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What They're Saying This Morning
April 12th, 2007

From the editorial pages:

The Times criticizes presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani for his support of the confederate flag — and the New York Sun agrees.

The Post goes after New York Chief Justice Judith Kaye for her agressive push for a pay raise for judges.

The News says an “education whistleblower” bill “must not pass,” and remains skeptical about today’s groundbreaking for the 2nd Avenue Subway.

By on April 12, 2007, 7:15 am
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What They're Saying This Morning
April 5th, 2007

The Daily Politics calls Eliot Spitzer on ignoring his own budget reform law

The Empire Zone supplements an article in today’s Times with more on the new features planned for the 2nd Avenue subway

In the Sun, John McWhorter argues that it’s a myth that ex-cons can’t find jobs

By on April 5, 2007, 8:18 am
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A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
April 4th, 2007

This cartoon is from a NY Times article about Bloomberg’s food policies (you can read it here). Gotham Gazette also ran an article/cartoon combo about the city’s battle with fast food recently. If you’re in a hurry, beware: each article is worth about two pictures.

By on April 4, 2007, 11:36 am
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No Wal-Mart? Three Cheers! But Now What?
March 29th, 2007

Wal-Mart is not coming to New York, and the Sun is accusing the City Council of gloating.

Out of towner bloggers are doing their share of rubbing it in, as well. One writes that “hopefully this beautiful city will resist the malling of America for many years more.” Another marvels that “people in New York City may be snobby, but they stand united.”

Some people are unhappy about this. And at least one is a bit confused.

Meanwhile, some New Yorkers are looking ahead.

“Now the unions and politicians that worked so hard to keep Wal-Mart out of Gotham have a moral obligation to help low-income New Yorkers find another way to get low-cost goods,” writes Errol Louis in the Daily News.

Neighborhood Retail Alliance agrees:

“We have been arguing all along that the city needs to have a strategy to promote the development of supermarkets in poor neighborhoods. It needs to work with, and this should be a priority of new food czar Ben Thomases, the food industry-business and labor alike-to device a development strategy. As we have pointed out. before, Pennsylvania and the Food Trust of Philadelphia is pioneering precisely this kind of innovative development effort. NYC needs to emulate this model.”

By on March 29, 2007, 8:03 am
In category: Community Development | 8 Comments »

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Arts Attrition at Ground Zero
March 29th, 2007

After the International Freedom Center and the Drawing Center were chased out of the plans for Ground Zero for being insufficiently patriotic, the Times reported earlier this week that the Signature Theater Company will not be included due to issues surrounding “cost and complicated logistics.”

Today the Times laments the loss of another cultural institution at the site.

“The only momentum for the arts at ground zero is the momentum of attrition, a long downward spiral from a moment of genuine, and perhaps foolish, optimism.”

By on March 29, 2007, 6:37 am
In category: Arts,Gotham City | 3 Comments »

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Surveillance Pro and Con, in Surround Sound
March 27th, 2007

The Politicker is exploring the possibilities with a new toy that allows it to bring the dulcet tones of Oliver Kopppell and Charles Barron to our desktops. Yesterday afternoon it ran short videos of each man weighing in on the NYPD infiltrated groups protesting the Republican National Convention.

Vigorous advocacy can turn into violent acts,” said Koppell, and the police must “avoid violence and terrorism”. He added that it is possible he has been under government surveillance himself.

Barron, who was cited among those under surveillance in 2004, said that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should resign. “This is absurd,” Barron said several times. “If he wants to put someone under surveillance, it should be his police officers, who are out of control.”

By on March 27, 2007, 10:34 am
In category: Civil Rights,Gotham City | 3 Comments »

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A Shaky Second Term
March 26th, 2007

While talk of presidential possibilities for Mayor Michael Bloomberg continue unabated, Chris Smith of New York Magazine writes about the mayor’s trouble here at home:

“For a mayor with such astronomical approval ratings, Bloomberg has had a surprisingly tough time of it lately. His clinical initial responses to the Con Ed blackout in Queens, the fiasco of school-bus reroutings, and the Bronx fire that killed ten members of two immigrant African families have been strung together to bash the mayor as a heartless technocrat. Bloomberg is plenty empathetic, just not in public, and anyone expecting him to reveal an inner Bill Clinton hasnt been paying attention for the past six years.

But professional naysayers arent the mayors real problem, or the reason political momentum has started to shift away from him. Whats truly worrisome is that the mayors recent troubles are rooted in substance, not style. Management expertise is at the core of why he was hired in the first place, and why he was resoundingly reelected in 2005. And it is managerial stumbles that are threatening to turn his second term into a dud.”

