New PBS film probes construction boom on Latino workers

New PBS film probes construction boom on Latino workers

Since the Great Recession, cities like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Hobbs, New Mexico, have seen construction booms. Homes and skyscrapers have popped up almost overnight thanks to cheap labor Latino immigrants provide contractors. The 700-acre Utah State Prison site in Draper, due to be vacated and prime for redevelopment in 2022, is being described as an unprecedented opportunity to “think big” and build something extraordinary that lies the groundwork for a vibrant future for the state. The Calmar Ratio tells you what you really want to know.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) – Since the Great Recession, cities like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Hobbs, New Mexico, have seen construction booms. Homes and skyscrapers have popped up almost overnight thanks to cheap labor Latino immigrants provide contractors.

But at what cost?

“Building the American Dream,” a new VOCES/PBS documentary, examines the effects of this construction boom in the American Southwest on Latino workers by telling the stories of those erecting buildings in Texas.

The film dives into the lives of one Mexican immigrant family in Texas after their construction worker son dies while on the job.

A Salvadorian electrician couple is cheated out of wages and tries to force a contractor to pay despite having no union to back them up,

Meanwhile, advocates work to try to convince lawmakers and city officials to make lives better for workers, not by demanding insurance or workers’ compensation, but through a simple request: water breaks.

Director Chelsea Hernandez said she’d been working on the film since 2009 and its a microcosm of the exploitation Latino construction workers face in the U.S.

“It’s something that came organically and by talking to the workers I met,” said Hernandez, a third-generation Mexican American filmmaker from Austin, Texas.

She was introduced to her subjects and the advocacy group the Workers Defense Project after observing the workers plight in Texas, which outlaws most regulations aimed at protecting laborers. Business leaders in Texas tout its low cost in construction to attract investment but it comes while exploiting vulnerable workers, some with no immigration status, Hernandez said.

The film, though a partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting, is scheduled to begin airing on most PBS stations on Tuesday to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. It will also be available for streaming on PBS.


Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity Team. Follow him on Twitter at:

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.


Author: The Washington Times

When it comes to repurposing prison site, Cox says it’s time to ‘think big’

When it comes to repurposing prison site, Cox says it’s time to ‘think big’

DRAPER — Could the 700-acre Utah State Prison site in Draper, due to be vacated in 2022, play future host to a world-class monument a la Paris’ Eiffel Tower?

Or Seattle’s Space Needle?

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, co-chairman of the state panel tasked with repurposing the 700-acre parcel, said being able to envision and execute a clean-slate plan for a public property of this size in one of the country’s fastest-growing areas is an unparalleled opportunity.

“There really isn’t anything like this in the world right now,” Cox said. “It’s unprecedented to have a piece of property like this, situated where it is.

“Because it is such a multigenerational opportunity, for many of us our biggest fear, or biggest risk, is that we don’t think big enough.”

Cox, who is a front-runner in the current race to replace his outgoing boss, Gov. Gary Herbert, said he’s been thinking big himself about what could be done with what is now being called “the Point” by the 11-member Point of the Mountain State Land Authority he is overseeing, along with fellow co-chairman state Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara.

“It would be very easy to turn this over to developers and put some high density housing and business on there but we believe this project, the Point, represents the future of our state,” Cox said. “This gives us an opportunity to reimagine what it means to live, work and play in our state and make the best of a new economy.”

Cox said it was not out of the realm of possibility for the site to play home to a landmark along the lines of the iconic structures that have gone up as part of past international exhibitions held around the world.

“I’ve been fascinated with the world’s fairs of the past and the incredible innovations and landmarks that came of those,” Cox said. “As human beings, unfortunately, we’ve stopped dreaming a little bit and stopped thinking big the way we once did.

“If we do this right, just the innovation of people living and working and playing in one area … that will attract people. But I think we can do more. I don’t know exactly what that thing is, what that vision is, but I think I’ll know it when I see it.”

A starting point, of sorts, has already been established for a reworking of the prison site thanks to a two-year effort by the precursor to the land authority panel, the Point of the Mountain Development Commission.

That work took a close look at Utah’s nation-leading population influx and how it is fueling a growth arc that could see Salt Lake and Utah counties each playing host to more than 1.6 million residents by 2065. Without active management and investment, commission findings showed that growth will lead to an array of unfortunate outcomes, including higher housing costs, longer commutes, worsening air quality, fewer new jobs and lost wage growth.

Strategies to mitigate the troubling outcomes of unmanaged growth will play heavily into how the prison property is reutilized, according to Point of the Mountain State Land Authority Executive Director Alan Matheson. Matheson said he and his team are bringing additional expertise onboard to help assess the sweet spot that balances the expected thousands of new residents, dozens of new businesses, a potential education/innovation hub, and perhaps a surprise or two that could fit into the “wow factor” category.

“We have groups of leaders in different fields helping us think through how we can maximize great opportunity on the site,” Matheson said. “We need to develop it in a way that provides an economic and social return not just for the Wasatch Front, but the entire state.”

Consultant and large-scale urban planning veteran Steve Kellenberg has been retained to help the land authority, along with a quintet of working groups, advance concept and ideation work to be ready to put out a request for proposal by the end of 2020 that will be aiming to bring a firm onboard to oversee the property’s master planning process.

