July: Ire and Rain

We were all set to head west for the four-day celebration of freedom for slaveholders, but nature has decided to remind us why they’re called floodplains, so we may go north instead. In the meantime, a recap of my writings and other noteworthy events from the month of June:

The Village Voice may be down
one editor-in-chief
, but the printing presses – and the, er, website presses – continue to churn, with a good chunk of this month’s output bearing the byline of yours truly. The big item: My investigation of Housing Stability Plus, the New York City homelessness-prevention program that is increasingly leaving families stuck in substandard housing with no way to pay their rent. And if you thought that was the whole reason behind the homelessness crisis in the first place, well, read the article. (It has a picture of a cute kid, even!)

On the web front, I covered two of New York’s ongoing sports-subsidy controversies: first, the Bronx borough president’s move to punish
those who voted against his Yankees stadium plan
by booting them from the community board (followup story here); and second, the growing opposition to New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner’s plan for a basketball-arena-and-skyscraper development in Brooklyn for being too damn freaking ginormous. And I haven’t even gotten a chance to weigh in on the Mets’ demands for a new commuter rail station or the plans to shoehorn a new Madison Square Garden into a landmarked Manhattan post office building – watch for them in July, perhaps.

Finally, just this week I covered the release of the new federal welfare rules by the Department of Health and Human Services, a hugely important development for anyone who relies on public assistance – or any state taxpayers who pay the bills for the programs – but which, aside from the AP and the Washington Post, the daily media mostly greeted with complete disinterest. In a nutshell: The Bush Administration has drastically reduced the number of allowable “work activities” under the welfare law, which could lead to a renewed wave of families being kicked off the rolls. Outside of a nutshell, read the full article.

Finally, my analysis of media coverage of poverty since Hurricane Katrina will appear in the July/August issue of Extra!, the magazine of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which should be hitting shelves and mailboxes in
mid-July. Not sure yet if it’ll be on the web as well, but if it is, I’ll add a link to it here.

Also upcoming in July: For those in the Philadelphia area, I’ll be speaking (along with my comrade Dave Zirin) at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, on Thursday, July 6, at 7 pm, on “The Dirty Business of Sports and the Rebellious Athletes Who Play Them” (so I’m told). For those
not in the the Philadelphia area, or just too lazy to get off their butts and walk away from the computer, I’ll be doing a live chat about stadium
shenanigans, baseball’s upcoming labor talks, and other stuff like that, at baseballprospectus.com, Friday, July 14, 1 pm Eastern time. As always, questions can be submitted ahead of time; for that matter, questions can be submitted after the
fact, but not if you want them answered.

Let’s see, war on the poor, stadium ripoffs, natural disasters … yep, that about covers it for this month. I think I need to cheer myself up by listening to the Art Brut record a couple of times in a row. I recommend that you do the same.

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