Contributing Editors

Jerome Lyle Rappaport

Jerome Lyle Rappaport
Founder and Board Member
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Edward Glaeser

Edward Glaeser
Professor of Economics at Harvard University
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Stephen P. Johnson

Stephen P. Johnson
Executive Director of Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation
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Greg Massing

Greg Massing
Executive Director for the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service
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Alasdair Roberts

Alasdair Roberts
Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School
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Joseph Curtatone

Joseph Curtatone
Mayor, City of Somerville
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Tim H. Davis

Tim H. Davis
Independent Research Consultant
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Scott Harshbarger

Scott Harshbarger
Senior Counsel, Proskauer Rose LLP
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Vivien Li

Vivien Li
Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association
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Guest contributors

Monika Bandyopadhyay
Suffolk University Law Student

David Barron
Harvard Law School and former Deputy Counsel for the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Department of Justice

Linda Bilmes
Senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Assistant Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration.

Brandy H.M. Brooks
Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation

Felicia Cote
Rappaport Fellow, Harvard Law School/Harvard Kennedy School.

Amanda Eden
Suffolk University Law School student

Sara Farnum
Student, Suffolk Univ. Law School

Kristin Faucette
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Benjamin Forman
Research Director, MassINC

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday
JD/MBA student at Suffolk University Law School and the Sawyer School of Business

Theodore Kalivas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

David Linhart
Student, Boston University School of Law

Antoniya Owens
Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Susan Prosnitz
Senior Advisor, TSA, Washington, DC

Ben Thomas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

Matthew Todaro
Student at Boston College Law School

Alexander von Hoffman
Senior Researcher, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Brett Walker
Student, Boston College Law School

Margarita Warren
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Articles in Transportation/Infrastructure

SCN Interview with Harvard Economist Edward Glaeser

Thursday, September 1st, 2011
By

Edward Glaeser, an economics professor at Harvard University, recently sat down with Spare Change News editor Tom Benner to discuss his myth-shattering book about cities, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.


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Free the FAA: Accident Prevention & Safety Should Be the Agency’s Only Job

Friday, August 12th, 2011
By Edward Glaeser

Reprinted from The Boston Globe 8.11.2011

THE FEDERAL Aviation Administration does a fine job at its main duty - making air travel safe. But it’s is also involved with a lot of things it shouldn’t be, from disputes about unionization to subsidies for rural airports. If Americans want to keep flying safely, Congress must free the FAA from obligations unrelated to preventing accidents.

The agency got back to work recently after a two-week, politically charged shutdown that had nothing to do with safety. To continue some operations related to planning and maintaining airports, the FAA needed new authorization from Congress. But the Senate initially balked at a House plan that also capped “essential air service’’ subsidies to rural airports at $1,000 per passenger. Some Senate Democrats also opposed a House plan that, by reversing a pro-union ruling last year by the National Mediation Board, would make it harder for workers on airport projects to organize.

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From Old Factories to New Hope: Mass. gateway cities must tally up their tremendous assets — and make the most of them

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
By Edward Glaeser

Reprinted from The Boston Globe July 28, 2011


About six years ago, the City of Haverhill decided to count its blessings. After decades spent wishing for new factories to replace those that had closed in the 1970s, the city chose another direction. Like an addict struggling to turn his life around, Haverhill forced itself to tally its assets and debits honestly.

Those empty mills whose turrets soared above the deserted downtown? Since the ’70s they had been a sad symbol of lost prosperity; but their architecture pointed in another direction, as loft apartments or space for smaller, more innovative companies. Then there were train lines. Haverhill, fortunately, had two: A well-traveled MBTA service to Boston, and a stop on the then-new Amtrak “Downeaster,’’ which journeys north to Maine and south to Boston. 

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Can the state pay for a project whose economic benefits are uncertain and whose cost could approach $2 billion?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
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Rappaport Institute's David Luberoff claims there isn’t much evidence that a commuter rail is a major economic tool for cities like Fall River and New Bedford, which are 50 to 60 miles from the regional economic hub in Boston. “The state’s own numbers say that the project will have very few riders and an extremely small impact on employment,” says Luberoff. But does that mean we shouldn’t provide transportation alternatives for the South Coast? And is there a solution to provide the needed alternatives in a more cost effective way?
 
In the most recent issue of Commonwealth Magazine, Gabrielle Gurley's expansive article "Delays in Service" explores the social history and economic future of this frustrating project and whether our current crop of poiticians can keep this dream alive.

