Monday, June 29, 2009

"Revolution at the Roots" by William Eggers and John O'Leary

William D. Eggers and John O’Leary. Revolution at the Roots: Marking Our Government Smaller, Better, and Closer to Home. New York: The Free Press, 1995.

The authors argue that smaller sized governments are more efficient. They argue government should concentrate on its primary functions. It should decentralize functions and shift more political power to the communities and to people. It should limit how much it can be allowed to grow. It should find ways to encourage competition among public functions.

Public employees are generally efficient, and they work best if their efforts are targeted towards when most needs to be done. While many advocates of smaller government concentrate on getting rid of waste, the authors argue that one also needs to look at how to make the good portions of government work more efficiently at smaller sizes.

Voters are rejecting higher taxes, as noted by several examples where Governors who raised taxes were defeated for reelection.

An example of wasteful management was when the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department sought to spend all the funds at the end of their budget year, so they pre-purchased chalk for lining sports fields by ordering 40 tons of chalk. Then the Department began spray painting fields instead, leaving the mass purchase of chalk to waste. The Mayor, Stephen Goldsmith, observed this was the result of a system that encourages budgets to be spent, or else they are cut in future years, and used this to redesign how city government should operate. Performance and productivity are what matters, not spending.

The authors stress we should not only seeking making government operate better but seeing that government reaches goals that is important. They encourage debate over what government should seek to accomplish.

The authors applaud efforts of government officials to be entrepreneurs yet warn they are using public money, not private funds. The risk in the public sector is taxpayers may be hurt, which public managers do not appreciate as directly as do private sector managers who risk their firm’s funds. Government should focus on its core objectives rather than seeking new functions beyond their scope, according to the authors. They note how the city government of Visalia, California sought to increase revenues by going into the hotel business and spent $24 million for a hotel that was appraised for $10 million.

It is hard to remove an inefficient government unit as its benefits are often more easily seen than are its costs. The authors recommend being cautious when creating new programs. Government should have a guiding philosophy as to what it is meant to do and it should stick to its accomplishing its overall aims.

The authors note that in 1990, 14.4% of Gross National Product was spent on government social spending compared to 6.7% in 1960. In 1991, there were 75.8 violent crimes per 10,000 people compared to 16.1 in 1960.

The authors favor increasing competition within government services. They believe this can be accomplished through such techniques as bidding out services, allowing private sector competition to government services, providing vouchers for holders to choose private sector offerings, selling or leasing government assets, decentralizing services to more community level organizations, assistant private infrastructure development, increased deregulation of the private sector, etc. Mayor Ed Rendell of Philadelphia claimed he opened over twenty agencies to competition which has led to annual savings of over $34 million.

The politicization of government creates a resistance to making it more efficient. Public officials often put politics ahead of efficiency.

Government should work to solve the root of problems rather than treat the symptoms of the problem. Managers should examine how to solve problems.

The authors argue that business location and expansion would be better assisted by the public sector by easing the permitting process better. This could be done by simplifying regulatory, tax, and legal requirements. The authors believe this is more important to businesses than offers of financial assistance and providing job training programs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Comparing Notes on Two Reviews: How Times Changed Politics

Recently, a mostly laudatory biography of a leader of the Illinois legislature from decades ago, Russell Arrington, was reviewed. A dissenting opinion of this legislator is contained in a book written by one of Arrington’s fellow Republican State Senator, Robert Canfield. Canfield found the Illinois legislature to be full of unethical behavior and outright corruption. He also expressed disappointment at the seeming lack of public outrage and inability that anything was done then to reform the system.

Canfield’s book is contrasted with “Tip of the Spear” by Russ Diamond, concerning citizen reactions expressed against the recent Pennsylvania legislature. Here, it is noted that the public objections were more against the legislative process and differences of opinions. Not only were these controversial legislative actions far less offensive that what was alleged in Illinois four decades ago, but the expressions of dissent in Pennsylvania were far more effective in achieving results than what occurred in Illinois.

Canfield claimed that the Chamber of Commerce and even gangsters had lobbyists who operated out of Illinois State Senate offices, using Senate staff and equipment in advancing their causes. These lobbyists saw to it that Senators received arguments for supporting their issues as well as large amounts of liquid beverages.

A bill to revoke liquor licenses for Illinois establishments allowing gambling was defeated with the assistance of illegal gambling influences. Small loan companies, many of which allegedly tied to organized crime, were allowed to charge higher than otherwise legal interest rates. Business interests kept taxes low or non-existent on stocks, bonds, securities, deposit funds, and inheritances.

In return, some Illinois State Senators were given jobs receiving commissions on items they never sold or even saw. Legislators often attended poker games with lobbyists, and were always very lucky to leave as winners.

In 1965, several legislative meetings with lobbyists were secretly recorded and the tapes delivered to a Chicago newspaper. The press printed how $50,000 was given by lobbyists to legislators for their actions on legislation. No legislator was ever charged with a crime from what these tapes exposed. In fact, all 24 Senators and 38 Representatives mentioned on these tapes who sought reelection won their races. On the other hand, all legislators who created the Illinois Crime Commission were defeated for reelection with the gambling lobby supporting their opponents.

In contrast, Russ Diamond and the Clean Sweep movement of which he was a leader arose primarily in opposition to legislators receiving a pay raise. This proved to be a successful movement that led to the pay raise being repealed and contributed to a number of incumbent legislators being defeated for reelection.

Diamond, in his book, in particular seems to dislike hypocrisy. He notes with scorn how previously, in 1995, Rep. John Perzel had declared another pay raise bill would never again be necessary. Further, he chides Perzel for telling a school child that he had not arrived at that school in a limousine, when in fact he had arrived in a town car with a limousine plate. Perzel was seen sending the limousine on its way as he, instead, departed in an SUV.

Diamond started as a one person movement. He opened the Operations Clean Sweep website. It received over 13,000 different visitors. He obtained the email addresses of as many reporters as he could find and began sending them press releases. He advises the way to get the press to pay attention is to construct the press releases in the form of news writing.

