A week and a half ago, I attended the Brookings Institute conference, errr, Summit for American Prosperity: Washington and Metropolitan Areas Working Together. The Summit was the fruit of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, who with Google.org, sponsored the event.
Attendees included quite a number of mayors, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter. Nutter didn’t pull any punches. While Brookings is ostensibly non-partisan, Nutter made no such claims. His statements were the most pointed as any I heard over the two-day event. The Summit was staged to begin delivering the Bookings prescription for cities; and much of the rest of the policy prescriptions were dressed in suitably academic (i.e. non-partisan) rhetoric. But, that’s rhetoric in a good way; an analysis of context, select data, case studies, all served up as persuasive argument.
I sat in on the session addressing transportation. With my background on the Washington metro transportation planning organization, I had a favorable impression of Brooking’s solution for new federal policy addressing transportation. I heartily agree with their point of removing of transportation mode requirements for federal matching funds. Let states (and the District of Columbia) decide how they need to be spending their share of federal transportation largesses. Stop directing those funds as pork to the interstate & road building industry.
Copies of the speeches and presentations have been posted to their website. Brookings is shifting into activist mode, and they appear geared toward building a collaboration to promote federal reforms to empower cities, counties, and metro areas to advance the nation’s prosperity in the coming months. They clearly see that prosperity tied to the competitive strength of cities. Brookings is now pumping Blueprint news, views, events, and publications to the public. You can subscribe at blueprintprosperity.org.