TIME Local Politics

Rapper 2 Chainz is Serious About Running for Mayor

2 Chainz, Tauheed Epps
This Aug. 31, 2013 file photo shows 2 Chainz performing at the 2013 Budweiser Made in America Festival in Philadelphia, Pa. Charles Sykes—Invision/AP

2 chainz: rapper, fierce debater, champion for felon voting rights, and, now perhaps, mayor?

Rapper Tauheed Epps, better known by his stage name 2 chainz, is apparently mulling a run for mayor of his hometown, College Park, Ga. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Epps—whose hits include “I Luv Dem Strippers” and “No Lie”—Epps said that he was seriously considering a run.

“I am looking forward to running at the end of this year or next year. [I’m] waiting to see if I meet all of the qualifications!” the Grammy-nominated artist told the paper.

Interest in Epps’ political ambitions peaked earlier this week after he told XXL Magazine about his potential run.

“I’m supposed to be running for mayor in College Park. I got everybody wishing,” Epps said. “I’m really gonna do this little mayor thing in College Park. I’m just trying to make sure I have the right qualifications.”

2 chainz wouldn’t be the first rapper to dabble in local politics. In 2011, Luther Campbell, formerly known by his rap name “Uncle Luke” of the 2 Live Crew ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County in South Florida. Campbell lost.

Though Epp is known musically for rhyming booty with itself and rapping about selling crack (though the author is particularly partial to the line “Pull up to the scene with my roof gone/when I leave the scene bet your boo gone”), Epps knows about more than just money, women and clothes.

The 37-year-old attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship and reportedly received high marks while he was there. Though a convicted felon, Epps is a champion for restoring felons’ voting rights. He also recently made headway for going toe-to-toe with HLN host Nancy Grace over the legalization of marijuana, and arguably, besting her in a fierce debate.

If qualified to run for office, Epps could prove a worthy contender for incumbent College Park mayor Jack Longino. Longino, however, isn’t worried. The 20-year mayor told the Daily Beast recently he doesn’t believe Epps is a College Park resident. But if he does and decides to run, Longino said, “we’ll let the people decide.”

TIME weather

How Much Did the Snowstorm Shutdown Cost New York City?

NYC Snowstorm
NYC Snowstorm Andrew Burton—2015 Getty Images

There's the cost of the shoveling and salt, but there's also lost productivity from the travel ban

The purported blizzard of record-breaking proportions never struck New York City Monday, as some meteorologists predicted it would. By Tuesday morning, around eight inches of snow had fallen in Central Park, instead of the forecasted two to three feet.

But much of the city was shut down anyway, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended subway service, street traffic and commuter lines in and out of the city as a precaution Monday night. Schools, too, were closed for the day.

How much did the the snowstorm cost the greater metropolitan area? There are direct expenses—the cost of snow removal, for instance—and then there are bigger economic costs, like the productivity loss. A preliminary cost is difficult to measure accurately, but here are a few ways to think about the costs involved:

It costs money to clean up snow

When the city sends out trucks to plow the snow and spread thousands of tons of rock salt, then sends workers to remove the snowfall, those costs really add up. Though the city hasn’t yet announced the cleanup expense associated with this week’s storm, a decent rule of thumb is that each inch of snow in New York costs $1 million dollars to remove. Multiply that by the eight to 10 inches the city got, and that’s at least somewhere in the $10 million range.

The city isn’t getting money from parking tickets

The city collects an average of about $270,000 each day in fines from drivers who violate alternate-side parking rules. With those rules suspended through Wednesday, New York City is losing about $500,000—but its residents and businesses are holding on to that much more cash, which could boost spending (and sales tax income) down the road.

Fewer New York City residents are taking the subway

More than 55% of New York City’s approximately 3.9 million employees take the subway, train, bus or ferry to work. They earn an average of $409 a day, according to the New York Times. Transportation was shut down for the morning rush hour, but started to resume around 9 a.m. Assuming one in every five New Yorkers didn’t make it to work and couldn’t work remotely, you can very roughly guesstimate about $320 million in lost productivity. But there are lots of variables here, ranging from workers’ income to the distance between a worker’s home and place of business.

 

Overall cost to the economy

This category is the major question mark.

The greater New York metropolitan area’s gross economic output was roughly $1.4 trillion in 2014. Let’s assume the city has about the same economic output on the weekends as the weekdays: That’s about $3.8 billion in economic output per day. Does that mean the city lost $3.8 billion in economic output thanks to the storm?

That figure is a tempting starting point, but it’s way too high. The city didn’t completely shut down, as it might have if the storm really walloped the five boroughs. Lots of parents of school-free kids and commuters stayed at home, but some chose to work remotely. And many thousands braved the commute Tuesday morning when subway service began and travel bans were lifted. Electricity was still produced and paid for, radiators turned on, food was bought and sold, services exchanged.

