For more than 12 years, ArcelorMittal has met regularly with residents and other stakeholders to discuss how the company can improve its environmental performance and address concerns about anything from noise to permits.
But information might be less available as a result of a class-action lawsuit that Crown Point dad Ron Kurth filed March 25 against Lake County’s 11 biggest polluters, including ArcelorMittal. The lawsuit says the pollution causes increased risk of lung cancer, mental disabilities and other illnesses for Lake County students.
With the global economy in recession and unemployment levels rising, elected leaders throughout the world are turning to infrastructure projects as a way to put thousands of people back to work.
With this massive forthcoming investment we just had to investigate what’s likely to come down the infrastructure pipeline. It turns out however, that what me be coming our way are not exactly the forward-looking interventions we are hoping for. In fact, the stimulus packages proposed potentially threaten the exact projects we should want to succeed.
This risk is a direct result of our current economic situation. In order for the stimulus to stimulate things need to happen relatively quickly. Thus, a tension exists between doing things well and doing things quickly.
Unfortunately, federal governments don’t have the best reputation when it comes to spending wisely on infrastructure. In a recent New York Times article “Piling up Monuments of Waste”, David Leonhardt claims:
It’s hard to exaggerate how scattershot the current system is. Government agencies usually don’t even have to do a rigorous analysis of a project or how it would affect traffic and the environment, relative to its cost and to the alternatives — before deciding whether to proceed.
<Reality Check> In one recent survey of local officials, almost 80 percent said they had based their decisions largely on politics, while fewer than 20 percent cited a project’s potential benefits. </Reality Check>
Road and highway construction is one apparent category of infrastructure spending where politics threatens to trump utility. The Brookings Institution directs our attention at U.S. roads as being and potential investment with a high ROI. The proposed investment needs to distance itself from politically driven projects that lead to things like underused highways in western Pennsylvania, and instead focus on alleviating the financial losses in major US centers due to road congestion.
…the places that are most critical to the country’s economic competitiveness don’t get what they need. The nation’s 100 largest metropolitan regions generate 75 percent of its economic output. They also handle 75 percent of its foreign sea cargo, 79 percent of its air cargo, and 92 percent of its air-passenger traffic. Yet of the 6,373 earmarked projects that dominate the current federal transportation law, only half are targeted at these metro areas.
Ok. So this is one tangible project. We’ll keep looking for more. Hopefully the next one we find will not only offer hard-data by analyzing effect vs. cost (also known as value) but also move beyond the shovel-ready standards rooted in the 1950s fossil fuel paradigm – something that we may lose sight of during this infrastructure spending spree
DSDHA was selected has the winner of the waterloo city square design competition. the contest focused on the outdated area of london near waterloo road and station. DSDHA’s concept revolves around the IMAX on waterloo circus as a marker of the cultural quarter on london’s south bank.
When asked why that elderly woman was killed, a squad commander was quoted as saying: “What’s great about Gaza — you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, ‘Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.”
Amir Marmor, a 33-year-old history graduate student in Jerusalem and a military reservist, said in an interview with The New York Times that he was stunned to discover the way civilian casualties were discussed in training discussions before his tank unit entered Gaza in January. “Shoot and don’t worry about the consequences,” was the message from the top commanders, he said. Speaking of a lieutenant colonel who briefed the troops, Mr. Marmor said, “His whole demeanor was extremely gung ho. This is very, very different from my usual experience. I have been doing reserve duty for 12 years, and it was always an issue how to avoid causing civilian injuries. He said in this operation we are not taking any chances. Morality aside, we have to do our job. We will cry about it later.”
Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana announced plans in December to form an equivalent of the Blue Dog caucus in the Senate. Today his office rolled out the Moderate Dems Working Group:
WASHINGTON - A diverse group of 15 Senate Democrats today announced the formation of a new moderate coalition that will meet regularly to shape public policy. The group’s goal is to work with the Senate leadership and the new administration to craft common-sense solutions to urgent national problems.
