Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: Unintended Consequences

http://www.citylab.com; February 4, 2018


Hello Everyone:

Time for another edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  A couple of agenda items: First, thanks to another federal court ruling, Customs and Immigration Services will continue to accept renewal applications beyond the Trump administration imposed March 5th deadline.  For more information, please go to uscis.gov.   Second, it is almost Mid-Term Election primary season.  If you are registered to vote, good for you, do not forget to vote.  If you are not registered to vote, stop reading and go to USA.gov/register-to-vote.  Speaking of elections, our subject today is the Trump tax cuts and the Electoral Map.

Tax cuts are typically founded in economic terms but, as Richard Florida writes in his CityLab article "How Trump's Tax Cuts Could Change the Electoral Map," " but they have clear policy aims and implications."  A lot of ink has already been spilled over how the Trump tax cuts are aimed at undermining the blue states and cities.  Their common feature is that they already expensive places to live and, under the administration's plan, costs will dramatically rise.  He adds, "...since residents will no longer be able to deduct their high state and local tax bills and the interest on their mortgages for pricey homes."

A recent New York Times op-ed (nytimes.com; Feb. 1, 2018; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018), by Will Wilkinson of the Nishkanen Center, posits that "the long-term result of the cuts may be unwittingly undermine the GOP's advantage on the electoral map, by encouraging new migration of talented people who will gradually turn red or purple states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina into blue states."  Mr. Wilkinson writes, 

The tax act's ceiling on deductions is likely to make many blue-state metro areas even more expensive--at least in the short run.... With the Republican changes to the tax code, the high-cost dynamic that has effectively redistributed some probable Democratic voters from left-leaning to right-leaning sates will be thrown into overdrive. (Ibid)

This is compounded by the impact of the corporate tax cut, which powers new job creation and new investment in the red states, where the dollar goes further.

If you go to economicgraph.linkedin.com (Jan. 5, 2018; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018) you can check out a helpful series of maps that provide empirical data on the subject.   The first map presents data on "Cities that Gained the Most Workers" in January of this year.

According to the report, "LinkedIn Workforce Report United States January 2018, major Sunbelt cities such as Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix are creating jobs and attracting workers at a faster pace than New York or San Francisco.  The biggest gains were in Sunbelt knowledge hubs like Austin, Charlotte, Tampa, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach, as well as typical blue state cities like Seattle and Portland.

The next two maps illustrate where the red-state bound labor force comes from.

Beginning with Atlanta.  It experienced its biggest gains from New York and also attracting workers from Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami, as well as smaller cities in Georgia and the Southeast.

The city of Dallas drew workers from New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, also from Atlanta, Houson, Lubbock, Bryan-College Station, and surprisingly, Hyderabad, India.

The story gets a little more complicated when we turn our focus toward "out-migration from big, blue, superstar cities.  These workers are heading not only to other expensive blue-state knowledge hubs, but also less expensive red-state cities."

Taking a look at Blogger's hometown of Los Angeles. Mr. Florida reports, "L.A. has lost people to Dallas, Austin, Phoenix, Nashville, and Denver.  The number-one place it has lost people to is Las Vegas."  Right behind Las Vegas are the liberal bastions of Seattle and, oddly, the vastly more expensive San Francisco.  Just as fascinating, L.A. gained the largest share of workers from New York, Chicago, and Boston.  Must have been mild winters and laid back lifestyle.

Taking a look at New York, for a moment.  Workers leaving the city headed towards Dallas, Atlanta, Raleigh, Charlotte, Tampa,and West Palm Beach.  However, other expensive cities like  Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle experienced the biggest gains in New Yorkers heading west.

Next, we have a chart from business.linkedin.com (Jan. 30, 2018; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018), "7 LinkedIn Data Points That Will Help You Recruit Software Engineers in the U.S.," that tracks the "Top Paths for those that Changed Regions," that provides additional information on the flow of workers between blue and red state cities today.  Richard Florida writes, "The chart shows the top paths for highly skilled software engineers who have the potential to make a big impact on urban economics.  These paths are essentially between the Bay Area [San Francisco and the surrounding area], L.A., New York, and Boston."  Essentially, when it comes to this highly prized labor force, "expensive blue-state cities 'trade' a lot of workers with each other."

Bottom line?

As we have seen, there is evidence of a talent migration from expensive coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles to Sunbelt metropolitans in the red and purple states.  The Trump tax plan may accelerate this trend over time.  Mr. Florida speculates, "Still, such a shift will do little to change America's deepening spatial inequality."

The bulk of this trade is, and will continue, to be between big cities.  It will either be a trade between two big liberal cities, or to a thriving red state metropolitan like Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Austin, or North Carolina's Research Triangle.  Those areas have a lower cost of living for knowledge based workers and professionals than New York, San Francisco, L.A., Boston, and Washington D.C., but they are not exactly bargains.  Really.

However, Sunbelt cities like Houston and Austin are experiencing levels of inequality and economic, what Mr. Florida refers to as the "new urban crisis," that could give their more pricey coastal peers some serious competition.  Further, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas are the hubs of the some of the world's biggest megaregions (citylab.com; March 12, 2014; date accessed Feb. 14, 2018), with economies that are among the 25 largest in the world, larger than Australia, Switzerland, or Hong Kong.

Ultimately, the consequence of the Trump tax cuts will be a migration of talent from the large, extremely expensive coastal metropolitans to large, not-quite-as-expensive blue metropolitans in red states.  The electoral map will look wee different, but will remain very uneven and unequal.  Richard Florida writes, "In fact, the backlash that has already registered in our national politics is likely to cause an even greater earthquake in the politics of these increasingly cosmopolitan Sunbelt states in the future."




Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Misdiagnosis? Part I

http://www.citylab.com; January 25, 2018


Hello Everyone:

Here is a breaking development in the Rob Porter scandal Yours Truly reported yesterday: It seems that  the White House did know about domestic violence accusations made by Mr. Porter's ex-wives the past summer and chose not to do anything about it.  In testimony today, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray contradicted the White House timeline, telling members of Congress that that his agency did complete a full background check, necessary for security clearance, and submitted its written report in July of last year.  The report was submitted to the White House, who opted to ignore it.  Blogger guesses that it ended up in the circular file.  Shocking.  Even more shocking, Mr. Porter was in recent discussions about a promotion just before these allegations came to light.  Maybe shocking would not be the right word; more like typical for this administration.  Truthfully, at this point it would take federal marshals descending on the White House and marching its occupants out in shackles for Blogger to be shocked by anything related to this administration.  Alright, enough about that and on to Modernism and mental disorders.


