Letters 4 the Damned

"An Injustice A Day, Keeps Equality Away"

Playing with Fire: The Privacy Implications of Connected Vehicle Technology

Why is it that connected car data needs to be protected? One reason is its value. Data from connected vehicle technology is estimated to be worth 1.5 trillion dollars by 2030.[1] The other reason is that it may contain private information about the driver or individual who owns the vehicle. In my previous article, I discussed the security concerns created by connected vehicle technology yet the privacy implications could be just as devastating.

Privacy concerns are raised by the transmission of data between cars, the type of data gathered, where that data is stored, and how it is used. In order to protect data in transmission, especially personal identification information, data “need[s] to be robustly anonymized, strongly encrypted, and securely protected.” [2] NHTSA aims to exclude personal identification information from vehicle-to-vehicle communications and utilize encryption to lower the risk of eavesdropping on the transfer of data.

NHTSA’s proposed rulemaking requires data on message packaging, time, location, movement, path history, future predicted path, exterior lights, vehicle based motion indicators, vehicle size, other optional data, and event data including but not limited to antilock brake system activation, stability control activation, airbag deployment, and hard braking. [3] The proposed rule excludes “data identifying a specific private vehicle or individual regularly associated with it, or data reasonably linkable or linkable, as a practical matter, to an individual.” NHTSA defines reasonably linkable and linkable as a practical matter as “capable of being used to identify a specific individual on a persistent basis without unreasonable cost or effort, in real time or retrospectively, given available data sources.” [4]

NHTSA is seeking comment on whether any of the required data listed above or a combination of it could be utilized to identify an individual. However, one troubling aspect is the definition of linkable which seems to leave open data that could identify an individual if doing so requires unreasonable cost or effort. In the world of cybersecurity where Advanced Persistent Threats are becoming a more frequent occurrence such a loose definition should be narrowed further.

The type of data being gathered by connected vehicle and autonomous technology also creates concerns regarding stalking or other criminal behavior. Generally speaking, data from connected vehicle and autonomous technologies “can be correlated with other information…. the location where the vehicle is regularly parked overnight…could be used to profile the likely user…and to predict the user’s actions.” [5]

Adversaries also focus on obtaining financial gain through hacking vehicles and violating privacy. This may be achieved in several different ways; remote unlocking and theft of vehicles, ransoming control of the vehicle until receipt of payment through untraceable bitcoin, accessing data located on driver’s cell phones through USB ports in the vehicle, or listening to conversations inside a vehicle via Bluetooth connectivity. [6] The proposed Digital Short Range Communications devices will provide an additional attack pathway to the vehicle.

In regards to data storage, the Markey Report found that the majority of auto manufacturers offered technology features that gathered and sent data to a data center, sometimes run by a third party. [7] Most of these manufacturers could not describe measures that were in place to protect the data although many utilized the data in a variety of ways.   Furthermore, “[c]ustomers [we]re often not explicitly made aware of data collection and, when they [we]re, they often cannot opt out without disabling valuable features, such as navigation.” [8]

In response to NHTSA’s 2014 ANPRM on connected vehicle technology the Electronic Privacy Information Center advised that NHTSA should conduct a more comprehensive analysis of privacy and security and “…not collect PII without the express, written authorization of the vehicle owner…ensure that no data will be stored either locally or remotely…require end-to-end encryption of V2V communications, including the basic safety messages…require end-to-end anonymity; and …require auto manufacturers to adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.” [9]  While NHTSA has clearly taken steps to exclude personal information from connected vehicle technology and protect privacy such steps can always be improved upon possibly through collaboration across agencies.

  • Christopher Kolezynski

[1] Clark T., Fasten Your Seat Belt Connected Car Data Worth 1.5 Trillion, Forbes (Sep. 17, 2016),  http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2016/09/07/fasten-your-seat-belt-connected-car-data-worth-1-5-trillion/#54eff6f65a2b

[2] Glancy, D., Privacy in Autonomous Vehicles, 52 Santa Clara L. Rev. 1171, 1205 (2012).

[3]  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; V2V Communications, 49 CFR Part 571, 106-122 (proposed Dec. 13 2016) (to be codified at 49 CFR pt. 571).

[4] Id at 123.

[5] Glancy, D., Privacy in Autonomous Vehicles, 52 Santa Clara L. Rev. 1171, 1196 (2012).

[6] Burke Katie, What do car hackers really want? Security threats are mostly about money, Automotive News (October 17, 2016), http://www.autonews.com/article/20161017/OEM06/310179880/what-do-car-hackers-really-want.

[7] Markey, Tracking & Hacking: Security and Privacy Risks Put American Drivers at Risk, at 1.

[8] Id. The SPY Car Act explicitly addresses the concern over loss of navigation features when opting out of data collection.

[9] Comments of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications, 79 Fed. Reg. 161 (comment sent October 20, 2014) (to be codified at 49. C.F.R. 571).



Playing with Fire: The Security Implications of Connected Vehicle Technology

How would you feel if I told you a man by the name of Charlie Miller held in his hands the power to throw over one million vehicle transmissions into neutral? How would you feel if I also told you Miller acquired this capability using a connected vehicle technology that allowed millions of vehicles to communicate with one another? [i] Now, how would you feel if I told you the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration proposed on December 13 to mandate connected vehicle technology in all new light vehicles? Are you concerned?

On December 13, 2016 NHTSA released the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would require auto manufacturers to install Digital Short Range Communication Devices in all new light vehicles. [ii] These devices utilize the 5.9GHz bandwidth to warn drivers of impending collisions, other vehicles, and hazardous road conditions. The purpose of this technology is to save lives but done haphazardly such technology can also cost lives.

Approximately six months prior to the release of NHTSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Public Knowledge and the Open Technology Institute petitioned the FCC for “Rulemaking and Emergency Stay of Operation of…(“DSRC”) in the 5.9 GHz Band.”   The petition explained “[t]he DSRC service lack[ed] rules…to protect DSRC units from malware or other forms of cybersecurity attacks.” [iii] The FCC took notice of this petition and opened the issue for public comment approximately two months later. [iv]

Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal wrote the FCC on August 4, 2016 expressing their concerns over vehicle-to-vehicle communications and the lack of cyber security protections. “[H]ackers could remotely access one vehicle or one commercial application then use its DSRC system to spread malware. That could allow hackers to commandeer vehicles and intentionally cause crashes.” [v]

Presently many auto manufacturers are voluntarily installing connected vehicle technology with little cybersecurity protection. A 2015 Report by Senator Edward Markey on connected vehicle technologies found that “[s]ecurity measures to prevent remote access to vehicle electronics [wer]e inconsistent and haphazard across all auto manufacturers…[and] [o]nly two automobile manufacturers were able to describe any capabilities to diagnose or meaningfully respond to an infiltration in real-time, and most sa[id] they rel[ied] on technologies that cannot be used for th[at] purpose at all.”[vi]

In 2013 a Government Accountability Office Report on vehicle-to-vehicle technology stated that “[o]f…21 experts…interviewed, 12 cited the technical development of a V2V communication security system as a great or very great challenge to the deployment of V2V technologies.” [vii] Two years later in 2015 the MITRE Corporation in its technical report to the Department of Transportation found 21 “high level threats” to the connected vehicle communication system. [viii]

NHTSA’s V2V rulemaking proposes a digital certification management system to prevent unauthorized devices from communicating with the network. “As a networked system, V2V/V2I are intended to employ a secure and reliable communications network, allow only certified devices to access that network, and have a trusted entity (the Security Certificate Management System – “SCMS”) to issue, distribute, and, when necessary, revoke device certificates.” [ix]

Such a strategy would require any device communicating with the network to be registered and certified by a trusted third party. The devices also utilize predetermined message structures and are required to be able to detect and report anomalies in messaging. “The required V2V devices must implement a message authentication proposal that enhances “confidence in the authenticity of V2V messages and secure the exchange of safety data,” and requires V2V devices to be able to check incoming safety messages to detect and avoid “misbehavior.” [x] However, there are two major flaws with these strategies.

Anyone that could obtain access to the trusted third party certificate authority could potentially add and certify a new device allowing an adversary to communicate with the network and malware which possesses metamorphic features could emulate predetermined message structures. Even worse, if an adversary gains access to the private key the entire network would be compromised. Furthermore, if commercial applications utilize the same bandwidth [xi] those applications could be exploited to gain access to the DSRC network.

“Although the NPRM would require V2V technology to be installed in vehicles when manufactured, V2V systems could also be installed “aftermarket” or potentially could be brought into the vehicle by handheld devices.” [xii] However, leaving such systems open to aftermarket devices and handheld devices creates numerous other vulnerabilities and entryways into the network. Furthermore, the NPRM doesn’t take into account the insider threat posed by disgruntled or negligent employees installing these systems.

In summary once access is gained the extent of the damage caused depends solely on the skill of the adversary. The level of risk created by the mandate of connected vehicle technology demands careful consideration and collaboration across agencies. If done carefully the technology may protect drivers on the nation’s highways. Yet if rushed that same technology will endanger the very lives it seeks to protect.

  • Christopher Kolezynski

[i] CYBERWAR: The Zero Day Market, (Vice Productions Inc. 2016). Miller was never paid for his work. Although one year later Chrysler changed policy and began a company bounty program paying researchers who found vulnerabilities in their cars. They were the first major American car company to do so. Miller explains “car companies are so new to this. Most car companies, you don’t even know who you would contact to tell them you found a vulnerability.”

[ii] Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; V2V Communications, 49 CFR Part 571 (proposed Dec. 13 2016) (to be codified at 49 CFR pt. 571). NHTSA released their Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in August 2014.

[iii] Open Technology Institute & Public Knowledge, Petition for Rulemaking and Request for Emergency Stay of Operation of Dedicated Short-Range Communications Service in the 5.850-5.9925 GHZ Band (5.9 GHZ Band), i (June 28, 2016).

[iv] Beyoud L., FCC Studying Cybersecurity of Connected Vehicle Tech, (July 27, 2016) BNA http://www.bna.com/fcc-studying-cybersecurity-n73014445537/.

[v] Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, Letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler, (Aug. 4, 2016) available at https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2016-08-04-Markey-Blumenthal-Cybersecurity-cars-FCC.pdf.

[vi] Senator Ed Markey, Tracking & Hacking: Security and Privacy Risks Put American Drivers at Risk, 1 (Feb. 2015).

[vii] US Gov’t Accountability Off., Intelligent Transportation Systems: Vehicle to Vehicle Technologies Offer Safety Benefits but a Variety of Deployment Challenges Exist GAO-14-13, at 21 (2013).

[viii] MITRE Corporation, Final Requirements Report, Dept. of Transportation FHWA-JPO-15-235, ii (Sept. 11, 2015), https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=NHTSA-2016-0126-0008&attachmentNumber=1&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf.

[ix] Gossett D., NHTSA Issues Proposed V2V Crash Avoidance Technology Rule, Lexology (Dec. 19,2016), http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=22cdefa8-99f2-4dd7-bcc2-caabd953346c.

[x] Higgins J., NHTSA proposes rule on ‘vehicle-to-vehicle’ communications requiring cybersecurity controls, Inside Cybersecurity (December 14, 2016), https://insidecybersecurity.com/daily-news/dot-proposes-rules-auto-cybersecurity-seeks-public-comment.

[xi] Federal Communications Commission, Public Notice: The Commission Seeks to Update and Refresh The Record in the “Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure Devices in the 5 GHz Band” Proceeding, 1-2 (June 1, 2016), https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-68A1.pdf.

[xii] Gossett D., NHTSA Issues Proposed V2V Crash Avoidance Technology Rule, Lexology (Dec. 19,2016), http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=22cdefa8-99f2-4dd7-bcc2-caabd953346c.

Arguing for Preservation as an Economic Development Strategy

There is strong debate regarding historic preservation as an economic development strategy. While it seems common sense that the rehabilitation and land marking of historic homes would improve the quality of life in a neighborhood, some argue that the methods utilized to measure this are imperfect or largely flawed. The arguments against how these numbers are obtained are sound, reasonable, and therefore prone to changing opinions. Due to this, proponents of historic preservation should be aware of these arguments and prepared to argue against them whether through direct rebuttal or the use of related information that shows an opposing relationship. The current methodologies utilized and in question are as follows: basic cost studies, economic impact studies, regression analyses, state-preference studies, and case studies. While the methods seem complicated because of their economic nature a basic understanding is essential to countering arguments that are not pro-preservation. The arguments against preservation as an economic development strategy are highly specific in nature but strongly grounded in realistic application and therefore rather convincing. While studies vary as to these specifics, commonly assessed themes do occur and  “included in nearly all of them is an effort to measure [the economic] impact in four areas: The creation of jobs and household income from the rehabilitation process itself; the impact of heritage tourism; the impact on property values stemming from the protections of a local historic district; and economic development indicators from preservation-based downtown revitalization program[s] such as Main Street.” (Rypkema, Cheong, Mason, 15)

Scientifically speaking there are two ways to gather and assess information, from a qualitative or quantitative perspective. One of the major concerns in the academic field is the validity of qualitative data. Since historic preservation offers both private and public goods and because it is often difficult to quantitatively measure public benefits from historic preservation, qualitative analysis such as survey research becomes necessary to aid in the process. Most commonly, qualitative data is utilized to aid in measuring these priceless or public goods while economic equations and theories help to approximate the quantitative value. However, both economic and qualitative analyses are susceptible to uncertainty. This leaves historic preservation proponents open to attack and although it’s economic results are mostly positive in nature, small uncertainties can swing a public debate. The preservationist must remain thorough, concise, and factual in response. The aim of this paper is to outline the more common arguments for and against preservation in an attempt to aid or guide the pro-preservationist in acquiring public and political support. More common arguments to present in favor of preservation are the economics of individual historic preservation projects and their effects on nearby property values and local or regional economic markets.

