A vision for what a city could be

By Cate Long
July 21, 2011

Green City, Clean Waters Promo from GreenTreks Network .

Philadelphia has elected to solve an engineering problem, excessive stormwater run-off, with a brilliant green solution that should save them money and help beautify the city. It’s a vision for what a city could be.

Beyond Green writes that Philly’s green stormwater plan is a go.

Philly announced the — literally — groundbreaking plan to invest billions in building green roofs, permeable concrete sidewalks and other techniques so as to avoid investing several times that amount in sewer lines, holding tanks and other old-style stormwater solutions. Via Tyler Falk at SmartPlanet, the city announced that the EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have both given the ambitious plan the “green” light:

The City of Philadelphia announced that it will move forward on a plan to invest $2 billion over the next 25 years on green infrastructure to clean up the city’s water.

The plan calls for building green infrastructure like stormwater tree trenches, vegetated bumpouts, porous asphalt, rain gardens, and sidewalk planters. These natural infrastructure projects to filter rainwater and allow it to slowly seep back into the ground rather than runoff into waterways, taking pollutants with it.

When completed, this new system would be unique among large US cities — all part of Mayor Michael Nutter’s goal of making Philly one of the greenest cities in America. A very worthy endeavor indeed. Oh, and look! A stormwater website! And video!

An attack on “food deserts”

If you have ever been in a low-income urban area, you may have noticed the lack of access to fresh vegetables and fruits. Reuters reports:

Some of the largest U.S. grocers said on Wednesday that they would join forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to bring healthy food to parts of the country, urban and rural, where access to fresh groceries is poor.

Walmart, the largest food retailer in the United States, will take part in an announcement with the first lady at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. Supervalu Inc and Walgreen Co are also participating.

All three chains announced plans to open stores in so-called “food desert” parts of the country, where people lack access to grocery stores and their fresh produce and meats. According to data provided by Supervalu, there are more than 23 million people, including more than 6 million children, live in U.S. food deserts.

Illinois stymied from altering Medicaid criteria

From Illinois Statehouse News:

The federal government says Illinois cannot ask Medicaid recipients to prove how much they earn or where they live.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMMS, which manage these programs, told Illinois’ Medicaid managers in June that two of 15 reforms violate federal rules that prohibit states from changing criteria for those seeking Medicaid.

The reforms, passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, require Medicaid recipients to prove that they are earning within 300 percent of the federal poverty level — $67,050 for a family of four — and live in Illinois.

All governments are tightening their belts

Reuters reports:

America’s nearly 90,000 counties, cities, public school districts and other local governments rely heavily on property taxes and aid from state governments to provide essential services, such as fire protection and education.

But the five-year-old U.S. housing downturn is savaging property tax revenues, and state legislators looking to balance their own budgets in a slow national economic recovery are often cutting aid to cities and towns.

Twitter Talk

@cate_long: “State tax collections for 2010 –> $704 billion. The states mainly ran balanced budgets on this + federal flow thoughs. (US Census Bureau)”

@MikeStanton1891: “CNBC Guest Bernstein sees US growth expectations outpacing rest of world in next 18 months. “You *even* want to look at munis.”"

@Fixedology“#Muni market this week, $8.5B in supply (largest of 2010) vs plenty of re-investment cash”

@williamalden: “America as teenager borrowing pizza money from our “buddy Jin” self-evident.org/?p=922″

@MSRB_News: “MSRB Publishes New Report on Municipal Variable Rate Securities Interest Rate and Trading Data msrb.org/PR04-2011.aspx”

@jontalton: “Washington state adds 3,600 jobs in June. Slow rate, not enough to make dent in unemployment”

@GreeneBarrett “#Minnesota sale of $640 million in “tobacco bonds”: Gimmick or lifeline? #Stateline http://ow.ly/5JOvp”

@noalpha_allbeta: “Duh! of course we should! RT @RasmussenPoll: 53% Support Automatic Drug Testing For Welfare Applicants… http://tinyurl.com/RR3443″

Follow me at @cate_long and muni issues at #muniland

Good links

wtfnoway.com:  A visualization of United States Debt

Bond Buyer: SEC, SIFMA Face Off

Think Progress: GOP Gov. McDonnell Flip-Flops On Debt Ceiling After Learning His State’s Credit Rating Is At Risk

Reuters:  Clock ticks on indebted Harrisburg, Penn.: consultant

The Jamestown Sun:  County OKs bonds for ethanol plant

Tribune Review:  North Huntingdon Township rec center fails to win support

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