For over three decades, investigative reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele have chronicled the decline of the American middle class, earning two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Magazine Awards. In their latest book, The Betrayal of the American Dream, they sharpen their analysis of the causes of the economic crisis, including the years of mistaken trade and tax policy, as well as a disregard for existing laws. “It wasn’t just a hurricane that blew through the economy, but rather a deregulation of public policies and issues of taxes and trade that caused these problems,” said Steele at an event at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.
Defending her goal of transforming car-clogged streets into pedestrian plazas, the city’s transportation chief says her initiatives have boosted the number of visitors and, in the case of Times Square, have also been a boon for local businesses. “More people are spending time — eating, taking pictures and hanging out,” says Janette Sadik-Khan, who has served as commissioner of the Department of Transportation for the past five years. Sadik-Khan, in a speech, “It’s Not Impossible to Change a City,” at the 8th annual Lewis Mumford Lecture on Urbanism at City College, discussed initiatives that improve public safety and ease mobility. “Times Square was named one of the top 10 retail locations in the world — this certainly would not have been the case years ago,” says Sadik-Khan.
In his new book, Deadline and Disruption: My Turbulent Path from Print to Digital, Stephen Shepard describes how journalism is experiencing a “best-of-times, worst-of-times moment,” but that, in spite of the turmoil, will continue to thrive as it adapts to the ever-changing technology that delivers news content. “There is a bright future for journalism,” says Shepard, the founding dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek. “More journalism is being done, on more platforms, by more people, than ever before in our history.”
Along with nosy food bloggers and pesky health inspectors, New York City’s restaurateurs find that they have something else to deal with — social media. “Within seconds, a chef’s new idea is on Twitter,” says Danny Meyer, head of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes, along with other restaurants, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and the Shake Shack chain. “That’s the shelf life of innovation — two seconds.” At an event sponsored by the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, one of the trade tips of his that Meyer served up that wasn’t about recipes: “It’s how you make your customers feel that will set you apart.”
Author Joshua Henkin says that when it comes to families, Tolstoy was right — it’s adversity that keep them interesting. “All happy families are the same, unhappy families are unhappy in their own way,” says Henkin, citing the iconic Russian novelist to describe his latest novel, “The World Without You.” Henkin, who directs the MFA program in fiction writing at Brooklyn College, discusses his book, which revolves around a family mourning the death of their son in Iraq and how a calamity impacts family members for years to come. “Tragedies do big things to the most stable kinds of people.”
New York City’s Mexican population has exploded in the past three decades, and while a large majority has found work in the food and construction industries, as an immigrant group there’s been less success in the classroom. “On average, the educational attainment for someone from Mexico is the 6th grade,” says Alyshia Gálvez, acting director of the new CUNY Institute for Mexican Studies, based at Lehman College. “There is a very important need, especially when you look at the second generation.” An associate professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican studies at Lehman, Gálvez discusses the key objectives of the institute, including increasing college enrollment. “CUNY has its door open to them.”