Randall Mason, a professor of planning and historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania writes, “There is broad agreement that the benefits of historic preservation outweigh the costs. More specifically, the economic costs of preservation are outweighed by the benefits-both economic and cultural-of a robust historic preservation sector.” (Mason, 5) A common found result of individual historic projects is that “under certain conditions” preservation projects are “comparable economically to projects involving new construction.”(Mason, 5) Donovan Rypkema from PlaceEconomics in D.C. was responsible for proving that new construction is not less expensive than rehabilitation/preservation or vice versa. Rypkema’s work in large provides a layout of the conditions when rehabilitation is comparable to new construction and can provide a solid argument for pro-preservationists when advocating projects that fall under these conditions outlined by Rypkema. Through the use of Rypkema’s pro forma calculations a preservationist can get an idea of approximately just how beneficial individual projects can be. Variables in these equations consider “existing and proposed public subsidies, such as tax deductions, credits, or abatements” as well as cost benefit analysis. (Mason, 6) Economists also provide much literature that supports the land marking and regulation of individual parcels in relation to property values.

The large majority of economic studies conclude that the value of residential parcels is increased due to being designated a historic landmark. A 1993 study in Canada by Rypkema strongly supports this conclusion citing that “In every heritage district designated in Canada in the last 20 years, property values have risen despite the fact that development potential has been reduced.” Furthermore in NYC, NY an independent budget office concluded that there was a “significant price premium associated with inclusion [of a property] in an historic district.”(as cited in New York City Independent Budget Office 2003, p.2) In other studies historic designation has been found to increase property value from 5-20 percent. The small minority of studies that did not support this argument showed no evidence on the contrary, in fact, they were mostly just inconclusive. In summary, historic designation increases property values especially in regards to residential buildings and this in turn undoubtedly has a positive effect on economic development at the local level. Though designation of residential buildings and areas is proven effective, it is far from the only positive effect of preservation. In order to examine preservation specifically as an economic development tool for local and regional economies, economic impact studies become quite helpful.

Economic impact studies assist in answering several questions. One of these more common questions is, does preservation yield fiscal benefits for the public sector? Majority of opinion is that it does positively impact the economy as a whole. These effects are not only positive on a direct basis but yield positive indirect benefits as well, rebounding through the economy like Shaquille O’Neal at a Lakers game. This multiplier effect caused by preservation exceeds several other sectors that contribute to public benefit. By comparing equal investment across different sectors to the fiscal benefit of preservation, preservation exceeded the majority of other major sectors including book publishing, pharmaceutical production, and electrical component production. Whether the economic benefit was measured by employment, income, or tax revenue, preservation came out on top in all of the above areas. The following table illustrates the results of the study performed by urban planning academia Listokin, Listokin and Lahr in 1998.


Social scientists in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, and Maryland all came to a similar conclusion. Benefits range from 20,000 plus new jobs in Colorado to a 1:2 dollar return ratio for Florida for each grant dollar invested towards preservation. Furthermore the federal Main Street program utilized in Florida resulted in a staggering 10:1 return in state revenue. The Main Street program, which began in the early 80’s, has assisted around 1,700 communities since it’s inception totaling 17 billion in reinvestment as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs and above 90,000 rehabilitated buildings. An average return from the Main Street program can be expected to be around 40 dollars for every 1 dollar invested. In regards to further evidence of increased employment, when compared to new construction, rehab projects generated twice the employment as discovered in New Jersey by Listokin and Lahr. There is no doubt that studies on historic preservation and economic development overwhelmingly yield positive benefits. This is a strong point in the debate but is often attacked through an argument about the validity of the methods used to obtain these results. The outcomes and conclusions are solid and as I wrote before seem to be a mere matter of common sense. Due to the overwhelmingly positive results of these studies, opponents are left to attack the methods used to obtain these results as their prime argument. Thus, preservationists need to be aware of the weaknesses of these methods as a matter of preparedness. Hopefully these preservationists will also be able to refute said weaknesses. Scientific sources that discuss the validity of the methods used might be used to counter the argument of preservation opponents. Most importantly though we must identify these frequently declared weaknesses.

Each type of study listed in the opening paragraph contains its own weaknesses. Basic cost studies such as the one used in Rypkema’s pro forma calculations are quantitatively driven relying “on straightforward math and descriptive statistics.” (Mason, 12) This type of positivist approach is typically hard to rationally argue against. More common though with basic cost studies the problem does not rely in the equation but rather what data is used in the equation. As Mason writes regarding cost benefit analyses, a type of basic cost study, “decisions about which costs and benefits are included in the frame of a particular study should be examined carefully.” Where cost benefit analyses suffers is in its lack of comparison to other possible economic alternatives. This leads to an incomprehensive study because all the possible variables have not been accounted for. Though CBA results can be valuable in a debate, economic impact studies are more commonly used because of their easily understandable results and simple format. Both are quantitative studies but economic impact studies take into account the effect preservation has on a regional economy through its resulting multipliers and positive externalities.

Economic impact studies are probably the most convincing information to utilize in a pro-preservation debate as long as the pro-preservationist is aware of the studies weaknesses. As with basic cost studies economic impact studies do not account for all the preservation values. Most commonly they rely on market data and whatever they cannot equate to market prices is typically unused and left out of the study, again, leading to an incomprehensive study. As with basic cost studies the economic impact studies are also commonly attacked for not considering possible opportunity costs. However, “economic impact studies are more effective and meaningful when measuring the effect of investment being imported (not re-circulated) in to a particular, bounded regional economy—for instance, a tourism project drawing most of its visitors from outside the region.”(Mason, 15) When arguing economic impact studies focusing your argument on investment rather than recirculation would be more reliable in debate and less prone to rebuttal.

A third type of study, that is often utilized to measure causal relation between two variables such as educational attainment and income, is also utilized in historic preservation. Most commonly these regression analyses studies measure the economic relation between landmark designation and property value, both on an individual and on a distance-based basis. Through the use of the hedonic method, a type of regression analyses, preservationists “measure the effect of a popular historic site on land values at various distances from the site” they then compare these results to a statistically identical non-historic area. (Mason, 15) Another type of regression analyses called the travel-cost method measures the cost individuals are willing to incur to visit a specific historical site. In regards to the weaknesses of regression analyses, the literature I am using as reference seems to not mention any such weakness. If, after reviewing more specific references on regression analyses, a preservationist comes to this same conclusion then these studies may make for an irrefutable and strong argument in favor of historic preservation. A fourth type of commonly cited study, however, is largely qualitative and much more refutable thus caution should be taken, as these stated-preference studies contain more uncertainty then the other previously mentioned types of study.

There are two types of stated-preference studies used in preservation. They are contingent valuation, and choice modeling. Due to historic preservation resulting in both private and public goods it is a necessity to have a type of study to measure these public goods. By utilizing contingent valuation the entirety of preservations benefits can be more comprehensive. Public benefit is at the core of preservation and through the recognition of these priceless qualities it’s true value can be more accurately reported. Originally developed in the environmental economics field, CV or contingent valuation gained much support through its involvement in the Exxon oil spill to measure the legal damages and costs the spill caused in relation to public goods. The success of CV has led to it being used as a main alternate for economic impact studies. However still, “some criticize CV methods at the conceptual level because they are not based on actual markets and data from actual transactions” and the hypothetical nature used to measure willingness to pay is often open to much inaccuracy. (Mason, 17) Due to the substantial difference reported by economic studies on measuring reported willingness to pay and actual pay, CV is open to attack and easily refutable. This makes CV a popular but dangerous source in presenting preservation arguments. Choice modeling is the second type of stated preference study used to measure the benefits of preservation.

Choice modeling is also survey based but is based on a ranking system rather than simply picking from a list of answers. The descriptive nature of the question framework also leads to data on what attributes of a good are most valued. In historic preservation choice modeling is used to measure the whys rather than the overall cost one is willing to incur to visit a historic site. This leads to a more detailed view of the most appealing attribute of the historic site in question. Again, due to the qualitative nature of choice modeling, like CV, the findings can be refuted in numerous ways presenting an interesting but dangerous argument. Case studies are another popular source of information that is open to rebuttal based on its qualitative nature.

Measuring the validity of case studies can be done through identifying those with “clear analytical frameworks and not merely anecdotal information.”(Mason, 18) Case studies unlike the other forms of study do not focus on measuring the value of “preservation goods per se” and the most reliable case studies typically involve rigorous qualitative research and incorporate quantitative data through the use of descriptive statistics. (Mason, 18) For the most part, case studies offer an informative view of historic preservation projects, and due the narrative nature of the study they are an “effective means of disseminating information about new policy development or results of research.” (Mason, 18) There is much information to debate the positives of preservation on economic development yet as stated earlier in order to best defend preservation the advocate must be familiar with the weaknesses of the methods used to study historic preservation. This is and will continue to be the primary argument against historic preservation and economic development until the research methods improve over time. Until then advocates must become familiar with and utilize as much literature as possible to properly defend historic preservation as an economic development strategy.

After perusing many scholarly articles on historic preservation as an economic development strategy the literature that presented the best overview and most relevant detailed information was that of Randall Mason and his discussion paper Economics and Historic Preservation: A Guide and Review of the Literature. Not only did this paper provide the most concise and detailed overview of the economic benefits of preservation but it also identified the weaknesses used to refute the preservation argument. In regards to other reference literature the paper also contains an annotated bibliography of what is titled the First Ten Readings containing a list of ten readings best for informing readers new to the issue. Other reference materials I utilized to aid in my further understanding outlined by Randall Mason was a report to the advisory council on the economic impacts of historic preservation which contained more recent data and updated information and further explanation of the issue. I would strongly recommend reading these two papers in their entirety to any advocate of preservation that wishes to successfully defend its economic benefits.

– Christopher Kolezynski


Mason, R., (2005). Economics and Historic Preservation: A Guide and Review of the Literature. Pennsylvania, PA: The Brookings Institution.

Rypkema, D., Cheong, C., & Mason, R. 2011. Measuring Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation: A Report to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Washington DC: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Extreme Poverty, Terrorism and Stolen Antiquities

“This is the heritage of the world. We have to protect it!” exclaims Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former Minister of Antiquities. Following the Arab Spring Revolution former protected historic sites have been commonly looted for their artifacts.  Vice correspondent Giana Toboni visited with two looters nearby Cairo, Egypt to ask what their motivation is for stealing these antiquities.

Mohammed and Ahmed explain, “Because we need money…The revolution has impacted everyone. Things are more expensive now and there are no jobs.” When asked if they felt guilt about the looting they replied, “Yes, I feel like I am stealing from my country and selling it. But I need to feed my kids.”

Looting of artifacts is unfortunately common in and around Egypt due to the unrest and extensive poverty. Walaa Hussein of Al-Monitor describes the looting as aggressive and expressed concern that the reason for this aggression may be due to the current economic environment and conflict.

“The attacks are aggressive, as if some people are taking revenge against the state for their extreme poverty and marginalization by looting ancient monuments.”

17 percent of Egypt’s population was food insecure in 2011 and malnutrition rates in 2011 included 31 percent of children under five years old according to the World Health Organization. Poverty in Egypt is highest in rural areas which are home to over half of the population, 80 percent of which live in poverty.

The violence and conflict in Egypt following the Arab Spring Revolution in 2011 has strongly decreased tourism in the region and has made the economy worse. What was once a major source of income for many in the area is now gone.

Economist Professor Samer Atallah explains that the unrest directly affected the economy bringing it to as he describes a halt. “Consumers stopped consuming. Investors actually pulled their money out of the economy, and there was a deep recession.”

Atallah goes on to explain that the biggest problem is unemployment, which has the most significant impact on the younger population. This lack of opportunity creates an incentive for the younger population to engage in illegal activity and extremist groups have exploited this compounding the problem.

Terrorist groups like the Islamic State have benefited greatly from these stolen artifacts and use the profits to purchase weaponry, which fuels the instability further. The groups version of Islam permits them to purchase “and sell ghanima, or war spoils.”  During 2014, looting was the Islamic State’s second largest source of financing preceded only by oil.

An Iraqi intelligence official reported to The Guardian that artifacts stolen and sold in the region of al-Nubak, east of Damascus, were responsible for a total of $36 million of the Islamic State’s income. The terrorist group is known for hiring locals to steal artifacts for which they are provided compensation in return. Michael Danti of the Syrian Heritage Initiative states “Next to oil, looting is the best paying sector working for ISIS as a civilian in Raqqa”.

