CityLab explores what California could learn from France’s “yellow vest” protests, sparked in part by proposed gasoline tax hike that would have fallen disproportionately on people living outside of cities who still need to rely on private transportation and feel increasingly economically crunched: “On the surface, the gas tax seems fair: If people choose to drive rather than get around using more planet-friendly modes like public transportation, they should pay the price for contributing to climate change and pollution. And those who make more ecologically responsible choices—whether that’s walking, riding a bike, or using transit—should be rewarded…[But] the Bay Area is infamous for its extreme wealth inequality and an acute housing crisis that is driving many long-term residents—particularly low-income people and people of color—to outlying areas that have fewer job opportunities and are disconnected from the region’s public transportation network. Between 2000 and 2015, thousands of low-income black households were displaced from the Bay Area, and low-income households of color were more vulnerable to displacement than low-income white households. Many people living beyond the reach of the Bay Area’s BART train system have few viable alternatives to driving to get to their jobs, and the state isn’t doing enough to change that. Driving in California is expensive. The state’s gas prices are the highest in the continental U.S, more than a dollar above the national average. The high cost of fuel imposes a particular burden on low-income workers commuting from the suburbs into urban centers, where the bulk of high-paying jobs are located. In the Bay Area, low-income households’ third largest category of expenses is transportation, after housing and food… If everyone in the state had equal access to quality public transportation, the gas tax would be a fair incentive to motivate people to ditch their cars. As it is, it punishes people for not having access to transit options that meet their needs.… The problem with the way we are currently pursuing urban infill in California is that we are unfairly burdening the state’s already disadvantaged communities with the costs of our transition to a greener society, while excluding them from the benefits. Exurban drivers pay fuel taxes, but don’t get better public transportation service or other benefits of curtailed driving, such as reduced exposure to air pollution. At the regional level, we may be reducing emissions, but this doesn’t do much for the communities breathing in exhaust along commuter corridors like I-80, where little effort is being made to reduce vehicle traffic.”
In a USA Today op-ed, Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that his department will propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that could result in 755,000 people losing access to nutrition benefits. The proposed rule would limit the ability of states to waive work requirements for so-called “able-bodied adults without dependents” between the ages of 18 and 49, requiring that waivers could only be used where the county-level unemployment rate exceeded seven percent.
Homicides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, fell for a third consecutive year. In an interview with TMJ4, Reggie Moore, the director of the City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention, said that the city’s new Blueprint for Peace is “really about holding leadership at every level accountable and each other accountable, to say are we going to prevent violence in the front end, or continue to react to it on the backend.”
The Associated Press analyzed life expectancy and demographic data for 65,662 census tracts, each covering approximately 4,000 residents, and found that “certain demographic qualities — high rates of unemployment, low household income, a concentration of black or Native American residents and low rates of high school education — affected life expectancy in most neighborhoods… An increase of 10 percentage points in the unemployment rate in a neighborhood translated to a loss of roughly a year and a half of life expectancy, the AP found. A neighborhood where more adults failed to graduate high school had shorter predicted longevity… In one North Carolina neighborhood — Fearrington Village in Chatham County — a child born between 2010 and 2015 can expect to live 97.5 years, the highest estimated lifespan for any neighborhood in the U.S. A child in part of Stilwell in Adair County, Oklahoma, can expect 59 years on average, the nation’s lowest.”
The potential for a partial government shutdown over the administration’s demands for $5 billion in border wall funding looms today. Earlier this week, the Senate passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8, which President Trump said he would not sign. On Thursday night, the House passed a spending bill that includes wall funding, which would not pass the Senate, where it would require support from Democrats. If the government partial shuts down, the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, State, and Homeland Security would be left without funding.