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Breakfast links: Thomas gone


Photo by In Shaw on Flickr.
Thomas to resign: Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. will resign as part of a plea with federal prosecutors, WUSA9 reports. Thomas allegedly misappropriated $300,000 in city funds designated for youth sports.

Union contract up: The contract between WMATA and ATU Local 689 ends in June. Metro officials hope to curb pensions and cap overtime hours. (Examiner)

Ride sharing drafted: BRAC has led government officials to come up with an innovative smart phone based ride sharing system similar to slugging for military and contractors. (Examiner)

Commission vs. Authority: The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is trying to avoid being merged with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The NVTC claims that the two groups serve different regions and have different focuses. (Post)

Go to college: Chairman Kwame Brown wants to make applying for college mandatory for DCPS students. He hopes to get students who previously would not have thought about college to go. (WAMU)

Blame the government: Foreign real estate investors are less enthusiastic about investing in DC-area property while a local report predicts commercial leasing will remain sluggish. Both blame uncertainty about government spending. (GlobeSt, CityBizList)

And...: DC apartment rents may rise less quickly thanks to new supply. (UrbanTurf) ... Republican candidates have said little about urban and transportation issues thus far. (Streetsblog) ... New York City enjoys the highest life expectancy in the nation, mainly thanks to its urban environment. (GOOD)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

Comments

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Re: Ride Sharing

"The new program, called real-time ridesharing, will allow commuters to find rides from wherever and whenever they need using a smart phone app."

If drivers are also using the app to locate riders while driving is that what we really want?

by JeffB on Jan 4, 2012 8:59 am • linkreport

Minnesota and Hawaii both have life expectancies higher than NYC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_life_expectancy

Maybe since 2005, when that was published, life expectancy has gone down.

by Jazzy on Jan 4, 2012 9:31 am • linkreport

New housing supply keeping prices relatively stable? Supply and demand affect each other? I'm shocked, absolutely shocked.

by cmc on Jan 4, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

Foreign real estate investors are less enthusiastic about investing in DC-area property while a local report predicts commercial leasing will remain sluggish. Both blame uncertainty about government spending.

Wait, so isn't the real story here that, *globally*, DC is second only to NYC in most attractive cities for foreign investment? I had no idea.

by oboe on Jan 4, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

I'm a big union supporter, but ATU Local 689 and WMATA together have presided over a transit system notorious for employees with really bad attititudes--and worse--that simply cannot be gotten rid of. It's like those two parties both forgot that the riding public ought to be their primary concern.

by Crickey7 on Jan 4, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

@oboe

The story is poorly worded on this point, but it appears DC is third in the world behind New York and London. Obviously, that's still pretty good.

by Steven Yates on Jan 4, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

@Steven,

Ah, looks like you're right:

In the 2012 survey, New York, like last year, is the top choice for foreign investors and Washington, DC—again as in 2011—is the second destination choice. However, DC’s appeal has clearly diminished in the eyes of many investors.

“Washington DC got far fewer votes in this survey than it did in last year’s survey,” Fetgatter says—enough to retain the number two position, but just barely. Indeed, the DC market lost its number two slot in the global rankings to the city of London.

So presumably DC is the number two market in the US (to the global leader, NYC), and was effectively tied for second with London globally.

And arguably, the reason for DCs diminished attractiveness is based on a misunderstanding of US domestic politics. If US history teaches us anything, it's that politicians have no stomach for--and US voters have no interest in-- meaningful cuts to the size of the Federal government.

by oboe on Jan 4, 2012 10:13 am • linkreport

How much would the potential Ward 5 special election cost taxpayers?

by William on Jan 4, 2012 10:29 am • linkreport

I think the jury is still out on whether urban areas in and of themselves provide the conditions for the longest life expectancies. In the UK it was found that rural and suburban areas offer longer life expectancies than cities.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/25/rural-idyll-boots-life-expectancy

http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/files/Health.pdf

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/jun/08/life-expectancy-uk-health-mapped

The data also shows that west coast cities have higher life expectancies than east coast cities -- the conventional wisdom? That the lifestyle is more relaxed there. Quite antithetical to the notion that a frenetic New York lifestyle per se results in a higher life expectancy.

Perhaps New York is a city that executes excellent public health initiatives for its residents, and if a suburb or rural area replicated those initiatives, they might see life expectancies jump as well. It bears mentioning that the District of Columbia has the lowest life expectancy of any state and is highly urbanized. The suspected reason? Prevalence of preventable illness like obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2006/9/13/us-life-expectancy-gap-widens-differences/

by Scoot on Jan 4, 2012 10:30 am • linkreport

I wouldn't as sanguine as Oboe on the growth of federal goverment spending in DC.

Easy enough to track -- if you can find the number of people using the federal transit benefit. Off the top of my head, it is around 250,000 people in the DC region. I'd hazard a guess that number has been pretty stable.

Contracters have gone up -- both in terms of beltway bandits but also support staff downtown.

