Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Asking the Right I-380 Question

Asking the Right Questions About Interstate 380 Expansion

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, December 1, 2019, p. D3
[The Gazette (online), November 26, 2019]
also as:
"Asking the Right I-380 Question,"
Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 4, 2019, p. A7

Asking the right question is the first step to finding the right answer.

Asking how many lanes should be added to The Corridor's corridor, I-380, may not be the right question.

“Slow elevator” complaints caused a hotel manager to call in engineers. Complaints continued. Someone suggested, “Your problem is not elevators, it’s complaints.” So perceived, the solution was full-length mirrors by each elevator. Guests’ who admired themselves while waiting no longer complained.

As I wrote in "How to Totally Eliminate Flood Damage," the question is not how to have less water in the river, it’s how to have fewer structures in the flood plain.

The Iowa DOT's December 2018 I-380 Planning Study compares favorably with similar studies elsewhere. Unfortunately, most of them recommend what board consultant John Carver describes as "doing the wrong things better."

The Study mentions CRANDIC. Most nations use passenger rail. That iron horse left Iowa’s barn a century ago when we had 10,500 rail miles. The auto industry campaigned to replace tracks with auto dealerships. Now U.S. highways and parking lots cover an area roughly the size of Iowa, and Americans pay from $7,000 to $10,000 a year to drive cars. China has 2,800 pairs of trains travelling 200 mph between 550 cities. We have CRANDIC. [Photo of G7232 Bullet Train leaving Zhenjiang Station, credit: Wikimedia]

Even if this was a “congestion” problem, most studies find additional lanes increase congestion. Economists call it "induced demand." What did Houston get for its $2.8 billion expansion of the Katy Freeway to 26 lanes? Increased travel times of 55 percent. [Photo credit: Wikimedia, Michael Coghlan]

Sometimes removing freeway lanes is both cheaper and more effective than adding them. San Francisco cut lanes and daily 100,000-passenger freeway traffic in half and created one of its better neighborhoods in its place.

But the I-380 question should not be, “what’s the best way to make room for more cars?” It’s “what are the alternatives to requiring a population the size of a large Iowa community to relocate daily, like unwelcome immigrants, up and down I-380?”

There are many possibilities. Some have been tried. Most require good will among governments, businesses, and employees.

Educate the public to the full cost, in dollars and time, of commuting by car; the months they must work just to pay for getting to work.

Parents buy homes close enough to schools their kids can walk. Imagine the savings if the homes were close enough to work those parents could walk.

Employers could be encouraged to pay workers enough to afford neighborhood housing at 30 percent of their income, or work with governments and landlords to subsidize workers’ rents.

Plans for new businesses and factories could include plans for employee housing.

Current businesses could create regional or coworking centers closer to employees’ homes.

Rethink “employment.” Instead of buying an employee’s time in place, employers could buy their productivity from anyplace.

Employers could rethink communications. What’s the most efficient mix of one-on-one face-to-face, group face-to-face, group phone or video meetings; reaching customers with personal meetings, phone calls, personal emails and texts, newsletters? Did everyone have to be at that last meeting?

Must employees be in “the office” every day to do their work? Andrew Carnegie, the richest man in the world, used telegraph messages to manage Carnegie Steel from China and elsewhere. Today, 100 years later, 50 percent of our workforce hold jobs compatible with what we now call telecommuting.

We can’t solve I-380 congestion with the hotel manager’s mirrors. Nor are more lanes the answer. The answer will be found in creatively redrafting the question.

Nicholas Johnson of Iowa City promoted containerized shipping as U.S. Maritime Administrator in 1964, and is the author of Columns of Democracy. Comments: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org.

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Sources for Column

(in order in column)
Hotel elevators. https://marc-lemenestrel.net/IMG/pdf/dery1.pdf, pp. 16-17

How to Totally Eliminate Flood Damage, May 30, 2013. https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2013/05/how-to-totally-eliminate-flood-damage.htmlj

Iowa DOT's 2018 Planning Study. https://iowadot.gov/i380planningstudy/pdfs/I-380-PEL-Final-Report%20.pdf

Carver; "wrong things better." Carver, "Remaking Governance," ASBJ, March 2000, p. 26, http://nicholasjohnson.org/writing-2/asbjcarv.html ("Much of what is published for boards -- including advice appearing regularly in these pages -- reinforces errors of the past or, at best, teaches trustees how to do the wrong things better.")

Iowa's 10,500 rail miles. Iowa DOT, Rail Transportation, Iowa Rail History. https://iowadot.gov/iowarail/Historical-Culture/Iowa-Rail-History

Auto dealerships for tracks. "History of rail transportation in California," Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rail_transportation_in_California ('The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge opened to rail traffic in 1939 only to have the last trains run in 1958 after fewer than twenty years of service – the tracks were torn up and replaced with additional lanes for automobiles. All four streetcar systems, and other similar rail networks across the state, declined in the 1940s with the rise of California's car culture and freeway network. They were then all eventually taken over to some degree, and dismantled, in favor of bus service by National City Lines, a controversial national front company owned by General Motors and other companies in what became known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy.")

