With all its problems, New York is a well-run city that keeps coming up with really creative public policy. My favorite is the dog program that allows pooches off-leash in the big parks from 9PM to 9AM: not to mention happier dogs, this populates the parks in the evening, and lets you run your dog in the morning before work so he doesn’t bark during the day and bother the neighbors.

We woke up to a less-than-historic but still meaningful (6″) snowstorm in New York wondering what it would be like to be out and about. Well, the city has both improved plow management and put itself on line for oversight by citizens with this neat implementation of GIS and real-time plow tracking. Nice.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

4 thoughts on “Accountability”

  1. Hmm. As a person who likes dogs but can’t stand “dog people” (who are those who think their pets have human rights — as opposed to normal dog owners/guardians/whatever, who are responsible and behave normally), count me a skeptic.

    If it’s dark out, how can you be sure if you’re picking up the poop? And how does it work when someone gets bit and sues the city? It’s not like you can chase down the dog and hand him your complaint. Unfortunately, these rules are great for people who behave well and don’t need rules, but I would be amazed to see if they work for everyone. How could that be?

  2. I used to be an NYC dog-owner (still in NYC, but she died of old age last spring), and neither one of those are really a problem. Dark isn’t dark in the city — pretty much everywhere, there are enough streetlights that you can see well enough to pick up dog poop. No guarantee that everyone does, but night or day isn’t an issue. And the thing about 9pm to 9am is that those are really low use hours for parks generally. Little kids are in bed or not out yet, and even older kids and adults don’t really use the parks at night or before work in the morning. A dog bite incident is possible, of course, but the scheduling makes it unlikely. (And most dogs, even offleash, are close enough to their owners that you could figure out who to complain to about the dog misbehaving. If someone has their dog not only off leash, but literally out of their sight, in a city park, they’re irresponsible enough that a rule letting them have the dog off leash isn’t the problem — they’d be doing something screwy whatever the rules were.)

    1. Sorry about your dog! I like dogs, I do. It’s their people who often annoy the hooey out of me.

      I hope you’re right, but ime, most dogs aren’t that well-trained and I don’t feel that comfortable being around them unleashed. They may or may not come when called by their human.

      Nor do I feel off-leash is so necessary. And I only like to be outside during non-hot hours, which means early day or night.

      However, if New Yorkers are okay with this, that’s great for them.

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