Archive for November, 2007
Recent Posts
NYC Blogs
Click here for a list of NYC blogs
Newsfeeds
Search This Blog

The News, Via a Cell Phone
November 30th, 2007

Nowadays, that person sitting on the bench next to you engrossed in their cellphone screen is more likely than ever to be watching videos or reading a newspaper. This is especially true now, with AT&T’s announcement this week (via CenterNetworks) of their expansion of broadband cell phone service in Brooklyn, Queens and Northern New Jersey. 200 new cell sites will offer high speed, third generation technology, or 3G, joining downtown Manhattan and the airports, which have enjoyed the technology since June last year. Users will need to subscribe to a plan to use the new technology, and they must have compatible phones. (The iPhone is not compatible, by the way.) While users can enter any web address, not all sites are formatted for mobile phones. Verizon, the national leader in 3G technology, has offered the service here since 2005. Maybe one day soon the person on the bus next to you will be reading the Eye Opener mobile edition?

By on November 30, 2007, 10:48 am
In category: nextNY,Tech | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Newsweek's Metro Section
November 30th, 2007

The recent edition of Newsweek might as well be called the New York City edition. The national magazine ran three articles this week that featured New York City prominently. An article on school reform spent half its space writing about about how Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking on the teachers’ union. Another lays out for the rest of the country the plans of Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to market the desirability of school to kids. And an article discussing the positive affects immigration can have on crime reduction constantly refers back to our humble city. Maybe they’ll start a Metro section.

By on November 30, 2007, 9:09 am
In category: Crime & Safety,Education,Immigrants | Comments Off on Newsweek's Metro Section

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Low Grade for High Performance
November 29th, 2007

It has been almost a month since the Department of Education released its report cards for public schools, but the grades and the methods of determining them continue to come under attack. Writing in the Sun today, Jackie Bennett, a high school teacher and blogger, assails the low grade for high performing schools, particularly P.S. 35 on Staten Island, which got an F even though its students, many of whom are low-income, have high test scores.

The problem, though, is not so much the score itself but what will come next. The education department “says something is rotten here, and my gloomy guess is they will want to set it right,” Bennett says. “Like all failing schools, P.S. 35 must create an action plan for change. Rather than seeing its strong culture and curriculum flourish citywide, we are more likely to see it snuffed out.”

For more critiques of the report cards, see “How Testing Fails the Arts,” by Richard Kessler and “Why Parents are Confused,” by David Bloomfield.

By on November 29, 2007, 8:48 am
In category: Education,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Middle Child of Rezoning: 125th Street
November 28th, 2007

In the midst of the City Planning Commission’s approval of both Columbia University’s plan and the community’s plan for the Manhattanville area of Harlem, another rezoning proposal for the area has received much less attention. The planning commission has proposed a wholesale rezoning around the famous 125th Street strip. It would affect 124th Street to 126th Street and span from Broadway to Second Avenue in an attempt to foster the arts, create more housing and enhance the area’s “regional business-district character.”

In the beginning of October, the plan – over a year in the making – entered the public review period. While it has garnered a warm welcoming, it is not without its critics. 125th Street is going to be a larger mess tomorrow than it is today. City Planning has got to realize that planning is about more than rezoning, Community Board 9 member Walter South told the Columbia Spectator this week.

Many of those involved have all praised the commission’s goal of fostering the arts by creating a cultural district for the area. But many are concerned the plan doesn’t go far enough. Both Community Board 9 and the Municipal Arts Society have lamented the plan’s lack of connection to the waterfront. Community Board 10 wants the cultural district to be expanded (the plan affects three boards). And all of these organizations, with the addition of Community Board 11, are concerned that the plan doesn’t have enough affordable housing. The plan estimates that 500 of the expected 2,500 apartments created will be affordable. But the Municipal Arts Society is concerned that the incentives the commission offers may fall short of that goal, and the boards all want a higher percentage.

By on November 28, 2007, 12:31 pm
In category: Community Development,Land Use | 6 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Tell the City Where to Park It (Bikes, That Is)
November 28th, 2007

To help provide the Department of Transportation with a handle on bicyclist’s needs, a new website is mapping riders suggestions for where they could install bike racks (via Bike Blog). The Now You Choose Bike Parking Survey site, created by two bike enthusiasts at Hunter College, distributes a survey that asks where riders could use a place to lock up, then plots them in a Google map and posts them online. It also maps out where existing outdoor racks and indoor bicycle parking is currently available. By far the loneliest map they’ve created shows the seven publicly available sheltered parking locations. (The Transportation Department is already catching on to this particular need, however, and recently announced the first publicly funded bike shelters slated for 37 transportation hubs citywide.) The survey distributors plan to publish an interim report this month, but have yet to do so. So there’s still time for those of you inclined to participate in this sort of project.

