Professor of International and Public Affairs Ester Fuchs – DT3
Dean’s Table Podcast Episode
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About the Episode
Dean Harris is joined by Ester Fuchs, a leading scholar on the fiscal health of American cities. Ester Fuchs is Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science at Columbia University, and the author of the classic text Mayors and Money: Fiscal Policy in New York and Chicago, one of the first books to provide a serious analysis of how cities handle economic crises. In addition to her scholarship in urban politics, Professor Fuchs has spent a significant part of her career as a public servant. From 2001 to 2005, she served as Special Advisor for Governance and Strategic Planning for the mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg, the 108th Mayor of the City of New York. While at City Hall, Professor Fuchs worked to streamline the delivery of vital human services to city residents.
On The Dean’s Table, Professor Fuchs speaks to the critical economic importance of American cities and how the understanding of their significance has changed in the study of Political Science over the years. She reflects back on her work as a graduate student with leading scholars such as Norman Nie and Paul Peterson. She shares advice for academics who seek to bring their particular skills to City Hall or other forms of public service. And she defines for us what it means to her to be a “pragmatic utopian”.
Ester R. Fuchs
Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science; Director, Urban and Social Policy Program
Ester R. Fuchs is Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science and is the Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She served as Special Advisor to the Mayor for Governance and Strategic Planning under New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from 2001 to 2005. Previously, Professor Fuchs served as chair of the Urban Studies Program at Barnard College and Columbia College and founding director of the Columbia University Center for Urban Research and Policy.
Professor of International and Public Affairs Ester Fuchs – DT3
Theme intro music
Welcome to The Dean’s Table, a podcast featuring the scholarship, lives, and imaginations of social scientists at Columbia University in the City of New York. I’m your host Fredrick Harris, professor of Political Science and Dean of Social Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. We are pleased to be joined today by Ester Fuchs, professor of International and Public Affairs and a colleague of mine in the department in political science here at Columbia. Ester is one of the nation’s leading scholars on American cities, in particular the fiscal health of cities. In fact, she wrote the book on it. She is the author of the classic text, Mayors and Money: Fiscal Policy in New York and Chicago, which was the first serious study on the topic. Ester also spent a good part of her career as a public servant. She served as a political advisor to Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York in the early 2000s, where she worked on solving a critical problem for New York City residents: how to make it easier to access vital social services. I was especially interested in speaking with Ester to hear her perspectives on her dual role as scholar and civil servant. Welcome to the Dean’s Table, Ester .
Ester Fuchs: Thank you for inviting me Fred. It’s really a delight to be here.
Fred Harris: So you once described yourself as a pragmatic utopian, what do you mean by that? What exactly is a pragmatic utopian?
Ester Fuchs: Oh that makes me smile that you’ve picked that up. I actually am somebody who is, I think a well trained social scientist. So I have my two feet very solidly on the ground in the real world. I need to see data. I need to understand processes. I need to know why things happened the way they do. And I also have a sense of pragmatism when it comes to politics and policy which is I’m willing to compromise. I don’t stand on any kind of ideological extreme position. And I like to say that I know have some knowledge of how the world of politics actually works as opposed to how we wish it would work. At the same time, I have a value system which I strongly adhere to and which informs my research. That is to say, what I choose to research. And informs my politics and informs the work that I do in the academy as well as the work that I’ve done at City Hall. When I used to teach American Parties and Elections to undergraduates at Columbia and Barnard, I would say to the class, if a professor comes into a political science course and says to you they’re completely objective and they have no politics; either, they are lying or it’s going to be a very boring course. So I’m willing to recognize that I have a point of view and I have a strong set of values that I adhere to. And I believe in humanity’s ability to create a public good.
Fred Harris: What exactly those values – are those values?
Ester Fuchs: Well I strongly believe that there is something called the public interest. That the public interest exists and that it’s government’s job to represent a broad based public interest. And that the reason we’ve all decided to be part of a democratic governance process is because we recognize that it’s not going to always be about us and our individual special interests. And that we are capable of understanding that it’s government’s responsibility to redistribute and, and aid people who have less. And it’s government responsibility to keep the public welfare in order. And it’s government’s responsibility to keep us safe and secure. And it’s government’s responsibility to ensure that we all have a quality of life that we can pass down to our children. And those are my sort of fundamental values that we all have a responsibility to ensure. That government actually is held accountable to doing all of that.
Fred Harris: Right. So let’s talk about that grounding of of your values and the public. So, I recently cracked open a copy of your book Mayors and Money—
Ester Fuchs: Haha. You’re a good man.
