Archive for March, 2008
Recent Posts
NYC Blogs
Click here for a list of NYC blogs
Newsfeeds
Search This Blog

Council Approves Congestion Pricing
March 31st, 2008

In a clear victory for the Bloomberg administration’s congestion pricing plan, the City Council approved a home rule message clearing the way for the measure to be officially taken up in Albany.

The council approved it by a vote of 30 to 20. Councilmember Helen Foster was absent.

For nearly two hours, dozens of council members echoed arguments that have reverberated throughout the chamber for months. Some voiced support for mass transportation improvements, while others raised serious concerns that any capital projects by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were empty promises (Recall, the second avenue subway, some members quipped).

For the first time, some members also criticized how the policy made it to the floor of the council — that is without a compromise in Albany first. Several council members said they had been promised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that they would not have to vote on a proposal unless an agreement was arranged in Albany. That, many said, did not happen.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 31, 2008, 8:10 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Transportation | 5 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Video Differs From Police Account
March 31st, 2008

A group of around 50 protesters, mostly on bicycles, gathered in the crisp evening this Friday at Union Square for a civil liberties rally.

In the freshly fallen night, they criticized the arrest of individuals for documenting the summonsing and arrest of fellow protesters during a monthly bike ride called “Critical Mass” last year. Bicycle bells rang out in agreement at each call for prosecution for the police officers involved.

Demands for new permit rules, which currently mandate that a permit be obtained for a parade of more than fifty people, were met with cries of “Bike-lujah!” Opponents of the rule say it stifles spontaneous protests by forcing them to go through the permit application process.

Protest organizers projected onto a ripped canvas video footage of the arrests taking place, juxtaposing them with the criminal complaints filed against those arrested. Indeed, the video and the complaints were certainly different.

On the video, it shows police telling protesters filming and taking pictures to back away, which they comply with, but are then arrested anyway. In the complaints, the police allege the documentarians interfered with their activities.

The video also shows an officer, which they identify as Sgt. Timothy Horohoe, knocking a moving cyclist of his bike, and then charging him for leaving his bike in the crosswalk. Horohoe is also implicated in the other incidences as well.

After the rally, they rode off in a new Critical Mass. Despite a significant police presence, no arrests were made, and no tickets were issued.

By on March 31, 2008, 3:18 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Transportation | 4 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Baseball's Bullies
March 31st, 2008

If the dreary weather that rained out today’s opening game was not enough to dampen the spirits of Yankee fans, they might want to look at Harvey Aronton’s column in today’s Times. Even if the Yankees win on the field, they are losers at home, Aronton writes.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 31, 2008, 2:51 pm
In category: Community Development,Land Use,Parks | Comments Off on Baseball's Bullies

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Violence at Protest Over Tibet
March 28th, 2008

Protesters at the Chinese Consulate on the Upper East side scuffled with the police earlier this month, and some officers reacted by apparently striking out with their clubs. One police officer shouted at the protesters, “I’ll Kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!”

The officers were caught on grainy, shaky video (right), which was posted to Infowars.net on Tuesday.

But police officials said nobody was beaten. “Contrary to what the narrator is saying [on the video], nobody is being beaten by the police,” a police spokesman told the Daily News. “What is visible, though the video is poor quality, is people resisting arrest.”

The New York Times reported shortly after the protest that people were throwing rocks at the embassy, and windows were broken.

Protests happened all over the world, with people scaling Chinese Embassies in Austria and Paris to rip down the Chinese flag and replace it with the Tibetan flag. The marches were formed in protest to Chinese rule over Tibet. On March 14th, protests in the Tibetan capital turned violent, and 22 people have been officially reported dead. But travel is restricted by the government there, limiting the release of confirmable information.

By on March 28, 2008, 5:11 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety | Comments Off on Violence at Protest Over Tibet

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Ray Kelly: Techie
March 28th, 2008

A windowless room with a two-story video wall and a vast digital database is the nerve center of the Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center. With the center, police have access to a warehouse of data at their fingertips, providing up-to-date information with ease. The program, according to Government Technology magazine, sets the standard for the use of technology in government. As such, they have placed Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on their annual top 25 list of Doers, Dreamers and Drivers. The individuals on the list “represent the best and brightest in public-sector [information technology].”

“Kelly has continued New York’s pioneering CompStat crime-mapping strategy,” the magazine says, “but he’s also taken city law-enforcement efforts to another level, presiding over the development of New York’s Real Time Crime Center.”

