Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: #Takeaknee

Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today, Yours Truly decided to take a step back from the usual architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design-related topics and take a look at the controversy surrounding #takeaknee.  Before we get going, the usual reminder about hurricane relief and the DACA deadline.  First, Puerto Rico badly needs help.  It seems that Mr. Donald Trump has forgotten that the Caribbeanean Island is part of the United States.  Thank goodness for the National Football League players (more on them shortly) who are organizing a fundraiser this Thursday. Further, what is the problem about sending earthquake relief and rescue workers to Mexico?  Blogger realizes that tweeting about the NFL is a higher priority for POTUS than extending a hand across the border and the Carribeanean Sea.  Deplorable.  Second, today is September 27, 2017 and the October 5th DACA renewal deadline is the less than eight days away.  Immediately go to and fill out the application.  If the five hundred dollar fee is an issue, you can go to, a very useful website with information on how to pay for application.  Good luck. Onto today's subject.

It has been the longstanding custom in the United States, prior to the start of an athletic competition, to stand for the National Anthem.  Both spectators and competitors usually stand, gentlemen remove their headgear and place it over their hearts, and sing the Star Spangled Banner.  So ingrained is this custom that to do otherwise is considered sacreligious.  So imagine the outcry when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his then-teammate Eric Reid decided first to sit through the National Anthem, then kneel in protest to the police-related killings of young African-Americans.  In a brilliantly written opinion editorial, "Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knew," he explained,

In early 2016, I began paying attention to reports about the incredible number of unarmed black people begin killed by the police...the killing of Alton Sterling in my hometown Baton Rouge, La.  This could have happened to any of my family members who still live in the area...I wanted to do something, but idn't know what or how to do it.  All I knew for sure is that I wanted it to be as respectful as possible...( Sept. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 27, 2017)

The decision by Messrs. Reid and Kaepernick was not a simple one.  They carefully considered how to get involved in a way that would have a positive and meaningful impact on the social justice movement.  After hours of deliberation, they chose to kneel, rather than continue to sit.  Mr. Reid explains, 

We Chloe to kneel because it's a respectful gesture.  I remember thinking our posture was like a fla flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy. (Ibid)

A beautiful metaphor.

For his part, Mr. Kaepernick was punished by the NFL-not resigned to his team and no other team would sign him.  Fortunately Mr. Reid continues to play for the San Francisco 49ers.

However at a rally in Alabama, this past Friday, Mr. Trump put his white hot spotlight on the issue. Speaking at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, Mr. Trump told the boisrous crowd,

...NFL owners should respond to the players by saying "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired.  He's fired. (; Sept. 23, 2017; date accessed Sept. 27, 2017)

He added,

...If fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee things will stop. (Ibid)

Pretty strange remarks, considering he was in Alabama to show his support for Mr. Strange.  These rambling non-sequiturs have become so common for Mr. Trump that there is almost no point in getting outraged.  Yet, Mr. Trump's remarks strike at the very heart of American culture. 

We Americans really love our football.  Nothing says an autumn Sunday like watching a full day of twenty-two (eleven on each team) bash into each other over an egg-shaped ball.  We cheer for our team, get excited over touchdown, get into heated debates over every call. We live vicariously through our home team.

Athletes, like Mr. Reid, and by extension entertainers, are expected to fulfill our fantasies.  We have to remember that celebrities do not live in a bubble, insulated from the realities of today.  Yours Truly was reminded of this yesterday, reading over some comments posted on a band Facebook page.  The band posted a picture of one of the members, posing next to an image of American flag with the caption "It's hard to be a stand up guy in a world full of sit down people."  The hostility came fast and furious.  The essence of them was your only job is to entertain us and provide some escape.  Keep your opinions to yourself.  It is this kind of thinking is what truly baffled Eric Reid.

In his Op-Ed piece, Mr. Reid writes,

It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel.  We chose it because it's exactly the opposite.  It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest. ( Sept. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 27, 2017)

It is also baffling to Blogger why kneeling, instead of standing, during the national anthem is considered disrespectful to the flag, the national anthem, and military personnel as if they are objects worthy of religious veneration.  However, not everyone sees, what has been dismissed as "a piece of cloth" and "a song," as objects of veneration.  That piece of cloth and that song are symbolic of a country that is supposed to ensure Liberty for all.  However, not everyone sees it that way.  In today's Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley writes of being raised as a Jehovah's Witness and being taught that all forms of patriotism was considered idoltrous.

Growing up, I was taught that the flag was an idol and that saluting it was a form of idolatry, which was forbidden.  Indeed, all forms of patriotism were discouraged.  No joining the military.  No running for office.  No voting or taking sides in political debates... (; Sept. 27, 2017)

As a child, Mr. Riley's mother would meet with the principal of his school, on the first day of class, to explain that as Jehovah's Witnesses he would remain silent doing the recitation of the Pledge of Allgiance every morning.  When his father, not a member of the church, took him to sporting events, Mr. Riley's father would stand while Jason Riley would sit.  Mr. Riley Sr. never said a word out of respect to his mother.  Mr. Riley points to a 1943 Supreme Court ruling regarding forcing a child to salute the flag.  He writes,

...the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in West Virginia State  Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), that forcing children to salute the flag violated the Constitution.  The court held that saluting the flag is form of utterance and that the right not to speak is equally protect under the First Amendment as the right to free speech.  "The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure but because the flag involved is our own," wrote Justice Robert Jackson...(Ibid)

Jason Riley concludes with these words from Justice Jackson

...To believe that patriotism will flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institution to free minds...(Ibid)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Make Social Safety Nets Strong; August 20, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Yours Truly is back from welcoming the Jewish New Year and ready for a full week on the blog.  Before we get going, a few agenda items.  First and foremost, the October 5, 2017 DACA renewal deadline is less than ten days away.  If you or someone you know has not renewed their application, do it immediately. For more information and to renew, please go to  Next, the Island of Puerto Rico is beginning the long and slow rebuilding process in the wake of Hurricane Maria.  Florida and Texas are just beginning the process and still need your help.  Please go to the American Red Cross website: for ways to help.  Finally, Blogger would like to know who has not Mr. Donald Trump picked a fight with? At a campaign rally in Alabama this past Friday, the president took aim at football players who take a knee during the National Anthem to protest the continued oppression of communities of color.  He went so far as to implore National Football League owners and general managers to fire or suspend athletes who take a knee (#takeaknee). Picking a fight with football players was not enough, the president disinvited the National Basketball League champion Golden State Warriors after Stephen Curry announced that he was hesitating over going to the White House for the traditional meet-and-greet.  Taking a knee is a peaceful form of protest for positive social change.  It is not disrespectful to the flag, the National Anthem, or military personal.  The flag, the National Anthem all represent the hard fought for rights, including the right to peaceful protest.  The president may love his country and flag but not what the flag stands for.  Alright, now on to rebuilding the social safety net.

One the of the key things to creating a more equitable society is strengthening the social safety nets.  Consider the "good" jobs of days gone by.  Think the work in the coal mines or in factories.  What made those jobs so good?  It was not the repetitive daily tasks, it was the economic security that came with those "good" jobs.  It was not the pay or the benefits, it was the stability that it brought to individual households and communities.  Brooks Rainwater writes in his CityLab article "How Cities Can Rebuild the Social Safety Net," "In short, the good of yesterday strengthened the safety net."