"You are where you live" and where you live affects the way you filter the world (citylab.com; July 14, 2017: date accessed Feb. 13, 2018).  For example, a prison is specifically designed to create a psychological impact as much as a brightly lit pre-school or a serene hospital.  In essence psychology as played a key role in the making of architecture.

Darren Anderson asks this question in his CityLab article "The Perils of Diagnosing Modernists," " Might we discover then that form follows dysfunction?"  This is what Ann Sussman (commonedge.com; Nov. 27, 2017; date accessed Feb.13, 2018) and Katie Chen (Ibid; Aug. 22, 2017) in their essay for Common Edge titles "The Mental Disorders that Gave Us Modern Architecture."  The co-authors focused on two giants of Modernism: Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, suggesting that the "minimalist ahistorical buildings originated in part from autism (in the case of Le Corbusier) and post-traumatic stress disorder (Walter Gropius)."  They imply that "Modernism,..., was a path emerging from neurosis and one that never should have been followed."  Blogger knows you are scratching your collective heads, wondering "huh?"  Let us continue.

Mr. Anderson concedes, "At first glance, they might have a point."  Le Corbusier was emotionally distant and his austere aesthetic appeared to reflect his sense of remove.  He writes, "His desire to reduce buildings into geometric components could be seen as monomania [an exaggerated or obsessive enthusiasm for one thing], as evidenced by his own rhetoric, having once said,

I am possessed of the color white, the cube, the sphere, the cylinder and the pyramid... Take the whip to those who dissent.

Le Cobusier's Ville Contemporaine (1922) and Ville Radieuse (1930) suggested replacing historic streets with anonymous tower blocks.  From any other architect or urban planner, such a proposition would be considered heresy, but can be excused if Le Corbusier saw the world differently.

As tempting as it is to write off Le Corbusier as austistic, it is just as easy to dismiss Walter Gropius as permenantly scarred by his battlefield experiences during World War I.  Walter Gropius's experience, even by the grim wartime standards, was amazingly disruptive.  Mr. Anderson writes, "He survived a plane crash with a dead pilot at the controls.  He spent two days and nights buried alive with corpses after a shell blast, surviving because a chimney provided him with air.  He was shot at repeatedly finding numerous bullet holes in his clothes."  In 1915, he earned a rest from the battlefield due to insomnia caused by nervous tension, but returned to the trenches.  No doubt, Walter Gropius lived with those harrowing experiences for the rest of his life.

Putting aside the legitimate question of "how much of an influence these two figures had on the actual contemporary buildings we live in, whether modern architecture can be modern architecture can be regarded as a singular movement and not a vast complex and nuanced plurality of individuals, styles, and forms--or whether seeing the world differently is intrinsically bad thing--the evidence that modern architecture  is founded on 'disorders' is highly questionable."

Le Corbusier's self-sufficiency was hardly out of character for a middle class Nietzche-reading Calvinist from Switzerland.  He was also quite self-aware of his introverted character; "sending a postcard to his parents in 1909 with a self-portrait as a condor on mountain top."  However, his aloofness was balanced by his desire to connect, once stating,

I felt [on a visit to Italy] an authentic human aspiration was gratified here; silence, solitude, but also daily contact with mortals.

More comfortable being reserved, he repeatedly stressed the utmost emphasis on enjoying the life-giving force of love and friendship.

In his private life, Le Corbusier lived the life of an ascetic, admiring the monks of Mount Athos--evident in the monk cell-like characteristic of his designs.  However, they were not stark prison cells, rather, more like attempts to create a haven amid the chaos of modern life.  He wrote in his seminal book Toward a New Architecture (1923), Where order reigns,...,well-being follows.  He dreamt of a life with obstacles, distraction, and clutter (Blogger's kind of life).  He recognized that for all the benefits of community, people still craved privacy.  Therefore, "It could also be argued that, far from autism, his attraction to minimalistic order originated from his vision."  Interestingly, Le Corbusier began his career as an engraver with a Art Nouveau inclination but gave it up for architecture, suffering from chronic eye problems, ending in a detached retina and near blindness.

Le Corbusier's infamous line, A house is a machine for living, is frequently used to demonstrate something was off with him.  Regardless whether it supports a diagnosis of autism or a dismissal of an architect as a cold insensitive technocrat, it is not the full quote.  When this sentence is placed in context to the full quote, a more humanistic side, 

A house is a machine for living in.  Baths, sun, hot-water, cold-water, warmth at will, conservation of food, hygiene, beauty in the sense of good proportion.  An armchair is a machine for sitting in and so on.

Ever the master of self-promotion, Le Corbusier knew that this concept would controversial, quoted in Simon Richard's Le Corbusier and the Concept of Self (2003):

A long time ago, I jumped in where angels feared to tread... a thousand utterance have bee produced to bat me for having dared that utterance.  But when I say 'living' I am not talking of mere material requirement only.  I admit certain important extensions which must crown the edifice of man's daily needs.  To be able to think, or meditate, after the day's work is essential.  But in order to become a center of creative thought, the home must take on an absolutely new character.

Darren Anderson writes, "What would characterize this new character is suggested by words that recur often through his writing--love, poetry, spirituality, and art."  This makes sense because Le Corbusier was a lifelong painter and sculptor.  The need for clarity was equalled by his desire that space be useful.  Presciently, in the face of housing shortages and slums, he offered a vision of sun, space, trees; that is all what all cities need, adding landscape, protective zoning, swimming pools, childcare, and retail arcades.  Rather at odds with the image of a person who could not relate to people.

Then there is the case of the "solitary and traumatized Walter Gropius."  If Walter Gropius was as horrifically emotionally damaged as portrayed, it certainly did not stop him from leading the Bauhaus, perhaps the most influential design school of the previous century, or becoming, in exile, the most influential professor of architecture at Harvard.

As head of the Bauhaus, he assembled an exceptional, albeit unconventional, faculty that included Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.  Throughout his storied career, he collaborated extensively out resourcefulness and camaraderie, rather then an extension of his military career.  Mr. Anderson writes, "It can be said that collaboration was at the very heart of Gropius's vision for the Bauhaus; a realm where the barriers between disciplines could be broken down in the name of better living through design."

Walter Gropius's architecture was "sober, stylish, and considered, especially in comparison to his wild Expressionist comrades at the war's end."  Mr. Anderson describes Walter Gropius as "...by most accounts, highly intelligent, professional, loyal, and charming."  American architect and former student Paul Rudolph called Walter Gropius, the most dynamic man I've ever come into contact with.  The National Socialist party newspaper Volkischer condemned him not as a "neurotic degenerate or inhuman control-freak but as that elegan salon Bolshevist."

