An innovation too far?

MnDOT tried to get contractors to finance the reconstruction of the Crosstown Connector in Minneapolis and Richfield, a major bottleneck where the Crosstown Highway (Mn 62) and I-35W share real estate. This was clearly a move towards innovative financing, not just letting contractors build the project, but letting them pay for it, with no certainty about repayment. Clearly, Minnesota’s “uninnovative” contractors were having no part of it. See the Strib for details: Crosstown project fails to draw a bid
Generally for financing, there needs to be some guarantee of repayment, with some interest earned, proportionate to risk.

Wincopin Street

I just discovered this blog entry about Columbia and Howard County, Maryland: Howard County Blog: Where would the southern extention of Wincopin Street go?. They seem to have some of the same concerns about the proposed redevelopment of downtown Columbia that I do, in particular development of another north-south axis rather than the east-west axis.
- dml

Money for inspectors, not teachers

Two from today’s Strib illustrate a problem with priorities: Minneapolis gets real ‘picky’ about housing codes
Minneapolis terminates 305 teachers. So we have the funds for an inspector to give you a tag if your grass is too high, but again are annually laying off (and rehiring) teachers.
A good teacher would presumably be able to get a better deal than getting laid off each summer with no guarantee of rehire the following year, so we drive our best young teachers (without the seniority) out by policies like this (and my libertarian friends would say the probelm is we have public school in general, which may be true but even if public schools are second best to a free market in private schools, it doesn’t mean we should manage them badly). If they are laid off because they are not competent, then they shouldn’t be recalled under any circumstance, but this seems like an inability to manage staffing or anticipate demographics.

Good gates?

From today’s Pioneer Press St. Paul Pioneer Press | 06/14/2006 | Good fences, good neighbors?. The article says ” … America is looking more like Capetown every day. USA Today reported that 40 percent of new homes in California are in gated communities. About 6 percent of America’s households are now behind walls and fences.”

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Road Trip

We returned from a road trip from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh last night. We went to Pittsburgh to attend the lovely wedding of Jason Hong, a friend of ours from Berkeley quizbowl, who is now a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. We stopped for the night outside Toledo on the way there and outside Milwaukee on the way back.
Random observations in roughly chronological order.

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Pirate Party of the United States

I have always been a fan of third parties … here is one which is one day old, the”>
Pirate Party of the United States
. It takes its lead from Sweden’s Piratpartiet and has a clear “information wants to be free” agenda. Copyright and patents must have their uses, but clearly, they are being exploited for private gain and not the public good. I believe a good open debate on what is property and what property deserves the state’s monopoly of force to defend is warranted.
I would imagine if they thought about it, The Pirate Party would be for “free roads” too, though.

by David Levinson


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