Land covered by highways and parking lots; Iowa in square miles. "Paving the Planet: Cars and Crops Competing for Land," Earth Policy Institute, ("However we visualize it, the U.S. area devoted to roads and parking lots covers an estimated 16 million hectares (61,000 square miles), an expanse approaching the size of the 21 million hectares that U.S. farmers planted in wheat last year.") Area of Iowa. 56,272 square miles. "Iowa Population 2019 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs), World Population Review, http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/iowa-population/ Accord, Iowa DOT, Demographics, https://iowadot.gov/about/Demographics

$7,000 to $10,000 annually to operate car. AAA NewsRoom, "Your Driving Costs," https://newsroom.aaa.com/auto/your-driving-costs/ Discussion includes chart with 8 categories of vehicle from "small sedan" ($7,114) to "Pickup" ($10,839). See also "average" in "The Cost of Owning Your Car? $9,000 a year," USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/16/aaa-car-ownership-costs/2070397/

China's 2,800 pairs of trains; 217 mph; 550 cities. Travel China Guide, "China High Speed Train (Bullet Train). https://www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains/high-speed/

CRANDIC. "Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway," Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_Rapids_and_Iowa_City_Railway

Additional lanes increase congestion. "Induced Demand," Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_demand. ("after supply increases, more of a good is consumed. ... [T]his idea ["induced demand"] has become important in the debate over the expansion of transportation systems, and is often used as an argument against increasing roadway traffic capacity as a cure for congestion. ... City planner Jeff Speck has called induced demand 'the great intellectual black hole in city planning, the one professional certainty that everyone thoughtful seems to acknowledge, yet almost no one is willing to act upon.'")

Houston Katy Freeway; 55% increased travel time, $2.8 billion. CityLab, "City Lab University: Induced Demand," https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/09/citylab-university-induced-demand/569455/ ("cost of $2.8 billion. ... [A]fter the freeway was widened, congestion got worse. ... [T]ravel times increased by ... 55 percent during the evening commute."

San Francisco removal of lanes. "What's Up With That: Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse," WIRED, June 17, 2014, https://www.wired.com/2014/06/wuwt-traffic-induced-demand/ ("San Francisco removed a highway section, called the Central Freeway, that carried nearly 100,000 cars per day in 1989. The boulevard that replaced it now only carries around 45,000 daily cars and yet they move.") "Six Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever," GIZMODO, May 25, 2016, https://gizmodo.com/6-freeway-removals-that-changed-their-cities-forever-1548314937 ("It seems counterintuitive, right? Rip out eight lanes of freeway through the middle of your metropolis and you’ll be rewarded with not only less traffic, but safer, more efficient cities? But it’s true, and it’s happening in places all over the world. . . . Okay, you’re thinking, but where do all the cars go? It turns out that when you take out a high-occupancy freeway it doesn’t turn the surface streets into the equivalent of the Autobahn. A theory called “induced demand” proves that if you make streets bigger, more people will use them. When you make them smaller, drivers discover and use other routes, and traffic turns out to be about the same. Don’t believe it? Check out these freeway removals in cities all over the world and see for yourself.")

I-380 commuters, over 4,000 each way twice a day, if a city would be in the top 100 of Iowa’s 947 cities (roughly top 10%); https://www.iowa-demographics.com/cities_by_population, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Iowa

30% of income for housing. HUD, “Affordable Housing,” https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/comm_planning/affordablehousing/ (“Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.”)

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Tags: AndrewCarnegie, bulletTrains, CedarRapids, commutingCosts, congestion, coworkingCenters, CRANDIC, employeeHousing, I380, IowaCity, IowaDOT, JohnCarver, MaritimeAdministration, questions, slowElevators, telecommuting, traffic
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Monday, November 11, 2019

Understanding Impeachment

There is so much nonsense spouted about impeachment these days, whether deliberate obfuscation or unknowingly, that you might find these items useful. (The most basic sources, from the Constitution, are Article II, Section 4 (impeachment power), Art. I, Sec. 2, Clause 5 (possessed by the House), Art. I, Sec. 3, Cl. 6 (trial in Senate). You are spared additional footnotes, though specific citations can be provided if desired.)

This material is hoped, intended and believed to be accurate, but does not purport to be, and is not, either a "legal opinion" or "scholarship."

There are three sections to which these links can take you: (1) The Obligation to Impeach, (2) Impeachment Standard Not "Illegality," and (3) Trump Has Violated the Law. [Photo credit: Wikimedia.]

The Obligation to Impeach. Every president, House and Senate member, and federal judge has sworn to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution requires each branch (legislative, executive and judicial) to maintain the balance of power among the three branches and prevent constitutional violations by the other two.

Thus, it can be argued the House has a constitutional obligation to begin an impeachment inquiry when there is reason to believe a president may have said or done things that precedent suggests constitute “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The Congress has no more constitutional right to evade this responsibility, to fail to exercise this specifically granted power, than it has a right to fail to exercise its power to take the census every ten years. It certainly cannot refuse to start an impeachment inquiry because it might be politically harmful to the majority party in the House, or because the president may fail to win reelection. Nor can it fail to impeach because the Senate is unlikely to convict, any more than a grand jury can fail to indict because of the possibility the trial jury may be biased in favor of the accused.

