Today’s Headlines

  • $2 bil. Rail link: “But Kyl said giving tax incentives to a city establishes a ‘horrible precedent.'”

    I’d love to heartily disagree, but I’m not clear on “tax incentives.” Anyone? Is it different from how the fed normally allots money to states (“bridge to nowhere,” etc)?

  • someguy

    I think what he means is that this is a reallocation of the post-9/11 Liberty Bonds, which were intended to be used as tax incentives and not for capital projects. Since no more business/residential incentives are needed downtown, NYC wants the money redirected to this capital project. I guess that senator feels it sets a bad precedent to have cities expect they can switch tax incentives into hard cash in the future.

    All of which I myself am pretty neutral on. When it comes to new investments in sustainable transportation, I say the more the better.

  • One interesting headline today is “Complex, Contradictory Robert Moses” by Nicolai Ouroussoff, NY Times architecture critic, about the current attempts to rehabilitate the reputation of Robert Moses.

    I think this article should be criticized mercilessly in this blog. No one was less complex and more single-minded than Robert Moses – and no one did more to sacrifice New York’s neighborhoods and pedestrians to the automobile.

  • Ah, thank you. The bad precedent I see is that government spending needed to be dressed up as a tax incentive in the first place. But Kyl need not be horrified, seeing as all precedents are reversible when the majority party changes.

  • P

    Charles, I think Ouroussoff tilts at a strawman for the most part. I think even the most dyed-in-the-wool Moses critic recognizes the benefit in his work building parks thoughout the city.

    It’s also true that Moses was a product of his times- simply a much more effective product of neighborhood destruction than had been seen in this city before or since. There were precious few community planners at that time and highway builders certainly ruled the day.

    However paragraphs like this boggle the mind:
    Projects like these, in which Moses sought to weave a densely populated metropolis into a broader regional network animated by the freedom of the open road, sprang from a heartfelt populist agenda.

    By what stretch of the imagination could Moses be interpreted as ‘weaving’ populated neighborhoods into a larger context? How is it populist to displace hundreds of thousands of people?

    My past readings of Ouroussoff reveal him to be an unredeemed proponent of the megaproject that Moses excelled in. Proponents of this ideology continue to slough off criticism of past master builders with the claim that they just didn’t do it right. Therefore it is always the _details_ of the ideology and not the ideology itself that is disreputable.

  • xue

    P – i think you are misappropriating what he said. he said “moses sought to weave a densely populated METROPOLIS into a broader REGIONAL network”. this is the larger picture, it’s not about individual neighborhoods. i don’t think it’s inaccurate to see Moses’ network of parkways and highways as an attempt to weave NYC as a whole into the suburban areas of the region. now, this is not to say whether or not that was a good idea – you could certainly argue it wasn’t.

  • P

    Xue, I made my comment on the basis that our metropolis consists of many individual neighborhoods. If you were to step back so far that you can not distinguish the lives of individuals living in the city perhaps you can argue that Moses employed a benign ‘weaving’ strategy. Any closer, ‘hacking’ seems to be the more appropriate metaphor.