Archive for November, 2010

Cuomo Gets Settlement From ExxonMobil for Greenpoint
November 17th, 2010

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo stood with environmentalists in Greenpoint, Brooklyn today to announce a settlement with ExxonMobil in the contamination of the area and Newton Creek.

“Over the last century, between 17 and 30 million gallons of oil were spilled and leaked from ExxonMobils historic refinery and storage facilities into the soil and groundwater in Greenpoint. These petroleum discharges formed an over 50 acre underground petroleum plume that underlies local businesses and a residential section of Greenpoint. The contamination has also been leaching into Newtown Creek for decades,” wrote Riverkeeper, the environmental group that has lead lawsuits against ExxonMobil.

The consent decree reached between Cuomo and ExxonMobil still needs approval from a judge but if approved it would require ExxonMobil to pay for the clean up of the contaminated area, make them pay the costs for the investigation into the contamination and the lawsuits brought against them and would establish a $19.5 million “Environmental Benefits Project Fund” that will pay for projects to benefit the Greenpoint community. The projects will be selected through community input.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation will oversee the cleanup along with the attorney general’s office.

Here is the full release from Riverkeeper: Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 17, 2010, 2:56 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Cuomo Gets Settlement From ExxonMobil for Greenpoint

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Sorting Out the Legislature
November 17th, 2010

Gov. David Paterson wants the legislature to return on Nov. 29 for a special session.

There is still unfinished business that must be addressed before the end of the calendar year, which is why I am calling for an extraordinary session of the Legislature, Governor Paterson said. We have a responsibility as elected officials and as such, I call upon the State Legislature to join with me in completing this work and fulfilling our obligation as public servants.

The state faces an increasing budget deficit and Paterson likely wants the legislature to make significant spending cuts before his term ends. The problem is that a number of senators are busy with recounts that are expected to last for weeks, if not months.

Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo would like to see the recount process sped up a bit–at least when it comes to the court battles involved in a few of the contested districts. Cuomo wrote Court of Appeals Cheif Judge Jonathan Lippman and asked him to expedite the process so that their will be a functioning legislature by Jan. 5.

Cuomo warned that if the legislature convenes in January with legal wrangling left unresolved the state could be left without a functioning senate.

“That would complicate, if not render impossible, the conduct of day-to-day business in the Senate Chamber,” he wrote. “Moreover, a non-functioning Senate would stymie the ability of the Legislature as a whole to pass bills, fulfill it’s responsibilities in enacting a timely and balanced budget, and otherwise do the people’s business.”

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

By on November 17, 2010, 2:44 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


The Education Panel Keeps Hands Off
November 16th, 2010

Imagine a government body so meek and mild that it seeks to bar itself from having a role in a key decision that will affect the lives of millions of people.

Hard to believe — but that is what the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy — a body one would not want to call spineless because it would insult earthworms — did tonight .

The board voted on a resolution requiring that it — not the mayor — be the one to request a waiver from the state education commissioner, which, if granted, would allow Cathleen Black to become schools chancellor despite her lack of an advanced degree or any education experience. The board rejected giving itself something to do in a 10 to 2 vote. Patrick Sullivan, who proposed the resolution, and Monica Major, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz’s new choice for the panel — and a noted schools activist — were the two yeses.

Even Sullivan and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who appointed him, admitted the resolution would not do much — and probably would not pass. With the mayor appointing eight of the board’s 13 members, the panel would hardly be likely to reject Black by not asking for a waiver. And if in some bizarre universe they did, the mayor would probably fire the offending member, much as he did the one and only time the board seemed about to rebuff him.

More on the meeting after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 16, 2010, 11:46 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Education | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Who Waives?
November 16th, 2010

Once the application for a waiver that would allow Cathleen Black to become school chancellor reaches Albany, who will be the decider and what kind of issues could come into play?

Officially the decision will rest entirely in the hands of one person: State Education Commissioner David Steiner.

Unlike the head of most state departments, the education commissioner operates independently of the governor. He or she is selected by the Board of Regents, who also can remove the commissioner “at pleasure,” according to state education law.

That board, in turn, consists of 17 members chosen by the legislature who serve for five-year terms. Of those 17, four are at large, with one each for every one of the state’s 13 judicial districts. This means the city has five representatives, with two of the current at large members from the city.