Fred Harris: –which was published in 1992. It’s been a while since I picked it up. The first sentence in the book’s preface caught my eye. It reads as follows: ‘I grew up in New York City during the 1960s and my first political memory features John Lindsay and the blizzard of 1969.’ So, it appears from the nature of your work and your deep commitments–civic commitments, that values, those values that you mention–that your experience of growing up in New York has obviously shaped your interest in politics. So, can you tell us, what it was like growing up in the city during the 60s and 70s and how did that experience influence your interest in politics?
Ester Fuchs: Oh that is, it is in many ways ancient history, isn’t it?
Fred Harris: But important, important history.
Ester Fuchs: I think it’s important too. And of course, I think a historical perspective is important in understanding what’s going on today. We really are doomed to make the mistakes again and again if we don’t understand history. And the same thing has to be true about understanding cities and where they were in the middle and late 20th century as compared to where they are today. And you know, cities in this period were declining. They didn’t work well. The blizzard is a metaphor for everything that was broken at the time in New York City. The mayor did not pick up the snow in Queens for a week. And he almost lost the next election because of that. From the perspective of regular people, the people who lived in the neighborhoods like where I grew up in Queens, it was broken.
Fred Harris: Right. Could you tell us a little bit, because many of our listeners, listeners don’t know about that history? Do you remember this fellow by the name of President Ford and what he had to say about the city of New York when was in its fiscal crisis?
Ester Fuchs: Well, you know, that was the big transformation for me–1975 and the New York City fiscal crisis. And the famous response of the president of the United States, Gerald Ford, the headlines of the Daily News ‘Ford to New York: Drop Dead.’ As you pointed out was, you know, just a slap in the face to all of us, you know, who cared about cities. New York was at the brink of bankruptcy and needed an infusion of cash to pay back its debt, needed to reorganize the debt and went to the federal government for some assistance at this point. And basically the president said, ‘No, I don’t think so. We’re not helping you.’ And we knew that it was politically driven. And the president of the United States could literally decide to abandon the most important economic engine in the country at the time, because it still was, which was the city of New York. And, you know, that was somewhat of a revelation for me. A realization while I was in graduate school that I needed to start paying attention to this fiscal crisis.
Fred Harris: Well speaking of cities and other cities, you, you’ve mentioned graduate school. And you went to graduate school at the University of Chicago. And I have to say, it’s probably obvious the reason why you concentrated on urban politics. So what did you really study in graduate school? How was that, how was that experience?
Ester Fuchs: the truth is, is that, you know, I was interested primarily in cities and urban politics. And there was no better place for me to be than the University of Chicago.
Fred Harris: Why do you say that?
Ester Fuchs: Because I got to study with Ira Katznelson. And Paul Petersen who is at Harvard. And Ben Page who was also on my dissertation committee. And Terry Clark in the Sociology Department. And, what was amazing about Chicago at that time, apart from having many, many years of course requirements, I was able to take courses not just in political science but in any department that was offering courses that I was interested in. And so I took courses with Janoff in sociology. And in the geography department and urban geographers. And I was also able, because I had a fellowship at the National Opinion Research Center, I worked with Norman Nie on political participation.
Fred Harris: Oh wow. The SPSS guy.
Ester Fuchs: Yes. When he created SPSS and the changing American voter and my fellowship required that I work for him at that time and that I take a method course every quarter.
Fred Harris: Yeah, just to remind our listeners, SPSS was, is a statistical package that’s been widely used in the social science.
Ester Fuchs: Right and it was the first one. We had to analyze the data on punch cards. Ok.
Fred Harris: Oh. Haha.
Ester Fuchs: Haha.
Fred Harris: You use to run running through that machine–.
Ester Fuchs: I’d run it through that machine–.
Fred Harris: –and wait for those results. hours later, perhaps.
Ester Fuchs: Part of my fellowship was I had to go down to the basement of NORC and data to punch cards with the punch card ladies. Because they were all ladies. But–.
Fred Harris: The hidden figures.
Ester Fuchs: Yes, that’s right.
Fred Harris: Of the social science.
Ester Fuchs: Of the social science. So somebody’s got to do that story.
Fred Harris: Right.
Ester Fuchs: It’s probably a lot more interesting than anybody realizes. But I was, as a consequence, very well trained and working for Norman Nie really allowed me to learn how to do social science research. In a most serious way. I really feel like I was there it at an extraordinary moment for graduate education. There was extraordinary collaboration. And I, I worked for Terry Clark on a research project on fiscal crisis in American cities, which had started my interest in fiscal policy.
