National / International News
Tamir Rice was carrying a replica gun outside a recreation center in the city in November when he was killed by two police officers.
We’re looking at the issue of affordable housing through one place where housing is not exactly affordable: Marin County, just north of San Francisco.
George Lucas*, filmmaker and longtime Marin resident, says he'll use more than $100 million to finance, entirely, 224 low-income apartments on a piece of land he owns called Grady Ranch, in an area called Lucas Valley — named long before the filmmaker moved there.
Some of the housing will be for low-income seniors and some will be so-called "workforce" housing, aimed at people who earn about 80 percent of the area’s median income. In Marin, that means between $65,700 and $101,400 a year depending on household size. A Lucas spokesperson said that Lucas wants to do something nice for seniors and workers in Marin.
Maximum income to qualify for low-income housing for a household of four
Graphic: Tony Wagner/Marketplace | Data: California Department of Housing and Community Development
In part one of this two-part series, we we heard from folks who say this kind of project is exactly what the county needs. But not everyone has embraced the idea. Listen to the second part of the series here:
Read more below...
Here are some of the different perspectives Marin County residents have on the project, as well as the larger issue of affordable housing in Marin:
Maria Rodriguez is an administrative assistant who has worked for the County of Marin for 15 years. She lives in a small apartment with her husband in the Canal District, a crowded, industrial part of Marin.
“There’s a lot of apartment buildings, sometimes two or three families to a unit,” she says. “The rest is mostly auto repair shops and paint shops.”
The day the details of George Lucas's affordable housing project came out, Rodriguez called PEP Housing, the non-profit developer that will be managing the project, and asked to be put on the waiting list for an apartment at Grady Ranch, once the units are built.
“I read it in the paper and I said ‘Wow!.’ They took my name and number and said, 'we'll send you an update,'” she says. “I think it's wonderful.”
Maggie McCann (pictured right), is president of the Lucas Valley Homeowners Association. The well-manicured subdivision is a couple miles from Grady Ranch, down a winding country road.
When McCann heard that George Lucas was pushing ahead with plans for the affordable housing development, “it made my heart sink and my stomach feel bad,” she says.
McCann says she has gotten emails from neighbors concerned with how many more kids the new housing will bring in to local schools, and how it will impact fire, police and other community services in the area.
“We are not against affordable housing,” she says. “We just want to see it done in a sensible, responsible, good way.”
Liz Dale (pictured, center) grew up in Lucas Valley and still lives there. She’s on the board of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association.
“I used to ride my horse on this ranch when I was growing up. I think it’s beautiful,” Dale says.
She says she doesn’t want the design of the new buildings at Grady Ranch to interfere with the scenic environment and rural feel of the place or "stand out as a sore thumb.”
Tom Taylor (pictured, left) also lives in Lucas Valley Estates, and frequently hikes the ridge-top above Grady Ranch.
“There's trails back there that most of the people in this valley really cherish. I don't want to see a high rise if I'm hiking back in those trails.”
Bruce Anderson raised his children, and now his grandson, in Marinwood, another subdivision in Lucas Valley. He says he’d like to see the quality of life that drew him to the valley be available to families along the income spectrum.
”It can be shared with another 200 or 300 people in our 5,000-person valley here,” he says. “I think we have one of the best school systems in Marin. They're doing a tremendous job for my grandson. I'd like that to be available to many more people.”
Tarey Read is the President of the Board of Directors of the Marinwood Community Services District. She has lived in Lucas Valley/Marinwood for more than twenty years, in a house her late husband bought in 1969 for $19,700. Property values have skyrocketed since then.
She supports the affordable housing project George Lucas is planning for Grady Ranch. "I think this project is so well-conceived and so needed and appropriate."
Justin Kai is also on the Board of Directors of the Marinwood Community Services District. Kai lives with his wife and infant son in Lucas Valley/Marinwood. His family moved to the neighborhood four years ago.
It was a “financial stretch,” he says, but they loved their home’s big backyard and access to good quality schools.
“I made great sacrifices to be here,” he says. “I think it's selfish to expect that someone else should be able to acquire (it) for little or next to nothing.”
Photos: Krissy Clark/Marketplace
*Disclosure: George Lucas has been a large donor to the University of Southern California. Marketplace was produced by USC until April 2000. The school retained a production credit as part of the sale to our current parent company, American Public Media. Marketplace has no editorial or financial relationship with USC.
