Candidates for mayor should promise to extend Bloomberg’s environmental record.
The candidate who succeeds him will have a lot of solid plans and ambitious goals to work with. The challenge will be to fulfill and expand them, despite the day-to-day emergencies and distractions that tend to blur and constrict worthy visions over the long term.
On this front, Christine Quinn looks good. Her tenure as City Council speaker entitles her to share credit for Bloomberg-era policies like the law requiring the city to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 and the one requiring large buildings, vast emitters of greenhouse gas, to audit their energy use to increase efficiency. Expanding river ferry service, maintaining parks, curbing the use of sooty fuel oil — on these and other issues, she has a record to run on.
The folks at Skeptical Science wrote an epic take down / open letter to London Mayor Boris Johnson. Johnson embarrassed himself in an opinion-editorial published the UK’s The Telegraph. In it, the Mayor of one of the most powerful cities in the world claimed he doesn’t know a thing about science, yet his ignorance and lack of curiosity somehow allows him to understand how the entire earth’s climatic system works.
Epic take down is epic.
Higher temperatures cause increased water evaporation. Evaporated water forms more cloud cover. Add those clouds to winter, and you get more snow. The end. So, either the Mayor is a genuine ignoramus, or he’s chosen the drunken route of power, wishing to stay elected rather than take action and lead.
The letter is a great read. Here’s the beginning:
Open Letter to London Mayor Boris Johnson - Weather is not Climate
In your editorial, you acknowledge your lack of expertise on the subject, but defer to weather forecaster Piers Corbyn due to his alleged accuracy in predicting British weather (that accuracy being generally exaggerated, with manycounter-examples). However, irrespective of his accuracy in making weather predictions, Corbyn is not a climate scientist; weather forecasting and climatology are very different scientific fields. If your cardiologist informed you that you need open heart surgery, would you ask your dentist for a second opinion?
Should NYC build a storm barrier to protect the city?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t too keen on a multibillion-dollar proposal to build tidal barriers to protect the city’s low-lying regions, a measure supporters say would mitigate the impact of future superstorms on New York City’s lower-lying neighborhoods.
"Even if you spent a fortune, it’s not clear to me that you would get much value from it," the mayor told reporters at City Hall in the days right after the storm. He’s scheduled to deliver an infrastructure speech tomorrow.
But one top member of his administration doesn’t think it’s so outlandish. Monday night at Joe’s Pub, in a panel discussion put on by The New Yorker, New York City deputy mayor for operations Cas Holloway said that barriers could be an important part of the city’s disaster-mitigation infrastructure.
New York City experienced $6 billion in lost economic activity as a result of Sandy, he said. The city, he said, is well aware of the need for a practicable safeguarding strategy to avoid such a catastrophe in the future. And though a barrier is not the only possible solution, nor necessarily the best one to guard against natural disasters, Holloway said it wasn’t out of the question.
"At the end of the day, if people decide this is what has to be done, it’s financeable," he said.
The New Yorker editor was leading the panel discussion on climate change, “Gathering Storms,” as part of the magazine’s Big Story series.
“What is the absolute worst thing that could happen right now?" he asked the panelists at one point in the discussion.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Remnick’s question might seem a bit late in coming, but that was also the point. The panel was trying to get a handle on natural-disaster mitigation with the assumption that, despite everything, we haven’t seen the worst yet.
Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress — and President Obama can, too. If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours. And that’s why I will be voting for him.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s clear-eyed op-ed endorsing Barack Obama for President is a must read. Forget the commentary celebrating or criticizing his decision, read his endorsement and think for yourself.
The Town of Groesbeck, Texas is about to run out of water due to drought and dry weather. Mayor Jackie Livingston says the town has enough to last until Christmas, just a few weeks away. After that they’re planning on purchasing water from nearby sources on a temporary basis. They’ll be fine, but stories like these are going to bubble up more and more over the next few years.
Bike Lane Video of the Day! Mayor Arturos Zuokas is very upset with cars parking and blocking bike lanes. Here’s his promo video, which is awesome.
The mayor of Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, was sick of cars parking in no parking zones and bike lanes. Ticketing the cars—often luxury vehicles, no less—seemed to have little effect. So Mayor Arturos Zuorokas has taken matters into his own hands. According to this video, you now park illegally in Vilnius at your own risk.
(Dearest Kateoplis, I swear we posted simultaneously!)
This one really got me today. The loss of Hamidi matters to the field of city planning because, internationally, it sheds light on how Middle Eastern cities typically plan for their future - they don’t. Anyone who attempts to implement a vision for stability, human health and education, and economic development is quickly evicted from power.
