Archive for June, 2008
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Dog Bites Man at Tweed
June 30th, 2008

The thin wall — more like a tissue curtain really — that separated the New York City school’s Leadership Academy from being a public agency now has disappeared entirely.

Last week, the Department of Education announced that the privately funded, city inspired program to train people to be principals in city public schools had been awarded the city contract — yes — to train people to be principals in city public schools. Three other places bid on the contract but, according to the Sun, the department would not disclose who they were. So now the academy wil get about $10 million of public money a year to inculcante prospective principals with the ideas of former GE chief executive Jack Welsh.

The results of this process were not exactly surprising.
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By on June 30, 2008, 4:52 pm
In category: Education | 8 Comments »

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Hip Hop and Condoms
June 27th, 2008

Hip hop has been blamed for contributing to urban ills for years. It is said to promote violence, misogyny, and homophobia. And with songs like the late Old Dirty Bastard‘s ode to unprotected sex, one might also question its influence on safe sex.

As a push began this week to get every adult in the Bronx (hip hop’s birthplace) tested for HIV, and with a recent survey by the city on New Yorker’s sexual practices, the question might seem especially timely.

So, do b-boys, as hip hop’s participants are wont to be called, engage in risky behavior when it comes to sex? Not necessarily, a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health has found.
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By on June 27, 2008, 11:40 am
In category: Arts,Health | 4 Comments »

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Sticking to Their Guns
June 26th, 2008

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court that the District of Columbia’s virtual ban on handguns violates the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is being hailed as a victory for gun owners.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, was quick to see a silver lining. Although he had not yet read the decision, he told a press conference that he believes the court endorsed the group’s advocacy of “reasonable regulation,”

“My first understanding from the briefing that I got is no, it will not” have a serious impact on the city’s extensive gun regulations, Bloomberg said. New York City did file a brief supporting the D.C. law.

Some believe New York City’s gun law could be challenged, however. Many guns laws will probably stand up “under the ruling, which appears to permit licensing laws, bans on possession by felons or the mentally ill and prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons or guns in schools or government buildings,” according to Adam Liptak of the Times. But he quotes one of the winning lawyers in the case, Robert Levy, as saying “There is likely to be quite a flood of litigation to try to flesh out precisely what regulations are to be permitted and which ones are not. The challenges are likely to be in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Detroit.

Patrick Brophy, lawyer for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said his organization would be examining the ruling and how it might affect New York. “As long as a licensing system is not administered in an arbitrary and capricious way, that may be entirely permissible,” he told the Daily News. But, he continued, New York’s licensing system could faces challenges on the basis of the relatively high fees and the six-month wait for a license.

Almost as soon as the ruling came down, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association sued Chicago and its mayor in an effort to overturn that city’s handgun ban, the Chicago Tribune reports. Certainly Bloomberg’s counterpart in Chicago, Richard Daley, was nowhere near as sanguine as Bloomberg about the Supreme Court’s decision.

Calling the ruling, “very frightening,” Daley said, “Does this lead to everyone having a gun in our society. … If they [the Supreme Court] think that’s the answer, then they’re greatly mistaken. Then why don’t we do away with the court system and go back to the Old West, you have a gun and I have a gun, and we’ll settle it in the streets if that’s they’re thinking. … The rest of the world is laughing at us.”

By on June 26, 2008, 5:10 pm
In category: Crime & Safety,Law | 3 Comments »

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Budget Watch Continues (UPDATE)
June 26th, 2008

So Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s schedule this morning is centered on the city’s new aqua-exhibit, sending him zipping around the a.m. broadcasts.

But maybe he might be able to squeeze in a budget announcement later this afternoon following a courtesy visit with Nobel Laureate Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The News reports that there was a tentative compromise on cuts to the Department of Education, and the Politicker predicts a handshake could happen today or tomorrow.

Others are less optimistic.
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By on June 26, 2008, 2:10 pm
In category: Economy,Education,Gotham City,Public Finance,Social Services | 4 Comments »

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Waterfalls Flip the Switch
June 26th, 2008

Photo from nydiscovery via Creative Commons

Photo by nydiscovery and used via Creative Commons. It was taken on June 20.

