Archive for December, 2008

New Years Web Wrap
December 31st, 2008

  • Glaeser: The Secret of New York’s Success is Density
    (Economix via Creative Class)
  • Taxi Cabbie Confessions
    (Current TV)
  • Times Launches Site to Help New Yorkers Follow Their Representatives
    (Times Open Blog)
  • City Ranked 24th Most Literate City
    (America’s Most Literate Cities)
  • Making Use of Fountains in the Winter
    (City Parks Blog)
  • Health Care Workers Will Be Able to Deny Patients Info, Service
    (Huffington Post)
  • Where Will New Yorkers Live?
    (Municipal Art Society)
  • More on the City’s New LED Street Lamps
  • A Barnard Professor’s Community Seminars
    (Utne Reader)
  • New York Government’s Useless Digital Data
    (MediaShift Idea Lab)
  • New Solar Power Incentives Encourage Co-op Boards
    (Habitat Magazine)
  • The Tombs and Catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery
    (The City Concealed)
  • States’ Jurisdiction Over Insurance Challenged
    (The 13th Floor)
  • PlaNYC 2030 Comic Strip
    (Time’s Up!)
  • New York Times Co. Ad Revenue Falls 20 Percent
    (Editor & Publisher)
  • The Tourism Drop-Off is Here
    (NY Fiscal Watch)
  • See the Thermal Damage from a Nuclear Bomb Mapped Out
    (Carlos Labs via BLDGBLOG)
  • By on December 31, 2008, 10:12 am
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on New Years Web Wrap

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    A Push for Federal Help with Local Hate Crimes
    December 30th, 2008

    When Jos Sucuzhaay was attacked and murdered in Bushwick earlier this month because he was Latino and perceived as gay, local and international outrage ensued. Now, advocates are pushing for a federal response to local hate crimes, such as this incident.

    A Hispanic civil rights group called the National Council of La Raza is advocating for passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

    The bill would provide federal assistance to states and localities with the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, and increases the penalties for such crimes. Although it was passed by the House last year, it never made it out of committee in the Senate.

    Council Speaker Christine Quinn introduced a resolution last year in support of the bill. After a series of amendments in various committees, the resolution was never brought to a vote. The state passed its hate crimes act in 2000.

    Hate crimes against Latinos have skyrocketed nationally 40 percent since 2003, according to the FBI, while hate crimes against gays rose 6 percent last year. All this despite an overall drop in hate crimes of 1 percent. Last year in New York there were 493 hate crimes statewide and 295 citywide.

    By on December 30, 2008, 9:34 am
    In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety | 2 Comments »

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    Happy Holidays!
    December 24th, 2008

    Gotham Gazette will be on holiday schedule for the next week and a half. The next Eye-opener will go out Monday, Dec. 29. Happy holidays to all our readers.

    By on December 24, 2008, 10:41 am
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Happy Holidays!

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    Holiday Web Wrappings
    December 24th, 2008

    The holidays have cut the week short, so we leave you with the Web wrap a bit early. Enjoy the holidays, and we’ll see you on the 29th.

  • Bloomberg Ranked 36th Most Powerful Person on Earth
  • Cartoonist’s Take on Paterson’s Budget Proposal
    (Adam Zyglis)
  • Round Up of the Year’s Land Use Decisions
    (Campaign for Community-Based Planning)
  • Rangel Must Go
    (The Nation)
  • Forest City Enterprises Stock ‘Worthless’
    (Atlantic Yards Report)
  • PETA Suggests MTA Play Audio Ads
    (Second Ave Sagas)
  • Remember to Recycle Your Gift Wrappings
    (Department of Sanitation)
  • By on December 24, 2008, 8:45 am
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Holiday Web Wrappings

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    Bankrupt State?
    December 23rd, 2008

    Mayor Bloomberg likes to say we’re not about to return to the days of the 1970s fiscal crisis, but writing in The Daily Beast, John Avlon is not so sure. A dire fiscal crisis looms, he thinks, only this time it’s the state — not the city — that could go belly up.

