The Fires By Joe Flood, 325 pp. Riverhead Books. $26.95In 1961, President Kennedy hired Robert S. McNamara away from his job as president of the Ford Motor Company to, essentially, manage the conflict in Vietnam just as he had the American automotive industry. As secretary of defense, McNamara – a Harvard MBA – hired top analysts from the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit problem-solving think tank, to help.“Systems analysts were soon wielding more influence over American defense strategy than any five-star general or chief of staff,” writes Joe Flood in his fascinating new book, “The Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City – and Determined the Future of Cities.” It was only a matter of time, Flood explains, before New York City would attempt to manage its fires just as McNamara was managing the war: New York was simply, and merely, another system.
Happy Friday! Here are today’s Bronx headlines:There’s been some relief in the ongoing garbage saga in Co-Op City today: the sanitation department removed 100 tons of garbage that’s piled up since maintenance and sanitation workers at the enormous housing complex went on strike Tuesday. And while the trash is gone, the strike isn’t-union workers have still not settled an argument with management over health benefit changes and possible wage freeze.On a related note, WNYC’s culture blog “Gallerina” has named Co-Op City’s developments as one of the ugliest buildings in New York City.
Gil Kerlikowske, the director for the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, will be visiting the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center on Monday to launch a nationwide anti-drug campaign.Staff at the Mary Mitchell Center, at 2007 Mapes Ave., have been in touch with Kerlikowske’s office since last November, when several drug-related shootings took place nearby-with one happening just beside the center’s playground, where students from the after-school program were playing at the time. Later that same day, at nearby 2000 Prospect Ave., a burst of gunfire left 19-year-old Felix DelValle dead. Another teen, 17-year-old Phillip Carr, was arrested and charged with the murder.Since then, the Mary Mitchell Center staff have stepped up their efforts to draw citywide and national attention to the issues of drug and youth violence that plague many low-income neighborhoods.On Monday, Kerlikowske will take a tour of the center and then hold a press conference to announce the launch of the “Influence Project,” a nationwide anti-drug program that aims to engage teens in conversation about the pressures that influence their decisions. Check back on Monday for our coverage of the event.
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