TIME poverty

Homelessness Costs Los Angeles $100 Million a Year, Report Finds

Report finds there is a lack of coordination and guidelines among city departments

Los Angeles spends at least $100 million every year to manage the city’s homeless population, according to a new report, which finds that departments diverting a large portion of their resources to related issues may not be using the best approaches.

The 21-page report, dated April 16, takes a deep look at how much the thousands of homeless people and the services to provide for them—from librarians to paramedics to park rangers—cost the city. Many city departments don’t respond to issues with the broad intention of ending the city’s homelessness problem, but instead focus on a certain dilemma.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana recommended changes including more collaboration between city departments, better use of tools to track and manage data related to homelessness and an increase in funding for homelessness response and case management.

Read the full report at the Los Angeles Times.

TIME cities

Boston Marks 2 Years Since Marathon Bombing

Kevin Brown, 60, of Brockton, MA, observes a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m. ET near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street, commemorating the two-year anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, on April 15, 2015 in Boston.
Tim Bradbury—Getty Images Kevin Brown, 60, of Brockton, MA, observes a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m. ET near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street, commemorating the two-year anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, on April 15, 2015 in Boston.

The federal death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev resumes next week

(BOSTON) — With a moment of silence, the tolling of church bells and a call for kindness, Boston marked the second anniversary of the marathon bombings Wednesday, the emotions clearly still raw from the devastating attack during one of this city’s most cherished events.

On Boylston Street, people openly wept and hugged as church bells tolled at 2:49 p.m., the time the first bomb went off at the race’s finish line April 15, 2013.

“It still feels like yesterday, to be honest,” said Aleksander Jonca, a Boston resident who ran the marathon in 2013 and plans to run this year’s on April 20. “Two years later I feel like we’re still struggling to find the words to describe what happened that day.”

Large crowds formed at the two roadside spots where the bombs detonated, killing three people and injuring 260 others.

Runners wearing Boston Marathon gear and bystanders with “Boston Strong” shirts fixed their eyes on the commemorative banners that had been revealed in a silent ceremony hours earlier.

More than 100 blue and yellow balloons — the marathon’s colors — were released into a cloudless sky as the church bells faded.

“As a mom, I still haven’t moved on,” said Liz Norden, a Stoneham resident whose two adult sons — J.P. and Paul — each lost a leg in the attack. “I know my boys have moved on. But it’s hard. I see them put on a leg every day. It’s still raw.”

At the Old South Church near the finish line, hundreds gathered for an interfaith service with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders who focused on healing.

“We turn now to acknowledge that life goes on,” said the Rev. Demetrios Tonias, dean of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Boston. “Living goes on. Our prayers go on. Our grief goes on. But so, too, does our resiliency go on.”

Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and bombing survivors unveiled commemorative banners marking the blast sites on Boylston Street with the plaintive wail of bagpipes in the background.

The orange banners, which were hung up on light posts, bear a white heart with a road receding into the distance and the word “Boston.”

Elsewhere in the crowd, Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs above the knee in the blasts, exchanged a big hug with Carlos Arredondo, who helped save his life two years ago.

Bauman, who was able to describe to police one of the two brothers accused of carrying out the attack, also threw out the ceremonial first pitch later that day as the Boston Red Sox faced the Washington Nationals.

The afternoon game at Fenway Park was among the prominent locations people in Boston paused out of respect for the anniversary.

The mayor and the Richard family observed the moment at City Hall Plaza.

Baker and other top state officials formed a circle in Memorial Hall at the Statehouse.

“In many respects, those most affected by the events of two years ago have shown us all the way back — with their courage, grace and determination,” Baker said in a statement. “They honor the past, remember and treasure loved ones lost and injured, and look forward to a better future. We should strive to do the same.”

Walsh declared April 15 “One Boston Day,” calling on Bostonians to embrace a new way of remembering the attacks.

People donated blood to the Red Cross and helped clean up neighborhood parks while schoolchildren wrote thank-you cards and delivered pizzas to police and fire departments in recognition for their service.

Next week, the federal death penalty trial of surviving bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev resumes.

The 21-year-old ethnic Chechen was convicted last week of 30 counts. Jurors will soon decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or to death.

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, died following a shootout with police days after the attacks.

TIME cities

Here’s a Breakdown of the Tourists Who Visited Vegas Last Year

Most are married, and many are from California

(LAS VEGAS) — The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says it has a pretty good idea who visited the destination last year: 45-year-old married people making $40,000 or more, with one-third of them coming from neighboring California.

