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Seth Barron and Nicole Gelinas discuss the eruption of lawlessness in Midtown Manhattan and other parts of New York City and the inability of Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD to quell the worst criminal violence.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, cities across the nation have seen large demonstrations in the last week. Many have degenerated into urban riots, with violence, looting, and property destruction, in a wholesale collapse of public order. In New York City, clashes between protesters and police in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan turned violent over the weekend, followed by fires and looting in midtown and the Bronx on Monday night. Meantime, the city’s elected officials refuse to tell demonstrators to stay home amid the escalating violence and a still-active coronavirus pandemic.
Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams joins Seth Barron to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, as well as New York City’s looming fiscal crisis, how to address homelessness, the future of the Rikers Island jail, social-distancing enforcement, and more.
With more than 45,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, Brooklyn is one of the hardest-hit sections of the hardest-hit city in the United States. As president of the borough, Adams has responded to the pandemic with initiatives such as distributing personal protective equipment to NYCHA residents and calling for oversight on the handling of coronavirus victims’ bodies. Once the acute phase of the crisis passes, Brooklyn, like the rest of New York, will face a long road to recovery.
Seth Barron and Nicole Gelinas discuss the latest developments in New York City’s fight against the coronavirus, the impact of the city’s lockdown on future growth, and the response of state and local leaders.
As New York continues under lockdown, the effects of the coronavirus outbreak are becoming evident: the city’s death toll has passed 1,000, with more than 40,000 confirmed cases. In addition to health-care professionals, essential public employees like the city’s transit workers and NYPD officers are falling ill at a troubling rate. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have responded to the crisis with varying degrees of effectiveness, but the outbreak has revealed a lack of preparedness for a public-health emergency of this scale.
Seth Barron and Nicole Gelinas discuss the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, the drastic measures being taken to control its spread, and the consequences of an economic slowdown for the city and state budget, the MTA, and New York residents.
New York—particularly New York City—is moving toward a full shutdown. Over the past week, schools have cancelled classes for an extended period and restaurants, bars, and many other businesses have closed. The historic losses in revenue to the city’s public-transit system alone will require a multibillion-dollar bailout, Gelinas believes. Read more of City Journal’s COVID-19 coverage here.
Catesby Leigh joins Seth Barron to discuss President Trump’s draft executive order to give priority to classical-style architecture in the design of federal courthouses, agency headquarters, and other federal office buildings.
The classical style has inspired the most revered and popular buildings in the country—the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court. But as Leigh reports, new federal rules after World War II enabled modernist styles of design, such as Brutalism and Deconstructivism, to set the tone for federal architecture. If adopted, the Trump administration’s order would designate the classical and other traditional architectural styles as “preferred” for all federal buildings.
For nearly 20 years, “food deserts”—neighborhoods without supermarkets—have captured the attention of public officials, activists, and the media, who often blame the situation on dollar-discount stores in these areas. These stores, it’s claimed, drive out supermarkets with their low prices and saturate poor neighborhoods with junk food. But are dollar stores really to blame for bad diets?
Seth Barron talks with four City Journal contributors—Rafael Mangual, Eric Kober, Ray Domanico, and Steven Malanga—about former New York City mayor and now presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s record on crime, education, economic development, and more.
After years of teasing a presidential run, Bloomberg has entered the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Just a week before his official announcement, he made headlines by reversing his long-standing support of controversial policing practices in New York—commonly known as “stop and frisk.” Bloomberg’s record on crime will factor heavily in his campaign, but his 12 years as mayor were eventful in numerous other policy areas.
New York City jails currently house a daily average of about 8,000 people, in a city of 8 million residents. Under the new plan, the borough-based jails (once constructed) will be able to house 3,300 people—less than half the city’s average daily jail population today. As Barron writes, the new target “will likely require a significant realignment of expectations about public safety.”
“San Francisco has conducted a real-life experiment in what happens when a society stops enforcing bourgeois norms of behavior,” writes Mac Donald in City Journal. For nearly three decades, the Bay Area has been a magnet for the homeless. Now the situation is growing dire, as residents and visitors experience near-daily contact with mentally disturbed persons.
Labor unions have dramatically declined as a percentage of the American workforce over the last 30 years. A new proposal from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders seeks to double union ranks, City Journal senior editor Steven Malanga reports, which would mean adding nearly 15 million new members.
Malanga joins associate editor Seth Barron to discuss Senator Sanders’s proposal, which would put new restraints on employers, limit workers’ rights to opt-out of union membership, and make other changes to U.S. labor law. The Sanders plan would also give federal workers the right to strike and force states to allow government workers to unionize.
Corey Johnson, Speaker of the New York City Council, joins Seth Barron to discuss the state of New York City’s transit system and his plan to break up the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), allowing the city to take control of its buses, subways, bridges, and tunnels. According to Johnson, direct control of the MTA would enhance its responsiveness, accountability, and transparency.
“As power outages go,” Meigs writes, “the Broadway Blackout of 2019 was pretty modest.” But energy reliability is becoming an issue in states across the country. California’s largest power supplier, Meigs reports, recently announced that it will begin shutting down parts of the grid to help reduce the risk of wildfires.
Steven Malanga and Rafael Mangual join Seth Barron to discuss concerns that lawlessness is returning to American cities, a theme that Malanga and Mangual explore in separate feature stories in the Summer 2019 Issue of City Journal.
Memories of the urban chaos and disorder of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s have faded, and many local leaders today have forgotten the lessons of that bygone era. Malanga’s story, “The Cost of Bad Intentions” (available soon online), shows how a new generation of politicians are bringing back some of the terrible policies that got American cities into trouble in the first place. On crime and incarceration, Mangual argues that the new disorder will grow worse if progressives manage to overhaul the American criminal-justice system.
Ray Domanico joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s controversial and divisive leadership of the nation’s largest public school system. Domanico details Carranza’s emphasis on ridding schools of purported racial bias in his recent essay for City Journal, “Richard Carranza’s Deflections.”
Over the past four decades, with varying levels of success, Carranza’s predecessors in the chancellor’s job have launched numerous policies and programs aimed at better serving students. By contrast, Carranza has put forth no substantive plan for improving the schools, instead charging that the system is overrun by racial prejudice.
Lawmakers in New York recently passed the toughest rent-regulation law in a generation, imposing new restrictions on landlords’ ability to increase rents, improve buildings, or evict tenants. The bill made permanent the state’s existing rent regulations, meaning that future legislatures will find it harder to revisit the issue.
The Bay Area’s most densely populated and desirable neighborhoods are being destroyed by lawlessness and squalor. San Francisco now leads the nation in property crime, according to the FBI. “Other low-level offenses,” Sandberg reports for City Journal, “including drug dealing, street harassment, encampments, indecent exposure, public intoxication, simple assault, and disorderly conduct are also rampant.”
At the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, Professor Jacob Howland writes in City Journal, “a new administration has turned a once-vibrant academic institution with a $1.1 billion endowment and a national reputation in core liberal arts subjects into a glorified trade school with a social-justice agenda.” Speaking with Seth Barron, Howland describes how, in early April, TU’s new administration announced a wholesale reorganization of academic departments, including the elimination of traditional liberal arts majors. Students and faculty have responded by organizing protests and launching a petition to “save the heart and soul of the University of Tulsa.”
In the first week of April, both cities marked milestones: Manhattan got the nation’s first congestion-pricing plan, courtesy of the state legislature, while Chicago elected its first black woman as mayor.