Also: The question presidential candidates don’t get asked, and why are U.S. homes so big?

What We’re Following

A clean break: Racketeering. Graft. Embezzlement. Bribes. Perhaps one of the most colorful qualities of city politics is the notorious and chronic issue of civic corruption. It’s a story that has defined eras of cities like Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago, and Providence, and it can leave locals weary from national embarrassment and seeing history repeat itself.

Leading a wave of reform can be a tall order. First come the attempts to oust politicians and root out the sources of controversy in the first place. Then there’s the murky work of overhauling city charters, rewriting ethics laws, launching probes, and challenging entrenched political traditions. “As long as you have human beings in government, you’re not going to be able to root [corruption] out entirely,” one political scientist tells CityLab. But voters and officials have certainly tried, and some have even gotten good results. Today on CityLab: The Art of Cleaning Up City Hall

Andrew Small

More on CityLab

The Question the Presidential Candidates Don’t Get Asked

Affordable housing is an urgent crisis, and 11 candidates have presented plans for solving it. But you wouldn’t know this by watching the TV debates.

Diane Yentel

Don't Move People Out of Distressed Places. Instead, Revitalize Them

A new study shows that place-based policies are key to helping people in distressed cities, where investments should be tailored to local economic conditions.

Richard Florida

How Much Bigger Are Homes in the U.S. Than in the Rest of the World?

The U.S. is in the top tier of house sizes internationally—and it’s not just because of McMansions.

Joe Pinsker

My International Love Story, in Three Maps

My relationship has unfolded across three cities. But now my boyfriend and I are heading into uncharted territory.

Thomas Dai

Bike-Dominated Amsterdam Is Not a Walker's Paradise

As Amsterdammers jostle for space, the city government is trying to ease conflicts between those on bikes and on foot.

Sophie Knight

D’oh! Not Disturb

(James Collier)

Tired of waiting for the city to fix their street, New Orleans residents furnished a pothole and offered it up for rent on Airbnb. The listing for “Homer’s Hideout” boasted “open air living, with the comforts of rural camping—including a few early-morning yelps from local coyotes.” The listing lasted for three weeks, until a crew of city workers finally showed up to fix the street. “This was just about being a squeaky wheel,” the listing’s creator said. CityLab’s Laura Bliss has the story: Here’s a Pothole Stunt for the Ages in New Orleans

What We’re Reading

How climate change in Iowa is changing presidential politics (TIME)

PG&E agrees to pay $11 billion insurance settlement over California wildfires (NPR)

One in four of New York’s new luxury apartments are unsold (New York Times)

Philly blesses worshipers with free parking, eliciting cyclists’ Old Testament wrath (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The changing face of school integration (Washington Post)

Tell your friends about the CityLab Daily! Forward this newsletter to someone who loves cities and encourage them to subscribe. Send your own comments, feedback, and tips to

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Groups of people look at their phones while sitting in Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

    How Socially Integrated Is Your City? Ask Twitter.

    Using geotagged tweets, researchers found four types of social connectedness in big U.S. cities, exemplified by New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami.

  2. A woman looks straight at camera with others people and trees in background.

    Why Pittsburgh Is the Worst City for Black Women, in 6 Charts

    Pittsburgh is the worst place for black women to live in for just about every indicator of livability, says the city’s Gender Equity Commission.

  3. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  4. a map comparing the sizes of several cities

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  5. a photo of a woman on a SkyTrain car its way to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    In the City That Ride-Hailing Forgot, Change Is Coming

    Fears of congestion and a powerful taxi lobby have long kept ride-hailing apps out of transit-friendly Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s about to change.