Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Long Island Next Generation Housing Referendum?

"Many LI leaders are present and accounted for here (only the first half-hour was available for preview), including Nancy Rauch Douzinas, president of the Rauch Foundation; Paul Pontieri Jr., mayor of Patchogue; Matt Crosson, Long Island Association president (and co-host of Ch. 21's "Crosson and Welles"); Wayne Hall, mayor of Hempstead, and many others. Crosson, speaking tonight, sets the table with this thought: "Long Island is losing young people at the same time the baby boomer [retirement] tsunami is beginning, [and] we will be in serious trouble. ... The Island's economy depends on the availability of young people in the workforce, and if we don't have that, the cost of living goes even higher, and [business] growth will be virtually impossible."

The consequence of this vicious cycle is a decline in housing prices."

Good show and well worth watching.

As stated previously, affordable housing for young people is perhaps the top issue facing the economic viability of Long Island.

How about this for an idea.

Long Islanders have shown that they are willing to support environmental and open space bonds by an overwhelming majority.

What if the same procedure was applied to the issue of workforce or next generation housing?

How about the "Next Generation Housing Referendum?" If the problem is as acute as many believe and many believe that the public is in favor of changes to permit higher density development, then perhaps we should provide a forum to raise the capital quickly (it can be a revolving fund, replenished as the units are sold).

The units can be constructed on existing state, local and federal property (at least in the beginning to get the process jump started) which are exempt for the most part from local zoning restrictions. If, as we've been told, Long Island needs upwards of 100,000 units of workforce housing, then swift, decisive "public supported" action needs to take place.

Another option is to use the referendum funding (presuming the referendum passes) to purchase property, convert it to municipal property for the purposes of building the housing (payment in lieu of taxes to the community), then return it to private hands via homeowners association or other device where it then returns to the taxrolls.

The referendum "board of managers" should be comprised primarily of citizens, business leaders and others who would determine and ensure a fair process.

If as strong a case can be made that a "next generation" fund is required for the long term health of Long Island as was made for open space preservation, then passage should be a relatively simple affair.

Part of the reason private sector incentives have not worked or have only had minimal impact is that there just isn't the return on investment for workforce housing as there is for traditional housing.

Additionally, there is some question in the public's mind as to the extent of the need. A full and complete debate within the context of a referendum would allow a clearer picture of the need and the solutions.

Of course I've oversimplified the issue and there are many details to be worked out, but if the retention of younger Long Islanders is a true priority, then the government, with the consent and support of the citizens must take decisive and direct action in accomplishing the task at hand.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SUNY Ideas ...

"One argument that SUNY leaders make - and it will be easier to make the case once a new permanent chancellor is finally selected - is that public higher education is never more important than in tough economic times. For one thing, people losing jobs rely on SUNY schools for retraining. For another, the campuses - like Stony Brook, Farmingdale, Old Westbury, and the community colleges in Nassau and Suffolk here on Long Island - have a huge impact on the economy. So this is a bad time to slow that economic engine."

Good editorial above on SUNY.

As important is the need to restructure the way the state allows for the commercialization of research coming out of its system in a manner similar to California and other states.

There is a treasure trove of great ideas and products available to New York coming out of the SUNY system, but there must be a rational incentive for both inventors and the taxpayers of the state.

The "Green Business Accelerator" concept we proposed for Stony Brook is just one model of what can be accomplished.

Opening up the the commercialization of intellectual property coming out of SUNY is a great way to offset SUNY budget cuts, pour money into the state economy, develop new business and new business models, create good jobs among many other benefits.

The current system provides little incentive and too many roadblocks to innovation.

For a state that prides itself on being a world leader in many areas, the current situation at SUNY is a threat to this continuing quest for excellence.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More progress ... I think ...

Some additional partially complete tunes for my new CD.

Fool for Punishment

Most Unusual Turn of Events

Average Man

Yes, I will finish all 14 of them this summer. I hope.

Then on to the next group of 14 and the boxes of unrecorded stuff as well.

May I can finish them all by the time I'm 84 or so if I don't compose anything else.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Long Island Independent Media Consortium: Part Two

So we have all these different organizations on Long Island, all with varying degrees of technical expertise and many on different seemingly incompatible systems.

What to do?

They key to making this all work is to "build bridges" using a "common language."