Today, in place of the secure factory jobs, the service sector has taken over the role of economically stable employment.  Restaurant work is not just for struggling actors anymore.  A Bureau of Labor Statistics report, issued this year, reported that "Restaurant jobs are on fire in 2017, growing faster than health care, construction, or manufacturing...the jobs are mostly at sit-down restaurants,which make up 50 percent of the category.  Fast-food joints are the next largest employer in the category, with 37 percent..." (; Aug. 9, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017). Since January, restaurants added "nearly 200,000 to the economy."  The Atlantic's Derek Thompson recently wrote, "...these positions are responsible for big chunks of urban job growth-more than a third of Cleveland's new hires since 2015 were in restaurants,..."  (Ibid). As optimistic as this may sound, there is a downside about working in a restaurant.  They offer few, if any benefits; a less predictable and burdensome schedule, and a typical hourly pay of $12.50-not exactly enough to support a family in most of the country.

These low-wage "stop-gap" position are tenuous, at best.  Mr. Rainwater reports, "Upwards of 47 percent of U.S. jobs over the next two decades ( date accessed Sept. 25, 2017) due to advances in technology, and workers earring below $20 per hour face a greater than 80 percent  chance of displacement (; date Sept. 25, 2017)."

During this age of employment insecurity civic leaders will need to facilitate the construction of a new urban safety net to support their citizens.  This is also a great opportunity right the entrenched inequalities in the system.  Brooks Rainwater offers four ideas on how cities can strengthen the social safety net.

"Make benefits portable:" On-demand and contract employment is increasingly common in the contemporary economy.  Mr. Rainwater reports, "Freelancers now make up 35 percent of the workforce (; Sept. 2016; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017), and since these gig-economy jobs don't have benefits tied to employment, portable benefits are an options whose time has come."  Portability means that benefits such as health, workers's compensation, retirement fund matching, and paid family leave would be tied to the individual, not the employer.  Thoughts on this type of system does vary.  "Some suggest hat benefits should be universal and administered by the government or a public private institution created created for such a purpose."  Others have proffered "...they should be administered by non-governmental community-based groups."  One way or the other, portable benefits hold the possibility of supporting those who work outside the traditional economic structure.  

Brooks Rainwater observes, "Most potential programs involve adding a surcharge to be paid by either the company or customer that would remit to a pool of funds for contract workers within a certain jurisdiction."  One model is the New York Black Car Fund ( where fees collected by the state from on-demand rides helps pay for workers's compensations and other group benefits.  Mr. Rainwater notes, "While it is still early to see a wide swath of initiatives carried out, in late 2016 the New York City Council proposed a law that would provide portable benefits to taxi and ride-hailing drivers." (; Sept. 6, 2016; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017) Further, there are legislative initiatives in New York and Washington states (pew; Feb. 22, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017). At the federal level, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia is spearheading a portable benefit initiative (; May 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017).  Mr. Rainwater sounds an optimistic note, " expect to see portable benefits explored more all across the country."

"Require employers to provide paid leave:" this is really a no-brainer.  Women make up an ever growing part of the workforce "...approximately 47 percent of the U.S. And the majority (51 percent) of workers in professional and technical occupations."  Studies published the Pew Research Center (; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017) found that we (as a nation) have made made progress in the distribution of of family and household responsibilities between men and women, however current policies put people with children at a distinct disadvantage.  The United States is the only industrialized nation that offers only unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (pew; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017)

There is little reason, if any, to expect progress on this issue from the current administration, however, once again the cities are taking the lead. "In San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors mandates six weeks of paid parental leave for workers, and California followed suit with a statewide policy."  Yay.  Mr. Rainwater continues, "This long-overdue policy gives parents the opportunity to maintain their careers while starting a family, help organization retain employees who might otherwise opt out for financial reason, and brings stability to the workforce and economy."

Does Violent Crime Impact Economic Mobility?; August 22, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Today we are going to take a look at the impact of violent crime on economic mobility.  Once again before we get going, some agenda items.  First, shame on you Mr. Donald Trump for blaming Puerto Rico for the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria.  Never mind that Houston's shoddy urban planning greatly contributed to the massive damage done by Hurricane Irma.  Mr. Trump, instead of tweeting about nonsense like football players #takingaknee during the National Anthem how about focusing your limited attention span on restoring the infrastructure to Puerto Rico.  Puerto Ricans are our fellow citizens.  Second, today is September 26, 2017 and the October 5th DACA renewal deadline is a little over a week away.  You must go to immediately and fill out the application.  Good luck.  Now on to today's subject.

Traditionally American children-by extension children around the world-strive to do better than their parents generation.  However, the sad truth is contemporary young Americans are the first generation not do better than their parents.  Richard Florida points out in his CityLab article "Violent Crime's Toll on Economic Mobility," "In fact, Americans occupy two separate worlds when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.  A small minority of us, anywhere from a fifth to a third who come from advantage backgrounds, can  expect economic mobility on par with any advanced nation."  However, "...tragically, anywhere from two-thirds to 80 percent of Americans who are in less advantaged situations will see their economic prospects be as limited as those in the developing world."  Family income level is one determinant in one's ability to move up the economic ladder; the place where we are raised plays large part in our ability to do better than our parents according to new research by Raj Chetty et al. titled The fading American Dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940. (; April 24, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017)

A new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics, The effect of violent crime on economic mobility by Patrick Sharkey and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa provides additional determinants that may contribute to the economic mobility gap.  Mr. Sharkey, a New York University sociologist and one of the world's foremost scholars on crime and poverty and his co-author, Mr. Espinosa, an NYU doctoral student, argue "...violent crime has played a significant role in the very different chances at economic mobility facing people from advantaged versus disadvantaged communities."

We all know that exposure to violence is bad for children, the Sharkey-Torrats-Espinosa research is the first one that follows the link between violent crime and children's chances for getting out of poverty.  The study comes at time when urban crime has dramatically declined in many cities across the U.S.  Mr. Florida poses this central question: "Did that crime decline make a difference in the ability of kids from disadvantaged areas to move up the economic ladder?"

The NYU study builds upon the Chetty et al research incorporating mobility data from their oft cited Equality of Opportunity Projects, which followed the economic mobility of about 40 million children born between 1980 and 1986 in 1,335 American counties.  The co-authors compared their information on teenagers's exposure to violent crime from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report and the National Archive.  "It looks specifically at the association between places teenagers 14 to 17 are exposed to violent crime and their subsequent economic position as adults."  Mr. Florida continues, " is impossible to completely ferret out the impact of violent crime on economic mobility  from other social forces, but the study controlled for a wide array of factors that are expected to affect economic mobility...race and ethnicity, poverty, education attainment, and unemployment, as well as improvement in policing."

The main conclusion from the study "is that violent crime plays a significant role in Americans' prospects for economic mobility."  The NYU study found that the economic opportunities of low-income children-i.e. those who grow up in the bottom fifth of the economic tier-are the most severely impacted by violent crime.  Ironically, they are the very same children who benefit greatly from the decline of violent crime in their communities.

