Archive for March, 2008

Gallagher Resigns
March 17th, 2008

Who wouldnt want to bring in spring with another special election?

Well, voters of the 30th City Council District don’t get a choice. As of April 18, Councilmember Dennis Gallagher will no longer represent the 30th district, because he is resigning as part of a plea bargain on rape charges from last year. Thats the second official resignation — the first being Gov. Eliot Spitzer — in less than a week.

It is now up to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call a special election.

Gallagher’s statement, which is available in full here, reads:

On Sunday, July 8, 2007, while I was intoxicated, I intentionally and forcibly touched intimate parts of the complainant and subjected her to sexual contact without her consent. My conduct was wrong and I apologize to the complainant. I intend to continue treatment for my alcohol abuse and also announce my resignation as a member of the New York City Council, effective close of business on Friday, April 18, 2008.

By on March 17, 2008, 4:03 pm
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Sworn In
March 17th, 2008

It’s official. Almost one week to the minute after it became known that now former Gov. Eliot Spitzer had patronized a high priced call girl ring, David Paterson has replaced him.

Although Paterson reportedly called this a swearing in — apparently to eschew the celebratory atmosphere of an inauguration — many dignitaries attended the ceremony and Paterson in a jovial way recognized many politicians and family members on hand. The homorous tone,one of Paterson’s hallmarks, continued in the address itself, prompting NPRs Leonard Lopate to call it “the funniest inaugural speech.”

Paterson did, however, make a few serious points, stressing the precarious state of the economy, the impending April 1 budget deadline and the need for a plan to put New Yorkers to work.

In a none too veiled dig at his combative predecessor, Paterson called for putting “power struggles aside in favor of serving the people,” and said, “What we are going to do now is what we always should have done work together.”

For more on Paterson, see this Gotham Gazette’s And Now: The Paterson Administration.

By on March 17, 2008, 1:56 pm
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Promotion Policy Redux
March 17th, 2008

Tonight the Panel on Educational Policy, the largely toothless body that has replaced the Board of Education, will get to vote on a weighty matter: whether New York City eighth graders who fail to achieve a certain level on standardized tests should go on to high school or be forced to repeat eighth grade.

The Bloomberg administration backs the benchmark, characterizing it as a fight against “social promotion.” If the policy is adopted, some 18,000 eighth graders could be left back, compared to the 1,300 retained last year, according to the Daily News.

No one says flat out that they support social promotion — letting a student advance to the next grade simply because he or she has reached a certain chronological age — but opposition exists to the latest school “reform.” Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 17, 2008, 1:42 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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Supreme Court Elections
March 14th, 2008

While most voters are focused on the presidential election (or maybe the Spitzer resignation), Judicial Reports is looking into the Supreme Court elections that will be happening across the city this coming November.

There will be four vacancies in 2008 which will be filled by voters – or party bosses, depending on your viewpoint. Three of them are in the district that covers Staten Island and Brooklyn, and the other is in Manhattan.

A number of the justices will also be reaching the age limit this year, which is 70 years old. But when a justice reaches the age limit defined by the state constitution, they can continue their duties for another six years if approved by several of their superiors. The justices’ capabilities are then reviewed every two years during that extended period.

To view fact sheets about your borough, click here and look in the left hand column.

By on March 14, 2008, 11:01 am
In category: Governing,Law | 3 Comments »

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Adding Teeth to Community-Based Plans
March 13th, 2008

The effort to put some legal weight behind the city’s community-based planning process has gained a bit of momentum. It seems that Councilmember (and mayoral candidate) Tony Avella is drafting legislation to give some teeth to them. Currently, the plans, called 197-a plans, are advisory in nature only.

Although the 197-a plans submitted to the city are generally approved, competing plans often stifle their implementation. For example, just yesterday, a developer’s plans for the East River waterfront in Manhattan were approved by a City Council committee, even though they are in conflict with the plan developed by the local community board.

“197-a has been flawed because its basically the city saying that neighborhoods can have a say in development but in fact it has no force of law,” Avella told Brownstoner, who first wrote about the upcoming bill yesterday.

