A Maine Race track Didn’t Lure Amazon . com. Multiply That Disappointment by 218.


Bay Area — There have been 218 communities whose proposals didn’t achieve the 2nd round in Amazon’s well-publicized look for its second headquarters. For individuals ambitious but unlucky folks, there have been no “thanks for entering” gourmet gift baskets or any consolation prizes.

Tom Hall, town manager of Scarborough, Me., had just came back from the meeting concerning the clam harvest as he heard unhealthy news from the reporter. He required it philosophically. The town’s proposal to transform a 500-acre harness racing track in the heart of Scarborough was, he understood, “the longest of lengthy shots.”

In Oklahoma, there have been more regrets.

“I’m certainly disappointed,” stated Scott Phillips, who ran an improvement team known as First Day that promoted an offer to construct a completely new 50-square-mile city for Amazon . com between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, equidistant from each.

“Amazon missed an chance to incorporate higher productivity-of-the-box thinking within their listing of finalists from proposals like ours,” he added.

For that metropolitan areas which were not just one of Amazon’s 20 finalists, that D-word stored approaching.

Jim Watson, the mayor of Ottawa, stated he was “disappointed” two times inside a brief interview, adding the whole process was “great publicity” for Amazon . com.

A Significant League Soccer stadium in Frisco, Tex., another city Amazon . com didn’t pick. “Second headquarters would be the factor for the future,” the mayor, Shaun Cheney, stated.CreditTony Gutierrez/Connected Press

“This news is unquestionably disappointing,” they that promoted Zoysia and Rochester stated inside a statement.

“Very disappointed,” stated the San Francisco Bay Area Council, which in fact had posted an offer with respect to Bay Area and 4 neighboring metropolitan areas.

Amazon’s obsessive need to please its customers has produced a terrifying retail juggernaut making its founder, Shaun Bezos, the wealthiest man on the planet. This feeling of disappointment in the organization, however transient it might prove, is one thing new.

Yet it had been possibly inevitable following the way Amazon . com switched its look for a second headquarters, so it announced inside a blaze of publicity in September, into this type of beauty contest. Despite unemployment low, the stock exchange booming and also the economy chugging along, the possibilities of landing as much as 50,000 high-having to pay jobs from Amazon . com turned on the thrill of politicians everywhere.

“When they folded this concept out, the narrow description they used only defined about 30 metropolitan areas,” stated Mr. Phillips of First Day, talking about how Amazon . com had stated it had been searching for any metropolitan area in The United States with a minimum of millions of people, among other criteria. “Maybe they really thought only 30 metropolitan areas would apply. The truth that 238 did most likely caught them off-guard.”

Scarborough, for example, was most likely this is not on Amazon’s radar. It’s around the Northeast coast, just south of Portland, population about 20,000. The simplicity the applying process, which involved answering nine questions, supplying data and touting the town, “encouraged us and many hundred other people who was without a practical chance to help make the most powerful possible argument why it ought to be us,” stated Mr. Hall, the city manager. “There’s value in thinking and articulating that.”

Boxcars in Rochester. “This news is unquestionably disappointing,” they that promoted Rochester and Zoysia stated inside a statement after Amazon . com passed on them.CreditLuke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Take into consideration playing: a feeling that Amazon . com was resolute to attain dominance, so why wouldn’t you sign up?

“This new headquarters is just an end on their own route to global conquest,” Mr. Hall stated. He noted that a lot of people in Scarborough received goodies from Amazon . com throughout the holidays that even today, within the third week of The month of january, the neighborhood recycling center was overwhelmed with card board packaging.

Mr. Hall stated he’d received “no word whatsoever” from Amazon . com concerning the fate of his application. An Amazon . com spokesman stated, “All the metropolitan areas received direct communication from Amazon . com, including many personal telephone calls.”

Most of the other also-rans didn’t wish to talk.

Jason Lary, the mayor of Stonecrest, Ga., who’d offered to produce a town named Amazon . com making Mr. Bezos “the mayor, C.E.O., king, whatever they would like to refer to it as,” didn’t return calls. A spokeswoman for Tucson, which in fact had also applied, stated, “We have been in an exciting-break-site meeting,” adding that they couldn’t be interviewed.

The letdown adopted a hurry of antics by metropolitan areas across The United States to lure the store with regulations and tax breaks and publicity stunts.

Business leaders in Tucson had attempted to mail Amazon . com a 21-feet cactus, which the organization declined. The mayor of Washington published a relevant video of herself asking her Amazon . com Alexa in which the headquarters is going. (The solution was obviously Washington.) Business school students in Philadelphia were built with a new homework assignment: Email Amazon . com asking it in the future. Mayors travelled to San antonio to wander the organization campus.

Scarborough, Me., had suggested converting a 500-acre harness racing track to woo Amazon . com. It had been “the longest of lengthy shots,” the city manager, Tom Hall, stated.CreditRobert F. Bukaty/Connected Press

The greatest champion in most this, obviously, was Amazon . com. Looking has brought to feel-good tales in local papers round the country, a coup for Amazon’s pr machine when most are cautious about Mr. Bezos’ growing wealth and power.

For Art Rolnick, an economist in the College of Minnesota, the choice process — that will go on for several weeks — is “reality show” theatrics and cannot be celebrated, he stated.

Amazon . com, he stated, “wants to obtain the greatest bid and greatest subsidy possible, now the 20 finalist metropolitan areas goes revise their bids.”

“From a nearby perspective, it appears as though job creation in your neighborhood,” Mr. Rolnick added. “From a nationwide perspective, it is not sensible.”

Some elected officials stated the truth-show spectacle was a noticable difference in route clients are usually done.

“It was like ‘The Apprentice,’” the show about hiring and firing that President Trump appeared in, stated Tulsa’s mayor, G. T. Bynum. “I loved the procedure. Amazon . com, for their credit, managed to get an open and transparent one. Nine from 10 occasions, whenever we have corporate moving interest, we must sign a lot of nondisclosure contracts we have no idea what clients are interested.”

Not every the applicants felt the procedure was transparent. Amazon . com released the entire quantity of proposals although not where these were from, which caused some latter-day confusion. Mr. Phillips of First Day stated he’d become an invoice from Federal Express for delivering his proposal in October rather than been told by Amazon . com next.

One possibility: the organization didn’t try taking some applications particularly seriously. An Amazon . com spokesman declined to explain this time.

However clumsy the procedure, Amazon . com may have unleashed something.

Apple, that has been belittled for doing the majority of its production in China, announced now it would open a brand new domestic campus. (Apple didn’t mention an area.) Benefiting from the brand new Republican tax plan, which enables a 1-time repatriation of money, Apple signaled it might restore the majority of the $252 billion in cash it held abroad and add 20,000 new jobs within the U . s . States.

“Second headquarters would be the factor for the future — the businesses are becoming too large for any single market,” stated Shaun Cheney, the mayor of Frisco, Tex., a town near Dallas which had a losing bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

Beyond sense at all of disappointment one of the losers, then, was a sense of expectation.

“If Amazon . com isn’t prepared to swing for that fences in Oklahoma and make a town, maybe Alibaba” — china internet store — “is willing,” stated Mr. Phillips. His efforts to construct a company city, he stated, continues.

There’s, however, the issue from the name. “Day 1” is really a pet expression of Mr. Bezos, symbolizing how his company’s possibilities will always be at the front from it.

“We’ll most likely locate a better brand,” Mr. Phillips stated, after which reconsidered. “If someone wants to defend myself against Amazon . com, maybe ensure that is stays ‘Day 1’ will offer you the additional capability to wreck havoc on Bezos’ mind just a little.”


Dying within an Amazon . com dumpster

The previous day last year’s presidential election, a hungry destitute person called Jonathan Manley stopped in a dumpster outdoors a warehouse in Bay Area. Unmarked around the outdoors, your building was occupied by Amazon . com.

For individuals in a position to tolerate the grime and also the smell, and who’d not one other choice but to risk eating expired or rotting food, the big dumpsters stationed there might be bountiful. Visitors say they’ve found frozen treats, bananas, bananas, grapes and frozen pizzas, as well as cans and packaging that may be offered for pennies at recycling centers.

The lid was excessive and overweight for Manley to switch open in the pavement, so he rose along side it, pulled the lid back and dropped in to the trash. It had been filled with items to eat.

“That’s after i observed him,” Manley stated.

In front, doggystyle as though he was battling to face up, would be a middle-aged man putting on a T-shirt, pants and boots. He’d a graying mustache and beard, his hands were caked with dirt there was bloodstream round his nose.

Amazon . com warehouse, readers are faced by shelves stacked with food, from peanut butter to tabasco sauce, Oreos, teabags and jello.

  • The dumpsters outdoors of the Amazon . com warehouse in Bay Area, in which the destitute man’s body was discovered. Photo: Talia Herman for that Protector

The dumpsters outside of an Amazon warehouse, where the homeless man’s body was found. The inside of an Amazon dumpster. The inside of an Amazon dumpster.

The vista in the dumpster in the warehouse. Photo: Talia Herman for that Protector.

In another room, staff hurriedly prepare bags of shopping. When they’re ready, delivery people dispatch this abundance towards the occupants of Bay Area.

The rubbish receptacles outdoors aren’t the very first tech dumpsters to possess attracted the interest of destitute locals. A couple of years back, they responded with question and bemusement to some dumpster with a nearby Google warehouse. It “had all kinds of food you are able to imagine”, stated a homeowner named Michael Mundy. “They just put it away, a large number of dollars’ worth.”

However the warehouse closed lower, and individuals needed to look elsewhere. “All of the sudden,” stated a lady who only gave her name, Renee, “they began speaking about Amazon”.


For around per week after stumbling on our bodies, Manley experienced the encampments of south-eastern Bay Area, looking for someone who didn’t have someone. A large number of destitute people die in American metropolitan areas every year to little fanfare, and also the Amazon . com incident barely made this news. Neither the man’s name nor the occupant from the warehouse have the symptoms of have you been reported.

In an encampment underneath a highway, he discovered a lady who’d put up up dried flowers round her tent and cultivated succulents. Cheryl Iversen, 49, had riotous, flaming orange hair, a personality to complement and, fittingly, went named Tygrr, pronounced “Tiger”. Manley informed her what he’d discovered, and she or he felt the responsibility of being unsure of what had became of Frank Ryan lifted.

“I stated ‘thank you’,” she remembered. “He held me after i cried.” Cheryl Iversen by her tent in San Francisco.

Iversen, whose boyfriend Frank Ryan died inside a dumpster outdoors Amazon . com, at her home around the roads of Bay Area. Photo: Talia Herman for that Protector.

An abusive childhood had brought Iversen to hightail it at 12, after which to exotic dancing, a poor marriage along with a heroin addiction. She calls herself a “functional junkie”.

Over about ten years ago she met Ryan, whose own origins are unclear. His buddies stated he was the boy of the gold-miner. One recommended he’d been sexually mistreated. He’d resided in RVs within the San Francisco Bay Area since a minimum of the 1990s, earning money by scavenging scrap metal. Occasionally he could earn 1000s of dollars per haul, that he subsidized meth and marijuana habits. He never was seen with no jug of milk in the hands and obsessively collected rocks he wished were meteorites.