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that if Walter Gropius suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, he hid it amazingly well from his students, collaborators, and buildings.  In his will, he wrote,

It would be beautiful if all my friends of the present and of the past world would together in a little while for a fiesta--a la Bauhaus--drinking, laughing, loving.

Walter Gropius may have been scarred by his wartime experiences but he was not imprisoned by them... 




Monday, February 12, 2018

What Can Cities Do About Immigration

http://www.citylab.com; January 23, 2018


Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a fresh week on the blog, coming to you from the usual hideout.  The Winter Olympics, from PyeongChang, South Korea, are upon us.  The Winter Games opened with all the appropriate pomp and ceremony, including crowd favorite Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless oiled up Tongan flag bearer.  The big news was North and South Korea walking in together, under one flag.  Definitely a moment in history.  Even Vice President Mike Pence's sour expression and feeble attempt at protest could not dampen the excitement of the moment.  Blogger is happy to report that the United States has won medals in Team Figure Skating, Luge (a first), and Snowboarding. Go Team 

Second, Mr. Donald Trump's big beautiful infrastructure plan has finally been released into the atmosphere.  As promised, it seeks to turn $200 billion, doled out in the form of grants to the states, into $1.5 trillion in new construction.  The administration is hoping the announcement of this intiative will divert attention away from the fact that over the weekend, two of Mr. Trump's closet aides, Rob Porter and David Sorenson, were forced to resign in disgrace over allegations of domestic violence.  His aide, former staff secretary Rob Porter, was one of about thirty people working in the White House without security clearance.  Apparently, Chief of Staff John Kelly knew about it, yet gave Mr. Porter more responsibility.  For what purpose is anyone's guess but suffice it to say, this should never have happened.  Of course never one to pass a good moment to tweet, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to defend Mr. Porter, saying he believed in his innocence, wishing him well, and lamented how he was never going to recover from these accusations.  Domestic violence is a serious felony crime that often goes unreported because of men like Mr. Trump who refuse to believe the individuals who report them.  This should never ever be the case.  Too often, reports of domestic violence get swept aside, considered a private matter.  No they are not.  Alright, on to today's subject: Immigration reform.

One the biggest priorities in the Trump administration is reducing immigration by any and all means necessary, even it means shutting down the federal government.  While the nation tries to make sense (rollcall.com; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) of all the confusing messages (msnbc.com; Jan. 11, 2018;  date accessed Feb. 12, 2018)  coming from the White House; Congress madly dashes to create a reform agenda (cnn.com; Jan. 17, 2018; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) that will engender bipartisan support.  Taking a look at the national conversation on immigration, it is not too difficult to sense anger, dysfunction, and basic disagreement over what it means to an American ( newyorker.com; Jan. 20, 2018; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018)

Juliana Kerr offers a glimmer of light at the end of the immigration reform tunnel in her CityLab article "Want Immigration Reform? Look to Cities," "...at the local level, things look quite different: Cities across the country are consistently, decisively, and increasingly leading with polices of migrant inclusion and integration."

Here is a real fact, "There are over 244 million migrants [weforum.org; Oct. 25, 2017; date accessed Feb.12, 2018] today, contributing 9.4 percent of global GDP."  Since most of the immigrants live in metropolitan (brookings.edu; Dec. 1, 2015; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) regions, cities large and small acknowledge their stake in the ongoing debate and are creating polices to promote the social and economic inclusion of migrants and refugees.  The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which Ms. Kerr is the director of the global cities and immigration, has studied the economic impact of immigration for over 10 years and offers nonpartisan solutions to the contemporary realities and analyzes how cities can remain competitive in the global economy.  When it comes to immigration, two key issues intersect.

Juliana Kerr writes, "While we prepare for the next federal-level showdown over immigration policy, cities can institute practical initiatives, may of which which were recently highlighted at the 2017 National Immigration Integration Conference [niic2017.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018]."  Here several way to approach the issue writhing and without city limits.

"Create a mayor's office for immigrant affairs or new Americans"

A mayor's office for immigrant affairs would be tasked with providing a variety of services in support of immigrant integration.  These service would include financial literacy, citizenship workshops, and access to Englingh language classes.  New York City (www1.nyc.gov; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) established The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in 1984 however, between 2008 and 2015, there has been marked increase (welcomingamerica.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) in the number of similar offices opening up in cities such as Atlanta (atlanta.gov; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018); Chicago (cityofchicago.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018); Nashville (nashville.gov; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018); and Seattle (seattle.gov; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018).  This has expanded to cities such as Anchorage, Alaska; Fargo, North Dakota, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.  These cities were chosen for the New American Economy's Gateways for Growth (newamericaneconomy.org; Sept. 12, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) awards, which "which provides matching grants and technical assistance to develop strategic plans for immigrant communities."

"Reassert municipal law enforcement's commitment to public safety"

Contrary to what Mr. Trump and his administration says, the sanctuary city movement (americanprogress.org; Jan. 26, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) does not provide immunity to any and all undocumented immigrants.  Once again, it does not: rather it "...reasserts that cites will not use limited local enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws."  This was the rationale behind Los Angeles Mayor Eric J. Garcetti's excutive directive "Standing with Immigrants: A City of Safety, Refuge, and Opportunity for All (lamayor.org March 21, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018).  Mayor Garcetti's executive directive was designed to "enhance public safety for all residents."  In Los Angeles, police officers are not allowed to arrest a person solely based on their immigration status, because,

...when people feel confident that they can come forward as a victim or a witness to crime, irrespective of immigration status, the police department's ability to protect and serve all is enhanced.

"Develop programs to support undocumented residents"

The cities of Seattle (seattletimes.com; April 5, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018), Washington D.C. (washingtonpost.com; Jan. 9, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018), and Los Angeles (dailynews.com; June 21, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) have established defense funds (washingtonpost.com; Jan. 9, 2017) to cover legal fees facing deportation.  Juliana Kerr writes, "The late San Francisco Mayor  Ed Lee non ounces the city would cover [sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com; Sept. 21, 2017 date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] the DACA renewal application fees for residents. Chicago offers the Star Scholarship [ccc.edu; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018]--free education at City Colleges of Chicago--to all who qualify, regardless of immigration status."

"Implement municipal ID programs"

A municipal identity card provides everyone (populardemocracy.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018)--regardless of citizenship status--with access to important benefits like a library card, pre-paid debit cards, and public transportation.  Chicago launched its "CityKey" (chicago.suntimes.com; Dec. 14, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) this past December, which began as an identity card to help undocumented immigrant feel part of the city.