By on November 28, 2007, 10:26 am
In category: Transportation | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Former Commissioner Fined for Atlantic Yards Connection (UPDATED)
November 27th, 2007

The former Brooklyn-appointed member of the City Planning Commission has been fined $4,000 for voting in favor of the Downtown Brooklyn Project in 2004, which she was slated to gain financially from.

According to a deposition released by the Conflicts of Interest Board today, Dolly Williams, who has served as a commissioner since 2003 and announced she would leave the board last month, voted in favor of the project while she was simultaneously becoming an investor in the New Jersey Nets – who will move to Brooklyn as part of the major downtown development, Atlantic Yards.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 27, 2007, 4:48 pm
In category: Gotham City,Housing,Land Use,Law | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


A Sticky Garbage Situation
November 27th, 2007

Managing the citys garbage is and most likely will always be a sticky issue, literally and arbitrarily. That, some city leaders have said, is summed up in our new interactive feature, The Garbage Game, which was released earlier this month.

Since it was posted on our site pre-holiday, we have gotten some comments from waste management and political leaders or an outright refusal to even play.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 27, 2007, 9:59 am
In category: Economy,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Land Use,Parks | Comments Off on A Sticky Garbage Situation

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Too Many Kindergarteners
November 26th, 2007

Some of the citys most esteemed elementary schools may be losing their edge. The culprit? Too many students.

With apartment buildings rising throughout the city, nearby schools are overflowing. “In every neighborhood with a beloved school, classrooms are stuffedthe burden and blessing of a city whose residents no longer bolt for the suburbs when the kids are born,” S. Jhoanna Robledo writes in New York Magazine.

The Department of Education deserves part of the blame, the article says. The department has a rather Byzantine formula for figuring which schools are overtaxed. Further its projections of future enrollments have been riddled with errors, with the school systems planners often oblivious to development. According to Robledo, the department somehow did not notice the construction of 32 buildings in P.S. 116s area on the East Side. Even when the department sees a problem, it can take the School Construction Authority years to address it.

But part of the problem is the way New York does development. While some states and cities apparently require developers to pay an impact fee, some of which can go to new schools, in New York, developers build and reap profits while elementary school kids pay the price.

By on November 26, 2007, 11:21 am
In category: Community Development,Education,Land Use | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Mixed Reviews for the Fare Plan
November 21st, 2007

Not surprisingly, the Daily News, which mounted a campaign to stop the increase in subway and bus fares, cheers Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s announcement yesterday that the $2 base fare would remain through 2009. “Bully,” the paper says — repeatedly. At the same time, though, the News writes, Albany must ante up more money to aid the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and keep fares down in the future.

The Times agrees and goes one better — it wants the city to increase its aid too. Apparently oblivious to the fact that Michael Bloomberg has been mayor for almost six years, the paper writes, “The city and state have unconscionably underfinanced mass transit for years, a legacy of Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.” Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 21, 2007, 8:42 am
In category: Albany,Gotham City,Public Finance,Transportation | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Showdown on Guns
November 20th, 2007

The Supreme Court has just agreed to rule on a case that could have major implications for New Yorks strict gun control laws and for Mayor Michael Bloombergs crusade against firearms on city streets. The case in question hinges on whether Washington, D.C.s ban on handguns violates the Constitutions Second Amendment. (Thats the one reading, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”) Taking on the case, the Washington Post writes, will put the justices at the center of the controversy over the meaning of the Second Amendment for the first time in nearly 70 years and could have broad implications for gun-control measures locally and across the country.

For more on this case, see Gun Laws Confront Legal Challenges by Emily Jane Goodman in Gotham Gazette.

By on November 20, 2007, 2:04 pm
In category: Crime & Safety,Law | Comments Off on Showdown on Guns

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Real Estate Meets Facebook with Geography Based Social Networking
November 20th, 2007

A lot of people are moving into the buildings arising from the soaring pace of residential construction throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. But most of them will know nothing about their neighbors as they move into the giant high rises that have been criticized as “vertical suburbs.” It was here that Matthew Goldstein realized there was a role that needed to be filled.

