Alan Ehrenhalt was an executive editor of GOVERNING. He is currently the information director for the Pew Center on the States and a lecturer in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.
In the mid-1980s, when metropolitan Portland first began planning a light-rail line, the downtown merchants in suburban Gresham, Oregon, discussed the issue and reached a quick consensus: They didn't want it.
On a wall at my neighborhood community house, in Arlington County, Virginia, there are two gold plaques with 43 names on them. They are the names of all the people who have served as president of the Lyon Village Citizens Association since 1926, the year the neighborhood was created.
We've told this story in Governing before, but it makes the point so well that I hope you'll indulge my telling it one more time:
There's a common pesticide called Atrazine that's used by farmers in many of the grain fields of the Midwest.
On the far west side of Detroit, between the murky River Rouge and the suburb of Dearborn, sits a little neighborhood called Copper Canyon. It's a pleasant community of modest brick bungalows, manicured lawns and peaceful streets. It's also one of the few integrated neighborhoods remaining in the city.
There was a time, not too long ago, when almost everyone in Seattle remembered Caspar Sharples. He was a revered physician and educator during the early years of this century, the founder of two hospitals and a guiding force behind development of the city's school system.
I'm not a lawyer, so I've never aspired to being a judge. But I sometimes indulge in fantasies about the sort of judge I would be, if given the chance. I'd be a wonderful judge--patient, fair-minded, even-tempered, witty, self-deprecating--but above all, restrained.