The approval rating for the legislature was at 26%, and in southwest Pennsylvania the approval rating was 19%. Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbell’s personal rating was 17%. The outrage expressed by Diamond and others helped led to the defeat of several legislators for reelection. 17 incumbents lost in the primaries, among them President Pro Temp Bob Jubelirer and Senator Brightbill, although these two losses were not to candidates affiliated with the “Clean Sweep” movement.

The Clean Sweep organization in fact grew too big, too fast. It divided into two bitter camps that led to litigation. A Judge dissolved the Clean Sweep corporate entity. Diamond was allowed to keep his website.

What is noted that citizen action is more attentive and effective today than just a few decades ago. The type of outrageous behavior that voters tolerated in the past has mostly become something of the past. While Canfield was disgusted at what he saw, he still declared that “representative self-government is the finest and best of all forms of government”. Such faith should be restored in the progress that has been made. While Illinois may still find itself dealing with ethical questions with a Rod Blogojevich, now someone above such controversies such as Barack Obama can also emerge. Voters today in all states more effectively keep elected officials in check, and that is progress.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Voice of Protest Loudly Heard

Russ Diamond. Tip of the Spear. Annville, Pa.: Raintree, 2007.

The author is a sharp and thoughtful critic of Pennsylvania politicians. He is upset when he hears candidates represent the views of their opponents or when politicians exploit issues. He has the courage to challenge what was said and point out inconsistencies and when the truth has been stretched.

Diamond has been both vocal on issues and has run for office. He ran as an independent against an incumbent state legislator and received 17% of the vote. He ran for School Board and called foul on election day when he spotted his opponent violating the law by giving out an item of value, in this case rulers, to voters at the polls.

These are things that happen in the legislature that upset Diamond. He criticizes legislation requiring seat belts for dogs. He was very vocal on the pay raise to state legislators, and noted how previously, in 1995, Rep. John Perzel had declared another pay raise bill would never again be necessary. In particular, he saw hypocrisy in Medicaid benefits being cuts while legislators were getting higher salaries.

He also noted the hypocrisy of a school child asking guest speaker, Rep. Perzel, is he arrived in a limousine. Perzel answered he arrived in a car, which proved embarrassing when he his town car with limousine plates was parked aside. Caught, he sent the limo on its way and he left in an SUV.

Russ Diamond became a one person movement. He obtained the email addresses of as many reporters as he could find and he began sending them his press releases. He advises the way to get the press to pay attention is to construct the press release in the form of news writing. This will appeal to reporters, he believes.

Diamond open a website Operations Clean Sweep. It received over 13,000 different people who visited the site. As Diamond describes it, “politics is a full contact sport” and one needs to be ready to respond to current news.

The author helped organize a rally at the Capitol that was purely grassroots with all homemade signs. The attendance spelled into the street in front of the Capitol. Diamond claims that working as an unpaid organizer became a full time job.

The approval rating for the legislature was at 26%, and in southwest Pennsylvania the approval rating was 19%. Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill’s personal approval rating was 17%. Issues as those raised by Diamond and others, such as the pay raise, were among the factors for these low approval ratings. The outrage helped led to the defeat of several legislators for reelection: 17 incumbents lost in the primaries. Among them were President Pro Tem Bob Jubelirer and Senator Brightbill, although these two losses were not to candidates affiliated with the “Clean Sweep” movement.

The Clean Sweep movement grew large enough that it divided into two camps that resulted in litigation against the factions. The corporate entity of the movement was legally dissolved. Diamond though was allowed to keep his website.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Analysis of the Declining State of the Republican Party

Chuck Todd and Sheldon Gawiser. How Barack Obama Won: A State-by-State Guide to the Historic Presidential Election. New York: Vintage Books, 2009.

The end of the Cold War cast the political center adrift. Ross Perot had some popular appeal and even led some polls during the 1992 Presidential elections. 1994 brought Republicans to hold a majority of Congressional seats for the first time in 40 years. No candidate won a majority of votes in 1992 or 1996, something that hadn’t happened in two consecutive Presidential races in eight decades. In 2000, the winner of the Electoral vote failed to win the popular vote, something that hadn’t happened in over a century. The 2008 election may have established political coherency.

Tom Vilsack was the first candidate to announce for President. Hillary Clinton was seen as an early front runner for the Democratic nomination. The Republican reaction to Clinton’s candidacy made Rudy Guiliani the early front runner for the Republican nomination.

The anti-Clinton vote searched for a candidate. A number of candidates, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Chris Dodd sought to fill that role. Obama, who had only become a Senator in 2005, was considered a long shot.

Republican voters like order. Bush couldn’t run for reelection. Vice President Cheney didn’t wish to run. Jeb Bush declined to run. Normally, the previous runner-up John McCain would have been the presumptive front runner. Republicans activists preferred an alternative to the maverick McCain. McCain’s campaign run out of money and made major cuts to its efforts. Mitt Romney attempted to become the conservative alternative and changed some of his positions to be more conservative.

Giuliana faced stories regarding his personal life, being married to his third wife, and questions about his disgraced business partner, Bernard Kerik; Giuliani decided not to run in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Michigan and developed a strategy of focusing on Florida and then the Super Tuesday of multistate primaries.

Fred Thompson was hailed by several conservative as an ideal candidate. When Thompson decided to run, he seemed unenthused. Alternatively, Mike Huckabee was an enthusiastic social conservative candidate.

Huckabee upset Romney in Iowa. McCain won New Hampshire. The split of conservative candidates gave a plurality win to McCain. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed McCain and helped McCain win Florida. The Republican field collapsed to McCain on Super Tuesday. Huckabee kept campaigning until McCain won a majority of delegates.

Obama and Clinton announced forming their exploratory committees on YouTube. Obama directed his campaign to young voters. Dodd’s attacking Clinton’s not answering a question on immigration hurt Clinton. Clinton sought popular appeal that she felt would lead her to the nomination. The Obama campaign focused on winning delegates. The Obama campaign was sidetracked when tapes of his minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright delivery controversial sermons condemning American actions. Race became a factor, which Obama had tried to avoid. Obama is an African American with few mainland Black political roots. Obama quit as a member of Rev. Wright’s church.

