Archive for May, 2007
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New York To End Price Cap On Tickets, Scalpers Rejoice!
May 31st, 2007

New York State is about to approve a bill ending current price caps on how much scalpers and brokers can charge on tickets to sports and entertainment events. There was no way, even before the internet, to successfully regulate and succeed in enforcement, said Governor Eliot Spitzer who could sign the measure by Friday, when the state’s old anti-scalping law expires. Some argue that Broadway theatres, sports teams and arenas only agreed to the new law because they have become scalpers themselves. Both a [Madison Square] Garden Web site and live Rangers games now are decorated by come-ons to “bid” on “premium” tickets in an “auction,” said Phil Mushnick of the New York Post. In other words, whatever the Garden can get over face value.

By on May 31, 2007, 6:31 pm
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Fantasy Island
May 31st, 2007

New York Magazine features a look at the five finalists in a competition to remake Governors Island. Five design teams were asked to conceive a new landscape, from 25to 40 acres, for the southern end of the island, and a new 2.2-mile promenade encircling it, and to rethink the open space in the northern historic section, writes Alexandra Lange. The essential question all five teams need to answer is, Why have this park?

The magazine characterizes the five plans with its own names:
The Grid
The Necklace
The Path
The Shell
The Nest

It is still unclear what the end product will look like, but as the article notes, it seems that at least something may finally happen in the near future.

By on May 31, 2007, 1:35 pm
In category: Community Development,Land Use,Waterfront | 3 Comments »

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Thursday's Editorial Pages
May 31st, 2007

The Daily News agrees with the City Councils decision to reject an effort to rename a Brooklyn street after Sonny Carson. Speaker Christine Quinn was right to fight the measure, and the majority of the Council disposed of it fittingly, the News writes.

The Daily News also urges the Albany to help 36,000 New Yorkers who could lose health insurance July 1.

The New York Post warns a state commission charged with studying higher education not to compromise entrance standards.

In the New York Sun, Fred Smith, a retired Board of Education administrative analyst, questions the Bloomberg administration’s handling of test scores of students with limited English proficiency. In 2005, Smith argues, the Department of Education “removed thousands of low-performing students from the test population” in order to boost its pre-election numbers.

By on May 31, 2007, 8:10 am
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Update: Sonny Carson Avenue
May 30th, 2007

The dispute over whether to rename a portion of a Brooklyn street for black activist Sonny Carson sharply split the City Council today. With support from the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, Councilmember Albert Vann introduced an amendment to add Sonny Carson Avenue back to the street renaming package bill. The move failed.

Carson Avenue, along with the rest of the street name proposals had been introduced in April and removed from the street renaming bill after a contentious vote in the parks committee. Councilmembers, the media and the public have debated the merits of honoring Carson and the process by which streets are renamed.

At today’s meeting, Vann urged his colleagues to vote their conscience and emphasized the importance of honoring the wishes of local communities.Earlier, Vann connected the issue to self-determination and freedom, If you tell us who we cannot honor today, youll tell us who we cannot worship tomorrow.

Councilmembers Albert Vann and Charles Barron with supporters of the Sonny Carson Avenue on City Hall steps before the council voted on the amendment.

On Memorial Day, Councilmember Charles Barron led an effort to rename a Brooklyn parkafter Sonny Carson by putting up new signs. Today, Barron spoke at length on the issue, singling out Letitia James for abstaining from voting on Sonny Carson Avenue while on the Parks Committee and criticizing Council Speaker Christine Quinns efforts to block the renaming. Quinn responded by emphasizing that those who the city honors with street names must reflect the citys core values and principles and unite, not divide, us.Before the meeting, Barron, who has referenced the numerous streets named after slaveholders and the councils honoring of entertainer Al Jolson who dressed in blackface, spoke about the controversial Irish New Yorkers and members of the Irish Republican Army who had been honored by the city in the past and supported by the local African American community.

Spectators in the crowded City Hall chambers chanted Whose streets?Our streets.Whose streets? Sonnys streets? and self-determination, but the council voted against adding Sonny Carson Avenue with 15 in favor of the amendment, 25 against and 6 abstaining. Some councilmembers voiced concerns about the process as they voted no, while others cited allegedly hateful comments by Carson as they emphatically voted no.