I think Jill captures the ‘sentiment of hope’ in her interview, which I hope you take the time to watch here, or below. Hamidi clearly cares about helping the people of Kabul. He just wants to do the right thing. (So does the incredible Jill). Now, juxtapose these human acts against his assassination, here, and you’ll see how challenging instilling “hope” really is in the Middle East.
Hope is continually crushed. Leadership is persistently lost. And I cannot see how it will ever change. Ever. There will never be a Middle Eastern period of enlightenment, and that’s why they’ll never catch up or develop. They need an introspective enlightenment…
I know a courageous city planner, Michael Crane, who contracts with cities in the Sunni Triangle, Iraq. I say ‘courageous’ because he’s been almost killed in assassination attempts. This past spring, in Boston, I invited him to speak on one of my conference panels for the American Planning Association’s International Division, of which I’m a board member. Our panel topic was Challenges of International Planning.
Crane told a story that had everyone in the room the edges of their seats. He’d been working in a 5 story office building in Tikrit with other city officials. Assassins stormed the building in the middle of the day and killed over 30 people. They walked in, went floor-by-floor, and shot everyone on sight until they found the guy they were looking for - a low level, though visionary, city planner who was appointed by the mayor. After this man was shot dead, they got into their trucks and drove away. It was hours before “help” arrived in the form of locals and a smattering of troops.
After telling his story in near tears, he took a deep breath and wrapped up his talk. Focusing on his audience, he concluded by saying that, in the Middle East, the concept of city planning and economic development is completely lost once you enter Iraq. It’s a non-existent enumberance that, when implemented, turns out backwards.
Everything in war-torn, Middle Eastern cities, therefore, is a day-to-day hodge-podge of just fixing things. There are no computers and electricity is random. It’s inhumanely hot. Files and records are lost, and what are kept are impossible to decipher or enforce. Employees, if they show up, steal and bribe. There are no true building codes, environmental regulations, land use laws, or property rights (as we know them). The water is filthy. It’s just a chaotic mess of fixing things - a road gets bombed, the planners work with troops to fix it. A hotel “falls down” from cheap materials, the planners work with new construction crews to build another, equally shoddy building.
I gather that holding all this together is this rich milieu of culturally guided, benevolent anarchy. It’s a system of trust and feud, favors and family. You get things done on a daily basis, not a generational one.
You find bread today, not invest in a bakery for tomorrow. There’s no such thing as “retirement.” Which is fine if it functions well, if there’s support and family and friends to stitch it all together. But, add nasty terrorists to this mix and you get a tattered fabric of hopelessness and horrible death. There’s no hope for the people -the residents and children - when their closest city councils are blown to bits every other week. This was Crane’s blurb for the conference. He went off script for sure:
Michael Crane, AICP, Sr. Project Manager SGI
This presentation will be based on real examples of urban planning in Iraq. It will document personal experiences as planners tried to collect and analyze data, engage the public and politicians, and create new city plans for some of the most ethnically and politically sensitive areas in the country. The audience will learn with the benefit of hindsight to identify and avoid cultural and political pitfalls by hearing from our mistakes. They will also learn of the significant challenges of working in a war zone such as communicating to avoid detection, securing buildings before meetings, and the challenges of working with armed guards.
Benevolent anarchy + functional terrorism equals a reliably desperate community. Nothing can get done, and there’s little reason to hope for a better tomorrow, especially problematic when you have no positive pasts to emulate. It tears my heart. As a result of this formula, city planning in the Middle East is a cobbled together mash-up of corruption, nepotism, short-sightedness, and dangerous engineering (as you can see from the video, some building ‘engineers’ can’t even read). Worse, a military-force response is not the answer, it’s pointless.
Mayor prefers the volunteers to spend their money in his district. This is the dumbest mayoral story I’ve read this year.
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — The longtime treasurer of the Salvation Army in Barnes County has quit after being told not to serve free food to contractors who built up the city’s dikes in response to near-record Sheyenne River flooding.
Mayor Bob Werkhoven said in a statement that the city needs to focus on flood-fighting and that the food dispute is “a non-issue for both the city and the Salvation Army.”
Lori Jury said restaurant owners wanted construction workers’ business, leading her superiors to tell her to stop food deliveries, even during hours the restaurants weren’t open.
"All I wanted to do was feed some hungry men who are working hard to save our community," Jury, who had been treasurer for 16 years, told the Times-Record newspaper. "I never dreamt it would come to this." More, here.