“People have a tendency to feel very uprooted and are afraid to go to people’s doors” when they move, he said. So, in attempt to foster a sense of community within large buildings, Goldstein created the social networking site LifeAt.

LifeAt offers the residents of hundreds of buildings around the city a password protected site where they can create personal profiles, talk with neighbors, post classifieds, and discover and discuss local services.

At 866 Eastern Parkway, a mixed use building with 57 condo units in a Hasidic enclave of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, 35 residents have created profiles and use the network. They have publicly used the site to try and organize halloween parties, set up an art class, discuss concerns about where dog owners bring their pets to do their deeds, and engage in light flirting. (It also seems that quite a few residents have an addiction to the Nintendo Wii game console.) The building’s management uses the site to post news about the building.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 20, 2007, 10:05 am
In category: Community Development,Housing,nextNY,Tech | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Grind that Garbage
November 19th, 2007

The people at Neighborhood Retail Alliance have played Gotham Gazettes Garbage Game, and they object to the games alternative for food waste. The game provides the player with three options: Throw it in the trash, sort it for composting by the city (a service New York does not provide but other cities do) or compost it yourself. This will go over real well on the East Side in the multi-million dollar co-ops, and in the housing projects of the South Bronx where the residents see quite enough wild life, than you very much, the retail blog writes.

Instead, the alliance thinks New Yorkers should put their food waste down the drain to be ground up by a disposal and then go into the sewage system. This was not an option in the game, in part because New Yorks sewer system is already overburdened, and garbage disposals seem to have made little dent in the five boroughs. (It could also reflect at least one GG staff members childhood memories of clogged disposals and the nightly post-dinner racket as the grinder tried to do something with potato peels, chicken bones and the occasional stray fork.)

What do you think? Should we have included garbage grinders as an option? Were there other alternatives we should have considered? Play the game and let us know.

By on November 19, 2007, 1:10 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Tech | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Walking While Black
November 19th, 2007

Heres a thought-provoking statistic from yesterdays New York Times City. Donna Lieberman and Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union analyzed stop and frisk statistics released by the police department earlier this month. They found stops of white New Yorkers amounted to 2.6 percent of the citys white population. But for blacks, the number of stops was equivalent to 21.1 percent of the population. Since the police probably stop few elderly black women or very young children, the effect of police actions on one part of the population presumably young black males becomes glaringly apparent.

For both groups the overwhelming majority of stops about 89 percent did not result in an arrest.

(To view Andy Pressmans entire graphic with the data, click here.)

By on November 19, 2007, 12:47 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Demographics | 6 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Fight to Make City Build Watershed Filtration Plant
November 16th, 2007

A lawsuit that could cost the city billions of dollars gained momentum this week, according to the Kingston Daily Freeman (via Eco Politics). Lawmakers in Greene County are considering granting $25,000 to the Coalition of Watershed Towns, which represents dozens of localities in the Catskills in their fight to make the City of New York build a costly filtration system for its water source. A bill to provide the money passed the county Legislature’s Conservation Committee on Wednesday.

In August, the federal Environmental Protection Agency decided that a filtration system, estimated to cost up to $8 billion, was not needed for New York City’s upstate water supply. The water is so clean, the agency decided, that the costly system need not be installed for at least another decade.

But in order to keep its watershed clean, the city must buy up property surrounding it to ward off development. Locals have complained that the land purchases are driving real estate prices up to unmanageable levels. So they sued to get the waiver revoked.

By on November 16, 2007, 10:36 am
In category: Environment | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Curbed Takes on the World (of Red Hook)
November 16th, 2007

The Curbed Empire descended on Red Hook yesterday to find out whether the neighborhood is really “degentrifying,” as suggested by a recent New York Magazine article. Keeping in mind how the media can affect the real estate market (and how real estate can affect the media?), they went searching for signs of gentrified life. In between being funny and posting listings for the neighborhood, they point out some anecdotes to describe the quality of life there.

They find popular cobblestone streets being ripped up for a new and controversial Ikea; observe an undependable water shuttle; and take a look at a new space for art galleries. But in its defining moment, they uncover the indisputable evidence of gentrification: baby strollers and “sophisticated hipsters.” The series also takes a look at the history of the area and its recent travails.

So, what’s the verdict? You be the judge.

