The Golden State is often a harbinger of trends to come, such as recently passed fuel taxes and vehicle fees to finance long-overdue local and state transportation projects. But these are now imperiled by an anti-tax ballot initiative.
AP Photo/Richard Vogel Gasoline prices are displayed at a gas station near downtown Los Angeles screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png “ Your gas tax dollars at work/Rebuilding California, SB 1” signs have sprung up on transportation infrastructure repair and maintenance projects from the Mexican border to the Oregon line. Having $5 billion each year to fill potholes, shore up bridges, and pave roads is a pipe dream for most states. In 2017, California finally stopped imagining the “what-ifs” of transportation fixes and got to grips with its state-of-good-repair backlog. Governor Jerry Brown signed a new transportation revenue program into law in last April and the state officially hiked fuel taxes and vehicle fees last November. With little real money expected from a dysfunctional Washington, the onus for new revenues has shifted to states to figure out the best way to keep decay at bay. In California, the Democratic-controlled Legislature came up with a slate of investment...
Low-income housing tax credits survived the Republicans’ draconian tax overhaul, but a lower corporate tax rate means investors have lost their appetite for the tax breaks that have helped build many of the country’s affordable housing projects.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson A low-income housing complex under construction in St. Louis, Missouri R obert Goldman always kept close tabs on Capitol Hill tax talk. Reform proposals had been bopping around Capitol Hill in recent years, but nothing had happened. Before the 2016 election, the Montgomery Housing Partnership (MHP), a nonprofit affordable housing organization in Silver Spring, Maryland, that Goldman heads, had started the intricate financing process required to renovate Parkview Manor, a 1950s-era complex of more than 50 low-rise garden-style apartments that the nonprofit organization owns in Hyattsville, Maryland, a northeastern suburb of Washington. Designed for people of modest means, many housing developers see garden apartments as a tear-down-worthy relics of a bygone era. Luxury buildings with more and smaller apartments are all the rage now, ones that command higher rent than fewer dwellings on a larger tract of land can. But since MHP owns the affordable housing...
AP Photo/Alex Brandon President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Charleston, West Virginia H igh on the list of Donald Trump’s false promises were his vows that his administration would “build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land.” This line, dropped into his 2018 State of the Union address, was just one more instance of Trump’s epic bamboozling. In the real world, where dollars get allocated, it’s members of Congress and state officials—not anyone in the administration—who are doing the heavy lifting. West Virginia’s country roads have been celebrated in song , but in real life they are some of the nation’s worst. A CNBC report ranked West Virginia at number five (tied with Maryland) in its list of states with the worst infrastructure, noting that almost half of its roads were in “poor” or “mediocre” condition. The Mountain State shot up to third in a 24/7 Wall Street survey that added high-risk dams and structurally-deficient...
On August 9, 2014, Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown dead in Ferguson, Missouri. In a final act of white supremacy, the police could not be bothered to cover up his mortal remains. As his body lay in the hot Missouri sun, a new civil rights movement erupted.
Because Michael Brown died that day, Wesley Brown now heads to the St. Lous County prosecutor's office.
Like Watts and Detroit and Crown Heights, Ferguson became shorthand for American racial injustice and unrest. It also served as a catalyst for a small group of people to rise up and underscore that “Black Lives Matter,” a simple rendering of a human condition that sparked an international movement.
Ferguson laid bare the instruments of institutional racism. White officials had long balanced the town’s books on the backs of African Americans through a devious if banal regimen of fines and court fees. The outrage, the headlines, and the federal investigations compelled the resignations of the police officer who killed Brown, the police chief, a municipal judge, and several other municipal officials.
Bob McCulloch, the long-time St. Louis County prosecutor charged with investigating the young man’s death was made of sterner stuff. He refused to step aside and bring in a special investigator to handle the probe into the shooting—even though his own police officer father had been killed by a black man, even though he had deep connections among Ferguson’s finest. Riots broke out again after a grand jury declined to indict the officer who shot Brown.
Michael Brown was about same age as Wesley Bell’s own son. Bell’s own father was cop. After Brown’s death, Bell began preaching a gospel of community policing. He ran for Ferguson City Council and won. African Americans had the power of the vote secured by humiliation, bloody beatings, and death. That right had atrophied but was newly ascendant. Then the city council member decided to go after the prosecutor’s seat.
Bob McCulloch personified The System. Wesley Bell campaigned on community policing, promises to reform cash bail, and a pledge not to seek the death penalty. He won a passionate and diverse following of local and national supporters.
What he didn’t have, most people thought, was a chance at winning.
On Tuesday, he polished off McCulloch by a wide margin in Democratic primary. There are no other opponents on the November ballot.
Frederick Douglass had this to say about struggle, progress, and the challenge before Africa’s descendants in America:
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral andphysical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong, which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. …
If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives andthe lives of others.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File Traffic makes it's way across 42nd Street in New York City screen_shot_2017-07-19_at_4.28.52_pm.png O nce upon a time in the city of New York, the subway was the only way to go. There was no contest between fast, reliable, no-frills trains or the gridlock upstairs. For sheer cultural immersion, nothing is more New York than the subway. Couples marry there, women give birth, kids can learn the alphabet . Besides, where else would a pizza-carrying rat catapult into internet stardom? But upstate in Albany, a parade of governors and state lawmakers couldn’t care less about the public transportation problems of a few million little people. Still worse, they had no compunction about siphoning off big bucks from the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority for more important Empire State concerns like ski resorts . The resulting underground decline has turned New York transit into a travesty, a first-order-of-magnitude hassle of constant delays and breakdowns...