Patrick Sharkey told Richard Florida via email:

The key point is that when violent crime fall, a kid's chances of moving up out of poverty begin to grow pretty rapidly.

Somehow, this does not surprise Blogger because when violent crime falls, a child has a better chance of attending school and investment in community development increases.  This is just Blogger's own opinion. 

Regardless, Mr. Florida points out, "Statistically speaking, one standard deviation decline in violent crime crime experienced during a child's formative years increased their project adult position on the income distribution by at least two points."  Quoting Mr. Sharkey, Mr. Florida writes, "That's essentially the difference between growing up in Chicago with its high crime rate and Denver where the crime is lower."  Although the NYU study is limited to children born between 1980 and 1986, the impact of a decline in violent crime on their lives was considerable.

Mr. Sharkey continued,

In a place where violent crime was falling, a child born in 1986 had a better chance of moving out of poverty when he or she reached adulthood.

Combine this with the fact that the crime decline in some communities has been dramatic: "The annual homicide total in New York has dropped from a high of roughly 2,100 to around 300."  Mr. Sharkey added, 

In neighborhood where crime has dropped like that, the life chances of kids who start in poverty have also been transformed.

Richard Florida points out, and Blogger concurs, "There are several ways in which violent crime can limit economic mobility."  One determinant of upward mobility is education.  A child threatened at school may decide to drop out.  Mr. Florida makes note of a study that looked at the connection between the rate of violent crime and the high school dropout rate.  He writes, "A 10 percent increase in violent crimes is associate with a 0.5 percent increase in the high school dropout rate, while a 10 percent increase in the murder rate is associated with an even greater 0.9 percent increase in the high school dropout rate."

No shock here that higher levels of violence are motivation for advantaged families to move out of troubled neighborhoods, generating a cycle of more decay and decline, leaving the less advantaged behind.  

Richard Florida concludes with this thought, "Of course this study [Patrick-Torrats-Espinosa] track the period of the 'great crime decline' when violent crime was decreasing across the United States and fewer places had extremely high violent crime rates."  As we all know from following the daily digest of current events, violent crime and murder have been trending upward in several cities.  Consider this, "How much worse might the economic prospects of growing up in the least advantaged places be if crime starts to tick upward.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: Protecting DACA-Students; September 11, 2017

Hello Everyone:

What did you all think about Mr. Donald Trump's maiden speech before the United Nations?  Nothing like threatening to destroy another member nation to give diplomats and the assembled press corps the right impression.  Yours Truly thinks that Sir Elton John may have a copyright infringement case against Mr. Trump for his use of the moniker "Rocket Man."  The speech was so full of vitriol that Blogger half expected Mr. Trump be like late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and bang his shoe on the podium.  The threats against North Korea sounds like nothing more than schoolyard taunts.  This is not to say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is any better.  In fact, Blogger believes that both "men" are behaving more like two little boys.  Alright that aside, let us move on to a couple of more important things

First, Mexico has become Mother Nature's punching bag.  A few weeks ago a massive earthquake rocked the southern coast, then Hurricane Jose swept through the nation, now another massive earthquake shook central Mexico today.  What was that about about climate being a hoax?  Second and related to today's post, Rhode Island announced that it will pay the renewal application fee for DACA-recipients living the state.  Regardless, the October 5, 2017 deadline is looming large.  If you have not submitted your renewal form, DO IT NOW.  For more information please go to  

Universities, across the United States, have joined forces to protect their DACA-recipient students from deportation, in the wake of Mr. Trump's cruel decision to end the program.  Blogger is happy to report that her alma mater, the University of Southern California, has promised to protect its DACA-students.  Janet Napolitano, the chancellor of the University of California system, has joined a suit against the administration, to block the administration from implementing this order.  On September 7, 2017, more than 30 people were arrested during a rally in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The rally was staged by teachers to protest the adminstration's decision to end DACA (; Sept. 7, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017).  DACA-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrovals-allows undocumented young people, brought to the U.S. as children to live, work and go to school legally.

Organizer Kirsten Weld, an associate professor of history at Harvard, was among those arrested.  She told CityLab:

We wanted to send a message to our students that we are going to fight for them...We also wanted to show what actions educators can take, because to get this problem solved through signing petitions.

Mimi Kirk writes, with a contribution from Alastair Boone,  in her CityLab article, "How Universities Are Protecting Their DREAMers," "The arrests of Weld and her peers are indicative of the outrage that many colleges and universities are expressing in the wake of the announcement."  USA Today reported:

According to data collected by Educators for Fair Consideration,..., 2.1 million people in the United States might qualify for DACA deferrals.  The nonprofit estimated that about 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year, but only 10,000 graduate from college.  (; Feb. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 1, 2017)

Teachers and staff also benefit from the program.

The day after the Harvard rally, the UC system, home to 4,000 DACA-students (; Sept. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017) throughout its ten campuses, announced a lawsuit against the administration (; Sept. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017).  The lawsuit states: 

The DREAMers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim..."

Meng So, the director of UC Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, called the lawsuit "a gauntlet to fight for justic and human dignity."  Mr. So told CityLab,

It's an invitation to all universities across the nation to join us in winning the battle.

Although it still remains to be seen whether or not other campuses will join the UC in the legal battle, "...the lawsuit take university resistance to deportations of undocumented of students to a new level."

Mimi Kirk reports, "While some institutions, such as Wesleyan University and Reed College, designated themse;ves 'sanctuary campuses,' last year, pledging not to assist federal authorities in the deportation of their students (at least without a warrant), university officials generally recognize that their campuses must ultimately comply with immigration law."  Tim Cresswell, the dean of faculty and Vice President for academic affairs at Trinity College, told The Atlantic  in 2016,

[Being a sanctuary campus] doesn't mean very much.  (; Nov. 22, 2016; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017)

Meng So adds,

Community members push for [sanctuary campus status] out of a desire to keep students and staff safe, but we are unsure if it has legal bearing.

Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, founded in 2012 and a first in the U.S., it has become a model of how universities and colleges can provide services to their DACA-students, "...even if those services fall short of legal protection."

For DACA-student blog readers: pay attention to the next part.  Ms. Kirk reports, "First, So recommends that universities offer free legal support to their undocumented students."  Immediately after that stunning decision, institutions such as Georgetown University (; Sept. 5, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017), the University of San Diego (; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept.19, 2017), and the University of Iowa (; Sept. 8, 2017; Sept. 19, 2017) are beginning to provide or augment their legal service.

Next, "Once undocumented students seek legal advice, So says about 30 percent of the time they discover they're eligible for more permenant relief, such as visas granted to victims of crime or human trafficking."  Following that heinous annoucement, unversities are looking to sign up their students in the final two-year DACA period.  This is the important part: "Those whose status expires between now and March 5, 2018, are eligible for enrollment, and the deadline is October 5."  Kirstin Weld said, "...Harvard is looking into helping its students pay the $495 application fee.

