Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Washington Examiner: Solyndra editorial and continued hypocrisy

Images: Solyndra solar power "tubes." Proposed Farmers Field football-entertainment complex, Los Angeles.

For a wide variety of reasons I would support a National Infrastructure Bank, and I have written about this before.

-- Resource page, NYU, Reinvesting in America

The issue of funding new technology ventures by governments is a different question than that of creating an infrastructure bank.

Currently, the government funds both--different funding sources. With regards to technology, it happens all the time. There are winners (e.g., what became "the Internet," figuring out the drug cocktail with regard to AIDs) and losers (Solyndra).

The idea of an infrastructure bank is to make it easier to fund infrastructure at the state and local level. Localities especially have limited funds and capacity to do such financing. Usually it happens on onerous terms. Hence the desire for a national bank to do it.

With regards to the failure of Solyndra (although as a letter writer to the Post commented: coverage of the $500 million loss at Solyndra has been far more rampant than reporting on the $30+ billion wasted on various ventures--not the presence of the military--in Afghanistan and Iraq), I don't think anyone at Solyndra or the Department of Energy wanted the company to fail. There is no question that government loans have to considered within the realm of the possibility of failure.

Anyway, the Examiner rails against this kind of funding in "Obama wants a government bank to fund more Solyndras," while at the same time the newspaper's owner still is asking for $195 million in lease bonds backed by the City of Los Angeles for an NFL football stadium. (Down from $300 million.) See "Questions for L.A.'s downtown stadium deal" from the Los Angeles Times.

Granted it's a request directed to a locality rather than the federal government, but the nature of the request is no different than getting government loans and grants to support technology development.

At least with the technology development and for general infrastructure, it generates more income and development over the future. A football team doesn't contribute all that much to local economic development success.

Maybe the Examiner is afraid that a National Infrastructure Bank would crowd out funding or raise interest rates for the deals its boss is looking for on stadium-entertainment complexes?

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