Monthly Archives: January 2017

Welcome to Kansas, the bastion of how not to run a state, but claim things are just dandy.  I noted in a prior blog that Kansas has no reserves.  And apparently a $350 million deficit in 2016, a continuing trend for a number of years now.  And bigger deficits to come.  Kansas is the poster child of why cutting taxes a lot does not work.

How did they get here?  The state governor and legislature decided that cutting taxes spurs economic growth.  So if you cut a lot of taxes, you get lots of growth. They cite the Laffer curve, a  totally discredited economic tool drawn on the back of a napkin  by Arthur Laffer at a 1974 dinner to argue why Gerald Ford should not raise taxes.  On the face of it it makes no sense but that has not stopped supply side politicians from using it for nearly 40 years  to cut taxes.  The problem, it is wrong.

Cutting taxes does not spur enough economic growth to make up for the loss in taxes when you go down the Kansas role.  If you s cut them too much, it is really hard to raise them if you run short.  The result is that  economic growth in most of Kansas will be stunted for years due to the lack of investment in Kansans.  Now you would think that Kansans would be up in arms about the poor stewardship by elected officials. But no.  See if you get constant bad news, just stop reporting revenues and deficits.  No news is good news right?  Welcome to Kansas!


Congratulations to the students that presented Last Night in Little Havana!  Good job!

Our Department is co-sponsored, along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a community meeting to look at the work of two groups of our senior design students who have been working with the community and a developer on a means to identify acceptable projects for the Little Havana neighborhood.  The event was held in Little Havana at the Ball & Chain, which provided the use of the back patio and the stage at no charge. The Mayor of Miami opened the “Community Discussion,” to discuss the work of the FAU students. The National Trust sent a senior staff member from New York to participate in the Discussion.

For many years there has been public and private argument about the future vision for Little Havana. Yet, in many instances there has been little graphic presentation of the components of a vision. The National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Little Havana as the 11th most endangered site in America.  The work of these students provides possible templates for mixed-use and multi-family residential development, proposals that now show what can be designed and built under current rules and regulations. The National Trust for Historic Preservation co-sponsored this community discussion to share their philosophy on urban revitalization, and as a continuation of their commitment to Little Havana — by helping the community respond to actual designs and through dialogue, hopefully reach a consensus over the next few months that will move the revitalization efforts forward in a positive manner for all stakeholders.

The students provided extensive graphics and can give you excellent options to provide visual elements to the story. This presentation marked the mid-way point of student efforts, and provided stake holders with the opportunity to review initial concepts and to comment on the proposals.  Participants saw what is allowed under current land development regulations and have the opportunity to discuss changes needed to protect Little Havana’s character. In addition, students were seeking continuing input during the Spring semester as designs are modified to address concerns of the community.

Good job students.  And thank you Frank Schnidman for setting this up!

Oxfam’s statistics are beyond belief. Inequality is the biggest threat to the global economy – and it’s getting worse.  Today, eight people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Stop and think about this. It is a mind-boggling concept.Last year we said we would have needed a double-decker bus to transport…

via Eight men earn more than 3.6 billion people: our economics is broken | Mark Goldring — The Guardian

The troubling aspect of that is that Governing magazine reports that many state are likely to see less revenue in 2017 vs 2016.  Governing‘s analysis of projected 2017 budget data from the National Association of State Budget Officers shows shows states now have a median 4.9 percent of annual expenditures saved for the fiscal year, down from 5.1 percent the previous year.  Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and North Dakota have no reserves as of 2017.  They add to Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Montana who had no reserves last year.  And Alaska that is burning though theirs.  Economic and tax policies are to blame.  The Kansas solution to cut taxes to create economic growth has not worked.  The state continues to get farther behind and it is becoming harder to pretend all is well.  Having no reserves is a crazy bad idea.  It is hard to explain just how crazy bad this idea is – it means that if a negative economic issue occurs, these states are in huge trouble unless they start cutting education and other essential services.  The best way to get out of a budget hole is not cutting education – the one thing needed to dig out and attract new economic activity.  Clearly these officials did not learn from 2008-2011 when there reserves were depleted to address the economic downturn. That makes no sense and dooms their residents to a repeat of 2009/2010, only worse.