Iversen clearly remembers your day they were given together. These were wading with a pier in Bay Area Bay, gathering gemstones they could sell and placing them on the plastic float. Because the tide rose, they sitting around the float, coupled with to lie lower when their heads began to bump around the pier above. He brushed her hair from her oral cavity plus they kissed.

A couple of days later, Iversen authored a poem about this that they still remembers off by heart. Cheryl Iversen’s poem

Cheryl Iversen’s poem, written for Frank. Photo: Alastair Gee for that Protector.

“He had this type of beautiful soul, he am smart,” she stated. “He never once helped me feel stupid because of not knowing something.”

Although they weren’t monogamous – Iversen described herself dismissively like a “side-piece” – for the finish Ryan had informed her he desired to settle lower together with her inside a warehouse squat. When she last saw him he stated he would search for frozen treats.


For individuals like doing so, living from dumpsters can occasion philosophy. “Almost everything I’ve now was already cast out at least one time, showing that things i own is worthless to a person,” Lars Eighner authored in the treatise On Dumpster Diving.

Eighner’s encounters were dissimilar to individuals of people that dumpster-dive like a lifestyle choice – he started as he was battling to pay for rent, and also the day-to-day realities were brutal. “No matter how careful I’m I get dysentery at least one time per month, oftener in the sunshine,” he stated.

A Protector overview of news reports in the last decade finds a minimum of 50 installments of dumpster-related destitute deaths and heavy injuries. Sometimes, the dumpster is just the bleak setting. On Xmas Day this past year, a Wichita, Kansas, man was discovered inside a dumpster outdoors a loaves of bread, even though an initial autopsy recommended he died of natural causes, his relatives couldn’t fathom what had motivated him to obtain inside.

In other examples, it’s the act of trash collection itself that’s fatal. A guy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was tipped from a dumpster after which go beyond with a garbage truck. In Forth Worth, Texas, a screaming man had cardiac arrest following the dumpster he was inside was selected up. More prevalent are situations by which destitute people, over sleeping dumpsters or sheltering in the elements, are collected by garbage or recycling trucks and compacted combined with the trash. For this reason destroyed physiques sometimes finish up in the dump.

“reckless and crazy indifference” to destitute lives.

Within an interview, her lawyer, Greg Kafoury, remembered the testimony of the garbage worker, who stated that whenever obtaining dumpsters together with his truck he shook them to be able to wake anybody sleeping inside, and trained his colleagues to complete exactly the same. Kafoury also remembers hypothesizing prior to the jury that, because six people passed away in similar conditions during the period of many years in Or, a condition after some over 1% of america population, as much as 600 might have been wiped out in the united states in general.

The suit “was an opportunity to save untold figures of lives”, he stated – but he lost. “Somebody must take one of these simple cases and go all the way by using it since the situation could be won.”

Occasionally, though, you will find survivors.

In November 2016, about two days after Ryan rose in to the dumpster, Marcus Baldwin did exactly the same factor in Mount Clemens, just north of Detroit. Alcoholism had brought towards the introduction to his marriage and also to being homeless. Finally he found employment in destruction, but he still had nowhere to remain, after focus on a winter night a dumpster beckoned. It had been full of card board and appeared clean. He went to sleep.

Marcus Baldwin, who survived being compacted inside a garbage truck.

Marcus Baldwin, who survived being compacted in the garbage truck. Photo: Garrett MacLean for that Protector.

Around 5.30am, he woke up to “this beeping noise”, Baldwin stated. “The next factor I understood, I had been rising in to the air.”

Falling on his mind, he was disoriented as well as in discomfort, and that he had the feeling of getting been dropped right into a sewer. It had been greasy and full of rotten food, old clothes and construction materials.

He screamed for that driver with no success. About fifteen minutes after Baldwin was selected up, the compacting process started. A contraption that advised him of the snow shovel started to maneuver along the size of the automobile and pinned Marcus for an interior wall. “I could just hear my bones breaking,” Baldwin stated. “It only agreed to be dealing with my legs just like a hot knife through butter.”

Both were shattered. Baldwin thinks he was compacted another five occasions, every 3 months-hour approximately. He attempted to safeguard themself having a shopping cart software. Eventually the motive force observed him and that he was saved, but because of a poor infection doctors needed to amputate his right leg underneath the knee.


The existence expectancy of destitute people is just around 50 as he died, Ryan was 55 approximately. His autopsy report gave the decision of the crystal meth overdose. At his wake, his buddies put his ashes in to the bay together with jugs of milk and a few buds of weed. His dog was utilized, and Iversen grown an outdoor of succulents and cacti near her tent in the memory.

“I’ve never felt so in my existence,” she stated of her time with Ryan, “and nothing continues to be right since. It most likely won’t be, and just what can one expect? This type of big bit of use is gone.”

Inside a statement, Amazon . com, which lately announced it would host a destitute shelter in a single of their new structures in San antonio, known as the dying a “sad event”.

Surprisingly, thinking about that Ryan seems to possess delivered the map lengthy ago, the outcome of his passing has reverberated beyond a little destitute community within an obscure a part of Bay Area.

Near Spokane, Washington, for example, there lives a 34-year-old who’s also known as Frank Ryan. He’s the late Frank Ryan’s lengthy-lost boy. Iversen’s memorial garden for Frank Ryan: ‘Such a big piece of me is gone.’ Part of the succulent garden that Iversen made for Frank Ryan Cheryl Iversen in southeastern San Francisco

Iversen in the memorial garden she designed for Frank Ryan: ‘Such a large bit of use is gone.’ Photo: Talia Herman for that Protector.

Within the late 1980s, as he was six or seven, he resided together with his father, in addition to together with his father’s new wife and her daughter from the previous relationship.

The more youthful Ryan remembers little of his father beyond mothering sunday as he was handed a bicycle and proven how you can put it together. The 2 Frank Ryans were separated once the boy was, because he describes it, spirited away by his mother. “Even if he was searching as hard because he is he going to most likely wouldn’t have had the ability to find me because of the measures my mother had,” Ryan stated within an interview lately. “I never harbored any ill will.”

Throughout an itinerant period within the western US together with his mother, he stated he resided inside a van and rested on blankets on the floor and acquired food from places of worship and food banks. Now he’s a youthful family and works in to safeguard the us government. Several several weeks before his father’s dying, the older Ryan re-established contact via Facebook, plus they made intends to meet the very first time in 30 years. Diets were interrupted because Ryan Sr accidentally shot themself within the groin while attempting to take away the rust from the discarded hand gun, departing him hobbling and not able to operate or purchase travel. He died prior to the meeting could occur.

“The proven fact that he was hungry enough to crawl right into a dumpster certainly was the toughest part,” the more youthful Ryan stated. It “stirred up” their own encounters of being homeless.

Once the more youthful Ryan was removed by his mother, also, he lost connection with the small girl who had been residing together. Today Danielle Given, who passes the name Avalon, is 37 and resides in an urban area an hour or so north of Bay Area.

Her recollections of her stepsibling are warm, although the relationship between your adults was not harmonious. The older Ryan only appeared of looking after concerning the drugs he was taking. And something night, she stated, he joined Lent’s room and sexually mistreated her, the very first of countless occasions.

Given remembers herself “just looking in the noisy alarms, saying ‘when is that this likely to be over?’” Later on her mother didn’t believe her. Indeed, once the older Ryan grew to become destitute, Lent’s mother required food and cash to him. “My mother am deeply in love with him and that he did each one of these bad items to the two of us. I have night terrors over all this. I’m on anxiety medication.” Danielle Lent, who goes by the name Avalon, at her home in Vacaville, California.

Danielle Given, Frank Ryan’s former stepdaughter, at her home in Vacaville, California. Photo: Talia Herman for that Protector.

The significance of finding her stepsibling was impressed on Given by her mother. “On her deathbed she explained, ‘Danielle Marie, I’ve three wishes,’ which is the final wish that they requested for.” For Given herself, the connection appeared like among the best things from that point.

At Lent’s request, with Ryan’s permission, the Protector insert them in touch with each other, as well as on Xmas Day they spoke the very first time ever since they were children.

“He stated he is not stopped searching for me personally,” Given told a reporter later on. “And Irrrve never stopped searching for him.”

“It appears greater than a coincidence that from the countless destitute Americans you could perform a story on, it might be my dad,” stated Ryan.


The Amazon . com dumpsters still provide. On the ‘life was imple’ captured, a brown-haired youthful man putting on a varsity jacket cycled up and rose inside entirely look at passing cars and pedestrians.

At that time, the gate from the warehouse loading pier rose to show a staffer clutching some white-colored trash bags. He gone to live in toss the bags in to the open dumpster as he caught sight from the customer. They locked eyes.

The worker lightly thrown the baggage towards the dumpster-diver, who opened up them. A couple of minutes later, the destitute man got to the bike, balanced a couple of products around the handlebars and unsteadily rode off.

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Facebook Job Ads Raise Concerns About Age Discrimination


This article was written through collaboration between The New York Times and ProPublica, the independent, nonprofit investigative journalism organization.

A few weeks ago, Verizon placed an ad on Facebook to recruit applicants for a unit focused on financial planning and analysis. The ad showed a smiling, millennial-aged woman seated at a computer and promised that new hires could look forward to a rewarding career in which they would be “more than just a number.”

Some relevant numbers were not immediately evident. The promotion was set to run on the Facebook feeds of users 25 to 36 years old who lived in the nation’s capital, or had recently visited there, and had demonstrated an interest in finance. For a vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who check Facebook every day, the ad did not exist.

Verizon is among dozens of the nation’s leading employers — including Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Target and Facebook itself — that placed recruitment ads limited to particular age groups, an investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times has found.

The ability of advertisers to deliver their message to the precise audience most likely to respond is the cornerstone of Facebook’s business model. But using the system to expose job opportunities only to certain age groups has raised concerns about fairness to older workers.

Several experts questioned whether the practice is in keeping with the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits bias against people 40 or older in hiring or employment. Many jurisdictions make it unlawful to “aid” or “abet” age discrimination, a provision that could apply to companies like Facebook that distribute job ads.

“It’s blatantly unlawful,” said Debra Katz, a Washington employment lawyer who represents victims of discrimination.

Facebook defended the practice. “Used responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work,” said Rob Goldman, a Facebook vice president.

The revelations come at a time when the unregulated power of the tech companies is under increased scrutiny, and Congress is weighing whether to limit the immunity that it granted to tech companies in 1996 for third-party content on their platforms.

Facebook has argued in court filings that the law, the Communications Decency Act, makes it immune from liability for discriminatory ads.

Although Facebook is a relatively new entrant into the recruiting arena, it is rapidly gaining popularity with employers. Earlier this year, the social network launched a section of its site devoted to job ads. Facebook allows advertisers to select their audience, and then Facebook finds the chosen users with the extensive data it collects about its members.

The use of age targets emerged in a review of data originally compiled by ProPublica readers for a project about political ad placement on Facebook. Many of the ads include a disclosure by Facebook about why the user is seeing the ad, which can be anything from their age to their affinity for folk music.

