Obama’s Regionalist Revolution, Step Two

Earlier this week I wrote about California’s new regionalist initiative, Plan Bay Area, as a harbinger of President Obama’s attempt to densify America’s cities and undercut the political and economic independence of the suburbs.

If that was the beginning of Obama’s second-term assault on the suburbs, the next step is about to be taken in Minnesota. Katherine Kersten writes about “Thrive MSP 2040,” a soon-to-be-released plan that may take regionalism to unheard of levels. At a minimum, when it comes to densification, we’re likely to see the thrust of Plan Bay Area replicated in the Twin Cities.

Potentially, things could get more radical still. Kersten talks about a proposal to create a giant, seven-county metropolitan school district to enable apportionment of students by race and income across current district lines.  This plan would be the product of unelected regional bureaucrats, not local officials.  I wonder if Minnesota’s Met Council will go that far.  In any case, the dream scenarios of the most committed regionalists are now at least in play.

Contemporary regionalism began as a drive to have cities annex suburbs, without consent.  Once it became evident that state law would not permit this, regionalists started cooking up ways to annex in practice, if not in law.  Something like that seems to be going on here.

The drift of Kersten’s account matches closely with what I noted we were in for in Spreading the Wealth, where I explain the history, philosophy, and technique behind the president’s regionalist policies.

The Obama administration is deeply involved in Thrive MSP 2040, and I’ll have more to say about that in the days ahead.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz graduated from Haverford College and holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University. He did his field work in India and taught at Harvard and the University ...

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