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Foossa’s David Colby Reed talks with New York City Council Member Keith Powers about civic engagement, housing, and criminal justice reform, including the planned closing of the Rikers Island jail complex. 

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Council Member Keith Powers represents New York City’s 4th District, which includes the Manhattan neighborhoods of the Upper East Side, Central Park South, Grand Central Terminal, Tudor City, Waterside, Peter Cooper Village, Carnegie Hill, Stuyvesant Town, the United Nations as well as part of Yorkville and Turtle Bay.

The book that David Colby Reed references in this episode is "The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy," by Suzanne Mettler. 

Music from the episode: "@hotline.gov" by Anonymous 420, via the Free Music Archive.

Council Member Keith Powers is sworn in to represent NYC's 4th District. Photo Credit: Jeff Reed

Some highlights from CM Powers:I think that’s desperately missing thing in New York City right now: programs getting people on the path to home ownership, which we know is a path to intergenerational increases in wealth and ways to move people from one income bracket to another.

When we talk about tax incentives around job creation, when we talk about tax incentives around housing or other physical property, I do wonder what the balance is. We talk about Amazon (potentially) coming to New York City.  I think we are putting some money forth, but we are reading articles almost every day now about other cities almost mortgaging their future in order to get Amazon to come to their city. And I recognize that New York City versus some other cities might have different needs in terms of of job creation and attractiveness. But I get concerned for those cities when I am reading them. We should not be in a race to the bottom to attract companies where we spend more than we get back. 

So I think all elected officials should be keeping a healthy eye on those incentives. Is the dollar that we are spending netting a dollar plus in return? 

We can live in a safe city, the safest city in America, and not view our criminal justice system as where you lock them up and throw away the key. We can have a system that is closer to all of us. We see it. We feel it. We can touch it. And with an understanding that most of the individuals are going to end up back with us, and they are part of us. They are part of our community. We want to treat them that way. 

In every single state in the country, we should make it easier for people to vote. Tuesday seems like the worst day to vote, by design. 

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