Thursday, November 09, 2006

Various announcements

At Chicago:
There will be a memorial service for Iris Marion Young in Bond Chapel on the U of C campus, Sunday, November 14, at 2 pm. It will be followed by a reception in Pick. Chicago grad students have assembled a collection of tributes here.

At McGill:
The Atlas Institute and the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism are cosponsoring a panel on "Finding Common Ground: The Challenge of Freedom in the West and in the Muslim World," Tuesday, November 14th, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Ballroom B, New Residence Hall. Panelists include Payam Akhavan, Professor of Law, Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, School of Law, McGill University; Alejandro Chafuen
President, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Virginia, USA; Father Kail Ellis, OSA
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Villanova University, Pennsylvania, USA; A. Uner Turgay, Professor of Islamic Studies, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. A reception will follow.

At U de Montreal:
Workshop on Left-Libertarianism and its critics
Journée d’études autour des travaux de Peter Vallentyne

Friday 10 Novembre 2006
Pavillon Claire McNicholls
Salle Z 315

9 h 30 Accueil
10 h 15 Peter Vallentyne Left-Libertarianism : a presentation
11 h 00 Peter Dietsch The Interpretation of self-ownership at the heart of left-libertarianism
11 h 45 Speranta Dumitru Le partage des ressources génétiques
14 h 15 Vincent Bourdeau Égalité de contrôle et égalité des bénéfices. Justifications républicaines et libertariennes de gauche de l’accès aux ressources naturelles.
15h00 Roberto Merrill Libertarisme de gauche et républicanisme : le test de l’esclavage
16h00 Christian Nadeau Non domination et propriété de soi
Débat à 17h30 : Éthique libertarienne (Peter Vallentyne) et éthique minimale (Ruwen Ogien)

The 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy will (confusingly!) take place in Washington DC on January 5-6 2007, in conjunction with the American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting. The program follows.

American Conservative Thought and Politics
Conference co-chairs: Melissa S. Williams and Sanford Levinson

Friday, January 5, 2007

3:30-5:15 pm: "American Conservative Thought and Politics: Perspectives from Political Science"
Washington 4, Exhibition Level, Marriott Wardman Park

Paper: Nathan Tarcov, Professor of Social Thought and Political Science, University of Chicago

Commentator: John Holbo, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, National University of Singapore
Commentator: TBA

Chair: Melissa Williams, Professor of Political Science and Director, Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto

6:30 pm: Wine and Cheese Reception
Washington 3, Exhibition Level, Marriott Wardman Park

Saturday, January 6, 2007

8:00-9:00 a.m: American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy Breakfast
Marriott Salon III, Lobby Level, Marriott Wardman Park

9 am- 10:40 pm: "American Conservative Thought and Politics: Perspectives from Law"
Marriott Salon III, Lobby Level, Marriott Wardman Park

Paper: Richard Garnett, Associate Professor, Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame University

Commentator: Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
Commentator: Elizabeth Harman, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University

Chair: Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair,
University of Texas Law School; Professor, Department of Government, University of Texas

10:50am- 12:30 pm, "American Conservative Thought and Politics: Perspectives from Philosophy"
Marriott Salon III, Lobby Level, Marriott Wardman Park

Paper: David Sidorsky, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Columbia University

Commentator: Patrick Deneen, Associate Professor of Government and Markos and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair in Hellenic Studies, Georgetown University
Commentator: Elizabeth Emens, Associate Professor of Law, Columbia University

Chair: Jacob T. Levy, Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, McGill University
Election blogging

My posts at Open University over the last couple days: Referendum Power, Consolidating New England, Bye-bye, If not Gerry's mander, then whose?, The Wrong Target.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

From today's NYT, the first discussion I've ever seen in such a prominent place of one of the most appalling facts about Chicago governance.

What people do want, he said, is room to grow. To accommodate developers looking to build structures whose dimensions fall outside the parameters of zoning requirements, Mr. Matlak said he frequently changed the zoning of a particular lot. According to city tradition, aldermen have exclusive authority to change zoning requirements — often called spot zoning — to allow construction that would otherwise violate the city’s zoning ordinances.

This “aldermanic privilege” can work to preservationists’ benefit — or add to their consternation, depending on what is being changed and who is making the changes. Some aldermen act independently, bowing to the demands of developers, while others seek community input before making a zoning change that could result in a large condo building going up on a block of single-family homes.

That is to say, aldermen-- city councillors, members of a collective legislative body-- have massive-- as far as I cal tell, unlimited-- discretion to waive zoming requirements in the districts they represent. This makes them not only delegates of their districts but also feudal lords (or, to put it more politely, "discretion-wielding executives") over their districts.

Now: model something in your head. The aldermen have the collective authority to pass the zoning laws to which they will then have the individual authority to grant exemptions. What rules will they pass?

Of course, they could decide to pass rules that wouldn't ever need exemptions-- fair, transparent, easily-comprhehensible rules that accommodate the needs of the real estate market. That would, y'know, minimize the demands on their time. It's possible. When members of an academic department are passing curricular rules, that sort of consideration does come up: "what rule can we pass now that will save me from having to talk about this in office hours henceforth?"

On the other hand, they could pass rules that would make development all but impossible without their individual say-so-- rules such that all roads to development must go through the alderman's office. That wouldn't maximize the alderman's leisure time. But if, in the euphemism of microeconomics, "side payments" were permitted-- or massively unofficially tolerated-- then it could maximize some other maximands of the aldermen.

Now say that you've ever heard anything about city politics in the city of Chicago. Which model would you guess is chosen?

The truth isn't quite as simple as the model; but it's shockingly close. "Side payments" need not be bribes into the alderman's pockets. It can be "community investment" in the alderman's politically-preferred charitable causes, or local makework jobs that turn the developer into a branch of the alderman's reelection machine. But, one way or the other, the aldermen collectively make themselves separately into the bottlenecks for a massive amount of the city's real estate activity, and they're entirely clear-eyed about the rents that allows them to extract, the political friends it allows them to reward, and the political enemies it allows them to punish.

I referred to this long ago in the long-ago "Why is there no Gap in Hyde Park?" thread, but it seems generally to be a dirty little secret of Chicago politics. It seems to me that the NYT reporter was missing the bigger story in the midst of the "architectural preservation" one...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Crescat Sententia has a new home at (not .org), as Will Baude explains
here. Everyone keep an eye on your previously-registered domain names. (Compare: the old address for Volokh.)