Obama won Iowa, damaging Edwards’ strategy that had him focusing on winning Iowa. Clinton began coming across as “more human” and won in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Polls showed, among Democrats, Obama was preferred among African Americans, Caucasians with college degrees, and young voters. Clinton was preferred among Latinos, females, and Caucasians without college degrees. The early primaries and caucuses had electorates titled towards supporting Obama. Clinton’s campaign probably would have done better had states where voters favored her more had been held earlier.

Obama easily won South Carolina. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) did not sanction the Florida and Michigan primaries. Obama’s name wasn’t on the Florida ballot. Clinton won both states. The DNC later awarded Florida half of its delegates and gave both Clinton and Obama nearly equal number of delegates from Michigan.

The Clinton campaign ran low on campaign funds while the Obama campaign did much better raising money. The Clinton campaign successfully targeted campaigns in New York, California, New Jersey, and Arizona. Obama ran in every state. Thus Clinton won big victories while Obama was acquiring more delegates. Since DNC rules gave delegates winning at least 15% of the vote in a Congressional district, Obama kept close to Clinton in delegates even in states where he lost.

Obama won 11 contests in a row. Clinton then won in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Clinton argued she could better win the larger states with more electoral votes and thus she had a better chance in the general election.

The long campaign for the nomination assisted Obama in getting his message heard in every state. This helped him win in North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia in the general election.

McCain, by winning the nomination earlier in the process, received less attention. The focus was on Obama versus Clinton.

McCain, the champion of campaign finance reform, criticized Obama for changing his position on not taking public financing and instead could receive greater amounts from contributors.

Obama picked Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate. This was a conventional choice that had little effect on the election.

McCain picked Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. This was an unconventional choice that received much attention. Her lack of experience hurt the ticket. McCain made energy a major topic but failed to use Palin as a voice on energy issues. Two third of voters preferred Biden over Palin.

When an economic downturn happened, the Obama campaign criticized an earlier McCain statement that the economy was sound. The Obama campaign moved into the lead in polls.

McCain responded by working on a Congressional bailout and by having Joe the Plumber symbolize his concern for the working class.

Obama showed that campaigning can make a difference. TV ads are overemphasized. Radio and Internet ads were more important than pundits realized. Obama’s campaign volunteers were very connected to the campaign and to each other, campaigning early that led to advantages later on. Obama kept a media focus that helped his campaign, demonstrated coherent message and presented a salable for reason for why he was running. Obama also showed that having more funds than an opponent is important to putting together a campaign.

The authors do not yet know if the 1008 election is the beginning of political alignment favoring the Democratic Party. They do observe the higher agreement that young voters have with Democrats that could create a 53% to 55% of voters over the next decade as composing a Democratic coalition.

In 2008, 26% of the voters were non-Whites. In 1976, 10% of the voters were non-Whites. In 2008, Obama won 43% of the White votes. In 1976, Carter won 47% of the White votes.

McCain’s supporters were 61% Caucasian, 23% African American, and 11% Hispanic. McCain’s supporters were 90% Caucasian.

Hispanic turnout increased in 19 states. They are an important voting block in many states.

Voters under age 30 supported Obama by 66% to McCain by 31%. This is important as young people tend to develop brand loyalty while young. This may be very important to future elections if the Democratic brand loyalty remains.

Obama led among women by 56% to 43% for McCain. Obama received 49% of the male vote compared to 47% for McCain. A gender gap, seen in previous elections between the two political parties, continues.

White college educated voters voted 51% for McCain to 47% for Obama. This traditionally Republican leaning group has been trending Democratic over the last decade.

Obama won moderates by 60% to 39% and Independents by 52% to 44%,

Catholics voted for Obama by 54% to 45% for McCain.

McCain was more popular with white Protestant Evangelicals, who compose 23% of the all voters, senior citizens (voters age 65 or more who compose 16% of al voters), and white voters without a college degree, where “Joe the Plumber” symbolized them. A future problem for Republicans is that senior citizens and whites without college degrees are forecast to be less of the proportion of the electorate.

Obama was the first Democrat since Clinton in 1966 to win a majority of suburban voters with 50% to 48% for McCain.

McCain won rural voters by 53% to 45% for Obama. This eight point margin compares to Bush’s 15 point margin in 2004 and Bush’s 22 point margin in 2000.

In most states that went from Bush to Obama, the significant change was seen in more suburban voters switching from Republican to Democrat.

Voter dissatisfaction was important in the 2008 election. Two thirds of voters did not approve of Bush as President.

Obama and McCain differed on the Iraq War. Of the 63% of voters who opposed the Iraq War, Obama was favored by 76% to 22%. Of the 36% of voters who approved the war, McCain was favored by 86% to 13%.

Obama made “change” his issue. McCain ran as a maverick and reformer. Of the 34% of voters who chose “change” as the most important qualify for a candidate, Obama led by 89% to 9%. Of the 30% of voters who chose “values” as the most important quality of a candidate, McCain led by 65% to 32%. Of the 20% who chose “experience” as the most important quality of a candidate, McCain led by 93% to 7%. Of the 12% of voters who said the most important quality of a candidate is that he “cares”, Obama led by 74% to 24%.

In 2008, 39% of voters identified themselves as Democrats, 32% as Republicans, and 29% as Independents. In 2004, 37% were Democrats, 37% were Republicans, and 26$ were Independents.

The Republicans faces becoming a party than can only win in Southern states and rural areas. The conservative base politically limits contrary ideologies that could appear to a larger base. Republicans best hopes may rest in hoping the Democrats fail and Republicans can present themselves as the alternative.

The battleground states are Colorado (the Obama primary campaign continued operating and Obama received 53% of the vote there), Florida (the most populated of the battleground states), Indiana (a historic Republican state that Obama won by 50% to 49%), Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

Receding battleground states now mostly tilting more Democratic are Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Emerging battleground states are Arizona, Georgia, Montana, Nebraska, and Texas.