"Explore strategic priorities with city council members"

There are several other strategies in process that more cities can take on, test, and adapt it to meet their needs.  Ms. Kerr reports, "Salt Lake City, for example, is looking into the possibility of offering a tax credit to companies who provide ESL [English as a Second Language] to employees."  In the Rust Belt city of Akron, Ohio, immigrants are a demographic life saver (thechicagocouncil.org; March 23, 2017;  date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) as the city's native-born population continues to dwindle; "the city recently released a 'strategic welcome plan' [cleveland.com; Oct. 18, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] to be a more welcoming place in an era of federal hostility."

"Join coalitions for collective action"

Some meaningful actions go beyond a city's limits.  One example is Cities for Action (citiesforaction.us; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018), a coalition of 150 American mayors.  An organization like CFA can enhance individual efforts and provide a sharing platform for best practices and add their name to a group statements such as the letter that demanded the administration continue Temporary Protection Status for Salvadoran in the U.S. (Ibid).  Another example is the Welcoming America (welcomingamerica.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) network, a non-profit agency founded in 2009, to provide support to inclusive communities.

"Collaborate with suburban leaders"

This is crucial to bridging the urban-suburban divide around the subject of immigration (thechicagocouncil.org; Dec. 5, 2016).  Ms. Kerr writes, "The 2016 Chicago Council Survey highlighted this phenomenon, with outer-ring suburban residents 15 percentage points more likely to support deportation and reject a path to citizenship."  To close the gap, some urban mayors, as in Boston and the Chicago Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (mayorscaucus.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018) have begu meeting with community leaders to develop a regional approach toward immigration.

"Push for change at the state level"

Goes without saying, change in immigration strategies is also in the best interest of a state.  Civic leaders are working with state officials to enact state-level laws (ncsl.org; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018such as offering drivers' licenses and offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants (California does this).  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner followed Chicago's lead and signed the Trust Act in August 2017 (chicago.cbslocal.com; Aug. 28, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018.

"Demand a seat at the global table"

As cities and metropolitan regions absorb more migrants and refugees, they can no longer be ignored by internal agencies.  Juliana Kerr reports, "Many cities signed a petition requesting a role [foreignpolicy.com; Dec. 5, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] in the UN's Global Compact on MIgration."  Mayors representing New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia have insisted "that it is imperative that municipalities be included in global cooperation, even if the country has withdrawn [theguardian.com; Dec. 3, 2017; date accessed Feb. 12, 2018] national-level engagement."  The cities must work aggressively and consistently to be active participants.

Absolutely there are plenty of things cities cannot do to aid immigrants and refugees: they may not be able to increase the H1-B (temporary worker) visa quotas, grant legal status to undocumented immigrants, or expand TPS.  However, with innovative municipal policies and collective action, they can build the necessary momentum and create norms for badly needed reforms.  While the Trump administration continues to plod its way through how to proceed, cities need to keep moving forward as champions of inclusion and integration.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: How Are Going To Pay For This?

http://www.money.cnn.com; February 2, 2018
                   citylab.com; January 23, 2018


Hello Everyone:

It is a gorgeous and sunny Wednesday, which means time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Once again, Yours Truly is coming to you from an undisclosed location, thanks to a scheduled event at the usual place.  Quick reminder to American fans and followers, Mid-Term Election primaries are almost here and if you if have not registered to vote, stop reading and go to vote.gov for information.  Also, if you are DACA-eligible and still need to renew, please stop reading and go to uscis.gov for the application and all information.  Alright, on to the next agenda item.

Blogger supposes you all have heard the new that Mr. Donald Trump wants a big French-inspired military parade.  Seriously.  No real reason for it, he just wants to waste taxpayer time and money showing off how much he loves the American military.  Blogger has a better idea on how to display your affection bordering on obsession for the military.  Instead spending all the time and money on a one-off event, how about using it toward creating state-of-the-art medical and mental health facilities for veterans.  While we are on the subject, how about establishing a programs that support military families?  Much better use of the millions or billions you want to waste on a parade.  Another suggestion for all that taxpayer money, improving the American infrastructure system, which brings us to today's subject.

One of the things Mr. Trump campaigned on was fixing American roads, bridges, electrical and plumbing systems, airports, and so forth.  Yet, it seems that his priorities are more focused on building a border wall and a big splashy military parade.  Blogger digresses.  Of course the White House has a plan for repairing infrastructure.  We start our discussion with a leaked document (if you believe the headline and the document itself), published by Axios (axios.com; Jan. 22, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018), "No numbers, no funding sources, no percentage matches, reported by Laura Bliss in her CityLab article "The White House's Leaked Infrastructure Plan Is a Road Map With Few Details."  The fact that Ms. Bliss questions the veracity of the document, tells us that either it is just a draft and not the final version or its contents are not certain.  Regardless, let us take a look at it.

Ms. Bliss writes, "President Trump has been promising a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild the nation's crumbling roads, bridges, and water pipes since will before he was elected.  A year and nearly a month on, the promise has not materialized.  Although, some sort plan in principle has emerged, calling for an infrastructure spending package of about $1.5 trillion (thehill.com; Feb. 6, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018), the plan is still light on specifics

The source of the document may have been Jeff Davis, a lobbyist and senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, and Reuters reporter David Shepardson, both of whom "tweeted that the document's metadata reveal it author to be a member of D.C. lobbying firm."  The administration remains tight lipped, telling Axios:

We are not going to comment on the contents of a leaked document but look forward to presenting our plan in the near future.

Despite its dubious origin, the document appears to be in concert with ideas the administration has presented in meetings with infrastructure experts.  Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution Metroplitan Policy Program told CityLab via email,

Everything looks exactly like what we and other were briefed on.

In essence, the leaked document presents three federal funding programs without specifying their cost.

The first and largest program is the Infrastructure Incentives Iniatitve.  Ms. Bliss writes, "This program would use 50 percent of the unstated total funding amount to encourage state, local and private investment in core infrastructure by revising incentives in the form of grants."

Projects eligible for this program include surface transportation, passenger trains, clean drinking water, hydropower projects, and a variety of similar projects.  The federal contribution would be limited to 20 percent, "a dramatic decline from the 40 percent the government currently [ays on average for transportation and water infrastructure build-outs according to the Congressional Budget Office [cbo.gov; March 2017; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018].  Transportation consultant and researcher Yonah Freemark tweeted, "urban transit projects often receive even more--upward 50 percent--from the feds" (twitter.com/@yfreemark; Jan. 22, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018).

