Tag Archives: Urban Studies

How Poor Public Transit Makes Idiots of Us All

This post originally appeared on the London School of Economics Policy Blog.

For more on the public transit crisis, join us for our October 13th forum “Getting Back on Track: The New York Transit Crisis.

By Kafui Attoh

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848

There is perhaps nothing more idiotic than a city with poor public transit. The typical North American city may, in this sense, be the paragon of idiocy. As many have long noted, the US remains rather unique amongst developed nations in the reluctance of its citizens to board anything resembling – gasp!—a public bus.  In 2012, only 7 percent of all US residents used public transit on a daily basis. A whopping 51 percent reported never using public transit at all.  For many, of course, the reasons are clear enough. Beyond the “absurd primacy of the automobile in American life,” public transit in the US suffers the same underfunded fate as so much else that is “public” in this country. To quote John Kenneth Galbraith we remain a society that is “privately rich and publicly poor” and nowhere is this more evident than in the sorry state of urban mass transit.

Only this past summer, malfunctions with New York City’s century old signaling system drew national headlines after millions of subways riders complained of excessive delays, overcrowding, and of being stranded at their respective stops. In the previous summer a spate of track fires in Washington DC’s metro not only led to service delays, and the launch of the semi-ironic website “ismetroonfire.com” but several hospitalizations from smoke inhalation. Where this is the reality in two of our most transit-dependent cities, it is undoubtedly worse in smaller cities where transit often remains the domicile of the poor and where suburban sprawl makes commuting via bus slow and inconvenient. Continue reading How Poor Public Transit Makes Idiots of Us All

Event: Getting Back on Track: The New York Transit Crisis (10/13)

Friday, October 13th, 2017
8:30am-11:30am
Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

This forum will explore the nature and causes of the current mass transit crisis, and will focus on solutions that will enable New York to sustain itself as a world-class city. During the course of two panels, speakers will offer strategies to modernize and maintain the City’s transit systems, with responses from local elected leaders on the crisis and policies to remedy it.

  • Andrew Bata, Regional Manager North America, International Association of Public Transport (UITP)
  • Robert Paaswell, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, City College of New York and Director Emeritus, University Transportation Research Center (UTRC)
  • John Samuelsen, President, TWU International
  • City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation
  • City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor
  • Kafui Attoh, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies, Murphy Institute

Additional speakers to be announced.

Photo by Timothy Vogel via flickr (CC BY-NC)

Prof. Penny Lewis Releases New Book: The City is the Factory

This month marks the release of The City Is The Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age, edited by Murphy Prof. Penny Lewis and Miriam Greenberg.

Urban public spaces, from the streets and squares of Buenos Aires to Zuccotti Park in New York City, have become the emblematic sites of contentious politics in the twenty-first century. As the contributors to The City Is the Factory argue, this resurgent politics of the square is itself part of a broader shift in the primary locations and targets of popular protest from the workplace to the city. This shift is due to an array of intersecting developments: the concentration of people, profit, and social inequality in growing urban areas; the attacks on and precarity faced by unions and workers’ movements; and the sense of possibility and actual leverage afforded by local politics and the tactical use of urban space. Thus, “the city”—from the town square to the banlieu—is becoming like the factory of old: a site of production and profit-making as well as new forms of solidarity, resistance, and social reimagining.

We see examples of the city as factory in new place-based political alliances, as workers and the unemployed find common cause with “right to the city” struggles. Demands for jobs with justice are linked with demands for the urban commons—from affordable housing to a healthy environment, from immigrant rights to “urban citizenship” and the right to streets free from both violence and racially biased policing. The case studies and essays in The City Is the Factory provide descriptions and analysis of the form, substance, limits, and possibilities of these timely struggles.

Contributors:
Melissa Checker, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Daniel Aldana Cohen, University of Pennsylvania; Els de Graauw, Baruch College, City University of New York; Kathleen Dunn, Loyola University Chicago
Shannon Gleeson, Cornell University; Miriam Greenberg, University of California, Santa Cruz; Alejandro Grimson, Universidad de San Martín (Argentina); Andrew Herod, University of Georgia; Penny Lewis, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York; Stephanie Luce, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York; Lize Mogel, artist and coeditor of An Atlas of Radical Cartography; Gretchen Purser, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Learn more or purchase a copy here.

Who Should Control NYC Schools?

This post was originally featured at the Gotham Center.

By Stephen Brier

The issue of who should control NYC’s public schools, like the poor, apparently will always be with us. These days, or at least since Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral reign, that control centers on how many years the city’s mayor will be allowed to play K-12 education’s top dog: one year or more? The answer to that question currently resides exclusively in the partisan clutches of Republicans who control the New York State Senate. They don’t like to miss an opportunity to stick it to the current occupant of Gracie Mansion, grudgingly doling out one year of mayoral control at a time to Bill de Blasio.

But control of the city’s public schools used to be a much larger and much more consequential issue than how many years the mayor gets to call the shots. Half a century ago this issue of control of the public schools roiled the city politically and racially, dividing thousands of parents of color from the overwhelmingly white (and largely Jewish) public school teachers and administrators. Continue reading Who Should Control NYC Schools?

Event: Confronting the Tragedy (4/28-29)

Dates: April 28th-29th
Time: 9am-5:30pm
Location: Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor

REGISTER HERE

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, CUNY, is bringing together academics, labor leaders, activists, students, and policy makers to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movement’s place and responsibility within it. Our two-day conference, Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement, Unionism, and Communities of Color, is the culmination of a conversation we began last fall at a forum of the same name (videos here). These events are designed to examine the complex and interlocking dynamics of race, class, law enforcement and unionism, and thus to support the work of social justice activists, trade unionists, and policy makers to create a more just system of law enforcement.

For list of speakers or to register, click here.

Fall Graduate Class: Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis

Taught by Evan Casper-Futterman
With Guest Lectures by Dario Azzellini

This class will be cross-listed in the Masters Programs of both Labor and Urban Studies. Speak to your adviser about registration.
Monday nights at the Murphy Institute

In the 1950s, labor unions claimed membership in 35% of the workforce. Today, density of labor unions outside of government employees is 6.7%. This precipitous decline in the economic and political power of working people begs the question: who will act as the countervailing economic and political forces to capital and inequality in the 21st century? This course will identify and examine multiple forms of workers’ self-management and cooperative enterprises and institutions throughout history, both as a reaction to economic crisis and as a coherent vision for a humane and just society. The course explicitly approaches cooperatives and self-management not as an “alternative business model,” but as part of labor history and labor struggles. This reconnects the idea of cooperatives to their origins and shows the potential of cooperatives in putting forward different values for a more just and participatory politics, economics, and society.

Faculty:

Evan Casper-Futterman is a 3rd generation New Yorker living in the Bronx. He earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans in 2011, was a White House Intern in the Spring of 2012 in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs and a Research Fellow for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, studying economic democracy and economic development. He is on the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC). His writing has been published in The Lens and The Huffington Post, as well as the peer-reviewed Berkeley Planning Journal. He contributed a chapter in the edited volume, The Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013).

Dario Azzellini, Murphy Institute visiting scholar, is a political scientist, lecturer at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, writer and filmmaker. He has published several books, essays and documentaries about social movements, privatization of military services, migration and racism, including An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy. His research and writing focuses on social and revolutionary militancy, migration and racism, people’s power and self-administration, workers control and extensive case studies in Latin America.