Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Jack Donaghy...er...Alec Baldwin for Mayor?

A real, live political consequence of Anthony Weiner's personal problems is that Alec Baldwin may run for the New York mayoralty . (Weiner had been considered a front-runner, and now…not so much.) Baldwin's qualifications for office are essentially the same as Mitt Romney's were, when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, or Michael Bloomberg's when he ran for mayor: I'm interested in politics, and I was successful at something else. Unlike Bloomberg or Romney, Baldwin hasn't run a large organization, so that's a strike against him. Still, all three are examples of the popular idea that working as an elected official in lower levels of government is not the best preparation for working as an elected official in higher levels of government. But a politician like Christie Quinn, another mayoral hopeful and the current chair of the City Council, has much more experience than an outsider like Baldwin with the issues that New York is facing right now, like tight school budgets and a...

Tax the Rich: They'll Stay Put

Whenever liberals want to raise taxes on millionaires or businesses, conservatives start saying that if we raise taxes, those people will take their money elsewhere. This argument came up in New York , when Gov. Cuomo rejected a millionaire's tax in favor of a budget that cut funding for schools, homeless shelters, and a slew of other programs that help both normal people and the less well off. New Yorkers were supposed to worry that if the state raised taxes, all of the bankers, who do provide a notable chunk of the state's tax revenue, would move to Connecticut. It seems unlikely that higher taxes would chase people or businesses away, though, particularly from cities as nice as New York or countries as nice as America. There are substantial benefits to living in these places: In New York, bankers, lawyers, and real estate moguls might pay higher taxes, but they also have easy access to all the other products and services they might want to spend their money on, like Hermes jewelry...

The New American Outdoors

State parks all over the country are losing their funding. This has been true for awhile, but the New York Times noticed today and looked at a few creative mechanisms parks are using to stay open, including opening up their land to gas and oil extraction. So far, as funding for state parks has dropped, attendance has continued to rise . But I wonder how long that can last, particular as parks raise fees or start drilling on their land. Parks aren't nature; they're nature tweaked for human enjoyment. That takes money. I wouldn't want to visit the half of state parks in Michigan that back in 2009 were already dealing with problems like crumbling buildings, sketchy bridges, and faulty toilets. I'm picking on Michigan in part because a state park I visited there on a road trip a couple years back stands out in my mind as an example of how unpleasant neglected parks can be. What looked on the map and on the Internet like a nice place to stop for lunch and look out over Lake Michigan turned...

Where There's Oil, There are Oil Spills

The Tidewater Pipe Line Company began building the first long-distance oil pipeline in 1878. The 110-mile project, which ran across Pennsylvania, was a bid to run around John D. Rockefeller's all-powerful Standard Oil Company. Standard Oil had a range of tricks to fight against Tidewater, including bribing Maryland legislators to bar the pipeline from their state and buying up land that the pipeline might run over. But one powerful tactic was invoking farmers' fears of oil spills and ruined crops: The company planted stories in local papers predicting the worst. Like Standard Oil, environmentalists have been using safety concerns to try to block a pipeline project that they dislike for completely different reasons. Groups like NRDC and the National Wildlife Federation are taking a stand on the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will extend down to Texas an existing pipeline that pumps tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the Midwest. The...

Building bike infrastructure inside the office

Ray LaHood biked to work today, which gave him [a nice excuse to talk about]( http://fastlane.dot.gov/2011/06/biking-to-work-with-dot-commuters.html#more ) the advantages of safe and well-marked bike infrastructure, and about the Department of Transportation's commuter benefit for its biking employees. The DOT's policy reimburses some commuting costs for cyclists. To encourage bike commuting, this policy is just as important as building bike infrastructure into roads. If the support structure for biking stops as soon as commuters enter their office, even the staunchest bike advocate can question her transportation choice. As Elly Blue [wrote a little while back at Grist]( http://www.grist.org/biking/2011-05-09-how-employers-can-encourage-happy... ), bike commuters can face skepticism when looking for a job to begin with, and not all companies are sympathetic to the idea that employees might want a place to stow their bikes during the day or to change into some less-smelly clothes. A...

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