Friday, February 8, 2013

Service Opportunities at Bloustein

An update from the new RAPPS service chair:
Maggie Dobbs, MCRP '14

Bloustein is teaming up with the Endeleo Project for this year's Rutgers Half-Marathon and it would be great if we got as many runners and volunteers as we can! The Endeleo Project is a non-profit organization that helps to link students in the developing world with educational supplies and is operated by David Hersh, a Blou PhD. 

For every runner who registers as part of the Endeleo Project team, $5 will be donated to the non-profit, and for every volunteer we have signed up to help on race day, $25 will be donated!  For those interested in running, David has kindly offered to set you up with a personalized training schedule to get you in shape for the big day. He has also organized group run dates, beginning February 26 from about 5 to 7 pm that will be followed by happy hour at Harvest Moon. 

For more information about the non-profit, visit

To register for the run, follow this link:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

News for the week of: March 4th - 11th by Thomas Little

Planning News

"New Jersey Isn’t Capitalizing on Demand for Walkable Places"

News Clip:"New Jersey is widely perceived as consisting mainly of suburbs serving these two cities, even if many of its small towns do not fit the low-density, single-use stereotype of a “suburb.” The distinction, however, between city and suburb as the defining paradigm for describing the built environment is giving way to a new dichotomy: walkable urbanism versus drivable sub-urbanism. New Jersey is well positioned to take advantage of this change."

"Upper-Class Drivers More Likely to Break Rules of the Road"

News Clip:"According to new research from the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, upper-class individuals are more likely to break the law while driving, compared to lower-class individuals. In both naturalistic and laboratory methods, upper-class individuals were also more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize, and endorse unethical behavior at work."

News Clip:"Inviting residents to participate in map-making gives them a voice in the spatial planning process. It also provides insights into how they use their cities – where they live, where they work, where they cycle."

News Clip:"The Bicycle as a symbol of progress, of renewal, of promising times ahead. This is not a new concept. Indeed it has been around since the invention of the bicycle. Many bicycle posters at end of the 19th century featured promising themes like liberation, progress, freedom."

News Clip:"The group began with the proper assumption that the U.S. school system is in need of a drastic fix of some sort. But rather than hiring better teachers or rejiggering standardized testing, they opted to challenge the system's very infrastructure. The result is what you see above: A bunch of schools perched throughout the Manhattan skyline like eagle nests, drawing eyes upward with flashy, schoolbus-yellow paint jobs."

Public Policy News

"Santorum and Higher Ed"
News Clip:"Santorum seemingly opposes not only federal support for colleges and universities but some of the underpinnings and goals of the American higher education system. He railed against colleges and universities as “indoctrination mills” lost to Satan. Then he derided President Obama’s push for more Americans to pursue higher education: “What a snob.”"

News Clip:"Although black students made up only 18 percent of those enrolled in the schools sampled, they accounted for 35 percent of those suspended once, 46 percent of those suspended more than once and 39 percent of all expulsions, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 statistics from 72,000 schools in 7,000 districts, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students."

News Clip:"The AARP report, which examined the retail prices of the 514 brand name and generic drugs most widely used by Medicare recipients, said that the price of generic drugs fell by nearly 31 percent from 2005 to 2009. But at the same time that brand-name drug prices grew by nearly 41 percent and specialty drugs rose more than 48 percent. The rate of inflation, by contrast, grew by just over 13 percent over the same period."

News Clip:"Doctors who have easy comput
er access to results of X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are 40 to 70 percent more likely to order those kinds of tests than doctors without electronic access, according to a study to be published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs."

News Clip:"NEWARK — Work has begun on an education-centered community featuring three charter schools and affordable housing for teachers in the city’s decayed downtown, with much of the design work done by the noted architect Richard Meier."