The precision of Facebook’s ad delivery has helped it dominate an industry once in the hands of print and broadcast outlets. The system, called microtargeting, allows advertisers to reach essentially whomever they prefer, including the people their analysis suggests are the most plausible hires or consumers, lowering the costs and vastly increasing efficiency.

Targeted Facebook ads were an important tool in Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election. The social media giant has acknowledged that 126 million people saw Russia-linked content, some of which was aimed at particular demographic groups and regions. Facebook has also come under criticism for the disclosure that it accepted ads aimed at “Jew-haters” as well as housing ads that discriminated by race, gender, disability and other factors.

Other tech companies also offer employers opportunities to discriminate by age. ProPublica bought job ads on Google and LinkedIn that excluded audiences older than 40 — and the ads were instantly approved. Google said it does not prevent advertisers from displaying ads based on the user’s age. After being contacted by ProPublica, LinkedIn changed its system to prevent such targeting in employment ads.

The practice has begun to attract legal challenges. On Wednesday, a class-action complaint alleging age discrimination was filed in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of the Communications Workers of America and its members — as well as all Facebook users 40 or older who may have been denied the chance to learn about job openings. The plaintiffs’ lawyers said the complaint was based on ads for dozens of companies that they had discovered on Facebook.

The database of Facebook ads collected by ProPublica shows how often and precisely employers recruit by age. In a search for “part-time package handlers,” United Parcel Service ran an ad aimed at people 18 to 24. State Farm pitched its hiring promotion to those 19 to 35.

Some companies, including Target, State Farm and UPS, defended their targeting as a part of a broader recruitment strategy that reached candidates of all ages. The group of companies making this case included Facebook itself, which ran career ads on its own platform, many aimed at people 25 to 60. “We completely reject the allegation that these advertisements are discriminatory,” said Mr. Goldman of Facebook.

After being contacted by ProPublica and The Times, other employers, including Amazon, Northwestern Mutual and the New York City Department of Education, said they had changed or were changing their recruiting strategies.

“We recently audited our recruiting ads on Facebook and discovered some had targeting that was inconsistent with our approach of searching for any candidate over the age of 18,” said Nina Lindsey, a spokeswoman for Amazon, which targeted some ads for workers at its distribution centers between the ages of 18 and 50. “We have corrected those ads.”

Verizon did not respond to requests for comment.

Several companies argued that targeted recruiting on Facebook was comparable to advertising opportunities in publications like the AARP magazine or Teen Vogue, which are aimed at particular age groups. But this obscures an important distinction. Anyone can buy Teen Vogue and see an ad. Online, however, people outside the targeted age groups can be excluded in ways they will never learn about.

“What happens with Facebook is you don’t know what you don’t know,” said David Lopez, a former general counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who is one of the lawyers at the firm Outten & Golden bringing the age-discrimination case on behalf of the communication workers union.

‘They Know I’m Dead’

Age discrimination on digital platforms is something that many workers suspect is happening to them, but that is often difficult to prove.

Mark Edelstein, a fitfully employed social-media marketing strategist who is 58 and legally blind, doesn’t pretend to know what he doesn’t know, but he has his suspicions.

Mr. Edelstein, who lives in St. Louis, says he never had serious trouble finding a job until he turned 50. “Once you reach your 50s, you may as well be dead,” he said. “I’ve gone into interviews, with my head of gray hair and my receding hairline, and they know I’m dead.”

Mr. Edelstein spends most of his days scouring sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and pitching hiring managers with personalized appeals. When he scrolled through his Facebook ads on a Wednesday in December, he saw a variety of ads reflecting his interest in social media marketing: ads for the marketing software HubSpot (“15 free infographic templates!”) and TripIt, which he used to book a trip to visit his mother in Florida.

What he didn’t see was a single ad for a job in his profession, including one identified by ProPublica that was being shown to younger users: a posting for a social media director job at HubSpot. The company asked that the ad be shown to people aged 27 to 40 who live or were recently living in the United States.

“Hypothetically, had I seen a job for a social media director at HubSpot, even if it involved relocation, I ABSOLUTELY would have applied for it,” Mr. Edelstein said by email when told about the ad.

A HubSpot spokeswoman, Ellie Botelho, said that the job was posted on many sites, including LinkedIn, The Ladders and Built in Boston, and was open to anyone meeting the qualifications regardless of age or any other demographic characteristic.

She added that “the use of the targeted age-range selection on the Facebook ad was frankly a mistake on our part given our lack of experience using that platform for job postings and not a feature we will use again.”

For his part, Mr. Edelstein says he understands why marketers wouldn’t want to target ads at him: “It doesn’t surprise me a bit. Why would they want a 58-year-old white guy who’s disabled?”

Looking for ‘Younger Blood’

Although LinkedIn is the leading online recruitment platform, according to an annual survey by SourceCon, an industry website, Facebook is rapidly increasing in popularity for employers.

One reason is that Facebook’s sheer size — two billion monthly active users, versus LinkedIn’s 530 million total members — gives recruiters access to types of workers they can’t find elsewhere.

Consider nurses, whom hospitals are desperate to hire. “They’re less likely to use LinkedIn,” said Josh Rock, a recruiter at a large hospital system in Minnesota who has expertise in digital media. “Nurses are predominantly female, there’s a larger volume of Facebook users. That’s what they use.”

There are also millions of hourly workers who have never visited LinkedIn, and may not even have a résumé, but who check Facebook obsessively.

Deb Andrychuk, chief executive of the Arland Group, which helps employers place recruitment ads, said clients sometimes asked her firm to target ads by age, saying they needed “to start bringing younger blood” into their organizations. “It’s not necessarily that we wouldn’t take someone older,” these clients say, according to Ms. Andrychuk, “but if you could bring in a younger set of applicants, it would definitely work out better.”

Ms. Andrychuk said that “we coach clients to be open and not discriminate” and that after being contacted by The Times, her team updated all their ads to ensure they didn’t exclude any age groups.

Employment ads and notifications that Mark Edelstein was shown when he browsed Facebook.

But some companies contend that there are permissible reasons to filter audiences by age, as with an ad for entry-level analyst positions at Goldman Sachs that was distributed to people 18 to 64. A Goldman Sachs spokesman, Andrew Williams, said showing it to people above that age range would have wasted money: roughly 25 percent of those who typically click on the firm’s untargeted ads are 65 or older, but people that age almost never apply for the analyst job.

“We welcome and actively recruit applicants of all ages,” Mr. Williams said. “For some of our social-media ads, we look to get the content to the people most likely to be interested, but do not exclude anyone from our recruiting activity.”

Pauline Kim, a professor of employment law at Washington University in St. Louis, said the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, unlike the federal anti-discrimination statute that covers race and gender, allows an employer to take into account “reasonable factors” that may be highly correlated with the protected characteristic, such as cost, as long as they don’t rely on the characteristic explicitly.

The Question of Liability

In various ways, Facebook and LinkedIn have acknowledged at least a modest obligation to police their ad platforms against abuse.

Earlier this year, Facebook said it would require advertisers to “self-certify” that their housing, employment and credit ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws, but that it would not block marketers from purchasing age-restricted ads.

Still, Facebook didn’t promise to monitor those certifications for accuracy. And Facebook said the self-certification system, announced in February, was still being rolled out to all advertisers.

LinkedIn, in response to inquiries by ProPublica, added a self-certification step that prevents employers from using age ranges once they confirm that they are placing an employment ad.

With these efforts evolving, legal experts say it is unclear how much liability the tech platforms could have. Some civil rights laws, like the Fair Housing Act, explicitly require publishers to assume liability for discriminatory ads.

But the Age Discrimination in Employment Act assigns liability only to employers or employment agencies, like recruiters and advertising firms.

The lawsuit filed against Facebook on behalf of the communications workers argues that the company essentially plays the role of an employment agency — collecting and providing data that helps employers locate candidates, effectively coordinating with the employer to develop the advertising strategies, informing employers about the performance of the ads, and so forth.

Regardless of whether courts accept that argument, the tech companies could also face liability under certain state or local anti-discrimination statutes. For example, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it unlawful to “aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing” of discriminatory acts proscribed by the statute.

“They may have an obligation there not to aid and abet an ad that enables discrimination,” said Cliff Palefsky, an employment lawyer based in San Francisco.

The question may hinge on Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from liability for third-party content.

Tech companies have successfully invoked this law to avoid liability for offensive or criminal content — including sex trafficking, revenge porn and calls for violence against Jews. Facebook is currently arguing in federal court that Section 230 immunizes it against liability for ad placement that blocks members of certain racial and ethnic groups from seeing the ads.

“Advertisers, not Facebook, are responsible for both the content of their ads and what targeting criteria to use, if any,” Facebook argued in its motion to dismiss allegations that its ads violated a host of civil rights laws. The case does not allege age discrimination.

Eric Goldman, professor and co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara University School of Law, who has written extensively about Section 230, says it is hard to predict how courts would treat Facebook’s age-targeting of employment ads.

Mr. Goldman said the law covered the content of ads, and that courts have made clear that Facebook would not be liable for an advertisement in which an employer wrote, say, “no one over 55 need apply.” But it is not clear how the courts would treat Facebook’s offering of age-targeted customization.

According to a federal appellate court decision in a fair-housing case, a platform can be considered to have helped “develop unlawful content” that users play a role in generating, which would negate the immunity.

“Depending on how the targeting is happening, you can make potentially different sorts of arguments about whether or not Google or Facebook or LinkedIn is contributing to the development” of the ad, said Deirdre K. Mulligan, a faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

Julia Angwin and Ariana Tobin are reporters at ProPublica. Jeff Larson and Madeleine Varner of ProPublica contributed research.

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Can Marriott Keep Starwood’s Culture of Cool, and Its Customers?

PITTSBURGH — Consider the conundrum of the modern hotel-room shopper.

Oh, O.K., consider my conundrum.

There are trips where I’d like to feel younger than I am, which means staying in a hotel that is cooler than I am. There are trips when I just want to be close to the airport because of a 6 a.m. departure. And then there are trips that require accommodation for a toddler, a tween and two parents who would appreciate an interior door or three to separate everyone.

Now, consider Marriott. I sure am, and so are untold numbers of loyal Starwood Hotels customers who feel uneasy about big, beige Marriott acquiring their beloved Starwood.

Last year, Marriott completed its acquisition of Starwood and its Westin, Sheraton and W brands and became the biggest hotel company on the planet. As with industries from media to health insurance, Marriott made a bet on scale — a collection of 6,400 properties and more than 1.2 million rooms in 126 countries and territories.

In theory, this gives the company the power to drive hard bargains with commission-hungry travel agents and booking websites. The companies’ 30 brands ought to provide enough variety to satisfy everyone from picky millennials to finicky retirees, right?


For one thing, many of those brands are indistinguishable from one another. Do we really need both Sheraton and Marriott? Can you even tell their rooms apart if you walk into one without seeing the sign outside? And what do the names Element, Four Points, Homewood, TownePlace and Delta mean to you? They’re among the 30, so they seem to mean a lot to Marriott.