The other states appear to be solidly leaning either Democratic or Republican.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back When a Republican Was Against Corruption

Robert R. Canfield. Fat-Cat Lobbyists Make Your Laws. New York: Vantage Press, 1968.

Former State Senator and Illinois Crime Commission member Robert Canfield described how influential the insurance, race track, gun industry, banks, and savings and loans were in protecting and advancing their interest in Illinois government during the 1960s and before. As a Republican, he was upset to see business lobbyists using the Red scare rhetoric in denouncing public programs as advancing socialist ideals.

Canfield wrote how a U.S. Senator told him that the key to success was getting fact cats and their financial contributions supporting a candidacy. Canfield claimed that fat cats owned that Senator.

Canfield argued that the insurance lobbyists were the most organized and influential of lobbyists. He wrote the industry advocates had their offices in the Senate President Pro temp’s office. The nursing home lobbyists were in the Capitol office next door and the trucker’ lobbyists were two doors down. Various lobbyists had office scattered amongst the State Senate floor, including at times the Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber of Commerce usually had five or five lobbyists operating out of Senate offices. They supplied Senators with arguments for supporting their issues and “a generous supply of liquid beverages.”

When the Illinois House passed lobbyist regulations in 1965, the President Pro Tem led Senators into not adopting lobbyist regulations.

Many gangsters were behind the truckers lobbying, according to the Illinois Crime Investigating Commission. The truckers’ lobbyists felt that most legislators “have their price, and often a small one,” according to the author.

The truckers lobby used state employees, furniture, and telephones. They also determined which legislator met their approval to sit on the Motor Vehicles Committee in both the House and Senate.

Legislators were known to attend poker games with lobbyists. Legislators inevitably left such games as winners.

In 1965, several legislative meetings with lobbyists were secretly recorded and the tapes delivered to a Chicago newspaper. The press printed how $50,000 was given by lobbyists to legislators for their actions on legislation. No legislator was even charged for a crime from these tapes. In fact, all 24 Senators and 38 Representatives mentioned on these tapes who sought reelection won their races.

On the other hand, all legislators who created the Illinois Crime Investigating Committee were defeated for reelection with the gambling lobby supporting their opponents.

The illegal gambling lobby influences legislators. A bill revoking liquor licenses for allowing gambling was killed. A bill to allow one jai lai establishment in Chicago was passed late at night without advance notice.

Lobbyists for big banks often fought on legislation with lobbyists representing branch banking interests. Both accused the other of supplying prostitutes to legislators. Illinois was one of the few states that didn’t allow branch banking.

Lobbyists for small loan companies were influential in obtaining the right to make short term loans at interest rates higher than anyone else could legally charge. These were businesses known to have had gangster involvement. One company was found guilty of bribing a state official.

The gun lobby is described in this book as having been strong and threatening. They insisted on support for their legislation or else they would use their political skills to defeat legislators they didn’t like. They also accused those who favored gun laws as akin to favoring socialism.

Lobbyists representing industrial interests kept taxes low or non-existent on stocks, bonds, securities, deposit funds, and inheritances.

One State Senator received commissions from selling coal. He was not actually involved in any of the transactions and didn’t even know who the buyers were.

The Illinois legislature was known to pass few or no bills for several months. Then, in its last few days, it would pass several hundred bills.

The author concludes that “representative self-government is the finest and best of all forms of government, but it can only survive and be effective in the forces that seek to contaminate it are exposed, recognized, and removed.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Successes and Failures of Local Liberalism: Philadelphia as a Case Study

Guian A. McKee. The Problems of Jobs: Liberalism, Race and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008.

This book describes how the movement fir economic equality and for creating more jobs grew as local movements during the post-New Deal period, even as they faltered as national movements. This book examines what happened locally in Philadelphia. There, political decision makers and neighborhood activists fought for job training, job retention, inner city economic development, and affirmative action programs. Racist existed as a problem.

The first plant the Philadelphia Industrial Corporation (PIDC) helped retain was the Stephen E. Witman and Son chocolate factory. It was planning to move to New Jersey until PIDC offered to assist in their staying in Philadelphia in a larger plant. PICK directed development towards an abandoned part of North Philadelphia that became an industrial park. The economic development politics of the New Deal and post-World War II liberalism on the national level were followed by the liberal economic development decisions at the local level. Smaller but separate policies were created and applied to both African Americans and Caucasians.

New Deal liberalism called for increasing public policy intervention in corporate behavior. The subsequent rise of local liberalism was pragmatic, sought empirical data in search of policy truths, supported policy experimentation that produced usable policy information, and was anti-communist. The anti-communist aspect of the movement was less prevalent in Philadelphia than it was nationally.

Philadelphia liberals, especially African Americans leaders, created policies that incorporated self-responsibility, state government programs, plus mainstream values blended with civil rights advocacy. Liberalism became a theory of local activism that guided local government in Philadelphia and other urban areas.

Racism was persistent in employment. African Americans were kept out of closed union shops. Apprentice programs drove African Americans towards lower paid and riskier jobs. African American females were funneled towards lower paid domestic service jobs.

Jobs increasingly shifted towards suburban employers, where it was more expensive than within the city to live. Mostly Caucasians could better afford to move to where these jobs were.

In 1951, a collation of reform liberal activists, unionists, African Americans, Democratic Party workers, and business groups obtained political power in Philadelphia. This was similar in composition to the New Deal coalition. Prior, Republicans had dominated most Philadelphia government administrations since the 1860s.

The national programs that fought poverty operated on the belief that jobs can be trained for and provided to poor people in a growing economy such that few changers were sought in the economic structure. These structural problems were fought at the local level. Local planning efforts plus drives to get more African Americans hired in construction jobs sought to create economic structural changes in Philadelphia.

