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

City BOE agrees to use modern tech for tallying votes
July 17th, 2012

Unofficial election night results will now be read from portable memory devices at police precincts, rather than off strips of paper, after a unanimous decision by the city’s Board of Elections earlier today.

The results will then be transferred to the New York Police Department, which will give the data to the press.

Elections Commissioner Juan Carlos “J.C.” Polanco said the new election night process will be in place for the September state and local primary elections.

“This is exciting for us. What it’s going to avoid is the element of human error,” he said, adding that the result would be “incredible accuracy.

The current process involves scissors, tape and calculators, and requires BOE staffers to count votes by hand late into the night.

Problems with the current process were highlighted after the June 26 primary, when unofficial election night tallies showed U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel beating his closest challenger by a respectable margin. Rangel’s lead narrowed over the next few days as it became clear that hundreds of votes had potentially gone uncounted because of the byzantine tallying process. (Rangel still won in the end, even after the votes were accounted for.)

The board was roundly criticized in the press for their handling of the election.

By on July 17, 2012, 6:07 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


State Board of Elections gives city counterpart more encouragement
July 17th, 2012

All four commissioners of the state Board of Elections now say the city can change election night voting procedures without a change in state law. Here’s the letter the NYBOE sent today.

It’s an encouraging sign, though it still remains to be seen whether the city’s BOE will follow through.

The issue is expected to be a topic of much discussion at this afternoon’s NYCBOE hearing. Watch our Twitter feed for updates.

By on July 17, 2012, 1:29 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 4 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Top Senate Democrats slam DEC on fracking regs release
July 5th, 2012

Top state Senate Democrats have called on the Department of Environmental Conservation to explain why it shared details about proposed regulations for hydrofracking with representatives of the national gas industry more than a month before the public.

The senators said the DEC’s action had given industry “an advantage in shaping the proposed regulations to its own benefit.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Liz Krueger, Martin Malave Dilan, Thomas K. Duane and Kevin Parker.

The Environmental Working Group obtained records through the Freedom of Information Law that showed regulators giving drilling companies’ exclusive, early access to the proposed policy.

Go here to read the full statement by the Senate Democrats:

2012-07-05 Letter to Martens Re Regs Release

By on July 5, 2012, 3:05 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City | No Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Appeals court strikes down NY taxi decision
June 28th, 2012

A federal appeals court says New York City doesn’t have to require its fleet of licensed yellow taxis be wheelchair accessible, reversing an earlier ruling and upsetting disability advocates.

The court determined earlier today that the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission was not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The court said in its unanimous decision that:

Plaintiffs contend that the TLC violates the ADA because it could require more taxis to be accessible, but does not. The TLCs licensing requirements do not discriminate and do not cause anyone else to discriminate, by licensing or otherwise. The TLCs licenses do not bar taxi owners from operating accessible vehicles. The only medallions that specify whether the taxi must be accessible specify that the taxi operated pursuant to that license be accessible. No doubt, more such taxis would be on the streets if the TLC required more of them to be accessible. But the TLCs failure to use its regulatory authority does not amount to discrimination within the meaning of the ADA or its regulations.

Instead, the court blamed the taxi industry for the problem.

The class-action lawsuit was brought against the TLC by two people who use wheelchairs and advocacy organizations.

Chris Noel, one of the two plaintiffs, said in a statement that he was “very disappointed” but would continue advocating for accessible taxis.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the ruling “consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled.”

Of the 13,237 medallions allowed by law, only 231 are designated for wheelchair accessible vehicles, the court said. “The record shows that the chances of hailing any taxi in Manhattan within 10 minutes is 87.33 percent, whereas the chances of hailing an accessible taxi within 10 minutes is 3.31 percent,” the court wrote.

By on June 28, 2012, 5:17 pm
In category: Transportation | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


City Council to adopt budget, override mayoral vetoes
June 28th, 2012

The City Council is expected to adopt a $68.5 billion budget at today’s stated meeting that preserves funding for child care and after school programs, while at the same time raising no new taxes.

But fiscal policy experts say the budget also makes the risky assumption that the the city will reap hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of taxi medallions. The sale has been held up in court.

The Council also plans to override mayoral vetoes on bills that call for a so-called “living wage” on some city-subsidized projects and a “Responsible Banking Act.”

Bloomberg called the living wage bill “a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated.” The living wage bill would apply to companies that receive at least $1 million in city subsidies.

Bloomberg was equally dismissive of the banking bill.

“Nobody would argue, I would think, that the city has the expertise or the resources to try to regulate the banking industry,” he said at the time the bill was passed by the Council.