GSA also put a lid on how much the feds will pay for office space. And with more military/security function being moved to secure locations, that doesn't bode well for DC commerical real estate.

Oboe's point is more valid for the residental side. Someone yesterday made a point about Ft Meade being a future "cybersecurity hub." I doubt it -- that is where future cuts will happen. That being said, I know at least 8 people who work there doing cybersecurity. 4 live in DC, but one of those just bought a place in Baltimore. As those jobs move to ft. Meade and Ft. Belvoir, living in DC proper becomes a hellacious commute.

DC's high ranking is more an indictment of the rest of country NOT growing.

by charlie on Jan 4, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

The problem with talking about life expectancy is that it is presented as a strictly linear number. And people think of it in terms of higher life expectancies being associated with healthier elderly populations. But it's not that simple. Places like DC have a low life expentency because a disproportionate amount of young people die due to crime and poverty. If you live in a low homicide neighborhood and are comfortably above the poverty level, the DC life expectancy has almost no relationship with your actual life expectancy.

Another example of the non-linear nature of life expectancy is this: men have a shorter life expectancy than women nationwide, but once a man lives to 40, his life expectancy gets a lot closer to a 40 year old woman's simply because statistically speaking, he's passed through the period of his life when he was much more likely than a woman to die in a car accident, crime, etc.

Anyway, I'm sure healthy lifestyles and built environments contribute to life expectancy, but it's not a simple issue.

by TM on Jan 4, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

@TM, life expectancy: also infant mortality rate weighs the data. NYC has a lower rate than the national avg, DC has a higher rate.

NYC city public health, along with the state of MN, has historically been a leader in the public health field.

by Tina on Jan 4, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

So, who's likely to run in Ward 5, and who's likely to win?

by David C on Jan 4, 2012 11:47 am • linkreport

@DavidC, I would hope the answer to that question is forthcoming since they had ample time to get it together. It's no secret he's been under investigation.

I hope they don't find themselves in the same place we (W8) often find ourselves in when it comes down to the wire every CM election cycle.

by HogWash on Jan 4, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

Thank god the feds finally got Thomas to take responsibility for his actions, and or punish him...something our own City seemed incapable of doing.

One would hope this serves as a lesson to the other quasi criminals on the Council and all those who would like to serve in their spots.

by freely on Jan 4, 2012 12:20 pm • linkreport

lets hope WMATA unions fight for more time for bathroom breaks beside more money from WMATA and its end user

by Jerome on Jan 4, 2012 12:20 pm • linkreport

Places like DC have a low life expentency because a disproportionate amount of young people die due to crime and poverty. If you live in a low homicide neighborhood and are comfortably above the poverty level, the DC life expectancy has almost no relationship with your actual life expectancy.

I doubt homicides in DC materially affect life expectancy. DC has about 100 homicides a year for a population of 600K. That seems like too small a proportion to affect the avg life expectancy.

by Falls Church on Jan 4, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

@FallsChurch -I thinks its the infant mortality rate driving down avg life expectancy in DC compared to NYC.

by Tina on Jan 4, 2012 1:37 pm • linkreport

@FallsI doubt homicides in DC materially affect life expectancy. DC has about 100 homicides a year for a population of 600K

I agree, that was a head scratcher for sure.

by HogWash on Jan 4, 2012 2:20 pm • linkreport

So much to say on the longevity article than this, but one of the things they note as a positive is the closeness of stores in a dense place like NYC. No doubt this makes it easier to "age in place" and for the family members (we know who we are!) to help out.

But reading today about two NW establishments (Penn Camera and Melody - neither of real necessity for seniors) that are closing does not bode well for 1) diversity of retail - again far more divese in the burbs and 2) retail in general.

What use are cities (she asks hyperbolically) when everyone can just order everything their greedy little hearts desire ONLINE??

by Jazzy on Jan 4, 2012 3:13 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy:

diversity of retail - again far more divese in the burbs

I'm not so sure about this. I was thinking about this when everyone was excited about the prospect of a Wegmans coming to DC. The Wegmans in Lanham, MD is only 19 minutes from my neighborhood. That's closer than it is for most suburbanites. Of course, I'd have to drive there, but the same goes for almost everyone else too.

I totally agree, encouraging diversity of retail is a real issue though. Both in the city and outside of it.

by oboe on Jan 4, 2012 3:29 pm • linkreport

What use are cities (she asks hyperbolically) when everyone can just order everything their greedy little hearts desire ONLINE??

People, food, art, entertainment and jobs. Not that you can't find these things in the burbs, but there are more of all of these in the city. And with the exception of people, they're generally much better.

by David C on Jan 4, 2012 3:31 pm • linkreport

Partly what I meant by diversity of retail was that with each year, in the last 10 years, there are many fewer independently owned stores. Now it's chains everywhere, which together with the condos, most people (here) applaud.

Partly that is because our council has been successfully captured.

by Jazzy on Jan 4, 2012 3:32 pm • linkreport

The longevity article is an example of empty cheerleading about city living.