The chancellor of the board, chosen by fellow board members, is Merryl Tisch, who has teaching experience and an education degree — and travels in New York’s moneyed circles. Tisch has said she was “surprised” by Black’s appointment. While not endorsing it, she told City Hall News, “I would expect the fact that the mayor put her up in this role means that he has enormous regard for her, and that obviously is a very important indicator to me.”

Steiner answers to the State Board of Regents, which is appointed by the State Legislature. “So if political opposition to Blacks appointment grows — particularly in the State Assembly and especially in the office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — there’s a possibility it could doom [Black’s] chances,” wrote Gotham Schools.

Tisch has said she would “facilitate” the waiver process, but she does not have an official role in it.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 16, 2010, 4:44 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Education,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


An Overblown Look at Klein
November 12th, 2010

There have been many hosannas to Joel Klein since he announced his resignation earlier this week — and there undoubtedly will be more. But none is likely to be as full-throated as a column by Joe Nocera, now on the web page (and to appear in tomorrow’s paper).

Nocera’s take is that of a business reporter, not an education expert. Much of his column is opinion, and some of it makes use of Steven Brill’s somewhat discredited recent work in the New Yorker and the Times magazine. But he does make some mistakes and indulges in convenient omissions. Above all, in calling Klein such a success, Nocera never considers whether students in New York City schools are getting a good well-rounded education that will prepare them for more schooling, work and a satisfying life.

(For a more nuanced and informed look at Klein’s legacy — and some very real accomplishments — see Education Week’s account of a closed conference on studies of the past eight years of changes. In total, Sarah D. Sparks, wrote, the reports “found the [Children First] initiative has led to some systemic improvements in student achievement and teacher quality, but also some capacity problems and resentment among some teacher, parent and community groups.”)

A few specifics points in Nocera’s piece:

Originally, Nocera, wrote, “The gap between New York City and the average for the rest of the state has narrowed to near nothingness.” Kudos to (we assume) a sharp editor at the Times. Within the short time it took to writes this, the phrase, “to nothingness” had been removed. Wisely, too, given the gap is about 10 percentage points, according to the state’s own figures.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 12, 2010, 7:56 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Words from Grannis
November 12th, 2010

Ousted state environmental commission Pete Grannis finally is speaking out. As we reported earlier this week, Grannis’ firing — after a memo leaked criticizing cuts at the Department of Environmental Conservation — left many environmentalists fearing the agency no longer has the staff needed to protect New York’s environment and the health of its residents.

Almost all of the interview conducted by ProPublica’s Marie Baca dealt with whether to allow natural gas drilling in New York, particularly the process known as hydrofracking. Grannis seemed prepared to support drilling — although he set forth a number of caveats and expressed skepticism about allowing it in the city’s watershed.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 12, 2010, 3:33 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Blocking the Waiver
November 10th, 2010

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg essentially has carte blanche in selecting a schools chancellor, the state Department of Education must weigh in by granting — or denyinh — a waiver to allow a person without education experience (three years of teaching and some graduate work in school administration) to get the job. Cathie Black, of course, falls way short.

In the day since Black’s announcement some education activists have launched an effort to try to persuade state education commissioner David Steiner to refuse the waiver.

Petitions have been posted on line, and some politicians have joined the call.

State Sen.-elect Tony Avella, never a fan of Klein, has written to Steiner urging him to deny the waiver. ” While I am sure Ms. Black is a very well qualified executive in the magazine industry, the top executive in the New York City school system should be an educator,” he said.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 10, 2010, 10:28 pm
In category: Education,Eye on Albany | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Why Cathie Black?
November 10th, 2010

Those of us who were around in the days before mayoral control of school days remember the endless fighting and jockeying that went on as the mayor and Board of Education selected a new schools chancellor. Now the chancellor springs fully grown from the mayor’s brain.

Few people aside from Mayor Michael Bloomberg know what kind of a search he conducted before giving the job to publishing executive Cathleen Black. But it seems pretty clear she would have had a hard time weathering the public vetting that chancellor hopeful used to receive. Some would argue that’s all to the good — that the system runs better with the mayor getting his woman. Others view it as cronyism masquerading as reform.

As to Black herself, no one expected her selection — few knew the job was even available. Many commentators were stunned by her lack of experience in — or even fleeting contact with — the public schools (Klein at least went to one). Others applauded her management expertise.