By on June 28, 2012, 10:26 am
In category: City Hall,Economy | No Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Cuomo's ed reform commission meets for first time
June 27th, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s newly created New York Education Reform Commission met for the first time in Manhattan yesterday to discuss its agenda, though little of substance emerged from the meeting.
Commission Chairman Richard Parsons and 21 of its 25 members attended. The formerly 20-member group was expanded earlier this month to include a parent advocate, a school board member and a superintendent after criticism of its makeup. Parsons was quick to stress the importance of the commission in shaping education policy in New York State.
“We don’t get this right, everything else is going wrong,” he said.
The commission is focusing on seven priority areas, all of which have been fulfilled successfully in many cases in New York, but not always.
“We’re doing a lot right in New York but it’s not system wide,” Parsons said. “How do you replicate excellence across the system? That’s really the challenge that we have.”
The seven priority areas were split up among working groups: New York’s public education system; teacher and principal quality and school district leadership; and student achievement and family engagement. The groups will report their findings to the chair and commission.
There was some confusion over the overlap among working groups. Commission members questioned where topics like special education and pre-K programs fall.
But Parsons said it would be too “challenging” not to break up all the work.
“A smaller group can really spend their time and then report back to the large group,” he explained.
Commission members also expressed confusion over the 10-stop “listening tour” they will undertake across the state starting in two weeks and running until October, with the New York City stop on July 26. They have yet to decide on a length and format for the public meetings, although the Governor’s staff said it was their responsibility to choose it.
“Two weeks from now we’re going to have to be ready to go,” said Elizabeth Dickey, president of the Bank Street College of Education and chair of one of the commission’s working groups. “I’m feeling uneasy that we don’t know how we’re going to structure them.”
A three-hour timeframe was suggested, with Senator John Flanagan proposing testimony be submitted ahead of time and not read aloud to streamline the process. However, some members dissented.
“People are yearning to have their voices heard,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said. “I just think there should be a way of hearing them.”
Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, suggested extending the length of the public meetings.
“I suspect in New York City, for instance, you’re not going to be able to accomadate the number of people who will want to speak in three hours, so I think we’ve got to be flexible,” Rebell said. “I hate to have this advertised, have people come out, and feel that they’re being shut out.”
“I want to make these hearings as understandable as possible for the public and for us,” he added.
Rebell’s inclusion on the commission, as a well-known critic of Cuomo’s policies, was applauded by advocacy groups.
“We need more of those really staunch supporters and advocates on the commission,” said Alliance for Quality Education organizer Zakiyah Ansari.
Besides Rebell, the recent addition of school board member Patricia Gallagher, superintendent Jessica Cohen and Parent Power Project Executive Director Carrie Remis to the commission was well-received.
“There’s more balance now than there was in the past, and we’re thankful for that,” said Statewide School Finance Consortium Executive Director Rick Timbs. “We hope this, unlike previous commissions, will come up with something actually viable.”
–Reported by Nina Goldman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newly created New York Education Reform Commission met for the first time in Manhattan yesterday to discuss its agenda, though little of substance emerged from the meeting.

Commission Chairman Richard Parsons and 21 of its 25 members attended. The formerly 20-member group was expanded earlier this month to include a parent advocate, a school board member and a superintendent after criticism of its makeup.

Parsons was quick to stress the importance of the commission in shaping education policy in New York State.

“We don’t get this right, everything else is going wrong,” he said.

The commission is focusing on seven priority areas, all of which have been fulfilled successfully in many cases in New York, but not always.

“We’re doing a lot right in New York but it’s not system wide,” Parsons said. “How do you replicate excellence across the system? That’s really the challenge that we have.”

The seven priority areas were split up among working groups: New York’s public education system; teacher and principal quality and school district leadership; and student achievement and family engagement. The groups will report their findings to the chair and commission.

There was some confusion over the overlap among working groups. Commission members questioned where topics like special education and pre-K programs fall.

But Parsons said it would be too “challenging” not to break up all the work.

“A smaller group can really spend their time and then report back to the large group,” he explained.

Commission members also expressed confusion over the 10-stop “listening tour” they will undertake across the state starting in two weeks and running until October, with the New York City stop on July 26. They have yet to decide on a length and format for the public meetings, although the Governor’s staff said it was their responsibility to choose it.

“Two weeks from now we’re going to have to be ready to go,” said Elizabeth Dickey, president of the Bank Street College of Education and chair of one of the commission’s working groups. “I’m feeling uneasy that we don’t know how we’re going to structure them.”

