Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

Scott Alexander on The Art of the Deal

The Slate Star Codex blogger decided to read, and belatedly review, The Art of the Deal (1988) by real estate developer and now-GOP nomination frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump and his campaign aside, the book affords insights into the legal and regulatory side of the development business. Following a funny description of the role of the real estate developer in coordinating deals, Alexander writes:

…The developer’s other job is dealing with regulations. The way Trump tells it, there are so many regulations on development in New York City in particular and America in general that erecting anything larger than a folding chair requires the full resources of a multibillion dollar company and half the law firms in Manhattan. Once the government grants approval it’s likely to add on new conditions when you’re halfway done building the skyscraper, insist on bizarre provisions that gain it nothing but completely ruin your chance of making a profit, or just stonewall you for the heck of it if you didn’t donate to the right people’s campaigns last year. Reading about the system makes me both grateful and astonished that any structures have ever been erected in the United States at all, and somewhat worried that if anything ever happens to Donald Trump and a few of his close friends, the country will lose the ability to legally construct artificial shelter and we will all have to go back to living in caves.

But if you are waiting for new proposals from Trump about reforming regulation, you might need to go on waiting:

Here is a guy whose job is cutting through bureaucracy, and who is apparently quite good at it. Yet throughout the book – and for that matter, throughout his campaign for the nomination of a party that makes cutting bureaucracy a big part of their platform – he doesn’t devote a lot of energy to expressing discontent with the system. There is no libertarian streak to Trump – in the process of successfully navigating all of these terrible rules, he rarely takes a step back and wonders about a better world where these rules don’t exist. Despite having way more ability to change the system than most people, he seems to regard it as a given, not worth debating. … the rules are there; his job is to make the best deal he can within those rules.

Public employment roundup

  • NYPD retiree “shared his happiness at scoring the disability pension, as well as his achievements running marathons” [New York Daily News]
  • Scott Greenfield on public sector unionism and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Simple Justice, earlier] Pending Illinois case raises issues parallel to Friedrichs [Cato podcast with lead plaintiff Mark Janus and attorney Jacob Huebert]
  • San Diego voters tried to address public employee pension crisis, now state panel says doing things by ballot initiative violates obligation to bargain with unions [Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • “Staten Island Ferry deckhand who has already pocketed $600K in job related injuries sues city for $45M” [New York Daily News]
  • Detroit “firefighters were paid for 32-hour days….Numerous top-level fire officials signed off on the overtime.” [Motor City Muckraker]
  • “Without public worker unions, who would lobby against making it a crime to strike a pedestrian with right of way?” [Josh Barro on NYC controversy]
  • “Not Even a Criminal Referral to the Dept. of Justice Can Get You Fired From the VA” [Amanda Winkler, Reason]

Literary corner: “Today and Tomorrow in Tom Wolfe’s New York”

Few books of our own era would make it onto my desert island list; one is Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. While I’m late getting to Michael Lewis’s new profile of Wolfe, it’s reason enough to renew a Vanity Fair subscription, especially the priceless story of how Wolfe rewrote his dissertation on status jockeying among 1930s literary leftists after Yale turned it down as “tendentious” and “disparaging” to its oft-lionized subjects.

Early in my time at the Manhattan Institute, after Wolfe’s New York novel The Bonfire of the Vanities had made a gigantic popular success, I put together a roundtable on “Today and Tomorrow in Tom Wolfe’s New York” with Terry Teachout, Richard Vigilante, the late Walter Wriston, and others. MI published it as an envelope stuffer one-off with, if memory serves, a cover letter in which Wolfe himself mentioned observations the various participants had made, but in his own words. Not to say I was awe-struck at this, but for the next few days I wandered the streets of New York talking to the trees.