Monday, March 5, 2012

News for the week of: February 26th - March 3rd by Thomas Little

National News
News Clip:"What is clear is that as governor he had high-profile fights with the leader of his state's university system, that he is a generous donor to his alma mater, that he thinks highly of for-profit higher education and that a significant higher education software company, Jenzabar, is among his campaign's strongest backers."
News Clip:"Santorum again called President Obama a "snob" for wanting all Americans to go to college. There are "good, decent men and women," Santorum said, who are proud of their skills that were "not taught by some liberal college professor." He added, comparing himself to President Obama: "He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."
News Clip:"A team of researchers led by Nicole M. Stephens, an assistant professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, argues that American academic institutions expect a level of independence that is uncomfortable for many first-generation college students, who researchers say are more likely to come from poorer backgrounds that emphasize collaboration and interdependence."
"Super Tuesday preview: Ohio shaping up to be microcosm of heated GOP primary race"

News Clip: "The upcoming Super Tuesday primary in Ohio is proving to be the perfect microcosm of the nation’s unruly race for the Republican presidential nomination: Mitt Romney is spending lots of money, Rick Santorum is aggressively courting conservatives and Newt Gingrich is counting on big ideas to swing votes his way."
New Jersey News
"The Numbers Game: Can NJ Afford Christie's Tax Cuts?":
News Clip: "While Christie and Democratic legislative leaders have been sparring for the past six weeks over whether to cut income taxes or property taxes, the real question is whether New Jersey can afford a major tax cut at all."
"At the Rescue Mission of Trenton, Christie offers plans for treatment program of nonviolent drug offenders"

News Clip:"Surrounded by the facilities of the Rescue Mission of Trenton and some of the men whose recoveries it has enabled, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday offered details for expanding a program that would make treatment mandatory for nonviolent drug offenders instead of time in jail"
"In New Jersey, a Battle Over a Fluoridation Bill, and the Facts"

News Clip:"While 72 percent of Americans get their water from public systems that add fluoride, just 14 percent of New Jersey residents do, placing the state next to last, ahead of only Hawaii, and far behind nearby New York (72 percent), Pennsylvania (54 percent) and Connecticut (90 percent)."
"Conflicting Views Over State’s Strategic Growth Plan"
News Clip: "The 41-page plan emphasizes economic growth instead of environmental preservation by establishing geographic industry clusters where the state will direct investments and resources to bolster high-growth sectors, such as finance, healthcare, and the ports."
"NJ Poised to Vote on Health Insurance Exchange"

News Clip:"The legislature is to vote March 15 on bills to create New Jersey’s health insurance exchange, an online virtual marketplace that would make a range of more affordable options for health coverage available to individuals and employees of small businesses when federal healthcare reforms go into effect in 2014."
"Local governments stand to save millions by opting in to N.J. health plan"

News Clip:"Local governments could save more than $100 million annually by opting for the state health plan instead of costlier alternatives, according to a state Comptroller’s Office report released Tuesday."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RAPPS General Meeting 2/29/12 by Joshua Wilcox

This afternoon, the RAPPS Board hosted the first general meeting of the semester. The main points covered in the meeting are listed below along with the contact information of those in charge:

  1. The RAPPS blog: The RAPPS blog is soliciting content and coverage ideas from all planning and policy students. If you are interested in contributing articles or come across information relevant to planning or policy that should be covered by the blog, please email RAPPS editor Joshua Wilcox at
  2. Service opportunities: RAPPS Service Chair Emily Manz is planning a visit to the Greater Newark Conservancy in late March or early April to do some gardening. An email will be sent out when a date is confirmed. If you are interested in participating or have ideas for more service opportunities, please email Emily at
  3. Tour of Lower Manhattan: RAPPS founder and Bloustein alum Richard Landman has offered to guide students on a tour of Lower Manhattan. The charge for the entire group will be $250. If you are interested, email the RAPPS Board at You can find more information about Mr. Landman’s tours at
  4. New cycling GSO: Bloustein PhD candidate Brian Stromberg is in the process of forming a new GSO for graduate students who are interested in cycling. The GSO will serve to coordinate bike rides, movie nights, and speakers related to cycling and transportation issues.  Stromberg is also working towards securing a possible on-campus location for bike repairs and events. Please contact him at if you are interested in participating.
  5. DC alumni contacts. Students interested in networking with alumni living in Washington D.C. can contact Brian Stromberg at He will give you the contact information of alumni in the city.
  6. New Rutgers student organization: Latinos Entering Government and Law (LEGAL) From the group’s website, “The purpose of LEGAL shall be to further promote higher education by unifying all, but not limited to, Latino students throughout Rutgers University on the New Brunswick/ Piscataway Campus who wish to pursue a career in government and/or law.” For more information, please visit the group’s website at
  7. Bloustein Symposium: The Bloustein School will host the Symposium on Planning Health, Sustainable Communities from Thursday April 26th to Friday April 27th. The registration fee for students is $25. For more information, visit the Symposium’s website: Students are encouraged to submit abstracts for posters. If interested, contact the RAPPS Board at
  8. GSA funds: We are not using all of our GSA funds. If they are not used by the end of the semester, we could lose funding in future years. Please email event ideas to the RAPPS board at
  9. Coffee talks: The RAPPS board is considering hosting a series of Bloustein coffee talks, informal meetings where students discuss planning and policy issues of interest. If you have ideas for specific policy or planning topics you would like to discuss with your peers, please email the RAPPS board at
  10. Super Tuesday: The RAPPS board will host an event next Tuesday March 6th at 7:30 to watch results from Super Tuesday and eat free pizza.
  11. Women’s Leadership Conference: The Women’s Leadership Conference will be held on March 30th. It is open to all graduate students and will include a planning and policy component. Any questions regarding this event can be sent to Susannah Dey at
  12. Bloustein movie night: The RAPPS Board is soliciting ideas for movies to show at a planning and policy movie night that will be held later in the semester. Please send your suggestions to
  13. Planning Reality 101: This even will be held on Wednesday March 28th at 6 PM. Recent alumni will discuss their experience since leaving Bloustein. Contact:
  14. WBBB: The next Walk Bloustein Bike Bloustein general meeting will be held on March 7th.  Additional information can be found at the group's Facebook page:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Designing a Federal Clean Energy Standard: Q&A with Dr. Bryan Mignone by Marie Virella, MPP '13

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to ask Dr. Bryan Mignone, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a few questions regarding his upcoming lecture, “Designing a Federal Clean Energy Standard" (event information listed below).  The lecture will detail various ways in which the U.S. will develop a new Clean Energy Standard (CES). In particular, three different designs will be featured and outlined, all of which share the common goal of providing 80% clean energy by 2035.


Question: Why would you encourage students and faculty to attend and learn more about the different designs of the Clean Energy Standard? What are some of the main points that you find most important?

Dr. Mignone: I hope to convey two main points. First, I will suggest that there are many different types of policies and measures that could shape our future energy system beyond the ones that get talked about the most. Second, I hope to show how the type of quantitative analysis that gets discussed in public policy departments can be used to help inform real policy decisions.

Question: You have spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill and obviously are well acquainted with road blocks. If you could explain briefly, what do you foresee will become the main challenge to this new policy initiative ( business community, the debt crisis, government budget....)?

Dr. Mignone: All new policy ideas face hurdles. Frankly, one of the largest challenges to the Clean Energy Standard will be getting the attention of lawmakers in an election year when many other priorities compete for consideration. Since you asked about the fiscal context, one nice thing about this policy proposal is that it does not add to government spending and could potentially reduce it.

Question: Do you feel at this time in American history and politics that you will be able to gain support and momentum for this objective? What makes this time period so different from other past years?

Dr. Mignone: Very few new policy ideas get unanimous support when they are first introduced, but there is a fair amount of institutional memory in Congress. In other words, the legislative process requires quite a bit of education and communication over time, and it is important to see any near-term effort as part of that larger, longer-term process.

