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As budget woes worsen, society hacks at its roots, its public schools

In East St. Louis, the largest employer is the public school system, School District 189. Plans recently announced are to fire 134 teachers and close to 150 other staffers, to cover budget cuts by the state and other financial shortfalls.

In Belleville, School District 201 administers the two local high schools. About 50 employees face unemployment there. In Illinois, projections are there could be as many as 20,000 public school employees laid off.

In Los Angeles, cuts are expected to limit or eliminate an innovative program that allows “permits” to be issued to the city’s school district students that enable them to attend other school districts. The money crisis thereby

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When does a jurisdiction become just another tollbooth?

Times are hard all over, that much is clear.

Difficult economic decisions are everywhere, whether the discussion is about a household trying to pay its bills, a business announcing lay-offs, a school district firing teachers, a police department struggling to keep cops on the street, municipalities forcing furloughs on employees, counties and states trying to balance budgets, and even the federal government left wondering how much debt is too much debt.

Enter Charlack (population 1,431 according to the 2000 census), a St. Louis County municipality where the police chief is proposing using a private company’s cameras along I-170 to catch speeding vehicles, and sending the owners of each one a

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Detroit, Youngstown go beyond green to green space

If Detroit is an extreme example of urban decline, there is the off chance it might produce an extreme example of what to do when a city has tens of thousands of vacant buildings, massive budget deficits and plummeting population.

Plow parts of it under and start over?

Newly elected Detroit Mayor Dave Bing this week proposed demolishing thousands of abandoned buildings, clearing vacant lots and planting trees for wide swaths of green space within Detroit’s city limits. Some of that reclaimed landscape could include farmland. Of course, all that costs money and Detroit has a general fund deficit of $325 million and more than 70,000 vacant buildings, so Bing

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The 10% Solution?

New Geography has an article suggesting that smaller cities – those with less dense urban cores – should adopt policies that aim to attract a percentage of the area’s overall growth. Using Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Atlanta as examples, the author argues that mid-size cities (like St. Louis) should try to capture somewhere between 5% and 15% of the region’s net new metropolitan growth.

The St. Louis region’s growth rate has been slow over the past few decades – usually in the 3-4% range. The current population estimate for the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is about 2.8 million people, about 4.4% growth over the 2000 Census population figure,

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Regional police approach appears to be working in Pittsburgh

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch was in the news recently for discussing his efforts to upgrade police service in the county, by making sure small municipalities don’t hire unlicensed officers and offering the services of the St. Louis County Police Department to assume police duties for some of the county’s 91 municipalities.

Currently the St. Louis County Police Department patrols the unicorporated areas of the county and 16 of the its 91 municipalities.

In Pittsburgh, that type of regional approach to local law enforcement has grown in recent years. Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, has 1.2 million people in 130 municipalities, served by 104 police departments

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