Friday, February 20

Adolfo Carrión in charge of urban affairs

Obama has selected Adolfo Carrión Jr. as the director of his new Office of Urban Affairs. Carrión is currently serving as president of the Bronx Borough in New York City, and he has a host of interesting experiences in his biography. He is trained as an Urban Planner, having received his Masters from Hunter College. Prior his planning career he served as an associaate pastor and a public school teacher in his home of the Bronx.

The major focus of his role as borough president has been providing housing for an urban area in the process of revitalization (He's Pictured here vounteering for Habitat). He his also known for his support for a recently-bulit Yankees stadium, which did involve some battles with local community groups that opposed the loss of parkland required to build the stadium. Sports fans may thank him for this, but some of his fellow planners and neighborhood activists have questioned the wisdom of this position. But Overall, he has been praised for the work he has done for the Bronx.

Obama has said that Carrión, "will bring long overdue attention to the urban areas where 80 percent of the American people live and work." This is certainly true and its a good thing, but I think it remains to be seen whether this is a substantive office or a figurehead position. The budget and staffing are yet to be determined. It seems that the most likely scenario is that this office will serve as a coordinating center between HUD, the Department of Transportation, EPA, and maybe other agencies involved this things like historic preservation. I imagine something like the Office of Homeland Security with a little less authority. Alternatively, it could simply become subsumed in the alphabet soup of government agencies with no real power to effect change and a bully pulpit that fades away as the media loses interest. I sincerely hope its the former.

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