#new York city

Andrew Rice:

And so New Yorkers with garden-variety affluence—the kind of buyers who require mortgages—are facing disheartening price wars as they compete for scarce inventory with investors who may seldom even turn on a light switch. The Census Bureau estimates that 30 percent of all apartments in the quadrant from 49th to 70th Streets between Fifth and Park are vacant at least ten months a year.

30 percent. That’s insane.

Hard to know what a good solution is. A law requiring you to be present for a certain amount of time seems too restrictive. So does one requiring you rent it out full-time. So maybe Airbnb? I’m only half kidding.

Corey Kilgannon:

New York City prohibits students from carrying cellphones in public schools, but many are reluctant to leave their phones behind. As a result, the rule has created a modest side business for shops near some schools that allow students to store their phones for a fee.

But along one commercial stretch in Queens that is close to a cluster of schools, storing cellphones has become almost a matter of economic survival. Not only do the merchants reap a small but welcome source of income, but they have also come to rely on the ancillary sales of food and drinks they make to the students dropping off their phones in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon.

The times we live in… Local markets are turning into cell phone storage units that sell produce and candy on the side.

Michael Barbaro and Kitty Bennett:

An analysis by The New York Times shows that Mr. Bloomberg has doled out at least $650 million on a wide variety of perks and bonuses, political campaigns and advocacy work, charitable giving and social causes, not to mention travel and lodging, connected to his time and role as mayor. (His estimated tab for a multiday trip to China, with aides and security in tow: $500,000.)

In the process, he has entirely upended the financial dynamics surrounding New York’s top job.

In the past, the city paid its mayor; Mr. Bloomberg paid to be the city’s mayor.

This angle isn’t new, but it puts an actual number on what Bloomberg has done — which is pretty spectacular. As weird as it sounds, it’s more like a king spending to improve his kingdom than any modern political story we’re used to.

In many ways, it’s too bad that yesterday was his last day in office. It seems unlikely we’re going to see another politician like that in a long time simply because very few people on this planet have both the desire and the resources of Bloomberg. And fewer still would put them to good use.