In today’s Buzz, suburbs meet the future, the casting of Hamilton cross paths with employment law, a Florida newspaper runs the numbers on WalMart’s demand for public safety services & a Hollywood star invests in workplace housing. There’s also a brief sampling of songs from 1986 to look at where music was 30 years ago. If I missed your favorite, let me know!
Right Now w/ Matt Yager
What I’m Watching: Will Single Women Transform America?
What I’m Listening to: The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby
What I’m Doing: Reviewing departmental budget requests that were submitted Friday.
What I want to know from you: Do you think celebrity activism is more productive or counterproductive?
Suburbia Gets No Respect, But It Could Become a Very Different Place: For years now, Alan Berger has been hearing that the world’s future lies in its cities, that they are the destinations of a great migration, the places where everyone, particularly millennials, want to live. By contrast, according to conventional thinking, suburbia is becoming a dead zone. The problem, he says, is that it’s not true. In fact, notes Berger, a professor of landscape architecture and urban design at MIT, it’s just the reverse. While urban areas are gaining population, the growth is in the suburbs, not downtown. As for millennials, Berger points out that census data shows more are leaving cities than moving into them. “People who are saying everyone will live in the city in the future aren’t reading the research,” he says.
‘Hamilton’ Producers Aren’t Discriminating — They’re More Honest Than Hollywood: A month ago, Workforce employment law columnist and blogger Jon Hyman wrote in his “Practical Employer” blog that the producers for Broadway’s “Hamilton” could not claim race as a “bona fide occupational qualification” when sending a casting call out for nonwhite actors. He was right that they can’t claim race as a BFOQ, but he neglected the reason they should be praised, not condemned, for their practice. I read the post after seeing the show at Richard Rodgers Theater in New York. Hyman admitted in his first paragraph that he doesn’t get the show or why it’s the “greatest thing to come to Broadway in the last few decades,” but I can declare right now: I’m a Hamilhead and have been since the album dropped last September. I’m also a theater geek, so when I say it really is the greatest thing to come to Broadway in the last few decades, I recognize that iconic musicals like “Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “Wicked”and “Hamilton”writer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s own “In the Heights” are included in that timeframe.
How Milwaukee Landlords Figured Out How to Collect Rent and Not Pay Taxes: In response to the nation’s devastating financial crisis, Milwaukee put in place policies to help people stay in their homes; for example, giving residents three years to pay property taxes before foreclosing. But in “Landlord Games,” reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel detailed how, eight years later, unscrupulous Milwaukee landlords are exploiting those policies. What some landlords have figured out is that they can buy a property and collect rent — but not pay taxes — while letting it fall into disrepair. Then three years later, they let the city repossess the property, which erases the tax bill. And then they do it again. And there appears to be scant penalty for shirking upkeep along the way.
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Oceanfront Hyatt developers ask Virginia Beach to hold off on tax incentive decision: As a new Hyatt hotel rises at 27th Street at the Oceanfront, the controversial decision over whether the city should boost the project with a $23 million tax incentive has been put on hold. The developers have asked the city to wait at least six months before voting on the tax rebate. The reason: to give them more time to improve their pitch. The request, which came in a letter to the city last week, is the latest twist in a project that has raised questions about when public money should be used to help commercial developments.
Converting Flagstaff works yard to housing gets more complicated: Demolishing and selling the old Flagstaff Public Works Yard may be more complicated than the city expected. A group of local residents believes that the land on which the old yard sits at the end of Mogollon Street is actually part of Thorpe Park and by ordinance cannot be sold or used for anything other than a park. Rose Houk, Michael Collier, Jim David and some of their neighbors point to a 1957 city ordinance that gives a legal description of the park and states that land is to be used exclusively for “parks, recreational and museum purposes.” “We don’t want to turn it into a park. It is a park,” Collier said. The group contends that the city will have to repeal the 1957 ordinance before it can sell the 7.4-acre parcel or use it for any purpose other than a park. The city is considering selling the old yard to cover part of the $21.4 million cost of the new yard, which is to be built on the McAllister Ranch property on West Route 66.
Godly Issues: North Richland Hills’ New City Hall Opens to Controversy: They may have a new City Hall, but officials in North Richland Hills are fighting the same old battles. We’re talking Old Testament old. It’s all about these four words: “In God We Trust.” Although some North Richland Hills residents made it clear at Friday’s grand opening that they don’t want that somewhere to be in their City Hall. “It’s unconstitutional,” protester Randall Gorman said. “There should be a strict separation between church and state. It should come down right now.” Mayor Oscar Trevino believes the motto serves as a reminder to the people who serve the residents of North Richland Hills, “There’s a higher authority so if we treat somebody with disrespect there’s going to be a day of reckoning, and I think that’s all it’s about.”
Bus or train? Downtown Boise circulator group close to suggestion: His persistence unquestioned, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is about to test his powers of persuasion. In 2008, Bieter championed a plan for a rail-based system that would enhance public transportation in and around Downtown. He ran into widespread opposition from business leaders and, at best, a lukewarm response from the public. The streetcar plan went nowhere. Eight years later, Bieter still isn’t hiding his preference for a rail-based Downtown transit system. The question is how many people he can convince that he’s right — that the benefits of some kind of train circulator between Downtown and the Boise State University campus are worth $88 million more than a bus system.
WalMart – Thousands of police calls. You paid the bill.: Police come to shoo away panhandlers, referee parking disputes and check on foul-mouthed teenagers. They are called to arrest the man who drinks a 98-cent iced tea without paying and capture the customer who joyrides on a motorized shopping cart. The calls eat up hours of officers’ time. They all start at one place: Walmart. Law enforcement logged nearly 16,800 calls in one year to Walmarts in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day.
Local Gov Confidential
The Ugly Story of South Dallas: A new documentary explores the history of segregation, discriminatory policies, and racially motivated bombings that shaped two neighborhoods. “It’s the history of Dallas, and you want to have an appreciation for the city that you live in beyond this rosy history that everyone knows and talks about,” Craig Weflen, the film’s director and a trained architect, told Art and Seek magazine. “It’s important that we recognize these things that have happened in our city as we look forward to building a better Dallas.”
Can Eva Longoria and a little Hollywood glitz help ease the working class housing crisis?: Eva Longoria has lent her name to numerous causes: diversity in Hollywood, education, the plight of farm workers and low-income Latina entrepreneurs. Now the former “Desperate Housewives” star is taking up a cause few would think flashy enough for celebrities: “workforce” housing. Longoria, 41, recently became an investor in a Turner Impact Capital housing fund that seeks to preserve blue-collar apartment units across the country and ease an affordability crisis that has hit minority communities especially hard. (h/t Matt Bronson)
Mayoral Candidates vs. Voodoo Donuts: Portland Mayoral Candidates got together to see who was the best. But they were not debating, they were eating donuts. Voodoo donuts. Ted Wheeler, Jules Bailey, Sarah Iannarone and others took part. Former Mayor Tom Potter refereed the contest. Sean Davis was the winner, eating the three donuts the quickest. Oregonlive Reports Voodoo co-founder Tres Shannon reminded Davis that “nobody who’s won this thing has ever won the election.” It happened on Friday the 13th… seems appropriate for Portland politics. (h/t Erik Fabian)