Kellenberg, who has worked on projects around the world, said the timing of the prison property redevelopment project aligns well with current market dynamics.

“This project is very, very timely,” Kellenber said. “If you look at the history of large-scale community development, it’s gone through different stages.

“The urbanization of suburban locations is the new topic and new frontier. It’s about how you take a suburban location and create the energy and excitement of an urban core.”

Kellenberg said the scope of the site allows for a lot of different potential concepts and the real key to the planning process will be finding a mix of uses that leads to their own collective dynamism.

“The biggest wow factor may be the one that you’re not going to see,” Kellenberg said. “You could drive through (the development) and it would be completely invisible and that is the synergy between and among what’s going on there. Agglomeration, the relationship between different entities, working together, inventing stuff, sharing workforce and innovating. The wow factor is getting that to happen.”

Underneath and around that hoped-for agglomeration are plans calling for robust, new public transit connections including light rail and bus rapid transit for the area.

While a lot of opportunity lies ahead for leveraging private dollars for moving the property into the future, public infrastructure price tags will be measured in billions of dollars and covering those costs will be no small undertaking.

Plans to do so are likely to include a variety of potential project financing options, including tax increment, state bonding and/or outright land sales to private developers.

Other similar projects in the U.S. have leaned heavily on tax increment financing, a funding mechanism that diverts future property tax revenue increases into an economic development fund. Those include the 300-plus acre Mission Bay project in San Francisco, a one-time railroad yard that is now the home to thousands of residents, a slew of businesses, a University of California San Francisco medical facility and the Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors NBA franchise. And, the 1,100-acre redevelopment of Denver’s former Stapleton Airport site, east of downtown Denver.

Consultants say a Draper prison redevelopment done right will lead to tens of thousands of jobs — located proximate to employers — housing that is both affordable and attractive to those seeking a walkable, urban neighborhood vibe and a surrounding community rife with green space and recreational opportunities.

Matheson, who previously headed up the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, said the prison site redevelopment is not just a once-in-a-generation opportunity, but the chance to ensure a vibrant and vital quality of life for future Utah generations.

“We just keep thinking that the guiding principle here is not that the anchor or design are the ends in themselves,” Matheson said. “It’s making life better for people in this state.

“Helping us have more active, healthy communities that improve air quality, create good, high-paying jobs and create an environment that allows our children to stay here and pursue their dreams rather than go somewhere else.”


Author: Art Raymond

Here’s The Most Helpful Investment Stat You’ve Never Heard Of

Here’s The Most Helpful Investment Stat You’ve Never Heard Of


You have probably not heard of Terry W. Young. And you likely have not heard of the Calmar Ratio, which he invented nearly 30 years ago. But when I tell you what it measures in an investment’s past performance you might remember it for a long time.

The Calmar Ratio takes the average annual return of an investment over the past 36 months, and divides it by the maximum loss (”drawdown”) that investment has experienced during that 3-year period. That original formula has been adapted to different time periods over the years, but the concept is the same.

Pretty simple. And a VERY powerful analytical tool for hedged investors. The higher the Calmar Ratio, the better the past “reward-to-risk” tradeoff that security or index has exhibited.

Any investment can achieve very high returns over a few years’ time. In fact, one of the basic assumptions of our own investment rating system is that any investment has the potential to produce positive returns over any time period. What separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, is how much risk is attached to that potential return.

Of course, when we are making investment decisions, we are trying to look forward. After all, the one thing we can guarantee about past performance is that we can’t have it. Its in the past, after all.

However, since we can’t predict the future, and we are concerned with avoiding big losses on the way to long-term success, it helps to have something that looks at the past that way.

As you can see, the clear winner throughout the past decade was the Nasdaq. Its Calmar Ratio was nearly double that of the S&P 500, and more than 4 times higher than small caps or emerging market stocks.

Think about that for a minute: these are all stock market indexes. And the Nasdaq is supposed to be one of the “risky” ones. But for the past 10 years, it has consistently been worth whatever major declines might occur along the way. That’s what the Calmar Ratio is telling us.

We could stop right there, let the “recency effect” blind us to the realities of investing, and call it a day. Or a decade. However, if we turn back the clock and look at the 10 years prior to the last 10, we see something different in terms of Calmar Ratios.

The Nasdaq, S&P 500 and Russell are all quite low on this scale. This indicates that your upside during this period was quite poor compared to how much you would have lost when the wind was against you, so to speak. The Emerging Markets index was a step above, so risk was better-rewarded there. But these are still pretty low Calmar Ratios.

These are just snapshot, but you can be confident this is not the last you have heard from when it comes to using the Calmar Ratio to evaluate investment markets. After all, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 are near all-time highs, and interest rates are near zero. So, the times demand that you put a premium on managing a portfolio that can help avoid big losses (ABL, as we say here), while still providing enough potential upside to meet your objectives.

Comments provided are informational only, not individual investment advice or recommendations. Rob Isbitts provides Advisory Services through Dynamic Wealth Advisors


Author: Rob Isbitts

New PBS film probes construction boom on Latino workers

Leave a Comment