What do we mean by a common language? We mean giving Long Islanders the tools necessary to engage in productive, positive public discourse in a flexible, collaborative manner. These tools include all the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools and concepts contained with One Long Island.

Gee. we can't get all that done right now, so what can we do?

Start simply. First get all web sites and blogs up to Web 2.0 standards. This may be as simple as adding an XML feed to your site or creating a free blog and linking it to your existing site.

Secondly, talk to your organization about how and who it would be advantageous for you to collaborate with and the subject areas of collaboration of most interest to you. Do not just limit it to organizations or individuals within your own field of expertise.

These are the starting points for high level Long Island "end user" operated media service. It also creates an environment for all types of innovative collaboration.

After all, the idea is to get things done, not just talk, write or do studies about them, isn't it?

The Long Island Independent Media Consortium idea is really just part of one larger idea of creating a Long Island Philosophy. One that will give our citizens the skills, hope and courage necessary to make the substantive change required for a positive future on Long Island.

More in Part Three.

On a separate note here is how my new CD project is progressing. A few tunes in various stages of completion ...

Did You Think I Was Surprised?

You Better Treat Me Right

Prelude 3a

Monday, May 19, 2008

Long Island Independent Media Consortium: Crowdsourcing

Excellent site for "crowdsourcing" an idea we had explored in earlier posts.

These ideas are directly on point for our "Long Island Independent Media Consortium" concept.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prelude 3a

Just something else I've been working on here ...

Long Island Independent Media Consortium: Part One

Another way to look at the recent Cablevision - Newsday "merger" and its effect on the diversity of content, advertising rates and a whole host of other issues, is as an opportunity to create a new business model for the delivery of media services on Long Island.

As we've stated many times previously, there are a ton of smart folks on Long Island with great ideas and relevant, informed opinions.

It's really a shame to waste the intelligence and ingenuity of our own citizens and counterproductive to the future health of Long Island not to put these folks "to work."

How about "Get the Whole Story at the Long Island Independent Media Consortium"?

There are also many fine organizations on Long Island.

There are many fine local publications, websites and blogs on Long Island.

There is plenty of capital on Long Island.

So what's missing?

Collaboration among and between autonomous bodies. Once folks get the idea that we can collaborate without losing our individual, organizational or corporate "identity" or "brand" the power of such a collaborative movement will be self-evident.

More in Part Two.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If you build it ... Part Two

So much of the news and information we receive is "bundled" and delivered from multiple sources.

Those of us who use RSS/XML readers on a regular basis know that there is a universe of information out there to be delivered in virtual real time for those willing to do a little exploration.

So if we were constructing a Long Island news and information "portal" or a series of collaborative "portals" what would we need to do?

First of all, let's be clear. The news and information is already generated by us. We may pay others for a service to distribute it and analyze it, but we are the news and information. 

This is not to diminish what media folks do or a particular expertise they may bring to a particular subject, but without us they're out of business. Much as we elect representatives from the various forms of government to work for our common interests and confer that privilege upon them, so too do we confer the same privilege upon the media.

Much of what we've discussed over the past year or so (even back to 1993 for that matter) is directly applicable to this particular product. In fact we've explored this theme with the Citizen Media and Citizen Alert posts (among many others) some time ago. I tend to see most of this as inter-related.

A good portion of information is free and one can very easily create a robust information portal and in fact can create a portal that the end user (us) can customize to their own particular viewing preferences. 

Moreover we can integrate LYDIA technology (as we are in a number of One Long Island projects already) to create a powerful news and information analysis tool.

The individual will be able to discern what is accurate and factual. How about that!

Ah ha you say, what about the hard hitting investigative reporting we all need to make sure those in high places are not up to low down and dirty deeds!

Again. Think of where most of the leads come from to expose wrong doing. That's right. You and me.

Will we always need professional investigative journalists? Of course. But they are simply an outgrowth of an investigative public, active and knowledgeable in its own affairs with access to the information and tools necessary in a representative democracy. 

We really shouldn't depend on journalists or elected officials or others to do our homework for us.

Am I advocating the dissolution of all profit based media? No. Advertising dollars pay salaries. Reporters aren't going to work for free. Someone has to gather up even the "bundled" news although over time this need may dissipate as well.

Am I advocating the fact that an organized and collaborative public can inform itself on an equal, or in some cases superior manner? Yes.

More in Part Three.

