The Quirks of New Orleans Culture: King Cake

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

[Part two in a 5-part series on what makes New Orleans different. Here’s part one.]

 

New Orleans, LA—Every U.S. city has cinnamon rolls. But come this time of year, New Orleans thrives on a cinnamon-roll-like pastry that sparkles with far greater character and color, as if the chef had gone on a bender. This pastry is a time-worn city tradition known as King Cake…[read the rest at Forbes]

 … Read more

Read More

The Quirks Of New Orleans Culture: Second Lines

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

[Part one in a 5-article series on what makes New Orleans different]

 

New Orleans, LA—There are certain commentators who will argue that, thanks to gentrification, corporatism, and globalization, U.S. cities are losing their cultural distinctiveness. These people should really try leaving their rooms more often. One thing I’ve noticed while traveling is that cultural differences, in fact, remain alive and well in America. And nowhere is this more evident than New Orleans, where I’ve been living since around Christmas until Mardi Gras day on February 9.… Read more

Read More

Washington, DC Reformed Its Zoning Code; Now Time To Ditch The Height Limits

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

This January, after substantial review, Washington, DC overhauled its longtime zoning code. While much of the code’s old laws remain, the changes will minimize certain regulations that have long stifled genuine urbanism in the nation’s capital. But these changes pale in comparison to one remaining external regulation. It is the federal law that limits building heights to 110 feet…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

America’s Progressive Developers–Oliver Kuttner

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

[part of an MU series on America’s Progressive Developers]

Charlottesville, VA

Building new structures in historic downtown areas can be tricky for developers. Especially in small towns, residents cherish the existing fabric of small older buildings, and dislike incoming ones that blow up this scale. Meanwhile developers, looking to reach financial viability, tend towards constructing buildings that are large, simple and cheap. But as I learned last December while spending Christmas in my hometown of Charlottesville, VA, there is a largely unrealized way that developers can do both. … Read more

Read More

Excessive Delay Is Making the NFL Unwatchable

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

On Sunday, I did something that I have seldom done in recent years, thanks to more responsibilities and less patience in my life. I watched an entire NFL game live. And I was reminded of why I seldom do this. NFL games have more and more become an exercise in delay. Viewers must slog through injuries, time outs, penalties, officiating reviews, and worst of all, the barrage of advertisements that are stuffed between every break in action. By now, games feel less like sporting events than 3-hour infomercials…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

Amid Fiscal Collapse, Chicago Teachers Union Demands Pay Raises

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

The Chicago Public School system is in shambles, worsened by a combination of recent events. First is that CPS has received several credit downgrades, attaining that all-too-familiar Chicago characteristic: ‘junk bond’ status. Second is that CPS is dealing with a $480 million budget shortfall that it wants the also-broke Illinois state government to cover. Third is that Chicago’s school system, already facing academic failure, may cut staff and close facilities. And compounding all this is that CPS must deal with a Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) who, oblivious to reality, keeps demanding more for itself…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More

The Future Of Mortgage Lending Could Be Online

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

In the last decade, internet technology has disrupted numerous industries. Consumers who seek any range of goods and services can now access thousands of websites and apps that replace the need for professional guidance. Instead of hiring real estate agents, people go to Zillow.com; rather than asking their lawyer, they ask Legalzoom; and instead of waiting in the rain for a licensed cab, they hail an Uber. Such disruption has effected finance, as hundreds of online FinTech startups are slowly transforming an industry dominated by large, well-staffed companies, easing the process behind complicated tasks like personal investment and currency exchange. … Read more

Read More

Are Winning College Football Teams A Catalyst For Urban Growth?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Tuscaloosa, AL

For the first few days of 2016, I left my new apartment in New Orleans to explore the small towns and cities of Mississippi and Alabama. My most reliable driving companion for this trip was the endless sports talk radio. The subject during different programming revolved almost exclusively around college football, and was dominated by callers–mostly Alabama fans–who blew up phone lines to boast of their team’s superiority. Their certitude even extended to the role that their recently-successful team has had on regional growth.… Read more

Read More

Charter Amendments: The Future of Government Reform?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Jersey Village, TX

Barry Klein could have chosen a lazier activity for a mid-December Saturday morning in this small suburb just west of Houston. But instead he was banging on doors in an upscale neighborhood—fighting through sporadic rain and face-to-face political disagreements—to collect signatures for a petition. In the process, he was demonstrating for me what he believes is the future of government reform in America…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

Read More