Mayor Bloomberg is attributing the good news to policy: anti-smoking and anti-obesity campaigns, higher taxes on cigarettes, and calorie-count requirements for fast food restaurants.

Proof? This seems to be a stretch. Are these same campaigns in existence in Minnesota and Hawaii where the life expectancy rates are higher than NYC's? I say this as someone who is a huge fan of full disclosures on food products even in restaurants. (What's an anti-obesity campaign?)

When people live on top of each other, the likelihood of social isolation plummets—and the age of death rises.

Give me a break.

Here, they link a NYT article that mentions nothing, absolutely zero, about people who live "on top of each other." The article is about friendships. And everyone in it lives ...in a small town.

The article ends with "Despite the caveats, this newest data makes it clear: It's high time for the myth of the "urban health penalty to die out.""

This article did nothing to further that. So, the myth remains. As does the opportunity for REAL discussion.

Citing this article is driveby journalism at its worst.

by Jazzy on Jan 4, 2012 7:11 pm • linkreport

Cities with the Highest Life Expectancy in America

1 Clear Creek, Colo. 81.3
2 Eagle, Colo. 81.3
3 Gilpin, Colo. 81.3
4 Grand, Colo. 81.3
5 Jackson, Colo. 81.3
6 Park, Colo. 81.3
7 Summit, Colo. 81.3
8 Montgomery, Md. 81.3
9 Lyon, Iowa 81.3
10 Sioux, Iowa 81.3
11 Nicollet, Minn. 81.1
12 Story, Iowa 81
13 Carver, Minn. 81
14 Collier, Fla. 81
15 Benton, Ore. 80.9
16 Polk, Ore. 80.9
17 Fairfax City, Va. 80.9
18 Fairfax County, Va. 80.9
19 La Paz, Ariz. 80.9
20 Yuma, Ariz. 80.9
21 Winneshiek, Iowa 80.8
22 Morgan, Utah 80.8
23 Summit, Utah 80.8
24 Archuleta, Colo. 80.8
25 Gunnison, Colo. 80.8
Source: US Census Bureau

by Jazzy on Jan 4, 2012 7:34 pm • linkreport

The longevity article is an example of empty cheerleading about city living.

Yes, that "Good News" magazine piece is awful. I see nothing in the press release the author cites to support her claim that NYC "has the highest life expectancy in the country." And she offers no serious evidence to support her speculation that the rise in life expectancy in New York is attributable to the New York lifestyle. The one academic study on the issue that she references conflicts with her claim.

by Bertie on Jan 4, 2012 8:07 pm • linkreport

Cities with the Highest Life Expectancy in America...

I suppose those are adjusted for socioeconomic status? :)

by oboe on Jan 5, 2012 9:15 am • linkreport

oboe-life expectancy reported like that, by state/city/country, is usually not controlled/adjusted. But its still useful.

by Tina on Jan 5, 2012 9:55 am • linkreport

@Tina,

Sure, my (mostly tongue in cheek) point was that almost all of the populations on that list were extremely homogenous, and middle-class (from a random sampling of the list, they all have poverty rates of under 5%).

By comparison, DC had 19% of residents under the poverty line in 2005. NYC about 20% too.

Granted, some of our resident anti-urbanists would probably argue that city living impoverishes people as well. Or that their poverty is an expression of consumer choice, but what are you gonna do?

by oboe on Jan 5, 2012 10:25 am • linkreport

[List of Dullsvilles, above]

Yes, and indoor cats live longer.

by Johnannes der Taucher on Jan 5, 2012 10:32 am • linkreport

Oh, Eagle county's not so bad. Chafee's better though. The population isn't as uniformly wealthy there, though, so I'd imagine the life expectancy is lower.

I'd be interested to see what the child mortality rate is in these wealthy enclaves versus in the city with it's high rate of childhood poverty. There's a reason we have campaigns to try to get poor people pre-natal care in urban areas. It's my understanding that childhood mortality impacts life-expectancy numbers as well, right?

by oboe on Jan 5, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

Oboe,

It's obviously the alpine skiing that raises life expectancy. Obviously.

by Alex B. on Jan 5, 2012 11:04 am • linkreport

It was stated that NYC has the highest life expectancy among cities. It doesn't. Also "The city Department of Health says a New York City baby born in 2009 can expect to live 80.6 years" does not exactly inspire confidence that NYC is the city with the highest life expectancy.

The person of Jazzy says that she will always be 25 years old with a perfect body and a brilliant mind who will never want for anything. VOILA! It's that easy!

Facts schmacts.

by Jazzy on Jan 5, 2012 11:39 am • linkreport

Sure, my (mostly tongue in cheek) point was that almost all of the populations on that list were extremely homogenous, and middle-class (from a random sampling of the list, they all have poverty rates of under 5%).

But isn't that the point? Or A point?

But you dismiss it. Homogenous middle class areas shouldn't count? What? We should sneer at low poverty rates?

Only cities are real?

by Jazzy on Jan 5, 2012 12:05 pm • linkreport

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