    Nothing that the state’s deficit has doubled to $15 billion since August, Avlon, a former aide to Rudolph Giuliani who also worked on the 1996 Clinton campaign, credits Gov. David Paterson for “trying to walk the fiscally responsible talk, but government budgets have become a beast that is almost impossible to tame.”

    The reason for the bleak picture: New York’s dependence on Wall Street. “Investment banks that have been the engine of the city’s tax revenue for decades have disappeared entirely or morphed into restricted new entities,” Avlon writes. “We’re not facing a cyclical downturn; we’re facing a fundamental alteration of the facts of financial life in New York.”

    Looking for solace? According to Avlon, things in California are even worse.

    By on December 23, 2008, 11:39 am
    In category: Albany,Economy,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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    What will '09 bring?
    December 22nd, 2008

    Will newspaper publishers be the next to demand a bailout? Azi thinks so. Paul thinks Governor Paterson can save the MTA by taking a cue from Chicago politics and auctioning off New York’s open senate seat to the highest bidder.

    They’re kidding, of course. Or are they? What is Caroline Kennedy spending to court the state’s movers and shakers?

    What we know for sure is that Gotham Gazette’s annual predictions issue is back.

    By on December 22, 2008, 2:59 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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    Weekly Web Wrap
    December 19th, 2008

  • Columbia University Debates ROTC
  • Is the Subway Going Back Down the Tubes?
    (New York Voices)
  • Carrion and the Yankee Parking Controversy
    (The American Prospect)
  • Shaun Donovan: The Great Persuader
    (The American Prospect)
  • Parks Department Green Fleet Twice Nationally Recognized
    (Parks Department)
  • State Ranks Dead Middle for Nursing Home Quality
    (US News and World Report)
  • Landlords Use Dodgy Database to Fend off Feisty Tenants
    (The Indypendent)
  • Budget Hikes State’s Energy Costs
    (NY Fiscal Watch)
  • A Boat Ride up Newtown Creek
    (The City Concealed)
  • MTA Service Cuts, Coming to a Neighborhood Near You
    (Regional Plan Association)
  • A City Redefines How to Use its Streets
  • Transit Cuts Would Impact Many. Bridge Tolls? Not So Much.
    (Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
  • By on December 19, 2008, 6:01 pm
    In category: Gotham City,Governing | Comments Off on Weekly Web Wrap

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    Are Broadway Busses Running Faster?
    December 19th, 2008

    The famously frustrating bus bulbs of Broadway get a review in this week’sDowntown Express, which includes a somewhat disorienting revelation that the D.O.T. didn’t start the project with any data on bus speeds on Broadway:

    “But [Lower Manhattan borough commissioner for the city Department of Transportation] Sanchez does not know if that’s an improvement in bus speed since the D.O.T. did not collect data before the bulbs were installed. It’s possible the bulbs have slowed down cars, rather than speeded up buses.”

    Someone should have talked to Straphangers, which has been gathering data on bus speeds since they started awarding their Pokey Awards to the very slowest of the lot. Broadway’s own M1, which NYPIRG reports was “significantly off schedule” 24% of the time, was a runner up for the Schleppie. That represents something of an improvement over 2006, pre-barricade, when the M1 won the Schleppie by bunching up, leaving riders waiting and departing way off schedule 28% of the time.

    Now. Go make a donation to our annual appeal while I call NYPIRG to find out just how fast the ems one and six were travelling in 2006. Deal?

    Maybe one day we’ll be able to see, at a glance, when the next bus is really going to arrive.

    By on December 19, 2008, 11:51 am
    In category: Transportation | 2 Comments »

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    A Plan to Keep Waste Out of the Water
    December 18th, 2008

    To keep sewage and polluted stormwater from spewing into the waterways around the city, the Bloomberg Administration this week unveiled its Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan.