By on May 30, 2007, 5:31 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 4 Comments »

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Another Election
May 30th, 2007

In a year of special elections, next Tuesday offers another one: Residents of Manhattans East Side will chose a member of the State Assembly to replace Pete Grannis, who left the legislature to become Governor Eliot Spitzers environment commissioner. The race has revived the debate over how undemocratic (small d) special elections for the legislature are as party leaders select candidates with little to no involvement by rank and file members. The lopsided party edge in many city districts including this one, where Democrats reportedly outnumber Republicans three to one — make the elections little more than a formality.

Democratic Party leaders decided on their candidate Micah Kellner, before the seat was even officially vacant. And hes considered the odds-on favorite.

But Republican Greg Camp is trying to make a horse race of it. For one thing, the Politicker reports, he is pushing to debate Kellner. But Kellner has declined a June 4 debate citing that old standby schedule conflicts.

And Camp won the endorsement of Citizens Union (whose sister organization, Citizens Union Foundation, publishes Gotham Gazette). The groups executive director, Dick Dadey, told the Daily Politics that Camps perceived independence helped him win the support. ”Unlike his opponent, [Camp] didn’t come out of the political clubs and the current political establishment. He would be a fresh voice,” Dadey said.

But longtime political consultant Joseph Mercurio thinks Camp has an almost insurmountable handicap: George Bush. Unfairly or not, Mercurio has said, voters will link Camp to Bush and the war. Democrats are much more entrenched now.”

By on May 30, 2007, 4:52 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 1 Comment »

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Death by Auto
May 30th, 2007

Two postings on Streetsblog point out that cars can be deadly weapons. Examining a new health department study, the blog writes, Motor vehicles are still the leading cause of accidental child deaths in New York City; 85 percent of motor-vehicle-related deaths involved children who were pedestrians.

The rate was highest in Brooklyn, prompting officials to wonder whether a shortage of parks prompts kids to play in the street.

And in another posting, Charles Komanoff crunches homicide and traffic death statistics for New York City and Long Island and finds that violent deaths do not stop at the city line. Per million people, Long Island had 51 fewer homicides , but 50 more traffic fatalities than New York City. In terms of total violent deaths, the difference between the Big Apple and Long Island – 105 deaths per million people in the City, 104 on the Island – is statistical noise, he writes. (To see the numbers, click here.)

By on May 30, 2007, 11:59 am
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Health,Transportation | Comments Off on Death by Auto

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What They're Saying
May 30th, 2007

Taking off on its series about building code violations in New York City, the Daily News finds that the Department of Buildings has done too little to discourage rip-offs, slipshod work and safety violations. Citing high accident and death rates and low wages on construction sites, the paper says, Mayor Bloomberg is now promising big fixes – and well he should.

News columnist Michael Goodwin agrees. The problems at the building department, he writes add up to a major scandal. More shocking, the agency’s near collapse apparently comes as a surprise to Mayor Bloomberg. But perhaps its not so shocking after all. Goodwin quotes Assemblymember Jim Brennan as commenting, ”The people at the top, the mayor and Dan Doctoroff, are in ecstasy over all the construction. But they’re not perceiving the dark side of what’s going on.” And why might that be? According to Goodwin, If they don’t see it now, it’s only because they don’t want to. (For more on construction hazards see Gotham Gazettes In Danger: Men At Work.

In looking to shake things up at the state university of New York, Eliot Spitzer correctly views the changes at the City University of New York as a model, the Sun writes. In fact, the editorial says, The governor could do worse than to merge the City University of New York and the State University of New York and put [CUNY Chancellor Matthew] Goldstein in charge of the whole system.

The News also endorses the panel. With all the talent available in New York – and all the tax dollars we invest – SUNY could well develop at least one campus that offers Ivy League-quality education at a price within reach.”