Monday, May 12, 2008

If you build it ... Part One

But, he said, while the deal will "please" shareholders, "unfortunately for the consumer, both editorially and financially, it is never a good idea to let one media conglomerate control pricing and editorial content."

OK so I don't pretend to be a media expert.

But it strikes me as a lot of doom and gloom that only "one player" will control the news and editorial content for all of Long Island.

Sure Newsday and Cablevision have great brand ID and a lot of smart folks working for them.

Why don't I worry?

Because it is very easy to create a competitor network (or collaborative networks) constructed out of the many content sources we have here on Long Island.

What news do people really want? My experience is first they want the news that most effects their immediate daily life. "Hyperlocalism" is a buzz word often used to describe the web based confluence of news, information, video etc, focused on a "finite" location or area of interest. Do folks in Sayville care about what's happening in Bayville? Maybe a little, but not a lot.

Next maybe they are interested in a regional perspective and so forth almost like expanding waves of knowledge gathering.

Most national and international news, sports, entertainment news etc is provided from a wide array of organizations and sources predominately through XML (extensible markup language) or some similar protocol which updates news almost as it happens. Most of this information is free to use for non-profit enterprises and for a nominal fee for profit oriented enterprises.

Next opinion. Look everybody has an opinion. Hopefully its an informed opinion. There are tons of blogs, podcasts, video what have you out there giving opinions on almost anything you can think of. What if, for example, you set up a rotating multiple xml feed of ten food critics? Wouldn't that be better than one? Wouldn't that give the public a better view of what's out there?

In fact, why should we be limited by any one group's point of view or control over the distribution of content?

How about (as we've explored previously) a rotating editorial board made up of regular citizens and members of various organizations of let's say 20 at a time, rotating through every 60 days on staggered shifts? It can actually be a "virtual" editorial board able to meet on a moments notice. Wouldn't this ensure that all voices are heard and that there is a true diversity of opinion made available? Why should only a few folks have all the fun!

Additionally, there is the issue of trust. Does the general public (or anyone for that matter) trust that the information they are getting is accurate and presented fairly?

My belief is that the more power (information is power) in the greater number of hands the greater the likelihood is that we will have an equal playing field for the debate of ideas that will shape our future.

Toward this end we have a number of "One Long Island" projects underway and in the planning stages that would make the creation of this "Long Island independent information and news" project a reality.

Would it replace existing news institutions? No. There would be no purpose in that as the existing institutions provide an important service and one that many folks depend upon.

But there is room for improvement and real diversity of news, opinion and thought on Long Island.

It is possible to create a reliable collaborative Long Island news and information network that is, among other things, accessible, flexible and accurate.

More in Part Two.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Putting the "public" in public media ...

The "public" as subsidizer of the news business? The "public" as a monolithic "object" in league with the media?

Or the "public" we envision in our "One Long Island" projects?

"....While it is the only business protected by the Constitution, the press isn’t shielded from the laws of supply and demand. If the current business model isn’t working, then it’s because the distribution of news has radically changed, allowing those with Internet access to dictate their news content.

Judy and Mickey are not going to be able to save Newsday, and the idea of a local media collective is dead on arrival. The future of Newsday will be decided by veteran financial professionals, seasoned media analysts, digital marketers, government regulators and, most importantly, by the market forces that are shaping how and who gets their news.

If Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. are the front-runners in a bid that comes in at over half a billion dollars, then it’s because he understands economy of scale, the impact of digital media on traditional print and how to ensure that people still want a newspaper in their hands. Others suggest that Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, the New York Observer or Cablevision will all make a run. All of them will find a lucrative local market.

Newspapers in America have always been a business. If we prop them up with government subsidies and shotgun business models we might as well bring back the telegraph and the tintype, but the end result will still be obsolescence."

"The public is an idea, which would never have occurred to people in ancient times, for the people themselves en masse in corpore <8 took steps in any active situation, and bore responsibility for each individual among them, and each individual had to personally, without fail, present himself and submit his decision immediately to approval or disapproval. When first a clever society makes concrete reality into nothing, then the Media 9 creates that abstraction, "the public," which is filled with unreal individuals, who are never united nor can they ever unite simultaneously in a single situation or organization, yet still stick together as a whole. The public is a body, more numerous than the people which compose it, but this body can never be shown, indeed it can never have only a single representation, because it is an abstraction. Yet this public becomes larger, the more the times become passionless and reflective and destroy concrete reality; this whole, the public, soon embraces everything. . . .