The bill is the progeny of the eight year old Campaign for Community-Based Planning. The campaign is a coalition endorsed by eight council members, a dozen community boards, and even more civic organizations (including Citizens Union, the sister organization of Gotham Gazettes publisher). Their platform calls for improving the capacity of community boards to plan; ensuring that community boards’ reflect the districts they represent; and providing communities with the tools they need to implement their plans.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 13, 2008, 2:10 pm
In category: Land Use | Comments Off on Adding Teeth to Community-Based Plans

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Come Clean if You Want a Parking Placard
March 13th, 2008

Spitzer isn’t the only one who is going to have to come clean about where he’s been sleeping: New Yorkers who register their cars in North Carolina to save on insurance will find they have to chose between cheap insurance and a local parking spot if residential parking permits make it into the final congestion pricing plan.

It is no secret to New Yorkers that many cars parked on residential streets night after night are registered in other states though their owners obviously live in the city. According to a 2006 report by the State Commission of Investigation and reported by Assembly Rep Ivan Lafayette, New York City loses out on more than $275 million in revenue from uncollected fees and fines every year. In addition to the lost money from vehicle registrations and title certificates, Pennsylvania drivers alone had racked up $9,635,004.21 in unpaid parking fines by August of 2006.

(Okay, so the Spitzer bit was a cheap shot. He didn’t lie about where he was sleeping, just about who was there with him.)

By on March 13, 2008, 12:11 pm
In category: Public Finance,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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A Call to Move Forward
March 12th, 2008

Noticeably shaken by the turn of events, Council Speaker Christine Quinn expressed sorrow and disappointment over the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

While she declined to say she was disappointed in the governor personally, she said the situation and overall events were disappointing. She, like scores of other elected officials across the city, the state, and even the nation, said she sympathized with the Spitzer family and wished them the best.

“I think the governor did the right thing by resigning,” said Quinn. “I feel terrible for Mrs. Spitzer and I feel terrible for his girls.”
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 12, 2008, 4:28 pm
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Park Where You Sleep
March 12th, 2008

Its probably going to get lost in the flood of events today, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, have announced that the still-to-be-written congestion pricing bill will include some kind of plan for residential parking permits. This would give residents of a neighborhood a sticker enabling them to park on the areas streets for the entire day, while cars without the sticker would be banned from parking for part of the day.

The proposal is designed to address concerns in some areas that people from outside a given community would drive and park there and get on the subway to avoid the $8 congestion pricing fee. At a recent meeting in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, for example, people expressed little concern about paying the fee themselves. They were, however, worried that commuters from other areas would use their residential streets to park before boarding the B and Q trains.

The statement said the administration caught on to the idea used in a number of cities — following community parking workshops held between November 2007 and February 2008. One cant help but wonder whether Bloomberg et al. might have avoided some of the oppostion to congestion pricing if they had held these workshops before announcing their fee plan rather than many months later.

By on March 12, 2008, 11:57 am
In category: Environment,Transportation | Comments Off on Park Where You Sleep

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Paterson Speaks Out
March 12th, 2008

Here are a few more statements on the Spitzer resignation — one from the new, as of next Monday, governor and the other from the state’s Democratic Party.

From Lt. Gov. David Paterson:

Like all New Yorkers I am saddened by what we have learned over the past several days. On a personal level Governor Spitzer and Silda have been close and steadfast friends.

As an elected official the Governor has worked hard for the people of New York. My heart goes out to him and to his family at this difficult and painful time. I ask all New Yorkers to join Michelle and me in prayer for them. It is now time for Albany to get back to work as the people of this state expect from us.

From the New York State Democratic Party:

The New York State Democratic Party looks forward to working with Governor Paterson to move forward with an agenda for change.

Over twenty three years in public life David has distinguished himself as a bridge builder, a conciliator and a voice for progressive values. He will be a Governor for all New Yorkers and a great leader of the Democratic Party.

In the coming weeks and months we plan to work closely with him and Democrats across New York to continue to make progress on the issues that matter for working families.

Our thoughts are with the Spitzer family during this difficult time.

By on March 12, 2008, 11:37 am
In category: Albany,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Law | Comments Off on Paterson Speaks Out

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So Long Spitz
March 12th, 2008

With a seemingly distraught Silda Wall Spitzer at his side, Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned today a little over 14 months after he took the state’s top executive office.

