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, November 09, 2002
Metropolitan Regional Development. "Poverty Deconcentration in Minneapolis." Caitlin Pine wrote a story "Instead of busing, moving" for a November issue of Southwest Journal. The article described a program for finding poor families housing near their schools instead of busing. The program is called "It's All About the Kids." It finds homes for families who qualify for subsidized housing, but its goal is to boost student achievement by improving school attendance. In the program's first full school year, 47 kids have been moved through a unique partnership between the school district, the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Public Housing Agency, Lutheran Social Services the Family Housing Fund and private landlords. The program uses federal housing vouchers funded by the Hollman settlement, designed to deconcentrate poverty on the city's north side. Family Housing Fund provided $25,000 for initial planning and $385,000 for operating support. In Pine's words: "As compelling as the program's concept is, for now, it is a drop in the bucket. School officials estimate that 20 percent of students are homeless or "highly mobile" -- meaning there are as many as 10,000 kids who need stable housing close to schools. Forty-seven kids represent about one-half of 1 percent of the maximum need." While a step in the right direction, 99.5% of the challenge remains to be faced. The full article may be found at: (205)

Friday, November 08, 2002
Post-Secondary Education: US Student Return on Higher Education Tops 14%. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked the return on investment for students of higher education in the advanced economies. The calculation uses as the investment the foregone income and the costs of study and the gains in after-tax earnings above those not advancing to higher education. The range of return on investment was from a low of 6.5% in Italy to a high of 17.3% in the UK. In the US the return was above 14%. A full copy of the report may be viewed at:,,EN-document-0-nodirectorate-no-12-36038-0,00.html. (204)

Thursday, November 07, 2002
Citizenship: Minnesota Tops US Voter Turnout. An Associated Press story on November 7, 2002 reported that a research group in Washington D-C says Minnesota had the highest voter turnout in the nation for the November 5, 2002 elections. The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate says Minnesota edged out South Dakota, which also had a tight Senate race. Preliminary figures put Minnesota's turnout at 61.4% while neighboring South Dakota was at 61.3%. Tuesday's turnout easily topped Minnesota's national-best 60.5% turnout in the 1998 election, another non-presidential year. About 2.2 million Minnesotans voted. (203).

Public Services: National Report on Mental Health –“Shambles.” On Friday, November 1st, Dr. Michael Hogan, Chair of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health presented the Commission’s sixteen page Interim Report as required in the Presidential Order. Quoting from the report: “Our review of this interim report leads us to the united belief that American’s mental health service delivery system is in shambles. We have found that the system needs dramatic reform because its is incapable of efficiently delivering and financing effective treatments---such as medications, psychotherapies, and other services---that have taken decades to develop.” Dr. Hogan commented that it was not the fault of the people providing public services but that the infrastructure in terms of financial systems, insurance benefits and technology was simply not systemically available throughout the country. Dr. Hogan noted the following problems which were identified in the report: (1) fragmentation and gaps in services for children; (2) fragmentation in adults systems of care; (3) high unemployment for individuals with severe mental illness; (4) lack of access to care for older adults and (5) suicide prevention and treatment are although a leading cause of death are not on the national agenda. Dr. Hogan pointed out that the most costly mental heath program in the country was the S.S.A./S.S.I. system that cost 25 billion dollars annually. He described the program, with its inherent disincentives to work, as “the disability welfare system”. He would hope for a revision in the existing programs that encouraged and supported individuals with psychiatric disabilities to return to work without fear of losing their livelihood or health insurance (Medicaid). The full report is available at: (202)

Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Public Services: Crime Reduction -- Graffiti Job One for New LA Police Chief. Otis White wrote for his online journal Urban Notebook in Governing Online for November 6, 2002 about newly appointed Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton taking on graffiti as an initial priority. Removing graffiti sends a powerful signal to criminals that they no longer "own" the streets. Gangs are deeply involved in graffiti, and interrogating graffiti artists is "a phenomenal way to gather intelligence on the gangs in terms of who's using what handles [or graffiti symbols]," Bratton says. "In some respects, it's like the CIA trying to figure out what Osama bin Laden is doing." He will have his job cut out for him since last year the city painted over or sandblasted more than 30 million square feet of vandalized buildings and that barely made a dent. See the full column at: (201)

Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Technology: "Do Not Call" List Enlists New Technology. On the first day of sign up for a "do not call" list for telemarketers in Minnesota several months in advance of a new law kicking in almost ten percent of residential telephone customers joined up. The website has been deluged with sign ups and server capacity doubled to keep up. This is a technology versus technology battle with the web helping to limit telemarketing technology from irritating citizens at large. The November 5, 2002 Minneapolis Star Tribune story may be found at: (200)

Monday, November 04, 2002
Transportation: World's First Mag-Lev Train to Be Operational in Shanghai in Early 2004. As described by Aric Chen in the November 2002 issue of I.D. Magazine (p. 20) in early 2004 the world's first regular service mag-lev train -- one that floats on a magnetic cushion -- will go operational over a 30 km course in Shanghai. The airport to downtown link trip will take under eight minutes. The train could reach 270 miles per hour. The project cost is 1.2 billion dollars.The project is being carried out by a joint venture of two German firms, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. (Source I.D. Magazine, November 2002, p. 20). (199).

Sunday, November 03, 2002
Public Services: e-Government – Minnesota Ranks Second in US Legislative Websites. In a study of state legislative websites conducted by the Rochester Institute of Technology College of Liberal Arts Minnesota ranked second on a ‘quality index’ encompassing site content, usability, interactivity and other criteria. The rankings may be found at: (198)