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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  December 27, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm EST

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>> this is al jazeera america. live from new york city. i'm stephanie sy with a look at today's top stories. in beirut a car bomb has killed lebanon's finance adviser and he had also been lebanon's ambassador to the u.s. he was an outspoken critic of syria and hezbollah. there was heavy fighting across the country. three people were killed and 250 have been arrested. the clashes come days after the interim government declared the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization. a federal judge in new york city has ruled that the national security agency's bulk collection of telephone records
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is legal. the ruling comes juster after a week when the program violates the u.s. constitution. connecticut state police have released thousands of documents relate together mass shooting at sandy hook elementary. 26 people were killed, including 20 children. the u.s. and japan have settled their dispute over a marine base in okinawa. they'll move the base to a remote part of the island. you can always head to our website at www.aljazeera.com. >> america's cities are a mixed bag. some are thriving. some are sinking. one thing they have in common is this: when they get into trouble they can't look to the state house or capitol hill for help.
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running cities in the time of austerity. that's the inside story. >> hello, i'm ray suarez. for many american cities the big municipalities for the core of the metropolitan areas it was a rough half century. from the 1950s on many of them watched as people, investment, infrastructure, corporate headquarters all fled to the suburbs or newly zooming cities in the sun belt. the government propped up sagging cities with programs, housing support, transit and educational funding all kinds of taxpayer funded support. as the axis swung to the suburbs resentment of the cities grew and they tumbled into decay and
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decline. since then many places have started to grow again. many suburbs have long since gun to have the same problems as their urban neighbors. even as economic growth has been uneven, sporadic, many cities are healthier financially than their states, healthier than their federal government. an urban report card on this addition of "inside story" we begin with this background. >> thank you very much. >> some of america's major cities are waving good buy to their veteran mayors this year. the mayor of los angeles' leadership ended over the summer. new york city's mayor michael bloomberg is leaving, too, after more than a decade at city hall. >> new york city has never been stronger than it is today, and i think it's fair to say that our future has never been brighter.
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>> reporter: in the final speech of the term, he said his city today is drastically different from the one he took glover i think it's safe to say that it's clear that the golden age of the suburb is over, and it is being replaced by a new urban renaissance redefining the future. >> reporter: violence, governmental dysfunction, decay. in the 1970s new york lost more than 10% of its population. it was a center of a growing trend of cities around the country where middle class residents were fleeing fast to the suburbs. >> if you want to change the world, run for mayor. >> i, michael r. bloomberg do solemnly swear... >> ly after the september 11th attacks he took over investing. it would be his legacy and
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inspiration to other metropolitan areas around the country. today crime is way down in new york. perhaps in part due to a tough and controversial policing policy called stop and frisk. many minority residents see it as discriminatory, but murders are down 65%, and shootings have been cut in half. the city's face has been changing. 40,000 new buildings have been built over bloomberg's tenure and a third has been rezoned making it easier for developers. but long term areas of rapid gentrification complain that the city is becoming a place of the super rich and the super poor with the wealth gap continue to go grow. cities are now the place 80% of americans call home, and cities contribute 75% of the national economic output. but there are many challenges.
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ailing infrastructures, and municipal employee pensions to be paid. >> as optimistic as i am about the look ahead and change the world for the better, and you'll find no stronger believer in that idea than me, we cannot align ourselves to the obstacles that stand in the way. right now our country appears to be in the early stages of a growing fiscal crisis that if nothing is done will extract a terrible toll on the next generation. >> rising from the great recession americaen cities are on the mend according to the advocacy group the national league of cities, but some key issues still need addressing. seven years of declining tax revenues are strangling many city budgets hurting programs such as pensions, affordable housing, foreclosures, and inner city neighborhoods safe and a bad buy.