Fred Harris: Oh I see.
Ester Fuchs: And, at the same time though, I was an Ira Katznelson and Paul Peterson acolyte. And I worked–.
Fred Harris: You were, you were a Paul Peterson, he wrote that famous book–
Ester Fuchs: City Limits.
Fred Harris: —City Limits. Yes.
Ester Fuchs: He wrote it while I was at graduate school and I, and I still use it as I use Ira’s books. And the thing about Paul Peterson, City Limits is a, is a very important book in urban politics–.
Fred Harris: It is.
Ester Fuchs: –as most people know. Basically Peterson argued that cities were limited in what they could do in public policy because, essentially, because of federalism and because, as a consequence of it, they would have to respond to those who were contributing most to the tax base. Because cities can’t tax outside their legal jurisdiction. Paul was right in some ways.
Fred Harris: Right.
Ester Fuchs: Cities had to pay attention to their tax base and to those who’s, who contributed. But we also know that if they simply did that they would never have had fiscal crises. And every city was having this problem balancing their budgets in the 70s. There was something in my mind disconnected in his argument. And of course, what he said to me, I hope you’re not listening Paul, but what he said to me at the time was, ‘but it’s such a parsimonious argument, City Limits. I know, you’re right. That it’s more complicated. That there are interest groups who can organize and become active and make demands and get heard, even if they’re poor people’s groups, low resource groups. People who are not contributing to, you know, a lot to the tax base, can still have influence in politics. He said, ‘but, you know, I’m sticking with my argument because it’s simple and it’s clear and I think basically it’s right.’ And of course, you know, I’m still go back and forth about that. And so my book in a way was an antidote.
Fred Harris: Right. So that’s–.
Ester Fuchs: Haha.
Fred Harris: This is where I want you to go. This is because I want you really to describe for our listeners your scholarship on fiscal crises.
Ester Fuchs: Right.
Fred Harris: And we’ve talked about Paul’s City Limits.
Ester Fuchs: Yeah.
Fred Harris: What about Mayors and Money?
Ester Fuchs: The argument was simple and complicated at the same time. I was really trying to figure out what caused New York City’s fiscal crisis in 1975. And it wasn’t just New York. This was a national and global trend that cities were experiencing this inability to balance their budgets, that I needed to pay attention to that and focus on understanding that. Because I realized very simply that getting power in a location like a city would be worthless if there was no money to spend. I mean it became a very fundamental basic idea which is ‘why do people, why do groups try and get power. What’s the purpose of politics beyond getting power?’ Obviously, and I learned this later is, you know, some people are just in for the power. You know, they want to exercise power. But ultimately, most of us think about power as a means to an end which is transforming public policy. And, you know, this is where my utopian idealism came in. You know, how do you get to do good in the public arena if there’s no money? You know, if cities are falling apart and they can’t balance their budgets and business and industry and middle class people are leaving, then cities get relegated to places where poor people live. And if you transfer power to poor people at a time in which cities are in fiscal crisis or having fiscal problems, what have you really given them? So it occurred to me that, this politics that’s metamorphosizing at this period in time, it’s not an accident. As one of my mentors, Ira Katznelson, would have said. Not an accident. That it started to become OK to empower minority communities in the 70s , in the early 70s and later in the 70s, at the city level. We started electing black mayors just at a time when cities were falling apart and had no money.
Fred Harris: They call it a hollow price thesis.
Fred Harris: The hollow prices thesis. That’s exactly right. Right. Black mayors, the first black mayor became mayors and Newark or Flint, Michigan, Gary or East Saint Louis. [00:25:12][6.6]
Ester Fuchs: That’s right.
Fred Harris: And cities in decline even in the 70s.
Ester Fuchs: That’s right. And that’s, so that’s the beginning of the empowerment of these communities. And all the economists, my good friend the, friends the economists, they’re all writing pieces about fiscal policy saying, ‘these are global and national economic trends and there is nothing cities can do about it because it’s beyond their control. And that this is the decline of the industrial economy. Basically the economy is moving out of central cities.’ And so we’re sort of, the upshot of that was, from policy and politics point of view was, ‘well, you know, there’s nothing you could do as a policy maker, you sort of have to watch the decline and contain it the best you can and maybe the federal government put some money in and make it less onerous to live in cities but cities are over.’ And, you know, for me, I thought a, this can’t be correct. Cities can’t be over for a variety of obvious reasons now but not so obvious then. No one in the academy that I knew, particularly in the field of urban politics, predicted that cities would rebound.
