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Barron for Governor

June 15, 2010

We’ve always been secret admirers of certain subsets of social science that speak to living conditions in urban areas. There are transportation planners who work on the vast challenge of moving people quickly and efficiently in and out of a city. There are preservation experts who struggle to retain elements of the history and character of a city. And there are environmental advocates who crusade for parks and green space amidst the ever-expanding steel and concrete superstructure of a city. 

Unfortunately, we live in a state where vast sums are spent on social services linked to certain interest groups, while virtually nothing is spent on the sophisticated disciplines mentioned above that could really improve people’s lives.    

Perhaps there’s opportunity now to alter this unfortunate situation. 

The unlikely catalyst? It’s New York City Councilman Charles Barron, who yesterday announced his intention to run as a protest candidate for governor. Barron says that Andrew Cuomo and the Dems have ignored and dissed black and brown people, and that he will run to represent their interests. 

We applaud Barron’s effort. Our reasons, though, have less to do with matters of race than urban policy. 

In this regard, Barron can perform an extraordinary service if his candidacy encourages Cuomo and Lazio to focus on urban problems and develop real urban agendas. 

People living in cities contend with specific challenges: Their schools perform poorly. There are virtually no groceries where they can buy fresh produce. The air they breath is bad. The housing stock is decaying. Health care facilities are impossibly overburdened. Economic opportunities are limited. And on and on. 

These aren’t black or brown problems. These are problems shared by everyone who lives in the city – which accounts for 92 percent of New Yorkers. Yes, that’s right. Nine out of ten New Yorkers live in an urban area and they all would benefit from a real debate on urban policy.

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