Category Archives: Wealth

Children drive neighborhood income segregation


Gentrification, it’s called, and the driving factor seems to be whether or not families have children.

The presence of school age children makes school selection a decisive factor in housing choices, according to new research reported by the American Sociological Association:

Neighborhoods are becoming less diverse and more segregated by income — but only among families with children, a new study has found.

Study author Ann Owens, an assistant professor of sociology at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, examined census data from 100 major U.S. metropolitan areas, from Los Angeles to Boston. She found that, among families with children, neighborhood income segregation is driven by increased income inequality in combination with a previously overlooked factor: school district options.

For families with high income, school districts are a top consideration when deciding where they will live, Owens said. And for those in large cities, they have multiple school districts where they could choose to buy homes.

Income segregation between neighborhoods rose 20 percent from 1990 to 2010, and income segregation between neighborhoods was nearly twice as high among households that have children compared to those without.

For childless families, schools are not a priority for selecting a home, which, Owens said, likely explains the reason that they did not see a rise in the income gap or in neighborhood segregation.

“Income inequality has an effect only half as large among childless folks,” said Owens, whose study will be published online on April 27 and in the June print edition of the American Sociological Review [$36 to read the article — esnl]. “This implies that parents who have children see extra money as a chance to buy a home in a good neighborhood so that their kids may attend a good school.”

She said the increased neighborhood income segregation that her study uncovered is a troubling sign for low-income families. Studies have shown that integrated learning environments are beneficial for children of disadvantaged households, and do no harm to children whose families have higher incomes.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Blood on the newsroom floor: Layoffs, a ban


UPDATED, after the jump. . .

Two major developments today.

First, the New York Times announced major layoffs in Paris as emphasis shifts from print to digital, with job losses concentrated in printing and editing. And then there’s the resignation of a Nevada journalist specializing in casino reporting after his boss barred him from reporting on the paper’s owner, a thuggish Right-winger and GOP megadonor who just happens to be the state’s leading casino owner.

The Paris layoffs affect production of the International New York Times/International Herald-Tribune.

Here’s a key section of the memo sent to staff announcing the cuts, via media blogger Jim Romenesko:

Readers today, particularly our highly traveled international readers, have different needs and expectations of print publications than even a few years ago. Our goal with this proposed redesign is to increase the breadth and depth of analysis, opinion and other coverage on topics that are most meaningful and pertinent to international audiences.

Another goal of the proposal is to simplify our production process and enable us to produce the paper far more efficiently than we do today, a step that is critical to its financial viability. Without these proposed changes, we do not believe that an international print New York Times is sustainable over the long term.

Stephen Dunbar-Johnson and Joe Kahn, who are leading our international efforts and overseeing the proposed redesign, will share more details with our colleagues at the INYT, but the proposal we announced today would result in the closing of the editing and pre-press print production operation in Paris, with those responsibilities moving to Hong Kong and New York.

France remains a vital market for us and we will maintain a robust news bureau in Paris as well as a core international advertising office there.

We regret that the proposal includes the elimination of jobs in Paris and we want to express our appreciation to colleagues – past and present – who through their hard work, have contributed to maintaining a tradition of excellence in global journalism at the IHT and INYT.

We believe that the proposal we have put forth today is necessary to sustain our global journalistic mission and best serve our valued international print readers and advertisers well into the future

Next, and more troubling, is the resignation of Nevada’s most able journalist covering the casino beat.

John L. Smith has worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for decades, covering the casino industry and its often shady players.

The Review-Journal was where we landed our first job on a daily newspaper at the ripe old age of 19 covering, among other things, racial discrimination in the city’s gaming palaces, stories for which we won the state’s highest journalism award, one Smith himself would win a couple of decades later.

The handwriting was on the wall for Smith last year when the city’s biggest casino owner, Sheldon Adelson, bought the paper, in part, we suspect, because it was the only way he could shut Smith up.

And now it’s over.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Austerians demand another Greek wage cut


The Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund are demanding yet more drastic pay and pension cuts from Greek workers to enable the banksters of the North to reap their pounds of flesh from the civic body.

No all that remains is getting approval form the national legislature yet one more time.

From To Vima:

At the recent Eurogroup, the Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos reached an agreement with Greece’s creditors regarding the contingency measures that have been requested, in order to conclude the bailout review.

