“An anonymous donor has come forward to pay the funeral bill for 4-year-old Lloyd Morgan, who was killed by a stray bullet in the Bronx, Assemblyman Eric A. Stevenson’s office announced on Tuesday.”
OK, here’s a silly thought experiment.
Let’s say we put a rule in place that says the United States is only allowed to use X amount of cows to make milk. A farmer can milk his cows as much as he wants, but if a cow dies, we can not replace it with another cow. We are forever limited to that amount of cows.
Now, milk is a desirable thing. Not Rolex or flat-screen TV desirable, but a lot of people buy milk. So now there’s a limited milk supply that isn’t meeting a high milk demand. As a result, maybe the prices of milk go up.
So we have to find ways to meet that demand. Maybe we start cutting the milk with water, maybe we add something else. And for a time that works. People are still buying their milk, even though the quality has gone down a little.
But how long does that last? Well, until the cows all die, which could be a long time from now, or could be next year. But the point is there is a system in place that limits the amount of milk we are able to process, which is making it harder for us to provide quality, affordable milk to people. The answer is to get rid of an arbitrary rule.
Does that make sense? OK.
Here is something that is happening in New York. No, the Mayor is not saying we’re only allowed to buy certain amounts of milk. But what is happening is that the Mayor and the city planning commissioner are toying with the idea of making smaller apartments for a new lifestyle of New Yorker. What that means is that there are more and more single young professionals moving to the city who don’t need a ton of space to live. They can live comfortably in a small studio space.
And this is true: more and more, New York, while I’d argue still a place for families to settle, has become a less-desirable place for families. And so it makes sense to build places that accomodate them.
But here’s where my little analogy comes into play: we’re still using a limited number of cows. We can make the apartments smaller and smaller — cut it with as much water as we’d like — but the reality is we have a limited housing stock, and a limited area to build more housing.
And there are rules in place that make this so, as Matt Yglesias points out in his excellent ebook, The Rent is Too Damn High:
A quick visual guide of the impact can be seen in any picture of the New York skyline. There’s a cluster of skyscrapers in Midtown, and another cluster in the Financial District, and then a broad valley of shorter buildings in between. What explains this valley? The phenomenon is so noticeable that an urban legend has grown up that holds it’s caused by the varying quality of Manhattan’s bedrock. The real answer is simpler—the buildings are tall where you’re allowed to build tall buildings and they’re shorter in places where you’re not.
The reality is we are causing a shortage of housing by enforcing overly-restrictive zoning policies that don’t allow us to build ‘up.’
These often-antiquated rules are the real problem with housing in the city, and make everything from the effects of gentrification to real estate prices worse. This is a city of 8.2 million people, and those people all need to live somewhere. We need to increase the amount of housing available to people.
And while land may be sparse, height is not.
I’ve been busy writing things, Internet! Here is a review of the new Curren$y album that I wrote for AudioCred. It’s less a “review” than a response to recent Lil Wayne comments, and how they fit into a larger context of misogyny in hip hop and oh god I’m just now realizing how boring that sounds hey read it anyway thanks.
I’ve also been doing some reporting for DNAinfo. My latest is about the seizure of a T. Rex skeleton that was apparently smuggled from Mongolia. It’s a short one, but it also contains a shout-out to FRIEND OF THE BLOG Laura Griffin, who was all over this story for the Observer.
Here’s some things other people wrote! (Short one, since I’m out the door.)
- Speaking of FRIENDS OF THE BLOG: Jordan Moss has the scoop on error-filled Super PAC mailers supporting Adriano Espaillat. (One mailer appears to have stolen an apostrophe from another mailer.)
- And speaking of DNAinfo: Murray Weiss’ “On the Inside” column has another big story. Four Orthodox Jewish men were arrested for allegedly offering a molestation victim $500,000 to drop the charges. This comes amidst criticism of Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes, who has made it a policy not to reveal the name of sexual offenders in Orthodox communities. The reason, he says, is to make it more difficult to find the identity of the victim.
- Romney to Republican Governors: Stop being so optimistic!
Hey, the G.O.O.D. Music album comes out on August 7! Rejoice!
I spent part of this weekend at my sister’s high school graduation party, which included a bunch of teenagers playing beer pong against my dad and uncles. The oldies had some game, I have to admit.
- Three GOP Senate-hopefuls faced off last night in a debate moderated by Errol Louis and Liz Benjamin. The Times’ Thomas Kaplan has a nice recap here. I didn’t get a chance to watch the debate, but simply from reading Kaplan’s piece it appears that Turner is positioning himself as (relatively) moderate: he didn’t waiver on raising taxes, said he “probably” wouldn’t report an undocumented immigrant working in his home and, while against gay marriage, said “the ship has sailed in New York,” and wouldn’t focus on repealing last year’s legislation. All of these were positions his opponents— well, opposed.