The Moderate Dems Working Group will meet every other Tuesday before the Democratic Caucus lunch to discuss legislative strategies and ideas. The Moderate Dems held their second meeting Tuesday to focus on the upcoming budget negotiations and the importance of passing a fiscally responsible spending plan in the Senate.
Leading the new group are Democratic Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper of Delaware and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Both Senators Bayh and Carper were successful governors before coming to the Senate. Senators Lincoln and Carper bring bicameral experience to the group as former members of the House of Representatives. All three leaders are honorary co-chairs of Third Way, a progressive Democratic policy group, and Senators Bayh and Carper have led the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
At the working group meeting, Senator Bayh acknowledged that such a large group was unlikely to agree on all major issues before the Senate. Yet the Moderate Dems are joined by a shared commitment to pursue pragmatic, fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as deficit containment, health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, energy policy and climate change.
In addition to Senators Bayh, Carper and Lincoln, others joining the group are Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
A few things jumped out at me:
15 members is a quarter of the Democratic Senate caucus. That’s proportionally larger than the Blue Dog caucus in the House.
Look how many first-term senators have joined up with Bayh: McCaskill from the class of 2006 and Udall, Begich, Hagan, Shaheen and Warner from the class of 2008.
Of the Moderate Dems, only Bennet, Lincoln and Bayh are up for re-election in 2010. Lincoln and Bayh are not expected to face tough challenges.
Of the Moderate Dems, only Lincoln, Landrieu, Begich and Ben Nelson represent states carried by John McCain. Why did the others rush to join a caucus that (based on Bayh’s record) will try to water down President Barack Obama’s agenda?
Back in December Matthew Yglesias advanced a very plausible hypothesis about Bayh’s agenda:
With Republicans out of power, the GOP can’t really block progressive change in exchange for large sums of special interest money. That creates an important market niche for Democrats willing to do the work. It was a good racket for the House Blue Dogs in 2007-2008 and there’s no reason it couldn’t work for Senate analogues over the next couple of years.
Bayh’s press release includes a ludicrous quote from Harry Reid:
Of the working group’s formation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “If we are going to deliver the change Americans demanded and move our country forward, it will require the courage to get past our political differences and get to work. Established organizations like Third Way and new ventures like this group offer us a new opportunity to get things done, and I support every effort that puts real solutions above political posturing.”
Raise your hand if you believe that Bayh’s group is going to offer “a new opportunity to get things done.”
The only good I can imagine coming of Bayh’s venture is if the group gives some political cover to Democratic senators representing red or purple states, making it harder for Republicans to tie them to liberal bogeymen.
This optimistic scenario would pan out only if the Moderate Dems do not consistently vote as a bloc with Bayh. Earlier this month, David Waldman/Kagro X analyzed some Senate votes in which Bayh supported Republican amendments. If you click that link you’ll see that various senators named in today’s press release did not vote with the Bayh/Republican position.
For that reason, Waldman greeted today’s news with a big yawn and doesn’t seem worried that the Moderate Dems will do anything other than help Bayh show off how “moderate” he is.
The Russians say one should “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” As a Democrat who wants President Obama to succeed, I hope Waldman is right and the “Moderate Dems” are just using Bayh to bolster their “centrist” image.
On the other hand, if Bayh’s group develops along the path envisioned by Yglesias, which I consider more likely, then Democrats really should prepare for the worst in 2010. The severe recession may make next year a tough environment for the president’s party to begin with. If Democrats carrying water for corporate interests sink “the change we need,” Democratic base turnout could drop significantly, as it did in 1994. Most of the Moderate Dems Working Group members will not face the voters until 2012 and 2014, but their obstruction could harm many other Congressional Democrats.
The American Friends Service Committee carries out service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world. Founded by Quakers in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian war victims, AFSC’s work attracts the support and partnership of people of many races, religions, and cultures.
AFSC’s work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. The organization’s mission and achievements won worldwide recognition in 1947 when it accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with the British Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers.
The AFSC is directed by a Quaker board and staffed by Quakers and other people of faith who share the Friends’ desire for peace and social justice.