This package of contingency measures worth 2% of the GDP, namely 3.6 billion euros, will come into effect the government fails to reach its target for a 3.5% GDP primary surplus by 2018.

Given that the annual state expense for pensions is 30 billion euros and 15 billion euros for public sector wages, an average 8% cut will be required in order to cover the cost of the contingency measures.

It remains to be seen whether the Greek government will manage to support such a deal in Parliament. Should Athens pass the measures, a Eurogroup on the reprofiling of the debt will be called, in turn putting an end to months of instability and uncertainty.

Iceland’s president nailed by the Panama Papers


Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the Icelandic president first elected to office in 1996 as a political science professor turned politician, has become the second national politician linked by the Panama Papers to offshore bank accounts, coming only three days after he denied an such connections.

The revelations come less than a month after the nation’s then-Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was driven out of office over similar ties discovered in the massive leak of emails and files from a Panamanian law firm.

From the Reykjavík Grapevine:

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson does in fact have connections to at least one offshore account, despite contentions to the contrary with CNN.

While the President told viewers of CNN that neither he nor his wife, Dorrit Moussaieff, have any connection to offshore accounts, The Grapevine has received documents that show this contention to be false.

The matter concerns a British company called Moussaieff Jewelers Limited (MJL), which is Dorrit’s family’s business. According to the Directors’ Report and Financial Statements for MJL in 2006, Lasca Finance Limited (LFL) – a company registered in the British Virgin Islands of which Dorrit’s parents are shareholders – was paid interest payments by MJL from at least 2000 until 2005, which was the last time we saw reported interest. Lasca also appears in the widely-reported Panama Papers leak.

In 2006, LFL all but disappears, and a new company appears in Hong Kong: Moussaieff Limited, of which Dorrit’s mother is the sole director and shareholder, and has been active through at least March 31, 2015. While not defined as a tax shelter by Icelandic law, Hong Kong does rank in second place on the Financial Secrecy Index.

Grapevine art director Sveinbjorn Palsson has created the perfect video mashup to accompany the story:

H/T to Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

Quote of the day: Gentrification in the East Bay


The eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay, including esnl’s Berkeley and Oakland, just four blocks away, has become untenable for growing numbers of people, including many of the people of color who used to live in our own neighborhood.

Our own rent was just jacked up by more than half, and we know many others in the same fix.

And so we turn with interest to our QOTD, written by April M. Short for AlterNet, who was driven from Oakland by the same forces that are driving us out as well.

The true culprit behind displacement and gentrification is a complex ricochet effect that arguably began with the tech boom, as large Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook and Apple were drawn to this desirable and nearby area. As their money has flooded the city, landlords and business owners have hiked up prices and ultimately life in San Francisco has become too expensive for many artists, laborers and others who don’t receive salaries comparable to those of tech workers. Many of those San Franciscans have moved to Oakland, which remains less expensive (if only slightly). That migration includes many tech startup workers who can’t afford to buy or rent in San Francisco and have heard Oakland is more affordable. As Oakland has been inundated with this mass influx of people from across the bay, landlords and businesses over here have in turn hiked up their prices, forcing longtime locals further into the outskirts.

Another important piece of the problem are the unethical practices of these tech giants. The most obvious example is the tech companies’ corporate shuttles that allow non-locals to be driven into the city from Silicon Valley aboard luxury buses, which have earned the nickname Google buses. Mass protests have gathered to stop the buses, and in response, the city of San Francisco recently forbade those private buses from using public bus stops. But the mass displacement of San Francisco’s people and the white-washing gentrification of its streets have not reversed (Truthout has an in-depth snapshot of the situation).

Another thing to note is the greed of some landlords. As rents have skyrocketed in the last three to five years, mortgages have remained relatively stable, and some landlords have been charging more just because they can. Because of this trend, and similar situations in New York, Los Angeles and many other metropolitan areas, it is officially the worst time in American history to be a renter. A report by the online real estate website Zillow showed in August how rents have never taken up this much of the American paycheck.

Puerto Rico, red meat to predatory banksters


The power of predators to draft American financial laws should be apparent to anyone by now, but it’s still shocking to see how viciously those laws impact the lives of men, women, and children who are both citizens and colonial subjects.

