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City Journal's 10 Blocks

City Journal's 10 Blocks, a weekly podcast hosted by editor Brian C. Anderson, features discussions on urban policy and culture with City Journal editors, contributors, and special guests. Forthcoming episodes will be devoted to topics such as: predictive policing, the Bronx renaissance, reform of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, homelessness in Portland, Oregon, and more. City Journal is a quarterly print and regular online magazine published by the Manhattan Institute.
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Urban policy and cultural commentary with City Journal editors, contributors, and special guests

Nov 14, 2018

Nicole Gelinas joins Howard Husock to discuss the resolution of Amazon's year-long "HQ2" competition. This week, the Internet giant announced that it would open new offices in Crystal City, Virginia—near Washington, D.C.—and New York's own Long Island City, Queens.

Located just across the East River from midtown Manhattan, Long Island City had struggled for years as a post-industrial neighborhood until the early 2000s, when rezoning allowed the construction of dozens of luxury residential buildings and modern office towers. The neighborhood still faces challenges, however: it's home to some of the city's largest public housing projects, and its schools are poorly run.

New York State is offering Amazon more than $1.5 billion in tax breaks and grants to create 25,000 jobs in Long Island City. That comes out to about $48,000 per job. Since the announcement, community leaders and elected officials are already making demands on Amazon. They want to see funding for transit fixes, employment for local residents, unionization, and more. As more details emerge on the terms of the city and state's agreement with the company (one example: Amazon's private helipad will be limited to 120 landings a year), many New Yorkers are skeptical.

Nov 8, 2018

Steven Malanga joins Aaron Renn to discuss the results of this week's gubernatorial elections. States such as Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin flipped blue after eight years of GOP governance. In highly publicized races in Florida and Georgia and heavily blue states like Maryland and Massachusetts, Republicans prevailed. All told, Democrats gained seven governorships.

Ten years ago, Democrats won a host of governorships during President Obama's first election, and 2009 proved be a record year for state tax hikes. A decade later, state tax revenues have still not recovered to their pre-recession levels, and costs are rising (especially for state Medicaid programs). But if history is any guide, tax hikes and spending increases will be on the agenda after years of comparative taxing discipline.​

Read Malanga's story at City Journal about the gubernatorial elections, "A Tax-and-Spend Revival in the States?"

Oct 31, 2018

City Journal's Brian Anderson and Seth Barron discuss New York's upcoming elections and the prospects of a state government run entirely by Democrats.

New York's local politics have long been driven by a partisan split in the state legislature. With the help of moderate Democrats, Republicans have held a narrow majority in the state senate since 2010. This year, however, many of those moderates were beaten in the primaries by more progressive candidates. As a result, Democrats are poised to take over state government in Albany next year.

Democrats in the legislature will likely pass a progressive-policy wish list: a millionaires' tax, rent control, single-payer health care, and more. Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, who appears certain to win a third term, is the wild card. It remains to be seen how Cuomo will react to aggressive leftward pressure from his party.

Oct 24, 2018

Oriana Schwindt joins City Journal contributing editor Aaron Renn to discuss Schwindt's seven-month-long journey to municipalities near the geographic center of every U.S. state, and what she found there: the curious "sameness" of American cities. Schwindt chronicled her travels in a recent article for New York.

In gentrifying neighborhoods across the country, visitors are practically guaranteed to find high-end bars with expensive cocktails, coffee shops with tattooed and bespectacled baristas, new luxury housing in all-glass buildings, and maybe an Asian-fusion restaurant. "The reason so many of these joints feel harvested from Brooklyn," Schwindt writes, "is because they are."

While urban aesthetics are important, coffee shops and micro-breweries are no replacement for serious infrastructure investment and economic development.

Oct 17, 2018

Andy Ngo joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the recent outbreak of violence in Portland between far-left activists, commonly referred to as Antifa, and right-wing groups that gathered to oppose them.

Pacific Northwest cities like Portland and Seattle have long been hotbeds for extreme left-wing political movements. Recently, video emerged of black-clad Antifa activists directing midday traffic and harassing drivers in Portland's business district. A week later, street brawls broke out after an Oregon-based right-wing group called Patriot Prayer held a march in downtown Portland, purportedly in protest of the mayor's oversight of the police and leniency with far-left activists.

Political violence may be spreading to other cities: this past weekend, Antifa brawled with members of the Proud Boys in New York.

Andy Ngo is an editor at Quillette and a writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, The American Spectator, and City Journal.

Oct 10, 2018

City Journal contributing editor Howard Husock is joined in the studio by Shelby Steele to discuss the state of race relations in American society, the history of black protest movements, and other subjects.

Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, specializing in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. His books include The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America (1990), which won the National Book Critic's Circle Award; White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (2006); and Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (2015). He has been honored with the Bradley Prize and the National Humanities Medal, and his work on the 1991 documentary Seven Days in Bensonhurst was recognized with an Emmy Award.

Read Steele's latest essay for the Wall Street Journal, "Why the Left Is Consumed With Hate."

Oct 3, 2018

Mick Cornett joins Aaron Renn to discuss Cornett's time as mayor of Oklahoma City (2004-2018) and his new book The Next American City: The Big Promise of Our Midsize Metros.

America is full of midsize cities that have prospered through smart governance, including Charleston, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Sacramento—and Oklahoma City. Over the last decade-plus, elected officials and community leaders have made real progress on improving these urban centers, boosting civic vitality, and creating economic opportunity for residents.

Cornett's four successful terms as mayor of Oklahoma’s largest city offer a blueprint for reform-minded mayors across the country. "The Next American City," Aaron Renn writes, "charts Oklahoma City's transformation, offers examples of similar turnarounds in other cities, and describes Cornett's personal journey from sportscaster to mayor."

Sep 26, 2018

Bert Stratton joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to talk about Stratton's experience as a member of one of the most despised but important professions: landlord.

Stratton is a musician and blogger, but he makes his living managing apartment units and retail space in a suburban neighborhood outside of his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. He prefers to call himself a "landlord-musician."

Stratton's first piece for City Journal, a quirky essay called "The Landlord’s Tale," appeared in 2012. "Everybody hates landlords," Stratton writes. "Nobody paid rent as a child, so people think they should live free as adults, too."

Sep 19, 2018

Robert Poole joins City Journal contributing editor Nicole Gelinas to discuss Poole’s new book, Rethinking America's Highways: a 21st-Century Vision for Better Infrastructure.

Americans spend untold hours every year sitting in traffic. And despite billions of taxpayer dollars spent by transportation agencies, our nation's roads, tunnels, guardrails, and bridges are in serious disrepair. According to transportation expert Poole, traffic jams and infrastructure deterioration are inevitable outcomes of American infrastructure policymaking, which is overly politicized and prone to short-term thinking.

Robert Poole, an MIT-trained engineer, is co-founder and director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, where he has advised numerous federal and state transportation agencies.

Sep 12, 2018

Edward L. Glaeser addresses the challenges of convincing skeptical millennials and younger Americans about the merits of capitalism in the Manhattan Institute's 2018 James Q. Wilson lecture.

Young people in the United States are moving steadily to the left. A recent Harvard University poll found that 51 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29 don't support capitalism. The trend is visible on the ground, too. Phenomena driven largely by millennials—such as Occupy Wall Street, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and, more recently, the wave of Democratic Socialist candidates for state and federal office--are all signs of an intellectual shift among the young.

Video of this lecture can be found at the Manhattan Institute website.

Edward L. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University (where he has taught since 1992), a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of City Journal.

Sep 6, 2018

Aaron Renn and Rafael Mangual join City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's legacy, the Windy City's ongoing homicide epidemic, and its severely underfunded public pensions.

Chicago's energetic leader shocked the political world this week when he announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor. Emanuel leaves behind a mixed record: he enjoyed some successes, but he largely failed to grapple with the city's two biggest problems: finances and violent crime.

Aaron Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Rafael Mangual is the deputy director for legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.

Aug 29, 2018

John Tierney joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the "First-Year Experience," a widely adopted program for college freshmen that indoctrinates students in radicalism, identity politics, and victimology.

The First-Year Experience (FYE) began as a response to the campus unrest of the 1960s and 1970s to teach students to "love their university" with a semester-long course for freshmen. However FYE programs at most schools today are largely designed by left-wing college administrators, not professors, to sermonize about subjects like social justice, environmental sustainability, gender pronouns, and microaggressions.

While freshmen could undoubtedly benefit from an introductory course to learn basic skills for college, why do they so often get a mix of trivia and social activism instead of something useful academically? Tierney traveled to the FYE annual conference in San Antonio earlier this year to find out.

Aug 22, 2018

Matthew Hennessey joins City Journal managing editor Paul Beston to discuss Matthew’s new book, Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials.

More than a decade after the introduction of social media, it’s evident that Silicon Valley’s youth-obsessed culture has more drawbacks—from violations of privacy to deteriorating attention spans—than many of us first realized. For many millennials, though, who grew up with the Internet, there’s nothing to worry about. And to hear the media tell it, this tech-savvy generation, the largest in American history, is poised to take leadership from the retiring baby boomers.