They came in pairs and left the kids — if any — at home, spending $281.88 on food and drinks, $149.77 to shop and budgeting $530.11 each to gamble, more than they have in the past five years. They stuck largely to the Strip, opting not to venture to downtown Fremont Street’s casinos. They had little interest in comedy shows. But if they had side-trips in mind, plenty planned to see the Grand Canyon up close during their visit.

All in all, 96 percent said they had a good time.

Of those who were only “somewhat satisfied” with their trip, 4 percent told surveyors they simply “don’t like Las Vegas.” Just 10 people of the few thousand surveyed last year said they were dissatisfied with their trip. The place was “too expensive” or “too intense,” they said.

The agency released its latest visitor survey statistics this week, the result of 300 interviews with random visitors each month, providing a glimpse of some of the 41.1 million people who visited in 2014.

San Francisco-based GLS Research conducted the in-person interviews that omit any locals, anyone younger than 21 years old and anyone who has more than a day left in his or her Vegas visit.

Scott Russell, senior manager of research for the convention and visitors authority, said the information helps the agency hone its message when reaching visitors. This year, there were no surprises, he said.

Among the trends, the average age of Las Vegas visitors continues to drop, for one, with 21 to 29 year olds accounting for 17 percent of tourists versus 10 percent in 2010.

Rob Dondero — executive vice president with the authority’s marketing arm R&R Partners, which is behind the “What happens here, stays here” slogan — said the average Vegas visitor might be the youngest the destination has ever had. For marketing, it’s a matter of reaching out to the different categories within those age groups: a younger millennial, a bit older millennial, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers.

“They each look at Las Vegas from a different lens,” he said.

Fewer people, about 12 percent, say they’re coming primarily to gamble. That didn’t surprise David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who has watched the gambling mecca shift with generational tastes that prefer spending money on food, drinks and entertainment. Gambling has become incidental.

“People definitely do gamble while there here, just for most people it’s not the reason for their primary visit,” he said.

Once visitors were in town, 71 percent made a bet or two, flat compared to last year and a drop from 80 percent in 2010 and 77 percent in 2011, according to the survey. Those who did gamble budgeted to lose a bit more than the year prior.

Still, more people said they came to gamble than go to a convention or trade show (8 percent) despite Las Vegas hosting the 60 of the largest 250 shows last years ranked by Trade Show News Network by show square footage, more than any other destination.

The agency, funded primarily by room taxes tourists pay each night of their stay, has remained the top spot among trade shows for 21 years running.

For being the so-called wedding capital of the world, just 3 percent of people surveyed were in town to get hitched or watch someone else walk down the aisle.

And despite ample hiking opportunities nearby or yoga offerings in some hotels, just 7 percent of travelers participated in any fitness-related endeavors. Spa-going, or also wasn’t popular with just 7 percent saying they had gotten a massage, manicure, facial, or other treatment while in Las Vegas. Russell, the convention and visitors authority official, pointed out the number grew from 3 percent and still accounted for some 2.9 million people based on the survey sample, nothing to brush off for an offering “coming of age,” he said.

Dondero also said 7 percent represented a large shift.

“Five years ago, ‘wellness’ didn’t even show up in there,” he said of the category that included fitness and spas.

TIME cities

Ferguson Election Changes Racial Makeup of City Council

Ferguson City Council ward three candidate Wesley Bell hands out election information in Ferguson, Mo., April 7, 2015. Unofficial results showed that Wesley Bell defeated another black candidate to win in the 3rd Ward.
Sid Hastings—EPA Ferguson City Council ward three candidate Wesley Bell hands out election information in Ferguson, Mo., April 7, 2015. Unofficial results showed that Wesley Bell defeated another black candidate to win in the 3rd Ward.

The election means that half of the six-member city council will now be African-American

(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Two black candidates were among three people elected to the Ferguson City Council Tuesday, tripling African-American representation in the St. Louis suburb where poor race relations have been a focal point since the August shooting death of an 18-year-old black by a white police officer.

The election means that half of the six-member city council in Ferguson, a town where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black, will now be African-American. The lone black incumbent councilman was not up for re-election. The mayor, who could break any tie votes, is white.

Voter turnout increased substantially from the previous election following a strong get-out-the-vote effort from labor unions and other national organizations. The town that drew only 12.3 percent of registered voters last April had 29.4 percent turnout Tuesday, according to the St. Louis County Board of Elections. That was about double the overall turnout in St. Louis County, where Ferguson is located.