By on May 30, 2007, 11:13 am
In category: Albany,Education,Gotham City,Health,Land Use | Comments Off on What They're Saying

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Razed Pay Raises?
May 30th, 2007

New Yorkers oppose giving the legislature a pay raise, but might support one for judges.

A Siena College poll found that nearly two thirds of New Yorkers oppose giving the legislature a pay raise. Legislators earn $79,500 per year and have not had a pay raise since 1999, but are among the better paid state legislators in the country. Technically, serving on the legislature is a part-time job, and other states offer salaries as low as several dollars per day.

But New York’s judges do not fare as well as their counterparts. The National Center for State Courts released a report finding that New Yorks judges are paid less than judges in 36 other states (adjusted for cost of living). Chief Justice Judith Kaye earns $156,000 — about the same amount as a first-year associate at a top New York City law firm. Like the members of the legislature, New York judges havenot had a pay raise since 1999.

Legislation connecting judicial pay raises to legislative pay raises and creating a separate commission to handle such decisions disintegrated when negotiations on campaign finance reform legislation unraveled.And Kaye has warned that she might sue Governor Eliot Spitzer and the legislature if they do not increase judicial salaries before the end of the session in June.

By on May 30, 2007, 7:06 am
In category: Albany,Gotham City,Law | 1 Comment »

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What They're Saying
May 29th, 2007

The day after the country honored its war dead, the Daily News chastises Washington for not doing more to help one group killed and injured in an act of war: Ground Zero workers suffering illnesses as a result of the 9/11 attacks. No one in the Bush administration, the News says, is standing up for these forgotten victims of 9/11. Most shamefully, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt has postured as an ally for the sick and conducted himself as their enemy. The editorial slams Leavitt’s department for wanting more and more data to figure out what’s happening and how to respond. This is paralysis by analysis – a deliberate tactic to delay and dodge.

But on the other side of the tabloid feuds, the Post sees a rush to judgment on 9/11 related illnesses. In particular the paper protests last weeks ruling by the medical examiner that a lawyer who fled lower Manhattan on the morning of the attacks later died because of her exposure to dust from Ground Zero. The question of 9/11’s impact on public health is far too important to be decided on the basis of fears, well-meaning sympathy for those who become ill or the financial ramifications of compensating victims, the editorial says.

By on May 29, 2007, 12:44 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Health | 2 Comments »

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Winning Games
May 25th, 2007

We usually dont talk about ourselves on the Wonkster but we cannot resist the temptation this week. Gotham Gazette, our parent publication, has won a $250,000 grant to develop new on-line games that will allow our readers (that means you) to make virtual policy on key issues facing New York City.

We are among 30 winners chosen by the Knight Foundation in a special competition for online journalism and community building projects. The people at Knight selected our News Games idea from more than 1,600 applicants.

Gotham Gazette’s groundbreaking online games are the brainchild of our former editor-in-chief Jonathan Mandell. During his years here, GG ran a number of games that still attract players with their mix of fun and information. To go to our archive and play Voting Arcade, Kaput and others, click here.

We would also like your comments and suggestions in planning our new generation of games. Do you want to draft a solid waste plan for the city? Manage security and maintain civil liberties? Provide affordable housing and manage to make money?

To tell us what you would like the next Gotham Gazette game to be, visit our forum or email Amanda at Gothamgazette dot com. If you use http://del.icio.us, you can tag suggestions with “gothamgazette” and “games” and we’ll find them.

By on May 25, 2007, 1:26 pm
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What They're Saying
May 25th, 2007

Calling congestion pricing a proven success, the Times urges state leaders to take the necessary steps so Mayor Michael Bloomberg can implement his plan to charge motorists to drive in parts of Manhattan on business days. In particular the editorial want Governor Eliot Spitzer, who has been noncommittal, to enthusiastically back the idea.

Both the Sun and the Post highlight spending in the state. The Sun zeroes in on a plan by Spitzer to tie any increases in state spending to rises in personal income in the state. White the Sun likes the idea of some kind of benchmark, it thinks this one will only lead to more profligacy. Instead, it urges the state to adopt a system of zero-based budget that takes a fresh look at every dollar spent by Albany.