The rising strength of the Democratic Party along with scandals among Republican officials led some Philadelphia business leadership, who were mostly Republican, to form the Greater Philadelphia Movement that sought to reform city government and encourage center city business development. They joined with local groups such as the Americans for Democratic Action and a reform group Citizens’ Council on City Planning, to elect reform liberal Democrats and successfully campaign to provide Philadelphia with a Home Rule Charter with a new system of government. This new form of governance consists of a strong Mayor, more civil service jobs, and increased responsibilities of the City Planning Commission.

Reform movements as in Philadelphia were successful in New York, Boston, St. Louis, and Cleveland.

The anti-communist hysteria that hit other localities was less an issue in Philadelphia. When a group of Philadelphians were arrested as communists, top Philadelphia law firms provided their legal defense.

The loss of manufacturing jobs hurt Philadelphia. An annual decline, with a one year exception, in manufacturing jobs saw a loss of 101,400 jobs from 1954 to 1964. This also reduced Philadelphia’s tax base which limited the ability to create liberal social policies.

In 1960 Philadelphia, racial minorities composed 22.4% of the labor force, 54.8% of the unskilled labor jobs, 78.-% of male domestic servant jobs, 14.4% of foremen and craftsmen jobs, 14.3% of sales and clerical jobs, 8.7% of male professional/technical jobs, and 6.2% of managerial/proprietor jobs.

In 1964, 9%, or 4,242, of Philadelphia businesses were owned by African Americans, of which 13 were manufacturing businesses and 14 were wholesalers.

Philadelphia shifted to a service economy. Economic forecasts warned that the continuing loss of manufacturing jobs would be continue over the long term. Commerce Director Walter Phillips proposed that the job flow to the suburbs could be reduced by turning vacant land into small factories. Land banking used proceeds from the sale of land for purchasing more land to be sold for industrial use. Philips met with opposition to his idea for a stronger industrial policy from real estate leaders, such as the politically powerful Democratic National Committeeman Albert Greenfield as well as questions regarding its legality from City Planning Commission Executive Director Edmund Bacon. This industrial policy was not adopted during the Administration of Maybe Joseph Clark. Yet the next Mayor Richardson Dilworth made industrial programs one of his priorities. A $78 million Eastwick project of industry with housing, commercial spaces, and community facilities designed to racially integrate 60,000 and create 20,000 jobs was the nations’ largest new renewal project at the time. The project though displaced 8,636 and took decades to reach its initial goals. Much social conflict arose.

Development Coordinator William Rafsky led programs that cleared blighted areas and built scattered clusters of new housing. Code enforcement was increased to prevent further deteriorations. Delinquent blight properties were seized and turned into playgrounds and parking lots.

Mayor Dilworth made Albert Greenfield the Chairman of the City Planning Commission. He and the Commission were then the champions of industrial policies the Commission had previously resisted. The business community was supportive, which was important to its operations.

Many new companies employing much smaller numbers of employers sprang into existence.

The city began offering low cost financing to its industrial base. It was discovered that much of Philadelphia’s base was small or medium sized family owned specialty producers who had good credit ratings, were profitable, but lacked the capital to modernize and remain competitive. Since state law did not allow PIDC to make loans, PICK connected lender to industrial borrowers. PIDC assumed the loan, making them tax free which permitted lower interest rates and smaller equity requirements for industrial borrowers.

PIDC loans went to numerous types of industries. It did not move to help to help the apparel or textile industries, and they went into sudden and massive declines. PIDC may have not helped on purpose as they may have determined these businesses could not be rescued.

Philadelphia lost almost 5,700 manufacturing and wholesaling jobs between 1963 and 1992. Efforts to stop the loss of jobs may have found some short term successes but the long term results were negative. On the positive side, an industrial base remained with 124 industrial firms employing 23, 035 in Philadelphia in 1999.

Many other cities pursued urban renewal over industrial financing, as Philadlephia chose. Most of the other cities concluded that their urban renewal efforts failed to achieve the desired goals. Boston came closest to Philadelphia’s model as Boston offered low interest financing through tax exempt revenue bonds.

James Tate, City Council President, became Mayor upon the resignation of Richard Dilworth to run unsuccessfully for Governor. Tate defeated Walter Phillips in the 1963 Democratic Primary and was elected to two terms as Mayor. Tate defeated Arlen Specter in 1967. Specter was supported by the Greater Philadelphia Movement. Tate was strongly supported by labor unions and African American voters. Tate favored Great Society programs, increased pay to city workers, increased taxes, and kept PICK as a major component of economic development policies.

The Philadelphia labor movement was less radicalized and had fewer strikes in the 1960s compared to New York, Chicago, and Detroit. Labor was a part of PIDC with labor leaders serving on the PIDC Board of Directors. PIDC was creating and saving jobs, even as it helped increase automation.

The PIDC tried to avoid racial issues and allowed separate efforts for Caucasians and African American communities. African Americans felt they were served less than were others. Merging the efforts happened in the 1970s, yet many opportunities to have been more effective had passed.

Mayor Tate’s merging job training, economic development, social services, and urban renewal goals and efforts reflected the goals and plans of the New Deal’s National Resources Planning Board.

Unemployment fell disproportionately on African Americans. Around 1964, African Americans composed 26% of the labor force but 43% of the jobless.

Philadelphia aimed more economic development efforts towards social welfare programs that turned the unemployed into tax-paying employees. This differed from other cities that put more of their economic development efforts towards improving downtown businesses.

There were four days of rioting in Philadelphia predominantly by African Americans during August, 1964. These riots were smaller than some riots in other cities. Mayor Tate took control of the city’s poverty programs. Tate in part wanted to keep power from his political opposition. Tate’s naming of Samuel Dash as the Executive Director of the Human Service Committee under the Welfare Committee evoked the ire of NAACP President Cecil B. Moore. Tate’s Mayor’s Program for the Elimination of Poverty lacked neighborhood actions and community involvement. It was denounced by Moore and the Americans for Democratic Action. Tate’s initial program fell apart.