A three-hour timeframe was suggested, with Senator John Flanagan proposing testimony be submitted ahead of time and not read aloud to streamline the process. However, some members dissented.

“People are yearning to have their voices heard,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said. “I just think there should be a way of hearing them.”

Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, suggested extending the length of the public meetings.

“I suspect in New York City, for instance, you’re not going to be able to accomadate the number of people who will want to speak in three hours, so I think we’ve got to be flexible,” Rebell said. “I hate to have this advertised, have people come out, and feel that they’re being shut out.”

“I want to make these hearings as understandable as possible for the public and for us,” he added.

Rebell’s inclusion on the commission, as a well-known critic of Cuomo’s policies, was applauded by advocacy groups.

“We need more of those really staunch supporters and advocates on the commission,” said Alliance for Quality Education organizer Zakiyah Ansari.

Besides Rebell, the recent addition of school board member Patricia Gallagher, superintendent Jessica Cohen and Parent Power Project Executive Director Carrie Remis to the commission was well-received.

“There’s more balance now than there was in the past, and we’re thankful for that,” said Statewide School Finance Consortium Executive Director Rick Timbs. “We hope this, unlike previous commissions, will come up with something actually viable.”

–Reported by Nina Goldman

By on June 27, 2012, 10:53 am
In category: Albany,Education | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


City lawmakers propose NYPD inspector general
June 13th, 2012

Lawmakers have introduced legislation into the City Council that would create an inspector general with subpoena powers over the nation’s largest police department.

With criticism mounting daily on the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk and surveillance policies, sponsors of the bill said the aim was to create independent oversight of the law enforcement agency.

The measure, introduced earlier today by Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, would create an inspector general to conduct investigations and review NYPD policies and operations. He or she would also make recommendations and deliver regular reports to the mayor, police commissioner, City Council and the public.

Lander said they looked at the work of inspectors general on the federal and local levels to draft the legislation. They also reviewed police oversight models in other big cities and the operations of other inspector generals in New York City.

“Inspectors general have worked in New York City a lot of times, have worked at the federal level, have worked in a lot of places. There’s a good framework for doing it,” Lander said. “It just made a lot of sense.”

The mayor and police commissioner have previously said the department does not need increased oversight.

By on June 13, 2012, 4:34 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights | No Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Cornell tech school to be housed temporarily at Google NY
May 21st, 2012

Cornell University’s new tech school will be housed at Google’s New York headquarters while its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island is under construction. 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced during a visit to Google’s offices today that the company would donate 22,000 square feet at its offices for use by CornellNYC Tech for nearly 6 years or until its campus is completed. Bloomberg was joined by Google Inc. CEO Larry Page and Corrnell President David J. Skorton for the announcement.

Classes at CornellNYC Tech are scheduled to begin in the fall. 

Cornell beat out other universities, including Stanford, in a bid to establishe a cutting-edge technology and enginneering school on city-owned land. 

By on May 21, 2012, 12:20 pm
In category: Tech | 22 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


NYPD stop-and-frisk procedures modified
May 17th, 2012

 

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he has instituted a new procedure to regulate how street stop-and-frisk encounters by patrol officers are monitored and supervised.
In a letter sent earlier today to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Kelly said top-ranking officials in each police precinct will now be required to audit reports of street stops by officers. This is in addition to a review undertaken at weekly Compstat meetings by the chief of the department, he wrote.�
“I believe these measures will help us more closely monitor the daily street encounter activity of precinct personnel,” he wrote.�
He also said that the department has republished an order prohibiting racial profiling and has created a new training course that “provides personnel with an additional level of clarity in determining when and how to conduct a lawful stop.”
Quinn, who released Kelly’s letter, said in a statement that the changes announced were “an important step forward” but said more needs to be done to reduce the number of stops and “bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve.”�
A federal judge yesterday granted class-action status to a lawsuit against the city’s stop-and-frisk practices. The lawsuit alleges that the NYPD has systematically targeted blacks and Latinos and trampled on Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.Â�
Over 200,000 stops were made on city streets in the first three months of this year, an increase of over 2011.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he has instituted a new procedure to regulate how street stop-and-frisk encounters by patrol officers are monitored and supervised.

In a letter sent earlier today to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Kelly said top-ranking officials in each police precinct will now be required to audit reports of street stops by officers. This is in addition to a review undertaken at weekly Compstat meetings by the chief of the department, he wrote.

“I believe these measures will help us more closely monitor the daily street encounter activity of precinct personnel,” he wrote.