By on March 26, 2007, 9:54 am
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Cops, Communists, Sharks and Pigs
March 22nd, 2007

What they’re saying on the editorial pages this morning:

Michael Goodwin says critics of the police should stop using the word “murder” when talking about the Sean Bell case.

Errol Louis argues that mortgage lenders who target low income communities for high-risk loans are sharks “whose greed has crippled millions of American families and triggered a national economic catastrophe.”

The Post and the Sun think New York University is coddling Communists.

The Post also says that John Liu’s idea to force the city’s Department of
Transportation to post all parking regulations online is a rare good idea from the council “proving that even a blind pig can find an acorn at least once.”

By on March 22, 2007, 7:59 am
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Budget Season: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
March 15th, 2007

Jim Tallon of the United Hospital Fund writes about the health care issues at stake in Albany’s budget battle.

“The budget is the worst time to debate essential reforms, because of the polarizing nature of that process and the limited impact of changes in any 12-month cycle,” writes Tallon. “Yet we are also reminded that the budget often presents the only opportunity for a significant change in direction because it forces a focus on fundamental issues.”

By on March 15, 2007, 10:42 am
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Central Park's Free Speech Debate Heads to Court
March 12th, 2007

A federal judge has called for a trial to determine whether the Bloomberg administration violated the first amendment by denying a permit from protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention for a rally on the Great Lawn in Central Park.

The Times editorial page hopes City Hall loses, and says Bloomberg’s “wild fixation on saving every blade of the Grade Lawn” is not justification for keeping protesters out of the only place in Manhattan where a large rally can be held. Likewise, liberal blog Daily Gotham said that the ruling was a “victory for free speech.”

The Daily News, though, says that officials did open some areas for protest, and therefore the assertion that Bloomberg was supressing dissent is “paranoia.”

By on March 12, 2007, 7:14 am
In category: Civil Rights,Gotham City,Law,Parks | 1 Comment »

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Too New York?
March 8th, 2007

The Times runs a piece today questioning whether Rudy Giuliani is too New York to be president, saying that the rest of the country won’t want someone who seems to be the prototype of the rude, brash New Yorker of middle America’s imagination.

Gotham Gazette recently looked at why New Yorkers haven’t done well in national politics in recent years, and why a New Yorker as president no longer seems so far off.

But Matt Browner Hamlin says New York isn’t the issue here — Giuliani is.

The Times piece “provides cover for Giulianis negative character traits by unfairly extending them to the entire city,” argues Browner Hamlin on The Right’s Field, a blog about the 2008 Republican primary:

Dont let Giuliani hide behind New York and stereotypes of New Yorkers for his character flaws.”

By on March 8, 2007, 11:49 am
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Welcome to the Back Room, Eliot
March 5th, 2007

Is Eliot Spitzer changing Albany? The Daily News and the Times both say no.

Michael Goodwin describes the new governor as “the latest ‘reformer’ to fall victim to secrecy’s sway.” There have been no public hearings on the major bills that Spitzer and the legislature have agreed on, he writes. “The secret process can be defending only if one dares claim there are no good ideas in New York other than those advanced by three white men who have vested interests in the outcome,” he adds. (Goodwin ends his piece by recounting a testy exchange he had with Spitzer over the process.)

Albany may be running more smoothly, the Times writes, but Spitzer’s successes don’t automatically mean the end of business as usual.

“These reforms were largely worked out the old-fashioned way in the back rooms of the State Capitol. It makes sense that Mr. Spitzer wanted to push through some early victories, but if he plans to succeed over time, he should be doing more to bring the public into the discussion,” it writes in an editorial this morning.

The Times also ran an Op-Ed yesterday by Assemblymember Richard Brodsky defending the legislature against Spitzer’s (and, it seems everyone else’s) attacks as a complacent supporter of the status quo. Sure, the legislature has not been as effective as it should have been in passing laws, Brodsky argues, but it has fared significantly better in its other responsibilities. The most important of these, according to Brodsky, is to “check abuse of executive power.”

Brodsky does believe that Spitzer is “mostly right” when he talks about cleaning up Albany.

“But hes also created the dangerous possibility that, in the name of reform, the constitutional centers of power intended to limit executive power will be damaged. Changing the system from three men in a room to one man in a room is not reform.”

By on March 5, 2007, 12:19 pm
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Why Ban the "N-Word"?
March 1st, 2007

On the last day of Black History Month, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the “N-Word”.

Stanley Crouch of the Daily News writes that the word’s popularity is part of a trend towards criminality as “authentic” blackness, which has been pushed by profit-seeking record companies, and unchallenged by African Americans who found it offensive.