His resignation is effective Monday — a date Spitzer said was chosen at the request of Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who will be taking over the executive post.

“I look at my time in office with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant, I, along with the remarkable people with whom I’ve worked, accomplished a great deal,” said the soon-to-be former governor this morning. “There is much more to be done, and I cannot let my private failings disrupt the people’s work.

The governor delivered a brief statement at his tightly packed Manhattan office, taking no questions and touching the small of his wife’s back as the two abruptly exited the room — and New York politics.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 12, 2008, 11:30 am
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That Was Fast
March 12th, 2008

Here is the first statement (which flew into my inbox less than 20 minutes after the announcement from the governor’s office) received on the Spitzer resignation. I’m sure there will be many, many more to come.

Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform:

We were as shocked as everyone by the news of the last few days involving Governor Spitzer. The governor was a champion for education reform and played the lead role in lifting the cap on the number of public charter schools available to New York State children.

As longtime fans of David Paterson we are extremely confident that the hard work of providing a quality education for every child in the state will not only continue, but will take on a whole new sense of appropriate urgency. Gov. Paterson is an inspiring human being, one of the smartest individuals with whom we have ever worked, and a warrior on behalf of the families who crave and need excellent public education options for their kids.

We look forward to working with the new governor to make the dreams of hardworking New York parents a reality.

By on March 12, 2008, 9:38 am
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Spitzer to Resign at 11:30 A.M.
March 12th, 2008

It’s official. Here is the story in the Times.

And this just in from Spitzer’s press office:

Wednesday, March 12

Governor Eliot Spitzer is in New York City.
11:30 AM Delivers Brief Statement
Executive Chamber Press Room
633 Third Avenue, 38th Floor
New York City
OPEN PRESS

By on March 12, 2008, 9:35 am
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Resignation Countdown?
March 12th, 2008

We know, we know, you’ve heard this a lot in the past 40 hours, WNYC is reporting Gov. Eliot Spitzer will resign, perhaps as early as this morning. They attribute the story to two top aides to the governor. The Post writes he will alert top officials of his decision soon.

Stay tuned…

By on March 12, 2008, 8:35 am
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Scandal's Silly Side
March 12th, 2008

The Spitzer scandal is serious business, certainly for government and the governor’s wife and children. But some blogs and papers have found lighter side.

Gothamist looks at the merchandise the revelations have spawned, including client 9 t-shirts and the hawking of domain names with variations of the same moniker. (Our crusading governor was, of course, was Client 9.) But, the blog said, “the product we’d like to see is an actual Client No. 9 perfume.”

The Post looks at the music Spitzer played to set the mood for his meeting with a high priced prostitute. (Classical,) Slate offers a map of Washington scandal spots, including the Mayflower hotel (where Spitzer rendez-voused with Kristen), the home where then presidential candidate Gary Hart had a dalliance with Donna Rice and much much more. And Gawker offers an astrological take (this all apparently has to do with Spitzer being a Gemini).

Then there are the jokes. New York Magazine’s Intelligencer runs down what the late night shows had on the fist night of the scandal, including Letterman’s To 10 list. The Spitzer story, Joe DeLessio said, should have given the comics “some of their best source material since Bill Clinton requested the definition of the word ‘is.'” But DeLessio found the programs came up short: “boy, were we disappointed.” Gawker disagreed. While most of the gags fell flat, it said, “David Letterman unleashed a barrage of smart jokes at the start of his monologue that are still worth watching 36 hours later:

By on March 12, 2008, 7:54 am
In category: Albany,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics | 1 Comment »

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A Spitzer Succession Line
March 10th, 2008

If Gov. Eliot Spitzer were to resign in the face of a reported connection with a prostitution ring, Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson would serve out the remainder of his entire term. That means – all based on a potential Spitzer resignation – that we would not choose an executive until 2010.

If something were to happen to Paterson, the temporary president of the Senate – in our case Joe Bruno – would be next in line.

So far, there have been several calls for Spitzer to step down, including one from Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.

