Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump's EPA freeze prompts confusion among Maine towns, cities with cleanup projects

In today's Portland Press Herald, I have a piece on the confusion and worry President Trump's sudden, ambiguous freeze of Environmental Protection Agency grants and contracts has caused in Maine, especially for municipalities in the midst of contamination clean-ups of sites to be redeveloped. (EPA, it turns out, funds a lot of stuff here.) The confusion is all the worse because Trump also placed a gag order on the department, so they can't officially explain what's going on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sen. Angus King will oppose Betsy DeVos's confirmation

In breaking news, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), told me yesterday afternoon that he won't be supporting President Trump's choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. The office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) didn't respond to inquires about her position on DeVos. The story is in today's Portland Press Herald.

Last month I wrote about what Maine might expect from a DeVos-run education department. She was also a member of the board of Jeb Bush's education foundation, which was at the center of this 2012 investigation, which won a George Polk Award.

That is all.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Maine hospitals fear ObamaCare repeal

A lot of the focus of the coverage of the effects of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act have focused on how many people would lose coverage. In today's Maine Sunday Telegram, I look at a secondary effect: how all that lost coverage would effect the health and survival of hospitals, especially in a rural place like Maine, where many are already struggling for lack of customers with private insurance.

The message from Maine hospitals, doctors, and public health experts: please don't repeal ObamaCare without a replacement that provides a comparable level of coverage. Details herein.

Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, is introducing a replacement plan tomorrow. Its contents and political prospects will be important to follow.

Friday, January 20, 2017

How ruby red Utah became the nation's land use planning leader

Guess where the most ambitious and successful long-range land use planning effort in the U.S. has taken place, one that included the building of an expansive regional commuter and light rail system and has been expanded to cover an entire state?

If you guessed Vermont or Oregon, you'll be surprised to learn its Utah, and my latest piece for POLITICO Magazine's What Works series is on how and why they did it. There's lessons in it for cities and states everywhere, including very conservative ones.

The Deseret News, the statewide Salt Lake City daily owned by the LDS Church, picked up on the piece today with this nice summary, which I appreciate given the church itself declined to participate in the story.

This is my eleventh full-length "What Works" piece over the past year. The others were on how Des Moines went from dull to cool; how Manchester, New Hampshire turned its vast 19th century millyard to spinning high-tech gold; on how Denver built its game-changing light rail system, only to discover its most powerful effects were not what they'd expected; how Cincinnati transformed "America's most dangerous neighborhood"; how Philadelphia repurposed a 1200 acre former naval base;  how Milwaukee breathed life back into a legacy industrial district, creating the manufacturing park of the future; how Roanoke, Virginia went from a train city to a brain city;  how Winston-Salem, North Carolina pivoted from tobacco manufacturing to high-tech innovation and how Burlington, Vermont -- Bernie Sanders' hometown -- became the country's first all-renewable-powered city; and how Albuquerque, New Mexico took on homelessness (under a Republican mayor, no less.) In addition -- on the occasion of the Republican National Convention -- I had this shorter story on how Cleveland revamped its long-neglected Public Square.

After twelve crazed months, I'll be taking a hiatus from piloting the What Works series to catch up on other projects, but expect more as the year progresses.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Analyzing Trump's victory via American Nations on WNPR

Donald Trump will be inaugurated president tomorrow, and if you're still contemplating how it happened, you might check out my interview with WNPR's NEXT, a weekly show about New England.

The conversation is about my American Nations-powered analysis of the 2016 election posted over at the Portland Press Herald, wherein the Greater New England cultural space plays a pivotal role. (If you're in a hurry, scroll down to the "Rural Yankees Defect" segment.)

The full interview is up online. If you live in or near New England, you can also hear it on your public radio station (unless you live in Boston itself, in which case you're out of luck.) Here's the schedule:

WNPR / Connecticut Public Radio: Sunday at 6pm.

Maine Public Radio: Friday at 2 pm. [May be pre-empted by inauguration.]

WNHH (New Haven): Saturday at 8 am.

New Hampshire Public Radio: Saturday at 10 pm.

New England Public Radio: Sunday at 10 pm.

Vermont Public Radio: Sunday at noon.

Enjoy. And thanks again to NEXT for having me on again. (We last spoke for their very first program last year, when we talked about the origins of New England culture.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Talking American Character with BYU Radio

One of American Character's biggest markets, curiously enough, has been Utah, a corner of the ruggedly individualist Far West settled by Utopia-building communitarian planners. So it was my pleasure to talk about the book -- and what it says about saving the Republic -- with Brigham Young University Radio's Matt Townsend on Friday (audio at the link.)

By coincidence, I was just out in Utah for POLITICO Magazine's What Works series, to write about their 20-year experiment in long-rang, collaborative, land-use planning. That story -- out Thursday -- is yet another example of the sort of individual liberty/common good balancing act that cities across the country manage to pull off. If only we could learn to do it at the state and federal level.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Washington Monthly primer on American Nations and 2016 Election

While you're all waiting for Donald Trump's first press conference in half a year, here's a primer I posted over at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog on my American Nations-driven analysis of the election (itself, data and all, over at the Press Herald.) It summarizes the paradigm for those unfamiliar with it, or who've forgotten it.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On Sen. Collins' championing Sessions nomination

A few minutes from now, Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General will be introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee by an unlikely champion: Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who by most metrics is the most moderate member of her caucus.

Why is Collins actively supporting the controversial nominee? What do Maine-based women's and civil rights groups think of it? It's all in my story in today's Portland Press Herald.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The American Nations and the 2016 Presidential Election

Thanks to all of you out there who've been asking for my American Nations-driven analysis of the 2016 presidential election. At long last -- and with the help of Christian MilNeil at the Portland Press Herald and Will Mitchell of NBT Solutions -- I'm able to provide that. It's all posted at the Press Herald's website.

The highlights: the regional cultures followed precisely the same partisan pattern as they have in the last three cycles, but Donald Trump's substitution of ethno-nationalism for laissez faire economics on the campaign trail allowed him to outperform his recent predecessors in the Midlands and rural Yankeedom, tipping margins just enough to eke out victory in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, securing an Electoral College victory, but not the popular vote. Details herein.

A note for data geeks: while preparing this analysis, I discovered and corrected an error in the maps published in the book: Bernalillo County, New Mexico -- that's Albuquerque, which coincidentally I wrote from last month in Politico -- should of course be in El Norte, not Far West.

I've been tied up with other professional and family responsibilities this past year and a half -- including the writing and launch of American Nations' sequel, American Character -- so wasn't able to provide frequent analysis of the campaign as it happened, but here are some American Nations-driven pieces I did on past elections and political developments:

* On the regional cultures's constraints on the Tea Party's agenda (that's the laissez faire stuff again).
* On the 2012 Super Tuesday Republican primaries.
* On Obama's Greater Appalachia problem (from 2012).
* On the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections and Dixie-style Republicans' weakness in Yankeedom.
* On why to watch Utah as a potential swing state down the road (2012).
* On regionalism trumping rural/urban splits in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race.
* On regional effects in New Jersey's 2013 gubernatorial contest.
* On why Iowa matters, as the strongest indicator of Midlander thinking (late 2015)

Hopefully I'll have more time in the coming weeks and months to generate more regular analysis.

[Update, 1/13/17: Here's a little primer for all this I put together for Washington Monthly's readers.]

[Update, 1/19/17: I did a long-form interview about this post with WNPR's "Next," a program about New England that airs on public radio stations across the region.]