The excavation of these artifacts provides employment for some but also acts as a source of income for individuals whose homes may lie near or on sites where artifacts can be found. The illegal excavations became a major eyesore after the Arab Spring Revolution and have resulted in a pockmarked bird’s eye of view of areas like Dahshur.

Toboni spoke with a stolen antiquities dealer who explained how the profits from this highly lucrative trade are divided. Using an example of a small statue that dates back to 1,000 years before Jesus’s birth, which is approximated by historians to be around 4 BC, the dealer explained the total sale would be between $33,000 and $37,000.

The first dealer would receive $8,000 to $9,000 and the diggers, who can spend up to a year looking for an artifact, would receive approximately $3,000 to $4,000 off the sale. The main dealer from Cairo can take up to $50,000 dependent on the items value. However, the stolen antiquities dealer explained he is unaware how much an American purchaser pays for these items.

The majority of the demand for these items comes from America and typically involves several different countries where antiquities can be found including Iraq and Syria as well as Egypt.

Syria has been one of the hardest hit countries by this lucrative trade. Five of the country’s six UNESCO world heritage sites have been extensively harmed as a result of the unstable climate.

More than 200,000 people have died in Syria since 2011. According to a study by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research 80 percent of Syrians fell into poverty and more than $200 billion in economic damages have occurred since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2010.

The UN backed report states “as huge swatches of the community have lost the opportunity to work and earn an income, just over 4 in 5 Syrians now live in poverty, as it has become a country of poor people, 30% of the population have descended into abject poverty where households struggle to meet the basic food needs to sustain bare life.”

This problem of extreme poverty and lack of opportunity provides an incentive for those who are struggling  to engage in the informal market. Antiquities happen to be one of the most profitable and accessible in the region.

Boston University archaeology professor Michael Danti told NBC news, “Syria is experiencing looting on an industrial scale” in ISIS-controlled territory. “They are really looting sites into oblivion…twenty percent of the country’s archaeological sites have been looted or destroyed to some extent.” In March of 2015, looting and destruction by ISIS reached into neighboring areas of Iraq including the city of Mosul and the 3,000 year old city of Nimrud.

The taking of the city of Palmyra in Syria by concerned scholars for some time. Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major archaeological site from the ancient world. The site is described by U.N. groups as having “stood at the crossroads of several civilizations.” Despite the concern and attempts by scholars to preserve the area the city was taken by ISIS in May of 2015.

However, the United States can take steps that will help control the amount of looting that is occurring in the region. Europe and Switzerland have both enacted bans on the importation of stolen Syrian artifacts whereas legislation in the U.S. is still needed. Policy efforts including increasing foreign aid can help improve the economic stability of the area thus providing employment opportunities to those who might otherwise turn to looting.

There are still many artifacts left to protect and many areas that can benefit from the alleviation of poverty.

-Christopher Kolezynski

Vice News HBO, Season 3 Episode 8 – Egyptian Tomb Raiders and Rent a White Guy, http://www.hbo.com/vice/episodes/03/30-egyptian-tomb-raiders-and-rent-a-white-guy/index.html 

The Guardianhttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/12/syrias-war-80-in-poverty-life-expectancy-cut-by-20-years-200bn-lost

NBC News, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-looting-destroying-ancient-syrian-sites-industrial-scale-n359461

CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/21/middleeast/isis-syria-iraq/

Al-Monitor, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/riots-security-chaos-egypt-threaten-museums-antiquities.html#

UN News Centrehttp://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44961#.VW4gBGRVhHw

Daily News Egypthttp://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/06/03/while-the-world-succeeds-in-battling-poverty-egypt-fails/

Mother Joneshttp://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/how-isis-cashes-illegal-antiquities-trade

Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com/articles/syrian-monuments-men-race-to-protect-antiquities-as-looting-bankrolls-terror-1423615241

Live Science, http://www.livescience.com/42976-when-was-jesus-born.html

The Future of Cleveland: Economic Growth without Equity

The Future of Cleveland: Economic Growth without Equity


It could be argued that Cleveland has a relatively bright future when considering what the past 20 years have been like for the city. The foreclosure crisis and predatory lending practices destroyed neighborhoods and left vacant parcels all throughout the city. The lack of employment for people with high school diplomas caused unskilled workers to leave the city for places like the Sun-Belt region, where many of Cleveland’s manufacturing jobs also moved. The high poverty rates and decreasing tax base contributed to the decline of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Yet, despite all these obstacles Cleveland has not given up and now, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Fred Nance of Squire Sanders and the Cleveland Browns explained “for anyone who doesn’t realize it, Cleveland is definitely on a roll” (O’Hare, 2012). Don Micheff of Ernst & Young goes into more detail noting “I can’t think of another place in the country that has the activity taking place here today whether it’s the convention center, whether it’s the medical mart, whether it’s the casino’s, whether it’s our east bank of the flats, [or] what [is] taking place around Browns stadium” (O’Hare, 2012).

Population Trends

Although population will continue to decline, human capital will rise, as educated people migrate to the city from outside the region, outside the state, and outside the country. “The number of educated 25- to 34-year-olds residing in the city [has] increased by 68 percent, with many landing in Ohio City, Tremont, downtown, and [the] Detroit Shoreway [areas]” (Piiparinen, 2014). Piiparinen also notes “every high-tech job creates an additional five jobs in the local market” (Piiparinen, 2014). This is promising because as more skilled workers enter the city, more employment opportunities will be made for those without college degrees. This will serve as a pull factor for those who have left as well as those who are considering leaving.

As aforementioned one of Cleveland’s brightest population trends is the migration of young adults. According to Piiparinen’s mapping human capital study “growth largely occurs in three geographic areas: (1) Cleveland’s inner core, specifically Downtown, Ohio City, and Tremont; (2) certain second-tier neighborhoods in Cleveland (e.g., Kamms Corner and Old Brooklyn); and (3) select inner-ring suburbs (e.g., Lakewood and Cleveland Hts)” (Piiparinen, 2013). The millennial generation may be the force of growth Cleveland needs and the growth of this 25-34 year old population is not slowing down. Over the past 14 years “downtown’s millennial population has increased by 68 percent” (Marinucci, 2014). However, areas that are losing their young adult population include East Cleveland, the outer suburbs of Cuyahoga County and it’s surrounding counties. Piiparinen explains this is largely due to two main factors. One of these is the psychological appeal of the urban core to young adults. “Downtown is leveraging national trends. Millennials, those between the ages of 25 and 34, are choosing where to live first – then finding work” (Marinucci, 2014). The other factor has to do with the racial demographic shift of minority populations to the outer suburbs. This may be due to reduced housing expenses and other costs of living. Either way a demographic shift of race and class is occurring. While revitalization continues downtown the cost of living will rise and displacement will become a concern for residents in these once affordable areas of Cleveland. Memories of past gentrification could prove politically troublesome as residents in inner city areas are forced out due to lack of affordability. This will be a push factor and contribute further to the out-migration of unskilled or working class residents, resulting in further population loss.

Public Schools

Resident population trends show continued growth to 18,000 by 2018, 23,000 by 2021, and 25,000 by 2023 (Downtown Cleveland Alliance, 3). This increased residential growth may mean an increase in tax revenue and thus funding for the Cleveland Municipal School District. However, the net benefits from the property taxes of new residents minus the loss of property taxes of unskilled workers may mean that tax revenue will stay the same. When you factor in that a significant amount of the new housing are apartments and rental properties the economic outcome would likely be a loss. Although property owners may factor property taxes into the monthly rent, renters are still not required to pay these taxes directly and this creates uncertainty.

Cleveland’s plan for the transformation of the school district is built upon an “emerging national model that profoundly changes the role of the school district. This approach, or portfolio strategy, is showing promising results in cities such as Baltimore, Denver, Hartford, New York and others” (Jackson, 5). The Cleveland Municipal School districts plan involves transforming the system from a single-source school district to one composed of several district and charter schools. This plan would hold such schools to the highest standards of performance while also giving the school’s control over financial resources. The idea is to trade accountability for control. The plan will close or replace failing schools, transfer authority to individual schools, create an alliance to monitor these schools, and begin long-term system reforms. The plan’s goal is to make the transformation by 2017. However, of concern is the fact that “the school district failed to meet its improvement goals in the first year” of its plan (O’Donnell, 2013). With more than 30,000 students leaving CMSD over the past decade and a 63 percent graduation rate the schools have several obstacles to overcome. Frankly speaking, the future of the school system in Cleveland is bleak. Although, combined with population migration trends, these schools may actually improve along with the median income of the area, such a positive relationship is not necessarily a guarantee and the school system’s future is an uncertainty at this point.

Downtown and Neighborhood Development

Fred Nance explains, “we have this tremendous underutilized waterfront [and] we are going to figure out how to attract investment and make things happen” (O’Hare, 2012). The lakefront plans currently are composed of mixed-use and commercial infill development as well as development around Burke Lakefront Airport. The lakefront plans most prominent feature will be the development of a walkway connecting the Science Center, Browns Stadium, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, downtown Medical Mart and Convention Center and the Erie Street Festival Pier. The North Coast Harbor section of the lakefront will feature “more than 1,000 apartments, stores and restaurants, an office building, a public boardwalk and a downtown school” (McFee, 2014). These plans sound promising and are certainly of more benefit than an otherwise empty lakefront space. When considering the rising demand for housing, the plan appears feasible and of benefit to Cleveland’s future.

The nuCLEus project will also prove beneficial to Cleveland’s future. This $350 million project located in the core of Cleveland will replace parking space in the Gateway District with a much more profitable use. The plan which was recently approved the City Planning Commission will include around 120,000 square feet of retail space, a 200 room hotel, 200,000 square feet of office space and an additional 500 housing units with vertical space above commercial businesses for parking. Another core-oriented project in Cleveland’s feature is the redesign of Public Square. The Group Planning Commission and landscape architect James Corner intend to transform the area into one connected park featuring green space, a café, a splash pool for children and space for performances. The park will certainly act as a complement to the nearby shopping malls and most likely will function in our near future as “a world class public space” (Allard, 2014). The redevelopment is certainly needed. Project for Public Spaces listed Public Square seventh on its list of “15 squares most in need of improvement”. Project for Public Spaces wrote “Cleveland’s famed Public Square is surrounded and divided by wide roads full of fast moving traffic. So, there’s little going on there” (Project for Public Spaces, n.d., para. 8). However, the Group Planning Commission and James Corners plan does address most of the criticisms brought forth by the Project for Public Spaces.

Other downtown projects include the Towpath Trail. The four stage $57 million project is not without problems. “The Towpath is now largely complete south of Cleveland, but building the final six miles north of Harvard Road on the south side of the city has proven extremely difficult” (Litt, 2014). There have been frequent problems resulting in the need for more funding but the project is now focused on the last two stages and looks promising. This connected walkway throughout the city will add to the walkability and aesthetic appeal of Cleveland. Still Cleveland’s most encouraging factor is the increasing demand for housing downtown.

The rise in residential housing demand is a major positive for the city. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance noted that “the Opening of The 9 and the Residences at 1717 sent the downtown residential population over 13,000” (Downtown Cleveland Alliance, 3). Joseph Marinucci writes “In the past 18 months, downtown Cleveland has added 800 residential units to meet demand and expects 1,000 more units to come online in the next 24 months. Today’s residential population…is the densest it’s been in more than 60 years.” Downtown’s current rate of occupancy is at 98 percent (Marinucci, 2014). As Doug Price of the K & D group explains, “There’s a huge demand for more housing and we got these jobs coming in, almost 3,000 of them…. We’re going to take housing to a new level in the city of Cleveland” (O’Hare, 2012).

Elimination of Blight

However, blighted and vacant housing still remains to be an issue for Cleveland. Cleveland has 16,000 vacant homes to repair or demolish. Demolition of such housing is costly at approximately $10,000 a home and suspected vacant buildings are all over the city. Banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Deutshce Bank Trust Co. in Germany owned much of the housing that is now abandoned. The availability of low-cost homes in Cleveland was taken advantage of by these banks that would purchase and re-sell the homes without visiting or maintaining them. The result was widespread blight. Collectively Deutshce Bank Trust Co., Wells Fargo, Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Countrywide Financial Corp and J.P. Morgan Chase were responsible for 12,650 foreclosures in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County was recently awarded a $50 million demolition bond to aid in this process.

Re-use of vacant land

Once demolished these lots add to the supply of vacant land in the city. The re-use of this land can be limited by the existence of brownfields or other toxins but main strategies typically involve urban agriculture, the sale of side lots to nearby homes, or the creation of green spaces in urban areas. Urban Agriculture, though popular, offers little hope for the re-use of land in Cleveland. The city’s extreme weather shifts can damage crops and would demand an indoor greenhouse approach (Keating, 2010). This would make such an investment cost prohibitive. As witnessed with previous attempts at community gardens the neighborhood often doesn’t maintain the land making the strategy risky at best.