The center, considered a critical tool in keeping crime low, was originally piloted in 2005 to address murder and shootings. But it was expanded in 2006 to include the addition of all police arrest records dating back to 1995, when the system also saw a number of technological improvements. The center supports over 100 detective squads and around a dozen Investigative Response Vans, and its data is available to all detectives investigating major and violent crimes including rapes, robberies, stabbings, kidnappings missing persons, and sex offenders. In his State of the City address the year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he plans to add “a comprehensive database of firearms evidence.” Soon, it will be connected to the city government’s municipal WiFi system.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 28, 2008, 11:33 am
In category: Crime & Safety,nextNY,Tech | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Hudson Yards Deal
March 27th, 2008

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s selection of Tishman Speyer to develop the 26-acre Hudson railyards is garnering mixed reviews.

At one end sits the Daily News, which sees the deal as a win-win for New York.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 27, 2008, 5:13 pm
In category: Gotham City,Land Use | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Serving Two Masters
March 26th, 2008

During his years as deputy mayor for economic development, Daniel Doctoroff spearheaded the move to bring the Olympics to New York in 2012, championed the West Side football stadium , engineered an approval process for Atlantic Yards even he admits was flawed and presided over such stalled initiatives as Moynihan Station and the development of Governor Island. But now (see below), the Conflicts of Interest Board has decided city government can’t live without him even though he’s left the (public) Bloomberg administration to run the (private) Bloomberg L.P.

But possible conflicts exist. Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 26, 2008, 11:19 am
In category: Community Development,Gotham City,Land Use | Comments Off on Serving Two Masters

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Doctoroff Remains on Boards
March 25th, 2008

The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board has just confirmed former deputy mayor for economic development turned president of Bloomberg L.P. can continue to sit on both the boards of the Governor’s Island Preservation and Education Corporation and the Hudson River Park Trust.

Daniel Doctoroff was also granted a waiver to remain as a consultant on some of the major development projects he has spearheaded, including Moynihan Station, PlaNYC 2030 and Queens West.

The board had confirmed some of this in December when Doctoroff announced he would be leaving Bloomberg’s administration for Bloomberg’s mega-company. The supplemental opinion confirmed that he could also sit on several boards because they are uncompensated positions and also that he could continue to act as a consultant, as long as he recused himself from certain real estate negotiations at Bloomberg L.P.

For the full text of the opinion, go here.

By on March 25, 2008, 1:22 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Land Use,Law | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


A Congested Council Chamber (Update)
March 25th, 2008

For about 12 hours yesterday, members of the City Council questioned, berated and at times applauded both foes and supporters of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan (Even at 7 p.m. last night — the hearing went for three hours beyond that — the council chamber was packed with a standing room only crowd).

Could all that now go to waste?

City officials said the City Council would not consider a home rule message at tomorrow – Wednesday’s – stated meeting. Instead, officials confirmed, the council will wait until a compromise is hashed out in the capital.

Right now, there is legislation in the Senate, but nothing is mirrored in the Assembly.

In order for the council to approve a home rule message, otherwise known as a state legislative request, they need a bill number, said city officials. Therefore, they argue, they need a final compromise upstate before they can draft anything permanent downstate.

This all means congestion pricing, like so many other major proposals in the city, is subject to the whim of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and we may never know where some legislators stand on the proposal.

Update: We just checked with Silver’s office, following up on some of the questions we asked them last week. The only comment we got from his spokesperson Dan Weiler was that there was no bill introduced in the Assembly. Weiler could not elaborate on whether there would ever be one either.

By on March 25, 2008, 12:07 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Law,Transportation | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Crowd Sourcing Congestion Pricing
March 25th, 2008

WNYC’s Brian Leher show is trying the “wisdom of crowds” approach to the congestion pricing debate. He is asking listeners to pour overthe entire 41-page bill proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and parse the details on their message board. Today, the program also offers online interviewswith Michael O’Loughlin, director of the Campaign for New York’s Future, and Aaron Naparstek, the editor of Streetsblog. Both are proponents of the mayor’s plan.

Also a new pollfinds that New York state residents oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing plan, but would back the proposal if they believed the money would, as pledged, be used to improve mass transit.

For more on congestion pricing, read Gotham Gazette’s article on the latest developments in the plan and the upcoming vote by the City Council.

By on March 25, 2008, 11:17 am
In category: Environment,Transportation | Comments Off on Crowd Sourcing Congestion Pricing

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Taking the E-Z Way Out
March 24th, 2008

Correction: The people who run E-ZPass tell us that we (and apparently Transportation Commissioner JanetteSadik-Khan) are wrong about E-ZPass requirements. They say customers can use cash to get an E-ZPass at one of three walk-in centers in Queens, Staten Island and Yonkers. For more information, they advise going to “Frequently Asked Questions” on the MTA Website, visit E-ZPass, or call 1-800-333-TOLL (8655). This item now reflects that correction.

(More from the City Council’s hearing on congestion pricing.)

