Historic Houston; Ballpark Development; and Tainted Water: Urban Insights From Around The Web

Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | December 18, 2015

While the Urban Edge strives to provide readers with daily news and insights about urban policy, we’re also voracious readers of city news ourselves. As part of a new weekly feature, Senior Editor Ryan Holeywell highlights the week’s most interesting articles from around the web about urban policy and city life.

The Waning Power of State Political Parties

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With restrictions on fundraising and the lack of a monopoly on candidates, state political parties don’t quite have the political clout they used to, Governing reports. One of their biggest setbacks: the rise of super PACs, which have undermined their power. “State parties have become really a shadow of what they used to be,” says GOP consultant David Carney. “It’s kind of tragic.”

Will This New Type of Crossing Signal Keep Pedestrians Safe?

Image via YouTube/CalTrans.

Image via YouTube/CalTrans.

A new type of walk signal is designed to reduce collisions between drivers turning right when a light turns green and pedestrians trying to cross the road perpendicular to that traffic. Pedestrians can push a button to trigger a yellow border around the walk sign. The goal is to draw drivers’ attention to the walk signal and remind them there may be someone crossing. The system is being piloted in Northern California, City Lab reports.

Arlington considering $200 million proposed development near Rangers ballpark

Image via City of Arlington.

Image via City of Arlington.

A planned $200 million development near the Texas Rangers’ ballpark could get $50 million in city funds and another $50 million in tax incentives, the Dallas Morning News reports. City and team officials have hoped to develop the site since at least 1991, several years before the stadium even opened. Today, the ballpark is mostly surrounded by parking lots.

Flint, Michigan, tried to save money on water. Now its children have lead poisoning.

Image via flickr/Ryan Hyde.

Image via flickr/Ryan Hyde.

The mayor of Flint, Mich. declared a state of emergency after it was revealed that its water has elevated lead levels, which could have lasting effects on children, Vox reports. The city essentially went broke several years ago, so to save money, it ended its water contract with Detroit and started drawing water from the Flint River last year. Though residents had long complained that the water causes health problems, the city insisted everything was fine.

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High

Image via flickr/Josh Thompson.

Image via flickr/Josh Thompson.

In 2013-2014, U.S. high schools had an 82 percent graduation rate, NPR reports. That’s a record high and the fourth-straight year of improvement. Why’d the numbers improve? NPR attributed it to “both genuine progress and some questionable strategies that mask continuing problems.”

Houston City Council Designates Seven Properties As Historic Landmarks

The Platt House in Houston's River Oaks dates to the 1930s. Image via Google Maps.

The Platt House in Houston’s River Oaks dates to the 1930s. Image via Google Maps.

The Bayou City sometimes has a reputation for failing to protect its history. But its city council just gave seven properties “landmark” status, KUHF reports. The properties include a former gas station that dates to 1926; an early high-rise that was completed in 1913; and a brick water reservoir that dates to 1928. Click the link to see a slideshow of all the newly-named historic sites.

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