Dick Costolo, who has led the social media company for six year, leaves the post after Twitter posted a $162 million net quarterly loss in April.
Update June 11, 2015: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is stepping down July 1, and Jack Dorsey, one of the original founders of the company, will fill in as interim CEO.
You have about a 0.00006 percent chance of starting a billion-dollar business. Jack Dorsey didn't just start one — he's got two.
Dorsey was 29 when he launched Twitter with his pals Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass back in 2006. His handle, @Jack, is Twitter's first personal account.
Since then, he has launched Square, a mobile payment company that he hopes will change the way we pay for thngs. You've probably used Square at an independently-owned store or restaurant. It's a little white minimalist card reader that plugs right into an iPad or iPhone. The company has also gotten into organizing, and even lending. It's hoping to be a one-stop-shop for small business owners.
Dorsey talked about Square and his life since Twitter at Dig Wines, a wine shop in San Francisco — where, by the way, Square readers are at the cash register.
Square’s “aha!” moment:
It was really our founding moment when our co-founder Jim McKelvey, who was my boss when I was 15 years old back in St. Louis Missouri, called me and said he just lost a sale of his glass art because he couldn’t accept a credit card. And he was calling me on his iPhone which was a super computer… We have all this power in our hands, but why couldn’t we do a simple thing, or something that seemed as simple, as accepting a piece of plastic? Which is far more convenient than cash, far more convenient than a check. Why isn’t that possible? The company is an answer to that question.
On how Square works:
The insight really came from looking at the back of the credit card and the back of the credit card is a magstripe. And a magstripe is really the same technology that a cassette tape is. It’s audio. If you listen to the audio on a magstripe, it sounds like a squirrel screeching really loudly. You know, if you put a read head next to that, then you can decode that audio into numbers and those numbers you can send up to processors. All that was required was an audio jack that didn’t just put sound out but also had mic in, and every iPhone at that time had a mic in ring that we just plugged into. Suddenly, we were able to push that audio into and decode those into numbers.
On what he does as a CEO:
First, assembling the right team. (That means) hiring, certainly, but it also means parting ways with folks that just aren’t cutting it…making sure that we’re paying attention to that team dynamic and [that] it’s collaborative and it’s really challenging itself. Number two is making sure decisions are being made. I say that if I have to make a decision, we have an organizational failure. (That's) because I don’t have the same context as someone who is working day to day with the data, with the understanding of the customer. I definitely see the organization and the people in it as the ones to make the decisions, because they have the greatest context for what needs to be done.
On how his experience with Twitter affected how he started Square:
I was a first-time CEO. It’s not a position I necessarily wanted to be in. It’s a position that I was grateful for but was put in, and we were growing extremely extremely fast. But what I took from all of that is how important it is to really focus on the fundamentals. And the fundamentals that I found were the company and the team, and Square was interesting because we definitely made new mistakes, because I wasn’t going out and saying “Well I’m going to get into microblogging again.” We did something completely different and we got into finance. When I started Square, I was in credit card debt. I had a terrible FICO score. I lived all the pain that our merchants live every single day. We took those lessons and we baked it into the product.
On the connection between emotion and finance:
When I walk into a place like this (wine shop), there’s an emotion. When I take this bottle of wine home after I purchase it, there’s an emotion. No matter how much of our life moves online, we will always have places like this where we come together. We trade stories. We communicate. We see each other, and I think it’s a mistake to extract the soul from commerce because it enables a lot of these experiences that we treasure for the rest of our life.
On Square’s legacy:
I definitely want Square to have a massive impact, and I think it has the potential to be that. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that’s the case. Really what that means is that that’s accessible to more people.
Predicting the first line of his obituary:
Jack Dorsey, punk.
Pity the poor, tired celebrity in yoga pants and Uggs, looking like a hot mess after a long flight fighting the paparazzi on the way to the limo — actually, that does sound terrible.
At LAX in Los Angeles, Delta Air Lines is throwing the celebrities a bone, thanks to its newly renovated terminal. After purchasing a first-class ticket, for just $350 extra, a Porsche hybrid will meet arriving celebs on the tarmac and drive them through a secret tunnel to meet their own drivers out on the street.
Departing travelers can use their own VIP entrance and secret corridor, and even get an escort to a private lounge.
So do you think you need a famous person ID card to do this? Or will good old money suffice?
Somebody try it and let me know.
Facebook wants to get the whole world on the web — for free. There must be a catch, you say? Never.