A roundup follows:

Google’s going to be kept very busy today. Who is she? And why was she picked to be New York City schools chancellor?”
–Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president, in the Daily News

Absolutely I was surprised. But you know, Im sure it has all the good reasons to it. At the heart of mayoral control, I truly believe in allowing the mayor to make his choices. So we go from there.
–Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, in City Hall

More comments — pro and con — after the jump
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 10, 2010, 4:28 pm
In category: Gotham City | 8 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Black's Schools
November 9th, 2010

In a era where the best prerequisite for running public schools seems to be a minimum amount of experience with them, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s schools chancellor seems very qualified. Not only, as far as we now, has Cathleen Black never taught in one but she did not attend one, going to parochial schools herself. And she sent her own children to boarding school in Connecticut.

As a business executive, what she does have, Bloomberg, said is experience in dealing with a tough economy. “Jobs, jobs, jobs. Thats exactly what Cathie Black knows about,” he reportedly said. Bloomberg also called her a “world class manager.”

Black, the first woman chancellor in city history, is believed to be friends with the mayor’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor.

By on November 9, 2010, 6:41 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Klein Resigns
November 9th, 2010

After seven years heading up the New York City school system, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has just announced he is resigning to become an executive vice president of News Corp. In his new post, Klein said, he will help Rupert Murdoch’s company “develop a strategy to put them in the burgeoning and dynamic education marketplace.”

To replace Klein, who had virtually no education experience, Mayor Michael Bloomberg again went outside the world of educators, selecting Cathie Black, the chair of Hearst magazines.

Klein was the first and only chancellor under the current system of mayoral control. Under his direction the schools underwent sweeping changes: increased reliance on standardized testing, the closing of many schools, an enormously increased role for charter schools, creation of many small schools, a sharply reduced role for communities in the education system and more. As he undertook these changes on behalf of the mayor, Klein was clearly the point man, wining praise in some circle, acute antipathy in others.

Stay tuned for reaction.

By on November 9, 2010, 4:56 pm
In category: City Hall,Education | Comments Off on Klein Resigns

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Padavan Admits Defeat
November 8th, 2010

Sen. Frank Padavan has acknowledged that Tony Avella is the winner of the contest for the 11th senate district and issued a statement thanking his constituents. Padavan would not concede last week despite Avella’s significant lead because of concerns over voting problems. Other senate races are still up in the air and it remains unclear when legal wrangling will decide the winners and which party controls the state senate. Here is Padavan’s farewell: Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 8, 2010, 3:58 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Padavan Admits Defeat

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Great Outdoors
November 5th, 2010

Gotham Gazette parks writer Anne Schwartz filed this post.

Another antidote to the post-election blahs: leaf-peeping here in the five boroughs. The New York Times has a nice piece today on some of the city’s leafier and less traveled realms.

An escape to the city’s great outdoors, even with the “din of traffic in the distance” and the occasional litter, may also offer some insight into why voters passed more than 80 percent of the parks and conservation funding ballot initiatives nationwide while sweeping anti-tax and spending candidates into office. With the budget-cutting to come, New York’s parks and open space advocates have an uphill battle to protect Pouch Camp and fund state parks, but clearly protecting and creating green space remains a public priority.

By on November 5, 2010, 3:48 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Environment,Parks | Comments Off on Great Outdoors

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Control
November 4th, 2010

The spin machines for the Senate Republicans and Democrats are in high gear as ballots are recounted in a number of hotly contested races around the state. It looks more and more like there will be a clear winner rather than having the chamber split 31-31–maybe I am just being optimistic. The recounts to watch are:

The 7th Senate District, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Craig Johnson trails by about 500 votes to Republican challenger. There are over 3,000 absentee ballots that need counting.

The the 60th Senate District, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Antoine Thompson from Buffalo is down nearly 500 votes to Republican challenger Mark Gristanti. Democrats hope the 2,600 absentee ballots there will break their way. This was not supposed to be a hotly contested race but high Republican turnout in support of Carl Paladino likely tipped the scales.

The 7th Senate District, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer has a very narrow lead over her opponent Republican Bob Cohen. It looks like 20 percent of the regular vote still needs to be counted–voting machine problems have hindered the count.

Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union reports that some of the amigos are getting anxious–Sen. Ruben Diaz may be considering a jump to the Republican side. It would be a funny move being that the Republicans have a history of openly mocking Diaz for his long rambling floor speeches. Diaz told Vielkind, “It’s going to be very interesting to see what Sen. Diaz will do.” and then reminded Vielkind that he ran as both a Democrat and Republican this year.

I spent time with Diaz while he campaigned during the primary this Summer. He made it clear to me that he was by no means bound to one party and he criticized Democrats.

“The Democrats are hurting housing, education, health care. For years the Democrats blamed Republicans,” he told me. “But it is time to stop blaming Republicans. It is time to blame the Democrats. The Democratic party is doing this to blacks and Latino.”

Democratic Sens. Diaz, Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate held their loyalty hostage in 2008 until they could cut deals for powerful positions. They eventually joined the Democrats and supported Sen. Malcolm Smith for majority leader but it was only a few months later that Monserrate and Espada jumped ship to the Republican side in the gridlock inducing coup. Remember when I said I was optimistic that chamber will not be split 31-31? Not sure I could take it again. Some have said a power sharing deal may be able to be worked out if the chamber is split equally because there will have been no subterfuge or surprises to breed animosity between the two parties. During the coup both sides would hold separate sessions to give off the appearance that they were legitimately in charge and actually doing work–they weren’t. But if Democrats start jumping sides, it could get really ugly.

By on November 4, 2010, 4:03 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Paladino's Bats
November 2nd, 2010

Fox 23 news in Albany posted this photo of the press passes Carl Paladino’s camp has designed for his election night celebration. The folks at the Fox affiliate call it, “very creative.”Check it out. Meanwhile, there are reports of overwhelming turnout in upstate districts thought to be “Paladino Country” including in Buffalo and Oswego County.

149836_10150315811010437_131327890436_15617881_1373291_n

By on November 2, 2010, 5:48 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Tell us Your Voting Stories
November 2nd, 2010

Had an interesting experience at your polling place? Machines break down? Electioneering taking place past the posted limit? Surprised be turnout? Run into a candidate? Let us know! Post your stories here or e-mail me at [email protected]

By on November 2, 2010, 4:33 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Tell us Your Voting Stories

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Cuomo:Donovan Win Would "Retire" AG's Office
November 1st, 2010

Andrew Cuomo made a plea to Democratic voters today to back Sen. Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General. “If we don’t have Eric Schneiderman in office you are basically going to retire that office from service,” Cuomo said. “His opponent literally says, ‘I don’t want to be sheriff of Wall Street.’ What do you mean, you don’t want to be sheriff of Wall Street? The job description is you are sheriff of Wall Street. If you don’t want the job,don’t run for the job,” Cuomo said at a get out the vote rally in Albany today.

Cuomo is absolutely devastating Republican candidate Carl Paladino in the polls but Schneiderman, according to the latest Siena poll, is in a dead heat with Republican Dan Donovan. Donovan has managed to close a rather large gap in the polls despite a huge fund raising disadvantage.

“We can not lose that office. I am a little partial. I am a little partisan,” Cuomo said.

Schneiderman canceled some scheduled stumping with Rep. Nita Lowery in Ossining this morning and appeared in Albany with Cuomo and a number of local politicians to rally union members.

Cuomo spent most of his speech ribbing and soothing the ego of Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. Cuomo said Jennings takes it personally when phrases like “Albany dysfunction,” and “Albany corruption are used. “They don’t mean you Jerry,” Cuomo said. Jennings is actually a bit of a controversial figure in Albany. Cuomo was surrounded by the old guard of Albany politicians.

Cuomo went on to say that the Paladino camp is using the classic political strategy of divide and conquer–trying to split the state by capitalizing on the upstate and downstate divide as well as gender, sex and race.

His running mate Robert Duffy introduced Cuomo and kept up his role as attack dog and official Paladino basher. He said Cuomo won’t need a “baseball bat” to change Albany.

Later when taking questions from reporters Cuomo was elusive as ever

Andrew Cuomo and Eric Schnedierman

Andrew Cuomo and Eric Schnedierman

.

“If you want to know what I will do when I am in office take a look at my record as Attorney General,” he said.

By on November 1, 2010, 4:04 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

| 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