Moving Forward

June 27, 2008 -- Leslie Moody

This Land is Our Land

The history of privatization of our public resources in this country is shameful and shortsighted.  Whether maintaining public lands and landmarks or providing essential public services, there is a vital role that effective government plays in maintaining the public trust and demonstrating leadership for the public good.

Across the country, the de-commissioning of military bases has resulted in a land giveaway of hundreds of thousands of acres to private developers with few if any community benefits attached and no long-term accountability for development outcomes.  The Partnership's most recent report highlights the challenges and opportunities presented by these deals, and makes recommendations for future organizing and accountability.

In city after city, there is a growing movement to retain public lands and attach permanent job quality and housing standards to them as a condition of development.  Doing business in cities, with a built in customer base and residents eager to live close to work and school, is a privilege and should be based on the merits of a project.  Attaching real and measurable public benefits to publicly owned ports, airports, convention centers, historical sites, military installations and other infrastructure is critical if we are to build an economy that works.

This week alone, partners in three cities had victories applying this principle to their work.  In New Jersey, the Garden State Alliance for a New Economy (GANE) worked with the Mayor of Bayonne, NJ to establish reporting principles for the multi-billion dollar redevelopment of a decommissioned army base.  The city's support of language requiring job and housing estimates, including pay and affordability detail, opens the door for true public participation in a project that could create new opportunities for thousands of workers and families.

In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports witnessed Mayor Villaraigosa's signing of the LA Clean Truck Program into law - a landmark victory for port communities nation-wide.  This program's linking of job quality, air quality and community vitality is visionary and comprehensive, demonstrating exactly the kind of leadership cities can take in creating a healthy and prosperous future for their citizens.

Finally, in San Diego, the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) worked with San Diego City Council to push back sweetheart contracts for privatization consultants at the city.  Under the guise of paving the way for "managed competition," the city was spending millions of dollars to learn how to save money - oh the irony.  Fortunately for San Diego, they have some real sharpies at CPI to save the city from itself - and save San Diego residents more than a million dollars for critical public services.

As we anticipate renewed and visionary leadership in this country, we envision a government that is unashamed of its role in upholding and protecting the public good.  At the local, state and federal levels, there are incredible opportunities to connect good government to shared prosperity in America - and we look forward to working across our partnership and with regional and national allies to realize this vision.

Leslie Moody
Partnership Executive Director