But snowstorms still have far-ranging economic impacts. How did the storm and travel shutdown affect the metro area’s economy? According to a 2014 study by IHS Global Insight, a single-day travel shutdown costs New York State about $700 million, mostly in lost retail sales and lost wages. Consider that the greater New York metropolitan area’s economy (including parts of Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) is larger than New York State’s as a whole, and that figure looks like a decent ballpark range to start for New York City — but it’s tough to put a precise number on things.

Summing it up

These numbers are really slippery. If previous studies are correct, the shutdown’s total cost was likely over $500 million, but not much more than $1 billion. The takeaway is this: For New York, biggest economic cost of dealing with this snowstorm probably isn’t the weather itself, which wasn’t as bad as feared. Instead, it’s the productivity loss related to the travel shutdown that’s the mostly costly thing.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Though the “No Child Left Behind” brand is thoroughly tarnished, the law sparked the revolution of data-driven educating.

By Nick Sheltrown in EdSurge

2. To help cities plan for flooding, drought, wildfires and other effects of climate change, the University of Michigan built an adaptation tool for the Great Lakes region.

By Lisa A. Pappas at University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute

3. Teachers are underpaid in America. Early childhood workers earns even less for setting the foundation of all future learning for our children. That should change.

By Laura Bornfreund at New America Foundation

4. Chicago’s ‘Crime Lab’ — which uses scientific research to understand and experiment with innovative ways to prevent crime — could be replicated in other cities.

By Tina Rosenberg in Fixes, at the New York Times

5. To reduce billions of needless miles driving, a startup is bringing the Uber model to the trucking industry.

By Liz Gannes in Re/code

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME cities

New Orleans Bans Smoking in Bars and Casinos

smoking cigarette wrapped in money on ashtray
John Knil—Getty Images

The Big Easy becomes one of the last major American cities to pass a sweeping smoking ban

The New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a ban on smoking in bars and gambling halls on Thursday.

The law will take effect in about three months, the Associated Press reports. While owners of bars and casinos expressed concerns that the ban would hurt business, city officials decided the health of musicians and others exposed to secondhand smoke while working in those establishments is paramount.

New Orleans, a major tourism hub known for its nightlife, is one of the last major American cities to allow people to smoke in bars. Logan Gaskill, a lawyer for a large casino next to the French Quarter, estimated at the meeting that revenues would decline 20% as a result from the ban, the AP reports.

But lawmakers were convinced by a teary speech from Councilman James Gray II, who read off the names of people he knew who died from lung-cancer. Another member, Jason Williams, said they had an obligation to protect “the heart and soul” of New Orleans, the musicians and barroom workers.

[AP]

TIME cities

Maybe Millennials Don’t Want to Live in Cities After All

Suburban street
Barbara Fischer—Getty Images

Two-thirds want to own a home in the suburbs, study says

The accepted wisdom about millennials is that they shun the suburbs for the cities. They want to be in urban cores next to easily accessible public transportation options that allow them to seamlessly hit up bars, restaurants and any space with wi-fi.

But any blanket statement about a group that’s roughly 80 million strong will have holes, and a new survey appears to run against that common perception. The poll, released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders, shows that Americans in their 20s and mid-30s actually would rather settle down in the suburbs than in city centers.

(MORE: Millennials Will Overtake Baby Boomers to Become Biggest Generation)

According to NAHB’s study, 66% of respondents who were born in 1977 or later said they would prefer to buy a home in an outlying suburb or close to a suburb, while only 24% preferred buying a house in a rural area and 10% would rather have a home in the center of a city.

(MORE: Turns Out Millennials Do Want to Own Cars)

Those numbers seem to show that while millennials may love living in urban cores while they’re young and largely childless, they realize that it may be too expensive in the long-term to buy. It also may signal that apartment living is taking its toll as millennials get older. More than 80% said they wanted to live in a home with three or more bedrooms.

TIME cities

The 5 U.S. Cities Bouncing Back Strongest From the Recession

Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas Murat Taner—Getty Images

Metro areas in the South and the West are flourishing

U.S. cities in the South and West are more likely to have recovered from the recession while metropolitan areas in the Midwest and Northeast have largely struggled, according to a new report.

The Brookings Institution report finds that Austin, Houston and Raleigh, N.C., have outpaced other U.S. cities in terms of GDP growth per capita and rising employment since 2007, with Fresno, Calif., and Dallas rounding out the top five.

(MORE: Oklahoma Shakes—Is Fracking to Blame?)

The report, released Thursday, tracks how cities around the world have fared since the recession. Globally, the main metropolitan drivers are found in developing countries, especially China and Turkey.