It’s Baaack!!  just in time for the end of January.  The B-17 returns along with its companions – B-24 Liberator and Mustang.  If you have never seen these WW2 planes in person, you need to.  My Dad flew 25 missions in WW2 on a B-17, starting in the turret, then in the tail, and finally as bombardier on the last two flights.  After a purple Heart and 25 missions, he was assigned to desk duty for the remainder of the war.  At the tiem he enlisted, the proability of getting to 25 missions was small when he enlisted in late 1942 – the first plane to do it was in late 1943 – teh Memphis Belle. Over 1/3 of these planes were shot down during bombing runs, yet the guys on thee B-17 swore by their safety and capability.  They could fly on two (of 4) engines (Dad mentioned that it was preferable that they be on opposite sides of the plane however), had redundant hand controls in case the hydraulics were shot out, and could navigate with parts of the tail and wings missing.  They’d land and get put back together, ready to fly out a couple days later on another run.  Crazy times for a bunch on 20 year olds – something we cannot comprehend.

Go see some history!  Take your kids.  Do a tour.  Take a ride (I did).  Dates below.


January 20 @ 2:00 pm – January 22 @ 4:30 pm

2240 SE Witham Field Drive
Stuart, FL 34996 United States

January 23 @ 12:00 pm – January 26 @ 12:00 pm

1401 NE 10th Street
Pompano Beach, FL 33060 United States

January 26 @ 2:00 pm – January 29 @ 4:30 pm

3300 Airport Drive
Boca Raton, FL 33431 United States

As 2017 gets rolling, we are set to swear in a new President.  The politics are already interesting.  The question is what will change, when and how.  For example there has been an ongoing discussion of infrastructure bills, but aside from WITAF approval, little clear direction has been forthcoming.  We only know that private sector participation will be encouraged.  Of course virtually all projects constructed in the public sector are constructed by private contractors, so how/if that will change is unclear.

It is also unclear which industries will be affected.  There are already comments about not pursuing he renewable energy opportunities  – China sees 13 million jobs in the coming 5 years as their economy cranks up to meet the needs.  They are contributing $360 billion to enhance this sector.  I have previously blogged about potential opportunities in the US to grow renewables.  But they are just like recycling in the 1970s.  Recycling needed to be subsidized until such time as the facilities and processes were in place to make it competitive.  Now for steel and aluminum, it is less costly than virgin iron or bauxite.  That has several benefits to the economy and the environment.

I have previously suggested that those who do the research, develop the solutions and control the patents tend to rule the economy.  The US did in throughout the 20th century.  Energy is the 21st century opportunity and I would hope we don’t cede that elsewhere due to politics.  13 million jobs would really help places in rural America and place like Detroit and Flint which have the workers.  It may be that instead of the federal government doing much in this arena, the state and local officials will lead the charge.  California has been successful to a degree in this regard.  Let’s see if making money will “trump” the politics of oil. That would be good for a lot of local governments that have workers and factories, but not jobs.  That would help people like those in Flint.  And it would help their utilities.  Let’s work on this with our local officials

It is hard to believe it is 2017 already.  I hope it will be a good year for everyone!

The year should be interesting and there are many questions to ask with respect to leadership and the water industry, and personally.

Will Congress fully fund the SRF and WITAF programs for water?  Can we then make a dent in our infrastructure backlog?  Can we get local officials to fully fund water and sewer?  Can we explain to the public why that is necessary?   And then do it?

Will Flint get its water service line issues resolved?  How about the other 6-10 million  service lines?  What about sanitary sewer service lines?  Will the Florida Legislature deal with the service line issue?

Will the economy remain in growth mode to help with funding and redevelopment?

From a more personal level, will we get the leadership in the water industry survey out there?  How about the at-risk utility tool?  An infrastructure grant?  More work for PUMPS and therefore students?  Some grant and loan monies for in-need communities?  My infrastructure management book is moving along. Behind, but progress being made.  I hope it is useful to the public works industry and for students!

But we don’t need to worry about any of that until January 3.  SO have a great new year’s day and if you are off tomorrow like many people, a good holiday tomorrow.  Enjoy Big Sur….


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