What’s Eating David Axelrod?
September 27, 2010

Among the many distinctions David Axelrod has achieved in his career, there is one that requires special elaboration: He is, it turns out, one of the few customers to have ever run a tab at Manny’s, the Chicago cafeteria and deli. This is not because the odd knish ($4.25) or side of potato chips ($0.75) threatened to leave him cash-poor. It is, rather, because Axelrod has long styled himself someone who accumulates wisdom at places regular people frequent, not the lacquered haunts of downtown Washington. What the Oval Room is to Beltway consultant-dom, Manny’s is to Axelrod.

Function, Form, and the Metropolitan Future
September 14, 2010

The National Journal and The Atlantic just published the second supplement in its "next economy" series entitled: "the geography of opportunity." The lead essay chronicles the ongoing "war over the future" between urban gurus Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida: a contest between suburbs and cities, sprawl, and density, Middle America and the coasts, the metropolis and the megaregion. What to make of all this? Who is right?

On The Map: Gentler Suburbs for Growing Old?
July 22, 2010

Monday’s New York Times profiled New York City’s effort to make itself friendlier to its burgeoning senior population. The city is already home to 1 million people age 65 and over, and is projected to add another 350,000 to that total in the next two decades. The city’s efforts--which include public/private partnerships to help make businesses more senior-friendly, as well as infrastructure tweaks like longer lights to cross wide boulevards and more sidewalk benches--build from recommendations in the New York Academy of Medicine’s work, as well as the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly

Suburban Spies Among Us
July 02, 2010

The revelation that suspected Russian spies have been hiding in the suburbs of major U.S. cities has been regarded by some as a throw back to postwar Cold War novels replete with money drop-offs, hidden identities, and old school technology.  Perhaps the most telling aspect of these Russians’ retro status is their attempt to “fit in” with a suburbia that no longer exists. At least eight of these alleged spies were classic suburbanites replete with dogs, families, or suburban jobs which could be part of any 1950s “welcome wagon” contingent.

Promise Keeping in Kalamazoo
June 09, 2010

In Kalamazoo, Mich.

Obama Takes On Conservatism
June 03, 2010

There has been a fascinating sea-change in President Obama's rhetoric over the last year. He ran for office, and began his presidency, making his case in largely non-ideological terms, as a defense of pragmatism and against ideology. As Republicans have met him with a stone wall of resistance, the idealistic tinge of his rhetoric has largely disappeared. Now Obama contrasts himself with the partisanship ideological extremism of the Republican Party.

Great Lakes are Dead, Long Live the Great Lakes
June 01, 2010

The portion of the blogosphere inclined to noodle over Brookings State of Metro America report, included some who now ask, “whither the Rust Belt?” and “whither the Brookings Great Lakes Economic Initiative?”.  I’m pleased to say all are alive and in forward-looking form. The Great Lakes Economic Initiative developed several years ago, not out of a DC-based “mega-region” overlay, but as I traded notes from my years as an elected official and public policy-shaper in Michigan and teamed up with similarly situated political, business and civic leaders from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and el

The Livability Moment
May 28, 2010

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s five-year strategic plan was released recently and is open for comment. It has straightforward goals around safety, environmental stewardship, and organizational excellence that don’t appear to be too much of a departure from the current plan. Yet a new set of strategies around the plan’s Livable Communities chapter has generated a fair share of commentary—and some controversy. For the most part, the elements of the Livable Communities strategy are clear and focused: coordinated planning, demand management, transportation choices.

Do You Want A Really Excellent Medical System? Live In Israel Or At Least Learn About “Health Care For All” In The Jewish State.
May 20, 2010

Not a single person is excluded from the system. The non-citizen Arabs of Jerusalem are included in it.

Panic to Win
May 19, 2010

Pittsburgh—Almost all the shibboleths of Washington conventional wisdom took a hit in Tuesday's voting. Yet advocates of a single national political narrative clung to the difficulties of two incumbent Democratic senators to keep spinning the same old tale. It's true that the idea of incumbents and party establishments being in trouble won some support from the defeat of Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's failure to avoid a runoff in Arkansas. But the races tell different stories. Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat who was defeated by Rep.