The Fountain Blog

JASON LIBOU WRITING COMPETITION WINNER: Guilty of Homelessness: The Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States

August 6th, 2017

JASON LIBOU WRITING COMPETITION WINNER:  Guilty of Homelessness:  The Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States

Each year, the Urban Law Journal holds the Jason Libou Online Writing Competition, which considers student-written work on topics in urban planning, education, urban criminal justice, and energy and sustainability. Samantha Frankel‘s piece on the growing problem of homelessness in U.S. cities, this year’s winning submission, explores the ways in which urban governments, rather than addressing the causes of homelessness, have enacted anti-homeless laws that serve to exacerbate the problem.

DOJ Drops Long Battle Against Texas Voter ID Law With Case Pending in Fifth Circuit

April 11th, 2017

DOJ Drops Long Battle Against Texas Voter ID Law With Case Pending in Fifth Circuit

By Brendan Kreckel On April 9 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the second time that a 2011 Texas voter ID law was passed with intent to discriminate against eligible minority voters. This decision comes just three months after the the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”) dropped its complaint opposing the Texas bill, which imposed new ID requirements for eligible voters at the polls. The DOJ withdrew after three years and close to $1 million worth of litigation.

Will Your Next Emergency Room Visit be Broadcast on National Television?

March 23rd, 2017

Will Your Next Emergency Room Visit be Broadcast on National Television?

By Shaun Prunotto  American television audiences have long enjoyed “reality” programs that grant unfiltered access to emergency personnel at work. Police actions are frequently documented and broadcast by programs such as A&E’s Live PD and Cops, which recently aired its 1,000th episode. Production companies, including ABC News (“ABC”) and Discovery, expanded the genre by embedding camera crews in some of the nation’s busiest emergency rooms and trauma units. Mark Chanko’s death in 2011, however, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (“NYP”) and its subsequent broadcast on ABC’s NY Med has resulted in proposed legislation, a $2.2 million settlement between a federal agency and NYP for violations of the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule, and an ongoing legal battle in New York’s state courts. While the effect this backlash will have on the genre’s overall feasibility is still unknown, the genre’s filming practices within New York are changing dramatically.

Progressive Movement Building in Trump’s America

March 13th, 2017

Progressive Movement Building in Trump's America

By Frank Kearl  In the wake of President Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March sounded the beginning of a new progressive awakening with echoes of past political uprisings. American cities have always been central venues in fights for social justice. From the Boston Tea Party through the women’s suffrage movement, from the Birmingham Bus Boycott to Occupy Wall Street, people in urban centers have historically shaped the narrative around progressive movements and have helped catalyze change. Cities have begun to strike back against the anti-democratic efforts of their state courts and legislatures. By studying the organizational structures of prior social justice movements, today’s activists can build the foundation for a new era of radical social change.

New York’s “free” wifi kiosks come with a not-so-private catch

February 25th, 2017

New York’s “free” wifi kiosks come with a not-so-private catch

By Eric Hornbeck Through a program known as LinkNYC, slab-like kiosks are replacing the increasingly unused payphones on the sidewalks of New York City. The kiosks offer much more than the phone calls that can be made from payphones: the kiosks have tablets with internet access, charging stations and wifi service that expands as far as 150 feet. As more kiosks go up, it’s hard for New Yorkers not to notice them — or the ads targeted to the very pedestrians walking by.

Uncertainty for Sanctuary Cities Under Trump

January 24th, 2017

Uncertainty for Sanctuary Cities Under Trump

By Brendan Kreckel  During his eight years as president, Barack Obama deported over 2.5 million people; the most of any president in the history of the United States. President Donald Trump has promised to outdo the Obama administration in an unrealistic plan to deport 2 to 3 million people in his first 100 days in office. While the specifics of a potential crackdown are unknown, some cities across the country have reasserted their determination to resist as  “Sanctuary Cities.”

Slippery Slope of Suspicionless Searches: the “Special Needs Exception” and 10th Anniversary of MacWade

November 19th, 2016

Slippery Slope of Suspicionless Searches: the “Special Needs Exception” and 10th Anniversary of MacWade

By Shaun Prunotto  In response to commuter train bombings in Madrid (2004) and London (2005), the NYPD implemented a policy involving random, suspicionless searches of bags and packages brought into the NYC subways. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) immediately challenged this policy, describing it as “unprecedented, unlawful,” and “unlikely to have any meaningful deterrent effect on terrorist activity.”Despite the organization’s best efforts, search checkpoints persist with the court’s blessing. Ten years out from the decision to allow subway checkpoints, and with subway ridership at its peak since 1948, record numbers of New Yorkers are vulnerable to subway searches.

A Battle to Restore Voting Rights To Those With Felony Convictions in Virginia

November 17th, 2016

A Battle to Restore Voting Rights To Those With Felony Convictions in Virginia

By Brendan Kreckel  Earlier this year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order to restore voting rights to more individuals convicted of felonies in his state. Republican lawmakers vehemently opposed the order, bringing the matter to the Virginia Supreme Court. The court invalidated the order and required that newly registered citizens have their rights revoked once again.

NYC Looks To Open Data Portal To More Users

November 11th, 2016

NYC Looks To Open Data Portal To  More Users

By Eric Hornbeck New York City collects vast amounts of data every day on the activities of its agencies and citizens. For the last several years it has posted reams of that data, from restaurant health inspections to 311 calls, on its open data portal. As the availability and use of that data has increased, it’s also become a source of profit for one particular group of New Yorkers — those on Wall Street. That for-profit use of government data has raised some concerns, but it’s largely been off the city’s radar. Instead, the city wants to make sure its data is used by even more users, including community organizations and nonprofits.

Mayor’s Flood Insurance Map Victory May Be Setback for Resiliency Initiative

November 5th, 2016

Mayor’s Flood Insurance Map Victory May Be Setback for Resiliency Initiative

  By Daniel Porat The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a joint plan to revise New York City’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps, stalling a flood insurance rate hike for many New York City property owners. The announcement came after FEMA accepted the City’s appeal of the agency’s preliminary flood map, which would have nearly doubled the structures covered in the mandatory zone and increased flood insurance premiums between $5,000 and $10,000 for many New Yorkers.