The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Friday News Round-Up

It was a busy week at UHAB but we made it to Friday in one piece to bring you, once again, the Friday News Round-Up.

  1. The Health Board approved Mayor Bloomberg’s large soda ban yesterday, adding to the philosophical debate about what we want our government to do for us. This has proven to be a very contentious issue among New Yorkers.  Soda companies want us to believe that the founding ethos of our nation, our very freedom is at stake. Mayor Bloomberg will tell us that it’s for our own good, and he will tout that his nanny-state policies (cigarette ban, trans-fat ban) have helped to raise the life expectancy of New Yorkers 2.5 years. In terms of taking a stronger stance on public health, there are other issues we wish Bloomberg would get behind. (What about paid sick leave?) But as City Limits notes: outcry aside, most New Yorkers will probably support the soda ban in a couple years, and it may even make us a little bit healthier.
  2. NYCHA is still in the news. This week one of New York Magazine’s feature articles examined the housing projects (“Nychaland”) and argued that they are “the land that time and money forgot.” We don’t totally disagree – NYCHA has many real problems and anyone who is concerned about affordable housing should call on NYCHA to do a better job. However, it is important to contextualize the nation’s largest public housing program. First, it is far more successful than that of any other major city. One of the reasons for its success is that NYCHA projects are not all isolated on the outskirts of the city. (Though some are.) Another reason is that NYCHA is chock-full of organized tenants who are actively engaged in their housing.
  3. Teachers are still striking in Chicago, in what can be considered a referendum on what we want our public education system to be. Public schools in Chicago are deeply segregated and wrought with problems that school districts across the country are facing. Chicago has also been a laboratory for bureaucratic reformers (including Arne Duncan) that are seeking to shift the paradigm of public education. Recently, this has meant an emphasis on standardized testing and charter schools. We’re standing with the teacher’s union! Stay tuned as this story unfolds…
  4. Yesterday was primary day in New York State. Check out full election results here.

Of course, many, many more things happened this week. Tuesday was the 11-year anniversary of September 11th and, tragically, it was marked by both religious intolerance and fatal attacks in Libya. Our thoughts are with victims of these attacks, those 11 years ago, and all who have lost their lives in the two wars since.

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