Douglas Carlucci

Public space and politics

Oct 5

Remarkably prescient.

Sep 17
“'Money surrounds college sports,' says Domonique Foxworth, who is a cornerback for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and an executive-committee member for the NFL Players Association, and played for the University of Maryland. 'And every player knows those millions are floating around only because of the 18-to-22-year-olds.' Yes, he told me, even the second-string punter believes a miracle might lift him into the NFL, and why not? In all the many pages of the three voluminous Knight Commission reports, there is but one paragraph that addresses the real-life choices for college athletes. 'Approximately 1 percent of NCAA men’s basketball players and 2 percent of NCAA football players are drafted by NBA or NFL teams,' stated the 2001 report, basing its figures on a review of the previous 10 years, 'and just being drafted is no assurance of a successful professional career.' Warning that the odds against professional athletic success are 'astronomically high,' the Knight Commission counsels college athletes to avoid a “rude surprise” and to stick to regular studies. This is sound advice as far as it goes, but it’s a bromide that pinches off discussion. Nothing in the typical college curriculum teaches a sweat-stained guard at Clemson or Purdue what his monetary value to the university is. Nothing prods students to think independently about amateurism—because the universities themselves have too much invested in its preservation. Stifling thought, the universities, in league with the NCAA, have failed their own primary mission by providing an empty, cynical education on college sports.” The Atlantic, “The Shame of College Sports" by Taylor Branch

Sep 15
“Additionally, Brindle suggests raising the limits on how much money contractors can donate without being penalized, from the current $300 to about $1,000. He also suggests that more contractors who do business with government agencies be required to file annual disclosure reports. Those with contracts of $50,000 or more currently are required to list their campaign contribution and public contracts; Brindle suggests requiring disclosures from contractors with as little as $17,500 worth of government business. ‘Combined with competitive bidding reform, as suggested by the comptroller, together, these changes together would, I believe, constitute the strongest pay-to-play law in the nation,’ Brindle said. ‘Unfortunately, New Jersey’s political history is littered with examples of private contractors securing lucrative contracts through targeted contributions.’” AP, “Report: Serious flaws in NJ pay-to-play law

Sep 14
“Even before the crisis, America was on track for its worst decade for job creation in at least half a century, says Mr Manyika of the McKinsey Global Institute. As the institute sees it, there are three main types of work: transformational (typically involving physical activity, such as construction); transactional (such as routine jobs in call centres or banks, often still done by people but capable of being automated); and interactional (relying on knowledge, expertise and collaboration with others, such as investment banking or management consultancy). Transformational work has been in long-term decline in most rich countries, shifting to emerging markets, particularly China, though wages in Chinese factories are now soaring. Now a wave of labour arbitrage and the substitution of technology for humans is starting to sweep through transactional work, wiping out many routine white-collar jobs in rich countries. But interactional work, says Mr Manyika, is unlikely to go the same way, because it is inherently difficult to standardise. In this kind of work technology tends to enhance human capabilities, often creating a “winner-takes-all” market in which the best performers are paid disproportionately well.” The Economist, “Labour-market trends: Winners and losers”

Sep 13

Devil May Care

In 2007, NJ Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek pretended to care about Newark and snookered the city into spending a quarter billion dollars on an arena. Newark pretended it was an investment in the city’s economy. Smarter folks knew the hockey team was merely fobbing off unaffordable capital costs onto a poorly-managed municipality. Because the team is worse than broke:

Even if managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek cannot come up with the cash by that time it is unlikely that creditors will lock the doors to the Prudential Center because the hockey team and its arena management company likely owe significantly more money than they could be sold for. Last December show we valued the Devils (plus the revenue the team gets from non-NHL events at the arena) at $218 million with debt of $250 million for a negative book value of $32 million.

In 2008, the team promptly screwed the city and skipped its rent payments. Business development around the Prudential Center—excepting parking lots—has been minimal. Subsidizing professional sports facilities is always a mistake.

Sep 12
“Brill does have one piece of news. He writes that Bloomberg started planning to overturn mayoral term limits and run for a third term as early as 2006, not in 2009—as he publicly claimed at the time—in response to the economic crisis of 2008. Because Bloomberg secretly intended to run again, Brill claims, he tied Joel Klein’s hands in negotiating with the teachers’ union and dramatically expanded the city’s pension liabilities while getting insignificant concessions from the union in return. Brill’s book is actually not about education or education research. He seems to know or care little about either subject. His book is about politics and power, about how a small group of extremely wealthy men have captured national education policy and have gained control over education in states such as Colorado and Florida, and, with the help of the Obama administration, are expanding their dominance to many more states. Brill sees this as a wonderful development. Others might see it as a dangerous corruption of the democratic process.” NYRB, Diane Ravitch. “School ‘Reform’: A Failing Grade”

Sep 10
“In addition, the police were giving extra scrutiny to reports of stolen trucks and vans, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman. Specifically, investigators were working to find a Budget rental van, with Oklahoma license plates, that was taken from a lot in Jersey City on Aug. 21 by thieves who cut lines to the phone and alarm systems and tampered with the security cameras. They were also trying to find two dark-colored vans that were loaded with expensive tools and stolen this month from a construction company with a contract to do road work on the West Side Highway, near ground zero.” New York Times

“But this year the State Legislature passed a new law that forces counties and municipalities to do away with, and stop enforcing, their own firearms and ammunition ordinances by Oct. 1. Mayors, council and commission members will risk a $5,000 fine and removal from office if they “knowingly and willfully violate” the law. Towns that enforce their ordinances risk a $100,000 fine. To comply with the law, cities and counties are poring over their gun ordinances, repealing laws and removing gun-related signs. In Palm Beach County that means removing ordinances that ban people from taking guns into county government buildings and local parks and from firing guns in some of its most urban areas. In Groveland, that means they can fire their guns into the air to celebrate. And in Lake County, firearms will soon be allowed in libraries.” N.Y. Times, ‘Florida Forces Cities to Pull Local Laws Restricting Guns

Sep 9

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