While experts debate how much a congestion fee would cut traffic and air pollution, one thing does seem certain: It will boost EZ-Pass usage. Under the plan, users of the pass pay a congestion fee of $8, while those without the electronic passes would pay $9. And while the E-ZPpass users have the fee deducted from the money in their account, those without the passes will have to figure out how to pay — and pay quickly The bill carries a $65 fine for anyone who does not pay a congestion charge within 48 hours of incurring it.

For now its not clear where or how they would pay the fee, though Rit Aggarwala of the mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning said the city will “set up a wide spread of opportunities,” including Internet payment, telephones payments and locations in existing stores.

The city wants pepole to get E-ZPasses. But whatever the merits of the E-ZPass, the preferential treatment given those who have them raises concerns about equity since occasional and low-income drivers may be less likely to have the electronic tags than more affluent drivers.

This worries a congestion pricing advocate who asked to remain anonymous. While opponents of congestion pricing have often charged the tax is another burden on the poor, proponents tend to dismiss this, arguing thatnot very many poor people can afford a car, gas and Manhattan parking fees. But the advocate said, “This $9 charge is the first time that people who said they are concerned about the impact on lower-income drivers of New York have an arguments on the merits because people who do not have an E-ZPass will pay an extra $1.

And given the confusion about whether to pay that extra dollar, many will probably rack up a lot of these $65 fees as well.

(For more on congestion pricing see Gotham Gazette’s “Breaking the Gridlock on Congestion Pricing” and The Council and Congestion Pricing:Part II.)

By on March 24, 2008, 9:06 pm
In category: Environment,Public Finance,Transportation | 5 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Jersey Inequity
March 24th, 2008

(More from today’s City Council hearing on congestion pricing.)

If anything rankles politicians in one jurisdiction, it’s thinking that people in a neighboring jurisdiction are getting a free ride — at the expense of their constituents. So it is with what’s been called the “Jersey Inequity.” Because the congestion pricing proposal before the legislature subtracts tolls from the congestion fee — and sets the maximum that someone would pay to enter Manhattan at $8 a day — many people who cross the Hudson River will essentially get a free ride. The peak toll on those crossings is $8. To add to the frustration, the tolls collected go to the Port Authority — and not mass transit improvements.

Rit Aggarwala, director of the mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning, told the City Council that New Jersey commuters without E-ZPass would pay the entire congestion fee and those who pay the $6 off-peak bridge or tunnel toll, would still have to shell out a $2 congestion fee. But he conceded about one-third of Jersey commuters would escape the congestion charge entirely.

In a statement last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg indicated the city would be amenable to solving this problem. Many city transportation advocates want to see it addressed as well. But at the hearing, Sadik-Khan seemed to back-pedal, telling council members it might be illegal for the city to have one fee for people coming from, say, Queens and another for people crossing the Hudson.

Expressing frustration, Councilmember Jessica Lappin said the administration had not been consistent in telling council members what the legal issue was.

But Aggarwala indicated the law might not be the only sticking point. “The other is a policy question of whether any special treatment is a good idea,” he said.

Lappin continued to press, adding, “Every other piece of the plan is behavior driven and this is not.”

(For more on congestion pricing see Gotham Gazette’s “Breaking the Gridlock on Congestion Pricing” and The Council and Congestion Pricing:Part II.)

By on March 24, 2008, 8:02 pm
In category: Environment,Public Finance,Transportation | 4 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Transit Lock Box
March 24th, 2008

Can you trust City Hall? The state? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority?

That emerged as the number one issues at this morning’s hearings on congestion pricing. Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said over and over again that the $354 million in federal transportation aid that the city stands to get if it enacts congestion pricing will go toward transit improvements before the city even begins to charge people for driving into Manhattan south of 60th Street on weekdays. This includes 367 new buses, she said, to be placed on 33 existing lines and 12 new routes.

And she said, once the system goes into effect, all revenues from the tolls would go to expand the transit system or bring it up to state of good repair.

Many council members liked the improvements– “that’s a Tish James list,” said Councilmember Letitia James referring to a section in Sadik-Khan’s written testimony outlining improvements for Brooklyn. But they wondered if it all will come to fruition.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 24, 2008, 6:58 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Transportation | Comments Off on The Transit Lock Box

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Here Comes Congestion... Pricing
March 24th, 2008

Another point for the Bloomberg administration.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has introduced legislation that implements the mayor’s revised congestion pricing plan – which has now been reworked by the congestion pricing commission and other state leaders.

The introduction comes with a ticking clock — the deadline to approve a plan by the State Legislature and the City Council is in about two weeks.

Even so, the mayor as of late has quickly rounded up a few victories, Bruno’s introduction being the most recent following the governor’s endorsement on Friday.