Unofficial results showed that Wesley Bell defeated another black candidate to win in the 3rd Ward. Ella Jones defeated another black candidate and two white candidates in the 1st Ward. Brian Fletcher, a former mayor who is white, won a 2nd Ward race against another white candidate.

“This community came out in record numbers to make sure our voices were heard,” said councilman-elect Bell. “When you have a community engaged, the sky is the limit.”

He described it as part of a healing and rebuilding process.

It was the first municipal election in Ferguson since officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, on Aug. 9. The shooting sparked sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis area, and spawned a national “Black Lives Matter” movement to press for change in how police deal with local minorities.

It also prompted a review by the U.S. Justice Department, which decided not to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November. But the federal department released a scathing report blasting the city for racial bias and profiling in the police department and a profit-driven municipal court system. Several city officials resigned following the review, including the city manager, police chief and municipal judge. The municipal court clerk was fired for racist emails.

The new city council will be tasked with approving hiring of the replacements.

The scrutiny in the wake of the shooting also found that the city had a mostly white police force and city leadership — the mayor also is white.

In the race for the 3rd Ward, which includes the apartment complex where Brown was killed, Bell, 40, easily defeated 76-year-old retiree Lee Smith. Bell is a lawyer and a criminology professor who had to defend himself because of a third job — municipal judge in a neighboring town of Velda City that, like Ferguson, derives a large percentage of its budget from municipal court fines. Smith had support of several national organizations whose volunteers went door-to-door on his behalf.

Jones had support of a labor union and won easily in her four-person race. Fletcher, the former mayor who started the “I Love Ferguson” campaign after the unrest that ravaged the community, also won easily in the 2nd Ward.

A strong push was made after the shooting to register more black voters last year, but just 562 new voters were added to the rolls. In recent weeks, the focus has been on getting those who are registered to vote.

The high turnout came despite brutal weather. Strong storms, including lightning and heavy rain, tore through the region for several hours before noon. But the weather didn’t deter Marty Einig, who has participated in Ferguson protests since August. She was voting in the 3rd Ward, which includes the Canfield Green apartment complex where Brown was fatally shot.

“I see there is raw material within this community to demonstrate hope,” Einig said. “I see a glass that’s half full, and I feel that the people have the will to force change.”

Charrolynn Washington agreed. Voting at the First Presbyterian Church of Ferguson, she said the election is where real change will occur.

“As much change is needed here in Ferguson, this is where we begin – not out there in the streets, doing what they were doing – but, right here,” Washington said. “They need to be voting and putting people in position to make the change and make the decisions that need to be made.”

___

Associated Press reporter Alex Sanz contributed to this report from Ferguson.

TIME cities

Washington Power Outage Hits White House

The White House briefly had to rely on a backup generator

The White House experienced a short power outage during a widespread outage in the Washington, D.C., area Tuesday afternoon, a White House official confirmed.

Officials believe the outage was caused by an explosion at a Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) power plant several miles south of nation’s capital, NBC reports. The explosion had no known link to terrorism, and appeared to be caused by a high-voltage conductor falling to the ground, according to a SMECO official. No one was injured, the company said.

In addition to the White House, the outage also affected prominent locations such as the University of Maryland and several Smithsonian museums, which were forced to evacuate visitors. Thirteen Metrorail stations were also forced to resort to backup power, according to tweets by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Pepco, the utility that supplies power to the D.C. metro area, showed more than 2,000 customers without power in the region as of 1:45 p.m. E.T. on its website, but had fewer than 1,000 affected customers by 5:00 p.m. E.T. The earliest reports of outages were around 12:45 p.m., according to the website. Some areas of the city are not expected to have power restored until Wednesday afternoon.

The White House briefly had to rely on a backup generator during the outage but was back to using normal power, the official said. The University of Maryland was closed for the day at 2:00 p.m. due to the outage, but power was restored at around 4:50 p.m., the school said.

Additional reporting by Maya Rhodan

TIME cities

This Is the City With the Greatest Well-Being in America

sarasota
Getty Images The waterfront in Sarasota, Florida

Index measures financial, social and physical well-being

If you want to live somewhere where you’ll find financial prosperity, a strong community and a sense of purpose, you should consider moving to southern Florida, according to a new poll.

Gallup’s annual Well-Being Index ranked the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan area as the city with the highest well-being in the United States. Gallup conducted 176,000 interviews with residents of all 50 states on topics including physical health, financial stability, community activity and supportive relationships. Rounding out the top five on the list, which included the country’s 100 most populous, cities were Honolulu; Raleigh, N.C.; Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif. and El Paso, Texas.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the metro area of Youngston-Warren-Boardman at the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania had the lowest well-being of major cities polled. Also in the bottom five were Toledo, Ohio; Knoxville, Tenn.; Dayton, Ohio and Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.

