April: Back from D.C.

Okay, looks like that New Year’s resolution didn’t go all that well. I may switch to a more continuous-blog format for this page shortly; in the meantime, here’s a two-month recap of my doings and whereabouts:

I usually start things off with the articles I’ve written, but then, it’s not every month that I testify before Congress. On March 29, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy (chaired by Rep. Dennis Kucinich) had me in to testify on a panel discussing public funding of sports stadiums. The hearing lasted three and a half hours, and also included community activists, sports economists, and an IRS official who looked creepily like Bud Selig – you can see it all via C-SPAN’s website, or read our written testimony on the subcommittee’s site.

Back in the written world, I’ve been focusing on stadiums a fair bit as well, it being both legislative season and the start of baseball season. For Baseball Prospectus I took a look at the status of the four new stadiums (and one renovated one) approved last year, as well as the new deals the Oakland A’s and Florida Marlins hope to cut this year. (Both subscribers-only, sorry.) I also made my long-awaited return to the pages of the Village Voice with a look at the details of the new Yankees and Mets stadiums to see just what New Yorkers are getting for their $720 million in state and city tax money. (Hint: It’s not better views from the cheap seats.)

I also tried my hand of late at the ever-popular pastime of concocting new baseball statistics, introducing MP/MWW to evaluate which teams got the most bang for their payroll spending buck, ROPE to gauge their return on player investment (not very good, as it turns out), and BAD and BADr to find the most wasteful player contracts of all time. Murray Chass, forgive me.

Other of my writings in the last two months include: a look at the cost overruns that are threatening New York City’s #7 subway line extension (for the newspaper City Hall); a report on the city’s individualized medical/psychological care system for welfare recipients that costs $200 million and doesn’t provide individualized care; coverage of the anticlimactic groundbreaking for Brooklyn’s controversial new Atlantic Yards project; and a report on how the city proposed to switch a pair of two-way streets to one-way in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, and ended up faced with an angry mob that charged it was all part of a plan to making it easier for fans to speed to the controversial new Atlantic Yards project (last three all for the Voice’s Runnin’ Scared news blog). Also, for the transit news site Streetsblog, reports on Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to create a “sustainable” New York for 2030, and a UCLA professor who thinks “market-rate” parking meters are the solution to midtown traffic and parking woes.

Finally, to top off a busy bimonth (quadrifortnight?), I dropped in on a fascinating lunch talk by several ’60s activists featured in the great oral historian Jeff Kisseloff’s equally great new book, Generation on Fire, and wrote about it for In These Times magazine. If you like the article, read the website; if you like the website, buy the book. Actually, just buy the book anyway – it’s worth it alone for Gloria Richardson and Bob Kellner’s recounting of their time at the front lines of the civil rights movement, which is a sorely needed antidote to revisionist crap like “Mississippi Burning.”

Coming up next: I’ll have a long piece in the April 11 issue of the Village Voice, so check their website starting on the afternoon of the 10th. After that, I have a bunch of irons in the fire, so stay tuned to this site for more news of the world around you and its trip to hell in a handbasket.

Oh, and donate to WFMU! It’s not too late, and it’ll get you into heaven. I promise. I know a guy.