Thursday, December 18, 2008
It appears that Barack Obama has finally chosen someone to head the White Office of Urban Policy. That someone is Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who had been mentioned as a potential head of HUD. Here's some pros and cons to the decision:
1) has promoted and advocated for green building in cities, especially for lower income housing as a means of saving money on bills. He has deftly connected environmentalism with affordability to allow these ideas to gain traction in lower income neighborhoods who have traditionally not taken much interest in these issues. Check out Dayo Olapade's New Republic piece on Carrion's green ideas, including an interview with the man himself.
2) acted as the liason between the community and developers with regards to the Melrose Court complex, bringing the project down in scale and winning community approval.
3) supports congestion pricing.
1) the Melrose Court development notwithstanding, he has not been one to take the community's considerations into account. Read Streetsblog and Dana Goldstein discussing the ridiculous parking lot and traffic situation at the new Yankees stadium.
2) he was one of the key players in getting the Yankees stadium built!!! Ugh. As I've written, this is a ridiculous expenditure of city money and shame on Carrion for not only allowing it to happen but fostering the deal with little info about the costs.
3) when the community voted against using park land to build the stadium, Carrion fired or demoted the dissenting voices, allowing the plan to go through.
3) he is a developer's best friend, taking nearly two-thirds of his campaign funds from the real estate industry.
4) a big fan of big box buildings, which led to him championing a mini-mall to take the place of the Bronx Fish Market.
Tom Robbins has 5 sarcastic reasons why Carrion would make an excellent HUD Secretary. They seem to apply easily to him running the Office of Urban Policy. Brooklyn Boy at dailykos is even more disparaging, suggesting that even a 10 foot pole wouldn't make this a good pick.
All in all, it's a disappointing pick. Carrion clearly has some excellent ideas on the green front, but beyond that, he doesn't really seem to offer much beyond the typical city pol obsessed with development, development, development at any cost. He hasn't enjoyed a whole lot of love in the Bronx, as people haven't seen him standing up for the community over the interests of big money. He hasn't been at the forefront of public transportation. Maybe I'm missing something, but I expected a lot more.