Why? Because there are more reasons for the impeachment power than the potential removal of a specific president. Impeachment is designed to maintain for the future both (1) the standards of presidential conduct required by the founders and (2) exercise of the checks and balances the Constitution compels between the Legislative and Executive branches.

Impeachment Standard Not “Illegality.” President Trump’s defenders have altered their arguments as facts evolved – from, in effect, “he didn’t do it,” to “he may have done it, but he did nothing wrong,” to “he may have exercised bad judgment and done something wrong, but he did nothing illegal,” to “it can’t have been illegal because there was no quid-pro-quo,” to “even if it was illegal, and there was a quid-pro-quo, it is not an impeachable offense.”

As “Late Night” host Seth Meyers would say, “It’s time for a closer look.”

The founders modeled their constitutional standard for impeachment on British practice, which had its origins in 1341. Articles of impeachment in Great Britain included such things as “arbitrary and tyrannical government,” “procuring offices for persons who were unfit, and unworthy of them,” “squandering away the public treasure,” “improprieties in office,” “gross maladministration,” “corruption in office,” “neglect of duty,” excessive drinking and cursing that created “the highest scandal . . . on the kingdom.”

The British practice was to treat impeachment as a remedy separate from the process and standards of the criminal law and to include conduct not expressly recognized as “illegal.”

Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s language is influenced, but not bound, by British history. But American history is almost identical. The writings of Constitutional Convention members Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, and James Madison indicate they believed impeachment did not require criminal offences. Nothing in the records of the states’ ratification of the Constitution indicate they believed impeachment was limited to criminal offenses. Of the first 13 impeachments by the House since 1789 (mostly of judges), at least 10 included charges that did not involve criminal law. Finally, Congress has never attempted to define “impeachment” in Title 18 of the U.S. Code (criminal code).

So far, three U.S. presidents have been impeached (Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton) and a fourth (President Trump) is undergoing an impeachment inquiry. None, so far, has been removed from office following the Senate trial. (President Johnson was saved by one vote; President Nixon resigned before his seemingly inevitable formal impeachment.)

Each presidential impeachment has involved some article dealing with other than criminal illegality.

As discussed in ”Trump’s High Crimes and Misdemeansors,” October 31, 2019, President Andrew Johnson’s tenth article of impeachment charged “That the President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony and courtesies which ought to exist and be maintained between the executive and legislative branches of the Government of the United States . . . [did] make and declare, with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces . . . amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled . . ..”

The first of the Articles of Impeachment regarding President Nixon included: “[Nixon] has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice . . .. [He has] engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry [into Democratic National Committee headquarters]; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities. “ (This is followed by nine examples.)

Article II, par. 5, alleged that “he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation . . . and the Central Intelligence Agency.” Article III charged that he “has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives . . ..”

President Bill Clinton’s third article of impeachment included, after citing 7 specific items, “In all of this, [Clinton] has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, [and] has betrayed his trust as President . . ..”

Taken together, the evidence is overwhelming that the validity of an article of impeachment does not turn on whether a "law" has been violated. Thus, even if it were true, as some Trump defenders contend, that "he has done nothing illegal" it does not follow that, therefore, he cannot and should not be impeached.

But wait, even if one insists that a violation of law is a requirement for impeachment . . .

Trump Has Violated the Law. Although unnecessary for impeachment, for a response to those who argue “he did nothing illegal” or “there was no quid-pro-quo” it seems clear he did violate the law, and that the law he violated does not require proof of a “quid-pro-quo.”

The law involved is contained in Section 30121 of Title 52, United States Code (“Voting and Elections”).

The relevant words are, “It shall be unlawful for . . . a person to solicit . . . or receive . . . from a foreign national ["a . . . thing of value . . . in connection with a Federal . . . election"].

(The primary subsection is Sec. 30121(a)(2). The [bracketed] words are from subsection 30121(a)(1)(A) because Sec. 30121(a)(2) defines what cannot be received as that which was "described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1).")

Thing of Value. Given the quantity of confirming testimony regarding the range of ways that Trump displayed his desire to obtain dirt on former Vice President, and candidate for president, Joe Biden, there can be no doubt he considered such information “a thing of value in connection with a Federal election.”

Solicitation. Notes from Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky included Trump’s now-infamous line, “I would like to ask you to do us a favor, though.” It turns out there was more than one “favor” requested, but one is enough to clearly establish “solicitation.”

Quid-Pro-Quo. Note that the law does not require a quid-pro-quo. So even if there had been no quid-pro-quo that would have been irrelevant to whether Sec. 30121 had been violated. Clearly, it would not have been a defense. But for whatever relevance it may have, it seems to have clearly been the impression of many of those who have testified before Congress that a quid-pro-quo was understood by both presidents.

Without exploring yet another possible crime, the existence of a quid-pro-quo, while irrelevant to Section 30121, may be very relevant to a charge of bribery.