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but on the other hand new luxury homes are replacing public housing racing rent in cities to new highs. deteriorating transportation, and eroding transportation is hurting city's ability to prosper as outdated trains make it hard for commute. the transformation is far from over in towns of new york and boston. all eyes are on them. economists estimate that 10% of all global gdp growth will come from american cities in the coming decade. >> joining me now to talk about the health of our nation cities at a time of limited resources are from new orleans, also from new orleans, the former mayor
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who is now president urgent urban league. james brook, program director of the national league of cities and from boston a reporter with wbur radio. james, you heard player bloomberg. he said the golden age of the suburbs is over, do the fact back him up? >> the facts are mixed. cities, i think, with mayors like mayor bloomberg and others who will be in office, the mayor in st. paul, the mayor in houston, who have had good tenure and good success, they continue to be a great and continuing source of real leadership in cities, in different parts of the united states. yes, there is a generational change in cities like new york and chicago and other places, but i think we have seen a lot of innovative creative leaders at a local level at a time when leadership is needed. i think that does help cities as
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you look forward some of the fiscal issues being barriers that they have to all confront. >> you mentioned a generational change, and i did back of the envelope calculation between joe reilly in charleston, john hickenlooper in denver, gavin newsome and michael bloomberg. that's more of a century of city hall experience walking out the door in the next two years. >> yes, michael bloomberg will do consulting for cities in his time ahead of him. certainly those leaders of some of the largest cities have had some great programming, some great success, some serious challenges, and some set backs. i think if you look at the totality of cities some leadership like new york, chicago, los angeles, charlie hails, the new mayor in portland
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is coming back after having been a city commissioner. there is a lot of good talent focused on problem solving, focused on doing work in city, which is ultimately making places to live better for their citizens, and they've been doing it in the midst of the economic recession without much help from the states or federal government. >> not that it's ever a great time to be running a city. but with the recession they were taking in less money, and their states were in crisis, and the feds were in crisis. >> yes. >> did everybody hold fast during that time? could cities really invest in themselves? >> i don't think you could say that they invested in themselves. they were trenched. all you had to do was look at the statistics. cities laid off staff members, even public safety police and fire officials, housing departments were decimated. building inspectors went lots of services were contracted out. volunteers were recruited to clean up parks. cities continued to pay their
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debts. paying off municipal bonds, and they continued to do that. they had a difficult time. they struggled. they tried to be innovative. they tried to find public public-private partnerships, and partnerships with not-for-profit sectors. there was considerable innovation. cities are not out of the woods. they still have a ways to go despite your accurate report for the fiscal continue of the national league of cities. they're up turn in terms of revenues but their seven years of decline in revenues, so rebuilding programs especially for the quality of life, neighborhood beautification. going back to that is going to be difficult. public safety as well. >> james brooks stay with us. we'll bring th others in the conversation after this brief break. this is inside story. stay with us.
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al jazeera america is growing and now more americans are getting the high quality, original, in-depth reporting al jazeera america is known for. >> to find out more about al jazeera america go to aljazeera.com here is more. >> beneath the fluorescentsun in a former meat packing plant is the latest trim in farming. they call it "vertical farming." these fields grow on floors on at industrial park and farmer john adel and his staff agrees user. >> my shipping proceed did you say 1500, 2,000 miles to
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get are. >> the plant of the indoor -- as the indoor formers call it doesn't grow corn or soybeans but mustard, high end micro greens on the plates of white-napkin restaurants. these fish supply the vert liser that number issues the >> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. and we're talking about city management and growth in a time of great fiscal limitations. still with us roberta, and mark
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now president and korea of the urban league, and james brooks, program director of the national league of cities, and david, reporter with wbur. mark, many of the cities that are doing well have become expensive places to live, added a lot of workers to their job rolls, yet we see eve inequality widening. have these cities where there have been a large number of black and brown americans live in them help them move forward as well? >> i think you pointed to one of the new most important challenges that this new generation of mayors are facing. this growing economic divide, the great divide as i call it between haves and have notes in a city. and i think cities have always been places of greatest nic gred backgrounds and economic classes. i think the prospect
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of the city being the only place of the very rich or the very poor live is not a healthy future for america's urban communities. i also believe that all cities are not the same. a city like new york with 8 million people, a global marketplace, the financial and media center of the world may be unique, maybe have a set of opportunities and resources and challenges with relationship in state government is very different than the relationship that many cities have with their state governments. so in talking about this i think its important to also look at the fact that a baltimore or detroit or memphis may have a set of challenges and may not be exactly the same. as a new york or boston or washington, d.c. the other point that i think is important to make is the suburbs are in effect the citing, meaning that suburbs today whether it is the outskirts of a washington or new york or
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atlanta or suburban new orleans, have many of the problems of an urban community. they have challenges with schools. they have a growing economic divide, they have crumbling infrastructure. they have challenges with respect to crime. in that i believe is an opportunity for a different and new type of political coalition, if you will, and that is the city not in opposite, but the city's plus the suburbs with the united front about policy at the state levels and state capitols, indeed, at the federal level. this new generation of mayors will have to confront and canned stancan'tstand on the side where recession has exacerbated. it has created a whoa new set of challenges. i hope new mayors will embrace this, not only on the local level but be a voice on the national level to work to close
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the economic divide. indeed, i think a narrow divide will mean healthier american urban communities, lower crime, improved outcomes all across the line. how you do it needs to be a part of vigorous and i think healthy debate. >> roberta, let me turn to you, because you're turning your experienced eye to the efforts to rebuild new orleans afte aftr katrina, and it's still a place that has been battered by that storm eight more years later. what is the prospects of a place like new orleans trying to rebuild at a time when the rest of the country can hardly chip in. when the statement government of baton rouge, the federal government maybe an ou hour or o hours away by jet plane is not opening its purpose b purse by g
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here, here is what you need to get back on your feet. >> the most important thing is we have to look beyond government. beyond the mayor, the city hall, all the officials in the city government, and really look to what the people are doing, and to acknowledge that, and i've been writing about this for decades. the turn around, the beginning of regeneration, the seeds for the regeneration that we're seeing in many ways overgrown today started in the worst of times of the 1970s. it was a trickle then, but young people were moving back. they were moving back into the neighborhoods that had been abandoned, where values were great, and where the lifestyle was more to their liking than the suburbs. it wasn't from a trickle in the 7070's to a stream in the 80's d
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a gush in the 90's during the boom years. we saw in new york and a number of other places cities where a lot of people did well in the 90s when the economy was strong. we're noticing it even more in the turn of the century because what has happened take a place like new york. the regeneration started, they moved to soho. they crossed the river to brooklyn. now brooklyn is hooked. they're going into queens, spreading all out over the city, and people are still choosing the lifestyle of coming back. it's not all one way, by any means. the difference today and 50 years ago is that it's understood both options are vie i believe, not just the one option of the suburbs. this is what has been driving the recovers of our cities. not necessarily city hall.