And even with all those properties, the newly combined giant is not necessarily everywhere we need it to be. Sure, they are downtown and at the airport and on ring roads that circle big cities, but the company has usually taken too many years to identify and open a property in the up-and-coming neighborhoods where Airbnb listings are legion.

Add in the spaghetti-swirl task of having to combine two loyalty programs with dozens of airline and other partners into one that will keep more than 100 million members in the fold. At that point, it starts to seem downright daunting for the new Marriott to answer the following question: Can it give us what we need — on every kind of trip — to keep us from straying?

To understand all the challenges that Marriott faces, consider Pittsburgh. It is a fantastic place to visit (and eat), but it’s still far enough down the list of most-desired American convention and tourist cities that its hotel lineup feels incomplete. That makes it an excellent place to examine the company’s challenges.

Marriott still has not found a spot here for one of its cool-kid brands like Edition or Moxy. For a cutting-edge overnight experience, you might turn to the Ace Hotel and its 63-room property in an old Y.M.C.A. in the funky East Liberty neighborhood. As for family-size accommodations — and most of the sleeping spots outside the downtown core — those are now the domain of Airbnb. It can put you up in a 3-bedroom dome or a house festooned with mirrors.

Marriott’s aim to get much bigger is a risky one. But the answer to just three questions will probably determine how investors, developers and people like me will react over time.

■ First, will the new Marriott be convenient? The old Starwood often was not, especially for people seeking lower-price properties.

■ Starwood regularly lapped Marriott on matters of coolness, though. Its W, Westin and Aloft brands offered the possibility that your hotel room could look and feel like your bedroom at home. Will Marriott impede Starwood’s culture of innovation, just as the company is facing the enormous new threat from Airbnb and its appeal to fans of quirk, local culture and value?

■ And then, there’s the loyalty programs. Frequent travelers want their hotel stays to count for something. The Starwood Preferred Guest program has drawn particularly passionate, opinionated members. But it’s a rare merger that results in better benefits for all elite-level travelers. Marriott is still several months away from announcing crucial details about the future of the program, but how much will it take away from wary S.P.G. fans like me?

For the acquisition to succeed, creative employees need to stick around. Because the company owns only a tiny fraction of its hotels, the real estate developers it partners with must want to raise the various Marriott flags and hire the company to manage the properties.

And travelers who could easily stay at a Hilton, the Ace or at an Airbnb must become or remain loyal. “Each of them needs to see material, quick benefits from this transaction in order to be proponents of the deal,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s chief executive.

Starwood’s primary origins are in two acquisitions in the late 1990s, first of Westin and then of Sheraton’s parent company. The first W Hotel, which grew into a boutique chain (something that previously was an oxymoronic notion), arrived in New York in 1998. The Starwood loyalty program, notable back then for its lack of blackout dates or capacity controls on free rooms, emerged the next year.

All of that gave Starwood a running start, but it eventually became clear that its founder, Barry Sternlicht, whom Bill Marriott once dismissed as a “kid with a backpack,” was better at buffing and building higher-end brands than he was at the more boring task of getting hotel developers to build $100-a-night limited-service properties in college towns and suburban office parks.

The result for people looking for a place to stay was often a metropolitan area map that looks like the one in Pittsburgh, with a Sheraton and a Westin downtown, or near it, plus a solitary offering out at the airport. Marriott, however, has properties in a near ring around the city, plus several hotels downtown and several more in the Oakland, Shadyside and Bakery Square neighborhoods.

To a loyalty program member, it could seem that Starwood was not trying hard enough, or fast enough, to fill the holes in its map. Here in Pittsburgh, East Liberty has no W or Aloft (the junior, lower-price version of W that first appeared in 2008). Instead, the Ace Hotel moved in and converted the former gymnasium in its building into a ballroom that’s now a go-to spot for weddings. On my last trip there, tired of the humdrum Sheraton, I used Airbnb to stay in one of just a few dozen Yaca Domes known to exist.

It would be tempting for Marriott executives to laugh off the threat. But Airbnb has been making a concerted effort to be more business-traveler friendly.

Mr. Sorenson, Marriott’s chief executive, said he had never used Airbnb to book lodging, but his daughter has. She told him he had nothing to worry about.

But does he really think she’s right? “They were the toughest competition when they were offering a true sharing-economy product,” he said, describing the company’s origins in renting out an air mattress or a room. “The more they get to offering dedicated units, which they’ve done as they’ve grown, the more they look like the competition we’ve faced for decades.”

Any comparison stretches only so far, said Tina Edmundson, Marriott’s global brand officer. She has sampled Airbnb, twice. How did she like it? “It was O.K.,” she said, scrunching up her face a little. “It was fine.”

She acknowledged that her standards might be particularly high. “I like the notion that someone professional has been in and cleaned it,” she said, befitting someone who was once a hotel general manager. “I totally get that I am not the target for Airbnb. Tons of people love that, and I think that’s great.”

So yes, she concluded, it’s an important threat worth keeping an eye on. “But I don’t think there is panic in the city,” she said.

Three years ago, in describing to my colleague Brooks Barnes why Marriott felt it needed to partner with an outsider, Ian Schrager, on its first foray into design-forward hotels, Mr. Sorenson admitted the following: “We probably didn’t have consumer permission to enter this boutique space on our own,” he said.

Mr. Sternlicht, Starwood’s founder, never asked anybody’s permission. Instead, he bet that people would like their hotel interiors to look more like their home (or the one of their modernist dreams) and less like a gallery of plaid and polyester.

The resulting parade of innovation began with the W chain, with sleek in-room furniture and lobbies that felt like nightclubs. Westin introduced the Heavenly Bed (complete with a trademark), and the newly comfortable guests purchased more than $150 million in bedding to use at home.

Marriott, meanwhile, suffered not necessarily from bad taste but a sort of baseline blandness. “There are very few properties in the Marriott spectrum that I might find desirable,” said Kenneth Ballenegger, a longtime Starwood customer who lives in San Francisco.

But Marriott had its fans. Road-weary sports reporters and the people they cover are almost cultish about the company. Rhapsodic online odes include testimonials about how waking up in a Marriott with another night’s worth of loyalty points makes you feel as if you are doing something good for yourself and your family. Scouts for professional teams have joked about living in one of the company’s Fairfield Inns if they ever got divorced.

In recent years, Marriott has introduced a number of new brands, including the Autograph collection of luxury properties and Moxy, which is in the same general category as Starwood’s Aloft. “But Starwood has owned that space for a longer period of time than anyone else,” Mr. Sorenson said. “We want to make sure to graft that onto new shoots that already exist at Marriott.”

Those shoots may bear fruit in Pittsburgh one of these days. A Moxy that was supposed to occupy converted space downtown fell by the wayside, but the Oakland neighborhood will get an Autograph soon.

Even before Marriott began trying to define or redefine the brands it had acquired, it listed its incumbent ones in a security filing with all sorts of head-scratching definitions that were supposed to differentiate them. Marriott “typically” includes “destination-driven restaurants” (really?), while Courtyard is for an “upscale tier” (wait, isn’t that Ritz and Renaissance and Autograph?) and Fairfield Inn & Suites helps “maintain balance and momentum.”

I scrambled these descriptions and challenged one executive to match them with their correct brand names. She could not.

Hotel developers shop among brands — and they, too, are confused. “I’m a hotel nerd, and it’s blurry for me,” said Deno Yiankes, president and chief executive of investments and development at White Lodging, which owns 16 Marriott-branded properties and is building eight more.

The world does not need both Four Points and Fairfield. Affluent travelers would suffer no grievous harm if Marriott forced a death match between Starwood’s St. Regis brand and Ritz-Carlton.

But combining brands turns out to be challenging. Franchisees often sign 20-year contracts, and pulling them out of a particular brand mid-deal may be difficult. Plus, there’s the sheer expense of changing every last pen, sign and interior marker.

Sheraton is probably the biggest Marriott brand that is in sorry shape. Even some Starwood loyalists have never been sure what it is supposed to stand for. It’s popular (and more upscale) in some parts of the world, but its United States properties often feature various shades of brown, smudged fake brass in the elevators and nicked wooden furniture.

“Every time there’s been a new C.E.O., they’ve tried to fix it,” said Ms. Edmundson, the Marriott executive who once worked at Starwood. “It requires an unbelievable amount of discipline to do it. I promise you Marriott has that, and Starwood does not.”

Indeed, not long after she told me that, the company announced that it had identified the 50 worst Sheratons in the United States. Many are undergoing renovations, but 5,000 Sheraton rooms will soon earn points under some other flag because their owners could not bring them up to standard.

If the fixes for Sheraton work, it preserves an additional choice for the travelers (as well as convention planners and corporate travel managers) who will ultimately decide the merger’s fate.

Marriott also has to appeal to the large number of people who have no brand loyalty and book their hotel rooms on whatever third-party websites seem to offer the best deal. The company dislikes paying commissions to the Expedias of the world, but it often needs those websites to help fill its properties on any given night. On those sites, Marriott’s 30 brands may offer an advantage.

The decisions likely to draw the most attention at Marriott in the next year involve the combination of its Marriott Rewards loyalty program with Starwood Preferred Guest.

The man in charge of the integration process is David Flueck, and when he spoke at a conference last spring of frequent travelers and peers of his who manage similar programs, the moderator, Ravindra Bhagwanani, had some choice words to describe Mr. Flueck’s challenge. “You can only imagine the nightmare.”

Frequent travelers are picky, and some of them (O.K., some of us) have occasional entitlement issues. Marriott and Starwood have different rules about what amount of spending earns what amount of points and what those points are worth if you want to trade them in for a night at the Ritz or a week at an Aloft. Frequent travelers want to qualify for elite status quickly so they can earn upgrades and other perks, but the two programs have different rules about this, too. Then, there are the programs’ partnerships, dozens of them, with airlines and others, all of which have to be negotiated or renegotiated.

The travelers who spend the most money take all of this minutiae seriously, and Marriott knows it. Moreover, its executives are quick to acknowledge that Starwood’s loyalty program is a big part of what made the chain a worthwhile acquisition.

So they professed to be a bit surprised at the negative reaction from many top-level members of Starwood’s loyalty program. “It was very intense, very possessive,” Mr. Sorenson said.

He added that he understood that at least part of it was disappointment, given that most of the program’s elite members like me could have chosen Marriott, but did not. “And you convinced yourself,” he said, “that that was the right choice and that all things Starwood are more appropriate for me, even though I might have stayed at a lousy Sheraton last night.”

But people who travel frequently and have cast their lot with a particular chain come to value — and then expect — special or exclusive creature comforts. Travel is often anonymous, inconvenient and uncertain. A good loyalty program offers payback, recognition and at least some predictability.

Starwood understood that from the beginning, offering late checkout in most properties, no blackout days for people trying to redeem their points for free hotel rooms and free upgrades (often to enormous suites) for elite members. One popular perk allows members to trade their Starwood points for American Airlines frequent flier miles and get a 25 percent bonus when they do. Redeem those miles for expensive business class seats on ocean-crossing flights, as I’ve done for years, and you’re a big winner.