Tate created the Philadelphia Anti-Poverty Action Committee (PAAC). He political ally Samuel Evans was named Chairman and Evan’s ally Charles Bowser was named Executive Director. Cecil Moore remained critical. Tate has a strong allegiance with the publicly elected but unpaid PPAC Community Action Council members. 118 of the 144 Council members, and 78 of their relatives, received jobs with either PAAC or city government.

Under Evans and Bowser, decisions were made without public hearings and few new programs were created. The Americans for Democratic Action and Republican City Committee held their own hearings. Community Action Council members were prohibited from being involved with these hearings. Evans argued the path to economic gains for African Americans was to follow the path that other ethnic groups had taken to become of the political power structure.

PAAC founded Head Start and the Opportunities Industrialization Centers job training programs that had successful results. Other successful programs included the Community Legal Services which provided legal services to poor people and Medicare Alert which went door to door explaining new Medicare benefits and how to apply for them.

Business loans to people under set incomes were created as Economic Opportunity Loans. The maximum such loan could be was $25,000. By comparison, the maximum Small Business Administration loan then was $350,000.

PAAC failed to coordinate anti-poverty programs with economic development programs. The PAAC functioned primarily as a patronage organization of supporters of Mayor Tate.

The Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC), organized by Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, grew by 1962 intro 100 centers in six countries that provided job training to over 100,000.

Rev. Sullivan also led ministers and others in organizing a boycott of companies that discriminated in hiring and promotions. As a result, 300 businesses agreed to change their practices. OIC delved into the social problems that was causing economic problems to racial minorities, which is something PIDC failed to do.

The OIC resulted from a combination of Federal liberalism and mainstream self-reliance traditionalism. It began with a $50,000 Federal grant, followed by other Federal grants. $458,000 was granted for a pre-training feeder program, then $2,988,152 was granted for day care and nursery programs, and eventually over $14 million over a six year period was sent from the Federal government to OIC. The Ford Foundation assisted. OIC offered numerous employment courses. At first, ti trained 300 students and developed a waiting list of 6,000. Pre-training was developed to assist those who couldn’t get into the courses. Pre-training included how to look for a job, grooming, hygiene, how to complete job applications, etc. 57% of the early trainees were women.

OIC discovered it was not reaching those who most needed their services. Recruiters went into housing projects, bars, barbershops, beauty parlors, pool halls, etc. to inform people about their job training programs. Local radio stations provided announcements. OIC information was sent out with welfare checks. In 1966, 81% of OIC students did not have a high school diploma.

OIC attracted industry specialists as teachers. Textbooks and equipment were often lacking. OIC claimed to have a good record placing those completing its courses into jobs related to their newly learned skills. Its 579 graduates from Feb. 15-Oct. 31, 1965 resulted, by Jan. 1966, with 507 in jobs related to their courses, 52 in jobs in other areas, and 20 unemployed.

The Nixon Administration created the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) in 1973. CETA required job training programs to be connected to a local manpower council. This forced OIC to be accountable to another agency. The feeder program was eliminated as “unnecessary”. CETA was disallowed OIC practice of payment cash allowances to participants. CETA funds were also used for patronage jobs on behalf of Mayor Frank Rizzo.

The OIC fell into financial troubles. It owed $520,000 to its employee pension fund and owed $420,000 in unpaid local property and school taxes. This led to a staff reduction from 400 to 233 from 1987 to 1980. Due to a weak economy, OIC placed 321 of 900 graduates into jobs.

The Reagan Administration eliminated CETA. Over half of OIC local offices folded.

The Philadelphia Urban Coalition was created as a collation between minority groups and white liberals. It supported a proposal to provide $2.8 billion in emergency jobs offered by then Senator Joseph Clark that President Johnson opposed. Charles Bowser was hired as Executive Director. The Urban Coalition was more aggressive in fighting racial discrimination cases than had the PIDC.

There has been resentment from some employers and unions that minorities were required to be hired to achieve minority representation. Often the added minorities lacked some qualifications for work. Bowser worked with the Building Trades, who had been openly resistant to minority hiring practices, to train more minorities to have union journeymen skills.

In 1969, an Assistant U.S. Labor Secretary observed that some contracted in Philadelphia demonstrated they complied with minority hiring requirements by moving the same African Americans by motorcycle from site to site ahead of Federal inspectors.

The Urban Coalition fought for low public transit fares to industrial parks and suburbs, where jobs were increasing in number. This campaign failed. The Coalition complained that mass transit spending emphasized the needs of wealthier suburban riders.

Within the Nixon Administration, there was a concern for civil rights from Labor Department leaders, especially Assistant Secretary Arthur Fletcher and Secretary George Schultz. It was also the desire to Domestic Policy Advisor John Ehrlichman to turn two political enemies, labor unions and civil rights groups, against each other. This led to requiring contractors to make good faith efforts to reach minority hiring goals. Liberal groups, such as the New Democratic Coalition, joined several civil rights groups and African American jobs advocacy groups in support of these efforts. Ben Stahl, AFL-CIO Human Resources Development Institute Director, argued that efforts should focus on fighting decreases in Federal construction as only increasing the number of jobs could lead to hiring more minority employees. Philadelphia contractors failed to meet the goals set for them. Ben Stahl concluded that “I would still have to say that no new minority worker has been put to work as a result” of the plan required in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Plan on increasing minority employment in the building trades made gradual changes. By September, 1973, 33.8% (929 of 2,752) workers in six trades were of racial minorities.

The Model Cities housing plan reached out to include participatory planning. 12 community activists were put on a Task Force. Community groups did not trust the plans. Implementing the goals of improved housing proved troublesome. Model Cities became a political organization controlled by Mayor Tate and then Mayor Rizzo.

The abuse of favoritism in contracts and hiring led HUD to threaten to half funding Model Cities.

Racial tensions increased followed a demonstration of 3,500 mostly African American students in support of schools teaching African American history and culture. Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo is said to have told police to use force. Police ran into the crowds, hitting protestors, and violence erupted. 15 protestors were hospitalized and about as many required medical attention. 27 pedestrians were injured by fleeing demonstrators. 12 police officers were hurt.

