The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, July 13, 2002
The Economy. Demography. Migration to Minnesota Rises in 1990s. About 47% of the increase in Minnesota’s population in the 1990s came from migration. This was a marked departure from earlier decades often showing a net loss in migration. According to Minnesota Planning the strong economy has attracted young families because jobs were available. The migration was spread throughout the state and not just confined to the metropolitan area. A press release and full report are available at: (66)

Friday, July 12, 2002
Public Services. E-Government. In the July/August 2002 issue of Public Administration Review M. Jae Moon reviewed what municipalities in the US have been doing to move into using web services to serve citizens and businesses. The study concluded that e-government has been adopted by many municipal governments, but it is still at an early stage and has not obtained many of expected outcomes (cost savings, downsizing, etc.) that the rhetoric of e-government has promised. The study suggested that there were some frequent barriers to e-government such as lack of financial, technical, and personnel capacities and legal issues such as privacy. Larger cities and those with a greater length of time using e-government are more advanced. The abstract of the article is at: (65)

Thursday, July 11, 2002
Post-Secondary Education. Malaysia’s Blueprint for e-University. Chancellor Datuk Mohd Zohadie Bardaie of the National University of Malaysia in June 2002 unveiled a ten year strategic plan covering the next ten years for an e-university to support student services, teaching and research and development. (64)

Wednesday, July 10, 2002
The Economy. Twin Cities Ranks 10th in New Economy Index. In a report by the Progressive Policy Institute released July 10, 2002, the Twin Cities ranked 10th in being prepared for the new economy. The region ranked high on knowledge jobs, managerial, professional and technical jobs, and workforce education. Lower rankings were found for small, rapid growth companies and broadband telecommunications capacity. The detail is at: (63)

Health Care. Minnesota Ranks 6th Nationally in Health Care Cost Increases. Minnesota showed the 6th highest increase in health care spending of all states during the 1990s according to a new study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. Though no conclusions were drawn as to the precise reasons for this ranking, it will add concern to issues of health care industry consolidation and rising administrative costs. For more on this see: (62)

Tuesday, July 09, 2002
The Economy. Minnesota Ranks 13th on New Economy Index. The Progressive Policy Institute has issued its 2002 report on readiness for the new economy. Minnesota ranked 13th overall. We ranked first among states in percentage of manufacturing establishments with Internet access, second in online population for adults, 7th in technology in schools and 8th in the number of patents per 1,000 workers. Alas, we ranked 24th in digital government – a measure of the utilization of digital technologies in state government and 24 in broadband telecommunications infrastructure and use. The Minnesota page of the 2002 State New Economy Index may be found at: (61)

Energy and Environment. Recycling: Aluminum Can Recycling Falling. The July 9, 2002 issue of the Wall Street Journal reports that aluminum can recycling has fallen from a high of 62% in 1992 to about 47% in 2001. Although municipal recycling programs serve 140 million people, triple the 1990 number, low aluminum prices, consumption of beverages away from home and time pressures are suggested as factors driving down recycling. In all 760,000 tons of aluminum cans were trashed and the energy to make that much aluminum would have been enough to light up Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco and Seattle for a year according to the Container Recycling Institute. (60)

Monday, July 08, 2002
Economy. Technology: Speech Recognition Advances. Computers are being taught prosody – making sense of intonations, emphases and pauses – in speech. Currently even the best speech recognition systems do not recognize questions by rising pitch at the end of sentences, for example. An article in the July/August issue of MIT’s Technology Review entitled: “Prosody: Computers Will Soon Hear Your Pain” estimates a five year timeframe for prosody software for customer service. It will be ten years before computers can completely decode a conversation with all of its inflections while filtering out background noise. The full article is on the web at: (59)

Energy and Environment. Breakthroughs in Wind Turbines? An article entitled: “Wind Power for Pennies” in the current issue of MIT’s Technology Review details a new prototype wind turbine that is light weight and controlled with advanced digital systems to be resistant to damaging winds and less costly. Currently wind energy is a small niche in the overall energy market at about 1% of US energy sources. It costs about one million dollars per megawatt to construct wind turbines versus 600,000 dollars for a gas-fired power plant. New technology looks to be able to significant close that gap and add to the momentum that wind already has. Last year alone, wind capacity in the US doubled. The full article is at: (58)