Without DACA, students will find more difficult to pay for school.  For example, DACA-students will not be able to secure a work-study job at their school.  Ms. Kirk reports, "With such resources under threat, So say he is looking to shift work study into a public service fellowship or community engagement grant for affected student so they can maintain financial stability."

With increased anxiety over the future, universities have stepped up their mental health services.  Mr. So told CityLab,

Our students should be losing sleep over school, not over whether they will be deported the next day.

In 2015, UC Berkeley hired a counselor to work with DACA-students and other campuses are following  Berkeley's lead.

Mimi Kirk reports, "At the University of New Mexico, for instance, student programs specialists Armando Bustamante is starting group therapy session [; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017] for undocumented students and is working to cover costs for individual sessions.  Harvard President Drew Faust announced [; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017] a 24-hour hotline for undocumented Harvard affiliates and a weekly support group run by the university's mental health center."

The demand for these services has been extremely high.  "So says that last week his office saw a 350 percent increase in the number of students seeking mental health support, and the website received 108,000 page views in one day..."

Kristin Weld observes "while the Trump decision first and foremost affects DACA recipients, it's harmful to all member of a university community."  She told CityLab:

The federal government us talking about coming into our classrooms and dorms to drag our student and staff awa...This ensures that universities cannot be spaces of safety and sanctuary, and that's unacceptable for everyone.  Educators and institutions must rise to the occasion.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Does Innovation Have To With Economic Segregation?; August 18, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a new, albeit abbreviated, week on the blog.  The major Jewish holidays are upon us and blogger mama is demanding Blogger's attention.  That aside, a friendly reminder to all DACA-recipients and anyone who knows a DACA-recipient: the October 5th deadline is coming up quickly.  You must renew before this deadline if you want to remain eligible.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration agency is only accepting renewal forms.  For more information please go to  Good luck and on to today's subject: innovation and economic segregation.

It seems that not too long ago, cities were doing whatever they could to attract high-tech companies, hoping that the companies would bring with them high paying jobs.  City after city created programs anticipating they would be the "next Silicon Valley." (; June 20, 2017; date accessed Sept. 18, 2017)

However, with the backlash facing Airbnb and Uber and protests over the high tech companies' shuttle busses have combined to make the onetime saviors into villains.  The villains are being balminess for making cities less affordable and the increasing gap between the wealthy and poor.  Richard Florida points out in his CityLab article, "The Complex Relationship Between Innovation and Economic Segregation," "Indeed, America's leading high-tech centers-the Bay Area, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., San Diego, and Raleigh all rank highly on various measures of wage and income inequality."   (; Apr 13, 2017; date accessed Sept. 18, 2017)

Thus, the question for today is " what degree do high-tech industry and economic segregation go together?"

A new study, Innovation, Skill, and Economic Segregation, published by Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander ( July 28, 2017; Sept. 18, 2017), takes an in-depth look into this issue.  Mr. Florida explains their methodology, "Our analysis covers the majority of America's 350-plus metros.  Within them, we measure innovation both in terms of patents (the most commonly used measured of innovation by economists) and the concentration of high-tech industry.  We measure economic segregation through several models based on income, education, and occupation, as well as a combined measure of overall economic segregation based on all three."

Using these models, Mr. Florida and Ms. Mellander first looked at the connection between levels of innovation and economic segregation for the year 2010-the latest years of complete information.  Next, they studied the link between innovation and economic segregation between 2000-2010.  Combining regression analysis and Principal Component Analysis, the researchers examined "...the connections between innovation, high-tech industry and economic segregation.  Mr. Florida adds, "We control for factors like the population size, average income, and education levels of metros as well as levels of income inequality in order to make a distinction between high tech...and some of the factors that it may bring along with it."

Initial read, "innovation, high-tech industry and economic segregation appear to be closely connected."  A correlation analysis demonstrates the "close connection between economic segregation and patented innovations (0.26) and an even closer connection between economic segregation and the concentration of high-tech industry (0.63)."  The first number is about "the same age the correlation between economic segregation and income (0.26), while the latter is similar to the correlation between economic segregation and population (0.64) making it among the very highest in our analysis."

Be that as it may, the link between innovation, high-tech industry, and economic segregation becomes less obvious "...when we control for factors that are present even in low-tech metros-factors like population size and disproportionate levels of the rich and highly educated, which are also likely to bear  on economic segregation."  Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander found just one example where the high-tech industry was directly connected to economic segregation.  "This is for occupational segregation, which describes the extent to which highly-paid knowledge workers are segregated from lower-wage blue collar and service workers."  However, across the remainder of their models, Mr. Florida and Ms. Mellander found that the high-tech industry was not statistically associated with economic segregation.

Instead, what they discovered was "...economic segregation appears to be more closely associated with three key factors: the population size, average income, and average education levels of a metro."

Mr. Florida reports, "In some cities, these factors may be partially attributable to high-tech industry, which has brought an influx of highly paid and highly educated workers to cities like Boston and San Francisco.  But many highly segregated cities don't have correspondingly high levels innovations."  When Mr. Florida do Ms. Mellander examined the 350-plus American metros, their study found that "innovation itself is not closely correlated with economic segregation as income and education levels are."  No surprise, they concluded that economic segregation closely hewed to income inequality.

In essence, "...economic segregation tends to be a function of the size and education levels of a metro, which are influenced by many industries other than tech n metros around the country."

Their research suggests that innovation alone may not be the cause for economic segregation in American cities.  However Mr. Florida adds this caveat, " is nonetheless in the interest of America's leading high-tech companies to stop extracting from the cities where they are located and use their tremendous resources and capabiities [; June 20, 2017; date accessed Sept. 18, 2017] to make them less divided and more equitable-for example helping to improve infrastructure, rather than building exclusive transit systems."  It is these exclusive policies by specific companies that may be actually contributing to economic segregation and inequality.

The Trump Administration is threatening to cut off much needed aid to the high-tech companies' host cities.  The wise move would be for the companies to partner with the cities.  Richard Florida writes, "...high tech companies have no choice but to work with cities, neighborhoods, and residents to engender a new age of inclusive prosperity."

He concludes, "Innovation depends upon the clustering, diversity and intermixing of people in places." The level at which cities and metropolitans have become more segregated by income, education, and occupation, their ability to innovate and develop new technology is likely to decrease.  Over time, the increase in economic segregation is likely to deteriorate a metropolitan's innovation capabilities.  In essence, "The more segregated a place becomes, the less innovative it is likely to be."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: "Anti-Sanctuary" Cities; August 27, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Time for the weekly addition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Once again, a couple of reminders: First, you can text donations to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief at 90999.  Second, today is September 13, 2017, only a few weeks left to renew your DACA application.  In order to protect yourself from possible deportation, you must renew by October 5, 2017.  Please go to for all the latest information.  This reminder is a nice segue way into today's subject: anti-sanctuary cities.