    During storms, the city’s combined sewage and stormwater system becomes overwhelmed, and instead of passing through a treatment system, this filthy wastewater simply gets dumped into the harbor. But now, as part of PlaNYC 2030, the city has committed a plan to paper to keep stormwater out of the system in the first place.

    One of the goals is to capture over a billion additional gallons of stormwater a year by the end of 2010. (That’s a baby step toward eliminating the more than 27 billion gallons of untreated wastewater currently dumped in New York Harbor every year.)

    To reach that number, the city has begun pilot programs of various means of capturing stormwater throughout the city. With 20 such pilots, the city is experimenting with such “source controls” as blue roofs (which capture stormwater and release it slowly), porous pavement, and artificial wetlands.

    Another of the goals reiterated throughout the report is to open 90 percent of the city’s tributaries for recreational use. But some have criticized the mayor for not elaborating on what “recreational” means (does it mean people would be able to swim in it, for example). This report does little to clarify that.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 18, 2008, 6:17 pm
    In category: Environment | 1 Comment »

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    Council Restores Some Cuts
    December 18th, 2008

    The council is getting ready to sit down and approve the mayor’s budget modifications, albeit with some revisions.

    The revisions include a commitment to send out the $400 property tax rebate, saving a police class of 250 in January and increasing the hotel tax. The council also made a $20 million trade with the administration, in order to save some of its favorite programs.

    The council cut $20 million by lowering the fuel estimate, eliminating the capital scoping project (which essentially had consultants reviewing how much capital projects cost instead of city staff) and doing away with maintenance expenditures for a yet-to-be built 911 center in the Bronx.

    Because of that, the council saved cuts to CUNY, a reduction in funding for the protective services unit at the Administration for Children’s Services and an elder abuse prevention program, among others.

    Full coverage to come later.

    By on December 18, 2008, 2:49 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Council Restores Some Cuts

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    An Ambitious Budget and Deadline
    December 16th, 2008

    Gov. David Paterson went for drama with his first budget — all five books of it.

    Over the next two years, the proposal hopes to fill a $15.4 billion budget gap by both increasing fees (what some may say is a clever disguise for taxes) and cutting services. It will cut $3.5 billion from Medicaid and $2 billion from school aid.

    The governor said in his budget address this morning, which was done a month earlier than usual, that he hopes to revise the state’s Empire Zones tax abatement program to make companies more accountable for job creation. He also plans to lay off more than 3,100 public employees, which will likely come from merging seven state agencies and closing “underutilized” state facilities.

    What could be his most ambitious pursuit — and certainly the toughest aspect of the budget to accomplish — is the self-imposed deadline of March 1, a month before the state’s budget deadline. Though many have said it can’t be done, Paterson said the state could save $1.3 billion from passing the budget a month early.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 16, 2008, 1:34 pm
    In category: Albany,Economy,Education,Health,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services,Transportation | Comments Off on An Ambitious Budget and Deadline

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    This Week on the Web
    December 12th, 2008

  • Joel Klein Op-Ed Defending Small Schools
  • Murdoch Revitalizes the Wall Street Journal
  • State Meets 7 of 10 Public Health Preparedness Indicators
    (Trust for America’s Health via
  • How to Apply for Heating Assistance
    (Public Advocate’s Corner)
  • Automated Energy Assistance Hotline Fails to Serve Disabled
    (PULP Blog)
  • Does Red Ink Lead to Green Jobs?
    (Brian Lehrer Live)
  • How the City is Tackling Truck Traffic
    (Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
  • When New York Harbor Was Guantanamo Bay
  • New Subway Ads Block View from Windows
  • New Program Helps Small Businesses Become Eco-Freindly
  • The Upper West Side Transportation Makeover
    (Next American City)
  • Building Congress to City, State: Cut the Red Tape!
    (The Real Estate)
  • The Best Independent Stories of 2008
    (Idealist in NYC)
  • By on December 12, 2008, 12:16 pm
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    Carrion Off to Washington? Some Hope Not
    December 11th, 2008

    When Bronx Brorough President Aldofo Carrion told a group of Yale students he had received a congratulatory phone call from U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton about his selection for a cabinet-level position within the new Obama Administration, he oddly thought it wouldn’t leave the room.

