Business Development News Politics

Brown states balance concerns for our environment, our jobs

A recent New York Times article coined the term “brown state-green state clash,” referring to the opposing viewpoints of politicians from the coasts and politicians from the Midwest and Plains States. “Green states” like California are pushing for higher fuel efficiency, more renewable energy, and other efforts to fight climate change, while “brown states” like Ohio are resisting in order to preserve our manufacturing jobs.

In particular, many brown state officials are opposed to a cap-and-trade system proposed by President Obama. This proposal sets a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions, giving manufacturers a certain number of credits and allowing them to emit a certain amount of pollutants. If a company reduces its emissions, it can sell its excess credits to companies who pollute more.

After a failed U.S. Senate global warming bill in June 2008, ten senators from coal-dependent, manufacturing-heavy states created the “Gang of 10,” which has since grown to 15 members. Ohio’s Sherrod Brown was part of the original group. Brown claims, “There’s a bias in our Congress and government against manufacturing, or at least indifference to us, especially on the coasts.” He adds, “If we pass a climate bill the wrong way, it will hurt American jobs and the American economy, as more and more production jobs go to places like China, where it’s cheaper.”

This seems to contradict themes echoed in both national and local politics, pushing for more “green jobs.” Environmental blog Gristmill points out that Midwest and Plains States will likely come out ahead job-wise in the push to become green: Plains States have been nicknamed “the Saudi Arabia of wind,” and the Midwest will manufacture wind turbines that are too large to be shipped from overseas. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts says, “A lot of new jobs will be created if we craft a piece of global warming legislation correctly, and that is our intention.”

Clearly, what we have is a disconnect between politicians claiming a green future will create jobs and politicians claiming exactly the opposite.

In Washington state, Democratic Senate leaders plan to direct $180 million of stimulus money to their plan “Clean Energy, Green Jobs.” One aspect of the plan, retrofitting low-income residents’ homes to be more energy efficient, will create an estimated 7,500 jobs over five years. The plan would also create an agency to oversee greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce them to 1990 levels by the year 2017. Republicans oppose the plan, saying that the new restrictions would be an impediment to businesses.

A similar movement is starting to happen in the Ohio state House, where Democrats are pushing for higher energy efficiency standards in public buildings. They claim this will cause job creation in the fields of energy-efficient design and construction. Republican Senator Jimmy Stewart said he supports the plan as long as it doesn’t create additional delays in construction.

Are our politicians effectively balancing concerns for our environment with the need to preserve jobs in our region? Will the green movement cause a gain or loss of jobs? Sound off in the comments section.

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Photo from Flickr user Caveman 92223


What’s a Metro Nation without Strong Cities?

I found this to be especially profound while also being “duh” kind of thought process that is often lost amongst our population. The article has been partially reposted from CEOs for Cities

After an interview on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show Thursday, I started thinking again about this idea of America as a “metro nation.” I was on first with guest host Rebecca Roberts, followed by Amy Liu of Brookings, where the idea of regionalism has been pushed hard for the past couple of years.

The concept of regionalism is smart on its face. Economies are regional, we count people at a metro level, air and water issues transcend political boundaries, and, in a perfect world, major amenities — and their cost — are shared regionally.

But no one should be agnostic about where development occurs in a region. Metro regions all across America are littered with the inevitable consequence of that kind of thinking. Let the city core thin out (sucking its vibrancy in the doing) and spread development thinly across the landscape (which never quite becomes vibant). There. You have the worst of both worlds.

When regionalism asserts the centrality of the anchor city and the need to build its vibrancy through renewal, then regionalism makes sense. But too often, the execution of regionalism means the central city gives and gives (and pays and pays), while the suburbs live off the jobs, amenities and identity provided in cities (or, for that matter, another suburb) without paying a dime.

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News Politics Transportation

Regional SORTA agreement reached

At at 10am meeting this morning City and County leaders announced an agreement over an expanded transit authority. Currently the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which operates Metro, is bounded by Hamilton County’s boundaries.

This agreement will for the first time extend their jurisdiction beyond Hamilton County and into Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties. This sets the course for expanded transit service into those surrounding areas underneath one unified authority.

This reorganization, of SORTA, has long been an issue with City Council member John Cranley, County Commissioner Todd Portune and has been championed by Mayor Mark Mallory. These three along with SORTA Board president Melody Sawyer Richardson addressed the media at this morning session.

The reorganized SORTA will now be known as the Greater Cincinnati Regional Transit Authority, and will have a 13 member board made up of 7 members appointed by the City of Cincinnati and the remaining six from Hamilton County. As of yet, the Business Courier has reported that no other elected officials from surrounding counties have committed to participate in the new regional system.

Of those 6 County appointees, three will be selected “with input” from Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties. If those counties decide to formally join the new authority they would then be able to directly appoint board members. The majority control is up for grabs with the City of Cincinnati maintaining that majority for now. If another county or city decides to contribute more than 50% of the authority’s budget then they will gain majority control.

The catch here is that those contributions can be measured either through the entities direct contribution or by measuring the total fare revenues paid by that entities constituents. It could also be determined on a per-capita basis of the entities share of their state and federal transit dollars allocated to the Greater Cincinnati Regional Transit Authority.


Weigh in on Agenda 360’s regional action plan survey

Agenda 360 is the regional action plan for the Cincinnati region that is being led by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.  It’s goal is to, “transform Cincinnati USA, by the year 2020, into a leading metropolitan region for talent, jobs and economic opportunity for all who call our region home.”

There is currently a survey asking for people to give their thoughts on how the action plan should develop from here and how it relates to your life within the Cincinnati region.  The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete, but will have a lasting impact on how our region moves forward.

The easiest way to take the online survey is by following this link and clicking on the survey.  It can be taken in either English or Spanish.


A Model for Regional Cooperation: The Library

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County should serve as a great reminder of what this region can accomplish if it works together. They have everything you want–Books, CDs, DVDs, Children’s Programming, Some people might complain there is no Blockbuster Downtown, but if there were it would be outgunned by a free public service.

The Library ranked as the 8th best system in the United States in 2006. It is also the ninth largest, in the country, in terms of total volumes.

Without a regional library, the citizens of Cincinnati would have a library with perhaps half the volumes, and the citizens of smaller outlying communities, like Addyston, might not even have a library at all. But through regional cooperation we have one of the best library systems in the country. Everyone benefits from the better services and lower operating costs of having a single library system for the county rather than 49 separate smaller libraries. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Imagine how we could improve services and lower taxes, throughout the county, with greater consolidation. Instead of having the 56th largest city surrounded by minor municipalities, we would be the 13th largest city in the United States and the largest in Ohio; improving our national clout and the quality of life for all of Cincinnati-Hamilton County’s residents.