The Economy

Eric Wobser of Ohio City Inc. explained in 2012 that there had already been “a huge explosion in small businesses. We want to take that momentum of new businesses and new residents and continue the residential and economic development that’s taking place” (O’Hare, 2012). The rising demand for housing will provide an economic boost to the city. Also of great benefit to Cleveland’s economy is the upcoming RNC convention. However, the benefit the convention brings is not totally quantifiable.

The Republican National Convention in 2016 will bring an estimated impact of $400 million dollars to the local economy (Farkas, 2014). The convention “will close the Q arena for six weeks, attract more than 5,000 protesters and 50,000 attendees” (Farkas, 2014). Treasurer of the Cleveland 2016 RNC Host Committee explains, “the goal is not to get rich, but to reintroduce the city to the world” (Farkas, 2014). The amount of media attention the RNC convention receives is three times that of the Superbowl and provides a great opportunity to rebrand Cleveland to the world. The RNC will bring with it 1,200 booked events, 50,000 attendees, and approximately 250 contract negotiations. This is going to be a critical event for Cleveland and with media coverage second only to the Olympics it presents a rare opportunity to promote the city.

The departure of corporate headquarters and the United transportation hub have left the city with even more economic problems. The unexpected departure of BP in 1998 left the BP building vacant and took with it a significant amount of employment. The Eaton Corporation was another major loss to the city. Their departure from the city to the suburb of Beachwood meant the loss of 700 jobs in a zero-sum game for the county. Many other relocations of corporate headquarters have also occurred resulting in numerous blows to the city economy. The recent loss of Cleveland-Hopkins as a United Airlines hub left a significant negative impact on the city’s economy. The situation resulted in the loss of 500 jobs but other airlines have begun utilizing the airport as a hub, which will fortunately save the airport.


Poverty will continue to be a problem for the city. Presently one-third of Cleveland residents live in poverty and more than 50 percent of all children in the city live below the poverty line. The city has the second highest poverty rate in the country, which leads to crime, poor schools, blight and other major issues that the city is currently facing. The city was recently named the 5th most dangerous city in America with a majority of crimes being robberies. Poverty continues to be an underlying issue for many other problems in the city and should be the top priority addressed if we wish to improve the city on a permanent basis. This means implementing new strategies if we wish to expect better results. The spreading of wealth and avoidance of displacement is of the utmost performance.

One of the major concerns of the revitalization of downtown is this displacement of lower or working class residents to the suburbs. An excellent example of such concerns have been expressed by the residents and business owners along the opportunity corridor. The $331 million project will create an urban boulevard connecting Slavic Village and Interstate 490 among other areas to University Circle (Grant, 2013). The project is said to increase job availability for residents and offer economic rejuvenation to high poverty neighborhoods in the area known as The Forgotten Triangle. However, Cleveland’s 2020 Citywide Plan notes that there needs to be a focus on spreading wealth. This spreading of wealth is vital to the outer suburbs of Cleveland and the avoidance of another two-city, poor and wealthy, scenario. Richey Piiparinen notes that “by strategically targeting reinvestment into areas experiencing population growth in an otherwise shrinking region, decision makers can shift their focus from managing decline to fostering growth” (Piiparinen, 2013). However, this targeting of reinvestment could create problems if there is not significant spillover into the surrounding neighborhoods. There also needs to be a focus on creating job opportunities not just for college graduates but for those with high school diplomas or less. Job mismatch and lack of opportunity for unskilled workers continues to be a concern. If a path to escaping poverty is not provided for these individuals then we cannot effectively reduce poverty in the city and if we do not address poverty we can expect history to repeat itself.

Assets and Obstacles

The ongoing campaign to rebrand Cleveland is a major asset. Efforts by organizations such as Positively Cleveland and Global Cleveland have not gone unnoticed. Researcher Ari Maron notes about Cleveland, “It’s even written up in the New York Times. I mean just the level of attention we’re getting is really exciting and I think what it comes back to is that this is all part of our collective history. There is something about the urban core that conjures up those feelings of we have been here before” (O’Hare, 2012).

The recent return of Lebron James to Cleveland is estimated to bring an additional $500 million annually. Although this amount has been debated due to its inclusion of leisure spending and reliance on playoff games Lebron James will undoubtedly bring national attention to the city. This attention was “witnessed” during the opening game of the 2014 season.

The successful investment in renovating playhouse square is visible not only by the world’s largest chandelier but by the one million plus people who come to Cleveland to attend shows every year. Art Falco of the Playhouse Square Foundation explains, “Playhouse Square has almost ten performance spaces and almost 10,000 seats. It’s the largest performing arts center, second only to Lincoln Center in New York. We have over 800 curtains a year drawing over a million people coming to Playhouse Square on an annual basis” (O’Hare, 2012). The 100 year old Westside Market alone…attracts a million people to the neighborhood” (O’Hare, 2012).

Another major asset to the city’s future is to be found in its medical institutions. Wes Finch of The Finch Group discusses the cities medical facilities observing that with “Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, the new Veteran’s Administration hospital, all of Case Western medical and…the Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland you can realize, [Cleveland] will become, rapidly, the medical capital of the world” (O’Hare, 2012).

The inclusion of the new Heinen’s Grocery Store in The 9 Building will act as a complement to the rise in residential population. The 33,000 square foot grocery store will be located inside of the Cleveland Trust Rotunda with a goal of opening in 2015. Cleveland’s historic works of architecture like the Rotunda give the city more than a history but rather an identity not easily duplicated. The recent award from the Ohio Development Service Agency for $33 million in tax credits will go to fund the rehabilitation of “31 historic buildings in ten communities across the state” (Maties, 2014). The May Co. and George Worthington buildings downtown recently received $10 million in tax credits from the state towards their preservation (McFee, 2013). Another asset of the city is found in it’s community organizations whether it’s The Cleveland Foundation or the Cleveland Restoration Society. “The World’s First Community Organization”, The Cleveland Foundation, is a proud legacy of Cleveland and has worked to better the community for almost 100 years. There is no doubt that their grants, awards, and assistance will continue in the coming years.

Another asset in the oncoming decade will be Cleveland’s park systems. The Metroparks, also known as the states “emerald necklace” has proposed plans to renovate the piers at Euclid Beach Park and construct a “pedestrian bridge…linking Villa Angela and Wildwood parks” (Freshwater, 2014). All these new attractions from the Metroparks to the $500 million development of the Flats East Bank will prove beneficial to the economy but poverty is going to still be an issue in the coming decade.

The rising class and racial tensions will not be addressed by targeted reinvestment. As inequality worsens in the city these problems are going to become real obstacles for Cleveland. Evidenced recently by the protest against the Cleveland police’s excessive use of force on 12 year-old Tamir Rice, these tensions will worsen if there is not more justice and equality created in the city. Another tale of two cities scenario will prove detrimental to the city’s economy and national appeal. Imagine, if you will, what it would mean for the city if the recent protests in Public Square were happening during the 2016 RNC convention. Such attention would backpedal rebranding efforts by the city for some time. It is vital that these issues be addressed. Presently, the national media is covering Cleveland because the Department of Justice’s investigation into the police force “found reasonable cause to believe the Cleveland police department has routinely used excessive force” (Richinick, 2014). This is certainly not the kind of coverage that will help Cleveland especially with the nations eyes on the city in the coming decade. It will take wise leadership to steer Cleveland during these sensitive times.

People and Organizations

Current and future leadership in Cleveland will be composed of; political figures such as Mayor Frank Jackson, philanthropists like Ronald B. Richard and David Abbott, community leaders such as Joseph Roman and Joe Marinucci, scholars such as Ronald Berkman, Alex Johnson and Barbara Snyder and leaders of medical institutions like David Cosgrove and Thomas Zenty III. The city’s sports figures like Lebron James are likely to emerge as the city’s future leaders and as the millennial generation continues to compose a larger portion of the city we can expect to see more progressive leaders in the future.

This will aid greatly in the reduction of class and racial tensions in the city and will complement innovative and high tech efforts by organizations such as Case Western Reserve University. Future leadership is likely to make Cleveland the 21st century city it is capable of being. With future developments like fiber optic systems along the Health-Tech Corridor, Cleveland is on track to catch up with other progressive cities like Santa Monica. These future leaders of Cleveland, the region’s millennial generation, will bring with it what Cleveland needs to transform from an industrial city into a 21st century health and technology center of the nation and the world. Leadership in the coming decade will prove to be exciting if nothing else.


Cleveland’s future will be decided by numerous factors including redevelopment and the creation of equity. However, the “tale of two cities” scenario is bound to repeat itself if Cleveland continues to apply the same methodologies and concepts that have failed before. Targeted reinvestment efforts and development will better certain neighborhoods without the guarantee that it will benefit those around it. As the next decade emerges in Cleveland we can expect to see growth downtown despite population loss. This is growth that is promising for the city but not everyone in it. Cleveland does have a chance at a bright future in the next decade. It is undeniable that investments downtown will create a better city, but for who? If the investments result in a more expensive downtown that will displace poor and minority populations to the suburbs than such an investment would create a zero-sum game for the county and region. Cleveland must improve for everyone if it wishes to avoid a repeat of past decline because just like wealth, poverty is also contagious.

– Christopher Kolezynski


Allard, S. (2014, July 15). Cleveland Foundation gives $8 million for Public Square redesign. SCENE. Retrieved from http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2014/07/15/cleveland-foundation-gives-8-million-for-public-square-redesign

Cleveland City Planning Commission. (n.d.). Connecting Cleveland 2020 citywide plan. Cleveland City Planning Commission. Retrieved from http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/cwp/cpc.html

Cleveland City Planning Commission. (n.d.). Cleveland lakefront development. Cleveland City Planning Commission. Retrieved from http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/lakefront/lakefrontDevelopment.php

Cleveland City Planning Commission. (n.d.). Group Plan Commission. Cleveland City Planning Commission. Retrieved from http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/grouplan/index.php#projects

Cleveland City Planning Commission. (n.d.). Development projects. Cleveland City Planning Commission. Retrieved from http://planning.city.cleveland.oh.us/projects/index.php

Downtown Cleveland Alliance. (2014, Q3). Downtown Cleveland Market Update Q3 2014. Retrieved from http://www.downtowncleveland.com/media/228481/q3_2014_spreads-2-.pdf

Farkas, K. (2014, December 2). Republican National Convention to transform and disrupt Cleveland: By the numbers. Northeast Ohio Media Group. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/12/republican_national_convention.html

Freshwater. (2014, December 2). Cleveland Metroparks hosts public meetings on future of lakefront parks. Freshwater Cleveland. Retrieved from http://www.freshwatercleveland.com/inthenews/lakefrontparks120214.aspx

Grant, A. (2013, December 13). Opportunity Corridor falls short for neighborhoods, says group hosting public meetings this weekend. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/12/opportunity_corridor_falls_sho.html

Hexter, W. K., Krumholz, N. (2012, March). Re-thining the future of Cleveland’s neighborhood developers: Interim report. Center for Community Planning and Development. Retrieved from http://urban.csuohio.edu/publications/center/center_for_community_planning_and_development/Re-thinking_the_Future.pdf

Jackson, G. F. (2012, February 2). Cleveland’s plan for transforming schools: Reinventing public education in our city and serving as a model of innovation for the state of Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.clevelandmetroschools.org/cms/lib05/OH01915844/Centricity/Domain/98/ClevelandPlanandLegislation.pdf

Litt, S. (2014, November 3). Canalway partners ready to brief public Thirsday on final stages of Towpath extension in Cleveland. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/architecture/index.ssf/2014/11/canalway_partners_ready_to_bri.html

Maties, A. (2014, June 27). Ten northeast Ohio rehabilitation projects receive more than $20M in historic tax credits. Commercial Property Executive. Retrieved from http://www.cpexecutive.com/cities/cleveland/ten-northeast-ohio-rehabilitation-projects-receive-more-than-20m-in-historic-tax-credits/1004099524.html

Marinucci, J. (2014, October 2). Downtown Cleveland becoming prime location. Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved from http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/special_sections/article_49223116-4978-11e4-a19e-8ff57285168d.html

McFee, J. M. (2014, March 13). Dick Pace, Trammel Crow tapped as Cleveland lakefront developers with big housing plans. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/03/dick_pace_trammell_crow_tapped.html

McFee, J. M. (2013, December 20). May Co., Worthington apartment plans in downtown Cleveland among top winners of state tax credits. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2013/12/may_co_worthington_redevelopme.html

O’Donnel, P. (2103, September 25). Cleveland schools missed improvement goals in first year of Cleveland plan, but set stage for future gains. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/09/cleveland_schools_missed_impro.html

O’Hare, P. (2012, September 21). Cleveland: A bright future. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_glpiPB09E

Piiparinen, R. (2013, February). Mapping human capital: Where northeast Ohio’s young and middle-age adults are locating. Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Retrieved from http://blog.case.edu/msass/2013/02/14/Briefly_Stated_No_13-02_Mapping_Human_Capital.pdf

Piiparinen, R. (2014, June 27). Visualizing Cleveland’s future without ‘rust-colored’ glasses: Richey Piiparinen. Cleveland.com. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/06/cleveland_is_dying_visualizing.html

Piiparinen, R., Wobser, E. (2013, March 31). A new picture of the future for Cleveland: Making the city a middle-class home for families. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/03/a_new_picture_of_the_future_fo.html