There is no question in Blogger's mind that Mr. Donald Trump's pardoning for former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was one of the most egregiously unconscionable acts of his presidency.  In a tweeted (naturally) statement, the president said,

Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protect the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration... (; 5:21 pm Aug. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017)

In a few words, Mr. Trump signaled his approval of the former sheriff's outrageous, abuse-laden crackdown on undocumented immigrants (; 7:01PM Aug. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) and his persistent defiance of a federal court order to stop racial profile (; July 31, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017).  Tanvi Misra writes in her CityLab article, "'Anti-Sanctuary' Cities Continue to Multiply Under Trump," "The presidential pardon is likely to encourage other local governments to abandon any fears of litigation and sign-up to engage in similar behavior."  It could also increase the number of "anti-sanctuary" cities, which have been steadily multiplying since the president took office (; March 1, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017).

During his tenure as sheriff, Mr. Arpaio participated in the 287(g) program-Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act (; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017).  This act invests local police and sheriff's deputies immigration enforcement powers, either in jails or in the field, or both.  The former sheriff spent who know how much taxpayer money (; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) tracking down undocumented immigrants (and the lawsuits that followed [; March 28, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017]).  Mr. Arpaio was also infamous for the in humane and humiliating treatment of his immigrants in his custody (; July 20, 2009; date accessed Sept.13, 2017) clearly a violation of the Eight Amendment which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.  Ms. Misra cites some of the ways the former sheriff would treat his inmates: "...He'd move hundreds of male detainees to a new jail in nothing but pink underwear.  When the jails became overcrowded, he moved his prisoners to "concentration camps" [http://www.phoenixnewtimes; Aug. 2, 2010; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017]-tent cities with no respite from the temperatures as high as 135 degrees."  Inmates were physically abused (Ibid; July 2, 1997; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) and deaths occurred at alarming rates (Ibid; Nov. 24, 2015; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017). 

Ms. Misra reports, "In 2011, a Justice Department Investigation [; Dec. 15, 2011; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017] confirmed his civil rights violation and DHS revoked its agreement to let his officers carry out immigration enforcement in the field."  The results of this investigation came a year after two government watchdogs (; March , 2010; date accessed Sept. 3, 2017) concluded that the 287(g) program operated without Immigration and Customs Enforcement oversight.  She continues, "For these reason, the program was scaled back in favor of other forms of cooperation under the Obama administration.  However, President Barack Obama is no longer in office and the current administration has revived and enhanced it (; March 1, 2017), and actively encouraging municipalities to embrace it.  Not in Los Angeles.  Yay Mayor Eric Garcetti

Breaking news: according to the Phoenix New Times Motel 6 in Latino neighborhoods allegedly share their guest lists with ICE.  (; Sept. 13, 2017; 8:00 AM)

In July, ICE announced that it signed new 287(g) agreements with 18 Texas counties (; July 31, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017). This brings the total to 60 counties (Ibid), double the number from the previous year.  Tanvi Misra writes, "So far, these counties have opted for the 'jail enforcement model,' in which only jailers can carry out ICE's responsibilities."  This is a tamer version of 287(g) than the Arpaio iteration-it equally criticized for being cost ineffective (; Feb. 2010; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) and counter productive (; Jan. 2011; Sept. 13, 2017).

CityLab has generated an inter-active map of the counties that signed up or renewed a 287(g), which can be viewed at  Most of the counties that signed up are clustered in the Houston area.  Something to be aware of if you are a DACA-recipient seeking hurricane relief.  The full list is available at the ICE website.  Yours Truly is happy to report that Los Angeles County is not the list but the Orange County, California Sheriff's Office is on the list of places that practice jail enforcement of 287(g).

Tanvi Misra observes, "It seems that what Trump is selling, many sheriffs are willing to buy."  The sheriffs are are still on the fence about it (; Aug. 19, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) may be offered a workaround (; Aug. 21, 2017; Sept. 13, 2017).  According to a New York Times report by Caitlin Dickerson, the workaround agreement,

...intended to circumvent court decisions that have thus far limited the role of local law enforcement in immigration.  It involves a legal move regarding detainers, which are requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcements to local sheriffs or police departments to hold people who are suspected of being in the country illegally, even after they have posted bail, finished their jail sentence or otherwise resolved their criminal cases.

In short, this plan circumvents court decisions that found the detainers  violation of the Fourth Amendment-unreasonable search and seizure.

The plan calls for the federal government to "contract" sheriffs' department to detain people's suspected of being undocumented immigrants.  What is not clear is what form these new agreements will take, but they are in the same vein as the 287(g) agreements (; 7:04 AM Aug. 21, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017.  Ms. Misra spoke with Daniel Stageman, director of research at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, who has been following these agreements.  On November 2, 2016, he post this article on The Crime Report,

...The parameters of such agreements, or the training that local law enforcements officers requires under them, are left ambiguous.  Notwithstanding the established practice of ICE under the Obama administration (the GW Bush administration prior to that), it is certainly conceivable that a Trump administration could severely reduce the rigor of established training requirements, along with the strictures laid out in ICE's current Memorandum of Agreement template [; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017], leaving a loose and undemanding structure to induce local law enforcement agencies to join.  (; Nov. 2, 2016; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017)

Just as Mr. Stageman predicted, smaller Southern counties close to a large undocumented immigrant population are lining up to join, powered by the prospect of political and economic gain.  This makes it even more imperative for current DACA-recipients to renew their applications by October 5, 2017 because this current form of "anti-sanctuary" cities is also growing in number

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Golden Opportunity; September 7, 2017

Hello Everyone:

A lovely Tuesday to you all.  Blogger is in a good mood thanks to a couple of very nice developments in her personal life.  Before we get going on today's subject: Houston's redevelopment, time for the daily hurricane relief and DACA reminder.  Southeast Texas, Georgia, and Florida need your help as they begin to dig out from Harvey and Irma.  Please text 90999 (minimum $10) to the Red Cross.  Second, the clock is ticking for DACA-recipients.  You must renew by October 5, 2017 otherwise your application will no longer be under consideration.  Please go to for all the latest information. That done, shall we move on?

The images of a devastated Houston were horrific.  Whole communities were destroyed, streets flooded, people stranded on rooftops waiting for rescue.  However, do not write Houston off for good.  The city will rebound.  The Houston metropolitan area is one of the United States' fastest region with a population approaching " million people and projected to grow to more than 11 million by 2050."  It economic is nearly $500 billion dollars, roughly equivalent to Sweden, Poland, or Belgium, ranking "...25th most productive nations in the world."  Houston is also the epicenter of high-tech energy production, with a plethora of highly regarded software engineers and high-tech talent that would make Silicon Valley envious (sorry).

Thus with all these abundance of talent and economic assets extolled by Richard Florida and Jonathan F.P. Rose in their CityLab article "Houston's Big Opportunity for Better Urban Development" and confidence in the city's ability to rebuild, the authors ask the very basic question: How?

How will Houston and now, the hardest hit areas of Florida will rebuild?  Natural disasters are a fact of life.  In California, we deal with earthquakes, fires, and floods.  Hurricane Harvey left at least 50 people dead, about 40,000 homes destroyed, and property damage that will easily the total $100 billion dollars.  As that oft-repeated Chinese proverbs goes: "with chaos comes opportunity."  In this case, Houston has the "...unprecedented opportunity to re-imagine growth itself, recasting urban infrastructure and economies in more resilient sustainable and inclusive ways."

