Archive for March, 2009
Recent Posts
NYC Blogs
Click here for a list of NYC blogs
Newsfeeds
Search This Blog

Hurry up and Wait
March 31st, 2009

After the Democrat’s desperate push to get an on-time budget and all the weird events that took place today, the Senate only managed to consider one of nine budget bills.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 31, 2009, 10:32 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Hurry up and Wait

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Cops Could Be the Scarcest in Decades
March 31st, 2009

According to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the city will soon see a police headcount that rivals the 1990s.

Reminder: Crime in the 90s was way, way up (In 2008, crime was down nearly 78 percent from 1990).

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the City Council this morning that the city could see a peak police headcount of 35,707 officers this year, including a police class this summer of 250. In the mayor’s preliminary budget, the January 2010 class has been eliminated. Under less dire economic circumstances, the city would have two, 1,000 member police classes annually.

This revelation did not sit well with Vallone, who said, under these circumstances, the police headcount could go as low as 33,200 officers. Kelly said the department currently had 5,000 fewer officers than in 2001.

The federal government may not be coming to the rescue either. Kelly said the city would be eligible for up to $500 million in federal funding from the stimulus package that would go towards new officers. That pot, though, is for all cities with populations greater than 150,000. It would be unlikely, Kelly added, that these grants would solve the city’s police headcount problem.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 31, 2009, 4:44 pm
In category: Gotham City,Measuring UP | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Dysfunction in Albany
March 31st, 2009

The budget is going to be late. Republicans did not show up to session this morning. They have since come out of conference with Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos but now word is that they will not vote on any budget bills that have not aged the required three days.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 31, 2009, 2:18 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Dysfunction in Albany

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Ring Around Midtown
March 31st, 2009

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly wants to replicate the city’s ring of steel a little farther north.

Similar to his Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, the commissioner wants to create a high-tech surveillance system in midtown, from approximately 34th Street to 59th Street, river to river.

This type of counter-terrorism security already is in the works downtown — much to the chagrin of some civil libertarians. The synchronized camera system below Canal Street in Lower Manhattan was a response to the September 11th attacks and costs nearly $100 million. That system includes 3,000 plus security cameras and license plate readers to provide 24-hour surveillance of the area. The counter-terrorism initiative is housed in the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, which opened last November.

Kelly said the Midtown system would be based in the same coordination center. It’s implementation is dependent on federal funding. Kelly said they would need about $58 million.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 31, 2009, 11:53 am
In category: Crime & Safety,Economy,Gotham City,Law,nextNY,Transportation | Comments Off on Ring Around Midtown

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Pork, It's What's in the Budget
March 30th, 2009

The Empire Center for New York State Policy has a handy guide to the 3,588 member items included in the proposed state budget. The guide shows that there are about $65 million dollars worth of individual member items in the budget as well as two lump-sum allocations that total $105 million.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 30, 2009, 1:39 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Hard Sell
March 30th, 2009

The three men in a room did their best this morning to defend the budget deal they reached behind closed doors. They didn’t get off to a particularly strong start.

“This isn’t about economic sense,” responded Gov. David Paterson when asked about raising taxes on the wealthy during a recession. “There should probably be the question, ‘does it make sense.’ The answer is no, none of this makes sense.”

Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 30, 2009, 1:11 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Stimulus Transportation Projects Annouced
March 30th, 2009

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, accompanied by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and several members of the city’s congressional delegation, just announced what city transportation projects will move forward thanks to stimulus funds.

According to a press release, the city received $271 million in federal stimulus funding for transportation projects. The projects, which span all five boroughs, are worth a total of $1.1 billion and will keep or create 32,000 jobs, according to the administration.

Here is the full list:
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 30, 2009, 12:38 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Electoral Politics,Public Finance,Transportation | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Bloomberg Bags O'Reilly's Vote
March 30th, 2009

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg courts Republican officials across the city, he has successfully nabbed at least one conservative’s vote for another accolade: The Time 100.

Fox conservative crusader and staple Bill O’Reilly said in this week’s issue of Time that he would like to see Bloomberg make the magazine’s list of worldwide influential leaders.

O’Reilly argues: “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of the most generous men in America. By donating millions to charity each year, he sets an example and elevates the political landscape. He is firm without being mean, effective without doing harm. He is devoting his life to helping others.”