Project for Public Spaces. (n.d.). 15 squares most in need of improvement. Project for Public Spaces. Retrieved from http://www.pps.org/reference/underperformingus/

Richinick, M. (2014, December 4). Eric Holder: Cleveland police engage in ‘excessive force’. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/eric-holder-cleveland-police-engage-excessive-force

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The Urban Geography Of Collinwood: Distance and Territory

The Urban Geography Of Collinwood: Distance and Territory

Collinwood began as a settlement that wasn’t officially named until 1850 when it was named after the former Postmaster General and Judge, Jacob Collamer. There was only one tannery and a gristmill before this ran by David Crocker who established them in 1812. Before 1850, when the area was first settled, it was simply referred to as Nine Mile Creek or Euclid Village. Then, from settlement to village and village to city, Collinwood grew as most cities do, in response to several varying factors from population to agriculture and religion to trade. Once established in 1850 as Collamer, churches, some of them the earliest in the region known then as the Western Reserve, began to be built and religion flourished there. In response, Collamer was commonly referred to as saint’s row because of the amount of minister’s who resided within its homes. What followed is strangely amusing; during the 1800’s Collamer developed lakefront vineyards whose grapes were used in wine production and became the largest grape shipping point in the United States by the 1870’s. “Glenville and North Collinwood, now in Cleveland’s inner city, were covered in vineyards and gardens.”(Taller, 31) The Lakeview & Collamer Railroad, later known as Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroads, and its vast freight yards aided greatly in this achievement and Collamer’s population increased to 3,200 people by the last decade of the nineteenth century. Although “Increasing population, pollution during the Industrial Revolution, and demand for land for homes, businesses, and highways reduced grape production”(Taller, 31) the Collinwood area had a rich history in wine production and continued its economic growth with its extensive railroads. The map below shows the development in the area at this time including a legend of public buildings, which include 4 churches of varying religion reiterating the earlier reference to Collamer as saint’s row. Depicted by the abbreviation of L.S. + M.S. RY is the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroads which were a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad.

Known as the Collinwood Railroad Yards, the development eventually resulted in “over 120 mi. of track and extensive repair shops”(Collinwood, 2010). The railroads continued success drastically aided in the cities early growth but was also a major part of its decline due to the innovation of faster and more flexible forms of transportation including automobiles. Disaster struck this fast growing and emerging area when a school fire in 1908 killed 174 people, mostly children. “They were buried side by side in one large grave in the Collinwood Catholic Cemetery”(Everett, 192) “All Collinwood was in mourning…If it was not their own children it was those of a dear neighbor or sister or a brother.”(Everett, 190) The utter horror of the incident led to school inspections countrywide and the development of more aggressive enforcement of building codes in order to avert another disaster. Two years later, Collinwood was annexed to the municipality of Cleveland as many outer cities at the time were. Collinwood’s growth peaked around the 1930’s with a population greatly above the average of other suburbs at the time. Following the great depression, the WWII era placed a large demand on industrialized products and like much of the rust belt at the time Collinwood thrived due to the demand, especially with their access to railroad transportation. Collinwood acted as home to several major corporations from Lincoln Electric to the Fisher Body Division of General Motors. Yet as the 50’s began Collinwood saw a rise in crime, and a decade later as African-American’s moved into the neighborhood the area became unstable and racially tense. This led to Collinwood as a home to the infamous high school riot started by 400 local white students in response to desegregation. Approximately two decades later in 1981 “Conrail closed Collinwood’s extensive diesel locomotive repair facilities, idling 250 workers” (Collinwood Railroad Yards, 1997) in the process. Though as with the rest of Collinwood’s several episodes of growth and decline the city most recently became home to amazing art, which the city has used to successfully rehabilitate its area and is now internationally recognized for its efforts.

Territoriality has long been a theme of history. It is often the result of a struggle for power and is driven by both formal and informal means. Whether it is top-down such as eminent domain or simply illegal as in the case of gang warfare, various powers have historically fought to extend or enforce their dominance over land. These power struggles have led to disaster and relief. As in the case of urban geography they create “distinctive spatial settings within cities” which “in turn mold the attitudes and behavior of the people living in cities.” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) An example of this is gang turf which has it’s own informal code of behavior that adjusts not only the attitude of gang members but of residents as well. Collinwood’s history is no different. It has been filled with both great achievement to absolute disaster but one major part of its history not so often discussed is the territorial battles in Collinwood. Consisting of The Celtic Club and The Cleveland Mafia, Collinwood/Cleveland famously became known as Bomb City, USA and was home to Danny Greene. This war, though seemingly unrelated to urban geography is in fact quite the opposite. Territoriality as related to Urban Geography is described as “the tendency for particular groups within society…to attempt to establish some form of control, dominance, or exclusivity within a localized area.”(Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) This was the case in Collinwood whether the focus was on Irish versus Italians or simply the location of The Celtic Club itself as a “symbol of group membership and identity.” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) For Danny the struggle began in early childhood. “Irish and Italian boys brawled often, [it was] a right of passage in Danny’s neighborhood.”(Towers, Dec. 10,2010) “In Collinwood, the Irish kids were frequently targeted by corner crews comprised of Italian and Slovenian boys.”(English, 358) This territory battle would continue throughout the rest of his life. Much later, on May 12, 1975 Danny’s Collinwood home was bombed courtesy of the Italian mafia. The bombing could have been much worse. When police arrived they found a second bomb at the rear of the building. The bomb had not gone off due to the blasting caps being too small to detonate it. However, “If the second bomb had gone off, half of the block would have gone up in flames. It did not, lucky for Collinwood. And lucky for Danny Greene” (Porello, 7) Photo below.

Seid, H. (1975). Remains of Danny Greene’s business after 1975 bombing.

Danny refused to leave the area and instead used the location of his bombed home to establish his dominance, creating a unique setting that would represent the Irish and Danny’s power within the community. The Celtic Club was a spacial setting that represented his courage and dominance through the use of Irish symbolism and soon would be used to taunt the Italian mafia. It was in fact a “distinctive spacial setting.” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5)  The location was a symbol of territoriality similar to a graffiti tag for gangs. “He had a sign erected outside his trailers announcing: Future Home of The Celtic Club. A green harp, a traditional Celtic symbol, adorned the sign. And overhead, fluttering in the breezes of Lake Erie, was the Irish tricolor.”(Porello, 8) Home to two trailers the area was used for an office, a home, and media interviews. In his most famous interview filmed on the grounds Danny told the Italian mafia “I’m over here by the Celtic Club, I’m not hard to find.”(Towers, Dec. 10, 2010) Photo below.

Photo Snapshot Of Celtic Club in Collinwood. Mobsters: Danny Greene [Season 3 Episode 26].

This use of space was not only a broad statement of territoriality against the mafia but also was a way of “regulating social interaction.” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) The Celtic Club grew as more Irish and like-minded individuals joined up with Danny. They would sit on the sidewalk outside with him “daring them (Italian mafia) to do something.” (Towers, Dec. 10, 2010)  This regulated social interaction by establishing Collinwood as home to the Celtic Club. Though misrepresented often in the media today, to the Irish in the area he was thought of as a legend and was looked up to by most people in the area who commonly referred to him as the “Robin Hood of Collinwood.” (Towers, Dec. 10, 2010) Danny gave the Irish their own dominance and power in the neighborhood and did so generously. For Danny it was not unusual to pass out food to whoever needed it, or pay for tuition of low income deserving students. Through this generosity and seemingly immortal presence, he was thought of as a legend in the neighborhood. One of the most influential parts of Collinwood’s success was also Danny’s first job, The Collinwood Rail Yards.

In 1920, 500 employees of the railroad yard walked out in protest but after only a few days most employees returned. Due to the severe dependence of other industries on the country’s railroads the countrywide strike led to food and fuel shortages, laid off workers, and factory closings. I mention this in order to establish the great importance railroads had on our country, as it seems they were at the least the backbone of the economy for some time. This is more evidential when we look at the rate at which these railroads spread throughout the country. On page 56 of Knox and McCarthy’s Urbanization text this is visually explained through maps displaying the rapid growth of railroads from 1860 to 1890. In 1860 the U.S. railroad system consisted of 30,000 miles of track, by 1890 there was a conclusive 163,597 miles of track. The railroad system played part in what is termed death of distance. Due to the ability to mass transport goods and resources, communities began to be less concerned about being self-sufficient since the railroads provided access to their needed resources. This effect of death of distance is seen historically in Collinwood’s Rail Yards as well. As a thriving part of Collinwood’s economy the Rail Yards not only provided resources but also largely employed members of the community. “In 1874 at least 500 engineers, firemen, brakemen, conductors, and other employees made their headquarters near the yard to handle the 72 freight trains arriving daily.”(Collinwood Railroad Yards, 1997) This goes to show how distance “affects the behavior of both producers and consumers of all goods and services.” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) Since the railroads were the economic hub of Collinwood at the time, people gravitated towards them as it decreased their distance in relation to economic opportunity. By “1933 the facilities employed about 2,000 workers” (Collinwood Railroad Yards, 1997) and continued it’s success for many years to come. “By the end of WWII the rail yards became a major switching and diesel repair facility for the NYC” (Collinwood Railroad Yards, 1997) otherwise known as the New York Central Railroad. “By World War II, Collinwood had become one of the most heavily industrialized areas in the nation. Children in the neighborhood often played near the railroad yards and tracks of the New York Central Railroad.”(English, 357) Below is an aerial photo of the Collinwood yards of New York Central Railroad taken in 1949. Notice the size of the rail yard, and the area of flatland, in comparison to the city.

Kneal, W. (1949). Aerial view of the Collinwood yards of the New York Central Railroad.

Collinwood’s Railroads were vital in “determining the local quality of life.” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) Not only did it provide mass employment in the area but it also helped to sustain the other parts of the local economy and provided much needed accessibility to resources and opportunity, aiding in the effect that death of distance has had on Collinwood. The largest effect that railroads have left behind was the idea and accessibility of living outside the city. Railroads could be considered by some to be the start of urban sprawl and therefore the very origin of death of distance. Though too costly for the low-income worker the railroads provided a way to commute for the upper middle class of the time that desired to escape the congestion of the city. This desire to leave what is termed as the central business district or CBD was strong. As not only did the natural population increase from better medical care, but immigration was gradually reaching its all time high. Though this increase caused great congestion it also fueled more growth in the sense of cumulative causation. In laymen’s terms, the growth of population fed the growth of industry and the need for increased land use and services fed the need for more industry and more population, resulting in a “self-propelling growth process” (Knox & McCarthy, 2012, p. 5) and the start of the end of friction of distance. Many cities and innovations impacted the idea of distance and Collinwood is no exception but as with the rest of the rustbelt, as new technologies emerged and cheaper or more reliable products were produced, dependence on mass industry declined. Personal automobiles and buses largely replaced these once popular commuter trains and the railroad industry felt the loss. We must remember cities, like their compositional makeup of people, evolve and like people they need to adapt to an ever-changing reality. Collinwood once thrived on the railroads, it now thrives on art and whether it is territory or distance Collinwood has a history of change that has not only been affected by the themes of urban geography but in fact has impacted the very understanding of those themes today.

I began this research by analyzing the history of Collinwood with urban geographic themes in mind. After obtaining the general history I had compiled, I searched through to find events that related strongly to urban geography. The rail yards were obviously a large component in the cities history but it was not only history. The rail yards were a major component in the end of friction of distance and the beginning of death of distance. They also impacted the community in its development through creating it’s own central business district where much of the city gathered to be in proximity of the opportunities the rail yards provided. Furthermore, I was quite certain that this theme had been written about before extensively and I wanted to find a second event in the history that was not as widely covered. I found this in the territorial battles of Collinwood between the Irish and Italian communities. Not only did this address the theme of territory but more importantly did so in an informal way, peeking my interests as I was certain this was not an aspect of the theme as widely written about. After finding these events within the city I began my research to the extent of these two events, which greatly aided in narrowing down my research and reducing the data smog originally caused by the film Welcome to Collinwood. Unfortunately, the Internet seems to cover entertainment much more extensively than history. After accessing and finding the information through various reliable media including materials from the special collections library to biographical documentaries on key figures, I had my useful information. The research, my passion for writing, and the focus on urban themes helped to keep me on task the rest of the time. Time management skills such as dividing the work helped to keep my focus on the specific theme I was writing about. In regards to the social and economic context of these themes, my previous experience in a dozen or more sociology courses helped to put everything into perspective. Other social science courses were also helpful in analyzing the facts in regards to context and causal relation. Though the research was at times tedious and the amount of work seemingly burdensome other times, I do however feel that this was an excellent exercise in further grasping and understanding urban geography as well as it’s main themes.

– Christopher Kolezynski


City of Collinwood. (1899). Directory of Collinwood. Collinwood, OH: C.W. Sheppard. Retrieved fromhttp://cplorg.cdmhost.com/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p128201coll0/id/1011/rec/19

Collamer. (14 July, 1997). In Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved from http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=C8

Collinwood. (22 Feb, 2010). In Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.Retrieved from http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=C9

Collinwood Railroad Yards. (20 Jun, 1997) In Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved from http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=CRY

Collinwood School Fire. (27 Mar, 1998) In Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved from http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=CSF

Everett, M. (1908). Complete Story of the Collinwood Disaster and How Such

Horrors Can Be Prevented. Cleveland, OH: The N.G. Hamilton Publishing Co.