But a smaller generational cohort is overlooked in the equation: Generation X, those born, roughly, between 1965 and 1980, and destined to play the middle child between the headline-grabbing boomers and the hotshot millennials. Smaller demographically, they are reaching the age of traditional leadership, and they grew up in a less tech-dominated time. Matthew calls on America’s “last adult generation” to assert itselfbefore losing its chance to influence the direction of the country.

“America stands anxiously on the cusp of an unknown future,” Matthew writes. “Unlike the baby boomers, Generation X’s race is not yet run. Unlike the millennials, we remember what life was like before the Internet invaded and conquered nearly everything. In that memory resides the hope of our collective redemption, the seed of a renewal that could stem the rot, decay, erosion, and collapse all around us.”

Matthew Hennessey is an associate editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal and former associate editor of City Journal.

Aug 15, 2018

Judith Miller joins City Journal managing editor Paul Beston to discuss the life of Michael A. Sheehan, who passed away last month at age 63.

A 40-year veteran of the U.S. counterterrorism community, Sheehan served as a top official for the State Department, the Pentagon, and the New York Police Department. As a military officer on the National Security Council staff for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, he urged officials to place greater priority on the growing threat of militant Islamist groups, especially al-Qaida.

Later in his career, Sheehan focused on non-Islamist challenges to American peace and security. He warned that overreacting to terrorist threats had adverse consequences—including stoking Islamophobia that couldalienate Muslim-American communities, making them less likely to provide tips that had helped thwart and disrupt numerous plots.

Aug 7, 2018

City Journal editor Brian Anderson joins Vanessa Mendoza, executive vice president of the Manhattan Institute, to discuss Brian's summer and vacation reading list.

Summer is traditionally a time when Americans can catch up on books that they've been meaning to read (or reread). We asked Brian to talk about what books are on his list this year, how he decides what to read, and more.

Check out Brian's summer reading list, in the order discussed:

Aug 1, 2018

Former NYPD and LAPD commissioner William J. Bratton joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Bratton's 40-plus-year career in law enforcement, the lessons learned in New York and Los Angeles, and the challenges facing American police. 

Bratton began his career in Boston, where he joined the police department in 1970 after serving three years in the U.S. Army's Military Police during the Vietnam War. He was named chief of the New York City Transit Police in 1990, where he oversaw dramatic crime reductions in the subway system. In 1994, newly elected mayor Rudy Giuliani appointed Bratton commissioner of the NYPD. From 2002 to 2009, Bratton served as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. In 2014, he was again named New York City Police Commissioner by Mayor Bill de Blasio, before stepping down in 2016.

In the Summer 2018 Issue of City Journal, Bratton and coauthor Jon Murad (a former assistant commissioner and uniformed NYPD officer) write about Bratton's second tour as commissioner in New York and the model that they have developed--"precision policing"--that could lead to a new era of public safety and better police-community relations.

Jul 25, 2018

Steven Malanga joins Seth Barron to discuss the dismal economic and fiscal health of New Jersey, where individual and corporate taxes are among the highest in the country and business confidence ranks among the lowest of the 50 states. Jersey also has one of America's worst-funded government-worker pension systems, which led its leaders in 2017 to divert state-lottery proceeds intended for K-12 and higher education to its pension system.

When Governor Phil Murphy wanted to boost taxes on individuals earning more than $1 million, he claimed that they needed to pay their "fair share." Murphy signed a budget hiking taxes by about $440 million. But as the recent controversy surrounding a soccer team owned by the governor reminds us, it's easy to show compassion when youre using other people's money.

Jul 18, 2018

Nicole Gelinas joins Seth Barron to discuss her research on New York subway ridership, the future of the city's subways, and the decriminalization of fare-jumping, a reversal of a critical policing strategy that helped fight crime.

Subway ridership in New York has nearly doubled since 1977, but it's not tourists packing the trains: it's city residents. And New York's poorest neighborhoods have seen the biggest growth in annual ridership over the last 30 years.

The subway's future looks uncertain, though. Decades of storm damage, insufficient maintenance, and inadequate system upgrades have led to mounting delays and declining reliability. If city leadership doesn't address the crisis, New York's poorest residents will be most affected.

Jul 11, 2018

Andrew Klavan joins Paul Beston on a special summertime edition of 10 Blocks to discuss faith, depression, and redemption--the focus of his memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.