Time is currently taking votes on who should make the list this year. While Britney Spears is in the top 10, Bloomberg is ranked 108 right now — just a smidgen away from making the final cut (The magazine’s description of the mayor does refer to his term limit extension as a possible “power grab”). You can check out the full list of candidates here.

By on March 30, 2009, 12:09 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Governing,Law,nextNY | Comments Off on Bloomberg Bags O'Reilly's Vote

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


State Budget Bills
March 29th, 2009

The bills that make up the state budget were finished last night and early this morning. The Senate Majority has posted the bills here.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 29, 2009, 12:50 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Weekly Web Wrap
March 27th, 2009

  • New York Library Looks To Business Intelligence Software For Help
    (Information Week)
  • The MTA: Finally, Someone Mentions Pensions
    (NY Fiscal Watch)
  • Will MTA Rescue Morph Into Statewide Repair Plan?
    (Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
  • MTA Fare Hikes Dont Even Solve the Budget Crisis
    (DMI Blog)
  • 56 New York City Nonprofits to Follow on Twitter
    (Idealist in NYC)
  • Meet Your Neighborhood Parole Officer
    (Re-Thinking Reentry)
  • Details on Applying for Green Infrastructure Stimulus Funds
    (S.W.I.M.)
  • How To Use Privately Owned Public Space
    (Design Trust for Public Space)
  • Obama’s Urban Opportunity
    (Mother Jones)
  • Jim Crow Laws of the 21st Century: New York Drug Laws
    (Huffington Post)
  • New Verizon Local Cable Channel Coming to City
    (Wall Street Journal via NYConvergence)
  • Gotbaum: End Costly, Temporary Homeless Shelter Program
    (Public Advocate’s Corner)
  • New York’s ‘Slaughtered Neighborhoods’
    (TomDispatch via Planetizen)
  • Inside New York’s Underground Poker Scene
    (Salon)
  • By on March 27, 2009, 4:01 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Weekly Web Wrap

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Deal On Drug Reform
    March 27th, 2009

    The three men in a room just announced they have reached a deal to reform the state’s harsh drug laws. They say the plan would roll back a great deal of mandatory minimum sentencing in drug cases, giving judges sentencing discretion. It would also allocate more resources for drug treatment programs. The bill would also increase penalties for dealers who sell to children. Hard details on the plan have yet to be presented.

    Talk of the deal began earlier this week but last night Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters talk of a deal was premature. The package of reforms will be voted on as part of the budget. Budget bills will likely be introduced this weekend, with a vote taking place early next week.

    Legislators say that although the reforms require an initial investment in funding for treatment, the state will eventually save money by decreasing the number of incarcerated.

    Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, said that, from what he has heard, the plan “falls short of full repeal” of the drug laws. He said the deal was less ambitious in repealing the laws than the bill passed by the Assembly earlier this year. According to Gangi the Assembly bill would have benefited 50-60 percent of currently incarcerated offenders had the deal been in place when they arrested. Under the new compromise plan only 35-40 percent would benefit. “The upside is it returns some discretion. The downside is it does not restore discretion for some low level drug offenders,” said Gangi.

    Republicans have called the deal “the drug dealers protection act.”

    By on March 27, 2009, 11:30 am
    In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Law | Comments Off on Deal On Drug Reform

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Avoiding Teacher Layoffs
    March 26th, 2009

    In January Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that, in the face of the crumbling economy, declining revenues and state cuts to education, the city would have to lay off about 14,000 teachers. Then came the federal stimulus package, state budget negotiations and howls of protest.

    So how many teachers does the city stand to lose now? No one knows but it wont be anything like 15,000. In fact, it might be none at all.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 26, 2009, 1:10 pm
    In category: Albany,Education,Gotham City,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Swipes on Term Limits at Comptroller Forum
    March 26th, 2009

    Who knew the city’s pension funds could be so “lively.”

    Seriously — that’s according to a moderator at a Cardozo Law School Democratic comptroller debate last night.

    Three of the four Democratic comptroller candidatesMelinda Katz was M.I.A. — danced around budget issues, diversifying the city’s pension investments and what city services should be saved by the budget ax (Not surprisingly, candidates harped on a perennial council issue: savings to be had at the Department of Education).

    But for what has been a mild mannered race so far (I know it’s obscenely early), it turned a teensy bit nasty when the conversation turned to term limits.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 26, 2009, 12:39 pm
    In category: Economy,Governing,nextNY,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Passing the Buck
    March 25th, 2009

    Gov. David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver just released statements addressing the MTA’s vote to increase fares and initiate service cuts.

