Friday, September 12, 2014

Salem Cinema stuns again

Reminding us yet again that Salem cinema is without peer, and without even a close competitor, as the best cultural resource in Salem -- and for many, many miles around.

Treat yourself. Go see Boyhood. You won't regret it -- or forget it.

And the Manhattan Shorts are coming! Just another reason to take deep satisfaction in having this amazing gem of a theatre right here in Hooterville.

A model for Salem . . .

A way to fund some of the projects identified in the 

"Billion Better Ways to Budget a Billion Bucks" 

(than on a sprawl promoting Boondoggle).

Crowdfunding Fans Are Crazy About Denver's Mini-Bonds
// Next City Daily

(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Denver gained notice in the municipal funding world last month when a $12 million public offering of "mini-bonds" sold out in a single hour. The sale was supposed to run for five days. The $500 mini-bonds were tied to the $550 million municipal bond program called Better Denver.

Demand was so high and the cap was reached so quickly that afterward, 375 online orders had to be refunded.

"Denver residents — and these bonds were also open to all Colorado residents — really appreciated the opportunity to invest their money in good projects in their own community that they see everyday when they drive around town," says Deputy Mayor Cary Kennedy, who is also the city's chief financial officer.

Two types of $500 bonds were sold: A nine-year bond will mature 50 percent to $750, and a 14-year bond will mature 100 percent to $1,000. The money has been earmarked for recreational and cultural facilities, like the restoration of the McNichols Building, a historic building in Civic Center Park that will be re-opened as an event center.

Better Denver passed as a ballot initiative in 2007. That year the city sold $8 million in mini-bonds over the course of a week. Kennedy attributes the feverish excitement this year to the online ordering system: "Back [then], we didn't have the online capacity. People had to visit the bank or mail in their orders. This time around people were sitting at home on their computers at 8 o'clock in the morning and those orders came in very quickly."

Pat Sabol, a senior policy and research assistant at the Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program, says that although Denver isn't the first city to offer mini-bonds, the practice is still pretty rare. The Mile-High City's recent success demonstrates that mini-bonds are ripe to be replicated elsewhere. "In the past, it was such a logistical nightmare," he explains, "just tracking down each of these people and keeping track of them, but I think now that there's more interest in people investing in their communities. There's more awareness around infrastructure issues.

"In Denver," he continues, "they've done a really good job of saying, 'Hey, this is what this is going to fund. You can trust us. These are great projects we can really make happen.' Places are a bit savvier about communicating their needs to their population."

Sabol goes on to say that mini-bonds are "not necessarily the most efficient way to make money." Traditional municipal bonds go for much higher (from $20,000 into the millions), and they are pretty low-risk investments for institutional investors. But there are advantages when a city offers mini-bonds to its residents, such as generating community enthusiasm about infrastructure improvements and also demonstrating to the market that there is demand.

"Right now, as an everyday person," he says, "it's pretty difficult to invest in my community besides me paying taxes or going out and doing a community garden. If I care about infrastructure, it's pretty hard for me to invest in it. If you give people a safe path to do that, which Denver has done, you can go on their website and see how well they've done … this is really savvy urban planning and really good outreach and communications."

Hyperlocal, crowdfunded investments are on the rise, with real estate opportunities like New York's CityShares and Washington, D.C.'s Fundrise appealing to the public's attachment to place. Sabol distinguishes mini-bond programs from these by noting that the money is going toward things like road improvements and community centers — things that are "absolutely public-focused assets."

Kennedy reiterates his point. "There's a trend, here in Denver, but also nationally of people wanting to invest back in their communities," she says. "That shows up in a lot of different forms, and this is one way for the people of Denver to invest locally, but I think it's something we are going to see more of in the future."


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The headline alone says all you need to Know to Vote NO on 90

The Top-Two, so-called "open primary" should really be called the Privatized General Election, as the whole point is to allow wealthy donors to buy elections as cheaply as possible by eliminating all candidates but two back when a little money makes a huge difference (in the primary, before most voters pay any attention), but then make those two come crawling for corporate cash in a zero-sum face off, with all possibility of new ideas eliminated.

There can be no better design for making everything about our already-toxic politics even worse than "Top Two", a carefully focus-grouped name for what is normally called the jungle primary.

If we want an open election system, it's easy:  eliminate primaries entirely, make parties responsible for nominating their own candidate or candidates and then have a general election where all voters can rank all the candidates in order of preference, 1, 2, 3 ... And so on. The Oregon Constitution already specifically allows for preference voting, a much faster, better and cheaper system.

Oregon 'Top two' primary initiative picks up additional business contributions |
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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."