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The Locavore’s Dilemma

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
By Edward Glaeser

Reprinted from The Boston Globe 6.16.11

All that is grassy is not green. There are many good reasons to like local food, but any large-scale metropolitan farming will do more harm than good to the environment. Devoting scarce metropolitan land to agriculture means lower density levels, longer drives, and carbon emission increases which easily offset the modest greenhouse gas reductions associated with shipping less food. 

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Large Turnout for First StatNet Training Day

Monday, June 13th, 2011
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More than 120 representatives from New England municipalities, state agencies, and non-profit organizations attended the first StatNet Training Day, which was held on Wednesday, May 18th at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The training was sponsored and organized by New England StatNet, a network of municipal officials using CitiStat or other data-driven performance management approaches that is coordinated by UMass Boston’s Collins Center for Public Management in collaboration with the Rappaport Institute and the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research. Speakers at the training session included HKS Lecturer Robert Behn, who is a Rappaport Institute faculty affiliate; Devin Lyons-Quirk, a former Rappaport Policy Fellow who is now Senior Project Manager for Performance for the City of Boston; and Stephanie Hirsch, who supervised several Rappaport Policy Fellows and also worked closely with students from an Institute-supported class on budgeting and management that carried out several projects for the City of Somerville. Amy Dain, another former Rappaport Fellow, coordinates the StatNet initiative. For more information about New England StatNet (formerly known as MassStat) click below.

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What Crisis? Inadequacies with the nation’s infrastructure have been oversold

Friday, April 8th, 2011
By Edward Glaeser

Does America suffer from an infrastructure gap that requires spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars rebuilding America? Is President Obama right that the nation needs "the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information" to attract new businesses? Of course, battered bridges and ruined roads should be repaired, but any larger federal infrastructure agenda should be approached with caution because the crisis has been oversold, and the current political climate practically ensures massive misspending.

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Which Places are Growing?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
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In a new Rappaport Institute/Taubman Center Policy Brief titled Which Places are Growing? Seven Notable Trends From Newly Released Census Data, Edward Glaeser, director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, identifies seven key facts about county-level population growth that emerge from census data that were released on March 24, 2011. The seven facts are:

  • Population growth was much higher in counties with higher incomes as of 2000.
  • January temperature continues to be a strong predictor of population growth.
  • Population growth was faster near ports.
  • People are moving to dense areas, but not the densest areas.
  • The education level of a county as of 2000 strongly predicts population growth over the last decade.
  • Manufacturing employment predicts lower population growth.
  • Limits to housing supply also limit population growth.
  • Glaeser concludes by noting that while these trends do not dictate any particular public policies or suggest any particular course of action, they should be relevant for policy-makers at both the local and the national level.

The full policy brief is available here

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Glaeser's Book Spurs Discussion on Cities

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
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Cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live, argues Rappaport Institute Director Edward Glaeser in his new book, "Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier." Glaeser's analyses and policy recommendations - which include scaling programs that encourage suburbanization (such as the home mortgage interest deduction) and scaling back policies such as historic preservation that limit new development in cities - have been drawing significant media coverage since the book was released last week with reviews in such publications as The New York Times and The Economist, articles by Glaeser in The Atlantic and The Boston Globe Magazine; a New York Times column by David Brooks, and appearances on The Daily Show with John Stewart, NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, and NPR's The Takeaway. More information about the book is available at: www.triumphofthecity.com. Click on "read more" for links to all the reviews.

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Paving a Greener Future with Sustainable Transportation

Monday, February 7th, 2011
By Ben Thomas

On Earth Day 2010 (04/22/10), the Climate Action Leadership and the Community Advisory committees sent the report Sparking Boston's Climate Revolution to Mayor Menino. The report offers strategies for achieving Mayor Menino's goal to reduce Boston's GHG emissions 25% by 2020. The proposals covered three areas: building efficiency and energy, solid waste, and transportation. The report states that 27% of Boston's 2008 GHG emissions originated from the transportation sector. To make reductions, Boston has several programs in place including WalkBoston, Boston Bikes, Complete Streets and the diesel retrofit grant program for businesses.

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Technology in City Government: The Case of Somerville

Monday, January 31st, 2011
By Joseph Curtatone

Powerpoint presentation given by Joseph Curtatone, Mayor, City of Somerville at Somerville and the MBTA Put "Tech" in Technocrats: Using Technology to Empower Citizens and Improve Local Governance on January 31, 2011.

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Revenue Crossroads for Transportation

Friday, January 14th, 2011
By Benjamin Forman

A response to Secretary Mullan: In his recent response to the MassINC report "Next Stop, Massachusetts," Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan says: "Departure from the cost-cutting, efficiency-finding, and culture-changing approach we have taken would be a large setback for anyone who cares about the (transportation) system." We agree and see transportation reform as a positive step forward, particularly in providing a structure that enables the development of multi-modal transportation systems. However, the question going forward is how will the state generate new revenue to complement all the hard work and effort expended to accomplish these reforms? As both the D'Alessandro report and the Transportation Finance Commission noted, reform alone will not provide the revenue needed to secure our transportation future.

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Next Stop, Massachusetts Strategies to Build the Bay State’s Transportation Future and Keep our Economy Moving

Thursday, November 18th, 2010
By Benjamin Forman

Last May, MassINC partnered with the MBTA Advisory Board, the Route 128 Business Council, and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston to bring together transit leaders from around the country. The unprecedented challenges facing both the US economy and US transportation systems formed a stark backdrop for this unique gathering. The economy must create a staggering 8 million jobs to replace those lost in the Great Recession. At the same time, the country's aging public transit systems face an equally daunting climb. They must address a $78 billion backlog in deferred maintenance, sustain current operations with declining revenues, and respond to increasing pressures to attract more riders by expanding service.

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Transit Projects Taxpayers Can Trust

Saturday, December 13th, 2008
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On Election Day, voters from around the country showed Massachusetts how to prevent imminent fiscal train wrecks at both the Pike and the MBTA and to fund other transportation needs as well. Specifically, in states where voters must approve tax hikes that fund new borrowing for capital projects, the electorate approved more than 80 percent of proposed measures that together will provide more than $50 billion for roads, trains, schools, libraries, parks, hospitals, sewers, and other forms of infrastructure. The successful measures included sales tax hikes for transit in both Los Angeles County and the Seattle metro area and property tax hikes for roads in Charlotte, Tulsa, and Denton County, Texas.

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Commuter Rail Can Take Us Only So Far

Friday, November 3rd, 2006
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For people in many parts of Eastern Massachusetts, commuter rail is a convenient way to get to work. But whether it lives up to the more ambitious claims made on its behalf is another question entirely. Can commuter rail help bring back older cities like New Bedford, Fall River, and Springfield? Can commuter rail also stymie continued suburban sprawl in Greater Boston?

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The Culture of Stressing Costs Over Safety

Sunday, July 16th, 2006
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How could a project once touted as one of the 21st century's engineering marvels have such fatal and seemingly obvious problems? In coming weeks we'll learn more details about just what went wrong. But it's already clear that part of the problem was that for more than a decade public officials in charge of the Big Dig overemphasized concerns about the projects' costs and underemphasized the need to build a safe, well-built project.

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Think Again on New Green Line

Monday, May 23rd, 2005
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Just as carpenters are told to ''measure twice and cut once," state officials should recheck key assumptions before they go ahead with plans to extend the Green Line to Somerville and Medford. They should start with claims that the project will greatly reduce air pollution. Air quality was the main reason state environmental officials required construction of 14 transit projects, including the Green Line, when they approved the Big Dig's key environmental permit in 1990, ruling that the projects were ''absolutely necessary to achieve greater air quality improvements in metropolitan Boston."

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Learning from Ammann: Politics as a Design Problem

Thursday, July 1st, 2004
By

Many architects study Othmar Ammann, the well known engineer, because the bridges he designed which include the George Washington Bridge and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge - are exemplars of economy, efficiency, and grace. Virtually no architect (or anyone else for that matter) studies Othmar Ammann, the political entrepreneur. In a feat unnoted in most architectural history books, Ammann designed and carried out a brilliant campaign to have the Port Authority of New York build the George Washington Bridge and to hire him to design it and oversee its construction. Ignoring this lesser known side of Ammann is a mistake, because he can teach usefull lessons to architects, who often mistakenly view policics as an irrational and immutable process that just gets in the way of good architecture.

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» Show all posts

 MA Attorney General Martha Coakley Hearing on Sexual Exploitation Online
Arianna Huffington and Alan Khazei speaking at the Rappaport Center
Triumph of the City: Ed Glaeser talks about his new book on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
U.S. Representative Barney Frank speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School, cosponsored by the Rappaport Institute.
Gov. Deval Patrick speaking at the Rappaport Center's Gubernatorial Speakers Series
Statnet panel of current and former heads of local performance management programs including Stephanie Hirsch (far right), former head of SomerStat and Devin Lyons-Quirk, third from right.
Mayor Menino attends Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Course for high school students
Former Lt. Governor Kerry Healey speaks about political parity at the Rappaport Center
HKS Professor Jeffrey Liebman (left) spoke about new ways to spur policy innovation at a State House briefing sponsored by State Representative (and former Rappaport Urban Scholar) Charles Murphy (right).

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