Christopher Kennedy's book, The Evolution of Great World Cities (, looks how great cities have reset their development path following natural or man-made disaster.  For example, London's rise to global commercial prominence in the 17th century was powered by the catastrophic 1666 fire, which led to major "...sweeping changes in the city's building codes and widening of its streets, which in turn led to increased densities, the adoption of new building techonologies, and ultimately remade the city in ways that put it on a new growth trajectory."

This, according to the authors, is what "Houston can and must do today."

Make no mistake, there is an awful lot of work that needs to get done right away: rebuild damaged homes, apartments, commercial buildings, and roads.  However, the author consider it "urban malpractice" if the Houston region did not seize the opportunity "to re-imagine its future, and create a long-term vision and plan for greater economical and economic resilience."  This re-imagining the future should be based on acknowledging increasingly volatile weather events and crafting a more economically sustainable and inclusive development model which enhances the quality of life for everyone.

The authors write, "Greater Houston has been widely admired for its entrepreneurial approach to land use and zoning, which fueled its growth.  But its lace of development guidelines has also come under fire for producing its low-slung, sprawling, auto dependent urban form with little permeable surface area, which as left vulnerable to devasting flooding."  If there is one good thing to come out of this catastrophe, the region has been granted the chance to rebuild in a more progressive minded, resilient, and inclusive manner.

Building more and better pipes, walls, and infrastructure is not the answer.  The solution is more efficient use of Houston's natural flood protection system and mitigation.  The authors report, "Philadelphia is now investing over $1.7 billion in its green infrastructure plan, planting trees, creating parks, gardens and swales in a way that will reduce the city's storm water outflow by  $85, and  saving another $7 billion in hard infrastructure costs."  Rotterdam's climate change strategy makes of use of its natural areas as type of "sponge" to absorb storm water and the canal to hold and move water during floods.  The authors opine, "Adding trees, gardens and green space during the city's rebuilding will help to more effectively absorbs storm water and reduce summer temperatures."  This is something that the Los Angeles region would be well advised to do.  Think about it, a more ecologically friendly approach to infrastructure will allow the Houston region to better manage floods, contribute to a better quality of life, make more attractive to talent that drives its knowledge-based economy.

As sea levels rise and weather becomes more volatile, the Greater Houston area will have to fight off the Gulf of Mexico edging its way on to its eastern shore and improve drainage capabilities in the city center in the west.  The authors observe, "Unfortunately, the region is very flat, sloping only four feet across its entire downtown."  Richard Florida and Jonathan F.P. Rose offer this solution, "...rebuild in a more dense  and clustered way which can be raised above the flood plain.  Green construction, energy efficient building technology and distributed energy systems will not only increase the region's resilience to flooding and weather events, it will reduce operating costs, and create a market for new technologies, industries and jobs."

Another area primed for a reset is the Houston region's transportation system (; Sept. 5, 2017; date accessed Sept. 12, 2017).  The authors note, "Houston's notoriously car-dependent road and highway network has contributed to its sprawl and left it vulnerable to flooding."  In the wake of Harvey, waitlists for car rentals have grown by dizzying proportions and gas prices have gotten outrageous (Ibid).  This has Houstonians dealing with how to get to work and their children to school without a car.  Houston's famed "bus lady" Janis Scott (; Oct. 15, 2017; date accessed Sept. 12, 2017) said,

I keep hearing on the radio that people won't be able to get anywhere...But this doesn't need to be the end of the world.  Now is the time to get with METRO.  (; Sept. 5, 2017)

Although Los Angeles is the prennial leader in traffic congestion-the average driver will spend about 104 hours during peak travel periods driving in congestion (; Feb 20, 2017; date accessed Sept. 12, 2017), Houston is right up there.  "The average Houstonian spends an average of 74 hours-roughly two full work weeks-stuck in traffic each giving it the fourth worst rate in the nation."  The clogged roads and highways make it nearly impossible to evacuate the city when disaster strikes.

Now is the time to invest in mass transit and rail.  This goes for Los Angeles as well.  The authors state, "It will not only make the region more compact, sustainable and resilient, it will increase the velocity of people, goods, and ideas, creating a better ecosystem for innovation."  In short, wise investment in mass transit and rail has the potential to greatly increase the scale and scope of its economy.  Consider this, a high speed rail system linking Houston to a mega-region spanning Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin would spawn an economic region of 20 million people, generating an economic output of $1.5 billion, making it one of the world's top ten economies, larger than Canada, Russia, Spain, and Australia.

One of Houston's most vexing issues exposed by Hurricane Harvey is growing gap between rich and poor; the declining middle class.  Here is a chance for the region to address income inequality and strengthen the middle class.  The authors report, "The metro suffers among the highest levels of inequality and segregation, ranking behind only New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on composti measures of economic segregation and economic inequality."  Although its urban neighborhoods have revitalized, the city and region are a patchwork of "..concentrated advantages and concentrated disadvantages, with the latter neighborhoods most at risk from flooding and environmental disasters: More than three-quarters of the city's closed landfills and nearly 90 percent of its hazardous waste sites are located in low-income, largely minority neighborhoods."  Any and all rebuilding initiative must include a genuine effort to create an inclusive model "...based on mixed used development, affordable housing, and access to better jobs."

Houston's is a rapidly growing region with global ambitions.  Hurricane Harvey afforded the region a golden opportunity to redefine its economy and become a better example for coastal cities around the world.  Richard Florida and Jonathan F.P. Rose write, "Human civilization emerged in flood zones of river valleys, where soil was most fertile."  Further, "More than three-quarters of the world economy is based around coastal cities."  No surprise here that these coastal cities are the "'s most innovative and productive places, but they are also among the most vulnerable."

As Houston emerges from the pummeling it took from Hurricane Harvey, it has the unique opportunity to not only recreate buildings and infrastructure but also the golden chance to remake its economy and development for the future.  Imagine what would happen if it replaces its expiring sprawling, automobile-oriented, energy-intensive model with an innovative model founded on clustered mixed use neighborhoods linked by transit and circled by abundant green space that incorporates green building technology.  By following this prescription, Houston will set the example for cities around the world in bad need of new model for building resilient, sustainable, economically robust and inclusive communities.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Here is How Cities Can Deal With Opioid Addiction And Mental Health; August 22, 2017

Hello Everyone:

 Welcome to a new week on the blog.  A few agenda items before we get going on today's subject-the  option crisis and mental health-First, new week, new hurricane.  Over the weekend, Hurricane Irma landed with a mighty force on the state of Florida.  Florida and Texas are now faced with the overwhelming task of cleaning up and rebuilding the affected areas.  If you would like to donate to hurricane relief, please text 90999 (minimum 10 dollars).  Second, if you are a DACA-recipient, you have until October 5, 2017 to renew your application.  For more information, go to immediately.  Finally, it may be early but the mid-term elections are looming in the horizon and naturally Blogger Candidate Forum will be blogging away.  Remember, if you have not done so already, register to vote.  Check with your state's Secretary of State website.  Thanks and onto opioid crisis and mental health.