Read next: These Are America’s Best Food Cities

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME cities

World Trade Center’s Observatory Will Offer Amazing Views Starting in May

One World Trade Center Deemed Tallest Building In North America
Andrew Burton—Getty Images One World Trade Center towers over lower Manhattan on Nov. 12, 2013 in New York City.

You'll soon be able to look out from the observatory at One World Trade Center for $32

The new World Trade Center is nearly ready to open its doors (and very, very high windows) to the public. One World Trade Center’s observatory, perched 1,250 feet in the air on the tower’s 100th, 101st and 102nd floors, will launch on May 29.

Guests will ride up to the observatory in a super-fast elevator that scales One World Trade in less than 60 seconds and features a floor-to-ceiling LED screen showing the development of the New York skyline. On the 100th floor, guests will be able to take in views on the main observation platform, while the 101st floor will feature dining areas and the 102nd will be a private event space that holds up to 300 people.

Tickets, which are expected to be very popular this summer, can be ordered in advance online starting on April 8 at 10 a.m. EDT. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors above age 65 and $26 for children between ages 6 and 12. Kids 5 and under get in free.

TIME cities

Ferguson Heads to the Polls in City Council Election

Ferguson Election
Jeff Roberson—AP In this photo made Friday, April 3, 2015, Reginald Rounds, a volunteer with the Organization for Black Struggle, walks door-to-door while canvassing a neighborhood in Ferguson, Mo.

Three seats are up for grabs in first election since Michael Brown shooting

Ferguson is holding its first municipal elections since the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer threw the St. Louis suburb into racial turmoil last summer.

Voters will cast ballots Tuesday to elect three city council members. The town, which is about two-thirds black, has a mostly white council.

Historically, voter turnout has been extremely low in Ferguson, with only 12% of eligible voters turning out for a mayoral election last April. However, ongoing racially charged protests and the recent Department of Justice report outlining systemic racial bias against black residents by the Ferguson Police Department could spur greater political activity during this election.

The three council seats up for grabs include Ward 3, which includes the neighborhood where Michael Brown was shot. The ward’s candidates, Wesley Bell and Lee Smith, are both black.

[USA Today]

TIME cities

Chicago to Decide Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Fate in Runoff Election

Chicago Mayoral Candidates Campaign Before Tuesday's Runoff Election
Joshua Lott—Getty Images Chicago's mayor and candidate for re-election Rahm Emanuel, center, calla a voter on a mobile phone to remind them to vote during the election as he sits with his campaign workers April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

The former White House chief of staff faces stiffest political battle of his career

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is squaring off against challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the city’s first-ever runoff election for mayor Tuesday.

Emanuel holds a solid, double-digit lead over Garcia as Chicagoans take to the polls on Tuesday, CNN reports, but analysts have not ruled out a surprise upset by Garcia, who has gained traction among voters in lower-income neighborhoods who feel pinched by the city’s sluggish economic growth.

Garcia has criticized Emanuel for neglecting the city’s hardest-hit communities, while Emanuel’s campaign team has struck back with campaign ads questioning Garcia’s willingness to tackle the city’s $20 billion pension crisis and $300 million budget shortfall.

Emanuel secured 47% of the vote in the initial round of voting in February.

TIME cities

New York City Takes Down Edward Snowden Statue Erected By Guerilla Artists

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation employees take down a statue of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden at the Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Apr. 6, 2015.
Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images New York City Department of Parks and Recreation employees take down a statue of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden at the Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Apr. 6, 2015.

NYPD says the art prank is under investigation

New York City has removed a statue of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden erected by a group of artists in a Brooklyn park.

NYPD spokesman Sgt. Lee Jones told TIME the statue had been removed on Monday. “It’s an ongoing investigation by the intelligence division,” says Jones.

A trio of artists put up the classical bust of Snowden early Monday morning on top of a column that forms part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. “Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies,” the artists said according to local blog Animal.

The 4-ft-tall bust made of a sculpting material called hydrocal. The color and design are similar to other pieces in the park. Animal reports that the artists used an adhesive that would keep the bust in place but would not damage the pre- existing column should the statue be removed, which it was—swiftly.

Snowden featured in an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sunday:

Read next: Shailene Woodley Calls Edward Snowden a ‘Hero’

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