- A judges ruling temporarily blocking a plan to issue 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions is putting the city’s budget process in jeopardy, reports the Times’ David Chen. July 1 is the start of the next fiscal year. The medallions were supposed to raise $1 billion, and highlight the mayor’s hastiness in tying the budget process to a not-at-all-definite revenue stream.
- Bill de Blasio is planning to sue the city if they go ahead with cutting child care programming for thousands of kids, the Erin Durkin reports. Interestingly, his partner in the cause is none other than Letitia James, who plans to run for the Public Advocate position after de Blasio leaves.
- Thousands of people marched silently to protest the city’s stop-and-frisk policy this weekend. From the Times: “As many marchers dispersed, police officers at 77th Street and Fifth Avenue began pushing a crowd that defied orders to leave the intersection, shoving some to the ground and forcing the protesters to a sidewalk, where they were corralled behind metal barricades.” How nice.
- David Storobin, who, after a seemingly decades-long race finally secured a State Senate seat last month, has introduced a bill to repeal same-sex marriage, Capital Tonight reports. The bill has no sponsors or Assembly counterparts.
- The Post endorsed Adriano Espaillat in his race against Charlie Rangel, then wrote a story in which they allege he’s involved in a “charity caper.” To paraphrase Mario Puzo, it’s nothing personal, Adriano. Just business.
- The Empire blog has a cool map detailing the shift in demographics in the sixth congressional district.
FRIEND OF THE BLOG Katie Honan’s excellent “Around the Borough” posts have been so good and thorough that they’ve inspired me to get back to work on this tumblog. I’m currently working three non-full time jobs, but what’s one more (albeit non-paying) gig?
Before we get to it: I’ve been doing some music writing, and subsequently, listening to a lot more music. Here are my favorite albums from the first half of 2012, in no particular order.
Action Bronson and Party Supplies // Blue Chips
Joey BADA$$// 1999
Japandroids // Celebration Rock
Mount Eerie // Clear Moon
Off! // OFF!
Grimes // Visions
Mean Jeans // On Mars
Killer Mike // R.A.P. Music
Schoolboy Q // Habits & Contradictions
Beach House // Bloom
Death Grips // The Money Store
Liars // WIXIW
King Tuff // King Tuff
Cheap Girls // Giant Orange
Now to the nerdy stuff.
- Even though the city gained 25,000 jobs in May, the unemployment rate in New York rose to 9.7 percent, reports the Times’ Patrick McGeehan.
- In what will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Russian-Jewish voters seem to dislike an anti-Israel ex-Black Panther, the Daily Politics’ Alison Gendar reports.
- Meanwhile, FRIEND OF THE BLOG Chester Soria has a nice recap of the Charles Barron/Hakeem Jeffries mini-debate on Brian Lehrer yesterday.
- And according to Buzzfeed, the Obama campaign has given its blessing to Jeffries.
- ~*EMBATTLED*~ Congressman Michael Grimm has spent twice as much on legal fees as he has collected in campaign contributions, according to Gendar.
- Yet another politician running for city-wide office has come out against stop-and-frisk, according to Politicker’s Colin Campbell.
- Also by Campbell: Adriano Espaillat and Charlie Rangel get into it on Inside City Hall. I’d have linked to the NY1 page, but then I wouldn’t get to quote this, from Campbell, in response to Espaillat’s charge that Charlie Rangel’s censure is the reason the Tea Party came to power: “‘As a result of that, we lost 60 Democratic seats in Congress,’ [Espaillat] rather exaggeratedly added.”
- Melissa Chan of the Queens Courier reports that two Korean candidates in the race to replace Grace Meng in the State Assembly could split the Korean vote and “give the Chinese candidate a golden ticket to the general election.”
- And finally, Dick Cheney is still trying to convince people he has a heart.
Chris Kreider celebrates after scoring his first NHL goal. The goal would end up being the game winner against the Ottawa Senators, sending the playoff series to Game 7. (Photo Credit: blueshirtsunited.com)
Back to it, then.
- Good news for Christine Quinn: the council speaker is enjoying her largest lead in the polls yet. A NY1/Marist College poll shows that Quinn’s support in the race for mayor has risen 10 percentage points since September, and she now holds 32 percent of the vote. In second (despite this Dana Rubenstein headline that would imply otherwise) is former comptroller and 2009 mayoral candidate Bill Thompson with 12 percent. Meanwhile, the Daily News surveyed 600 people and found that about half of them would want Ray Kelly to run. Wonder if those are the same New Yorkers who approve of Muslim surveillance and stop and frisk?
