Also today: An ex-Census director warns of a big mistake in 2020, and how schools sparked Pittsburgh’s Black Renaissance.

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What We’re Following

For the love of HUD, show us the table: As the Department of Housing and Urban Development awaits deep budget cuts, The New York Times reports that the agency spent $31,000 on a new dining room set in late 2017 for Secretary Ben Carson’s office. The custom hardwood table, chairs, and hutch—made in Carson’s hometown of Baltimore—sure sound cozy, but we’re still wondering, where are the pictures? (Here’s a look at what it’s replacing, per TPM)

Of course, that’s a little beside the point, given that federal law requires congressional approval for any spending over $5,000 on redecorating department head offices. (HUD now says the dining set was “a building expense.”) The Guardian obtained a copy of the complaint filed with a federal whistleblower agency, in which a senior career official at HUD claims she was demoted and replaced for refusing to break the law to fund the redecoration, and faced retaliation for exposing a $10 million budget shortfall.

CityLab context: For 2019, the White House proposes some harsh spending cuts for HUD’s public housing programs.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Ex-Census Director: Citizenship Question Is 'a Tremendous Risk'

The bureau’s former boss explains why adding a question about U.S. citizenship to the 2020 count would be a big mistake.

Kriston Capps

A Female Architect's 'Post-War Miracle' No Match for New Zoning

Natalie de Blois rarely received her due during a 50-year career. Now, a new zoning law in Manhattan’s Midtown East is helping a bank tear down one of her greatest achievements.

Teresa Mathew

The Hurricane Refugees of Amish Country

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is taking in hundreds of evacuees from Puerto Rico. For many, the transition has been a challenge.

Martín Echenique

Trump's EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air—even as the agency seeks to roll back regulations on pollution.

Vann R. Newkirk II

Pittsburgh's Black Renaissance Started in Its Schools

From the 1920s through the 1950s, Schenley High, Westinghouse High, and other city schools graduated scores of black notables and anchored the neighborhoods around them.

Mark Whitaker

What Are Active-Shooter Drills Doing to Kids?

The psychological effects of realistic simulations could be dangerous.

James Hamblin


Taking It to the Streets

Animation from New York Times's "Automated Vehicles Can't Save Cities"
(Olaekan Jeyifous/ The New York Times)

A click-worthy illustrated opinion piece in The New York Times makes the case that autonomous vehicles, just like the cars we have today, can’t save cities. In fact, they might make problems like traffic and carbon emissions much worse, and create a dystopian challenge to public space in cities. CityLab context: How driverless cars will change the way cities feel.


What We’re Reading

A tech company is secretly using New Orleans to test predictive policing technology (The Verge)

Is the Hyperloop taking cities for a ride? (Streetsblog)

How top architecture firms measure up on #MeToo (Curbed)

Will a cashless society hurt the homeless? (The Guardian)

The AP gov teacher who taught the Parkland students how to debate (Splinter)

YIMBYism and the cruel irony of metropolitan history (Streetsblog LA)


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