The opioid crisis has reached national emergency levels.  Although, Mr. Donald Trump has yet to do anything of substance about, like he promised during the campaign, the cities have begun to take the lead in addressing this matter.  Brentin Mock writes in his CityLab article "What Cities Really Need to Tackle the Opioid and Mental Health," "In November 2015, New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray launched ThriveNYC [; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017], a comprehensive mental health prevention and treatment program funded by the city..."  The program is responsible for outreach campaigns (; Apr. 19, 2016; date accessed Sept 11, 2017) around New York City with slogans like Anxiety doesn't define me (; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017) and available training for 250,000 mental health "First Aid responders" (; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017) to assist people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.  So far, so good.  Good enough that Ms. McCray has expanded her campaign to 185 cities, under the banner "Cities Thrive Coalition."

Ms. McCray's initiative comes at the right when the White House and Congress have been trying to cut back funding for mental health (; May 23, 2017; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017), alcohol-addiction treatment (; May 5, 2017; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017), provided by the American Healthcare Act, Medicaid, and related federal programs.  Mr. Mock observes, "Which is to say the Cities Thrive Coalition is congealing at a time when these 180-plus cities may only have each other to count on in the fight for mental wellness."

The initiative also comes at a time when police are under the microscope for responding violently to mentally ill people (; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017), and as opioid overdose reaches national epidemic proportion (; Dec. 27, 2016; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017).  Luckily ThriveNYC has made progress (; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017) on substance abuse and overdose, despite "flying into the federal headwinds of healthcare cuts."  Thus far, New York City has "...trained has trained over 2,500 NYPD officers in Crisis Intervention Training, so they can deploy tools other than guns and handcuffs when encountering people who might be suffering mental or drug-induced breakdowns."  Just as many New Yorkers (2,300 to be more precise) have been trained to identify the signs symptoms of a person having a depression episode, psychosis, or an overdose.

CityLab sat down with Chirlane McCray in New Orleans, where she and a Cities Thrive delegation spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the urgency of addressing this matter.  Her presentation coincided with the president finally declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency (; Aug. 10, 2017; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017) after days he said he would not (; Aug. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017).  What form this will take has yet to be seen, Ms. McCray  told CityLab that "...New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who headed Trump's opioid commission, didn't reach out to her, despite her work in this area."  Below are excerpts of what Ms. McCray had to say about the subject:

CL: "Why is it important that cities pay special attention to mental health and substance abuse problems?"

CMcC: We're working hard to change how people talk about and think about it.  The whole substance misuse and addiction problem should be under the umbrella of mental health for political and funding reasons...I'd say in at least half of the cases, mental illness and substance abuse go together because people often medicate to compensate for what's going on in the brain.

Thrive is about making change in those areas, but also, changing in the way people access services making it easier for people to get services where they live...because people don't want to go outside of their neighborhoods.  They don't want to talk to someone they don't trust or don't know.  And this is important background because people delay seeking help an average of ten years when they find themselves in mental distress...In poorer communities and communities of color, that can often be ten years or more.

Another thing that is not talked about enough is the fact that the signs and symptoms of mental illness in half of all case emerge before the age of 14-in 75 percent of the cases, it's before the age of 24.  So we have the opportunity to prevent some cases...and certainly an opportunity to intervene before mental illness continues,...What happens when you let diseases progress?  You end up spending more money, and people get more ill.  

CL: "How do you feel about the current Trump administration's response to the opioid crisis?"

CMcC:  Well, his response has been law and order.  They're talking about an epidemic and his first words are, "We're gonna get tough."  I want to see this talked about primarily as a public health problem because we know that addiction is a disease that can be treated.  Is there a role for law enforcement?  Absolutely...We want to work on the root causes of addicition, which we know and can address.  We can't in the current structure, and we can't if we have a repeal of the ACA.

On the one hand I'm excited that Trump is declaring it a national emergency.  On the other hand, I don't know what that means.  Does that mean more funding?  Does that mean more of the ability for people who are getting substance abuse treatment or are being treated for addiction, that they will be able to go other place places for treatment?

CL: "What would you like it to mean?"

CMcC: I would love for it to mean more funding, more flexibility so that people who have addictions can have have more outpatient services...I would like more encouragement for physicians to be able to administer buprenorphine [; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017]...It stops the cravings and it allows someone to go to work or go to school and live their life, because addiction is a chronic disease, just l;Ike diabetes or asthma.  There should not be a stigma about that.

This particular epidemic requires outpatient care...the reality is because addicition is a chronic disease you can't live in a bed.  You can go and get your detox and rehab but at some point you have come out...that requires outpatient counseling, that requires medication-assisted treatment [; Dec. 7, 2015; date accessed Sept. 11, 2017], which is the best evidence-based treatment we have.  And we don't don't have the resources that we need to provide it properly...

I hope they can go to their primary care doctors who have been trained and coached to administer buprenorphine.  I hope here are some kind of waivers so that people who are suffering from addiction can go some place other than a substance abuse clinic to get services because there's still such a stigma about these facilities...

CL: "The ACA seems to stand on fragile ground under the current Congress and White House.  How might its repeal impact the way cities deal with these problems?"

CMcC: We worked very hard to make sure that it wasn't repealed because the ACA has given parity to mental health treatment, by including addiction and substance abuse in its coverage, which we never had before...There's been an artificial separation in our healthcare system for way too long between physical health and mental health.  It's an artificial disconnect because what can you do without your brain?'s important that people be able to access their health plan so that we would be affected of course if the ACA were repealed.

CL: "What about non-opiate addiction problem, that affect more people of color?"

CMcC: I think our plan addresses them all.  K2 as once a big problem, the synthetic drug that popped in the bodegas and in the streets and that's something we had to deal with...And of course we have alcohol, a huge problem that nobody talks about.  In fact it often works out that people have overdoses not just because they used opioids, but because they were also drinking...

We know this epidemic has been heavily to focused on white working-class communities but the numbers in communities of color is rising, so we have to be attentive and be ready to respond to that...When it was the crack epidemic, it was all brown and black people but our faces have been erased this time around...We have to take many paths to address all the different populations.

CL: "So how do you feel about the change in response based on race?  Obviously when crack was pervasive, there was no national outcry of empathy, there was the opposite"

CMcC: Right.  On one hand, I'm glad there is this response because if any assistance is coming down the pike and it's universal then we will still benefit.  But it's, of course, sad to see the disparity in terms of the inequities and attention that we received in the past.  I think there is another factor though: I have to say that people are recognizing addiction as a disease...even now there is still this perception that [addiciton is about] a lack of discipline or poor moral character...Ten, 15 years ago there was a lot more that and connected with black, brown people and low-income people that just multiplied that perception...

CL: "Do you think the opioid crisis would be called a national emergency if the face of the crisis was a black or brown faces?"

CMcC: To the extent that it is now?  No, I don't think so.  But if there were the same numbers of people dying, there would be some kind of outcry.

CL: "How have smaller cities in the Thrive coalition received these plans, especially in terms of coming up with funding to execute or put together plans like this?"

CMcC: I' please to say we have close to 200 mayors from around the country in coalition from both big cities and small cities.  This is a bipartisan effort and the reception has been fantastic. ThriveNYC is city-funded, but what we're doing with smaller cities and other cities in general is sharing our best practices,...For example, we had our health commissioner write an executive order that would allow anyone to go into into any of our chain pharmacies,...,to buy naloxone without prescription.