Question: What made you passionate about energy policy and climate change? What inspired you to work in this area of policy?

Dr. Mignone: I am originally trained as a climate scientist. At some point toward the end of my graduate career, I looked at my research and the larger set of scientific information available and concluded that we knew enough about the threat of climate change to act responsibly. At that point, I personally became more interested in studying the solution than the problem, and I have been in DC ever since!

Event information:

Speaker: Bryan Mignone, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Title: "Designing a Federal Clean Energy Standard"
Date: March 1, 2012
Time: 10:30AM to 11:30AM (refreshments at 10:00AM)
Location: Institute of Marine and Coastal Science (IMCS), Alampi Room, Cook Campus

Email contact:
More information:

Bryan Mignone is a senior policy advisor in the Office of Policy & International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In this role, he leads a domestic policy team and advises senior leadership on a wide range of climate change and energy policy issues. Since arriving at DOE in 2009, Mignone has worked to bolster the economic and quantitative analysis capabilities of the Policy Office, overseeing a research portfolio spanning climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation. He has contributed to several specific activities and reports, including the U.S. Government’s first social cost of carbon estimates, the President’s clean energy standard proposal and DOE’s report on electric system resource adequacy implications of air quality regulations, among others. Mignone previously served as professional staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and as a fellow and research director at the Brookings Institution, where he focused on market-based environmental policy design and other climate and energy policy topics. Mignone was awarded a Ph.D. in geosciences from Princeton University, a graduate certificate in science, technology and environmental policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and an A.B. in physics and philosophy from Cornell University.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Abandoned Shopping Center Reuse

Who would think to turn an abandoned 115,000 square foot shopping center in New Jersey into an indoor amusement park and event center? Well, someone did and it's called "iPlay America" and it's in Freehold, New Jersey. This new twist on a family fun center includes an indoor boardwalk-style arcade and an indoor town. Other attractions include several themed restaurants, indoor go-karts and bowling.

What I find so encouraging about this project is that the developer used an existing site and building footprint to create a completely new business. Adaptive reuse at its best! We really need to start thinking about what to do with shopping centers and big box stores as they become obsolete or move to different buildings. These buidlings have an immense amount of embodied energy in them meaning it is very inefficient and costly to demolish them, especially if we can use the space adaptively for something new.

Can you think of any other adaptive reuse examples from New Jersey?

iPlay America:

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Jersey Snowstorm: Planning Implications

by Marley Bice, MCRP '12

The apocalyptic snowstorm that dumped around three inches of slushy snow on the Northeast region over Halloween weekend got me thinking about implications for planning, our cities, our environment. Looking out my window at 10 am on Saturday (besides feeling like I was on the set of "The Day After Tomorrow") I found myself feeling so bad for the poor trees. Deciduous trees are not adapted to withstand wet, clingy, heavy snow on their leaves. The combined excessive weight has caused thousands of downed trees across the region and may be largely to blame for millions of households being out of power more than two days later.

The Guardian reported earlier that New York City is bracing itself for the loss of at least 1000 old-growth, majestic, vital, historically-significant (OK now I'm just getting sappy) trees in Central Park alone. This storm has single-handedlly changed the landscape of one of my favorite places in one of my favorite cities. The shading, stormwater management, and carbon capture benefit of those trees will be lost forever. Will New Jersey and New York City look different from space after this storm? What percentage of the tree cover is gone? These are depressing questions to think about.

Another depressing fact is that many small municipalities (and some big municipalities) do not have the budget to handle the snow removal costs and requirements as our winter season continues to encroach on fall and spring. However, this may be a major consideration in town operating budgets as the reality of global climate change continues to unearth itself. Where will that money come from? How many people will miss work because they can't get to the office because the streets and public transit are shut down because of snow? How much more salt and sand used for ice control will end up in our aquatic ecosystems? It's time to start thinking hard...