As its peg, the Post points to Census Bureau figures showing that New York State spends the most on schools, per pupil, of any state in the country and is poised to spend billions more. And what does this buy us? In the Posts eyes not much: No apparent performance premium attaches to New York’s spending. And nobody seems to care.

And the Daily News hails the latest school test scores, particularly those showing better achievement among eight grades as proof positive that achievement is rising among New York’s public school children.

By on May 25, 2007, 11:14 am
In category: Albany,Education,Environment,Gotham City,Public Finance,Transportation | Comments Off on What They're Saying

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Waiting for Help in Greenpoint
May 24th, 2007

A colorful WNYC radio segment on how old-time Polish residents are being forced out of the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area contains a compelling piece of policy information: two years after the City Council approved the rezoning of the area and allocated $2 million to help long-time residents stay in their homes, none of money has been dispersed.

Click here to listen to the radio piece by Eva Kern-Jedrychowska of the Polish Daily News.

By on May 24, 2007, 6:50 am
In category: Community Development,Housing,Land Use,Waterfront | 2 Comments »

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Thursday's NYC Editorials
May 24th, 2007

The city’s chief medical examiner declared that Felicia Dunn-Jones, who died of lung disease in 2002, was a victim of the World Trade Center attack, making hers the first death officially recognized as being caused by the toxic cloud over Ground Zero. The family’s lawyer, Richard Bennett, waged an untiring campaign to have Dunn-Jones recognized as a terror victim, says a Daily News editorial. Finally, he has convinced a recalcitrant medical examiner. And justice is being served.

The New York Post sees “a glimmer of hope” in new school test scores. “While only about half of all kids are passing the test – and among eighth-graders, around 40 percent – the scores are heading in the right direction,” the Post writes.

The New York Sun agrees that there is some progress in the new test scores, but also sees “a certain amount of salesmanship” in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s claim that schools are getting better. “If the school officials can create a sense of progress, more middle-class families will choose to send their children to public schools, morale among students and teachers will improve, and scores will probably go up even more,” the Sun writes.

By on May 24, 2007, 6:46 am
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Thursday's NYC Editorials

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Community Board 6 Overhaul
May 23rd, 2007

Nine members of Brooklyns Community Board 6 were not reappointed to another two-year term, apparently because they voted against the Atlantic Yards project.

Theoverhaul of the community board, which the blog Gowanus Lounge has dubbed the Atlantic Yards Massacre was carried out by Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council Members David Yassky and Bill de Blasio.

The Atlantic Yards Report blog, written by Norman Oder, says there is irony in action. Many of the members, he says, are not flamethrowers, but “participated in numerous meetings of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, cordially raising some worthy questions.”

The Brownstonercalls the action”an embarrassment.”

Still, the New York Observer Real Estate blog says that “the blood-letting was not as great as some had expected or feared.”

By on May 23, 2007, 9:19 am
In category: Community Development,Land Use | 1 Comment »

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What They Are Saying This Morning
May 23rd, 2007

The New York Times supports the construction of a new train station to replace the dreary Penn Station even though it means moving Madison Square Garden one block west. “It is hard to imagine a real sports fan or music lover being put off by an extra hundred or so yards,” the Times writes.

The Daily News continues its campaign against the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which it says has brought the NYPD to the brink of curtailing the department’s most effective crimefighting program.

The New York Sun uses some editorial space to welcome sailors in town for the 20th annual Fleet Week. “It is the least New Yorkers can do to express our gratitude to the sailors who are doing their part not only to help keep us all safe from another September 11 but to protect fledgling democracies in Iran and Afghanistan,” the Sun writes.

By on May 23, 2007, 7:34 am
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Never Too Early to Start Campaigning...
May 22nd, 2007

…or to start following the campaign.

In 2001, term limits kicked in for the first time in New York City, ousting three-quarters of the local officials. The next big turn-over will be in 2009, and political consultant Jerry Skurnik who writes on the blog Room 8 is trying to compile a list of City Council hopefuls.