- Speaking of Dana Rubenstein, she reports that Bloomberg says it’s too soon to judge Walmart, after a Times report this weekend revealed a scandal involving the bribery of Mexican officials and its cover up. Meanwhile, Greg David says this recent scandal may have cost Walmart a spot in NYC.
- The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case brought on by an Upper West Side couple who want to have the city’s rent stabilization laws revoked.
- More twists and turns in the race to replace Carl Kruger: a judge has signed a subpoena for a former David Storobin consultant after the Lew Fidler campaign accused the consultant of election fraud.
- Michael Powell writes about the imminent closure of Bushwick Community High School and the positive effects that the school had on its students.
- Despite having investigated him in the past, corruption-hater Andrew Cuomo has appointed former-Governor David Paterson to the board of the MTA.
- John McCain wants Mike Bloomberg to support Mitt Romney, the Post reports.
- In response to mounting criticism against its subsidized move to the South Bronx, Fresh Direct has created a website, FreshDirectFacts.com, to help improve their image.
Let’s go Rangers!
In 2002, Jordan Moss reported a story about a Bronx fire that killed an eight-year-old boy. The work that he did would eventually become the centerpiece of the “The Phantom Landlord,” CUNY’s investigative report that was featured in City Limits magazine.
You can read Jordan’s great City Limits story about the fire here, but the abbreviated version of the story goes like this: according to the FDNY, faulty wiring sparked a gas leak at 3569 DeKalb Ave. The building was mostly evacuated. But Jashawn Parker, the eight-year-old son of Paul Parker, was trapped inside.
Remembering a fire-safety lesson he was taught in school, he filled a bathtub halfway with water and got inside. But that didn’t stop the smoke from getting in under the doorway.
By the time firefighters arrived, Jashawn Parker had died of smoke inhalation while Paul Parker stood outside helpless.
3569 DeKalb had hundreds of violations, a bulk of which were class “C,” the most severe. According to a report by the welfare inspector general’s office, one apartment’s “structural stability [was] in question due to rotten floor beams,” while another apartment had a five-foot hole in the bathroom ceiling. And just a day before the fire, tenants called in a complaint about “flickering lights” in the building.
The building’s landlord never paid the fines associated with the violations, the report says, and never did anything to correct them. Ten years later, that man lives in a posh Westchester neighborhood in a million-dollar home.
Jashawn Parker doesn’t even have a headstone.
So here’s the request: Jordan has put together this fundraising page in order to raise money to buy a headstone for Jashawn Parker. The headstone would cost $1,500. As of this writing, Jordan has raised $155.
When Paul Parker visits the site of his son’s final resting place he has to remember which unmarked patch of grass is the right one. If you can spare it, please click this link and donate. $10, $20, whatever you can spare. Thank you.
Photo credit: nyc.gov
Mayor Mike, from the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Bloomberg, whose schools policies are grounded in competition, said making teacher rankings public as the city did earlier this year will “provide pressure to constantly upgrade.”
“We should have all of the data available to everyone,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
An interesting point, Mr. Mayor! I’m actually not 100 percent sure I agree — we’re not sure how good these rankings really are, and I don’t know that the data will really do any good for the public other than to spark a lot of unnecessary outrage — but in general, more data is a good thing. Right?
Bloomberg insisted the analysis of New York’s emergency-response systems would be candid and unvarnished.
But as it turned out, the 216-page report, written by a Washington-area consulting firm, was so damning that it sent fear through the highest echelons at City Hall and the NYPD, which runs the 911 system.
Already a top police official has been reassigned.
“The system is as inefficient and ineffective an operation as you could get,” the source said. “Seconds count in emergencies. People are going to die.”
After learning of the report’s ugly conclusions, City Hall ordered everyone familiar with the document to shut up.
Some people call Bloomberg a technocrat, and it’s true that he’s had a very data-focused tenure as this city’s mayor. Unfortunately, much of the time we’re focusing on the data he’s tucked away.
First, an apology: I haven’t been posting very much at all lately. When I started this, it was an exercise to keep myself busy while I hunted for a job. The job hunt has lasted longer than I would like, and so this has de facto been my job. But I’ve been doing the interview thing and may be headed for some full-time work. Thus, the not-even-sporadic posting. Mea culpa.
Anyway, clicking the link above will bring you to Michael Powell’s excellent Gotham column. Today’s piece is about stop-and-frisk and a surprising former opponent: one Ray Kelly. I wish every response to a questionable Mike Lupica column — including my own — could be as eloquent and insightful as this one.