Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle Gurley is The American Prospect’s deputy editor. Her email is

Recent Articles

Soda Taxes Hit a Sweet Spot

Philadelphia’s new tax on soda will be a critical test for cash-strapped municipalities looking to raise revenue.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
“The question is very much what further taxes will be the least unpopular?” Alexander Hamilton wrote to James Madison more than 200 years ago. In 2016, the answer is a “soda tax.” Last week, Philadelphia’s City Council passed a tax on sodas and other sweetened drinks, making the City of Brotherly Love the first major American city to institute a levy on a broad range of sugared beverages. Berkeley, California, voters approved a similar tax in 2014. Soda taxes have been touted as one way to nudge residents into healthier choices. However, local and state leaders are beginning to view sugar-sweetened beverages the same way they see the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and cigarettes: Lifestyle choices that can be taxed to fund government. “That’s the game you are always trying to figure out, how to fund basic services,” says Tracy Gordon, an Urban Institute State and Local Finance Initiative senior fellow. The soda tax also is a revenue...

Healing by Helping: Orlando's Strategy for Victims, Families, and Community

City officials flooded with millions in donations following the recent nightclub massacre now face a tough but increasingly common dilemma following urban tragedies: how to distribute the money.

AP Photo/David Goldman
In April, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered his state of the city address . Dyer hailed Orlando as a 21st century urban exemplar bursting with the kind of dynamism that most mayors can only dream about: billions in transportation investments, a booming job market, new companies moving in, and some of the best first responders in the Sunshine State. “How do we ensure that Orlando wins?” Dyer said. “That’s a question that we can answer with, one powerful word: connectivity.” Today “connectivity” in Orlando is taking yet another form: the millions in donations flowing into the city-backed OneOrlando Fund after the shootings at the gay nightclub Pulse to help heal the city’s psychic wounds. Thanks to an innovative funding mechanism modeled after those used by other cities following similar tragedies, the money is going to community organizations as well as to the people directly affected by the killings. The OneOrlando Fund is a stark...

Washington’s New Columbia State of Mind

In an aggressive new push for statehood, D.C. leaders have taken aim at national party platforms and state-level organizations. 

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Next week’s D.C. primary, a blip on the presidential primary schedule, probably won’t attract much notice. But there is one intriguing event on the Washington political calendar next week: a constitutional convention on D.C. statehood, where Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials will draft the governing precepts for what they are calling the state of New Columbia. Leaders in the fight for statehood have passed the torch from one generation to the next. But the 2016 campaign season marks the culmination of a strategic push by the District’s statehood supporters to use the constitutional convention, a November statehood ballot question, and the current presidential election cycle to launch a national debate over the city’s political status. Longtime statehood backer Bernie Sanders reiterated his support for statehood Thursday. Hillary Clinton shared her pro-statehood views in a local African American newspaper. Even Donald Trump says he favors expanded D.C...

First Flint –- Now Philly?

Philadelphia is only the latest city to face legal action over lead contamination in drinking water.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
In 2014, a City of Philadelphia Water Quality Report contained this reassuring message: “We are committed to reducing the corrosive effects of plumbing and lead levels in water.” The report’s authors encouraged readers to distribute the findings widely to apartment complexes, businesses, nursing homes, and schools. This week, a group of Philadelphia residents filed a class action lawsuit against the city, alleging that for years municipal officials knew about the city’s lead-contaminated water supply and did nothing to warn residents. Philadelphia is just the latest city to be hauled into court over post-Flint water contamination and testing issues, and it is probably not the last. An investigation by The Guardian found that at least 33 cities, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, used faulty water testing protocols, similar to the ones identified in the Flint debacle. The Guardian also identified potential major contamination issues in in 17...

Getting Beyond ‘Broken Windows’ Policing in Illegal Dirt Bike Dilemma

As some cities continue to address the problem with punitive methods, other cities are taking a more collaborative approach.

(Photo: AP/Connecticut Post/Autumn Driscoll)
When the weather warms up in New York and other cities, some young men take to the streets on non-street-legal motorcycles, known as dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. The illegal caravans of young men performing acrobatics and weaving in out of traffic at high speeds are free entertainment for some bystanders, but a seasonal nightmare for police departments. The bikes pollute neighborhoods with noise, put pedestrians and drivers at risk for injuries and death, and leave youth at risk for potentially dangerous confrontations with police, encounters that have a high potential for violence. “We are going to crush them on TV to make a point,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio last month. That’s what the New York Police Department plans to do with the hundreds of illegal dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles that the city has seized. The dirt bike phenomenon has produced two types of responses from police and municipal officials: One relies on classic tactics of...