“Firefighter who flunked physical injured 10 days into job”

Deemed a “priority hire” for FDNY under a federal court order, “probationary firefighter Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder injured herself Monday while conducting a routine check of equipment at Queens’ Engine 308 in South Richmond Hill.” She had been on the job for ten days following a bumpy ascent that had included a failed pass at the academy, a previous injury, and the bending of physical test requirements. “Since she was injured on duty, she is eligible for a disability pension that would pay three-quarters of her annual salary, tax-free, if deemed unfit to return.” [New York Post; similarly two years ago] I wrote more on the watering down of firefighter physical tests to avoid screening out female applicants in my book The Excuse Factory, as briefly summarized in this 2007 post.

“New York Is A City Of No”

Gothamist on why the Robicelli bakery of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, has decided to move to Baltimore, worn down by hassles with New York labor laws, utilities, rents, alternate side of the street parking enforcement, and more:

The culture of fining small businesses and attaching expensive requirements for permitting and other work can make owners feel as though they’re ATMs for the city, from what some call excessive policing of restaurants by the DOH to the installation of a hand sink that cost the couple $10,000 after acquiring and hiring the necessary permits and persons to get the work done up to city code. “If you see some guy having an ice cream cart in front of his shop? Huge permit! Outdoor seating? Huge permit! If you decide you just want to have a bench in front of your store but somebody decides to pull it out a little bit so it’s a little bit over 18-inches off the front? Fine! Massive fine!” …

“New York now is a city of no. You have this great idea? No, you can’t do it. You want to try this out? No. You go to Baltimore and it’s a city of, ‘Well why the f— not? Let’s try this!’ They really, really love their city and it’s exciting. It’s that energy I felt when I was growing up in New York.

City Journal at 25 — and alternate-side-of-the-street parking

Twenty-five years ago the Manhattan Institute, with which I was affiliated for many years, launched its extremely successful periodical City Journal. (Longtime editor Myron Magnet, now editor-at-large, has an account here of some of its triumphs.)

The very first issue had a piece from me on alternate side of the street parking. Contributors to that first issue, under founding editor Richard Vigilante, included William Tucker, Rick Brookhiser, Terry Teachout, Carolyn Lochhead, Mark Cunningham, Peter Salins, Rupert Murdoch (!), and others. My work appeared in City Journal most recently this summer with a profile of the work of Eric Schneiderman as New York attorney general (“Inspector Gotcha”) and you can read all of my contributions to the magazine here, on topics ranging from the case against slavery reparations to the struggle between Westchester County and HUD.

Congratulations to this excellent magazine as it enters its second quarter century under editor Brian Anderson.

Nail salons: an inspector calls

After the New York Times wildly muffed that big outrage story on worker pay at nail salons — and the first installment in Jim Epstein’s series makes a compelling case that it did — Andrew Cuomo’s inspectors descended in force to see what violations they could find. That’s when, to the great detriment of workers and salon owners alike, the real chaos began.

More: Part III of the series is on the supposed miscarriage/cancer epidemic conjured up by the Times. If you like the way Epstein first chipped and then cracked the paper’s well-glossed claws, watch what he does with the solvents.

Discrimination law roundup

  • “Requiring Employees to Return 100% Healed Costs Trucking Firm $300K in EEOC Suit” [Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert]
  • Update: Oregon appeals court upholds $400,000 fine judgment against Portland owner who asked transgender club to stop holding meetings at his nightclub [Oregonian, earlier]
  • Fire Department of New York commissioner: yes, we lowered fitness bar so more women could join the force [Matthew Hennessey/City Journal, my take in The Excuse Factory back when]
  • From May: “Oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Examining EEOC’s Enforcement and Litigation Programs” [Senate HELP committee via Workplace Prof]
  • Lengthy HUD battle: 2nd Circuit notes “no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination” [WSJ editorial, earlier here and here]
  • In 1992 Delaware settled an employment discrimination lawsuit by agreeing to assign prison guards “without regard to the gender of prisoners….A disaster ensued.” [Scott Greenfield on Cris Barrish, Wilmington News-Journal coverage]
  • NYC council speaker pushing “very bad bill to extend special employment protections to caregivers” [N.Y. Daily News editorial]