Led by Democrats. Vote was 111-44. Link. I think this is a win for cities. Short term, it will be a mess. Unions are grouchy, lumbering beasts that die hard. They discourage innovation.
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.
I was a board member of The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America (TNG/CWA 31041, part of AFL-CIO) as recently as 2007. The goal of our board meetings was not to help the company innovate, or help employees succeed in their careers. It was to squeeze our employer for every dime they had. Meetings were not think meetings. They were employer bashing sessions held by old white dudes and a handful of equally aged women (who barely had a voice. It was very patriarchal).
I agree with the premise that companies and cities should pay their workers the worth! But, not at the expense of dragging and running the city into the dirt. I could barely order paper clips without having to follow some ancient union rule set in stone during the 1960s. And the hierarchy was totally unfair - positions go to those who were at the company the longest (old men), not to those who were qualified to do the job well (young men and women). They didn’t understand Gen X or Gen Y - they’re not interested. Seriously, in 2011, who’s interested in becoming a union member??
Source: Boston (union) Globe
In 2008, I wrote a paper called “Landscape Urbanism, Fetish?”. I wanted to challenge a new movement that was gaining traction in my field of urban planning. This movement is called Landscape Urbanism, also known as Green Urbanism.
Actually, I have to admit that my paper was in-part motivated by selfishness. I wanted to directly challenge the scholar Jack Ahern. Ahern teaches landscape architecture at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He’s been at UMass’s Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) department since 1986, and is a well-respected researcher. I know Jack. I’ve traveled to Italy with him on one of his Landscape Architecture Study Tours, and have taken at least 3 of his classes. (I’ve received two degrees from UMass’s LARP program, a BS in Environmental Design [which Jack received in 1974] and a Masters in Regional Planning). But I disagree with his notion that landscape architecture can scale up to the level of designing our cities. I agree, some projects should incorporate landscape design into their fabric. I disagree, wholly, that cities can fully integrate landscape ideals a such great levels. Here’s what I mean:
From my city planning perspective, I welcome new ideas and scholarship that aims to improve both peoples lives and protect the environment. New Urbanism, for example, is a new-ish approach to designing cities. It pretty much aims to re-create communities with a thriving Main Street that people love to walk around, rather than sprawling, car-oriented suburbs that are inflected with strip malls (read about New Urbanism, here). There are other new ideas about how to design cities taking root, too, like IBM’s Intelligent Cities, and the EPA’s Smart Growth USA treatment. And of course, there’s the maddening fetish for “sustainable cities.”
My main problem with landscape urbanism is that it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. There are no cities, major developments, or pilot projects that can claim to adopt or have been designed around the principles of landscape urbanism.
And yet Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design is now headed by the father of landscape urbanism, Charles Waldheim. There are oodles and oodles of writings on landscape urbanism, but the language used by these “scholars” is so obtuse, and so ridiculous as to have spawned The Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator:
Believers of landscape urbanism have contradictory goals. First, they want to go back to the designs of cities of the 1800s - compact and thriving urban centers that promote walking around and other other happy, non-controversial aspects of good communities. The second is they want development to respect the landscape in order to protect the environment. Again, this is another non-controversial design aspect of development aimed to lower environmental damage from building cities.
On its face, these two goals seem wonderful, and they are hard at first pass to argue against. Who could argue against the idea we should be integrating the environment into village-sized communities?
The contradiction, however, is that
In other words, it would seem that landscape urbanists believe that building low impact eco-village-style communities is desirable and will miraculously protect the environment.
There is nothing inherently wrong endeavoring to change the way cities are built. In fact, it’s necessary. For example, I along with many city planners take seriously the question of whether or not New Orleans should have been rebuilt or torn down after Hurricane Katrina. And it’s unfathomable to me we continue to build in places like on the San Andreas fault-line, or in the shadow of Mount Rainier, an active volcano, or on coasts that are guaranteed to erode with or with out climate related sea-level rise.
Nor is there anything inherently wrong with endeavoring to re-do our communities to reflect more compact, low-impact spaces. The problem is that no one wants to live “with” nature - never mind envisioning where these Utopian villages-in-nature could possibly exist. New York City? Sacramento? Corpus Christi?
Of course we should build with respect and reverence to and for the environment. But there’s no way to rebuild our communities to fit onto the environmental landscape, as landscape urbanists suggest. Of course we should protect certain environments from pollution, species destruction, and harmful resource uses. But to say that we can successfully integrate into these landscapes and live prosperous lives without evidence is a witchcraft game of bullshit semantics.
If you can stomach it, check out The Landscape Urbanism Reader: