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Rick Pasolino
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While shifting power from the national level to the local (county, city or metro area) level would be deisrable, that's not how it would work out in our current system. Reduction in the power of the federal government in the US results in a boost in power at the state level, not the local level. This is true both formally due to the 10th Amendment, and in reality. US States have the same problems as the national government, only worse. Most state legislatures are dominated by rural interests, and if there happens to be only one major city, the prevailing dynamic pits city interests against "everybody else" in a zero-sum game. Given that reality, it's no wonder that urbanists aren't enthusiastic about reducing federal power. (None of this is meant to apply to Canada or Australia, about which I know next to nothing.) Here in Seattle we can't choose to raise city or county taxes unless authorized by the state. That's why Metro will be underfunded next year although the votes exist in King County to raise the necessary funds - the state won't let us vote to tax ourselves, because it's controlled by anti-tax zealots from the middle of nowhere. While their position may be appropriate in their own districts, the reality is that it's easier to get votes by running against the "liberal elites" in the city than by promoting a positive agenda. A real devolution of power to the local (really metro, as hundred-year-old city, county and state lines are horribly outdated) level will take decades of work.
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Oct 14, 2013