On a soggy morning who would have thought the city needed even more water?

Well, we got just that.

This morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg flipped the switch on the “New York City Waterfalls” — a public art exhibit, which was privately funded, designed by Olafur Eliasson. Cascading water can be found at four East River locations, from Governors Island to Pier 35 in Manhattan. They will be on display until Oct. 13.

Similar to “The Gates” project in Central Park, the waterfalls are likely to be a tourist trap for the next several months. The city has released a brochure on the best viewing spots, and is also suggesting a ride on the Staten Island Ferry or hopping on the Circle Line for a waterfalls tour.

By on June 26, 2008, 12:21 pm
In category: Arts,Gotham City,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Garbage, Garbage Everywhere
June 25th, 2008

Several tidbits of news on the garbage front.

The first is an agreement on the reactivation of a recycling center on the Gansevoort peninsula in Hudson River Park near 14th Street. Several Manhattan-based Assembly members had been blocking its approval for more than a year — claiming the area was starved of parkland and that there were other sites more suitable for the recycling station.

According to a release by the Bloomberg administration, the Assembly, Senate, governor and mayor will enter into an agreement to identify other projects in the park that will also be funded.

We covered the issue last year here.

The station is a pillar of the mayor’s Solid Waste Management Plan, which aims to equally distribute the city’s garbage throughout the five boroughs. The center’s reactivation would move the implementation of that plan along.
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By on June 25, 2008, 4:47 pm
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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No Hotel Tax, Hotels Say
June 25th, 2008

Shocking — note: sarcasm — but the city’s hotel lobby is not too keen on raising taxes to restore cuts to the Department of Education.

A proposal to hike the hotel tax to 8 percent from 5 percent is wafting around City Hall — how much support it really has and whether or not it’s even on the negotiating table with the administration is unclear (some council members have never heard of it).

It’s discussed here in today’s Sun — it’s this tax issue and more that’s contributing to a budget impasse between the mayor and the City Council. (They need to agree by Monday — or else)

A quick call to the city’s Hotel Association shows, however, the idea is far from universally accepted.
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By on June 25, 2008, 4:12 pm
In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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After Bruno
June 24th, 2008

As the Republicans in the State Senate selected Dean Skelos of Long Island as their new leader, speculation continued about the effects of the resignation yesterday of his predecessor, longtime Majority Leader Joe Bruno. And much of that speculation involved whether New York voters, who have demonstrated some antipathy to the Republican Party of late, would flip the Senate to the Democrats in November — and thereby abruptly demote Skelos to minority leader.
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By on June 24, 2008, 6:29 pm
In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Governing | Comments Off on After Bruno

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Tuesday's Editorial Roundup
June 24th, 2008

The New York Times says that the police department should put strict conditions how Taser guns are used in the city.

The Daily News believes the dramatic increases in student test scores are legitimate. “[P]lenty of data document that children in the five boroughs have made healthy and sustained – even historic – progress compared with peers statewide,” the Daily News writes.

The New York Post praises the U.S. Supreme Court for declining to hear the latest in a series of legal challenges to the Atlantic Yards Project. “The sooner Ratner and Co. gets this project done, the better for Brooklyn – and all New York,” the Post writes.

And the New York Sun bemoans Albany’s refusal to cap property taxes – and says the state capital could be a better place without Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

By on June 24, 2008, 7:53 am
In category: Albany,Crime & Safety,Education,Land Use | 1 Comment »

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Joe Bruno Out
June 23rd, 2008

The New York Times is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno will not seek re-election come this fall.

This may not come as a surprise to some — speculation has mounted for months over whether or not he would seek another two-year term given the death of his wife and a federal investigation into his business interests.

This could certianly affect whether Democrats could take over both houses this year — which we report on here.

His statement is here via the Daily Politics.

By on June 23, 2008, 7:19 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Joe Bruno Out

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Home Rule -- With a Rate Increase?
June 23rd, 2008

A home rule message authorizing the state to continue a tax abatement program for industrial and commercial construction was approved by the City Council today by a vote of 40 to 4, giving the State Legislature the authority to move forward on the measure before its session ends as early as today.

