What can we learn from Henry LaGuardia and his role in infrastructure and building livable communities?
LaGuardia, a Republican, had support across party lines and was very popular in New York during the 1930s. LaGuardia revitalized New York City and restored public faith in city hall. He unified the transit system; directed the building of low-cost public housing, public playgrounds, and parks; constructed airports; reorganized the police force, according to a Wikipedia article.
Do any of these objectives seem like the present situation in B.C.? Do we need a unified transit system? Do we need more low-cost housing? Do we need to resolve our infrastructure deficit? Are we facing debt conditions similar to the depression era? Are we arguing over transit governance?
Yet it was a conservative Republican who understood that a strong economy needs to provide affordable transportation, housing and other amenities. He understood that spending money on projects that do nothing to improve the livelihood of the average citizen is useless. Rather, he focused his capital plans on building assets that would transform New York not only into a major financial centre, but also a commercial centre, manufacturing centre, transportation centre and so on.
Jack Layton also advocated the need for mass transit to increase accessibility and mobility for low-income people. Both saw the futility of polarized politics during economic distress. Sadly, both pragmatists are gone.