Daily Archives: October 4, 2009

Viewpoint: Support the U.S. Livable Communities Act of 2009 (deadline Oct. 7)

[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp.] — For those of us working in communities across the country to create more equitable and sustainable housing and development solutions, these are exciting times at the national level.  We ask you to help us not miss this opportunity by signing onto a letter of support for S. 1619, The Livable Communities Act.  View and download the letter here.

Earlier this year the Obama Administration announced an interagency partnership by HUD-USDOT-EPA on sustainable communities.  In August, Senator Christopher Dodd introduced legislation (S. 1916, the Livable Communities Act) to formalize this partnership and provide $4 billion in grants to communities to develop and implement livable communities, including undertaking comprehensive regional planning, building affordable housing, transit-oriented development, public transportation, walking and bicycling infrastructure, energy efficiency projects, redevelop brownfields and projects to spur economic development.  This funding is critically needed to help communities, and the nation not just plan but build sustainable solutions to restore our economy, improve social equity, and promote more energy efficient housing and transportation solutions that will lower costs of living for households and put people to work.

Please help us send a loud message to Congress that The Livable Communities Act is important, broadly supported legislation by national, state, and local organizations working on affordable housing, sustainable and equitable development. Please add your voice to the letter of support.  To become a co-signer, contact Annie Finkenbinder at Reconnecting America by e-mail or 202-429-6990, ext. 209 by close of business, Wednesday, October 7.

CenPhoTV for the week of 10/02/2009

CenPhoTV goes on a week’s hiatus, but still has time to showcase the new Downtown Phoenix Public Market store and their wackiest bloopers to date.

Opinion poll examines most important questions facing Arizona

[Source: Dan Nowicki, Arizona Republic] — Most forward-looking reports from policy think tanks or universities face a huge hurdle: selling their proposed goals and recommendations to the people.  The Center for the Future of Arizona hopes to avoid that fate.  The Phoenix-based organization – or “do” tank, as it likes to call itself – went to the people first to learn their hopes and desires for Arizona’s future.

At the heart of “The Arizona We Want,” the center’s new report charting a “citizens’ agenda” for Arizona’s second century, is in-depth statewide polling data from the Gallup Organization.  The findings show that many 21st-century residents are loyal and attached to the state, thanks particularly to its scenic open spaces and environmental beauty, and actually see eye to eye on a variety of issues.  But they are disenchanted with their elected leaders and concerned about jobs, education and the economy.  “I view the report as a platform for positive change,” said Robert Delgado, the president and chief executive of Valley beer distributor Hensley & Co. and a community leader who got an early look at the publication.  “It will have the effect of saying, ‘OK, look, this is really what the citizens of Arizona want,’ and those who we elect to public office are accountable to the citizens of Arizona.  I think it gives us a great road map or compass on how to go forward.”

The center, an independent non-profit, hired Gallup because of its reputation as “the gold standard” of polling companies, said Lattie Coor, the former Arizona State University president who founded the Center for the Future of Arizona in 2002.  Gallup surveyed by telephone a random sample of 3,606 Arizona adults and then followed up with 831 respondents who agreed to participate in an online poll.  The statewide telephone poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.  “This is not so surprising, but we also found that the natural environment, the open spaces and aesthetics of Arizona, are at the absolute top of people’s view of what it is about Arizona that resonates most highly with them,” Coor said.  “We found, disturbingly, but I fear I must say also not surprisingly, that citizens don’t think their elected representatives represent their interests.  Only 10 percent strongly agreed that they do.  We also found that Arizona is not viewed as a good place for talented young people, and we also found that Arizonans want jobs.”

The center relied on the poll results to inform its set of eight resident-backed goals for Arizona related to jobs, education, water and the environment, transportation and civic involvement.  It also used the results to help identify a series of sticky problems that need resolution: inadequate “leadership and governance structures”; the lack of an “investment strategy” for priorities such as job creation and education; the need for a clear commitment by the state to compete globally; the illegal- immigration situation; and an unstable state tax system. [Note: Read the full article at Examining the most important questions facing Arizona.]

Arizona expected to lose jobs for another year

[Source: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services] — Arizona will continue to lose jobs for probably another year, the state Department of Commerce predicted Thursday.  Senior economist Jack York said the number of people working at the end of this year will be 178,500 less than when the year started.  That translates to a loss of 6.8%.  Both those figures set new records — and by large margins.  The biggest loss in pure numbers was recorded last year when the number employed dropped by 57,400.  And in pure percentages, the biggest drop was at the end of World War II when employment declined by 2.9%.

State officials figure that most of the jobs that they predict the state will lose this year already are gone. But they are figuring another 70,400 will be out of work by the end of the year.  But that won’t be the bottom: York said job losses will continue through at least the first half of 2010.  He predicted, however, that hiring will pick up in the third quarter of the year, spurred by federal stimulus projects, war spending and even some increased consumer spending.  That late-year boost, York said, should limit year-over-year losses in 2010 to 17,400.

York was less willing to predict just how high the state’s jobless rate, currently 9.1%, will go before subsiding. But Lisa Danka, a deputy assistant director at the agency, said double-digit figures would not be surprising.  The last time Arizona’s jobless rate topped 10 percent was July 1983.  Not surprisingly, York said state’s beleaguered construction industry will continue to suffer, with the 2009 job losses likely hitting close to 50,000.  Part of that, he said, is related to the fact that population growth has slowed.  [Note: Read the full article at Arizona expected to lose jobs for another year.]