A full succession explanation appears after the jump
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 10, 2008, 3:40 pm
In category: Crime & Safety,Gotham City,Governing,Law | 2 Comments »

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Governor Linked to Prostitution
March 10th, 2008

Our reform-minded governor has a connection to a prostitution ring, the New York Times is reporting.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who campaigned on a pledge to weed out the corruption that has long overgrown the capital, is allegedly named as a client in court papers filed in the arrest of four individuals connected with a costly prostitution ring, Emperors Club VIP.

According to a release from the governor’s office, he will be making a brief statement at 2:15 p.m. No word yet when that will actually happen.

This is the second scandal in less than a year for the Spitzer administration – the first being Troopergate, when administration officials sicced the State Police on Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

By on March 10, 2008, 1:55 pm
In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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Councilmembers Change Congestion Positions
March 8th, 2008

Following the Gotham Gazette’s lead, the New York Times has polled City Council members on their positions on congestion pricing. We did a poll in August and found that the majority of members were undecided – 23 to be exact.

The Times, though, did its own poll this week, and it seems many members are taking more definitive positions on the Bloomberg administration’s plan to charge drivers $8 to drive into Manhattan (The plan, which depends on federal funding, must be approved by the end of the month). We found that 13 members were against it and 10 members were for it in the summer. Since then many more members have come out against the plan — 20 to be exact. Twelve told the Times they were for it.

Some of the members that have gone from undecided to against are Joel Rivera, Peter Vallone Jr., James Gennaro, Helen Sears, Michael McMahon and James Oddo.

By on March 8, 2008, 2:14 pm
In category: Gotham City | 5 Comments »

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The City's Federal Ideological Bent [Corrected]
March 7th, 2008

The National Journal published its annual ideological ratings for Congress yesterday, which rates how liberal or conservative your representatives are. They rank officials on their voting record on key economic, social, and foreign policy issues

So Gotham Gazette took a look at the searchable database and plugged some numbers for New York City’s 13 member Congressional delegation. The result? Members of the House of Representatives that represent the city are, on average, more liberal than 79 percent of the House.

The title of most liberal in the group goes to Nydia Velazquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. She is more liberal than 90 percent of Congress. On foreign policy, she is more liberal than 96 percent.

The most conservative? Staten Island’s Vito Fossella, who is more conservative than 70 percent of his colleagues. He is more conservative than 72 percent when it comes to foreign policy.

For links to the delegation’s rankings, see below.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a House member from Long Island, was mistakenly included in the previous version of the post.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 7, 2008, 11:18 am
In category: Governing | 1 Comment »

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School Control: To Tweak or Not to Tweak?
March 6th, 2008

The state legislature has more than a year to decide whether to keep mayoral control or let it “sunset,” but the issue is already generating a lot of interest. First there was the City Council hearing on it on Monday, and this morning the New School attracted a near capacity crowd with a from on “Who Rules the Schools?”

The event opened with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s litany of all he and his patron, Mayor Michael Bloomberg have done to improve education in the city. While mayoral control does not solve all the daunting problems facing public education, notably the cavernous achievement gap, it is, Klein said, “a prerequisite for solving that problem. … You need leadership, visibility and accountability right at the top.”

No one at the discussion called for letting mayoral control go the way of dunce caps, Dick and Jane and ditto machines. But, aside from Klein, all saw room for improvement — and some want lots of it.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 6, 2008, 3:10 pm
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Geography of a Housing Plan
March 6th, 2008

The Independent Budget Office has released maps and analysis of the locations of affordable housing funded under the mayor’s plan to create or preserve 165,000 affordable units. About 61,000 have been funded so far.

In Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn, about 70 percent of the units will be preserved while the Bronx is split between construction and preservation and construction accounts for 60 percent of the units in Queens.

Most of the preserved units are clustered in Northern Manhattan and North Brooklyn while the created units are more evenly spread out amongst the city.

Manhattan has the majority of funded affordable housing with about 23,000 while the Bronx ranks second with about 20,000. The Bronx has the most low-income units with over 17,000 and Manhattan is second with over 16,000. But Manhattan has the vast majority of moderate-income units with over 2,200; about double the Bronx, which is the runner up.

To view the maps and full analysis, click here for the PDF.

By on March 6, 2008, 7:10 am
In category: Demographics,Housing | 1 Comment »

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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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