Starwood’s limited footprint also meant that it had to make it easier for members to qualify for elite status. After all, people often had to go out of their way to stay in its properties. Starwood allows people to qualify based on the number of stays in a property in a single year. People like me who take lots of short trips can qualify for Platinum with 25 stays, which I accomplished with just 39 nights away from home this year. Marriott members need 75 nights to achieve the same status.

So far, the company has said little about the fate of its airline partnerships. It will probably be another year before it can formally combine the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs.

That silence has not kept travelers from jumping to some logical conclusions though. “They’ve handled things surprising well, and I believe they have good intentions,” said Mr. Ballenegger, the longtime Starwood fan. “But the more they touch it, they worse it will probably get, unfortunately.”

But that depends on your perspective. Bruce Schobel is a retired actuary with over 2,400 lifetime nights at Marriott. “One of the things I like best about getting to Marriott’s highest elite levels is that it’s pretty damn hard,” he said. “The benefits they are able to provide are fairly generous because the number of people are fairly small.” Given that exclusivity and the likelihood that Marriott will want to maintain it, it seems near certain that Starwood fans like me are going to need to bed down many more nights each year to keep our status.

Mr. Sorenson is aware, however, that he would be foolish to take away too much. A hotel company’s most loyal customers generally book directly on its website or phone lines, instead of going to a human travel agent or Expedia and its competitors, where the hotel company has to pay a commission. As long as the Marriott perks do not cost more than what the third parties get in commission, the company is still winning.

As Mr. Sorenson presides over it all, he says he senses wariness, cynicism even. But he also draws hope from those strong feelings about the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

“We want you to care intensely about the program, because that shows the value of the program to us,” he said. “The worst thing would be if people said that they never really cared about S.P.G. anyway.”

Are Hotel Concierges Endangered by Apps? Don’t Bet onto it

At a time when a lot of travel tasks can be achieved by having an application, may be the hotel concierge — that font of local knowledge using the connections to land a warm last-minute reservation — going to be replaced?

Not based on Joanna Husk, who is a concierge in the Grand Hyatt Bay Area for nearly 28 many is part of L’ensemble des Clefs d’Or USA, the American chapter from the global trade association for hotel concierges.

“There isn’t any application that may become familiar with you that can compare with a persons application,” she stated.

Ms. Husk does use GoConcierge — software that can help hotel concierges manage the work they do, handling tasks like delivering confirmation letters and itineraries to visitors, and looking after an eye on all activities they’ve booked for visitors. But it’s vitamins to her work, not really a substitute.

She stated, for example, that they was lately requested by an New England executive to organize a day’s visit in Bay Area and also the Plastic Valley for nine individuals from China who have been establishing a business around the West Coast. She’d to set up a lunch and tour from the wine country on their behalf following a morning meeting. Together with her understanding from the wine country and San Francisco Bay Area traffic patterns, she recommended the group go to a winery within the Santa Cruz Mountain tops rather. The winery would be a 20-minute drive from Plastic Valley and shut enough to Bay Area for everybody to come back by 7 p.m., change and relax before dinner.

A Search will not have been sufficient, she stated. Nor can the web continually be a reliable resource, because, as James Little, chef concierge from the Peninsula Beverly Hillsides, stated, “it contains enough detailed information online it is not verified and it is from those who are not experts.”

The help provided by expensive hotels concierge may appear an extravagance. But that’s the purpose. When they get the job done well, concierges might help strengthen their hotels’ main point here, since skilled ones can “often inspire the guest to return to some hotel,” stated Noah Lemaich, director of brand name standards for 60 Hotels and former mind concierge for Thompson Hotels.

Now you ask , whether web-based concierges provide the same advantages.

François Delahaye, gm from the Paris hotel Plaza Athénée and chief operating officer from the Dorchester Assortment of luxury hotels, sang the praises of human concierges inside a recent interview. “If the concierge could possibly get tables at Le Jules Verne, L’Ami Louis along with other restaurants in Paris, it isn’t due to the tools they will use, but due to the quantity of business they convey, getting contacts for any lengthy time using the restaurant’s headwaiter, maître d’ and manager.”

Even more youthful travelers, who are likely to depend on the web for solutions, use hotel concierges. Mr. Lemaich stated travelers within their 20s and 30s will frequently ask concierges for his or her expert opinions on matters they’ve researched by themselves. Sarah Dandashy, mind concierge from the London West Hollywood at Beverly Hillsides Hotel and part of L’ensemble des Clefs d’Or USA, stated millennials, similar to their elders, people for assistance stepping into hot restaurants. She stated additionally they seek assistance identifying off-the-beaten-path places where possible distinctively local encounters — steering people to Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood for selfie-taking, for instance.

Concierges get the help of various internet tools. Additionally to GoConcierge, that also helps hotels identify and follow-up on guests’ demands, there’s Alice, an operations platform that can help hotel departments interact, manages concierges’ activities and customizes concierges’ communications with visitors. Alice, that is majority of Expedia, bought GoConcierge in September. The 2 appear at first sight now creating a single platform incorporating the very best options that come with both systems.

Stay Wonderful offers what it really calls a “messaging-based guest service solution” that enables hotel employees to speak and collaborate across departments and communicate with visitors, via text.

The Ivy platform, in the travel technology company Go Moment, uses artificial intelligence to reply to guests’ questions, also by text. Ivy, for instance, can send visitors a hotel’s Wi-Fi password, order drinks or towels to be delivered to their room or enable them to take a look at digitally. It’s utilized by hotels supplying different amounts of service, including individuals that don’t have human concierges.

Stay Wonderful and Ivy may also inform visitors of the capability to sign in early or take a look at late, which they’ve already to pay for yet another fee for, thus making money for his or her hotel.

In September, Cambria, a high end Choice Hotels brand, started an airplane pilot program at its two Chicago hotels that enables visitors to make contact with local food and lifestyle bloggers via Twitter and Instagram for suggestions. If the pilot work well, Choice can make this program available the coming year to visitors whatsoever Cambria hotels. Cambria hotels don’t provide in-house concierge services.

Along with a small niche player, What Don’t Let Do?, offers recommendations for an array of activities in New You are able to City, online and application, and expenses travelers charges for many of their services.

Hotel executives, concierges and executives of concierge tool companies all agreed an upswing of texting as well as social networking and apps like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat have greatly elevated demands on concierges.

Wet Chan, who until lately was the overall manager from the Peninsula Hong Kong, stated the workload from the seven concierges employed there’s tripled from 2007 to 2017. “Although technology enables them to learn more much faster, additionally, it changes the expectations of visitors. They expect a quicker response. And also the concierges end up with last-minute demands for recommendations.”

“Ten or fifteen years ago, they merely serviced visitors within the hotel,” she stated. “Now, due to technology, they get lots of emails from those who are not remaining, but who’re not far off and also have questions regarding Hong Kong.”

Ms. Chan stated the concierges at her hotel alternate focusing solely on replying to e-mail. Mr. Delahaye stated the Plaza Athénée’s 18-person concierge staff includes a dedicated secretary to reply to guests’ messages which help plan their itineraries. Both hotels use GoConcierge.

Robert Marks is chef concierge in the Omni Hotel North Park, that is linked to Petco Park, the Padres’ baseball stadium, and president of L’ensemble des Clefs d’Or USA. Mr. Marks stated he contacts certain visitors, including people of Omni’s frequent stay program and people selected randomly, per week before arriving to find out if they’ve any special needs. Also, he allows them to learn about arts and sports occasions, in situation they need tickets. He and the staff also call visitors, like individuals celebrating mothering sunday or anniversary or frequent visitors, upon arriving and each nights their stay. His hotel is another GoConcierge customer.

Carol Stiel, an experienced Bay Area concierge who now teaches companies interior and exterior the travel field how you can provide concierge services, stated she thought that human concierges were not going anywhere soon. “As lengthy as people place value and are prepared to purchase personalization” along with other attentions, you will see a requirement, she stated. Mediocrity, she added, “will easily be substituted with technology, however the true concierge artist can’t ever be.”

The Great American Single-Family Home Problem

BERKELEY, Calif. — The house at 1310 Haskell Street does not look worthy of a bitter neighborhood war. The roof is rotting, the paint is chipping, and while the lot is long and spacious, the backyard has little beyond overgrown weeds and a garage sprouting moss.

The owner was known for hoarding junk and feeding cats, and when she died three years ago the neighbors assumed that whoever bought the house would be doing a lot of work. But when the buyer turned out to be a developer, and when that developer floated a proposal to raze the building and replace it with a trio of small homes, the neighborhood erupted in protest.

Most of the complaints were what you might hear about any development. People thought the homes would be too tall and fretted that more residents would mean fewer parking spots.

Other objections were particular to Berkeley — like a zoning board member’s complaint that shadows from the homes might hurt the supply of locally grown food.

Whatever the specifics, what is happening in Berkeley may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Around the country, many fast-growing metropolitan areas are facing a brutal shortage of affordable places to live, leading to gentrification, homelessness, even disease. As cities struggle to keep up with demand, they have remade their skylines with condominium and apartment towers — but single-family neighborhoods, where low-density living is treated as sacrosanct, have rarely been part of the equation.

If cities are going to tackle their affordable housing problems, economists say, that is going to have to change. But how do you build up when neighbors want down?

“It’s an enormous problem, and it impacts the very course of America’s future,” said Edward Glaeser, an economist at Harvard who studies cities.

Even though the Haskell Street project required no alterations to Berkeley’s zoning code, it took the developer two years and as many lawsuits to get approval. He plans to start building next year. The odyssey has become a case study in how California dug itself into a vast housing shortage — a downside, in part, of a thriving economy — and why the State Legislature is taking power from local governments to solve it.

“The housing crisis was caused by the unwillingness of local governments to approve new-home building, and now they’re being held accountable,” said Brian Hanlon, executive director of California Yimby, a housing lobbying group that is backed by the tech industry and helped plan the lawsuits.

Mary Trew, a retired graphic designer who fought the project, drew the same conclusion with a different spin: “Municipalities are losing their authority.”

Graphic | Blockades to Building Homes

The Missing Middle

The affordable-housing crunch is a nationwide problem, but California is the superlative. The state’s median home price, at just over $500,000, is more than twice the national level and up about 60 percent from five years ago, according to Zillow. It affects the poor, the rich and everyone in between.

In San Diego, one of the worst hepatitis outbreaks in decades has killed 20 people and was centered on the city’s growing homeless population. Across the state, middle-income workers are being pushed further to the fringes and in some cases enduring three-hour commutes.

Then there is Patterson + Sheridan, a national intellectual property law firm that has its headquarters in Houston and recently bought a private jet to ferry its Texas lawyers to Bay Area clients. The jet was cheaper than paying local lawyers, who expect to make enough to offset the Bay Area’s inflated housing costs. “The young people that we want to hire out there have high expectations that are hard to meet,” said Bruce Patterson, a partner at the firm. “Rent is so high they can’t even afford a car.”

