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Budget Minutiae – Part 2 of a 700 part series

More interesting fun with amendments and earmarks — What if your favorite non-profit isn’t getting the state funding it so richly deserves? Hire a lobbyist (type “International Institute” into here). Get three amendments to the House budget for $150,000, $100,000, and $163,642 . Not a bad days work, eh? No judgment from this corner on the merits of the particular non-profit. But who is better placed to determine the level of need and the most effective means of meeting that need — the staff at Mental Health, Social Services, and Workforce Development or these legislators? And a question — if you codify a transaction between a private provider and a state agency into law — What leverage does the state […]

Crime in Urban Areas – Perception and Reality

At Pioneer’s February conference on Revitalizing Middle Cities (where we released this paper), we had the opportunity to hear from the Police Commissioner and Economic Development Director for Springfield. Dave Panagore, Springfield’s Economic Development Director, noted that the police force (and public safety) were the most important components of economic development. Ed Flynn, the Police Commissioner, explained his approach to policing that goes beyond just reviewing crime data and seeks to find out how citizens perceive the level of crime in their neighborhoods. The importance of this issue is highlighted in the crime statistics for the city of Boston. This data compares the crime rate over the first few months of this year, against the same period last year. With […]

Budget Minutiae – Part 1 of a 700 part series

Spring in Massachusetts! Ahh, the joys… Opening Day, bulbs blooming, and, of course, budget season. House Ways and Means filed last week and amendments are due to be debated next week. The power and specificity of these amendments are little noticed and that’s unfortunate. Governor Patrick ran on a platform of minimizing earmarks to save money ($100 million in first year savings, if his now-very-hard-to-find press release is to be believed.). And to his credit, his budget did cut back on earmarks and rolled up a number of line items. However, the amendment season is now upon us and we’ll see how many earmarks make it back into the budget. A few of my favorites: Your town needs a new […]

Rehabbing Urban Redevelopment: Working Paper on Building the Next Urban Economy

This report surveys 14 Massachusetts cities outside the immediate Boston metropolitan market, which other studies have identified as “weak market” or “gateway” cities. A number of the Commonwealth’s cities have had difficulty adapting to large-scale changes in the national and global economies. The hollowing out of the industrial and commercial bases and subsequent flight of the middle class have undermined the vitality and functional purpose of these cities. Through this paper we have hoped to start a dialogue about the integration of state policy initiatives and local performance. Rehabbing Urban Redevelopment

Housing Programs in Weak Market Neighborhoods

Author: Peter A. Gagliardi, Executive Director, HAP Inc. This paper will focus on programs that subsidize the building or rehabilitation of units for owner occupancy, as opposed to the development of rental properties. Most weak market neighborhoods already feature a high proportion of renters and high rates of vacancy.Many one- and two-family homes, once owner-occupied, have become investor owned, often by default, and have suffered from deferred maintenance and poor property management practices. Increasing homeownership is a broadly shared goal for weak market neighborhoods, and our recommendations support these efforts. In section two, this paper will define and present examples of weak market neighborhoods; section three argues that revitalization of weak market neighborhoods should be a policy priority for the […]