The second programs is the grandly titled Transformative Projects Program which would allocate 10 percent of the total outlay to support exploratory and ground-breaking ideas in "transportation, water, energy, telecommunications, and commercial space."  As much as 80 percent of federal funds could be earmarked for capital construction costs.  Laura Bliss opines, "Perhaps Elon Musk's famous 'verbal approval' for building a Hyperloop along the northeast corridor [citylab.com; Dec. 13, 2017; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018] wasn't such a joke after all."  

The third program is the Rural Infrastructure Program, which would set aside 25 percent of the funds toward transportation, water, energy, and broadband iniatives in rural communities that require federal monies to get built.  These programs were outlined in the leaked document, with no specific monies attached to them.

In his maiden State of The Union speech, Mr. Trump boldly announced that he intended to turn $200 billion in federal money into $1.5 trillion dedicated to fixing America;s infrastructure by leveraging local and state tax revenue and private investment (money.cnn.com; Feb 2, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018)  An administration spokesperson told CNNMoney that "their internal estimates found that the $200 billion could shake looks a total of between $800 billion and $1.5 trillion in other investments,...," but failed to further elaborate on the point.

Lydia DePillis wrote in her article "infrastructure plan rests on some strong assumptions," that progressives have criticized the proposed $200 billion as pitifully inadequate, "saying that states and cities are already burned by pension debt and would not be able to raise enough money to finance the 80% of the cost of major project as a leaked draft (axios.com; Jan. 22, 2018) said would be required..."

Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois told a press call arranged by the liberal advocacy group Progressive Change Campaign Committee,

While [Trump] just gave away trillion in tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, he is putting a pittance on the table and expecting cash-strapped state and local governments to come up with the lion's share.

Left leaning think tanks such as the Economic Policy Institute (epi.org; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (cbpp.org; Jan. 30, 2018; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) also expressed skepticism, "pointing out that the Trump administration has previously. Proposed large cuts to infrastructure spending by Amtrak and programs like TIGER grants [transportation.gov; Oct. 18, 2017; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018], an Obama-era pot of money for transportation projects awarded on a competitive basis."

Speaking to CNN, Jeff Davis, of the Eno Center for Trasnportation, said that "while it's feasible to drum up $1.5 trillion in total spending with $200 billion in federal money, the proposal relies on some dubious assumptions."

To help us better comprehend the White House's position, Mr. Davis explained the math.  "According to the leaked document, half of the $200 billion will go toward incentive grants that can only make up 20% of any given project, so that part would lead to $500 billion in total investment."  Are you following along?

Next, "Another $70 billion would go toward grants for rural areas and 'transformative' projects that are more experimental, with the Feds picking up between 30% and 100% of the tab."  Mr. Davis went on to state "that amount can leverage $20 billion, so let's be generous and round up the total to $100 billion."

According to Mr. Davis's calculations the "$170 billion from Washington has gotten us to $600 billion in total investment with $30 billion in federal spending."  This begs the question, "Where does the extra $400 billion to $900 billion come from?"

Most of it is found in the fine print of the leaked draft of the insfrastructure plan (axios.com; Jan. 22, 2018).  The additional billions would come from increased funding for the federal infrastructure credit programs (epa.gov; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) that provide lines of credit, loans and guarantees to transoportation agencies and utilities a wide variety of projects.

Lydia DePillis reports, "Recent loans through these programs have leveraged about $15 million for every $1 million of credit assistance.  If such loans were only part of a financing package, the leverage ration could get as high as 45-to-1, although Davis found in 2015 [enotrans.org; Dec. 15, 2015; date accessed Feb. 7, 2018] that there weren't enought projects that could qualify for assistance under the program's rules."  These projects were considered to big of a credit risk or lacked the proper permits.

Jeff Davis told CNN, These assumption may be fanciful, but they are bipartisan.  Mr. Davis pointed that Democrats have also attempted to leverage small amounts of federal capital to bring in large amounts of private and local money.

People who create private investment in public infrastructure through, for example pensions and private equity funds, believe that the administration proposal could make a lot of deals happen that would not happen otherwise.

Kent Rowey, a partner at Allen and Overy a firm specializing in public private partnerships, told CNN,

Literally dozens of these funds have raised for the purpose of investing in infrastructure,... There's more product than demand at the moment, because we haven't had the catalyst at the federal level to really kick it into high gear. ...It's a terrific idea.

Private investors can see a return through user fees like highway tolls, or dedicated revenue streams, such as sale taxes.  However, Mr. Rowey admits "that model works best in large population centers with robust tax bases, not rural areas or shrinking Rust Belt towns that could really use the help."

Further, a report issued by the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee (jec.senate.gov;  date accessed Feb. 7, 2018) posited that "relying on private investment is risky and can cost more than direct taxpayer funding, since investors expect a healthy return."  The report observed that previous public-private partnerships have not been negotiated properly, shutting out competition that could have resulted in better pricing and public services.

What this all mean at the end of the day?  While it is theoretically possible to turn $200 billion in federal funding into $1.5 trillion dedicated to repairing America's crumbling infrastructure, it probably is not the smartest idea.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

HQ2 And Who?

http://www.citylab.com; January 22, 2018


Hello Everyone:

Blogger has been temporarily re-located to a n undisclosed location to do monthly maintenance and a couple of scheduled events. Nevertheless, she persists.

Alright let us move to today's subject, Amazon HQ2.  The list of possible locations has been whittled down to the lucky 20 cities.  In the interest of full disclosure, Blogger's hometown Los Angeles is among the candidates.  However, what does it mean for each of the cities, in terms of housing affordability, to host Amazon HQ2? Can hosting the second headquarters of the online retail giant make things better or worse for the housing market?  The answer depends on where HQ2 finally lands.  This is the subject of Tanvi Misra's CityLab article "Where Amazon HQ2 Could Worsen Affordability the Most."  Hosting HQ2 may sound like a great, idea in terms of generating jobs and boosting the local economy, not every city in the Top 20 can pull it off.  Just ask Seattle, Washington, the home of Amazon HQ1.

When Amazon landed in Seattle, things changed dramatically for the city (politico.com; Oct. 19, 2017; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018).  Two of the not so pleasant dramatic changes were: a massive jump in housing prices, infrastructure was more stressed, and the promised jobs did not quite materialize.  Eventually, the relationship between the city and the tech behemoth deteriorated (citylab.com; Nov. 6, 2017; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018).

Which of the Top 20 cities (Ibid; Jan. 18, 2018), still in the running to become HQ2, is most likely to follow Seattle down the path of a rocky relationship should their bid be accepted?  Lucky for us, the Brookings Institution has generated a new map (brookings.edu; Jan. 19, 2018; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018), giving us a clue at the answer.

Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program (Ibid) Jenny Schuetz (Ibid) grouped the finalists according to the  character of their housing market, "demonstrating how some are in a better position to absorb the shock of the 8 million square feet in office space required for the operation--and the 50,000 or so high-paid workers it will attract to the city."

Ms. Schuetz (Ibid) divided the 19 U.S.-based finalist into four groups.  Ms. Misra notes, "Newark has been represented as part of the New York Metro, and Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland, have been folded into Washington D.C.  Toronto was excluded because comparable data was not available."  The orange dots on the map: Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Washington, and Miami signify the extremely expensive places where the "rent is too damn high" and the housing is in short supply (nytimes.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018).

The next group are the cities in yellow: Denver, Austin, Raleigh, and Nashville.  These have experienced an increase in housing, in recent years, and continues to climb.  The resulting gentrification stressors (austin.curbed.com; Jan 31, 2017; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018) are causing protests (citylab.com; Dec. 1, 2017; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018).  Should either one of these cities win the right to host HQ2, "...there's a good chance that former residents will be squeezed out[austin.curbed.com; Jan 31, 2017] at faster rates--angering more residents."  Jenny Schuetz wrote,

Amazon's new HQ would make noticeable ripples in the largest cites,.... For smaller metros, the effect could be more like a tidal wave.

The third group is represented by light blue dots.  These are metropolitans such as: Chicago, Atlanta, Columbus, and Dallas, ones where there is more room to grow.  Tanvi Misra notes that according to Ms. Schuetz (brookings.edu; date accessed Feb. 6, 2018), "That these metro have relatively relaxed regulations that allow for an easy adjustment to growing housing needs and expansive office space means that they're unlikely to experience a major crunch when Amazon comes to town."

The last category are the cities marked with dark blue dots: Indianapolis, Newark ("not shown separately in the map"), Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  These are among the cities with ample vacant housing, albeit older, that would require some attention in order to cater to the preferences of Amazon's elite and amenity loving workforce.

No one is absolutely sure what Amazon is looking for as it continues to whittle away at its Top 20 candidate list (Ibid; Jan. 19, 2018).  This includes the cities that did not make the finalist list (citylab.com; Jan. 19, 2018).  However, Ms. Schuetz focused on the ones that did make the list--the ones that are falling all over themselves and each other to attract Jeff Bezos' attention by showing off what they have to offer (Ibid; Jan. 17, 2018).  She wrote,

As the 20 finalists negotiate with Amazon over the next year, local policymakers should be asking themselves and their constituents-whether the benefits of HQ2 will outweigh the social and economic costs. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: The State Of The Union


Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum-the State of The Union edition.  Did anyone actually watch the whole thing yesterday evening?  Blogger watched the live stream mainly to see which Mr. Donald Trump would show up, the good version that stays on message and reads exactly what is on the TelePrompter or the off the rails version.  The good version showed yesterday evening with a softer version of the same divisive message.  It left Blogger in need of an emotional therapy pet.  Kind of seriously.  The one redeeming moment was the Democratic response given by party up-and-comer and Kennedy scion Joseph P. Kennedy III.  Joe Kennedy is Representative Joe Kennedy of the Massachusetts fourth congressional district.  It was a short speech but it provided an optimistic counterpoint to an otherwise downer of a speech.  The quotable moment came when Rep. Kennedy indirectly referred to the Trump administration as,

...a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count (CNN.com; date accessed Jan. 31, 2018).

Mr. Trump's very lengthy speech was mostly a review of his accomplishments in his first of office and outlined a number of proposals he would like (dare we say insists) Congress to consider in the coming year.  Before any of you get the idea that what this president says carries any weight, allow Yours Truly to remind you that this president has a history of saying one thing one day and saying the opposite the next day.  Keeping that in mind, The Forum would like to take a look at The President's maiden State of The Union speech and pick out some key points.

Let us start with Mr. Trump's two favorite words, "America First."  This was the overarching theme he successfully ran on-as president, he would always put the United States first.  At the Davos Economic Forum, he sounded a more conciliatory note when he said America first is not America alone.  Yet, for the first hour annual address to Congress it was all domestic policy: tax cuts, the economy, regulatory change, immigration.  Not one word about how he envisions America's place in the world until sometime into the second hour of the speech.  However, the message was crystal clear: "America First" is not just talk, The President is serious about making it a matter of real policy.

Early during the nearly ninety minute speech, The President made several pleas for that elusive idea, bipartisanship, asking Congress to set aside their differences and work together to "Make America Great Again." 

At one point, The President said,

...Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything (Ibid)

Seriously?  This was the best White House advisor Stephen Miller and his merry band of speech writers could come up with?  That last sentence about believing in yourself, you can dream, you be anything, and together we can achieve anything sounds like it came out of a really bad young adult novel.

This pablum would explain House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's sour expression (and Blogger's need to wretch).  Note to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: never ever tell another woman to smile more.

State of The Union speeches are usually a mix of accomplishments and outlining vision for the future of government.  Mr.  Trump's maiden speech was "...80% celebration of what he has done and 20% talking about what he would like to do (In truth, the percentage might have tilted even more in the direction of Trump's recitation of his greatest hits) (Ibid).  It took nearly hour before The President mentioned a proposal-"a massive infrastructure bill--that he wanted Congress to take up." (Ibid) He kept going by insisting that Congress consider his proposed immigration compromise.

In case you decided to do something like, alphabetized your spice rack, instead of watch the SOTU speech, allow Yours Truly to review exactly what were Mr. Trump's greatest hits over the past year.  They were (dramatic pause) erasing everything that President Barack Obama did during his tenure in the White House.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump campaigned as the "anti-Barack Obama."  This appealed to Republicans in the Plain States, who "saw everything they disliked about big government liberals..." (Ibid) and love it.  Once in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump continued to govern as the anti-Obama," more accurately as the "Obama eraser." (Ibid)

Shall we review how The President erased President Obama's legacy?  He ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.  Quick note to DACA-eligible readers: you can still apply for relief at uscis.gov.  Stop reading and do it now.  Back to the post.  The President argued for the repeal of the individual healthcare insurance mandate.  He signed executive order after executive order (not actual legislation) repealing Obama-era regulation.  Further, he announced that he planned to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba open-a direct rebuke to President Obama's unsuccessful promise to close the prison.

Allow Blogger to remind you that prior to declaring his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Trump really did not have any clearly articulated policy initiatives. In fact, his whole platform was do the opposite of whatever President Obama did and he kept going through yesterday evening.

What about Special Consul Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election and possibly colluding with Trump campaign?  Not a single word or oblique reference to the subject.