The public is not a people, it is not a generation, it is not a simultaneity, it is not a community, it is not a society, it is not an association, it is not those particular men over there, because all these exist because they are concrete and real; however, no single individual who belongs to the public has any real commitment; some times during the day he belongs to the public, namely, in those times in which he is nothing; in those times that he is a particular person, he does not belong to the public. Consisting of such individuals, who as individuals are nothing, the public becomes a huge something, a nothing, an abstract desert and emptiness, which is everything and nothing. . . .

The Media is an abstraction (because a newspaper is not concrete and only in an abstract sense can be considered an individual), which in association with the passionlessness and reflection of the times creates that abstract phantom, the public, which is the actual leveller. . . . More and more individuals will, because of their indolent bloodlessness, aspire to become nothing, in order to become the public, this abstract whole, which forms in this ridiculous manner: the public comes into existence because all its participants become third parties.
10 This lazy mass, which understands nothing and does nothing, this public gallery seeks some distraction, and soon gives itself over to the idea that everything which someone does, or achieves, has been done to provide the public something to gossip about. . . . The public has a dog for its amusement. That dog is the Media. 11 If there is someone better than the public, someone who distinguishes himself, the public sets the dog on him and all the amusement begins. This biting dog tears up his coat-tails, and takes all sort of vulgar liberties with his leg—until the public bores of it all and calls the dog off. That is how the public levels."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Long Island "Synthesis"

(Select for larger image)

Just another simplified way to look at what we're attempting to achieve with the One Long Island series of projects.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More interesting reading ...

"No one starting from scratch would design a local government system like New York has
now, with its overlapping governments and rigid structure. This structure makes it
difficult – but not impossible – to define efficient service areas and to levy taxes or
assessments on those who are served. It creates some duplication of services and
functions. It creates opportunity for miscommunication and lack of coordination in
economic development and other policy areas.
Although it is not the system we would design today, it is the system we have.
Unfortunately, changing the system structurally is extraordinarily difficult: The political
hurdles in front of eliminating a village layer or merging a city and county are
extraordinarily high. City-county mergers in upstate New York would require merging
governments whose citizens are dramatically different in terms of race, poverty,
urbanicity, educational attainment, political inclination, and preferences for government
services. That doesn’t mean it cannot or should not be done, but clearly it will not easily
be done.
The quantifiable benefits of eliminating a layer or merging a city and county appear to be
low, often because of leveling up between collective bargaining agreements. Potential
cost savings, while certainly meaningful in dollar terms, can be small relative to
government budgets – on the order of 1 to 2 percent of spending, judging by available
dissolution and merger studies. While taxpayers certainly would welcome tax reductions
of this magnitude, historically they have rarely been willing to accept the intangible costs
of dissolution or consolidation for this level of tax reduction.
Each merger and dissolution situation must stand alone. New York’s local governments
vary enormously as do their service delivery and financing arrangements. Whether a
specific merger or dissolution will make sense from fiscal or other perspectives will
depend on its facts – there is no one size fits all solution. However, even if a merger or
dissolution appears sensible on its face, how it is implemented will matter. Careless
implementation can lead to inefficiency and waste.
Consolidations and dissolutions also involve a redistribution of service benefits and tax
costs. In a positive vein, one could say they involve equity issues, but another
characterization is that they produce winners and losers."

Bottom line. If you don't build trust based upon verifiable information and analysis and give citizens a sense of common purpose and inclusion, change is almost impossible.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Two problems with a common source

"Put simply, the economic model of news gathering – of maintaining costly overseas correspondents and news bureaus, of investigative journalists – is being eviscerated," Moffett wrote. "And it is being eviscerated by the Internet."

"Just how difficult will it be to enact any of the reforms proposed last week by the Lundine commission on efficiency and competitiveness? Answer: Pretty difficult."

The above two stories illustrate pretty well the dilemma we've been exploring over the past year or so (or back to 1993 in fact) and why we've been proposing the "One Long Island" series of projects.

Information gathering and analysis is changing at a rapid rate. We need new dynamic, collaborative and flexible organizations, structures and models to address this new reality.

Accurate timely information/analysis and substantive, sustainable, positive change are virtually impossible without them.

The above two illustrations are certainly not the only areas in need of reform, but they are a large part of what needs to be changed.

The old ways just don't work anymore.