English, T.J. (2005). Paddywhacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Heidi Fearing, “Collinwood Railroad Yard Strike,” Cleveland Historical, accessed September 20, 2013,http://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/391.

Kneal, W. (1949). Aerial view of the Collinwood yards of the New York Central Railroad. [Photograph]. Retrieved October 5, 2013 fromhttp://images.ulib.csuohio.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/press/id/9217/rec/2

Knox, P. L., & McCarthy, L. (2012). Urbanization: An Introduction to Urban

Geography. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education, Inc.

Mikelbank, B. (2013). Urban Geographic Literacy & Doing Urban Research [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from: https://bb-csuohio.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-650441-dt-content-rid-4280292_1/courses/0780-CSUOH-UST290-3717/information%20literacy.pdf

Petrol, J. (Writer). (2010). Danny Greene [Season 3 Episode 26]. In P. Towers, J. (Producer), Mobsters. A&E Television Networks.

Porello, R. (2011). Kill The Irishman: The War that Crippled the Mafia.New York, NY: Pocket Books

Seid, H. (1975). Remains of Danny Greene’s business after 1975 bombing. [Photograph]. Retrieved October 2, 2013 from


Taller, C. J. (2011). Images of America: Ohio’s Lake Erie Wineries.Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing

Rightsizing: In The Meantime

Rightsizing: In The Meantime

For legacy cities rightsizing has become a major concern. As jobs leave the area the city declines and not only does it suffer from increased crime, poverty and obsolete education but as people leave they leave their homes behind. Though “the impacts of population loss are not purely physical”(The 110th American Assembly, 4) a major concern is vacancy and abandonment. The Rustbelt has been the main victim of this loss in population. “The places that built America into a financially optimistic middle-class nation on the move—Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Youngstown, Rochester—have been plagued by population loss for decades.” (Bertron and Rypkema, 1) “While some older cities began to rebound in the 1990s, others are still losing population and jobs. These include large cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, as well as many smaller cities such as Youngstown, Scranton, Saginaw, Trenton, and Utica.” (The 110th American Assembly, 5) Much of our history has been comprised of accommodating population growth so this idea of adjusting for population loss or rightsizing is a fairly new and at times controversial concept. Previous attempts at urban renewal initiated by the 1949 Housing Act failed miserably to say the least. Though the goal was honorable, to provide “a decent home and suitable living environment for every U.S. family”(Fishman, 204), the methods that this act utilized completely undermined the goal and resulted in hyper segregated ghetto’s and profited large businesses who demolished low income housing and replaced it with middle to high end condos, homes, and apartments. This forever left a stain on the idea of urban renewal/rightsizing and is why these processes are referred to now as long-range plans. Furthermore in regards to city plans, rightsizing is talked about more than it is put into action. The 1990 city plan of Cleveland mentions rightsizing and similar terminology, as at that point it was an issue that could no longer be ignored. Yet, despite its large impact on communities, rightsizing strategy in most cases is not a primary focus. Youngstown’s comprehensive plan seems to be one of the few that directly addresses and focuses on needed rightsizing efforts. Although new strategies of urban renewal include reusing land for things such as community gardens or sports parks, converting and repairing once abandoned buildings for reuse, and preserving the culture of a community through historic preservation it is still a somewhat taboo topic due to its prior history. “Public meetings around rightsizing are much more rare, likely reflecting political wariness around the issue.”(Bertron and Rypkema, 5). Despite the stigmatization of rightsizing the majority of the cities are turning towards agency cooperation and assistance regarding the issue. By consulting not only other cities that are having similar troubles but federal and state agencies as well, municipalities are developing a better understanding of how to approach rightsizing with methods that benefit, not harm, the community. It is important to note that every city is different but previously successful methods are a great place to begin and can be tailored to better suit individual communities. In regards to Cleveland one of its biggest recent successes is the innovative bus rapid transit line, this “$200 million transit investment has triggered over $4 billion in investment in the teeth of a brutal recession.”(The 110th American Assembly, 10) Other investments include a 500 million dollar investment by CSU to “reconnect the city and support a residential campus”(The 110th American Assembly, 10) while Cleveland Clinic invests in clinical and research facilities and University Circle, Inc. evolves into a “community service organization.” (The 110th American Assembly, 10) ”The BRT investment proved to be catalytic in triggering institutional and market-responsive investment.” (The 110th American Assembly, 10) All of these above efforts and successes address rightsizing through encouraging residents to move back to the core. As has been seen, partly because of these types of development, there is an increase in population particularly from 2 emerging types of demographic trends, both young professionals and empty nesters are returning to the city. Population decline is still a major concern because even while “the number of middle-class American’s who want to live in central cities seems to be growing, it is far below the number of people still moving out of cities.”(Favro, 2) Rightsizing can address population decline through adjusting the physical fabric of a city such as with demolition, yet one of its most effective methods is using redevelopment rather than demolition to encourage population growth. While preservation in this regard is a very effective method it still manages to play a small role in this process. Though its methods are effective and innovative, unfortunately for the time being “Preservationists are aware of what’s happening but they’re doing triage. They’re not really in dialogue with people who are creatively rethinking the city.”(Bertron and Rypkema, 12). Whether it’s the politicized nature of Cleveland or an unequal distribution of power among city organizations rightsizing efforts are still, as in other cities, far behind the needs of the community.

Cleveland, Youngstown, Buffalo, and Detroit all lost half their population in the recent 50 years and in 2010 at least 20 cities began drafting formal plans for rightsizing. As of that same year “one in 13 houses in Cleveland sat empty”(Moe, 1) and one noticeable common theme has been that “nearly all of the shrinking cities in the United States have exceptional universities and relatively healthy suburbs.”(Favro, 1) The common cause behind this is arguably that the suburbs have drawn the population from the city in a sprawling manner while high tech jobs that support suburban development are generated via the universities. Earlier methods such as in the late 1970’s when “Cleveland tweaked local law to help the city reclaim and redevelop abandoned properties.”(Dokoupil, 2) have largely focused on demolition. This idea of “bulldozers, grass seed, and foreclosure law” (Dokoupil, 2) won awards from academic institutions such as Harvard as is in the case of Genesee County, Michigan in 2007. This same demolition approach to rightsizing was carried out emphatically in Pittsburgh under 29-year-old Mayor Luke Ravenstahl who aggressively addressed 28,000 abandoned parcels and tripled the demolition budget as well as a creating a “Green Team” to clear lots and sell them for 200 dollars to nearby residents. Though demolition is a key theme in most rustbelt cities and is successful in reducing blight, the demolition method of rightsizing “failed to impact crime, attract new investment, or reduce the rate of housing abandonment” (Favro, 1) solving only a part of the problem. Furthermore, this demolition perspective on rightsizing led to criticism, stalling rightsizing efforts in cities such as Youngstown, Ohio. This is why strategies such as preservation are an excellent alternative option to demolition. Baltimore’s efforts, similar to Pittsburgh and Cleveland, have begun to focus on newer redevelopment strategies such as developing new parks and housing on inner city streets rather than just leaving behind vacant lots. Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation pointed out “even in areas where widespread demolition is unavoidable, we should preserve pockets of unique housing and landmark buildings wherever possible.” Not only have preservation strategies been shown to increase property value but it is also a valuable tool in rebuilding community morale. In Cleveland, historic preservation is beginning to emerge more and more as a solution to population decline issues and although the politicized system makes it difficult at times, much headway has been made. These alternative options are catching on as evidenced in Youngstown, Ohio when they became a trend starter through the use of a comprehensive plan for rightsizing, which did not rely on the more conventional methods of redevelopment. It instead focused on the green movement including reusing land for various communal purposes. These “innovative uses for vacated land” such as “urban agriculture, reforestation, and parkland creation” are being utilized more often “to manage vacated portions of a city.” (Moe, 2) The Obama administration is a large supporter of reusing vacant property and has funneled 2 billion dollars to aid in rightsizing through the use of land banks. “Policymakers are increasingly considering the land bank model to address the problem of vacant and abandoned properties in cities like Cleveland, which has an abundance of vacant housing.”(Fitzpatrick, 1) More importantly, cities like Cleveland are dealing with concentrated areas of abandoned and vacant housing that attract criminal activity. Several factors discourage private investment in these areas, the strongest being the quality of the land. Land banks purchase undesirable land and clear it of defects allowing private companies to get insurance on otherwise uninsurable land. This encourages private investment and allows for productive reuse of the land. Other land that is not invested in can simply be returned to nature to be used as open or green space, aiding in environmental health of both neighborhoods and the general world climate. Through my research I have come to find that while some cities do differ in strategy, largely rightsizing is being addressed through national and interstate cooperation. Overall strategy changes when new methods are shown to be effective in the areas that they are applied thus rightsizing is a cooperative effort and should be, due to its varying complex nature, evolving strategies, and relatively new nature.

I am quite certain that given time rightsizing policy and procedure will adapt to what works. However I do feel at the moment reuse and redevelopment should be the main focus, and that historic preservation is an excellent tool in supporting this broader strategy. In Cleveland in particular these issues need to be more aggressively addressed. The welfare of a community should not be victimized in the name of politics. We see this same attitude at the national level in regards to congress at the moment. Individuals who hold political office must hold in higher regard the general welfare of the people they serve rather than their personal bias. Politics are what need to be adjusted, as many of these strategies could be more easily applied if it were not for the politicized nature of our city and other cities as well. This evolution of serving the public into serving the self is the main issue, and though as idealistic and utopian in nature as it may seem, it would not be ethical to accept otherwise. In the meantime we must work harder as a community to push forth these efforts and establish the importance of rightsizing and while legislation takes its time and personal notions hinder policy, maybe we should build a community garden while we wait.


American Assembly, The. Reinventing America’s Legacy Cities. Publication of the 110th American Assembly. April 2011.

Bertron, Cara and Donovan Rypkema. 2012. Historic Preservation and Rightsizing: Current Practices and Resources Survey. Washington, DC: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Dokoupil, T. (2009, November 26). Cutting Down To Size: How Pittsburgh Is Managing Population Loss. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://mag.newsweek.com/2009/11/26/cutting-down-to-size.html

Favro, T. (2010, April 5). American cities seek to discover their right size. Retrieved from http://www.citymayors.com/development/us-rightsizing-cities.html

Fishman, R. (2000). The American Metropolis at Century’s End: Past and Future Influences. Housing Policy Debate, 11(1), 199-213.

Fitzpatrick, T. J. IV. (2008, December) Understanding Ohio’s Land Bank Legislation. Policy Discussion Papers. 25, 1-12.

Moe, R. (2010, January 3). Rightsizing shrinking cities requires patience and prudence. Plain Dealer. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/01/rightsizing_shrinking_cities_r.html

FEMA Response: Class Warfare And The Superdome

FEMA Response: Class Warfare And The Superdome

Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to evaluate Hurricane Katrina and its relation to class warfare. Topics covered include historical background, evacuation procedures, conditions of the super dome, labeling, recovery process, urban sprawl as a result of the storm, and conflict theory as an explanation of these topics. Furthermore this essay identifies the causes of class warfare and its impact on Katrina storm victims.

Historical Background and Conflict Theory

Katrina was not the first hurricane or weather related catastrophe to hit New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1927 The Great Mississippi Flood broke through the levees. The public was assured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the levees could sustain the weather. Alternative views presented by one of the top 5 engineers of all time, who ranked along with the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci had a different view. James Eads advised the use of cut-offs and reservoirs to hold back the water, yet officials were confident in the levees alone, which proved disastrous. Within eighteen hours there was fifteen inches of rain and soon twenty-seven thousand square miles would be submerged. By the time the floodwaters were decreasing one and a half million acres were under water. Then, In 1965, Hurricane Betsy wreaked havoc on New Orleans. It was reported as one of the most deadly and costly storms in history. With a maximum wind speed of one hundred and fifty-five miles per hour, Hurricane Betsy killed 76 people and cost the United States almost one and a half billion dollars. Most recently Hurricane Katrina caused mass wreckage and other major damage. This was not new information however, about one year earlier a study was conducted called Hurricane Pam. Hurricane Pam was a simulation exercise predicting the results and effects of a category 3 storm on New Orleans. Emergency planners concluded that a category three storm would kill tens of thousands of people, destroy hundreds of thousands of homes while making the area of South Louisiana inaccessible for months. Katrina was a category five. It has been a long time since Karl Marx proposed his conflict theory with its central argument being the haves versus the have-nots, in other words, the bourgeoisie versus the proletariat. In the case of Katrina, class warfare was apparent. The aftermath of Katrina alone left more than 200,000 New Orleans residents outside of their former city and home, and it was the largest exodus of people since the civil war. Eighty percent of these residents were African-American. New Orleans before the hurricane was one of the ten poorest cities with the lowest median income and Orleans Parish had one of the highest poverty rates among the surrounding counties at 24.5 percent. The storm’s damaged areas were approximately half African-American, around forty-five percent. Twenty percent of the damaged population of the Orleans Parish was below the poverty line. In the City of New Orleans however, seventy-five percent of people in damaged areas were African-American. Neighborhoods consisting of public housing had poverty rates between sixty and eighty percent with unemployment affecting one fifth of the population. Ninety percent of the populations in these public housing areas were African-American and all of these were damaged areas directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. With such disproportionate numbers it is no wonder why Kanye West said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live television news. However, it seems more so, that the President didn’t care about poor people. This observation is substantiated by the government’s late response to one of the worst and most damaging storms in the history of New Orleans.

