Over the past two years, I have had many opportunities to visit my ancestral home, New York, as part of a study out later this week by the Center for an Urban Future about the city's middle class. Often enough, when my co-author, Jonathan Bowles, and I asked about this dwindling species, the first response was "What middle class?"
Well, here is the good news. Despite Mayor Bloomberg's celebration of "the luxury city," there's still a middle class in New York, although not in the zip codes close to hizzoner's townhouse. These middle-class enclaves are as diverse as the city. Some are heavily ethnic, others packed with arty types, many of them more like suburbia than traditionally urban. read more »
The idea that Citigroup could support the family by gambling didn’t begin with Robert Rubin. It’s part of a long tradition. What was different in the most recent go-round is that, this time, Citi didn’t invent the game. Of course, once it got to the casino it characteristically placed larger bets than anyone else.
Word that Citigroup is teetering on the brink of break up brings a certain wistfulness to this former Citibank speechwriter. Not because intensive care is something new for the old bank — it isn’t — but because it ended up on life support by following the crowd instead of leading it. read more »
These are tough times for Michael Bloomberg's free-spending "luxury city." High-end condominium speculators – long considered impervious to the mortgage crisis – are shivering in the bitter cold this winter. Four billion dollars in building projects have been postponed or canceled outright, in large part because Wall Street's bonus babies are getting a tad less than they are accustomed to.
Despite this, I would suspect most of America thinks Wall Street, and New York's financial community, has not suffered enough. Industry bonuses are still expected to total well over $20 billion – small compared to last year's stupendous $33.2 billion, but not an insignificant New Year's present for the very people who have played a crucial role in wrecking the world economy. read more »
It’s been a tough winter for those concerned about dynastic politics.
One-time First Daughter Caroline Kennedy is angling for a Senate appointment from the governor of New York. In Delaware Vice President-elect Joe Biden tapped a longtime aide as a placeholder for the Senate seat he will soon vacate, so his son, state Attorney General Beau Biden, will have a leg up in the 2010 special election. And an oft-mentioned Colorado Senate replacement for Interior Secretary-Designate Ken Salazar is his brother, Rep. John Salazar. read more »
The proposed investiture of Caroline Kennedy as the replacement senator for Hillary Clinton has inspired a surprising degree of opposition – at least from other claimants to the throne, such as the Cuomos, and from those obstreperous parvenues, the Clintons.
Perhaps less obvious may be a wider disdain expressed by even liberal New Yorkers who feel Kennedy's elevation may be one celebrity rising too many. Although the big New York editorial boards are expected to line up, like so many obedient lap dogs, grassroots dissent seethes. read more »
When Mayor Bloomberg deployed his vast personal and political power to overturn the term limits law, he began to demystify the public relations image he had purchased at considerable expense.
It was only then that New Yorkers began to recognize the danger of making Gotham's wealthiest man its chief executive. That recognition is the reason his approval rating slipped by nine points in the latest Marist poll. The public chose a mayor; they didn't expect an elected monarch. read more »
A The New York Times editorial wonders why foreclosure rates are so high in the two Long Island counties it rightly calls the “birthplace of the suburban American Dream.” After all, the area has “a relative lack of room to sprawl.” which in Times-speak should be a good thing, since “sprawl” is by definition both bad and doomed.
Yet it is precisely the constraints on new housing that has served as a principal cause for Long Island problems. read more »
Telecommuting — or telework — is a critical tool that can help employees, businesses and communities weather the current financial crisis, and thrive afterward. However, right now, the nation is burdened with a powerful threat to the growth of telework: the telecommuter tax. This tax is a state penalty imposed on Americans who work for employers outside their home states and sometimes telecommute. read more »
Just months ago, urban revivalists could see the rosy dawn of a new era for America's cities. With rising gas prices and soaring foreclosures hitting the long-despised hinterland, urban boosters and their media claque were proclaiming suburbia home to, as the Atlantic put it, "the next slums." Time magazine, the Financial Times, CNN and, of course, The New York Times all embraced the notion of a new urban epoch.
Yet in one of those ironies that markets play on hypesters, the mortgage crisis is now puncturing the urbanists' bubble. The mortgage meltdown that first singed the suburbs and exurbs, after all, was largely financed by Wall Street, the hedge funds, the investment banks, insurers and the rest of the highly city-centric top of the paper food chain. read more »
Twenty some years ago my husband, 2 young sons and I moved from our cramped 16-foot wide attached row house in Brooklyn’s trendy Park Slope to a free-standing, 7-bedroom Victorian house in the Ditmas Park section of Flatbush with stained glass windows, pocket doors, original wood paneling, a back yard, front porch, driveway and 2-car garage in a little-known, tree-lined neighborhood about 10 minutes away – on the other, high-crime side of Prospect Park. Friends thought we’d taken leave of our senses! read more »