Work is a traditional value embraced by conservatives. Liberals have been less successful demonstrating their commitment to work. Job creation efforts should be evaluated for their impact on social issues. Economic development needs to help neighborhoods as well as businesses A local industrial policy will require Federal help. Philadelphia local liberalism made some economic strides but failed on housing, employment, education, and region-wide integration.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Excellent Book on the Excesses of Takings

Jeff Benedict. Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2009.

Pfizer wanted to build a global research and development headquarters in New London, Ct. The State of Connecticut invested $100 million to purchase the properties for the Pfizer buildings as well as for a five star hotel. Several property owners refused to sell their properties. The City of New London used eminent domain to take these properties. One homeowner threatened with eminent domain, Susette Kelo, sued to keep her home from being taken by eminent domain. Her case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where a 5 to 4 decision determined that government could take property in order to increase tax revenues.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor argued in her dissenting opinion “Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factor.”

Sen. Arlen Specter called for Congressional review of the Supreme Court decision. He noted that the Fifth Amendment prohibits taking personal property except for a public use. He questioned whether it was public use to use taken property for private economic development in order to increase tax revenues.

Governor John Rowland wanted to conduct an urban renewal program in New London. As a Republican, Rowland sought to bypass dealing with the mostly Democratic New London city government. He turned to the state’s Economic and Community Development Department to handle the project. The Department hired lobbyist Jay Levin, a former New London Mayor and a Democrat for $196,000 to create a development proposal.

New London created a nonprofit development corporation, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC). It had been inactive in recent years. Levin moved to reactivate the NLDC with a new President who would be the Governor’s ally. Levin maneuvered to have Dr. Claire Gaudiani, President of Connecticut College, become NLDC President. He had the members of NLDC still alive revive the NLDC, saw that a registration fee to reactive it was paid, required paperwork filed with the state, and Gaudiani was elected President. Levin assured Gaudiani he’d do most of the work. Gaudiani then was unaware of the plans Rowland and Levin had for New London’s economic development.

New London Democratic Party City Chairman Tony Bascilica opposed nominating Gaudiani. Levin told Bascilica the only way Governor Rowland would provide funds to New London was through the NLDC.

Gaudiana asked George Milne, an executive at Pfizer, to join the NLDC. He agreed to, initially just for six months.

The planned site for economic development near Fort Trumbull, where Kelo’s house sat, posed environmental contamination issues. It was near a scrap metal junkyard and included a sewer treatment facility whose odor could be smelled through the neighborhood. Pfizer then was looking for additional land, but Milne said it was too costly for anyone to develop.

Pfizer, which is located next to this are, then recommended the Fort Trumbell area renovated into a state park and the scrap metal junkyard removed. Pfizer stated they would move onto the site if state government would provide assistance.

When Lloyd Beachy was elected New London’s Mayor in 1997, Gaudiana called him and presented NLDC’s ideas for economic development. Beachley realized he was being shown what was happening before he could state his ideas.

Governor Rowland offered $20 million to create Fort Trumbull State Park, purchase the Navy base on the site with state funds, give $8 million to NLDC to acquire property and pay its own operating costs, loan the City of New London $7 million to improve the sewage treatment facility, release $4.5 million in liens that the state had against the mill site, and spend up to $2 million to relocate the junkyard. In addition, the City of New London agreed to transfer the mill site, valued at $5.4 million to Pfizer for free, and to change local zoning so the area could be developed.

The local newspaper, The Day, learned Pfeizer wanted to build a facility on the mill site. Gaudiana asked the paper’s publisher to delay printing the story. The publisher refused and the story ran.

Pfizer decided to invest $300 million on the site. Governor Rowland offered $75 million in incentives in return. The state government then offered another $26 million for NLDC to purchase and demolish all the buildings in the area. Pfizer stated the development would create about 2,000 jobs.

The median annual family income of residents in the area slated for development was $21,250, among the poorest in town.

The Italian Dramatic Club (IDC), a private club, was two blocks from Kelo’s house. Aldo Valentini first received verbal assurance from Levin that IDC would not be touched. Levin then agreed to put this in writing.

Kelo was offered $68,000 for a house she has bought for $53,500. She refused. She was then offered $78,000. She refused again.

Real estate agents sent letters to property owners stating construction would begin soon and that the best offers would soon pass. The press reported how such letters were illegal. The agent claimed the NLDC has approved threatening property owners that eminent domain would be the next step.

The Downes Groups, a construction company owned by a family that contributed “heavily” to Rowland’s campaign, was hired as a consultant on the Navy property portion of the plan. This property was to be sold to the highest bidder for public construction.

New London Councilwoman Peg Curtin, a political critic of Basilica, successfully moved to have City Council give the authority for this development. A committee composed of two from City Council, two from NLDC, and two from the Governor’s Administration would develop a concept plan. Mayor Beachy was the only vote against this. (The Mayor in New London is a voting member of Council.)

Mayor Beachy, Susette Kelo, and Kathleen Mitchell formed a neighborhood group opposing the NLDC’s plans.

Tony Basilica moved to save historic buildings on the Navy property. Although Governor Rowland requested a delay, Bascilica advised the Navy to proceed with its public auction. Basilica and associates asked NLDC to agree to purchase the Navy property by August 31, 1998 using an economic development conveyance. Gaudiani did not sign and instead sent it to City Council for their advice. Jay Levin moved to get the Board members of the Corporation for Economic Development behind the Governor’s plan. Basilica was forced off the committee overseeing the Navy property. Peg Curtin replaced him Mayor Beachy was one of three who voted against removing Basilica. Days later, Milne stated that all the Navy properties should be torn down.

Governor Rowland held a press conference across from Kelo’s house announcing he would provide $15 million from state government for relocating people in that neighborhood.

The NLDC refused to comply with The Day’s requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). The Day sued. The NLDC argued it wasn’t a public agency that had to adhere to the FOI. The NLDC lost.