The one and only time Russia was mentioned was during this applause line,

...Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.  (Ibid)

Strange that he would refer to Russia as a rogue regime after deciding, contrary to a near unanimous vote in Congress, not to impose new sanctions.

Perhaps it is not a big surprise that Mr. Trump would not even mention Special Consul Mueller's investigation during an 80 minute speech designed to promote unity and bipartisanship.  Instead, he spoke about everything else.  The investigation is tearing apart the political heart and soul of Washington so it is little wonder that he opted to leave it out of his speech.

Finally, It is all about the show.  This president loves living in the spotlight.  The big moment was the notoriously private First Lady Melania Trump publicly surfaced yesterday evening after keeping out of sight for nearly a week, including canceling her plans to accompany her husband to the Davos Economic Forum.  The First Lady was reportedly furious over being blindsided with the stories of her husband's alleged affair with porn actor Stormy Daniels.  The First Lady looked radiant in a white pantsuit.  A shout out to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

The State of The Union show was top notch.  No does stagecraft like this president, believe me.  Sorry, had to channel The President for a moment.  In the gallery were the families who lost loved one to the MS-13 gang (The President really did love saying MS-13) to the parent's of Otto Warmbier, a North Korean defector who waved his crutches.  Their stories were haunting and a reminder that it is not always all about the victories and joyous moments.  

Where do we go from here?  That remains to be seen in the coming weeks.  Another government shutdown is looming large if Congress cannot work out some sort of immigration compromise.  The Russia investigation is hanging like a large black cloud over Washington.  Given the stepped up efforts by The President and his supporters to discredit Mr. Mueller and his team, it appear that the Special Consul is about drop a very major bombshell.  In the meantime, take heart in Rep. Joe Kennedy's words,

Bullies may land a punch.  They may leave a mark,.... But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people United in defense of their future. (Ibid)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Is Broken Windows Still The Way To Go, Updated

http://www.theatlantic.com; December 20, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Today is a big day for the Trump administration.  It is The President's maiden State of The Union address.  Mr. Trump is expected to speak on how great the economy is, immigration, and infrastructure.  Two big questions loom over the annual speech to Congress: First, which Trump will show up?  Trump the good who stays on message or off the rails Trump?  Second, will First Lady Melania Trump actually show up?  The administration is hoping for a reset after the roller coaster of a first year.  Also looming over the SOTU is the Special Counsul Robert Mueller's  investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential Election.  Given the speed and intensity of Republican efforts to derail the investigation, it seem like the Special Counsul is getting ready to drop a bombshell.  Blogger Candidate Forum might tune in to see what transpires.  Alright, time to chat about today's subject: criminalizing gentrifying neighborhood's.

We begin in the epicenter of gentrification, Brooklyn.  Abdullah Fayyad reports on an early morning incident that took place over Labor Day in his The Atlantic article, "The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods."  He writes, "In the early hours of Labor Day, Brooklynites woke up to the sound of steel-pan bands drumming along Flatbush Avenue, as hundreds of thousands of people gathered to celebrate J'ouvert, a roistrous Caribbean festival that commemorates emancipation from slavery."  In recent years, having been afflicted by gang violence, the 2017 pre-dawn parade was very different, according to The New York Times (nytimes.com; Sept. 4, 2017; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018).  Floodlights and security checkpoints dotted the parade route; many of the participants were distrurbed by what they believed was excessive police presence-overkill response to "a comparatively small number of bad actors."

Imani Henry, the president of the police accountability organization Equality for Flatbush, told Mr. Fayyad, There's criminalization of our neighborhood.  The New York Police Department declined Mr. Henry's request regarding security before and during the festival, "citing safety concerns."  His group filed a lawsuit for the information (gothamist.com; Sept. 2, 2017; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018).  Mr. Fayyad notes, "The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment."

Mr. Henry reckons that the increased law enforcement activity at the J'Ouvert celebrate is part of a greater overall pattern of police surveillance in gentrifying communities.  Mr. Fayyad reports, "The lawsuit-which has since made its way to the New York Supreme Court-argues that the NYPD recent increased 'broken window-'style [theatlantic.com; March 1982; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018] arrests in Flatbush and East Flatbush, and claims that these 'police actions have coincidence with increased gentrification.'"

The claim is not just mere speculation.  Over the past twenty years, gentrification has become a regular feature of major American cities.  Abdullah Fayyad cites a typical example, "...a formerly low-income neighborhood where longtime residents and businesses are displaced by white-collar workers and overpriced coffeehouses."  This conventional example aside, "gentrification is a result of an economic restructuring-often leaves out a critical side effect that disproportionately affects communities of color: criminalization."

Let us elaborate.  Typically, when low-income neighborhoods experience an influx of more affluent residents, the social dynamics and expectations, change.   One the changed expectations is the perceptions of public safety and order, and the role government plays in providing it.  Mr. Fayyad writes, "The theory goes that as demographics shift, activity that was previously considered normal becomes suspicious, and newcomers-many of whom are white-are more inclined to get law enforcement involved."  Activities such as loitering and noise violations frequently get reported, particularly in racially diverse neighborhoods (thecut.com; Aug. 21, 2015; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018).  

Harvard sociology professor Robert Sampson told Mr. Fayyad,

There's some evidence that 311 and 911 calls are increasing in gentrifying areas,...that makes for potentially explosive atmosphere with regard to the police.

Long-terms residents incrementally begin to get caught up in the criminal justice system for "quality of life" crime as 311 and 911 calls bring police to communities where they previously did not enforce nuisance laws before.  Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor in Washington D.C., described the situation, "misdemeanor arrests are more reflective of police presence than the total number of infractions committed in an area."  He said,

It's not a question of how many people are committing the crime-it's a question of where the police are directing their law-enforcement resouces,...Because wherever they direct the resources they can find crime.

In 2013, San Francisco launched the Open311 mobile app which allows residents to quickly report quality of life violations like loitering or vandalism by taking a picture and sending their location.   The app can be used for altruistic purposes like reporting homeless people in need of assistance.  However, some are concerned (citylab.com; Oct. 28, 2015; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018) the app can result in unnecessary harassment or citations.   While brokens windows remains a controversial policing  strategy, a 2015 survey suggested that it was still largely accepted by the general public (poll.qu.edu; May 13, 2015; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018), therefore when people witness something, they are more likely to report it.  To wit, when the app launched, the number of 311 calls increase througout the city, and one study (antievictionproject.net; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018) showed that gentrifying neighborhoods had a bigger increase in report quality of life violations.

