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Supply vs. Demand – and Demand is winning

The Boston Zoning Commission voted yesterday to approve the City Council’s measure to cap students renting off-campus apartments at 4 per unit, without regard to its size. (Read the Globe’s front page article here.) Now I’m sympathetic to what motivated this measure in the first place: I’m pretty sure if my wife and I lived in Allston or Mission Hill, next door to the noise and the revelry, we’d be annoyed as all get up too. Nevertheless, what this measure will most likely not do is bring rental rates in the neighborhoods around the city’s colleges and universities back down to what proponents might call an affordable level. As some of the displaced students would (hopefully, if they paid attention […]

Worse Than I Thought

Turns out I was wrong about the overall indebtedness of the Commonwealth, including quasi-public authorities. I thought it was $36 billion. Its actually $50 billion, per ANF. Including contingent liabilities, that’s over $14,500 per person in the Commonwealth.

Blue Cross Blue Shield – The Public Trough?

I hate to go on a rant here, but $70,000 to be on the board of directors? (Read the Boston Herald story here.) That’s a pretty good gig. How does one get a gig like that? Well, if you’re Bob Haynes, I suppose, you flex your political muscle as head of the state’s AFL-CIO. Though, you would think it’d bring up conflict of interest issues, as BCBS is hard-wired into a good number of the local public employee union contracts. Actually, if you think about it, at $70,000, Bob might be underpaid. Ensuring that BCBS doesn’t have to compete on cost for municipal business has to be worth a lot more than that. Looking around the BCBS director table, we […]

Michelle Rhee takes out the knife

From the piece on Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of DC schools, there is a quote that stood out from the rest of the piece as the primary dilemma that Rhee and Mayor Fenty are trying to stare down: “She’s got all the right ideas, a wonderful attitude, and she’s open,” says Mary Levy, an authority on school governance with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “I worry about her being undercut or overwhelmed.” It seems that Ms. Levy need not worry. Fenty and Rhee first sought authority from the D.C. Council to reclassify over half of the 700 non-union positions in the Central District Office, making them “at-will”–i.e., now she could fire them. And that […]

CitiStat: Don’t make a sham of it

Pioneer is on the cheering squad, promoting CitiStat programs. We are featuring CitiStat in our April 25 conference on revitalizing Middle Cities (rsvp to Pioneered by cities such as Baltimore and Somerville, CitiStat is a way for city leadership to use data to improve delivery of traditional city services. Dedicating its spring lineup of events to stat programs, the Rappaport Institute just released an excellent brief on the pitfalls setting up CitiStat. Professor Bob Behn has observed stat programs all across the country and came up with 7 ways that these efforts often get it wrong, turning opportunities to produce results into “symbolic shams.” Come to our conference to learn more!