    Although it has been rumored for weeks that he may receive some appointment, the slip added fuel to a fiery debate about his qualifications for such a job.

    Most recently, Tom Robbins of the Village Voice penned a satirical piece listing reasons he’d make a good secretary for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Among the listing was his success in gathering campaign contributions from real estate interests and his purging of community board members that did not support the Yankees Stadium deal.

    Members of that community board are intent not to let those actions be relegated to the dustbin of history. One ousted member has organized a letter writing campaign to keep him out of the cabinet.

    And Andrew Wolf, publisher of two Bronx newspapers, has started to thwart any appointment. “Carrion has shown no real initiative to rebuild the Bronxs economic standing, and at best has stayed out of the way while other offices worked,” Wolf writes. “The Bronxs unemployment rate is still the highest in the state, and its poverty rate is still one of the highest in the nation. That was true when Carrion came into power, and that remains true today.”

    An anonymous online petition against his appointment to an Obama Administration has been started as well, but includes only 33 signatures so far.

    The former urban planner does have his supporters, however.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 11, 2008, 3:49 pm
    In category: Governing,Land Use,Parks,Public Finance | 4 Comments »

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    Thompson Chats With the Blogosphere
    December 10th, 2008

    A new campaign site — designed by the same team that brought the change mantra to computer screens across the country — comes with a buzz word that some hesitated to link with Comptroller William Thompson Jr.


    In an attempt to do away with the doubt and skepticism surrounding his mayoral bid, Thompson launched his campaign site today — a tad early by some standards — and chatted with some online media this afternoon.

    “I’m somebody who understands the people of New York,” Thompson said during a conference call. “I’m uniquely qualified to be the mayor of the city of New York… This is a race to help determine the future of New York City.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 10, 2008, 4:16 pm
    In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,nextNY,Tech | 2 Comments »

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    Senate Deal Crumbles
    December 10th, 2008

    Just in case you thought all the state government dysfunction was in Illinois: The deal between Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith and the so-called Gang of Three — Pedro Espada, Ruben Diaz and Carl Kruger — has collapsed, the Daily Politics reports.

    Smith broke off negotiations this morning. “We would rather wait two more years to take charge of the Senate than to simply serve the interests of the few,” Smith said in a statement. “New York State cannot afford the type of self-serving politics being proposed, and I will not be the leader to sacrifice what is right for New York for a quick political solution.”

    The deal split power between a president pro tem (Smith) and a majority leader (Espada), gave Kruger a powerful committee post and, to satisfy Diaz, committed the Senate to not approving same sex marriage this year. But over the last day the accord began unraveling. Some Senate Democrats were unhappy at the concessions Smith made to the three. Then the “gang” accused Smith of trying to wiggle out of some aspects of the agreement. A dispute arose over how much power Espada would wield and what his leadership stipend would be. Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 10, 2008, 1:31 pm
    In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Electoral Politics,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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    Tax Bills in the House
    December 9th, 2008

    Two tax bills, one to increase the city’s property tax rate and another to increase the hotel tax, were introduced at the City Council today in response to the city’s fiscal crisis.

    One, the hotel bill, has support. The other — it’s not so clear.

    (Complete coverage of the meeting will be coming up shortly.)

    Also today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn reiterated her call for the $400 property tax rebate to be signed, stamped and delivered to 600,000 New York City households. Quinn has taken a decisively stronger stance on the issue than on other disagreements she has had with the administration — of which there are few.

    “This issue of the rebate is really not one of relevance to the negotiations around the cuts or the hotel tax or the 7 percent property tax increase,” said Quinn at a press conference today. “The mayor is by law and action of the City Council required to send out the property tax rebate. The only way the mayor is relieved of that obligation is if the City Council passes a law.”

