It's Thanksgiving here in the US. Some people spend this day sharing gratitude and trans fats with family and friends. We're taking the opportunity to call out the Top Five Urban Turkeys.
What's an "urban turkey," you ask? Well, quite literally I guess it would be a turkey that lives in a city. But I'm not familiar enough with any of those fellows to appropriately rank them, so in this context, an urban turkey is a person, place, group, or thing that is in one way or another holding our cities back from being livable, sustainable, and/or prosperous.
Below we rank these Urban Turkeys (or, UTs) in ascending order, making Urban Turkey No. 1 the most turkey-esque and least helpful in our plot to develop the best cities of the future.
One thing to note is that since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, we've chosen to pick on US cities alone. We invite you from the rest of the world to let us know who you'd put on your own country's list of UTs. We also invite you all to vehemently disagree with us in an enraged fashion on the message boards below. After all, it is Thanksgiving.
Actual Urban Turkeys
Top Five Urban Turkeys
5. Los Angeles drivers
Some people in Los Angeles have taken the word "freeway" too literally.
Los Angeles is a great city in many ways, but it's also a US city most often associated with severe traffic and lack of adequate public transportation. To alleviate some of the congestion on the roads, and earn the city some money in the process, a toll (the city's first ever!) has just been introduced on Interstate 110, which runs across central LA -- a move which has apparently enraged many Los Angelenos (despite the fact that this is an optional fee of $15.40 for those who want the privilege of driving in the express lane).
To our friends in Los Angeles (and we have many!), we must say: Please. Get over it. Or better yet, take the bus!
4. The sorry state of transit in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Speaking of transportation, public and otherwise, the City of Poughkeepsie in my beloved New York was ranked by the Brookings Institute as the very worst city in the United States for having public transportation that connects people with jobs. According to the report, only 8 percent of jobs in Poughkeepsie are reachable by transit in 90 minutes or less. For shame!
3. Central office Turkey: Verizon
Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit Lower Manhattan, Verizon was still struggling to restore service to a 90,000-cubic-foot cable vault that serves -- er, make that served -- thousands of customers with DSL and voice networking. While the effort to rescue the drowned central office has drawn some rather breathless coverage from general media, closer inspection shows that Verizon not only hadn't kept this cabling up to date, it hadn't arranged for disaster failover. Things are so bad that Verizon has been forced to upgrade the facilities to fiber, replacing irreparable and ancient copper wiring. Surely, some of this could have been avoided. But Verizon had other FiOS fish to fry, didn't it?
2. Stanley Kurtz and other fear-of-city mongers
As we recently wrote, there's a book by a fellow named Kurtz called Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. Now, who better to call "turkey" than someone who would write a book like that?
Well, perhaps the lunatic individual who wrote this review of Kurtz's book on Amazon.com:
For more than two decades, Obama and his fellow radical community activists, agitators have been working toward punishing all those people who voted with their feet and fled the cities and left them filled with only poor and minority residents...
The reviewer goes on to say, "This volume is exceptionally easy to read." We're not surprised.
In any case, not only is this destructive to the progress of our future cities, it's also simply not true that the government is working in favor of cities. Which brings us to the No. 1 turkey!
1. The United States Federal Government
Our Top Urban Turkey leg goes straight to the government of the United States, which is doing as little as possible to effectively take care of the country's cities.
Earlier this week, Manny Diaz, former mayor of Miami, came by the Future Cities office, and shared his thoughts with us about partisanship in Washington and its toxic effect on cities:
Washington, really if you think about it, since probably the Reagan presidency, has tried to shift more and more issues down to the local level. And that's where it becomes unfair. For example, there's less and less funding for education, yet the need continues to exist... How can you on the one hand say that you're for creating jobs... but you're cutting education? Education is the foundation for a job.
For that reason (oh, and for not investing in infrastructure, transportation, or new energy sources, and for continuing to debate climate change, and for many, many, MANY other reasons, the Congress of the US of A wins our highest honors for being the worst for our cities.
— Nicole Ferraro, , Editor in Chief, UBM's Future Cities