Kevyn Orr is an inspiring fellow.  And, as the Emergency Manager for the City of Detroit, overseeing the city’s bankruptcy process, he knows a thing or two about cities.  In a recent forum at Harvard University, he suggested the country is way overdue for a close look at what… Read More

Creating a Facilities Maintenance Department: Arlington Case Study

In Spring 2015, Arlington’s legislative body voted to approve the establishment of a new department to oversee Facilities Maintenance.  Ruth Bennett, Architect, was hired in August, 2015 to head the new department.  The process of establishing the department was the result of recommendations from the Capital Planning Committee to the Board of Selectman who established… Read More

Antiquated Procurement Process Blocks Cities from Digital Age

From the perspective of a city trying to move operations into the digital age, software often seems overpriced, inflexible, and more complicated than flying a jet, with no clear measurable return on investment either in cost savings or improved service delivery.  From the perspective of the software provider who is big enough and smart enough… Read More

Infrastructure: John Oliver Explains it All (HBO)

So you don’t think infrastructure can be fun? Watch comedian John Oliver explain its intricate, critically important, hilarious fascinations in this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpzvaqypav8 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Infrastructure (HBO) Infrastructure investment will save lives.   Also, from:  CEO FORUM GROUP: “Infrastructure refers to the large-scale public systems, services, and facilities of a country… Read More

White House Announces $160MM “Smart Cities” Initiative

The Obama administration, in conjunction with the Smart Cities Council Annual Meeting, on Sept. 14, announced $160mm in federal research, grants and collaborations to help local communities manage major challenges using 21st century tools. As part of the initiative, the Administration is announcing: More than $35 million in new grants and over $10 million in proposed… Read More

Boston Trains Face Infrastructure Finance Challenge

John D. Macomber, Harvard Business School lecturer and construction finance expert addresses the long term challenge of infrastructure finance in the context of the short term public transit crisis facing the city of Boston  and the MBTA in the city’s snowiest Boston winter on record… so far. The MBTA faces the same problems that confront every… Read More

New Evidence Shows Citizen Engagement Increases Tax Revenues

Evidence continues to show that citizen engagement, citizens participating in public policy issues, leads to increased tax compliance  and higher tax revenues.  Quite a while ago, drawing mainly from the literature on tax morale, Tiago Peixoto at DemocracySpot posted about the evidence on the relationship between citizen engagement and tax revenues.  As a side note, he is still… Read More

Arlington Master Plan Considers Economic Development

Article 4 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.  Prepared by Barbara Thornton  Most of Arlington’s budget depends on the Town’s tax base. As the cost of services increases, the Town budget must increase. Massachusetts communities are limited in their ability to increase taxes on existing property. Many municipalities have developable land… Read More

Slovenia Must Stop Dragging its Feet on Privatisation

By Luka Oresković and Sašo Stanovnik On Sunday, Slovenians vote for a new head of state in the second round of presidential elections. Although the incumbent, Danilo Türk, seemed a certain winner before the first round in November, Borut Pahor, the former centre-left prime minister, surprised pundits and pollsters by winning 40 per cent of the… Read More

Why the Kremlin Won’t Privatize Rosneft

by Luka Oreskovic After World War II, French governments from both sides of the political aisle pursued a policy known as dirigisme. Dirigisme entailed consolidating fragmented industrial assets into large holdings, or “national champions’,  that could carry long-term economic growth and speed up recovery in the postwar years. National champions to this day remain enshrined in the national conscience of the French people as proud symbols… Read More

Water Privatization in Russia: More Than a Drop in the Ocean

By Luka Oreskovic Without water, humans can only live for a few days. Yet only about 1 percent of the earth’s water is suitable for human consumption. Rising GDP brings increases in demand for food production, including meat, which demands the greatest amount of water. Treating water is therefore a key utility. With over $400 billion in annual turnover, freshwater supply and wastewater treatment account for over… Read More

Selling the Georgian Dream

By Luka Oreskovic Eight years ago, an enthusiastic crowd gathered in front of the Tbilisi parliament for Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidential inauguration. “We must create the Georgia that our ancestors dreamed of,” he told them, “the Georgia that we dream of.” His dream was that of a democratic, NATO member country with a growing liberalized economy, low corruption and high living standards. Since then, President… Read More

Cuba Puts Brakes on Move toward Non-State Economy

In April Cuban government officials announced plans to move about 40 percent of the country’s output to the nonstate sector in five years.  This followed a move two years ago to lay off employees in state owned enterprises and encourage them to become entrepreneurs, operating their own businesses.  Over 250,000 Cubans took advantage of this… Read More

Greece to Raise €50 billion by 2015 via Privatization

Greek government aims to raise €50 billion by 2015 via privatization—or 1/6th of its estimated 2011 $308 billion GDP (40% is public sector).  Caught between the European financing bailout requirements, the general concerns of Greek citizens about losing their country’s treasured assets and the specific concerns of more well paid and unionized employees of state… Read More

Vietnam Privatization Slowed by Book Value vs. Market Value Rule

The Ministry of Finance in Vietnam plans to privatize 367 state-owned enterprises by 2015 (as many as 93 SOEs this year).   The privatization process is slower than hoped because of  the government’s rule that  SOEs cannot sell stakes to investors  at prices below the SOE’s book value.  Government officals are asked to consider allowing… Read More

Source and Use of the Term: Privatization

The Economist magazine introduced the term “privatization”  in the 1930s in its coverage of  Nazi German economic policy. Voucher privatization has mainly occurred in the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe, such as Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Additionally, Privatization from below is/has been an important type of economic growth in transition… Read More

Water for Life – Privatization & Regulation Reduce Child Mortality in Argentina

The experience of Argentinian municipalities in the 1990’s offer lessons for the benefits of privatizing water local government  supplies.  Some municipalities privatized and others did not, yielding a comparison of results.  Those municipalities that privatized the water delivery systems found a greater reduction in child mortality.  Studies suggest that the combination of privatization and effective… Read More