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for example, i find it really interesting, and it's not untrue that bloomberg has made a lot over the drop in crime rates. when giuliani was mayor, he was admired further away you got from new york than new york itself. then he became a hero in 9/11. but the crime rate began to go down under the administration and people were worried about giuliani. and a lot of people were worrying, what was going to happen after giuliani was gone. >> then crime continued to drop and dropped even further. now new york is even at its early 1960's rates of crimes where people my age remember when there were little kids, and the way we looked at the street then. it's a remarkable change.
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david, roberta brought up the roaring economy of the 90's. and the mayor's two firms coincided with those sometimes. did that help shape the way people felt about him now that he's about to leave city hall? >> it did, indeed. he said in his farewell speech that he said he couldn't believe that he had the fortune of being mayor of boston during it's best decades. we have strong hospitals, universities, and you can't underrate the value of those things. i also think that business is revaluing the city. in this information economy. the density of the city. proximity of creative people. it's very important. and people are seeing a real value in the city and are pouring. >> places like new york, the booming innovation district along the waterfront here in boston. >> just a short break, and when
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we return we'll talk about the legacy of the great recession as cities move forward from today. this is "inside story." stay with us.
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>> welcome back. this edition of inside story is an urban report card for our nation's cities for those who knew, know, and run them. now so many cities have weathered this terrible recession, what is job one now. >> invest in infrastructure and job creation i think it job one. to think about it each and every day. how you rebuild, the jobs in the community both from a public
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sector, investment standpoint, and a private sector standpoint. invest in small businesses. that's what is needed, and leadership that brings people together across ethnic and political lines. that's going to be the challenge for this new generation of mayors. >> david, is there a risk of sort of killing the goose that lays the golden egg? is boston losing families that might otherwise stay just because the cost of live something becoming so high? >> certainly the cost of live something taking off here, and i think mayors marty walsh campaigned on this, i think there will be limits on what mayors can do around poverty. they'll look at early education and job training, we'll see if it works. >> roberta, in new orleans they have done a lot of things right and there has been a lot of
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investment. what does it have to watch out for? >> i think the interesting story in new orleans is still unfolding, but it's really happening out there in the neighborhoods and among the people of new orleans who have made a commitment to rebuild, return, and do things despite a lot of government impediments. i think both in new orleans and in every city we have to look beyond the so-called mega development projects that are expensive, and put all the money in the top, and do nothing about trickling down to the economy. i think mark's point about investing in small businesses and in more localized job creators, that's where the job creation really is, and that's where we need the investment. not in big development projects that really only go to the one percent. >> james, big development is out of fashion, but just like daniel burnham said over a century ago
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little plans have no power to stir men's blood. people want development home runs, don't they? >> yes, they do. look at iowa and it's partnerships with ibm, really remarkable relationship looking at debuick. small cities, on the river, historic architecture, ibm came in and took over an old department store and help them advance their sustainability agenda. high technology and it will be one of those gigabyte cities. that's a big development. but like el paso talked about citizen-centered development on their rezoning plan. that's another approach. >> let me stop through. i'm wondering if the success of some of the bigger and better known cities will actually cause people looking for a bargain to take a second look at places like toledo, which was featured
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in today's "new york times." >> i think there are lots of opportunities. cleveland is one of my favorite examples because cleveland and it's surrounding region and goes to some point that mark made, the regional thinking in northeast ohio is drawing big cities and their smaller suburban cities together to think regionally to do some clever things. take advantage of the universities in the area. the infrastructure already in place. that's a way to think about this as well. >> and what do the balance shiites look like? can places like detroit, flint, pull out of what looks from the outside like a death spiral? >> detroit is an unique case, i think. i've been following the bankruptcy issues there with judge rhodes. they've had some good plug as recently as a couple of days ago with reframing their loans and their pensions. i think detroit is on its way to improvement, but it has a long way to go just like some other cities do.
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>> james brooks, david, mark and roberta, thank you all for being with me. >> thank you, ray. >> thanks a lot. that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story." thanks for being with us. now the program may be over but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about the issues raised on this program or any edition of the show. you can log on to our facebook page. you can send us your thoughts on twitter. our handle, aj inside story a.m. or reach me directly at ray suarez news. we'll see you for the next inside story. and we'll see you all throughout 2014. so continue to join us. in washington i'm ray suarez.
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>> every summer in america, a force of nature becomes a man-made disaster. some call it a war, millions of acres, billions of dollars. no end in sight. >> in this episode of fault lines, we follow the 2013 wildfire season and ask - with more homes than ever now under threat, what are the real costs of putting them out? >> the fire took a breath and we got our foot on the throat of it and we're going to keep choking it out.

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