He also said that the department has republished an order prohibiting racial profiling and has created a new training course that “provides personnel with an additional level of clarity in determining when and how to conduct a lawful stop.”

Quinn, who released Kelly’s letter, said in a statement that the changes announced were “an important step forward” but said more needs to be done to reduce the number of stops and “bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve.”

A federal judge yesterday granted class-action status to a lawsuit against the city’s stop-and-frisk practices. The lawsuit alleges that the NYPD has systematically targeted blacks and Latinos and trampled on Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.

Over 200,000 stops were made on city streets in the first three months of this year.

By on May 17, 2012, 12:58 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


Judge grants class-action status to stop-and-frisk lawsuit
May 16th, 2012

A federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging the New York Police Department has improperly targeted blacks and Hispanics with its stop-and-frisk crime reduction program.
U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who issued the written decision today, wrote that it was “indisputable” that the NYPD has a vast stop-and-frisk program “designed, implemented and monitored by NYPD’s administration.” She said over 2.8 million stops were made between 2004 and 2009.
She wrote that the city had demonstrated “a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”
Police released data Friday showing an increase in the number of stops on city streets between January and March of this year. The data showed there were 203,500 street stops, compared to 183,326 in 2011.
The city’s Law Department said it disagreed with the decision and was reviewing its legal options.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has strongly defended the practicing and, during a City Council hearing last month, pugnaciously argued that the policy had successfully reduced violence among young men of color.

A federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging the New York Police Department improperly targeted blacks and Hispanics with its stop-and-frisk crime reduction program.

U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who wrote the decision filed today in court, wrote that it was “indisputable” that the NYPD has a vast stop-and-frisk program “designed, implemented and monitored” by the department’s administration. She said over 2.8 million stops were made between 2004 and 2009.

She wrote that the city had demonstrated “a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”

Police released data Friday showing an increase in the number of stops on city streets between January and March of this year. The data showed there were 203,500 street stops, compared to 183,326 in 2011.

The city’s Law Department said it disagreed with the judge’s decision and was reviewing its legal options.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has strongly defended the practicing and, during a City Council hearing last month, pugnaciously argued that the policy had successfully reduced violence among young men of color.

By on May 16, 2012, 4:16 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


NYC Council wants banks to detail efforts in communities
May 15th, 2012

The City Council plans to vote onlegislation that would require banks that receive billions in municipal funds to release information on their lending practices in struggling neighborhoods.

The bill is expected to pass today at the council’s stated meeting. Its supporters, including the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, say it will help policymakers make better decisions about where the city’s money is deposited and encourage banks to invest in communities.

“This bill will make the banking capital of the world the responsible banking capital of the world,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said during the meeting.

Other cities are considering or have passed similar ordinances after a punishing financial crisis. Los Angeles was expected to pass its own today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg told The New York Times he was wary of putting restrictions on where city money could be deposited. “You would think, between the federal government and the state government, we’d have enough bank regulations,” Bloomberg told the newspaper.

The city currently banks with over 30 major financial institutions, including JPMorganChase, Bank of America, New York Community Bank and Citibank.

At a council hearing in March 2011, the city Department of Finance said it was opposed to the bill, saying it was overly broad and could mislead consumers and businesses into believing it regulates banks.

“When procuring banking services, the city focuses and should continue to focus solely on the financial safety and soundness of each bank, its banking capabilities and its pricing,” said Elaine A. Kloss, in testimony before the committees on finance and community development.

The Department of Finance oversees the city’s money, in conjunction with the city comptroller and the Banking Commission. The commission approves or denies applications from financial institutions seeking to do business with the city.

By on May 15, 2012, 12:08 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed


A new, digital Green Book for NYC
May 11th, 2012

NYC Green Book

New York City’s Green Book has gone digital.

The city announced today an updated online edition of its widely used directory of city, state and county agencies.

Its the first time the directory has been made available as a digital application, viewable from any modern-day browser.

Created in 1918, the book has a storied history, but hasnt been published since 2008. Dog-eared copies of older editions of the book still sit on the desks of researchers, journalists and policymakers, even though many of the phone numbers are outdated and agency heads have long since changed.

The new edition will still be available in print, available exclusively from CityStore in late June.

Continuing with the green theme of the directory, the new edition sports the citys environmentally conscientious mascot Birdie, holding a compact fluorescent light bulb and wearing a Statue of Liberty crown.

The online directory is searchable and will be updated on an ongoing basis. The new directory is a project of the citys Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Link: www.nyc.gov/greenbook

By on May 11, 2012, 11:33 am
In category: City Hall,Tech | 2 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