In the U.S., the cities with the strongest GDP growth and employment levels since the Great Recession are generally found in the south and west, largely due to the growth of the energy sector.

“Those places are the epicenter of what has been the shale energy boom that’s been occurring in the U.S.,” says Joseph Parilla, a Brookings research analyst and lead author of the Global MetroMonitor report.

(MORE: The Rise of Suburban Poverty in America)

Cities in Texas and Oklahoma have especially benefited from the expanded production in oil and gas thanks to an increase in fracking, a process that extracts natural gas from shale.

The cities that have seen the least progress are largely clustered in the Midwest and Northeast in areas that are historically industrial and manufacturing hubs. Most of those cities—like Kansas City, Mo., Allentown, Pa., and Dayton, Ohio—have only partially recovered or not recovered at all, according to Brookings.

As the U.S. continues to see good economic numbers, many of which were touted by President Obama in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, most cities are still struggling to rebound from the recession. More than half of U.S. metropolitan areas either have not recovered from 2007 GDP per capita levels or have not fully seen a rebound in employment.

TIME cities

Boston City Employees Aren’t Allowed to Badmouth the Olympics

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh addresses the media during a press conference to announce Boston as the U.S. applicant city to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Jan. 9, 2015 in Boston
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh addresses the media during a press conference to announce Boston as the U.S. applicant city to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Jan. 9, 2015 in Boston Maddie Meyer—Getty Images

The city wants to host the 2024 Summer Olympics

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh signed an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee that prohibits city employees from criticizing Beantown’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games, according to a new report.

The Boston Globe, citing documents it obtained through a public records request, reports that the agreement bans any written or oral statements that “denigrate or disparage, or are detrimental to the reputation” of the International Olympic Committee, the USOC, or the Olympic Games.

To keep the relationship with the USOC sanguine and Boston’s prospects for hosting the Olympics sunny, the agreement requires city employees to be “positive” about the games.

Boston was selected earlier this month as the U.S. city that will bid for the 2024 games.

Read more at the Globe

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Is America willing to do the hard work to mend its racial divide?

By Eric Liu in CNN

2. The first new antibiotic developed in 30 years could turn the tide against the rising resistance of many diseases.

By Brian Handwerk in Smithsonian Magazine

3. Adapting to climate change will buy time, but rising sea levels are a major threat to low-lying cities.

By Laura Parker in National Geographic

4. Is four years too much? More college students are jumpstarting careers by graduating early.

By Rachel Rosenbaum in USA Today College

5. The cargo ship of the future will have a hull that acts as a giant sail, slashing fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

By Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics in Phys.org

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME cities

Bostonians Dubious About Olympic Bid, Poll Finds

Boston
Boston, Mass. Getty Images

A majority are kind of "meh" about the city's bid, according to a new poll

Boston residents are not too excited about the city’s 2024 Olympic bid, according to a new poll.

In fact, the share of Boston residents “excited” about the city’s shot at hosting the Summer Olympics (48%) is almost the same as those who say they’re not excited (43%), a new survey released by Boston’s NPR news station WBUR on Tuesday found.

The poll surveyed just 500 Boston area residents after the city was named one of four identified by the United States Olympic Committee to apply to host the 2024 games, and it had a margin of error of 6.7 percent.

But the numbers will make dispiriting readers for Olympic organizers; only half of those polled said they “support” the Olympic games coming to Boston, and a full third (33%) said they are opposed to them.

The city will need more support from residents if they want to persuade the International Olympic Committee that Boston should host. For next year’s summer games in Rio de Janeiro, WBUR reports, 85% of residents supported the city’s bid.

[WBUR]

TIME cities

Mystery Buyer Nabs Manhattan Penthouse for Record-Breaking $100 Million

New York's Central Park Skyline
A view of the southern skyline of Central Park is seen on May 19, 2014 including the 90-story One57 luxury condominium building under construction in New York City. Robert Nickelsberg—;Getty Images

New York City real estate: get it while it's hot

A penthouse on Manhattan’s “Billionaires’ Row” has sold for $100 million, a record for the most expensive apartment ever sold in Manhattan.

The $100.47-million apartment occupies the 89th and 90th floors of One57, a high-end apartment tower overlooking Central Park, the New York Daily News reports. It’s the first single-family home to sell for more than $100 million in the city’s history.

The 11,000-square-foot pad has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, two powder rooms, and grand stellar Central Park and city views. There’s a gym in the building, a pool, Jacuzzi, a steam room, a library and a screening room.

The identity of the apartment’s buyer was not disclosed.

The ultra-wealthy have increasingly been buying New York luxury apartments as pied-à-terre in recent years. In some sections of Midtown, 50% of apartments are vacant at least 10 months out of the year.

[NYDN]

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