Mr. Butler recently wrote the book Chokehold: Policing Black Men, believes that the spike in 311 calls is the result of newcormers (i.e. the affluent residents) refusal to assimilate into longstanding communal norms.  Paul Butler told Mr. Fayyad,

Culturally, I think the way that a lot of African American and Latino people experience gentrification is as a form of colonization,... The gentrifiers are not wanting to share-they're wanting to take over

One mechanism of this type of usurping public space, according to Mr. Butler, "is law enforcement."

Mr. Butler's hometown of Washington D.C., where he is currently a member of the Georgetown University law school faculty, provides a case study.  Abdullah Fayyad writes,

"On most Sunday afternoons, a performance group hosts a drum circle in Malcolm X Park, whose official name is Meridian Hill.  The tradition dates back to 1965-shortly after Malcolm X was assassinated-and was intended to celebrate black liberation.  While the drumbeats can still be heard today the ritual was called into question when the surrounding neighborhood began to change in the late 1990s.  New arrivals living in the blocks surrounding the park repeatedly complained about the noise until the police imposed and enforced a curfew (washingtonpost.com; Sept. 17, 2000; date accessed Jan. 30, 2018) on the drummers."

Lest you think that the increased police presence in gentrifying neighborhoods is the result of new neighbor's calling for service; Abdullah Fayyad observes, "police departments sometimes proactively deploy officers in areas that see bars and other alcohol-serving outlets pop up, as they tend to do in gentrifying neighborhoods."  Following an economic analysis, conducted by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department in 2013, created its nightlife unit (mpdc.dc.gov; date accessed Feb. 5, 2018), "...which deploys officers to areas with budding or resuscitated nightlife scenes.  Robert Sampson told Mr. Fayyad,

If you're bringing in more bars, there's going to be drunk people congregating in the street, so you need police to tamp that down...But that may lead to potential confrontations.

Those confrontations can involve officers with bar patrons and longtime residents in the neighborhoods.

Former Washington D.C. police Cheif Cathy Lanier spoke to Mr. Fayyad, telling him, "...when a neighborhood's population and economy begin to change, certain problems are bound to rise."  Ms. Lanier elaborated,

You're going to have traffic issues, and you're going to have everything that comes along with a rapidly developing community,..., So you want to have that police presence there, and establish community engagement long before the change so you can work with long-term residents to help them through the transition."

She added, "Zero-tolerance enforcements,..., can be avoided if the police are proactive in creating a safe and orderly environment in advance of any major economic disruptions."

Be that as it may, long-term residents can still feel overwhelmed by the presence of increased security, not all of whom are law enforcement.  Mr. Sampson said, "private security and third-party police contribute to a sense of over-surveillance.  Specifically,

In a kind of rough neighborhood that's about to flip, there may be demand on the part of new residents for safety that goes beyond what the police can provide, which means more eyes on the street on the part of private police.

Historically, low-income and minority neighborhoods are frequently targeted for heavy police presence regardless of their development status, Mr. Fayyad opines, "gentrification and aggressive policing are two sides of the same coin and tend to reinforce one another."  Paul Butler added,

The concern when there are misdemeanor offenses is that neighborhoods seem unsafe or disorderly and that decreases their attractiveness for gentrification,.... So in a number of cities, people have observed that enforcement of low-level offenses against black and brown people increases when neighborhoods are prime for gentrification.

A primary concern in communities of color is that the increased police presence enhances the risk of police misconduct and violence.  Case in point, "In 2014, when San Francisco native Alejandro Nieto was fatally by four police officers responding to a 911 call, many residents believed [theguardian.com; March 21, 2016; date accessed Feb. 5, 2018] the incident wouldn't have occurred had his neighborhood not gentrified."  Mr. Nieto was accused of suspicious behavior in the neighborhood he lived in his entire life, and it was a newcomer who made the 911 call.  Following a brief confrontation with a neighborhood dog, Mr. Nieto, a former bouncer, anxiously paced up and down the street with his hand on his Taser, according to a passerby who called the incident in.  When the police arrived, Mr. Nieto pointed his Taser at them, which they mistook for a weapon.

Abdullah Fayyad points out, "Gentrification and police violence don't necessarily have a casual relationship."  However, increased law enforcement does create a situation for potential misconduct.  This is true of any neighborhood that experiences a greater police presence-"it's a simple matter of numbers."  Mr. Sampson said,

If you're ticketing more people or patrolling more often, you're stopping more people to ask question on the street,... Now, that's different than pulling a gun and shooting someone, or beating someone up, but the more stop-and-frisks and the more interactions, you have, then probabilistically, you're increasing the risk for police brutality.  So it's sort of a sequence or cycle.  

Paul Butler, offered the case of Eric Garner, who came to police attention for selling "loosies" (individual cigarettes), in Tomplkinsville Park on Staten Island, a common practice since 2006, when New York City sharply increased its tax on tobacco products.  The surrounding neighborhoods already experienced some economic development and there was a spike in misedemeanor violation calls.  Mr. Fayyad reports, "After a landlord made a 311 complaint [nytimes.com; June 13, 2015; date accessed Feb. 5, 2018] regarding illegal drug and cigarette sales taking place outside his apartment building, officers began to closely monitor the area."  Mr. Garner was confronted several months later, by police, an officer tried to arrest for previously selling loosies.  The arrest went bad-later the focus of national attention-when Mr. Garner died after an officer placed in a chokehold.

Paul Bulter opined, 

Before there was this effort to gentrify the neighborhood around the [Staten Island] ferry, I think it's fair to say it hadn't received much attention from the police,.... And you can imagine that of all the crimes polices have to worry about, selling loosie cigarettes shouldn't be a priority.

Gentrification goes deeper into the criminal justice system beyond police surveillance.  "As cities become whiter, so do juries."  For example, in Washngton, it is typical to have a majority Caucasian jury, if not all Caucasian, in a majority African-American city.  Mr. Butler had this to say,

Jurors often have different life experiences based on their race.  And so if the defense is 'the police lied' or the police planted evidence,' that's something that an African American or a Latino juror might well believe or find credible,.... A white person might find that hard to believe based on that person's experience with the police.

The debate over how best to deal with gentrification (washingtonpost; Feb. 6, 2016; date accessed Feb. 5, 2018) frequently glides over these tension, concentrating solely on economic development.  There are some who posit that gentrification is a natural part of the urban landscape (theguardian.com; Nov. 19, 2014; date accessed Feb. 5, 2018), and there are some that argue that municipal governments should do more to regulate the housing markets.  However, there is one question cities have not fully dealt with as they evaluate changing communities: "Are they prepared to decriminalized them?