Fred Harris: Right.
Ester Fuchs: What a sad state of affairs. Partly because what everybody was focused on in urban politics, and also because urban politics was viewed by the discipline as not important.
Fred Harris: Yeah see, wow, you must be reading my mind. That was–.
Ester Fuchs: Ha.
Fred Harris: –I’m about to ask you that question. Because as, you know, the study urban politics became less popular as cities became less popular. Right. Within the discipline. So how, so now that cities are back they’re popular again. Where is the study of urban politics today?
Ester Fuchs: it’s an interesting question. Part of what urban politics became synonymous with was the study of poor people. The study of minorities. So, so race and ethnic politics became urban politics. Urban politics became poverty politics. But in this field of urban politics, the kind of work that was be being done wasn’t really reflecting what was going on in American cities at the time. Not understanding either decline, what was really contributing to the decline, the consequences of that decline, the importance of that decline and, actually, the dynamic that produced the turnaround. What were the big forces and the small forces out there?
Fred Harris: So context, power and policy. So, let’s talk about your footing with the other world.
Ester Fuchs: Oh, you’ve got it all. You just got it all.
Fred Harris: What about your work in the Bloomberg administration? Can you speak about what role you play there?
Ester Fuchs: Yeah. So, I feel fortunate that I had an opportunity to take a public service leave from Barnard and Columbia at the time. And to work for Mayor Bloomberg. So, as you might have gleaned already I was always interested in politics and–.
Fred Harris: Which is different from political science.
Ester Fuchs: Which turns out to be significantly different from political science. Although, you know, it’s more complicated now.
Fred Harris: Right.
Ester Fuchs: And I think that we’re coming to a better place after veering far away from what I would consider to be the interesting questions of politics, you know. So I always, you know, I actually worked on political campaigns. I was interested in activism from a variety of different perspectives but also from electoral politics as well as interest group advocacy kinds, kinds of work. What became very important to me was to understand how do you get things done in government. And so I understood budgets. I felt like I had that nailed. I understood politics and I understood policy, how to formulate policy. What I didn’t really know much about was operations and implementation. And for me the extraordinary transformation when I went into government, I decided I want to get something done. I wasn’t going to just sit there and watch everybody and write a book.
Fred Harris: Ok, so Ester what exactly did you do in the Bloomberg administration? What were your, your duties as a civil servant?
Ester Fuchs: That’s such an interesting question because I was a special adviser to the mayor for governance and strategic planning. I made up that title. And I had no real direct agency reports. And it turns out that this job was going to be about what I made it. So I ended up doing many things for the mayor. But I had three ongoing large projects. I reorganized after school which involved aid agencies and several levels of government. And the second project I did was a reorganization of workforce development. And the third one was called, was called the Integrated Human Services project, later to become Access New York. Basically seeing how difficult it was for people to access benefits. And I thought, ‘gee, why can’t we go online and put in our data and then get screened and access the benefits.’ And well, as you can imagine pay sometimes to be a little naive. There were many many political reasons why this was a very disjointed system. It turns out, New York screened for over 40 needs based benefits and everybody had to fill out these forms mostly by hand and do it over and over again. And so my, my idea was let’s put in some software in place that could screen people and save the data that was useful to everybody and then you know sort of like a tree. You could envision it. This was one of my favorite things to work on. It took a really long time. It was very difficult. And the first piece rolled out after I left government and now it’s up online as Access New York.
Fred Harris: Oh great.
Ester Fuchs: So those were my biggest projects.
Fred Harris: So, how did working in city government influence your scholarship? If, you know–.
Ester Fuchs: Oh very very significantly. In fact, part of the reason I teach primarily in the School of International and Public Affairs now is because of my stint in government and the realization that politics is really important in so far as it can influence policy. And it got me back to my original reasons for being in love with cities. Cities are really the place that really affect the human condition. And I also think there the places that connect people to, to democratic governance. Very important. And so my understanding of urban politics and how I teach urban politics changed. I mean, I was on on my way to changing when I was teaching undergraduates; I chaired undergraduate urban studies for Columbia and Barnard for ten years. And there was a course there were two required courses and one was called Contemporary Urban Problems. That just tells you the whole story.
Fred Harris: Right.