There is a long road ahead though — most notably the State Assembly and the City Council where support has been tepid. Today the council is holding a marathon oversight hearing on the plan. Stay tuned for an update later today. Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 24, 2008, 1:18 pm
In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Paterson Backs Congestion Pricing
March 21st, 2008

In the first major policy decision of his very young administration, Gov. David Paterson has announced his support for congestion pricing and come up with a bill to move the controversial plan forward. Calling the governor’s decision “tremendously helpful,” Michael OLoughlin, director of the Campaign for New Yorks Future, a coalition backing congestion pricing, said the bill would “give people something to work with” as they seek to win City Council and the State Legislature approval for charging people to drive in parts of Manhattan on weekdays.

In a statement, Paterson said he was taking this action because “congestion pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of New York City and its suburbs: the need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution and global warming; and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvements.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed Paterson for having “demonstrated true leadership” by proposing the bill. Bloomberg’s statement also indicated a willingness on his part to work to resolve two nettlesome issues: the fee to be charged drivers from New Jersey and the fee’s effect on low income New Yorkers.

The debate will continue next week with City Council planning a day of hearings Monday on congestion pricing. Also on Monday, Gotham Gazette will provide more detailed coverage of the issues and politics of congestion pricing.

By on March 21, 2008, 4:18 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Transportation | 4 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Arts Education Debate Continues
March 21st, 2008

Two and a half years ago, Sharon Dunn, the newly installed head of arts education at the Department of Education, sat in front of the City Council unable to offer an idea of how many schools offer arts programs.

Earlier this month, the Bloomberg Administration caught up to speed and issued its first report card on the arts in schools. But the findings were not positive: Only four percent of elementary schools meet the state’s arts education requirements.

Arts advocates were quick to criticize the administration, according to the New York Times, and some even said that the $150,000 spent on the report could have been used for arts programs.

But at least one group now says that although the numbers are deplorable, “the Department of Education deserves credit for acknowledging this in its new report and has pledged to improve that performance.”
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 21, 2008, 12:05 pm
In category: Arts,Education | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Spitzer Caught by Law Intended to Catch Terrorists
March 20th, 2008

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s outing as a john was the result of the Patriot Act and the case serves as an example of how laws have unintended results once on the books, writes Newsweek. Provisions in the act that require banks to report suspicious activities to the government were originally intended to catch terrorists, but were expanded to include corrupt politicians and white collar criminals. Now, the number of reports on suspicious activities has exploded.

“Terrorism has virtually nothing to do with it,” Peter Djinis, a former top Treasury lawyer, told Newsweek.

Click here to read the whole article.

By on March 20, 2008, 3:57 pm
In category: Crime & Safety | Comments Off on Spitzer Caught by Law Intended to Catch Terrorists

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Congestion Legislation Emerges
March 19th, 2008

The Daily Politics is reporting that congestion pricing legislation has emerged in Albany, though members of the City Council have yet to get their hands on it.

Though both the State Legislature and the City Council must approve a congestion pricing plan, the council must approve its home rule message first — so the issue can be taken up in Albany. (The home rule message is standard and done whenever the state decides an issue that treads on the city’s turf.)

The council just released the following (a reference to any legislation is noticeably absent):
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 19, 2008, 3:20 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Law,Transportation | 4 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Congestion Deadline Delayed
March 19th, 2008

So the solid, drop-dead congestion pricing deadline has changed — again.

What was supposed to be a do or die date of March 31 is actually the first week in April, according to the federal Department of Transportation. The department has reportedly determined that the legislature would have to approve a plan 90 days after the start of the legislative session, which is April 7.

(This is the second time the Bloomberg administration has switched the date. The first was before the state legislature approved the formation of a commission to study the proposal last year.)
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 19, 2008, 2:40 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Law,Transportation | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


JPMorgan Out of World Trade Center Rebuilding
March 18th, 2008

JPMorgan Chase’s plans to build a new skyscraper at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan have reportedly been sidetracked by the debt crisis. Yesterday, JPMorgan moved to purchase the ailing Bear Sterns for $2 a share, and the firm says it willrelocate its employees to the Stearn’s midtown buildingrather than constructing a new $2.2 billion building downtown. A JPMorgan spokesman told the Associated Press that the company may still build in lower Manhattan at some point in the future and talks were continuing with the Port Authority.

Goldman Sachs, which is currently building its own skyscraper at the site, also had its share of rough news: the company’s profits are down 53 percent. But the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo doesnt think JPMorgan’s pullout is all bad for the downtown real estate market or even the Port Authority.

By on March 18, 2008, 3:33 pm
In category: Land Use | Comments Off on JPMorgan Out of World Trade Center Rebuilding

| 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