The social media giant recently nixed plans to launch a satellite that would have put millions of people on the grid. Despite this announcement, the site is still going full steam ahead on its mission to connect low-income countries to the information that so many of us take for granted.
The idea seems harmless enough, but it still has many critics worried. This is because users of the company’s Internet.org app will only have access to Facebook’s version of the internet.
Internet.org Vice President of Product Chris Daniels laid out the the company’s vision in an interview with Marketplace's Molly Wood.
“Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected,” he says, “and Internet.org’s mission is to bring the two-thirds of the world online who have never been online before.”
He says that Facebook wants to reach more of that population by using mobile infrastructure that’s already in place.
The business model is simple: local carrier partners pick up the tab for the data when users access a preselected list of sites. Users will have to pay their carriers if they want to see more of the Internet. Free sites offer resources on everything from prenatal care to job listings. Internet.org also features a messenger app provided by, who else, Facebook.
The project hasn’t always been welcomed with open arms; the company recently received backlash from Indian officials concerned about how much control Facebook has over the Web.
Daniels says this is the wrong way to look at it. “Our belief here is that the principles of net neutrality must coexist with programs that bring people online.”
In other words, if giving away free (albeit non-neutral) internet is wrong, they don’t want to be right.
Daniels maintains that Facebook’s not in it for the money. And, despite the controversy, he’s pretty upbeat about the hullabaloo.
“If it wasn’t impactful, there wouldn’t be skeptics,” he says.
New numbers out Thursday show American retail sales are up 1.2 percent. That’s a nice improvement from the previous month, when spending barely budged. The news has some on Wall Street smiling — but beware monthly snapshots.
“You have to not pay too much attention to ups and downs that happen monthly,” says former Fed economist Ann Owen, now a professor at Hamilton College.
Taking a wider view can paint a different picture for some analysts. Many are unsatisfied with the job market, particularly the quality of jobs being created and the wages workers are earning.
“Are we creating enough good jobs that will give you a decent middle-class standard of living?” asks Cary Leahey, senior adviser at Decision Economics. “There’s a lot of concern about that.”
Weaker paydays, of course, mean less money flowing through the economy. None of this is to say Owen, Leahey or their colleagues are forecasting doom. They just think it’s too early to throw a party.
There are also economists who are more optimistic.
“There are some little signs that we look to that say maybe it’s not as grim as people fear,” says Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. Chief Economist for Standard & Poor's.
She says a number of key data she watches gives her confidence that wages will rise.
Mark Garrison: My assignment today: become the enemy of joy, by peering beyond some recent hopeful economic indicators. Wipe the smiles off the faces of those who are cheering recent positive news about spending and jobs. Our multi-pronged assault on macroeconomic merriment begins with former Fed economist Ann Owen.
Ann Owen: You have to not pay too much attention to ups and downs that happen monthly.
Taking a wider view can paint a different picture. She’s not satisfied with the job market.
Ann Owen: There’s still room for improvement.
A big problem is the kind of jobs Americans are able to get right now. Economist Cary Leahey, with Decision Economics, worries their paychecks are too low.
Cary Leahey: While we are creating jobs, are we creating enough good jobs that will give you a decent middle-class standard of living and there’s a lot of concern about that.
Weaker paydays, of course, mean less money flowing through the economy. None of this is to say Owen, Leahey or their colleagues are forecasting doom. They just think it’s too early to throw a party. Now, plenty of economists are willing to at least contemplate ordering a sheet cake.
Beth Ann Bovino: There are some little signs that we look to that say, like, you know, maybe it’s not as grim as people fear.
Beth Ann Bovino is U.S. Chief Economist for Standard & Poor's and is willing to let a little joy into the picture, mainly because key data she watches have her predicting wages will rise.
Beth Ann Bovino: That means more money in people’s pocketbooks and that means more money to spend. So I expect this to continue.
So whether you wanna be cautiously optimistic or just plain optimistic, don’t let just one report sway you too far. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
Chicago Public Schools have been mislabeling dropouts, getting them off the books and out of the graduation rate. CPS now says it will stop the practice.
The city is desperately trying is to repopulate tens of thousands of abandoned homes, auctioning them off online for as low as $1,000. But the costs of repairs often exceed the value of the homes.
Graphic images showing the effects of melanoma, combined with photos promoting the positives of avoiding indoor tanning, were more persuasive than standard text warnings.
More than half the young people in a recent study were at least mildly dehydrated — maybe enough to affect energy and concentration. Roughly 25 percent said they never drink water.