Milne, for Pfizer, sent a written request to NLDC that the Navy property be acquired and developed according to its wishes. They included a hotel as an extension of its facility, among other items. This was the most detailed Pfizer had become in stressing its wishes. The intent was to prod Governor Rowland into providing more money. Rowland was worried that some homeowners hadn’t left and was reluctant to use eminent domain. Pfizer and the NLDC wanted to start demolish structures to create an appearance that the project was proceeding in hopes of pushing the remaining owners to sell.

A Connecticut College History Professor, Fred Paxton, reviewed the NLPC plans in the NLPC office. He wasn’t allowed to have a copy. He concluded there was no need to remove the neighborhood around Fort Trumbull. He became upset that his college was participating in an effort to remove longtime residents, many of whom were elderly, porr, and with little political power, from a historic neighborhood. Paxton insisted the plan was a draft and public hearings had to be held. Gaudiani disagreed and claimed that that state government insisted the plan was final.

The Day printed columns written by Kelo and Paxton. In addition, the NLDC still hasn’t opened its records six months after it has lost its FOI case. Letters against the NLDC started streaming into the Day. Rowland demanded the NLDC comply with the FOI and saw to it that the press knew of his demand.

City Council voted 6 to 1 for the NLDC plan, with only Mayor Beachy opposing it. Soon after Council approved, the NLDC moved to begin tearing down buildings, including the house next to Kelo’s. Several NLDC members objected to Levin’s agreement with the Italian Dramatic Club. They insisted there could be no exceptions to the demolitions. Levin and NLDC reached a compromise proposal that NLDC would either build a new building or would physically move the current building to another location. Superior Court Judge Angelo Santaniello, a club member, warned that the club that NLDC would not offer the club enough money. Levin offered he could get $300,000 in Federal money. Santaniello suggested that Pfizer provide some money. Pfizer didn’t want to create a precedent. Thus, the club insisted on remaining on that location.

The Institute for Justice, which supported the rights of property owners against government takings, became interested in the NLDC situation.

Council, late into a meeting after the public witnesses had left, added an unannounced item to its agenda and approved demolishing the properties.

Meanwhile, Pfizer merged with Warner-Lambert. The merger provided it with an excess of office space and land. It no longer was searching for more land.

Once Kelo realized an exception has been made for the Italian Dramatic Club, she asked that one be made for her house and other houses that had just as much historic value as the club building. The NLDC still proceeded with eminent domain eviction of Kelo and the remaining property owners.

Connecticut law provided for objecting to the amount of a taking but not to objecting to the taking itself. The title of a property that is taken automatically goes to the local government. The Institute of Justice offered to represent Kelo for free as she met three criteria for their taking a case: a client the public could view sympathetically, outrageous facts that demanded legal justice, and an opposition the public would view as villains. The lawsuit was drafted as a narrative which was not legally necessary but was aimed for the press to read and report.

NLDC responded by sending out condemnation order telling homeowners they no longer owned their homes. The Institute realized this only made the NLDC appear even more like a villain in the public’s eye.

The lawsuit argued there was no public purpose for the taking as required by the Fifth Amendment. The suit also claimed a lack of equal protection for protecting the Italian Dramatic Club but not the others. Finally, Kelo’s property was not within the designated development area and there was no necessity that it be taken. Eight legal violations were claimed.

A Marshal attempted to serve Kelo with condemnation papers. She refused to accept them.

The Judge decided that the NLDC plan was a public use but that Kelo’s and other homes were not part of the plan and thus could not be subjected to eminent domain. Other homes, though, could be taken that were in the plan. The Institute appealed the decision.

The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld by 4 to 3 the lower court’s decision that the takings were proper and overturned the lower court’s decision that the other takings were not proper. In sun, the state court ruled all the takings were legal. A dissenting opinion argued the court had never gone this far before. The Institute for Justice attorneys believed the arguments in the dissent formed the basis for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court accepts about 1% of case filed before it. It accepted the Kelo case.

Wes Horton, who argued the case for the City of New London, presumed that Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were likely to agree with his arguments that creating jobs and increased tax revenues would help the city provide more services for the poor. He also assumed Justices William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas would favor private rights. He based his case on convincing one more Justice, either Sandra Day O’Connor or Anthony Kennedy, to agree with his arguments. He observed they were more fact-based. He chose a large sized diagram showing what the development would do. He held a moot court where he realized the weakness of his case was he couldn’t articulate where the line was that permitted private property to be taken to increase tax revenues. He realized, instead of stumbling on where the line was, that it was better to argue that government has a complete right to take public land for more revenues and jobs.. Horton knew this would not be a popular answer for the public, but he felt it would help win the case before the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the state Supreme Court decision by 5 to 4. Justice Stevens wrote in the majority decision “clearly, there is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally based understanding of public purpose”. O’Connor dissented from the decision. She wrote “the beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.”

Connecticut’s new Governor, Jodi Rell, denounced the Supreme Court decision. Public opinion was similarly mostly opposed to the decision. The NLDC pushed ahead and sent out eviction notices. Governor Rell created a special mediator between the NLDFC and the residents.

The New London Council voted 6 to 0 to sever ties with the NLDC. Ron Angelo, the state’s Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development, assured that the NLDC would be more responsive to the Governor’s and the public’s concerns. Council was convinced by this and then voted 6 to 0 to keep the NLDC. Governor Rell announced the two remaining residents could stay and titles to their homes were returned to them. The development could otherwise occur. The Governor’s office agreed to demands Kelo and the other remaining family, the Cristofaro family, requested. Kelo moved to what she desired, which was another house with a waterfront view. Kelo’s pink house would be moved and preserved as a historic site. The Crisofaros received $475,000, the ability to affordably return to the neighborhood when the new development was built, a historic plaque, and to save show shrubs.

In 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously issued a decision contrary to the Kelo decision on a case in takings for a proposed shopping mall. As of 2008, seven states adopted Constitutional amendments and 42 states created laws prohibiting takings for economic development. The NLDC has demolished the Fort Trumbull neighborhood but nothing, as of 2008, has been built. The development could not obtain the financing to proceed.