By on November 16, 2007, 9:12 am
In category: Community Development,Economy | Comments Off on Curbed Takes on the World (of Red Hook)

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Tragedy Revisited
November 15th, 2007

For members of the City Council, this week’s fatal shooting in Bedford-Stuyvesant not only triggered painful memories – this month marks the year anniversary of the shooting of Sean Bell– but also the need for the city to examine its treatment of the mentally handicapped and mentally ill.

Several council members, from Councilmember Al Vann of Brooklyn to Councilmember Oliver Koppell of the Bronx to Councilmember Rosie Mendez of Manhattan, stood on the chamber floor during the body’s stated meeting calling for a system that better responds to the mentally ill as well as for a better response from the New York City Police Department during emergencies.

“We are seeing situations where police are supposed to deescalate the situation, and they instead escalate them,” said Mendez.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 15, 2007, 5:58 pm
In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Bracing for a Cold and Expensive Winter
November 15th, 2007

As New Yorkers begin bracing for winter chills, they may need to start bracing for heating cost shocks as well. According to a report released by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer last week, average heating bills are expected to rise between 7 and 20 percent, leaving residents here with up to $400 bills for oil and $100 for gas. The senator also cited numbers that projected New York City residents will pay $597 million more on heating costs this winter than last year.

To help people here cope with such extraordinary costs, Schumer called for the release of $150 million in federal assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program contingency fund.

New York State receives and distributes the most of these grants in the nation with over $233 million in grants being authorized across the state last year. Over $32 million of that was authorized for about 466,000 households in the city.

But the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a national research group, found that in the face of rising costs, almost 208,000 fewer New Yorkers will receive grants this year under President George W. Bushs budget request (via the PULP blog).

New Yorkers that are eligible for the grants are automatically eligible for a weatherization program from the state Division of Housing & Community Renewal. The program improves the energy efficiency of a home by offering such services as caulking and weatherstripping, cleaning or repairing heating systems, and adding insulation, among other things.

By on November 15, 2007, 10:49 am
In category: Social Services | Comments Off on Bracing for a Cold and Expensive Winter

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Playing with Garbage
November 14th, 2007

The move by several Manhattan members of the State Assembly to block a recycling station on the Gansevoort peninsula and so derail Mayor Michael Bloombergs solid waste management plan serves as a reminder that garbage in New York is an issue that never goes away. It just keeps piling up.

How would you solve the problem? Gotham Gazette has just released The Garbage Game, which lets you decide what the city should do. How much will you recycle? Will you cave in to NIMBYism? Would you truck waste across the riveror ship it across oceans?

Well be compiling results and relaying them to the powers that be at City Hall. So play the game and comment here to let us know what you think.

By on November 14, 2007, 2:47 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Land Use | Comments Off on Playing with Garbage

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Council's Complaint Service
November 13th, 2007

Most council members still use paper to keep constituent records.

Now, Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants to shred it.

Quinn, along with several other members, rolled out the latest transparency initiative this morning intended to provide more effective constituent service by measuring and tracking complaints through a citywide database – CouncilStat .

CouncilStat, which was first announced by the speaker in 2006, will centralize all calls, requests and complaints made to individual council members’ offices and create a mega-database for the governing body to track trends.

Sound a little too technical? Well, members contend the system will catapult their constituent service into the 21st century and make it easier to spot issues that are affecting residents citywide.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 13, 2007, 2:21 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on The Council's Complaint Service

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Scrubbing Dirty Politics Clean
November 9th, 2007

Sure, some might argue that a push for campaign finance reform started the battle between Gov. Elliot Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. But that doesn’t mean a nationwide campaign next week for publicly funded elections, or “Clean Elections,” should skip over New York.

“We can see it more clearly here than in other states as to how campaign contributions affect the decisions our leaders make,” said Jessica Wisneski of Citizen Action, who is leading the statewide effort here. In New York, a candidate running for an Assembly seat can raise almost twice as much as a candidate for United States Senate.

Citizen Action sees Clean Elections as the way to insulate officials from the influence of donations from special interests. The proposal would provide full public funding for candidates who choose to refuse private contributions and agree to spending limits. To qualify, they would need to raise a certain number of $5 contributions from their prospective constituents.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 9, 2007, 3:55 pm
In category: Albany,Governing | Comments Off on Scrubbing Dirty Politics Clean

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


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.

RSS Feed