Klavan is an award-winning and bestselling author, Hollywood screenwriter, political commentator, and contributing editor for City Journal. But before his books became films starring Clint Eastwood and Michael Douglas, severe depression took him to the brink of suicide. 

Klavan credits reading Western literature​ as a crucial life-giving support; it eventually helped lead to his conversion to Christianity. His is a universal tale that all listeners can appreciate and enjoy.

Jul 4, 2018

Joel Kotkin joins Brian Anderson to discuss California's economic performance since the Great Recession, the state's worsening housing crunch, and the impending departure of Governor Jerry Brown, who will leave office in January. After serving four terms (nonconsecutively) since the late 1970s, Brown is one of the longest-serving governors in American history.

While California has seen tremendous growth during Brown's tenure, the state has big problems: people are moving out in greater numbers than they're moving in, job creation outside of Silicon Valley is stagnant, and the state's housing costs are the highest in the country.

Read Joel Kotkin's story, "Brownout," in the Spring 2018 Issue of City Journal.

Jun 27, 2018

Nicole Gelinas joins Brian Anderson to discuss how cities with bike-sharing programs deal with theft and vandalism and how tech-based rental services like Airbnb are shaking up the housing market--and prompting new regulations.

Bike-sharing operators are pulling back their services as urban riders confront an old problem: nuisance crime. From Paris to Baltimore, vandalism of bikes is widespread. In San Francisco and Portland, protests against gentrification sometimes take the form of wholesale property destruction of bikes. By contrast, New York and London remain unaffected by large-scale disruptions of their bike-share programs.

In its 10 years of existence, Airbnb has transformed urban life, making it easier for travelers to book rooms on shortnotice. Yet the company has also aroused opposition, with dozens of cities around the world enacting laws to crack down on its operations over the last few years.

Read Nicole Gelinas's story, "Cycle of Violence," in the Spring 2018 Issue of City Journal.

Jun 20, 2018

Milton Ezrati joins Seth Barron to discuss President Trump's talk of tariffs, China's vulnerability in a potential trade war with the United States, and the history of the global trade order.

A tumultuous recent meeting of the G7 nations, trade disputes with Canada, and tariff threats against China all point to a shakeup of world trade. While the global economy would likely suffer in a trade war, Ezrati argues that the U.S. actually has the upper hand in trade negotiations with Beijing.

Milton Ezrati is a contributing editor at The National Interest, an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Human Capital at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), and chief economist for Vested, a New York-based communications firm. His latest book is Thirty Tomorrows: The Next Three Decades of Globalization, Demographics, and How We Will Live.

Jun 13, 2018

Heather Mac Donald joins Brian Anderson to discuss how universities and the scientific community are being pressured to alter the gender and racial balance in STEM disciplines--science, technology, engineering, and math--and the implications for the American future.

For decades, multiculturalism, quotas, and identity politics have been pervasive in humanities departments at most major universities--but not in scientific fields. Now that's changing, as the identity-politics obsession has penetrated STEM programs, and administrators, professors, and other officials attempt to increase the number of women and minorities in the field, by almost any means necessary. As Mac Donald writes, this pressure is "changing how science is taught and how scientific qualifications are evaluated. The results will be disastrous for scientific innovation and for American competitiveness."

Read Heather Mac Donald's essay, "How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences," in the Spring 2018 Issue of City Journal.

Jun 6, 2018

Business leaders, educators, and nonprofit donors across the country are intensifying efforts to revamp career and technical education in the United States. Recently, City Journal convened a panel of experts to talk about how these efforts can be applied in American high schools.

Fixing America's crisis of long-term, persistent joblessness will also require major upgrades to K-12 education, where big spending increases and centralization of control in Washington have delivered disappointing results.

The panel consisted of Kristin Kearns-Jordan, CEO of Urban Assembly charter schools; John Widlund, Executive Director of Career & Technical Education at the New York City Department of Education; and Steven Malanga, senior editor of City Journal and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. The discussion was moderated by Howard Husock.

May 30, 2018

Aaron Renn joins Seth Barron to discuss the divide between the country's economically-booming metro areas and its depressed suburban/rural areas, commonly known as the "rust belt."

A new report from the Empire Center released last month highlighted the disparity in job growth between "upstate" and "downstate" New York: of the 106,000 jobs created between April 2017 and April 2018, more than 85% of them were in the New York City metro area. Similar imbalances in urban-rural economic development can be found in states like California, Illinois, and many others.

Struggling towns across the country are attempting to revitalize their communities by following the examples of other regions that have successfully rebounded. However, lingering local issues and global economic realities make competing with elite coastal cities a near-impossible task.

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