GLUE’s members express close to unanimous support for better public transit in their cities, so we’ve tried to create a few different agenda activities to empower both national and local initiatives on transit.  First of all, on Friday over lunch, we’ll be hearing from Kristin Purdy, the Regional Organizer for the Midwest for the Transportation for America Campaign.  Kristin will talk about the federal transportation bill, up for reauthorization this year, and what the T4America Campaign is doing to make better public transit possible through federal policy.  She’ll also ask for help from GLUEsters at the local level.

Then, over dinner on Thursday, Dave Wetzel, President of the Land Labour Campaign (U.K.) will give a talk entitled, Using Land Value to Create Sustainable Communities: How Implementation of Rail Can Be Funded Without Raising Taxes.  From Dave:

The current crisis sweeping the world’s banking and business activities arises from too much easy bank credit being used to purchase buildings as assets which appeared to only appreciate in value.

Although we think of these assets as homes, in fact the bricks and mortar, the wooden floorboards and the tiles on the roof of a house do not escalate in value. It is the site on which buildings stand, i.e. the land, that increases in value over the rate of inflation. Add in speculation i.e. land not purchased for use but acquired for its future increase in value and often actually kept out of use – and you have the fuel for economic disaster.

Happily, there is an alternative that not only corrects the speculative bubble, avoids booms and slumps and ensures full employment but provides a treasure of wealth that can pay for essential services and reduce harmful taxes on wages, production and trade.

By taxing the annual value of land we can utilise wealth that nobody creates by their labour but is created by the actions of the whole community.

When invested in needed infrastructure and services, the surrounding land values increase, adding to the Annual Land Value Tax receipts without causing inflationary pressures or creating a bubble which is bound to burst.

Following Dave’s talk, we’ll hear some updates on the transit possibilites in Milwaukee, and then we’ll break into workshops to plan local strategies for improving public transit, using both the national update from Kristin and the local strategies from Dave.  All over beer, of course.

(Note, full conference participants are registered to attend this dinner.  But if you live in Milwaukee and can’t attend the whole conference, please consider joining us for this dinner.  You can find more details about ticket prices and registration here.)