The Weekly WrapThe Weekly Wrap

The Weekly Wrap: A Controversial Plan To Cap a Buffalo Freeway Draws Opposition

Also: Long Island gets closer to a public utility takeover.

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Welcome to The Weekly Wrap, our Friday round-up of stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.

India Walton Among Those Opposed to Buffalo Freeway Cap

A plan to cap the Kensington Expressway in Buffalo and transform it into greenspace has led to a rift among community members, all of whom dislike the expressway but disagree over the plan’s scope, Bloomberg Citylab reports. Former Democratic party mayoral nominee India Walton is among those opposed to the city’s plan because it doesn’t remove traffic but submerges it, creating a new tunnel overlaid with greenspace. A city study said this plan would generate more air pollution than the current freeway. The federal government made $1 billion available to cities across the country to cap highways and freeways that divided neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s, when highway projects destroyed many low-income and frequently Black and Latino neighborhoods across the country.

Public Takeover of Long Island’s Utility Passes Key Hurdle

In January, Long Island legislators proposed a public takeover of Nassau and Suffolk county’s utility system in response to power failures during 2020’s tropical storm Isais. According to New York Focus, the legislation has lukewarm approval from the union representing workers at the power company. The union said that it “endorses the bill’s protections for its workers, is receptive to its advantages, and believes it is ‘unlikely to adversely affect our members.’” But the union also said it prefers the public-private model, according to the publication. Nassau and Suffolk receive power from the public Long Island Power Authority which outsources management to the privately-owned Public Service Enterprise Group. A commission found that eliminating the private middleman would save $500 million over a decade. A public takeover of the utility would mark the first public takeover of a utility in decades, according to New York Focus.

Faith Institutions Getting Affordable Housing Development Training

Smart Cities Dive reports on the Faith-Based Development Initiative within nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners, which helps connect unused land from faith-based institutions to developers of affordable housing. The initiative provides 20 hours of training to cohorts of faith leaders to learn about development. A Terner Center for Housing report found there are 47,000 acres of developable land owned by faith centers in California alone.

Chicago Sues 5 Large Fossil Fuel Companies

The city of Chicago is suing five oil companies — Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell — accusing them of lying about their products and discrediting science as they contribute to catastrophic climate change, the Chicago Tribune reports. According to the publication, the city is hoping to recoup the money it is spending to adapt to climate change, including $188 million spent on projects in low-income neighborhoods. The city’s lawsuit also accuses the American Petroleum Institute of promoting disinformation on climate change.

Largest Single Day Union Drive at Starbucks Stores

On Tuesday, employees at 21 Starbucks stores launched the largest single-day unionization drive in the company’s history, according to In These Times. The workers sent a letter to CEO Laxman Narasimhan, noting that employees at the stores are “united through our shared experiences and in our demand for higher wages, fair and consistent scheduling, improved benefits, and a safe and dignified workplace.” Starbucks Workers United has won over 80% of the 396 union elections at Starbucks stores, according to the National Labor Relations Board.


Curated by Deonna Anderson

MORE NEWS

  • Over the last year and then some, U.S. media outlets have laid off a lot of journalists or closed shop altogether. “In 2023, local newspaper closures shot up to a dismal 2.5 per week.” Here are some ideas for how to save the industry. Jacobin

  • The Supreme Court tossed several more challenges to New York’s rent stabilization law. A separate bid to undo rent stabilization in New York was rejected in October. City Limits

  • Here’s how some cities and states are addressing food apartheid. Citylab

  • Detroit has spent $169.3 million of its allocated American Rescue Plan Act funds. A local publication breaks down where the money has gone. Detroit News (Side note: Next City is working on a webinar about ARPA funding. What do you want to know about these dollars and future federal funding? Let us know by email: wrapped@nextcity.org)

RESOURCES & OPPORTUNITIES

  • Black Women for Wellness is hiring a Los Angeles-based Environmental Justice Fellow to help early-career practitioners “kickstart their careers by learning community-centered approaches to solving social problems, providing a stepping stone for potential employment at BWW or allied organizations.” Learn more here.

  • The Lincoln Institute and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy are offering an online course on the fundamentals of municipal finance. The course is geared toward urban planners in the public and private sectors and individuals in the economic, community, and land development industries. Learn more here.

EVENTS

  • Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. Eastern: Next City is hosting a webinar with a handful of Chinatown Community Land Trusts in North America. You’ll learn more about their vibrant histories and promising futures. Click here to register!

  • Check out other events from Next City partner organizations here!

This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice. Click here to subscribe to The Weekly Wrap newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: chicagounionsutilitiesdevelopmentbuffalofaith

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