From the windows of a San Francisco skyscraper, the Bay Area looks as if it’s having a housing boom. There are cranes around downtown and rising glass and steel condominiums. In the San Francisco metropolitan area, housing megaprojects — buildings with 50 or more units — account for a quarter of the new housing supply, up from roughly half that level in the previous two decades, according to census data compiled by BuildZoom, a San Francisco company that helps homeowners find contractors.

The problem is that smaller and generally more affordable quarters like duplexes and small apartment buildings, where young families get their start, are being built at a slower rate. Such projects hold vast potential to provide lots of housing — and reduce sprawl — by adding density to the rings of neighborhoods that sit close to job centers but remain dominated by larger lots and single-family homes.

Neighborhoods in which single-family homes make up 90 percent of the housing stock account for a little over half the land mass in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, according to Issi Romem, BuildZoom’s chief economist. There are similar or higher percentages in virtually every American city, making these neighborhoods an obvious place to tackle the affordable-housing problem.

“Single-family neighborhoods are where the opportunity is, but building there is taboo,” Mr. Romem said. As long as single-family-homeowners are loath to add more housing on their blocks, he said, the economic logic will always be undone by local politics.

California is trying to change that. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a sweeping package with 15 new bills designed to tame rental costs and speed construction.

In addition to allotting more money for subsidized housing, the package included a bill to speed the approval process in cities that have fallen behind state housing goals. There was a bill to close the policy loopholes that cities use to slow growth, and there were proposals that make it easier to sue the cities most stubborn about approving new housing.

“We can’t just plan for growth, we have to actually build,” said Ben Metcalf, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Even with a flurry of legislation, economists are skeptical that California can dent home prices anytime soon. Housing takes years to build. And five of the new housing bills included a union-backed measure that requires developers to pay prevailing wages on certain projects, something that critics say will increase the cost of construction.

But the bigger, thornier question is where all these new residences will go, and how hard neighbors will try to prevent them. The Haskell Street fight shows why passing laws is one thing and building is another, but also gives a glimpse of what the denser neighborhoods of the future might look like — and why lots of little buildings are more important than a few skyscrapers.

Kurt’s Tomatoes

The 1300 block of Haskell Street sits in a kind of transition zone between the taller buildings in downtown Berkeley and the low-rise homes scattered through the eastern hills. The neighborhood has a number of single-family homes, and the street is quiet and quasi-suburban, but there are also apartment buildings and backyard cottages that nod to the city’s denser core.

A little under three years ago, a contractor named Christian Szilagy bought the property and presented the city with a proposal to demolish the house and replace it with three skinny and rectangular homes that would extend through the lot. Each would have one parking spot, a garden and about 1,500 square feet of living space.

The neighbors hated it. The public discussion began when Matthew Baran, the project architect, convened a meeting with 20 or so neighbors in the home’s backyard. A mediator joined him and later filed a three-sentence report to the city: “The applicant described the project. Not a single neighbor had anything positive to say about it. No further meetings were scheduled.”

Graphic | Not in My Backyard

On paper, at least, there was nothing wrong with the proposal. The city’s zoning code designates the area as “R2-A,” or a mixed-density area with apartments as well as houses.

Berkeley’s planning staff recommended approval. But as neighbors wrote letters, called the city and showed up at meetings holding signs that said “Protect Our Community” and “Reject 1310 Haskell Permit!,” the project quickly became politicized.

One focal point was Kurt Caudle’s garden. Mr. Caudle is a brewpub manager who lives in a small house on the back side of Ms. Trew’s property (that lot has two homes, or one fewer than was proposed next door). Just outside his back door sits an oasis from the city: a quiet garden where he has a small Buddha statue and grows tomatoes, squash and greens in raised beds that he built.

In letters and at city meetings, Mr. Caudle complained that the homes would obstruct sunlight and imperil the garden “on which I and my neighbors depend for food.” Sophie Hahn, a member of the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board who now sits on the City Council, was sympathetic.

“When you completely shadow all of the open space,” Ms. Hahn said during a hearing, “you really impact the ability for anybody to possibly grow food in this community.”

The debate was easy to caricature, a textbook example of what housing advocates are talking about when they decry the not-in-my-backyard, or Nimby, attitude. Reality is more nuanced. As cities become magnets for high-paying jobs and corporate headquarters, there has been a backlash of anti-development sentiment and a push for protections like rent control.

Home prices in the ZIP code surrounding the 1300 block of Haskell Street have just about doubled over the past five years, to an average of about $900,000, according to Zillow. Those numbers are terrifying to people like L.C. Stephens, 67, who is retired from the state corrections department.

Mr. Stephens pays $1,600 to live in a modest apartment complex that was built in 1963 and sits just a few lots down from the project site. His building was recently purchased by investors and is being painted and renovated. The rehabilitated units go for $2,400 and up.

“People are getting priced out,” he said. “It’s not about ‘We need more housing.’ Yeah, we can use it, but it needs to be affordable.”

The proposed homes are not that. They are estimated to sell for around $1 million. But this is an illustration of the economist’s argument that more housing will lower prices. The cost of a rehabilitated single-family home in the area — which is what many of the neighbors preferred to see on the lot — runs to $1.4 million or more.

Even so, economics is not politics. The argument that quiet, low-slung neighborhoods have to change to keep everyone from being priced out is never going to be a political winner. When the Haskell Street proposal came up for a vote, Jesse Arreguin, who was then a city councilman but is now the mayor of Berkeley, gave a “no” vote that sounded like a campaign speech.

“This issue is bigger than Haskell Street,” Mr. Arreguin said. “This project sets a precedent for what I believe is out-of-scale development that will compromise the quality of life and character of our neighborhoods throughout the city of Berkeley.”

The city’s denial won applause from the crowd. It also drew a lawsuit.

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Making It Easier to Sue

Not-in-my-backyard activism has been a fixture of California for long enough that the state already has a law about it. In 1982, Mr. Brown, during his first run as governor, signed the Housing Accountability Act, colloquially known as the “anti-Nimby law.”

The law bars cities from stopping developments that meet local zoning codes. In other words, it’s illegal for cities to ignore their own housing laws. The act is rarely invoked, however, because developers don’t want to sue cities for fear it will anger city councils and make it harder for them to gain approval for other developments.

Lately, the law has become a tool for activists. Two years ago, Sonja Trauss, who leads a group called the Bay Area Renters’ Federation and is running for a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, sued Lafayette, a nearby suburb, for violating the Housing Accountability Act, and settled out of court.

Shortly after Berkeley denied the Haskell Street permit, Ms. Trauss sued the city — and won.

Berkeley agreed to give the project a new hearing and consider the Housing Accountability Act when reviewing future development. Neighbors, still incensed, continued to put pressure on the city to deny it. And the city did, this time refusing a demolition permit.

Ms. Trauss sued again, and in July a Superior Court judge for Alameda County ordered the city to issue the permit.

“Organizing alone doesn’t get us out of the crisis,” said Ryan J. Patterson, Ms. Trauss’s lawyer and a partner at Zacks, Freedman & Patterson in San Francisco. “You have to have a fist people fear.”

This almost certainly marks the beginning of a trend. Right about the time Ms. Trauss sued Berkeley, Mr. Hanlon started raising money for California Yimby. He found traction in the local technology industry, whose growth is partly responsible for the Bay Area’s housing crunch but whose employees are similarly discouraged by the astronomical rents.

Nat Friedman, a serial entrepreneur who became a vice president at Microsoft after selling his company to the software giant last year, has helped California Yimby raise close to $1 million for its efforts to lobby the state on housing issues.

“The smaller the unit of government, the harder it is to solve this problem,” Mr. Friedman said.

Mr. Hanlon’s first project was to push for a law that would make it easier to sue cities under the Housing Accountability Act. The result was S.B. 167, a bill written by Nancy Skinner, Berkeley’s state senator and a former member of the City Council. In addition to raising the legal burden of proof for cities to deny new housing projects, the bill makes the suits more expensive to defend by requiring cities that lose to pay the other side’s lawyers’ fees.

“What’s frustrating for anybody trying to build housing is that they try to play by the rules and they still get told ‘no,’” Ms. Skinner said.

Ms. Skinner’s law takes effect next year, so the long-term impact is unclear. But just a few weeks before it was signed, the Zoning Adjustments Board had another contentious housing project.

Neighbors had familiar complaints: The homes were too tall, had long shadows, and more residents would make it harder to find parking. The board’s chairman responded that he understood the concerns but couldn’t risk another lawsuit.

California isn’t going to solve its housing problem in the courts. But the basic idea — big-footing local government so that cities have a harder time blocking development — is central to the solutions that the state is pursuing.

This is a state of great ambition. It wants to lead the country on actions to reduce carbon emissions, and has enacted legislation mandating a $15 minimum wage by 2022. But housing is undermining all of it.

Even with a growing economy and its efforts to raise wages, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, with one in five residents living in poverty, once housing costs are taken into account. And plans to reduce carbon emissions are being undermined by high home prices that are pushing people farther and farther from work.

In a brief speech before signing the recent package of housing bills, Mr. Brown talked about how yesterday’s best intentions become today’s problems. California cities have some of the nation’s strictest building regulations, and measures to do things like encourage energy efficiency and enhance neighborhood aesthetics eventually become regulatory overreach.

“City and state people did all this good stuff,” Mr. Brown said to a crowd of legislators. “But, as I always say, too many goods create a bad.”

Report claims sugar industry hid link with cardiovascular disease for many years

a debate began within the aftereffect of sugar and fats on coronary disease. Researchers state that the sugar industry, wanting to influence the discussion, funded research to consider sugar consumption.

So when it found data suggesting that sugar was dangerous, the effective industry pointed a finger at fats.

In an investigation published Tuesday within the journal PLOS Biology, researchers in the College of California at San Francisco claim that recently uncovered historic documents indicate the never disclosed the findings of their work and effectively fooled the general public to safeguard its economic interests.

After analyzing the sugar industry’s internal documents, UCSF researchers stated that in 1968 the Sugar Research Foundation, which has business ties towards the Sugar Association, funded animal research look around the link between sugar consumption and coronary disease. Rats were given a higher-sugar diet — and put together to possess increased levels of triglyceride, fatty substances within the blood stream. In humans, high triglyceride levels can increase the chance of stroke or heart attack.

The study also found an association between sugar consumption and an enzyme connected with bladder cancer.

Within their analysis, the UCSF researchers stated chances are the Sugar Research Foundation was unhappy with findings connecting sugars with chronic disease, and just what individuals findings can often mean for humans. Therefore it made a decision to finish the research and didn’t publish its results, they stated.

Among the investigation’s authors, Stanton Glantz, told the New You are able to Times that as the documents are some decades old, they’re significant, because they show how long the sugar industry has spent de-emphasizing sugar’s impact on health.

“This is ongoing to construct the situation the sugar industry includes a lengthy good reputation for manipulating science,” he stated.

Glantz couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The Sugar Association belittled Tuesday’s report and said inside a statement that it wasn’t research however a perspective, “a assortment of speculations and assumptions about occasions that happened nearly 50 years ago.” It also known as they “known critics from the sugar industry.”