    Paterson’s statement is diplomatic. “I know my colleagues in the State Legislature are equally committed to preserving New Yorks critical public transportation system, and we will continue to work together until we reach a final agreement,” reads part of Paterson’s statement.

    Silver’s statement basically dumps responsibility at the feet of Senate majority Leader Malcolm Smith.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 25, 2009, 3:36 pm
    In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 1 Comment »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    An Alternative for the MTA?
    March 25th, 2009

    Now that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved large fare hikes and sweeping service cuts, a question: Why did City Comptroller William Thompson’s proposal to place a surcharge on auto registration fees in the counties served by the MTA vanish without a trace?

    The size of the fee would have been pegged to the weight of the vehicle in question, so Thompson said at the time, the “plan has the potential to generate annual revenue of about $1 billion, while encouraging the use of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

    We’re not presenting this as the solution but we do wonder why no one ever seemed to consider the idea seriously. (It is getting some discussion on Facebook today.)

    By on March 25, 2009, 2:51 pm
    In category: Albany,Transportation | 2 Comments »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    MTA Approves Fare Increase
    March 25th, 2009

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board has approved its doomsday budget, which comes with serious fare increases and less service.

    A full breakdown of what’s being raised or cut is available here.

    By on March 25, 2009, 11:47 am
    In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Paterson Orders Layoffs
    March 24th, 2009

    Gov. David Paterson has ordered 8,900 state workers be laid off after unions rejected concessions the Gov. asked for in his budget proposal. The news of layoffs followed the announcement that the state’s budget deficit is $2.2 billion bigger than previously reported.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 24, 2009, 8:02 pm
    In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Paterson Orders Layoffs

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Don't Blame Silver
    March 24th, 2009

    Don’t blame me–blame Malcolm Smith.

    That is basically what Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a prepared statement, released this afternoon, that calls proposed MTA fare increases and service cuts “unacceptable” and pins blame on the Senate.

    Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith was not able to overcome the will of the gang of three, who stood against tolls on East River bridges. As a result, Smith released a plan last week that has been called “slapdash” and a “stopgap measure” by many. As a result, it seems the legislature can’t reach a consensus on a plan to provide financial relief to the MTA and stave off fare increases and service cuts. The MTA is expected to vote on the increases tomorrow.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 24, 2009, 4:39 pm
    In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 4 Comments »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    Council Gets Three More (One GOP)
    March 24th, 2009

    The City Council welcomed three new members today: Julissa Ferreras (D) of Queens, Eric Ulrich (R) of Queens and Kenneth Mitchell (D) of Staten Island.

    Ulrich brings the council’s Republican ranks up by one more member — making it a “mighty band of three,” according to Council Minority Leader Jimmy Oddo. Oddo, with his usual comically laced bravado, warned the council’s other 48 members that they should “watch out” for the more powerful minority. He then pointed around the room (all done in jest).

    Seriously, here are the new members’ committee assignments:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 24, 2009, 2:42 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Council Gets Three More (One GOP)

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed


    School Control: Where Things Stand
    March 24th, 2009

    Update: We left out at least two reports suggesting changes in the current system of mayoral control: one from the Campign for Better Schools and one from David Bloomfield of Brooklyn College. Links to these and other proposals after the jump. Let us know if there are any more we should include.

    Also our original report misrepresented the position of the Parent Commission on School Governance. The post has been updated to address this.

    With the Assembly now having concluded its round of hearings on mayoral control of the city’s public schools — they held one session in each borough — a few things seems clear.

    For one, as Elizabeth Green, notes in Gotham Schools, the Bloomberg administration’s effort to court state legislators does not seem to have succeeded. “Lawmakers are not happy with the system they created. Some have become even less happy during the hearings,” Green wrote. At the final hearing in Brooklyn on Friday, she reported, Bloomberg’s lobbyist on the issue, Micah Lasher (considered by many an extremely odd choice to lead a “charm offensive”) “appeared distressed…. At one point, he threw up his hands and retreated to a seat just beyond the officials, where he rubbed his sinuses vigorously.”

    One can understand Lasher’s frustration.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on March 24, 2009, 2:04 pm
    In category: Albany,Education | 3 Comments »

    | 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