“Eight years ago when the situation was similar I had already heard enough gossip and rumors and read press reports that I had compiled a list of many potential candidates for the open Council seats,” Skurnik writes. “That has not happened yet this time…I find this surprising because I would think that with the number of blogs concerning local politics more information like this would be public.”

By on May 22, 2007, 2:07 pm
In category: Governing | Comments Off on Never Too Early to Start Campaigning...

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Tuesday's Editorial Pages
May 22nd, 2007

The New York Times says that former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani failed to protect rescue and clean-up workers after the terrorist attacks of September 11. “As more and more workers who inhaled the dust at ground zero fall ill, it has become increasingly clear that much of the problem can be traced to the Giuliani administrations failure to insist that all emergency personnel and construction workers at the site wear respirators,” the Times writes.

The Daily News blasts the justice department lawsuit against the city, which charges that a written exam for the Fire Department unfairly screened out minority applicants. “New Yorkers don’t give a damn about the races, creeds or colors of firefighters who rush into burning buildings,” the Daily News writes.

The New York Post says the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association – not the collective bargaining process – is to blame for the low pay for rookie police officers.

By on May 22, 2007, 7:23 am
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What They're Saying
May 21st, 2007

Surveying record prices for artworks and condominiums, a booming stock market, low unemployment and budget surpluses, the Sun gets giddy. The wealth and energy of the city at this moment has a way of benefiting all New Yorkers, infusing the city with a vibrancy and dynamism and sense of optimism that is becoming its trademark, its editorial crows.

Well maybe not everyone. In its city editorial this week, the Times notes that the men and women of the citys police department continue to collect the stingiest paycheck around, with recruits making a mere $25,100. The editorial urges the police union and the Bloomberg administration to stop whining and finally fix police pay before the city pays a higher price from falling morale and force strength.

And surprise the Post goes after Governor Eliot Spitzer, this time for wanting businesses to have insurance to cover paid family leave for workers. Not only is this another tax on the beleaguered private sector in the Posts view, but it serves as an indication that Spitzer wants New York to resemble France. Non, non, non, cher Eliot!

By on May 21, 2007, 7:31 am
In category: Albany,Crime & Safety,Economy,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Kahlil Gibran (Continued)
May 20th, 2007

The outpouring of vitriol that greeted plans for the Kahlil Gibran Academy, a public school focusing on Arabic language, culture and history did not surprise its founding principal, Debbie Almontaser. But, writing in the News, she describes fears that the schools will be some kind of Islamist training ground unfounded and unfair. Instead, Almontaser writes, the school, set to open next fall, will offer a Regents-based curriculum enhanced by intensive instruction in Arabic and the study of Middle Eastern history and culture. In doing so, she believes, the school can strengthen and unify the city.Students will graduate emulating Khalil Gibran’s quote, ‘The universe is my country and the human family is my tribe.'”

But notes education historian Diane Ravitch thinks the school would be a mistake.” Also writing in the News (her comentaryappeared lastweek), she said it violates the very purpose of public education, which is to teach the ideas, traditions, values, knowledge and skills that young people need to become productive members of American society. While the U.S. needs more people who can read and speak Arabic, Ravitch said thatis an argument for more Arabic class not a reason to create a school that is centered entirely on Arabic studies.

Other debate is less high-minded, with bloggers still seeing the small Brooklyn school as a madrasah that could topple civilization, as we know it.

By on May 20, 2007, 2:50 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Education,Gotham City | Comments Off on Kahlil Gibran (Continued)

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A Green Airport
May 18th, 2007

New York may hope to make itself a beacon for environmental friendliness but Kennedy Airport does not offer traveler a green welcome, Barry Popik writes on Room 8. Traveling through the airport, Popik said he noticed a roof; it was not a green roof or a roof of solar panels, just a pretty bad and ugly roof. And while a “Kennedy airport welcome” may be an oxymoron, “green airport” is not. Popik cites other cities, including one in Uganda, that are making their airport more environmentally friendly. Theres even a green airports web site.

For more ideas on how to make New York more environmentally friendly, see Gotham Gazettes Debating a Greener Future.

By on May 18, 2007, 11:54 am
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Gotham Gazette the Place for Politics and Policy

Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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