Late Evacuation And Previous Warnings

Federal and State officials blamed each other for their poor response. State officials particularly blamed the Federal Emergency Management Agency while the Federal Government claimed that the responsibility lied with state and local officials. All officials involved, both state and federal, were made aware of the possible damage Katrina could inflict by the results of the Hurricane Pam simulation. These results were delivered to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state officials over one year prior to the incident in July 2004. Despite the disaster plan which called for an 
evacuation three days before Katrina made landfall, New Orleans had not ordered a mandatory evacuation until less than a day (20 hours) before the hurricane hit land. FEMA officials, according to the plan, were to have important resources and assistance in place before Katrina made landfall. This was a major responsibility since the submitted disaster plan in July 2004 noted that Louisiana had a shortage in resources needed to evacuate and supply the shelters. Yet, it was not until August 30, 2005 that FEMA started the National Response Plan in order to completely mobilize the federal governments resources. Before FEMA had gotten involved local and state officials had already issued a hurricane warning for southeastern Louisiana, and had issued a voluntary evacuation which was to be made mandatory a day later. All of this work by local and state officials happened before FEMA’s direct involvement. It seems local and state officials did as much as they could and were impatiently waiting for federal assistance. Though the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been made aware way ahead of landfall, they did nothing until a full twenty-four hours after landfall. While everyone is playing the blame game, it is quite clear that Federal involvement bared the majority of responsibility and failed in providing the resources and manpower needed to save lives.

Conditions In The Super Dome

The Superdome was comparable to a jail but worse. The toilets were either overrunning or clogged; there was no electricity, and not nearly enough food or water. While parents with disabled children worried about their health, as there was no medication for them, young women were being attacked and sexually assaulted in the bathrooms, and one man even committed suicide. One 80-year-old woman complained “I’ve been in the food line twice, and every time I get to the front they tell me they don’t have any left.”(Treaster, 2005, p. 4) The horrendous health hazards such as puddles of urine, bloodstains, and crack vials endangered about 16,000 citizens of New Orleans. Conditions were so severe that one mother was provided with two diapers and told to reuse them by scraping off the child’s waste from the diaper. Horrendous heat filled the dome as the power went. There was no air conditioning. Bryan Hebert a 43-year-old man arriving at the dome was quoted saying, “There is feces on the walls, there is feces all over the place.”(Gold, 2005) One man tried his best to escape, as was common with many. The man had lost everything and could not handle the stress. Most people in the dome had lost their home, some lost relatives, and as in this case had everything they brought to the Super dome stolen. The National Guard chased him down and in response the man told them, “I just want to get out, to go somewhere”.(Gold,  2005, p. 2). In response, the National Guardsmen took him to the terrace and told him to look at what was left, and all the man saw were continually raising floodwaters submerging cars and everything in their path. The man broke down and started crying. The vulnerability of the individuals in the Superdome was high due to factors such as lack of preparedness, adaptiveness, resistance and the ability to recover. Their ability to adapt was limited due to low socioeconomic standing, and the storm had a much greater effect on them because their ability to recover from damage was much less than that of their middle and upper class counterparts. Vulnerability in the context of natural disasters considers these aforementioned factors. While traditional risk assessment methods fail to take into account the heavier burden carried by the poor other studies show that “socio-economic status is a significant predictor of physical and psychological impacts” in both “pre and post disaster stages” (Masozera Bailey Kerchner, 2006, p. 300). Studies such as these have shown many times over that “the poor are more likely to die, suffer from injuries, have proportionally higher material losses, have more psychological trauma, and face more obstacles during the phases of response, recovery, and reconstruction”(Masozera et al., 2006, p. 300). This suggests that natural disasters are more damaging to the poor. With that mentioned, their recovery then depends upon the amount and quality of care given by local, state, and federal governments.

Criminalization of New Orleanians

Five days after Katrina made landfall state officials had organized and set up a booking and detention center to temporarily house individuals accused of violent crimes, looting, or terrorizing in any way the people of New Orleans that were awaiting evacuation. Louisiana Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder referring to this situation said, “We are in business.”(Kaufman, 2006, p. 1) The question therein was why was the criminal justice system the first organization to be back in business? Was this a criminalization of poverty or a necessary tool to maintain some semblance of civilization? Social science experts have long understood that natural disasters do not have unnatural social consequences. Many times natural disasters have exposed cities and states underlying social issues. Stephen Jackson argues “the scale of a disaster’s impact has much less to do with, say, an earthquake’s Richter force or a hurricane’s category strength than with the political economy of the country or region that it strikes.”(Kaufman, 2006, p. 1)The use of victim blame by press organizations was all too common in nationwide media coverage of the incident. The blame was placed on residents because they did not evacuate when they were told, despite their lack of resources. Articles with headlines such as “The Looting Instinct” or “Thugs Rein of Terror” reinforced and enabled further categorization and labeling. This maximizing of individual criminal or violent acts is all too often a major theme in American media. Meanwhile, on the Internet a pair of photos with completely opposing captions began circulating quickly. The pair of photos highlighted the racism issue in media coverage of New Orleans. While one photo of an African American man pictured carrying soda and a grocery bag was captioned with the words “looting a grocery store” the opposite photo of the pair was of a white couple also carrying food with the underlying caption “found bread and soda from a local grocery store.”(Kaufman, 2006) The infamous “West Bank” occurrence had a similar feel to it. The West Bank Bridge connected two racially segregated areas of the county, one side being a more affluent white neighborhood and the other a low-income population. Thousands of residents walked towards the bridge but armed sheriffs refused to let residents self evacuate on foot. This act of classism and racism was rationalized by the reasoning that the West Bank was not to become New Orleans and that they would not offer assistance or “superdomes” to the needy. When a few residents told the sheriff’s that the police commander told them to cross the bridge to get to the buses, the sheriff’s responded that there were no buses. The police commander was trying to divert the residents rather than help them.

Refugees In Their Own Country?

Once citizens, these victims were now considered by mass media to be refugees of their own country. This exclusion from the rest of society gave way to desensitization and due to its classist implications; the term refugee gave way to the idea of separation. Americans no longer had to think of them as fellow Americans, instead they were termed refugees, which allowed the American public to view them as outsiders. As Al Sharpton had said, “They are not refugees. They are citizens of the United States.”(Burnett, 2005) The argument presented was based on the negative connotations associated with the word refugee. Refugee implies that these people were crossing international or trans-national borders. This was a serious problem because the term refugee inferred that they are outsiders looking for charity when in fact these were victims of neglect within our own country. This debate over terminology resides around the notion that people who left before the storm were evacuees and those who chose to stay behind which, were mainly the lower income population were something else entirely and thus they were termed refugees. As previously pointed out these victims were more vulnerable, they had less resources than the “evacuees” and it is safe to assume that many lacked transportation or a place to go. Based on this there is no reason to use a term that would strip these victims of their dignity. This categorization and labeling criminalizes these victims and even allows for situations of self-fulfilling prophecy as exhibited by labeling theory. Judy Rogers, a social worker from Harlem, was quoted saying the term was “inappropriate, divisive, even racist when applied to American citizens.”(Masquelier, 2006, p. 737) This act of mislabeling encourages the idea of victim blame. Karl Marx’s conflict theory can be used to explain the victim blame that occurred. The bourgeois or upper-strata had more influence over the course of this natural disaster and having been for the most part indirectly involved had little hesitation to use the term refugee. It is in fact easier to mislabel and categorize these people because it provides an easing of responsibility on those able to help and puts the responsibility on the shoulders of those unable to help themselves. Victim blame takes away from the dignity and relevance of individuals and further more allows the system to be less involved.

Rebuilding New Orleans

Six years after Katrina, some areas in New Orleans are still struggling to rebuild while other areas are almost fully rebuilt. Broadmoor has had their homes freshly painted and their parks restored. The local charter school was reopened in January and after an impressive twenty nine million dollar rebuilding process, there was a newly built library, two months after the school was finished. Yet a fifteen-minute drive outside Broadmoor reveals a disturbing landscape. New Orleans East is nearly a ghost town. The businesses are boarded up, plazas are empty and there is no medical care. The remaining residents have to drive over ten miles to treat medical emergencies or to even shop. Both neighborhoods are similar in their racial makeup and class status; this suggests that the rebuilding process is based on who is helping what areas. The more successful neighborhoods were rebuilt without government assistance. The members of the community with deep pockets were able to support the rebuilding of their area. In order to rebuild the area of Broadmoor the city partnered with colleges such as Harvard University, MIT, and Bard University. These collegiate institutions sent volunteers, more than 13,000, who spent a collective 300,000 hours rebuilding Broadmoor. Across town New Orleans East has gone without basic services. Six years after the storm there was not a hospital in the area and was not rebuilt until late 2013. Due to this lack of basic services businesses continued to stay clear of the area leading to further economic decline. The residents returned but it was rather clear to them that the government was not interested in rebuilding the storm worn area, leaving the people to take care of things by themselves. It is no wonder why the population has decreased by more than 100,000 residents. Although the levees have been rebuilt, this time to withstand a category three hurricane, it is safe to assume that there are bigger social problems at hand. FEMA’s Public Assistance program that is supposed to provide grants for the reconstruction of public facilities demands a rigorous review and depends on local governments to cover construction costs before reimbursement from FEMA. Homeowners due to the difficulties of acquiring assistance were left to rebuild their homes with the same residential standards as before Katrina instead of rebuilding in a manner that would reduce vulnerability against floods. Rebuilding in this manner allows for the damages to occur again. While areas such as the French Quarter are nearly rebuilt, other sections still suffer. Lower Ninth Ward streets are still abandoned and 19,000 people are homeless, one of the highest rates in the country. While federal aid attempted to solve this problem by providing living quarters for three months for the homeless, without employment and with most businesses not returning there was no way to retain their housing. More disturbing was that federal programs were racially biased, many helped white homeowners before African-Americans. Though upsetting, reconstruction efforts are looking up. With 34.5 billion in federal aid and 19 billion still unspent, employment in the construction vocation has risen five percent while in the rest of the country it has fallen by more than ten percent. On the other hand, while the Army Corps of Engineers is spending 14 billion to rebuild and improve the levee system, residents especially in the lower ninth ward are skeptical to say the least. Even their representatives don’t feel safe. Councilman Jon Johnson verified this concern when asked if the Corps of Engineers had done enough to protect the city. His answer of no, though simple, was the same as most residents in the area. Despite these commonly shared feelings, the steps to taken to ensure the damage does not happen again are quite reasonable. The Corp is building flood defense systems 12 miles from downtown and 9 miles from the greatly affected Lower Ninth Ward. The levees have been fortified and are now anchored one hundred feet below ground and the elevation has been raised from fourteen to thirty-two feet. For even more assurance the Corps is building the world’s largest flood pump. HUD or the Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, has taken steps that are counterproductive to the rebuilding of New Orleans. They tore down over 4,600 public housing apartments and are replacing them with 744 similar units, which was over an eighty percent reduction in living quarters. Not only is there now less space but the apartments being built have an average cost of over 400,000 dollars, far beyond the reach of many residents who are low income. Despite protest by residents and non-residents federal courts had denied stopping the construction and the gentrification continued. HUD, although promising 100 days to subject demolition plans to public scrutiny, approved demolition with no community input in less than two days. While the courts did recognize the lack of fairness, they ultimately concluded that if the demolitions presented were found to be illegal that residents could ultimately recover their monetary damages. This discrimination of the lower class had become all too familiar with the rebuilding of New Orleans. The lack of assistance during the storm coupled with the racially and economically biased decision making regarding the rebuilding process will leave New Orleans a city once again. However, it may not be the same city people once loved for its ethnic diversity or it’s unique celebrations.