Puerto Rico is the classic example, a territory whose natives are by birthright U.S. citizens, yet are simultaneously exempt from laws created to protect citizens who happen to be born in states rather than territories.

Leave it to John Oliver and his gifted staff of researchers to get to bottom of things, with a little musical help from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the hottest ticket on Broadway.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico

Program notes:

Puerto Rico is suffering a massive debt crisis. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins John Oliver to call for relief.

Blood on the newsroom floor: More carnage


2016 is shaping up as another bad year for the news media, with downsizings happening in both the United States and Europe.

We’ll begin with the most notable new example, via the New York Post:

Chairman and Publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.’s management team has been talking with some of the Times’ unions to come to a deal to provide reduced severance to those affected, sources told The Post.

“There’s a goal of a couple of hundred people,” said a source familiar with talks. “They don’t want to pay out big packages, and they’re having negotiations with the unions.”

The layoffs would likely occur between the Aug. 21 end of the summer Olympics in Brazil and Election Day on Nov. 8, sources said.

A union source confirmed there are ongoing talks about reducing severance pay, but wasn’t aware of lay-off plans at this time.

Next, the hammer falls at a major Midwestern paper, the same one esnl read as a grade schooler growing up in a small Kansas farm town.

Via Cision Media Research:

Layoffs and buyouts have hit the newsroom at The Kansas City Star. The buyouts affected several veterans of the paper, including editorial page editor Steve Paul, on staff since 1975; op-ed columnist and editorial board member Barb Shelly, with the paper since 1984; longtime theater critic Robert Trussel, on staff since 1977; digital editor Jody Cox; and assistant sports editor  Mark Zeligman.

The following staffers were laid off:

  • Greg Hack, assistant business editor
  • Alan Bavley, health reporter
  • Brian Burnes, metro reporter
  • James Fussell, features reporter
  • Mary Schulte, online photo editor

The Pittsburgh Business Times covers the kinder, gentler form of downsizing on their own home turf:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette generated enough editorial staffers to take a second buyout offer in the last seven months that it will not move forward with any layoffs.

“With this buyout, we got near enough to where we need to be that we don’t need to go further,” said Lisa Hurm, general manager for the PG, a division of Toledo-based Block Communications, Inc.

Hurm declined to offer specifics on the number of editorial staffers to take the buyout. She added there were staff reductions in other areas of the publication along with other turnover that layoffs proved unnecessary.

PG management decided to not go forward with any involuntary layoffs after issuing a notice to the leadership of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh of the possibility of newsroom layoffs a little more than a month ago.

Digital First Media, the company that just announced it was eliminating all but the thinnest, token veneer of editing at its Northern California newspapers, has announced the sale of more of its holdings as it continues in a desperate struggle to raise cash.

But that’s what happens when investment bankers look at newspaper holdings as profit centers, a delusion if ever there was one.

From Talking New Media:

The newspaper chain Digital First News [21 April] announced the sale of New England Newspapers Inc., a day after the chain sold The Salt Lake Tribune to Paul Huntsman, the son of businessman and philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman. The papers that are part of the group sold include three dailies and one weekly: The Berkshire Eagle, The Brattleboro Reformer, the Bennington Banner — and the weekly Manchester Journal.

The papers were sold to a local group, Birdland Acquisition LLC whose principals are John C. “Hans” Morris, former president of Visa Inc., Fredric D. Rutberg, former Pittsfield District Court judg, Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank, and Stanford Lipsey, publisher emeritus of The Buffalo News.

Digital First Media, which is the management company which owns MediaNews Group, Digital First Ventures, and 21st Century Media, which incorporates the old Journal Register Company, just recently was able to acquire the assets of Freedom Communications in a bankruptcy auction. In that auction, Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune, appeared to have won the auction, which would have added the Orange County Register to its newspaper assets. But the Department of Justice stepped in objecting to the acquisition, and so Digital First Media won the auction. DFM owns papers in Southern California including the Los Angeles Daily News and Long Beach Press Telegram.

But DFM is hardly on solid financial group. A year ago the chain, owned by the private equity firm Alden Global Capital, attempted to sell itself whole, but had to back away when no seller interested in its dispersed holdings came forward to bid on the entire company.

Given that layoffs usually following sales, it’s a good news/bad news kind of story.

There’s plenty more, after the jump. . . Continue reading