Urban Studies Program and research group host panel on Bloomberg's 'Luxury City'
The panel related the discussion to the recent Occupy movement, as well as New York's politics
October 18, 2011, 10:58 pm · Updated October 20, 2011, 12:51 pm·
Occupy Wall Street has taken the nation by storm, but when it comes to the Big Apple, the word “corporation” may mean more than just the financial workers of Lower Manhattan.
The Penn Institute for Urban Research, along with the Urban Studies Program, hosted a panel Tuesday evening in College Hall to discuss Bloomberg’s New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City by Julian Brash. Urban Studies professor Matthew Hill organized the discussion as an extension of his undergraduate seminar, “Globalization and the City,” which uses Brash’s work as part of their studies. “It is an opportune moment to discuss city politics due to Occupy,” he said.
About 30 students and faculty were in attendance. The panel included Brash himself, an assistant professor of Anthropology at Montclair State University.
Brash rejected the notion of Mayor Bloomberg as a strong, anti-political figure, instead viewing him as a CEO-modeled mayor who uses a corporate approach to govern New York. As in a business, Bloomberg wants to be judged by results, not methods, and to be held accountable for them.
Brash said Bloomberg and the local New York government represent what has become an elite group that aggressively pushes upper-class interests in what they feel will benefit the city as a whole. This meant a major increase in the power of the local government under the Bloomberg administration, as well as intense intervention and investment in city life, he said. Major projects such as housing development, rezoning, building stadiums and adding green spaces have been implemented in the city over the past few years.
While not particularly new, the “Bloomberg method,” or “luxury model,” is influencing the way other American mayors think about running their cities, Brash said. He added that citizens of the city are viewed as customers and patrons of a small corporation, where investors play a role in increasing city value and revenue.
Each of the panelists offered their individual opinions and criticisms of the book and opened the discussion to both responses from Brash and questions from the audience. School of Design graduate Corinne Packard, a clinical professor at New York University’s Shack Institute of Real Estate, claimed that the elite class Brash mentioned was not always “on the same page” with each other. Packard formerly served as vice president of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation.
Brenna McGinnis, a College junior and student in Hill’s class, thought “the panel was very well organized and brought multiple perspectives that added credibility to the discussion.”