Urban Sprawl By Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina devastated the community of New Orleans. Katrina caused a total of 200 to 300 billion dollars in property damage, covering 300 miles of the gulf. Having inflicted twice as much damage as Hurricane Andrew did in Florida in 1992, it was the most destructive storm to date. Katrina destroyed more than 62,000 buildings and flooded a quarter of a million homes, and took with it 1,200 lives. This led to the displacement of over one million Americans across 92,000 square miles. It was estimated that only fifty percent of residents would return. In response, many planners started developing a planned shrinkage plan to create a more compact and efficient city with less vulnerability to flooding. However, of the few plans developed, none guaranteed a right to return for the displaced residents nor did they address the issue of compensation. Furthermore the residents themselves were left to prepare plans that would prove their neighborhood should be restored. Previously before the storm New Orleans was battling white flight and the decrease in population in the city. Due to the federal and state government investments in flood control, wetland reclamation, and highway construction a city that was one of the most diverse in the nation in income and race became racially segregated. From 1970 to 2000 New Orleans was already experiencing little growth in its transportation, energy, tourism and retail sectors. The employment shifted into the service sector and as a result the median city income became one of the lowest in the country. Without employment opportunities for skilled workers New Orleans could not keep these residents in the city. This combined with the cost of living, in a city that has to maintain over 300 miles of levees, canals, and water pumps, there were no incentives keeping middle-income residents and businesses in the city. The majority opinion between the lower class and African Americans is that the current leadership had greater interest in supporting elite members of the local community then addressing common social issues in the area. For Example, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development did not help the situation when the secretary of HUD, Alphonso Jackson commented, “New Orleans was bound to become a much whiter city as a result of Katrina.”(Reardon, 2006, p. 4) Though many planners feel rebuilding the most damaged neighborhoods is unrealistic the people still want their homes back. After a rigorous inspection, the ULI issued a report proposing a selective rebuilding plan. The panel organized cities into three categories. Category A consisted of the most damaged homes and areas and these areas were not to be rebuilt. The land was to be used for wetlands and parks, which in turn would demolish the homes of the working class and racial minorities. Category B consisted of areas with intermediate damage and the residents were responsible for returning and working on viable redevelopment plans to make their area eligible for investment. Category C consisted of the least damaged areas and would be eligible immediately for redevelopment. However for the homes in category A and B the ULI did argue for compensation similar to displaced residents post-9/11. However, issued in January, Mayor Nagin’s commission report allowed for all neighborhoods to gather restoration plans and submit them by May 20. It also stated that the city would work to get in contact with the displaced residents to encourage and involve them in this process. Although attempts were made by the mayor to encourage the return of residents, many did not wish to return based on the uncertainties of the planning process and no guarantee that residents could return permanently. The largest exodus of people since the civil war began. We normally think of Urban Sprawl in terms of regions within a state and its effect on the central cities as white middle class families move out of the city to suburban areas. New Orleans, although it had exhibited these patterns pre-Katrina, lost 100,000 residents because of the storm alone. With this decrease in residency and the city struggling more to maintain and rebuild levees, water pumps and canals, to stay, would be to pay. This combined with the lack of guarantee for previous residents to have a home makes it extremely difficult to persuade any one to return much less encourage others to stay.

Evacuees Relocate

FEMA was required to relocate evacuees out of shelters by October 15, 2005, yet two months after Katrina made landfall thousands of residents still had nowhere to go. While some concerned Americans opened their homes to the victims. FEMA has relied on trailer parks to house families. Over a hundred thousand are living in hotels and aboard cruise ships and though the majority have relocated to Texas and Louisiana evacuees were still spread across the whole country with 
some in every state. After adding questions to the Current Population Survey conducted from October of 2005 till October 2006, the current conditions of Katrina evacuees were observed. The survey found that those that did not return to their homes in New Orleans had higher unemployment and lower median income than those that returned home. Those less likely to return were typically young adults, African Americans, or those that were single. Throughout Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi one and a half million people ages sixteen and above relocated and did not return, Around seventy-five percent of these individuals lived in Louisiana. The majority of this seventy-five percent came from the coastal area of New Orleans. Interestingly enough, despite popular belief, people of all socioeconomic statuses had to evacuate due to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that members of the most and least educated residents were slightly less likely to evacuate, and that Hispanic Americans were more likely to evacuate. The purpose of this data was to show that no demographic group in particular failed to evacuate. Sixty five percent of evacuees returned to their pre-Katrina locations while seventy three percent returned to their original county. The social cause of this is that staying within your home county allows you to maintain social groups and employment opportunities not otherwise available. This can be 
rather appealing especially after such a large natural disaster. Though Louisiana had the lowest percentage of returnees this is believed to be due to greater damages to their environment both from Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which struck only a month after. The amount of residents that returned did so reasonably quickly after the storm. Two hundred and eighty thousand residents did not return to New Orleans and are relocated in every state in the US though the majority stayed in their home states. There is relevant demographic composition of the people who returned. As observed the probability of returning increased with the age of residents. There are also disparities in the percentages of black and white residents who returned. While fifty four percent of black residents did return eighty two percent of white residents returned to their pre-storm counties. Similarly single residents were less likely to return and by a small difference in percentage those without high school diplomas were less likely to return as well. The storm also greatly affected the employment and job seeking efforts of evacuees. The unemployment rate of evacuees was 12.1 percent. Evacuees had triple the unemployment rate of the other unaffected areas of the country. Eighty four thousand residents of two hundred eighty thousand who did not return reside in Atlanta. This has increased the cities burden to maintain and care for residents in regards to mental and physical health and housing. Houston of all cities has carried the biggest burden with one hundred fifty thousand evacuees residing in the city. This increase in population has caused a spike in both unemployment and crime. Many evacuees were still not considered on their feet almost one year after the storm. Kathy Walt of Governor Perry’s office was quoted saying  “because the vast majority of the people who fled Louisiana in the wake of Katrina were lower-income individuals…if they are going to remain here, we need to know what kind of services they are going to need.” (Axtman, 2006) The Gallup survey showed that fifty nine percent of evacuees in Texas were unemployed and forty one percent had an income less than five hundred dollars a month. Mayor Bill White’s response was shared with other citizens of the city who felt the impact of increased residency. Bill White pointed out “We don’t believe in dependency in Houston. We’re a working city. It may not be the perfect job, but there are jobs available and people should take them.”(Axtman, 2006) Harris County Hospital costs for treating evacuees was higher than seven million dollars, which only a third of was repaid by the Federal Government. After receiving ample money to cover Katrina oriented educational prices, the state observed an increase of forty six thousand and five hundred students with thirty one thousand returning the following year. As far as the crime impact on Texas residents, Houston County’s criminal justice system has spent more than eighteen million on just Katrina evacuees alone including at least 40 murders in the area.


The pressures of poverty are common in America at this time, yet, none of us seem to understand its effects. From the criminalization of the poor, to the racist ideologies of looting versus finding, we are left with a society unaware of the causes and effects of poverty. We are more willing to blame the victim than the system. Blaming the system may greatly improve the conditions in which we are treated by changing policy and developing laws that protect the poor. We are a nation that recognizes wrong but we are also unfortunately a nation of mostly apathetic citizens. The fact is we can be better. This is the driving force behind America, though we are slowly becoming a nation that is too complacent with injustice. Why would we accept these conditions? The greatest American leaders certainly never did. From abolishing slavery to giving women the right to vote, from the civil rights movement to the Vietnam protests, America has always been a country of change. It is all too common throughout our history, our belief that America can be better. We must make the effort to stay informed and by doing this we can once again work to improve our country. Katrina though a horrible disaster brought attention to many social concerns and if we fail to be better or learn from this, then the thousands of lives lost and the struggles of the victims would have all been in vain.

– Christopher Kolezynski


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Cuyahoga County and The Cleveland Police Force: The Correlation between Income and the Use of Deadly Force

Cuyahoga County and The Cleveland Police Force: The Correlation between Income and the Use of Deadly Force


On November 22nd of 2014 12 year-old Tamir Brown was killed by a Cleveland police officer for holding a BB gun at a local park in Cleveland. The officer who fired the shots had been previously let go from the suburban Independence Police Force for “dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress” (Barajas, 2014). Cleveland City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson stated “there is something fundamentally broken in our system when a young man can have a legal BB gun, and by the end of that day be killed by a Cleveland police officer” (Strochlic, 2014). A one-year investigation by the Department of Justice into the Cleveland Police Department concluded not too long after the Tamir Rice incident. Attorney General Eric Holder explained at a press conference “The thorough and independent review, which spanned more than a year and a half, concluded that officers engaged in unnecessary use of deadly force, including shootings and head strikes, and used excessive force against people who were mentally ill and in crisis… some of the officers’ search and seizures…violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The department examined nearly 600 use-of-force incidents that occurred between 2010 and 2013” (Richinik, 2014). The objective of this study was to try and discover if this deadly use of force was more likely to occur in low-income areas. Due to lack of data on police shootings many have begun to crowd source such data in an attempt to shine light on this national problem. Utilizing crowd sourced data; information on income from NEOCANDO, and geographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau, along with violent crime rates in the Cleveland area, the study concluded that income does have a correlation with a higher use of deadly force by the Cleveland Police Department.

Similar Studies

Several studies have been conducted on race and police violence. However, less has been conducted in regards to income. In 1979 an empirical study was conducted to examine use of deadly force and inequality. The study “found that the police were most likely to use deadly force in the most unequal states” (Britt & Jacobs, 403). The large majority of other studies are focused on race, such as Goldkamp’s study (1976) on minorities as victims of police shootings. However, additional findings from Goldkamp’s study did show “that the lowest income groups (regardless of race) were the most highly victimized segments of society” (Goldkamp, 169). Recent studies are hard to find suggesting that much more research needs to be done on the subject. The location from which the data was obtained, TheseAreWaters, did conduct a study using the data. However, the majority of the study was focused on demographics such as race and did not address income. As the issue becomes more and more a national concern effective solutions will require the insight offered by scientific analysis. This study aims to analyze income as it relates to the use of deadly force. The following map shows police shootings in Cuyahoga County from 1999 to 2014.[1]

The geolocation of police shootings in Cuyahoga County reveals a high concentration of shootings within the city of Cleveland with few taking place in the outer suburbs. This concentration was established further when selecting points within the city of Cleveland. Analysis revealed that 31 out of 34 cases of deadly force that occurred within the county happened in the city of Cleveland. In comparison to shootings across the entire U.S. Cleveland comprised 2.7 percent of shootings. 31 out of 34 cases of deadly force in Cuyahoga County occurred within the city of Cleveland. Since 1999, 31 out of 1144 cases in the U.S. occurred in the city of Cleveland.

The next step of the analysis was to map the median household income in Cuyahoga County by census tract. The analysis revealed that the majority of census tracts within the city of Cleveland had an average median household income below $40,000. The 2014 absolute poverty line for households with 3 people is $19,790. Areas below or near this income range are marked by the dark red color on the map. The poverty line for households of 6 is $31,970. These areas are marked by yellow. The poverty line for households of 8 is $ 40,090, areas below this income range are marked by the bright green coloring on the map (Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). Analysis of income ranges shows that while the large majority of census tracts within the city of Cleveland have median household incomes below $40,000 the outer suburbs have majority income ranges between $40,000 to $100,000 dollars with approximately 16 census tracts with incomes above $100,000. The next step was to overlay the police shootings with median household income.

Analysis of the overlay and coinciding table above shows significant correlations with income. Out of 34 cases more than half (18) occurred in neighborhoods where the median household income was below $30,000 a year. Less than one-third of all cases occurred in neighborhoods with a median household income between $30,000 and $40,000. The single case that occurred in the neighborhood with a $50,000 plus annual household income was a high outlier. The incident occurred within a census tract with an annual household income of approximately $111,000.

A ½ mile buffer around sites of deadly force reveals that approximately 23 sites of deadly force occurred within at least a ½ mile of one other site. This could point to poor policing in certain communities or may occur as a result of increased crime rates, assuming such shootings are justified. In consideration of the commonly established causation of poverty to crime the following map displays the number of cases of violent crimes per 100,000 residents by census tract. The following map displays violent crime rates in the city of Cleveland.

The majority of census tracts near sites of deadly force contained higher rates of violent crime than census tracts near the boundaries of the city of Cleveland. Approximately 21 deaths occurred in communities with 1,001 – 4,000 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The remaining 13 sites within the county were dispersed among the remaining ranges.


The findings of this study are that there is a significant correlation between income and use of deadly force by police. Further studies should be undertaken to discover if there may be causation between the two variables. The concentration of incidences in areas with less than $30,000 median household income could indicate poorer training, relaxed hiring standards, lack of oversight and/or racial and economic bias. Several other studies on police violence have found race to be a critical component. This study aimed to understand such violence from a conflict perspective. The absence of deadly force in high income and suburban communities of Cuyahoga County suggests further that use of deadly force has a class component. Additional studies exploring the violent crime rates around these sites and details of the individual cases will help reveal how strong of a relationship there is between violent crime rates and use of deadly force in Cuyahoga County.

Click here for full document with maps for viewing and/or download.

– Christopher Kolezynski

Poverty and The True Costs of Mental Illness

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Isabella was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. Isabella was raped by her uncle when she was only four years old. The traumatic incident and memories tormented Isabella through her youth and at the age of 11 she turned to drugs to escape this harsh reality. After she began to threaten suicide, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 15.

Following her treatment at the hospital and her continued treatment at Children International’s community center Isabella became a peer educator for the organization’s Youth Health Corps. Isabella now counsels and shares her experiences and knowledge with other youth in the area.

Isabella’s story ended positively but for other youth and adults suffering from mental illness in developing countries this is too often not the outcome. The lack of available treatment is not only a burden on the communities and people suffering from mental illness but impacts the global economy and accounts for much of the decrease in global gross domestic product.

Full article @: http://www.borgenmagazine.com/poverty-true-costs-mental-illness/