Saturday, July 19, 2014

Limo buses and culture clashes

Photo: Defend the Bay Area

A letter in the July 21 edition of the New Yorker in response to a story about San Francisco, California Screaming, in a previous issue:

The squabbling about limo buses and culture clash misses the point about the civic irresponsibility of Silicon Valley business interests. Advocating intensive building to increase density in San Francisco will do nothing for Bay Area housing affordability. All this does is make developers rich. As soon as a unit in San Francisco becomes available, its price becomes exorbitant. The Bay Area has plenty of land for residential development: it’s in the South Bay. If the tech giants really cared, they would sponsor—or strong-arm—residential development near their sprawling, ever-growing campuses instead of busing their employees in from San Francisco. The assumption that San Francisco must adapt to being a bedroom community for Silicon Valley is erroneous. Better regional planning is necessary. New housing should not be the burden of San Francisco alone.

Adele Framer
San Francisco

Earlier posts on the Google bus issue here and here.

Labels: , ,

Elizabeth Warren: "We can’t win what we won’t fight for"

AP photo

Elizabeth Warren's speech to Netroots Nation, transcribed by Alternet:

A lot of us in this room have a lot of history. Five years ago, I was fighting hard for a new consumer agency to keep the big banks from [over]charging families on mortgages and credit cards. I went to see a lot of experts in Washington. I went to try to talk to people about the idea for this agency. The economy had crashed. Here was one way that we could fix things so it wouldn’t happen again. This is one way to level the playing field a little bit for families.

So I went and talked to these experts—and a lot of people on our side—and they almost all told me the same two things. The first thing they said was, “Great idea. This could actually make a real difference in people’s lives. The second thing they said was, “Don’t do it. Don’t even get out there and fight for it. Don’t do it because the biggest banks in this country will hate it and you will lose.” Well, the experts got that half-right. No surprise, the big banks really did hate it. They spent—are you ready for this—in addition to all their campaign contributions and everything else—they spent more than a million dollars a day for more than a year, lobbying against financial reforms. They really put their money where their mouth is on this one.

But the experts were also very wrong. We fought back and we won. We won—and that’s what I want to talk about today. We won because you and a zillion other people across this country got in the fight. We won because you got out there. Your broke news. You wrote opinion pieces. You organized petitions. You built coalitions. You kept that idea alive. You called out sleazy lobbyists and cowardly politicians. You said we—we the people—will have this agency and you are the ones who won. You won this fight.

And you know, it matters. These fights really do matter. That agency is almost three years old now and it has already forced the biggest financial institutions in this country to return more than $4 billion to consumers they cheated. But never miss the central point of this story. The CFPP is proof of how democracy can work in the 21stcentury. It is proof that if we push back against the biggest, strongest, most ruthless lobbying effort in the country; that if we push back hard that we can win. We fight, we win...

Labels: ,