The message, approved at a stated meeting announced just this morning, will also rescind a $700 million tax break for Con Edison — sparking concern from some council members that the utility would consequently raise rates.

“They say they will address this as a pass through,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile of Con Edison passing along the pain to customers. Gentile, who voted against the message, also noted it was the first time in three decades the legislature requested the council vote on the tax abatement program in a home rule message.
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By on June 23, 2008, 6:59 pm
In category: Albany,Public Finance | Comments Off on Home Rule -- With a Rate Increase?

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An Emergency Stated Meeting
June 23rd, 2008

This just in from the City Council: It’s scheduled to reconvene its stated meeting this afternoon (time = TBD), though not for any budget agreement.

Because it’s the last scheduled day of the legislative session in Albany, the council is convening to approve and send a couple of home rule messages up the thruway to the capital. One in particular is a renewal of an industrial and commercial incentive program, otherwise known as ICIP, which began in the mid-70s.

Still no word on the budget though, which has to be approved within the week. There is a stated meeting scheduled for Wednesday, but no confirmations on whether it will include the city’s $60 billion spending plan.

Stay tuned.

By on June 23, 2008, 1:34 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Gotham City,Land Use,Public Finance | Comments Off on An Emergency Stated Meeting

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Illegal Advertisers Off the Hook?
June 20th, 2008

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe drives around with bolt cutters to cut it down from park fences. Its appearance on construction scaffoldings throughout the city led to a billboard-sized controversy. And Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro once told the Staten Island Advance, “It’s like graffiti, almost. This is environmental graffiti.”

With all this opposition, is illegal advertising going to face one of those quality of life crackdowns that graffiti would face? Maybe somebody will amend the state bill that seeks to turn graffiti into a felony to include illegal advertisers?

Probably not.

In fact, the Anti-Advertising Agency points out that the Police Department’s vandal squad doesn’t even arrest such ad perps. Of the nearly 3,800 arrests they made in 2007, none of those arrests were for illegal advertising, the activist group points out. (Click here to see Graffitistat complaints broken down by borough.)

“Youd think assaulting journalists might be enough for the vandal squad to take notice, but not yet,” writes Steve Lambert, the group’s founder.

While some debate whether graffiti is an art or a crime, Gawker says being anti-advertising is just plain anti-American.

By on June 20, 2008, 2:03 pm
In category: Arts,Crime & Safety | 1 Comment »

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Rent Guidelines Board Decision
June 20th, 2008

Today’s Lead: Highest Rent Hikes in Years

The Rent Guidelines Board yesterday approved increases of 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases for tenants in rent stabilized buildings. They also approved an alternative increase that will allow landlords to raise rents by up to $45 per month (one-year leases) and $85 per month (two-year leases) for tenants who’ve lived in their homes for more than six years. Landlords can choose between the flat increase or the percentage increase.

The ruling is effective as of Oct. 1, 2008. For more, see Housing Links in the News, or read the Board’s summary after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 20, 2008, 11:59 am
In category: Eye Opener,Gotham City,Housing | 1 Comment »

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The End of The Journal As We Know It?
June 19th, 2008

For all the dread that media baron Rupert Murdoch instills in the hearts of serious journalists, his conquest over the Wall Street Journal may very well be the paper’s last hope – but this triumph could come at the expense of the storied broadsheet’s identity, writes Mark Bowden in The Atlantic Monthly.

Murdoch’s expansion efforts at the Journal represent a glimmer of hope for a paper rooted in the dark landscape of dead tree media, he argues in a fashionable 6,500 word piece. While other newspapers are scaling back, the Australian born businessman is embarking on “an old-fashioned newspaper battle” with the New York Times for the leadership position in daily international news. But what does that mean for the Journal as we know it?
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By on June 19, 2008, 4:49 pm
In category: Economy | 1 Comment »

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IKEA Comes to Town
June 18th, 2008

(Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn borough president’s office)

The yellow and blue have taken over Brooklyn.

