On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Race, Reliable Transit, and Rent Control
Our daily roundup.
1. The AP reports that a ton of American citizens—nearly 1 in 16 people who responded to the last U.S. Census, in 2010—have "decided they would be a different race or ethnicity," with "the largest movement coming from Hispanics deciding which racial category they should be in."
What they don't note (as this Hispanic would like to point out, since I am, apparently, responsible for arbitrarily "deciding" what race I am) is that according to the Census Bureau itself, the main reason so many Hispanics declared their ethnic origins in 2010 is because the Census gave them the opportunity to do so for the first time; according to the report cited by the AP, "Questionnaire design changes may have influenced some Hispanics to change their racial response to the census," by giving them the opportunity to identify as both "Hispanic" and "black," for example.
The point is that identifying one's racial and ethnic origins is a far more nuanced process than the AP story, distributed nationwide, lets on; it's more than just a matter of "deciding what race" you want to be on a whim.
2. Speaking of Hispanic origins: Pedro Celis, the supposed GOP frontrunner against U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1), is fewer than 1,000 votes ahead of underfunded Tea Party Party Republican Robert Sutherland. Celis is barely in second place right now—after two days in third place—with 16.37 to Sutherland's 15.63. DelBene is leading with 50.77 percent. You certainly have to wonder what Celis' fate has in common with, say, state supreme court justice Steven González—who almost lost to a white candidate, with a white-sounding name (Bruce Danielson), who raised exactly $0, back in 2012.
The Seattle Times' story on Celis' "stunning" showing mentions none of this.
3. According to the Ballard News Tribune, there's now a movement to "save the 61" bus, which will be eliminated under Metro's funding cuts starting this September. The route serves Sunset Hill residents traveling to and from downtown. Seattle Transit Blog puts it best: While asking Metro, after the fact, to preserve their bus route is understandable, "Getting more of their neighbors to vote last spring would have been more helpful."
4. City council member Kshama Sawant has argued that the city should pass rent control, and her protegé, state house hopeful Jess Spear (who's running against long-time House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-43) says she wants to change state law to allow cities to pass it.
However, according to the New York Times' Adam Davidson, rent control may actually have "perverse effects," making the city "much less affordable for those unlucky enough not to live in a rent-regulated apartment," a problem exacerbated by the fact that most of NYC's rent-controlled units are occupied by people making higher wages than the poverty-level families rent control was originally designed, back in the 1940s, to serve.
In fact, Davidson writes, "The absurdity of New York City’s housing market has become a standard part of many Econ 101 courses, because it is such a clear example of public policy that achieves the near opposite of its goals. There are, effectively, two rental markets in Manhattan. Roughly half the apartments are under rent regulation, public housing or some other government program. That leaves everyone else to compete for the half with rents determined by the market."