News from 2017
Despite the state’s reputation as a conservative bastion, the Republican speaker of the Texas House refused to pass a number of conservative reforms during the regular biennial legislative session. As a result, the state’s governor has called lawmakers back for the first “special session” since he was elected as governor.
Over recent years the population of both Chicago proper and the metro area have seen steady a decline. As a matter of fact, Chicago is the only major to city to see such decline. The root cause of much of the flight can be directed at the culmination of years of corrupt local government and progressive policies that have financially bankrupted the city.
Conservative candidates on the statewide and national level often write off America’s major cities as areas that aren’t worth attempting to appeal to. They begrudgingly campaign in cities when they have no other option, but rather make a quick entrance and exit for a private fundraiser or rally where their egos will be comforted surrounded by likeminded activists.
By Urban Reform
Uber sent a public letter to Houston officials saying that, unless the fingerprint requirements implemented in 2014 are removed, they may cease operations within the city. Doing so would largely impact the thousands who use the innovative service for supplemental income and the tens of thousands who benefit from its availability.. If Houston refuses to lighten its grip, it will become the largest city in the nation to regulate Uber out of business.
The Republican party has significantly changed since 1968. That was the year that the party platform, in part, read, “[The] continuing decay of urban centers–the deepening misery and limited opportunity of citizens living there–is intolerable in America.” Even though population growth is rapid in urban America, Republicans–aside from a select few–have largely turned their backs on cities, and instead chose to go the route of least resistance.
The Prison Entrepreneurship Program was born over ten years ago in a mid-size private prison 60 miles northwest of Houston. The Cleveland Correctional Facility–or Cleveland Unit–is a roughly 600-bed, men’s pre-release unit sitting on 40 acres. If not for the barbed wire and signage alerting you of its contents, the indistinguishable building would look like any other office.
Today Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a deal that his office reached with the Firefighters and Police pension board in hopes of avoiding the ever-looming pension crisis the city has gradually inching closer to. It’s important to remember that much of the current pension climate is due to increased worker benefits that were approved by the legislature, through a bill carried by then-State Rep. Turner, in 2001.
A relatively new service could change the way that urban dwellers everywhere go about renting residential property. Biddwell – currently only in Vancouver – allows renters to essentially blind bid on apartments of their choice. The company allows apartment seekers to review online listings, as has become customary, and then submit a “sealed offer” on a specific unit.
Sometimes politicians forget that words actually matter, and that’s the case in North Carolina. The Tar Heel state’s governor, Pat McCrory, recently signed into law what he calls a “transparency” bill that drastically limits public access to police camera footage. Under the new law, citizens who are recorded by a police body or dash camera can only view the footage at the discretion of the police chief or sheriff, or by obtaining a court order.
On the heels of Philadelphia’s absurd “soda tax” Chicago City Council passed their own ridiculously oppressive regulation– an Airbnb ordinance. Even more aggravating than the ordinance is that out of Chicago’s fifty city aldermen, only seven voted against it.
The lengths that elected officials will go for a taxpayer money grab shouldn’t surprise me, but certain cases still do. Cities across the country, somehow, justify implementing a world of new and unusual taxes on everything from plastic bags to streaming services, and now sugary drinks.
Recently, UC Berkeley launched a tool to aid Bay Area residents and developers with “smarter housing development.” I find it alarming that the land-use regulations imposed by California localities are so restrictive that it requires the use of an app to cut through government red tape.
Unsurprisingly, government regularly interjects itself into the free market, often relying on the absurd notion that bureaucratic policy will enhance the lives of those it affects. One area where regulation is significantly limiting business growth is parking minimums. Very simply put, a parking minimum is the minimum number of parking spots per square foot that a local government requires an establishment to have.
Street vendors in New York City took to the street last September not to sell goods, but to protest against the onerous regulations imposed on them by New York city council. The regulatory burdens of street vending are somewhat similar to that of taxis. Obtaining a permit can be arduous, it acts as a barrier to entry to those who need opportunities the most, while protecting industry insiders. For potential vendors who do make it over the regulatory hurdles, they are added to a waitlist, which could last for years as they only move up when permits become available.
A barrage of questions have been hurled at the Trump administration centered around specific details of the president’s urban agenda. On the campaign trail, mention of America’s urban areas was reserved for soundbites about the carnage of some of the nation’s inner cities so; understandably, everyone is wondering how he will address that carnage. President Trump has a tremendous opportunity to enhance the lives of those in cities, while boosting Republican viability in urban cores.
Mention California to any Republican and a sudden scowl will come over their face like in deep red Texas where the phrase “Don’t California my Texas” carries significant weight. More often than not, California is associated with nanny state regulations, excessive taxation and its progressive political climate. While this may all be true, it means that urban Republicans across the country can learn a lot from their California counterparts who are finding ways to win and hold office despite all of the cards stacked against them.
Post-election outpourings by Americans displeased with the results have been strikingly uncomfortable. Voters on the right are calling President-elect Donald Trump’s win a repudiation of Obama’s eight years of policy, while those on the left believe that Trump’s rhetoric and platform has led to an increased racially divided America. Indeed, those who aren’t happy with the outcome of the election are fixated on what they see as a racist electorate that felt emboldened by Trump’s political ascension and came out to the polls in droves.
Traditionally, black churches have carried significant political weight, primarily due to their ability to mobilize the largest bloc of African-American voters. But, in recent elections these churches have watched their power diminish, in large part because of their failure to recognize the implications of their political decisions. The divide is two-fold.