    Then she quipped: “I know how to count votes, and there are not 26 votes for that measure in the City Council.”

    By on December 9, 2008, 4:17 pm
    In category: Gotham City,Public Finance | Comments Off on Tax Bills in the House

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    Governor Reveals Senator...
    December 8th, 2008

    Just kidding.

    Sticking to his guns, Gov. David Paterson just disclosed on NPR’s All Things Considered that the state’s junior senator would be

    “A very qualified person.”

    Paterson was on the show to talk about how New York is ready for federal funding to boost infrastructure. He said the state had scores of projects that are shovel-ready.

    At the end of the segment, though, the governor couldn’t help but tease the audience with a senator reference. He has said he will not announce who will take over Sen. Hillary Clinton’s post until she takes her seat as Secretary of State.

    That means January.

    But it is New York after all, and there is plenty of room for speculation. Caroline Kennedy for one (Bloomberg was praising her today). State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is another.

    By on December 8, 2008, 5:56 pm
    In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | Comments Off on Governor Reveals Senator...

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    The Council's Cuts
    December 8th, 2008

    Without much fanfare, the City Council released its own slew of budget cuts yesterday — worth about $170 million for this fiscal year — as an alternative or addition to some of the mayor’s proposals.

    The council identified more than 60 potential budget cuts, from slashing 311 funds to cutting $75 million out of the Department of Education, which could save the city $500 million over the next two years.

    The cuts the council proposed for fiscal year 2009 would not cover the entire $300 million budget hole the mayor identified last month.

    (For more on the budget process, play The Budget Maze.)

    In a prepared statement announcing the council’s proposal, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, ” The events of the past few months, including the unprecedented mid-year budget hearings we held at the council, have made it abundantly clear that our financial crisis will not be corrected overnight. We must take the long view as we approach this and future budgets, so that we will avoid the mistakes of the 1970s and minimize the impact on our city.”

    The council was holding what looks like would be its last budget hearing this morning on the cuts to the New York City Housing Authority. It doesn’t look like, however, that the council will take up the budget cuts at its stated meeting tomorrow.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 8, 2008, 1:40 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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    Crashing Cerf?
    December 5th, 2008

    This is one of those seemingly arcane stories replete with angles and notable for what it says about a range of issues: transparency at the Department of Education, ties between the Bloomberg/Klein education department and private education entrepreneurs, conflict of interest enforcement in the city and the influence of money at the Department of Education.

    The News and the Times report today Deputy Schools Chancellor Christopher Cerf solicited a $60,000 charitable contribution from executives at Edison Schools, where he once served as president and which does business with the school system. Cerf asked the Edison executives to contribute to the Darrow Foundation, which runs wilderness programs for young people. When investigators began asking questions, Cerf thought better of it and told the people at Edison that “it would be the better course not to proceed with the contribution.”

    The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board did look into the matter and found reasons for concern. Read the rest of this entry »

    By on December 5, 2008, 3:09 pm
    In category: Education | 1 Comment »

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    Web Wrap
    December 5th, 2008

  • Earning More, Commuting Farther
  • Columbia University, Slumlord
    (The Weekly Standard)
  • State Flunks College Affordability Test
    (Measuring Up 2008)
  • Mortgage Rate Cut: Good News for City Renters?
    (Wall Street Journal via Curbed)
  • Gotham’s New LED Streetlamp Plan
  • New York: The Buick of State Governments
    (Room Eight)
  • Profile of Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan
    (The American Prospect)
  • Democratic Staffers Have Questions About Leadership Deal
    (Capitol Confidential)
  • King Bloomberg: New York City Mayor Run Amok
    (New Geography)
  • Imagine Flatbush 2030 Widget Released
    (Municipal Art Society)
  • By on December 5, 2008, 1:17 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 6 Comments »

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    Gotham Gazette the Place for Politics and Policy

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

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