The sugar industry has lengthy denied that sugar has any specific role in chronic disease, though studies suggest otherwise. The Sugar Association issued an announcement at the begining of 2016 criticizing a College of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center study suggesting that sugar in Western diets increased the chance of cancer of the breast tumors and metastasis.

The researchers’ claims the sugar industry fooled the general public mirror accusations the tobacco industry faced. A trial occured in 2004 to find out whether tobacco industry officials had intentionally fooled Americans for years into believing that smoking didn’t cause cancer, despite acknowledging the risks of smoking among themselves.

Eight several weeks later, the tobacco industry was requested to pay for $10 billion over 5 years to assist countless Americans stop smoking. The penalty was less than 8 percent of the items the federal government had requested when ever proceedings started.

Tuesday’s report isn’t the very first time that decades-old documents appear to exhibit the sugar industry distorted scientific research. A 2015 report published within the journal PLOS Medicine described a nationwide campaign within the 1960s to improve cavity prevention along with a government research program produced to curb cavities. But rather of encouraging people to consume less sugar, the federal government — swayed by sugar industry interests — pressed alternative methods such as methods to split up dental plaque and vaccines for fighting cavities.

In 1964, the group now referred to as Sugar Association searched for methods to soften “negative attitudes toward sugar” after studies started linking sugar with cardiovascular disease. The audience approved “Project 226,” that compensated Harvard researchers today’s same as $48,900 to create articles reviewing individuals studies. The content, printed in 1967, figured that there is “no doubt” the only nutritional intervention required to prevent cardiovascular disease was reducing cholesterol and saturated fats. They performed lower the effects of sugar, based on an analysis of historic documents published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Sugar Association stated the 1960s research reported in Tuesday’s report ended for 3 reasons: It had been too costly, it had been “significantly delayed,” and also the delay interfered using the business restructuring from the Sugar Research Foundation, which may eventually be the Worldwide Sugar Research Foundation.

Cristin Kearns, a writer from the analysis, told NPR the sugar industry is constantly on the have “a lot of cash and influence,” so it uses to downplay nutrition guidelines, for example individuals restricting added sugars to a maximum of 10 % of daily caloric consumption.

Had the data based in the 1968 study occurred public, sugar might have been checked out within more critical lens within the years since, she stated.

Find out more: 

Is $100,000 middle-class in the usa?

Gallup poll conducted in June. It’s the greatest number of people feeling that way since 2003. However a lot of Americans are like Osegueda: They feel middle-class, however they aren’t sure what it really means.

President Trump stated on Sept. 14 “wealthy Americans aren’t my priority,” but he’s planning to benefit companies who make jobs and also the middle-class. (The Washington Publish)

Who exactly is middle-class is incorporated in the national spotlight again as President Trump and Republicans in Congress craft tax cuts for people and corporations which they say will mainly help the middle. V . P . Pence called the plan, which is still being fleshed out, a “middle class miracle” now. But amid this discussion, the center class continues to be defined diversely. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic advisor, lately discussed the way a “typical family” making $100,000 annually would benefit. Trump has espoused the need for the program to truckers, who make around $41,000 annually.

So what exactly is the center class? In The Usa, an earnings of $59,000 a year (before tax) is smack dab in the center, based on the U.S. Census. But it isn’t that easy.

There’s no exact meaning of middle-class, along with a deep consider the data shows a multitude of individuals could participate it, based on their current address and just how big their loved ones is. The center class in San Francisco, where Osegueda lives, is totally different from it’s in Peoria, Ill. You are able to explore whether all your family members is middle-class within this calculator (more information on our definition below):

Osegueda and her husband have been in their early 30s. Both have college levels — she also offers a master’s — and launched careers in San Francisco’s booming tech industry. She labored in human sources, and he’s an engineer. They love Bay Area, but last year, they gone to live in Pacifica, a suburb, where rent is much more affordable as well as their youthful boy has space to experience. Despite making nearly $100,000 annually, they aren’t sure they’ll ever possess a home, a minimum of not any place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It’s not only Bay AreaA fast look at the median earnings during these six American metropolitan areas highlights how much it varies:
Newton, Mass.: $122,100
Washington, D.C.: $70,800
Denver: $53,600
Dallas: $43,800
Birmingham, Ala.: $31,200
Flint, Mi.: $24,900

Now check out how median earnings varies by family size. The median earnings for single us citizens is simply $30,400. For any household of two, it jumps to $65,600. For 3, it’s nearly $77,000. For four, it’s $91,000 (near Cohn’s meaning of $100,000 for any group of four). You get the drift. The greater individuals a household, the greater money they sometimes have to live an appropriate middle-class lifestyle.

When Americans discuss the “middle class,” they’re usually considering a variety, not only the particular earnings dead in the centre. Pew Research states the center class runs from $42,000 to $125,000 (before tax). They define middle like a household of three by having an earnings that falls between two-thirds and double the amount median earnings. By Pew’s calculation, approximately 1 / 2 of American households are really middle-class, under the 62 percent who self-see that way.

To dig further in to the data, The Washington Publish opted to define middle-class as American households with incomes that fall between your 30th percentile mark and also the 80th percentile mark. It captures 1 / 2 of U.S. households, but the number is skewed sufficient to ensure that someone would need to be over the poverty line and produce a minimum of $16 an hour or so inside a full-time job to qualify.

America’s middle-class varies from $35,000 to $122,500 in annual earnings, based on the Post’s calculation. (The information is within 2016 dollars before taxes. You can observe within the chart below just how much the number varies by household size). Rakesh Kochhar, affiliate director of research at Pew, calls it a “fair” estimate. He helped craft Pew’s definition.

The end result is: $100,000 is around the middle-class spectrum, but barely: 75 % of U.S. households make under that. 

report in 2010 classifying middle-class such as this: “Middle-class people are based on their aspirations greater than their earnings . . .[they] desire to homeownership, a vehicle, higher education for his or her children, health insurance and retirement security and periodic family vacations.”

In Beattyville, Ky., a location dubbed “America’s poorest white-colored town,” median earnings is just $16,000 along with a typical home costs only $53,000. Deep poverty also exists on many Indian reservations, like the one out of Blackwater, Ariz., in which the median earnings is simply $18,000.

Alternatively finish from the spectrum are rapidly developing metropolitan areas like the Bay Area area, where Osegueda lives. The median earnings is really a whopping $136,000 in Palo Alto, the hub of Plastic Valley.  Even engineers at Facebook happen to be battling to pay for their rent. Being in a position to save for any home appears a lot more of an implausible scenario.

“My husband and that i sometimes take a look at one another and say, what exactly are we doing here? A home here costs millions of dollars,” states Osegueda. “It’s type of insane whenever you consider it.”

Osegueda and her husband once resided within the trendy Mission District of Bay Area, however they moved from the city when apartments on their own block began renting for $4,000 per month for any one-bed room. Osegueda continues to be remaining the place to find take proper care of her 1-year-old boy, but she drives a couple of days per week for ride-share service Lyft to assist the household budget and mingle with individuals within the city she loves.

America’s vast variations in pay and charges make developing a once-size-fits-all tax policy tricky. Among the greatest dilemmas Republicans face because they focus on the goverment tax bill is how to attract the income tax bracket lines for individuals of various incomes. Republicans leaders continue to be exercising where you can set the rates, and also at what earnings level individuals rates will start working.

It’s difficult considering race and academic attainment. 80-5 % of African Americans and 82 % of Hispanics make under $100,000, based on U.S. census data. And 85 % of individuals with simply a higher school education, an organization Trump won handily within the election, make under that threshold. 

Another big debate at this time is whether or not to eliminate the condition and native tax break (referred to as SALT). This enables individuals to subtract their condition and native taxes using their federal earnings taxes, a benefit that’s particularly lucrative for individuals in high-tax metropolitan areas and states such as Bay Area. It might create a substantial impact on some middle-class families.

Republicans aren’t the only real ones who’ve had a dicey time defining middle-class. Within the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton and Obama famously sparred over this. They wound up buying $250,000 because the maximum threshold. Once Obama won the nomination, he campaigned on the promise to not raise “any form” of taxes on individuals making under $200,000 and couples making $250,000 or fewer. Clinton resurrected that pledge within the 2016 campaign, taking heat from progressives for pandering to the rich.

Politicians almost always say their top problem is the well-being from the “middle class,” taking benefit of the vague definitions from the term to attract voters at an extensive selection of earnings levels.

But as Republicans turn to rewrite the tax code, their proposal to dramatically cut tax rates whilst eliminating many tax deductions will have winners and losers — including among individuals who consider themselves middle-class.

Find out more:

9 ways Trump’s tax plan’s a present towards the wealthy, including themself

The Republicans tax plan, described in simplest possible terms

‘It Was a Frat House’: Inside the Sex Scandal That Toppled SoFi’s C.E.O.

SAN FRANCISCO — For months, the text messages came. Some were flirtatious, asking her to meet him late at night. Sometimes, the texts were sexually explicit.

The messages were directed at Laura Munoz, an executive assistant at the online lending start-up Social Finance. The texts were from her boss, Mike Cagney, the company’s chief executive, according to five people who spoke with Ms. Munoz or saw the messages. Given Mr. Cagney’s stature at Social Finance, known as SoFi, Ms. Munoz was at a disadvantage.

That became apparent when SoFi’s board was informed of Mr. Cagney’s communications with Ms. Munoz in late 2012. The board said it found no evidence of a sexual relationship. Ms. Munoz was then paid about $75,000 to leave the company, according to three people familiar with the proceedings who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly. Ivo Labar, a lawyer representing Ms. Munoz, said matters were resolved between his client and SoFi.

Around the same time, SoFi’s board and executives also heard complaints from investors that Mr. Cagney had made misstatements to them over the start-up’s student loan products, according to emails between investors, executives and the board that were obtained by The New York Times. Directors stood by Mr. Cagney in that instance, too.

The board’s support allowed Mr. Cagney to build SoFi into a fast-growing start-up that is trying to take on the big banks by offering lending, insurance and asset management online. The company has been valued at more than $4 billion.

But within SoFi, Mr. Cagney, a married father of two, continued to raise questions among employees with his behavior. He was seen holding hands and having intimate conversations with another young female employee, according to six employees who saw the two together. At late-night, wine-soaked gatherings with colleagues, he bragged about his sexual conquests and the size of his genitalia, said employees who heard the comments.

Mr. Cagney’s actions were echoed in other parts of SoFi. The company’s chief financial officer talked openly about women’s breasts and once offered female employees bonuses for losing weight, according to more than a dozen people who heard his comments. Some employees said on a few instances, they caught colleagues having sex with supervisors at SoFi’s main satellite office in Healdsburg, Calif., which was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed last month.

Even as other Silicon Valley companies such as ride-hailing giant Uber have been in the spotlight this year for inappropriate treatment of women, Mr. Cagney’s case goes a step further. Although many of the issues at other firms stemmed from the actions of midlevel executives or investors, Mr. Cagney personally faces questions about his role. His conduct was described by more than 30 current and former employees, most of whom asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

The behavior went largely unchecked until Monday, when SoFi’s board acted after weeks of growing scrutiny of the company. The start-up said Mr. Cagney, 46, would leave as chief executive by the end of the year and that he would step down immediately as chairman. In a statement announcing Mr. Cagney’s departure, SoFi did not explain the executive change.