Ester Fuchs: That was the course. And I, you know, in the middle when I was teaching a couple of years I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore, I need to teach Contemporary Urban Problems and Solutions.’ And I changed the course because I knew it wasn’t, you know, in social science. We only have to understand the why. And we don’t have to offer the solutions. And so, one of the things I learned from Michael Bloomberg, he was interested in the problem only insofar as that you could tell him what he could do about it to fix that. He’s an engineer by training and he was about fixing things that were broken. And I literally said to him, ‘well, what will I do?’ Thinking like, ‘I’m an academic. I don’t really know how to do anything.’ I mean I can think of ideas. I’ve got tons of ideas. But, you know, when you get in there you have to get stuff done. I mean, he was about getting things done. And he said to me, ‘you’ll bring new ideas to government and then you’ll get it done.’ And I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to do that.’ And I thought I would stay for a year. And then I realized, ‘oh my god, you know, you can’t get anything done in a year.’ And I stayed for four years.
Fred Harris: Wow. So, this is an interesting experience. So, what is the role, if any, could political scientists play in local government? What could they learn from rolling up their sleeves, like you did, and working in city hall or state government?
Ester Fuchs: So I think there’s a lot for us to do. Both in government itself as, you know, we like to call it policy relevant research. Which, as social scientists we’re perfectly capable of doing. So, part of it is doing the academic research in a rigorous way and providing the information. Because Bloomberg was very keen on data. That his whole thing. You know, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it kind of thing. And so, there is nobody that does research better than social scientists and can produce the kinds of data we need to solve urban problems. Fundamentally, what’s changed is that almost everything now is an urban problem to a certain perspective. Because of the failure of the national government to act on so many issues we care about. So many things have come into the urban arena that we never expected to see there before. Environmental policy, since when is that an urban issue? You know, but it is. Mayors have taken the lead in areas of environmental sustainability that the research is coming directly from both the scientists and social scientists in universities primarily. That’s an area where you know we have considerable impact. So, I think that we have a lot to offer even when we’re not in government itself. The thing we can do when we are in government is, you know, bring those skills to bear on problem solving.
Fred Harris: Right. Right. So there’s another benefit that I want you to think about in political scientists or other social scientists rolling up their sleeves and working in government. So my former colleague at the University of Rochester, Richard Fenno, for decades shadowed members of Congress in their home districts. And from that research he became one of the nation’s leading experts on the Study of Congress. He called this method of observation soaking and poking. What do you think of this method? It is different than the trend we see in our discipline toward heavy quantitative methods.
Ester Fuchs: Well, I love that and I love, I love Fenno’s work. And I think it stands the test of time. And he got so much right. So I am a person who views multi-methods as the way to go. You know, quantitative methods are important and we need metrics for certain kinds of things. But what I’ve found is, often the metrics obscure important questions. And then if you don’t have data, graduate students are told don’t ask those questions. Well, those are the important questions. I always like to say to my students, ‘political scientists should be asking the questions about everything economists assume in their models.’ The real world doesn’t, doesn’t act like these perfect models that we have a tendency to build with data because we make a set of assumptions. And often the interesting questions are in these assumptions. And Fenno is a perfect example of, you know, deep and rich research. But at the same time, moving in the direction of generalization and theory building. And, you know, I think that needs to be valued as much as people who can build quantitative models. Because frankly, the metrics by and large in political science, are mediocre. Because it’s hard stuff. In social, you know, if we knew really beyond test scores, how to evaluate student outcomes in schools, we would certainly be using them. But it’s hard and people fall back on these metrics of test scores. And then we know kids can be smart who don’t do well on tests.
Fred Harris: Right.
Ester Fuchs: We know that. Yet, because it’s got a number, we’re stuck with these tests. I mean look, I’ve created metrics. I created metrics on what, you know, what is a metric for a competitive, economically competitive city. The reason I did that is to create a baseline and then to unpack it and then to look at the interesting cases and figure out the why so that you can build new policies from that. So I feel like…in training students, it’s fine to give them great quantitative skills. But we need to give them these skills like Fenno had–the poking and soaking skills. It needs to…you know, we call it qualitative methods but you and I both know that’s like not a real thing. You know, for people who do methods, they don’t really recognize that work as, as rigorous in any way. And it can be. And when it is, it can inform the work that the quantitative methods folks are, are doing. And it will be smarter then. And also, it’ll be a better reflection of the reality of politics…of the political world that we are ostensibly studying and trying to understand. What’s the purpose of all of what we do if not to gain a better understanding of the real world?