That doesn't cost any money, but it's a change of policy.  It's very import though because usually family members and friends know if someone close to them is using, and so if they have naloxone they could save a life.

We are working on creating a hub so that we can share our best practices and ideas, and we have monthly conference calls where we talk about what we're doing so that we can learn from one another.  it's not happening on the federal level, so we have to do it ourselves.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: Only One Side To This Issue; August 16, 2017

Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today's subject is a timely one: infrastructure.  However before we get going, a couple of things: first, the city of Houston is digging out from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.  Hurricane Irma is currently rampaging through the Caribbean and as its sights set on Florida.  The people in the affected are in great need of food, water, medicine, diapers.  If you would like to help, you can text 90999 (minimum $10) or go to to make a donation or find a local blood drive.  Second, a follow up to yesterday's post on the impact of rescinding DACA.  If you are DACA-eligible and need to renew your application, do it immediately. You have until October 5, 2017.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will only consider renewals requests.  Please go to for all the latest information.  Now on to today's subject.

On last week's edition of #BloggerCandidateForum, yours truly mentioned that infamous press conference on August 15, 2017, at Trump Tower.  You know, the one where Mr. Donald Trump defended white supremacists and repeated his cringe inducing "violence on both sides" comments.  Lost in the commotion was the press conference's true purpose: to talk about accelerating infrastructure projects.  Laura Bliss writes in her CityLab article, "Trump's Infrastructure Plan Only Has One 'Side,'" "The conference began with a typical stunt: Standing amid cabinet officials Elaine Chao, Steve Mnuchin, and Mick Mulvaney, Trump unfurled a long, beautiful chart purporting to a 17-year environmental permitting process for an unnamed highway project."  The president proceeded to announce yet another one his executive order cutting the approval process down to two years.  The E.O. also called for one lead agency to take the lead for every major project subject to federal review.  Further, lost in chaos was the rescinding of former-President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13690: Flood Risk Assessment and Management Program which required " federal constructions to account for climate change's effect on storms and flooding."

The president told the pack:

We're going to get infrastructure built quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking and the permitting process will go very, very quickly,...No longer will we accept a broken system that benefits consultants and lobbyists at the expense of hard-working Americans.

Laura Bliss concedes, "There is bipartisan agreement that environmental permitting can be unnecessarily arduous.  It is complicate even in normal circumstances, and drawn-out decisions can waste tax dollars."  Thus, it is little wonder that the permitting process is more beneficial to the "consultants" instead of the ecosystem that they were meant to protect.  President Obama issued his own set of E.Os intended to streamline the process for economically sensitive proposals.  His predecessor President George W. Bush launch a full on review (dare we say attack;; Sept. 5, 2003; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017) on the National Environmental Policy Act.

However, if Mr. Trump's intention was to protect the American taxpayer (it is not), "...the floodplain regulation would not come anywhere near it."  Common sense dictates floodplain regulation is designed to stall government from throwing money around like a drunken sailor.  Ms. Bliss points out, "Federal agencies have long required that their own construction projects avoid building in flood-prone areas so that tax dollars are not lost every year to storms."  Makes perfect sense.  Of course, that kind of rational thinking is lost on an administration that does not think that rising sea levels and worsen storms, like the rate Category 5 Hurricane Irma, have nothing to do with climate change.  That must have been part of the logic used by Mr. Trump when he decided to eliminate the regulation created by the Obama administration in 2015 (; Sept. 2, 2016: date accessed Sept. 6, 2016) which-"...required federal projects that could not help but be situate in low-lying areas to take additional mitigation so in response to flood exacerbating effects of climate change."

Scaling back that policy defies climate science and all the common sense reccommendation of flood control engineers.  What do they know (sarcasm alert), right?  You migh as well take all this tax dollars and throw them into the rising tides.

The president's proposed infrastructure plan remains, like his tax reform plan, is still in the conceptual stage, considering that no real policy has emerged from the administration.  Be that as it may, if there is any guiding philosophy behind the "great" ideas offered up by the White House-outlined draft budgets and fact sheets ("Fact Sheet 2018 Budget: Infrastructure Initiative";; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017)-it is: "Profit-minded, private interests should guide federal investments."

To finance the president's much-promised $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, "...the White has called to leverage $800 billion in private capital with $200 billion in federal funds."  This formula would only account for proposals guaranteed to produce study returns (; May 23, 2017: date accessed Sept. 6, 2016) like: new toll roads, pipelines, and renovated airports (; March 9, 2017; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  That sounds great but the not so lucrative projects like fixing crumbling roads, water pipe, and transit systems are by-and-large ignored.

During that infamous press conference, Mr. Trump once again boasted that his infrastructure "...will generate massive employment gains, invoking nationalistic pride and the country's largely vanished metal-making jobs (; Aug. 9, 2016; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  The president thumped his chest declaring,

We will rebuild our country with American workers, American iron, American aluminum, American steel,....We will create millions of new jobs and make millions of American dreams come true...quickly

Good, you can start in the areas hardest hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  By the way, some breaking news: two more hurricanes-Jose and Katia-are lining up in the Atlantic.

After reminding the pack "that America's infrastructure looks like that of a third world country," the president took questions from the reporters, who naturally queried Mr. Trump about his response to Charlottesville; that was when things got ugly, shocking members of the Republican Party (; Aug 13, 2017; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017) and his usually friendly conservative media (; Aug. 15, 2017; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).

Laura Bliss speculates, "Maybe they shouldn't have been so surprised.  The president's sympathies for those who marched in the name of white supremacy and Nazism do not appear unrelated to his obsession with building big things fast.  Behind them both lies certain authoritarian zeal."  This should give you all something to think about.

It is also worth pointing out that Mr. Trump has a history of praising dictators.  In an interview with NBC News, Christina Coleburn reported his comments about Fascist leader Benito Mussolini:

...It's okay to know it's Mussolini,...Mussolini was Mussolini...It's a very good quote.  It's very interesting quote...what difference does whether it's Mussolini or somebody else? 

The Italian fascist allied with Adolf Hitler as part of the Axis Powers in World War II.

During last year's primary season, then-candidate Trump tweeted:

@ilduce2016: "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep @realDonaldTrump 4:13AM-Feb 28, 2016 (
(; July 6, 2016; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017)

Ms. Bliss reminds us that the Italian dictato "built the world's first high-speed toll road designed for cars.  His Fascists also constructed a slew of airports and a network of passenger trains as part of a national leisure campaign (; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017) which was intended to keep the working class happy (i.e. distracted) and indoctrinate the children, according to David Dudely (; Nov. 15, 2016; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  According to former CityLab writer Eric Jaffe, Adolf broke ground on the Autobahn, the 

perfect demonstration...that his government could get things done in a way the Weimar government had not  (; June 6 2014; date accessed Sept. 6, 2017).  

This allowed the German dictator to consolidate his power by connecting key voting blocs.

As Mr. Trump pointed out during the chaos, There are two sides to the country.  "Which side does his infrastructure hope to connect?"