The company said its business was performing well, and that SoFi was becoming a “major, innovative player in consumer finance.” A SoFi spokesman said the company did not comment on personnel matters and disputed that its business had taken on too much risk. Through the spokesman, Mr. Cagney also said he “vehemently denies” any improprieties at after-hours events with colleagues.

Yet Mr. Cagney’s position had become increasingly delicate after the filing of the sexual harassment suit, which accused him of “empowering other managers to engage in sexual conduct in the workplace.”

His situation was also exacerbated by claims about his approach to SoFi’s business, which uses money from Wall Street investors to fund student loans, personal loans and mortgages. At several points, Mr. Cagney ignored warnings from colleagues that he was being too aggressive with the business, according to more than a dozen employees who were involved in the conversations.

That included a time when Mr. Cagney decided to put customer service representatives in charge of lending determinations, despite them having no experience in the area. Another time, he told investors that SoFi had $90 million in debt financing for a loan product; the company did not in fact have the money, according to the internal emails reviewed by The Times.

SoFi’s board, which includes representatives of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and the influential hedge fund Third Point Capital, now faces questions about whether it needed more checks and balances on Mr. Cagney.

Companies like SoFi show how boards are incentivized to prioritize cash flow and growth over governance, said David F. Larcker, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business who specializes in corporate governance. “The board now has a duty to correct for things that have gone wrong,” he said.

The board said that it found “no allegation or evidence of a romantic or sexual relationship” between Mr. Cagney and Ms. Munoz and referred all other questions to SoFi.

Workplace Pursuits

Mr. Cagney, who was born in New Jersey, started his career in finance in 1994 at Wells Fargo, where he climbed the ranks to the trading desk. He later left the giant bank to begin a financial software company, and then his own hedge fund, Cabezon, in 2005. On the side, he attended Stanford’s business school.

In 2011, Mr. Cagney began SoFi with several co-founders. The start-up, established as venture capitalists were getting excited about financial technology, raised nearly $100 million in its first year. In total, SoFi has now taken in $1.9 billion from investors including SoftBank, Discovery Capital and Baseline Ventures.

Even with other co-founders, Mr. Cagney quickly established himself as the company’s center of gravity. SoFi’s offices, with glassed-in conference rooms and cheap Ikea furniture, were set up in San Francisco’s Presidio, the park near the Golden Gate Bridge, because Mr. Cagney’s hedge fund already had its offices there. His home was less than a mile away.

Mr. Cagney exhibited an aggressive attitude at the office that he may have learned as a trader at Wells Fargo. He sometimes shouted obscenities and excoriated employees in front of others when they made mistakes.

Mr. Cagney hired deputies who had similar characteristics. One was Nino Fanlo, a former executive at Goldman Sachs and the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, who became SoFi’s chief financial officer in 2012.

Mr. Fanlo, 57, sometimes kicked trash cans in the office when angry. He also commented on women’s figures, including their breasts; said that women would be happier as homemakers; and once told two female employees he would give them $5,000 if they lost 30 pounds by the end of the year, according to more than a dozen people who heard the comments and witnessed the weight-loss offer.

Mr. Fanlo said it was “patently false” that he did not respect women and that his team at SoFi had many women who received promotions and professional accolades. He also attributed his shouting and kicking of trash cans to frustration about deals and start-up pressures.

“You’re under extraordinary pressures at a company that is growing that fast,” Mr. Fanlo said.

More than two dozen former SoFi employees said they were uncomfortable with Mr. Cagney’s pursuit of women in the office. In 2012, he sent the text messages to Ms. Munoz, the executive assistant, until her colleagues took the issue up with executives and the board, according to the five people who spoke with Ms. Munoz about the matter.

Even as Mr. Cagney was texting Ms. Munoz, he also chased another young female employee. Six employees said they saw Mr. Cagney and the employee holding hands and talking intimately. One day in 2013, when Mr. Cagney was flirting with her at the office in front of colleagues, she grew enraged and left, according to three employees who witnessed the episode. Soon after, she left the company.

Around that time, SoFi’s board asked Mr. Cagney to not engage in inappropriate conduct with employees, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations. The situations were awkward in the office given that Mr. Cagney’s wife, June Ou, began working at SoFi in 2012, rising to become the company’s chief technical officer. Her desk was near Mr. Cagney’s. Ms. Ou did not respond to a request for comment.

Pushing the Business

SoFi’s business works in the following way: It loans money to students, home buyers and individuals with high credit scores. The company funds those loans with money from hedge funds and banks, who buy the loans through securities or bonds that SoFi creates.

As early as 2012, Mr. Cagney ran into trouble with some of his investors. That year, the company said it had secured $90 million in debt financing for one of its loan products, called Refi A. But some investors who had bought the securities noticed their returns were not in keeping with SoFi’s estimates and voiced concerns to executives and to a board member, according to the emails obtained by The Times.

About 10 SoFi executives met to discuss the situation; it was then that some of them learned Mr. Cagney had not actually secured the $90 million for the loan product, according to people who were at the meeting. Some attendees said they were dismayed at the possibility that they had made material misstatements to investors.

In October 2012, SoFi bought back the Refi A securities from investors for what they had paid, plus the investment return they had anticipated, or gave them the option to put their money into a different product. Mr. Cagney said in an investor letter that the product had been “imperfect,” but did not offer any details about the $90 million. The SoFi spokesman said that “no consumers were harmed in the process.”

In 2015, SoFi began offering mortgages. In meetings with the compliance officer overseeing the program, Mr. Cagney was told that SoFi was not doing enough to document the income of borrowers and was rushing to offer loans more quickly than competitors did, according to a person involved in the mortgage business. A SoFi spokesman said the company complied with all laws.

Mr. Cagney also led a push into personal loans last year. To strengthen that business, he asked customer service representatives to review and approve loans, a job that had previously been done by the company’s underwriters, said two people involved in the loan business. Many employees opposed the change because customer service representatives do not have the experience of approving loans, but the move helped SoFi double the amount of loans it issued in just a few months.

That created another problem: SoFi did not have enough money to fund all the loans it was giving out. Mr. Cagney told employees that because of the funding shortfall, it could take as long as 30 days for some new customers to get the money they borrowed. But the employees who dealt with the customers were told by a supervisor to say that people would still get the money within 72 hours as promised.

“We had to lie to them and tell them that we were a little behind or that the transfer got lost — just something to keep them off our backs,” said Marie Lombard, who worked from 2014 to 2016 at SoFi’s operations center in Healdsburg.

Mr. Cagney eventually took customer service representatives off the underwriting decisions.

A SoFi spokesman said that customer service representatives did not approve loans and that the company’s proprietary software made those decisions. He added that SoFi always communicated timing changes on its loans to borrowers and that delays have never run as high as 30 days.

An Internal Toll

Mr. Cagney’s risk-taking outside of SoFi also created problems. In January 2015, his hedge fund, Cabezon, suffered big losses on a currency trade. In the aftermath, SoFi’s board agreed to buy Cabezon for $3.25 million and give the hedge fund’s employees jobs at SoFi. That caused resentment at SoFi among some workers.

A SoFi spokesman said the company bought Mr. Cagney’s hedge fund partly because the board was concerned about Mr. Cagney’s ability to focus on both companies.

At the time, SoFi was growing rapidly. Since 2011, when it had five people in a one-room office, the company has grown to 1,200 employees and lent more than $20 billion to about 350,000 customers. Earlier this year, the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners led a new round of fund-raising that gave SoFi another $500 million and valued the company at $4.3 billion.

Mr. Cagney’s co-founders nonetheless left the company one by one, and Mr. Fanlo departed this summer. (Mr. Fanlo said that he left to pursue a new opportunity.)

In 2015, an anonymous email was sent to everyone in the company, complaining in detail about the work environment and nepotism in hiring, according to five employees who received the email. SoFi said that it takes every complaint seriously.

At the start-up’s office in Healdsburg, Yulia Zamora, who worked as an underwriter there from 2015 to 2016, said it often seemed as if there were no rules. She said she was propositioned by a supervisor numerous times.

“It was a frat house,” Ms. Zamora said. “You would find people having sex in their cars and in the parking lot. It was a free-for-all.”’

SoFi has recently been taking steps to contain the damage. Earlier this month, the company started an investigation into the harassment claims in the Healdsburg satellite office. At the same time, questions over Mr. Cagney’s own behavior also surfaced.

In recent days, Mr. Cagney canceled a trip to Singapore to attend a board meeting at SoFi’s offices in San Francisco on Monday. At the meeting, Mr. Cagney argued for his job — but eventually lost out to board members who viewed him as a liability, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting.

“I want SoFi to focus on helping members, hiring the best people, and growing our company in a way consistent with our values,” Mr. Cagney wrote in a letter announcing his departure. “That can’t happen as well as it should if people are focused on me, which isn’t fair to our members, investors, or you.”

Lyft to provide rides in self-driving cars in Bay Area

A self-driving vehicle will quickly be one ride option offered by Lyft within the San Fran, because the ride-services company ramps up its efforts to become serious player in autonomous vehicle technology.

Lyft stated on Thursday that self-driving cars will quickly be dispatched to particular passengers who request a trip with the application in the region. The cars can come from Drive.ai, a California startup that builds software to show cars into autonomous vehicles.

It’s the latest inside a string of partnerships between Lyft as well as an autonomous vehicle company, but it’s the main one most abundant in immediate impact to Lyft passengers.

You will see initially a small amount of cars available, stated Drive.ai co-founder and president Carol Reiley, each having a trained driver right in front seat in situation something goes completely wrong.

“We wish to make certain the knowledge feels just as much as an autonomous vehicle experience as you possibly can,Inches Ms Reiley stated.

Passengers must decide to opt in to the program and also the rides have the freedom. Ms Reiley declined to reveal the vehicle model getting used or precisely once the self-driving Lyft rides would start. Lyft declined to comment further.

The programme enables Lyft to check how its passengers respond to self-driving cars and Drive.ai, a 2-year-old company, to log more miles and tweak its software. Ms Reiley stated Drive.ai uses its very own mapping data for that journeys.

This program is Lyft’s latest push into autonomous cars since announcing in This summer a brand new self-driving vehicle division, together with a facility in Palo Alto, California with countless engineers who’ll focus on autonomous technology and collaborate along with other autonomous vehicle companies.

Lyft has formerly announced partnerships with Alphabet’s self-driving division, Waymo, technology company Nutonomy, and carmakers Vehicle and Jaguar Land Rover.


Lyft has formerly stated it’ll launch an airplane pilot with Nutonomy in Boston by year-finish.


Although Lyft is really a late entry into the concept of autonomous cars, their bond gives the organization something of the victory over its chief competitor, Uber.

While Uber was initially to provide rides in self-driving cars, having its own autonomous technology, with programs in Pennsylvania and Arizona, it doesn’t yet offer these to passengers within the San Francisco Bay Area.


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