Fred Harris: So speaking of the world of politics, the real world of politics, so Ester, given your experience on fiscal matters and cities I would like your thoughts on Amazon locating one of its headquarters here in New York, in Long Island City. Now you grew up in Queens, what do you think about the huge government incentives it took to lure Amazon to New York. Some have described these incentives as corporate welfare. What are your thoughts?
Ester Fuchs: So Fred I am really glad you asked this question. As for my final question because I have been thinking about this and I really feel like I need to write a piece on. I, I do these op ed pieces every so often and get myself into deep trouble. But hey, that’s a good, good, good place to be at a university–.
Fred Harris: With tenure.
Ester Fuchs: –with tenure. Absolutely right. You hit the nail on the head. If not me, who then. Right? If not us…we can do it.
Fred Harris: Exactly.
Ester Fuchs: So the Amazon story is, is kind of extraordinary in terms of how it’s playing out now. The issue of corporate welfare we’ll take on first. And this is what people fail to understand. Cities are not engaged in this battle over business location and providing incentives because they want to. Federalism pushes them into this situation now. Because you need businesses to locate in your city because they create jobs and they contribute to taxes and you’re not getting money from your states or from your national government now to do …even basic services that we need, let alone the redistributive antipoverty kinds of services that we provide in New York. So this competition for big business location decisions is dysfunctional. But, what mayors and governors supposed to do? Not compete and then look like they didn’t care about one of the biggest companies in the country, with the largest number of jobs on the table…New York City shouldn’t compete for that? That’s insane. We have to. We had to. Now the package itself…did we give away too much? It was a competition for God’s sake. They were trying to, you know, figure out what to do. And where are you going to get the money to do the redistribution and the progressive kinds of programs that we want to do? If you, if you say to companies like Amazon, ‘we’re not interested in you bringing your 40,000 jobs here.’ Moreover, 60 percent of these jobs are non tech jobs too. So, here is from my point of view what should happen now. If the political class and the advocacy class in New York City were smart, they would be going directly to Amazon now and saying, ‘look we want you here, we get it. But we need to now negotiate with government together with you because we want you to put some money into these things too.’ But it’s government, the state and the city, that we need to negotiate for investment in infrastructure in this community, particularly transportation infrastructure, schools and affordable housing and parks. OK. That’s what we need. We need this infrastructure. That’s the issue. Not that we don’t need Amazon. We need Amazon. This is the transformation of an old industrial 20th century economy into the 21st century economy. New York needs tech jobs because that’s 21st century jobs.
Fred Harris: So you don’t think there are legitimate questions about displacement of people in Long Island City as a result of–.
Ester Fuchs: But the displacement issue is so fraught and so complex. The big problems are all these loopholes in the rent stabilization laws and the failure of the city to go in and do the oversight. There’s no oversight for when these landlords break the law and push people out. So that’s what I want to see first. And I, you know, displacement to me is real but it’s very complex. We need to build more housing. We are not incentivizing affordable housing in a way that we need to.We’re losing more affordable housing than the Mayor could possibly build with all his incentives. Why we look at the damn incentives being given to the real estate industry to build housing? Let’s just like regulate this a little bit better in some way and actually do the oversight. And that to me would be important. Moreover, Long Island City with primarily low rises. There’s plenty of room for housing. The market is soft right now. The rental market was soft in Long Island City because there is a lot of luxury that was built over there that nobody’s renting. So this is an area ripe for 21st century development. So the issue is how do we do this? How do we engage the community? And get down to business and do the work. Sit with Amazon. Sit with the mayor and the governor. And sit with community organizations and figure out now what’s the best interest of your city now. This is a city project. This is not just Long Island City we’re talking about. We need those jobs in New York. We had to make sure New Yorkers get those jobs. That their training…where are the job training programs? Come on, we know what to ask for. So now let’s get it.
Fred Harris: So there you have it folks, the pragmatic Utopian. This has been a great conversation. Thank you so much Ester for coming through to the Dean’s table.
Ester Fuchs: Oh Fred you are the best. Thank you for having me. You’re amazing.
Fred Harris: And so are you.
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The Dean’s Table is produced by Destry Maria Sibley with production assistance from Jack Reilly. Our technical engineers are AJ Mangone and Airiayana Sullivan. Our lead researcher is Kala Deterville. Our logo is by Jessica Lilien. Our music is by Imperial. I’m Dean Harris.