Cuomo’s Casinos: Bad Politics, Bad Economics

cuomoGovernor Andrew Cuomo has put himself in a no-win position. He has embraced the clamor for upstate casinos and the promise of the slot machine as a means of economic development in the state’s depressed regions. Casinos played a prominent role in the development plan he unveiled in his otherwise outstanding 2013 State of the State address. Compounding that error, Cuomo recently declared that he wants to keep politics out of the process of deciding where the casinos will go.

If the plan to sprinkle casinos across upstate New York proceeds, it will be a black mark on Cuomo’s resume. Casinos represent only a mirage of growth. And there is absolutely no way politics can—or should—be removed from the planning process. Keep reading →

Zombie City

DetroitCentralStationDriving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City by George Galster. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. 328 pp.

Urbanists across America—likely across the world—are familiar with the woes of the Motor City. Descriptors like “plight,” “blight,” or even “ruin” abound. Detroit itself has less than half the 1.8 million population of its postwar peak. Its anchor industry—the automotive—was only saved from disaster by a government bailout. Symbolic of its misery, the city’s economic core greets visitors with a gigantic bronze fist, a monument to Motown’s heavyweight champion, Joe Louis.

In Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City, author George Galster combines historical anecdotes with sociological hypotheses in an attempt to explain its woes. He does not hammer on the statistical indicators of Detroit’s depression. Instead, he pounds relentlessly on what he sees as the city’s dual historical conflicts: labor versus capital and white versus black. Keep reading →