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Archive: Rick Cole

Libraries Can Lead in the Digital Age

Rick Cole / Apr 01 2011

For Release Friday, April 1, 2011

Rick ColeSteam powered the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. Oil fueled the Global Economy of the 20th Century. The Digital Age of the 21st Century is clearly being driven by brainpower.

That makes education a key edge in global competition. Yet for all the focus on schools and universities, little attention has been paid to libraries – long a source of learning during and beyond school age years.

Some American cities have been building new landmark library buildings. But there’s been little thought and debate about what goes on inside.

Railroads declined because they failed to realize that carrying goods and people could be done without rails. Newspapers face extinction because they’ve been slow to adapt to the ability to deliver news without paper. Read More »

Receivership Logical Cure For Ill-Fated “Cities”

Rick Cole / Aug 26 2010

For Release Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rick ColeThe scandal of grossly inflated city council and top manager salaries in Bell, Calif. — and a similar story about its neighbor Vernon, Calif. — has touched a nerve. It’s being used as the poster child for public sector excess and arrogance.

What’s missing from the outrage, though, is a focus on the underlying causes — or the real cost. We’ve always known that unchecked power is prone to abuse, whether in the private or public sector — even in sacred institutions of faith. But why was such blatant abuse allowed to bloom — and why was it so long ignored? Who really pays the price for official corruption? Most urgently of all, what sensible steps should be take to ensure it is not repeated?

Without that, we may see misguided “reforms” duck the specific solutions to the real problem. Corruption is like cancer — it comes in different forms and is best curbed with specific treatments. Arbitrary new rules aimed at “reforming” every city government would be a ridiculous over-reaction. It would only further hamstring the effectiveness of local government at a time when we need more efficiency, not less. The same goes for generic and toothless reforms that simply sound good.
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Hoover’s Other Error: Making Sprawl the Law

Rick Cole / Jan 15 2009

For Release January 18, 2009

Rick Cole Take any great place that people love to visit. You know, those lively tourist haunts from Nantucket to San Francisco. Or those red hot neighborhoods from Seattle’s Capital Hill to Miami Beach’s Art Deco district. Or those healthy downtowns from Portland, Oregon to Chicago, Illinois to Charleston, South Carolina. What do they all have in common?

The mix of uses that gives them life are presently outlawed by zoning in virtually every city and town in all 50 states.

Crisis offers opportunity. With real estate in a freefall, there is an opportunity to lay the foundation for a more prosperous and sustainable American landscape.

If only there is the vision and political will.

Scrapping zoning codes is the single most significant change that can be made in every town and city in America. It would aid economic development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, foster healthier lifestyles, reduce dependence on foreign oil, protect open space and wildlife habitats, and reduce wasteful government spending. Read More »

A Sustainable Economy — “The Change We Need”

Rick Cole / Nov 20 2008

For Release Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rick Cole

In his first press conference as president-elect, Barack Obama acknowledged, “Some of the choices that we make are going to be difficult…it is not going to be easy for us to dig ourselves out of the hole that we are in.”

In this crisis, the “change we need” is to invest in a sustainable economy for our future, rather than borrowing to sustain our current economy. Here’s how the new Administration can help us dig out of the hole we’re in:

Green business. In his new global survey of America’s peril and potential, Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman calls “green” the “new red white and blue.” Obama has pledged to create “green jobs” through alternative energy. But in the decade ahead, every single job in the American economy will need to go “green,” by ruthless pursuit of less waste and more sustainable and productive business practices. For the private sector to succeed, federal policies on taxes, regulations, research, purchasing and grant-making must all be reformed to promote green practices, rather than stifle them.

Smart Growth. The suburban, auto-dominated landscape of the past 50 years won’t work for a post-peak oil, post-carbon America. Alternate fuels aren’t enough, nor is transit compatible with sprawl. The Congress for the New Urbanism, headed by former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, has revived traditional town and city building to emphasize mixed-use, transit-oriented design at every scale of development from neighborhood to metropolis. Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Portland, Oregon has emerged as the leading national leader for this movement, rapidly being adopted by cities and states across America. Read More »