Dec 10, 2019

The Hometown Tour: Washington, D.C.

Rep. Bobby Scott in conversation with Mike Allen on the Axios stage. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Last Thursday, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations on hometown issues, including affordable housing, infrastructure and education.

Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia
  • On the relationship between student debt and the housing market: "Student debt is a major problem...You can’t sell a house to a young person because they already have a mortgage. You're reluctant to start a family because you get to people with significant debt... It is a financial burden that is life-altering."
  • On fixing the student loan forgiveness system: "Many of those programs are in total disarray... the public service loan forgiveness plan started about 10 years ago and people are just coming up to 10 years and applying for their discharge. And the Department of Education is denying 99 percent...The program has a problem and we need to fix it."
Ray LaHood, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation
Former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood discussed the impact of the bipartisan gas tax in Illinois, as well as the need for more investment in infrastructure at the federal level.

  • On the bipartisan decision to raise the gas tax in Illinois: "There are no Republican roads. There are no Republican bridges. There are no Democratic roads or Democratic bridges. Infrastructure has always been bipartisan. And so I'm proud of what happened in Illinois."
  • On raising the gas tax at the federal level: "The Senate will never do that unless [President] Trump sends a signal. If Trump sends a signal...We'd have a bill in Washington. That's what happened in Illinois...That could happen here with leadership from the White House, and it would happen very quickly."
  • On the state of American infrastructure: "America is one big pothole...our infrastructure has been decimated.”
Susanne Slater, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.'s CEO Susanne Slater. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Susanne Slater, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.'s CEO, highlighted the role of local leadership in critical decision-making around affordable housing and development.

  • On the impact of city and state-level leaders: "The leadership of the local jurisdiction can make all the difference in the world. The policy priorities of a mayor, for example, influence how developers build."
  • On gentrification in Washington, D.C.: "It’s one of the most gentrifying cities in the country...you want a booming economy...you are displacing small businesses and you are making housing virtually unaffordable...the economic engine has its costs and Habitat [for Humanity] is trying to catch the people before areas gentrify."
Nick Johnston, Editor-in-Chief, Axios
Axios Editor-in-Chief Nick Johnston in conversation with Axios' Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Axios Editor-in-Chief Nick Johnston reflected on the themes of the year's Hometown Tour and discussed the issues that engage people outside of the Washington, D.C. media bubble.

  • On the topics that matter around the country: "Let's talk about these broader trends that are really important: How are people gonna be able to afford to live? How are they going to get from one place in the community to another? And how are we training a workforce for the 21st century, which uniformly folks say we're not?"
  • On scaling up successful community-level programs: "How can we get these good ideas and get Congress to act to create a much broader national infrastructure instead of doing this piecemeal? "

Thank you Wells Fargo for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

The issues that mayors want 2020 Democrats to target

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Infrastructure, housing and climate change are among the top issues mayors want Democratic 2020 presidential candidates to address if elected.

Why it matters: City leaders aren't satisfied with the 2020 field's attention to concerns that are worsening inequality and undermining the safety and financial security of millions who live in cities.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019

The Smart American city

Congressional Smart Cities Caucus co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) in coversation with Axios' Kim Hart. Photo: Jeff Snyder for Axios

On Tuesday evening, Axios Cities Correspondent Kim Hart hosted a series of one-on-one conversations to discuss the future of smart cities, highlighting technology like AI and IoT.

Jeff Marootian, Director, District Department of Transportation

Director of the District Department of Transportation, Jeff Marootian, discussed how transit in Washington, D.C. has changed in the past ten years, and how the advent of ride-sharing apps has put pressure on the curbside.

  • How cities are fundamentally reimagining how the curbside works: "[D.C.] recently finished a pilot program with a curbside reservation system which allows for commercial delivery drivers to reserve curbside access so they don't have to circle around a block in order to find a place to pull over, to make a delivery or to do a food pickup.
  • On looking for creative solutions at the DDOT: "We have a great opportunity to reimagine our infrastructure. We know that the technology alone isn't going to get us there and the infrastructure alone isn't gonna get us there. It's really the marriage of those two things."
Hicham Abdessamad, Chief Executive, Global Social Innovation Business, Hitachi, Ltd. and Chairman of the Board, Hitachi America, Ltd.

In our View From the Top segment, Hicham Abdessamad sat down with Axios Executive Vice President Evan Ryan to discuss leveraging available data in cities to solve big problems around congestion. He highlighted the success of a recent initiative in Tequila, Mexico, which tracked the flow of people in and around the city center.

  • On looking at the big picture: "It's not really about smart cities. It's about solving big problems."
  • On utilizing available data to create smart cities: "We don't have the luxury to build cities from scratch all day. Countries around the world do that. So how do you retrofit or how do you leverage what's already out there to basically look at the problem and solve it in a different way?"
Kim Nelson, Executive Director, State and Local Government Solutions, Microsoft

Executive Director of State and Local Government Solutions at Microsoft, Kim Nelson, discussed the challenges for cities of all sizes to figure out what their top priorities are for leveraging technology, both in the short and long term.

  • On what catalyzes change: "Sometimes it's just an event that actually grabs a city, a leader or a mayor, and says it's time for us to do something about it...Houston is a great example. In the aftermath of [Hurricane Harvey], the mayor soon realized into his term that city wasn't nearly as resilient as it needed to be. And that started the conversation. "
  • On what it means to be a smart city: "Smart isn't simply about the technology. It's not about just the infrastructure, the sensors or the hardware. Being smart is about having the information."
Rep. Yvette Clarke and Rep. Susan Brooks, Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities Co-chairs

Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities Co-chairs Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) took the stage together to discuss constituents' priorities around access, cybersecurity, and privacy as cities continue to get smarter.

Rep. Yvette Clarke

  • On converting phone booths into wi-fi kiosks: "It's nowhere near what it needs to be in terms of being ubiquitous throughout the city of New York. But we know that the infrastructure and the commitment is there. And that commitment and investment has yielded dividends already."

Rep. Susan Brooks

  • On preparing the workforce of the future, particularly around cybersecurity: "We have to invest in those strategies at all levels of education, whether it's the teams in schools, whether it's coding camps, whether it's certification programs. We've got to think very differently about higher education and about how we are ensuring that everybody is ready for what is coming."

Thank you Hitachi for sponsoring this event.

Keep ReadingArrowDec 12, 2019

Health Care Vitals: Washington, D.C.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb answers a question from Mike Allen. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

This Wednesday morning, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations on the future of comprehensive health care across urban and rural America. Topics covered included how to get affordable and accessible care, as well as news of the day items like the rise in youth addiction to nicotine.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019