That’s right, with a clap of a yellow baton, Red Hook IKEA thrust open its doors this morning to a hipster-laden crowd, anxiously awaiting to embrace the big box, Swedish chain store.

And while police directed traffic for the grand opening and gaggles of Brooklynites sought out affordable, “functional” furniture, discussions abounded across the city of what it means for small businesses.

So far, the five boroughs have resisted the Wal-Mart temptation, having fought off numerous attempts, but supporters of IKEA — of which there are many since the stores worldwide saw 583 million customers last year — claim this is different.

On WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show this morning, shoppers responded from Brooklyn to Brazil — and, according to the show’s comment page, it appears most people are pretty perturbed to have IKEA in town.
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By on June 18, 2008, 4:03 pm
In category: Community Development,Gotham City,Public Finance,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Felder's Capital Funds
June 18th, 2008

Councilmember Simcha Felder may be a favorite of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but maybe not at the council.

Known for his social conservatism and quick-witted humor, Felder received what is on the lower spectrum of capital funding last year at $3.95 million. (After the jump are his specific projects).

That is less than council members Vincent Gentile and John Liu, who both let Gotham Gazette know how much they received in fiscal year 2008 as other members hesitated — they received 4.15 million and 6 million respectively. (That will not be the case this year, because the council will be releasing all of the sponsors for its capital funding for the first time when they approve the budget, which must be done before June 30).

Unlike discretionary expense funding at the council, council members do not receive minimum amounts of capital funding and its distribution amongst council members is far more clandestine. Every member does receive some funding, though. Check out our Issue of the Week here, which goes into greater depth on the capital funding issue.
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By on June 18, 2008, 1:35 pm
In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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Jets President to Oversee West Side Development
June 17th, 2008

A few years ago, Jay Cross, the president of the New York Jets, spent much of his time trying to convince New Yorkers that it would be a good idea to build a new football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. In 2005, the state legislature blocked the project, and Cross shifted his efforts to building a new stadium in the Meadowlands instead.

Now Cross is back on the West Side. According to a press release posted on the New York Observer blog, Cross has been named president of the Related Hudson Yards and “will lead Relateds development efforts of the 26-acre Hudson Yards site in collaboration with New York State, New York City, the MTA, elected officials and the community.”

By on June 17, 2008, 3:32 pm
In category: Community Development,Waterfront | Comments Off on Jets President to Oversee West Side Development

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Ikea Mania Roundup
June 17th, 2008

TheSwedish big-box store Ikea opens its newestlocationin Red Hook, Brooklyn on Wednesday – and all of the hoopla in the city and in the press has Business Week asking: Is it an IKEA opening or a rock concert?

The New York Times looks at how the 34,600 square foot store will alter the neighborhood.

The Daily News offers a Q and A with the store manager.

Newsday interviewsNew Yorkerswho have camped out for days hoping to get a free sofa.

The New York Sun’s architecture critic blasts the store for being nothing more than a “decorated shed.”

The Brooklyn Paper reports thatIkea has hired 17 New York City police officers to handle traffic on opening day.

The message board on the Brownstoner blog offers a host of eulogies for the pre-Ikea Red Hook.

And New York Magazine provides a simple comparison of New Jersey and Brooklynlocations (including access by public transportation and delivery fees).

By on June 17, 2008, 7:59 am
In category: Community Development,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Checks and Balances
June 16th, 2008

When Gotham Gazette’s Courtney Gross began looking into the City Council’s capital budget for the story that appears today, she asked for an electronic copy of the document. To our surprise, council officials told her one does not exist, forcing anyone who wants to see how the council spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars to pour through 212 pages.

Not very transparent.

In today’s Sun, Eric Singer, an investment advisor, offers a proposal to make city spending more open to public scrutiny: posting the city government’s check registry on-line. “Imagine the opportunity for self-awareness on the part of New York City if all expenditures, including those as little as $43, were on the Web for anyone to review,” Singer writes. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he continues, “should implement this quickly, taking advantage of the public outrage in response to the slush fund scandal, and ask a chastened City Council to join him in supporting a city run more openly and honestly.”

By on June 16, 2008, 8:38 am
In category: Gotham City,Public Finance | 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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