Comrie’s resolution, he writes, is evidence of a growing backlash against the rejection of middle-class values.

“These people will not shut up because they fear being called middle class or being accused of hating themselves of wanting to be white. They are not impressed by arrest records of the rappers and are too sophisticated to believe that civilized behavior is somehow the exclusive province of white people.”

John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute says that black people who use the word are voicing a “certain intraracial inferiority complex”. But he hardly sees it as the most pressing issue of the day.

“We have to pick our battles and this one is a distinctly unpromising choice,” he writes in the Sun. “The N-word is now stamped into the heart, and people making earnest pronouncements about its ‘implications’ cannot touch that.”

By on March 1, 2007, 8:00 am
In category: Civil Rights,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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News: We Were Wrong About Ground Zero Hero
February 15th, 2007

In the wake of a New York Times report undermining the prevailing account of the death of Cesar Borja, the News and the Post disagree about whether he was killed by exposure to toxic fumes at Ground Zero.

The News, which first reported the story that Borja died of lung disease after working at Ground Zero, admitted that there was “a flaw” in its account. Its stories reported that Borja “rushed to Ground Zero” immediately after the attack, where he “labored in pulverized concrete, glass and smoke.” That reporting was not backed up by facts, the News now says, although it adds that “there is no question that Borja’s recorded service — from Dec 24, 2001, to April 28, 2002 — placed him well within the zone of exposure.”

But the Post runs a second day of its editorial attack on the News’ credibility, and the the “scare science” behind the claims that 9/11 has caused lasting health problems.

By on February 15, 2007, 7:59 am
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Banning iPods
February 8th, 2007

State Senator Carl Kruger must have realized what would happen yesterday when he proposed banning iPod use in New York crosswalks. In a testament to the speed of the internet, it took a matter of hours for a blog from the distant Findlay Ohio to pay a snarky tribute to Kruger’s “unfathomable wisdom.”

You get the feeling that this idea is going to be ridiculed a lot in places near and far for the next several days, then forgotten forever.

Someone please give NY’s state senators something to do,” writes Karol at Alarming News. The Daily News asks: “Would Kruger outlaw daydreaming, too?

The law probably isn’t going anywhere. Even if it does, will it matter? (what New Yorker actually uses the crosswalk?) Still, this is no time for jokes, writes the Sun, who cites the trans fat ban and a proposed ban on overly thin models in fashion shows to argue that the casual way that government overreaches is a threat to our freedom.

“It seems the idea of the nanny state is floating in the ether and the legislators are being taken over one-by-one in a kind of modern version of invasion of the body snatchers.”

But maybe we should all take comfort in this evidence that Albany is putting the comptroller distraction behind it and getting back to work.

By on February 8, 2007, 8:17 am
In category: Civil Rights | 2 Comments »

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Winning by Losing in Comptroller Spat
February 7th, 2007

In a political setback for Governor Eliot Spitzer, it looks like Assemblymember Tom DiNapoli from Long Island could be selected as state comptroller by the end of the day over the governor’s objections.

But Spitzer may win by losing, said two former officials at a forum on city-state relations at Baruch College this morning, since Spitzer seems to be taking a principled stand against the cronyism of the legislature.

“This is a setback for him, but in some ways this is a victory because public opinion is clearly on his side,” said former State Comptroller Carl McCall, who was involved in selecting the three candidates that the assembly seems poised to reject.

Former US Senator Al D’Amato agrees, saying that Spitzer will not be diminished for making a public stand that is perceived as one of the first steps in an ongoing battle to reform Albany.

“He’s still the 800 pound gorilla. He has the power, he has the clout,” said D’Amato. “This is one little episode; it comes early on. There are going to be much bigger fights.”

By on February 7, 2007, 11:31 am
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General Tso's: Another Reason to Be Proud You're a New Yorker
February 5th, 2007

The Times Magazine has a story this week that will interest those New Yorkers who take pride in the fact that they live in the city that invented Santa Claus and came up with the word “hooker”. It turns out that the ever-popular sweet-and-savory dish of Chinese take-out fame — General Tso’s chicken — was created at a restaurant on 44th street.

By on February 5, 2007, 12:38 pm
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Keeping the Subways Running Smoothly
February 5th, 2007

Albany is letting NYC’s subways go to seed while it pays a disproportionate amount to keep commuter train lines in top shape, a report from city Comptroller William Thompson released last Thursday claimed. At the same time, the MTA is increasingly stricken with debt, and its capital plan is far over budget.

“News of this kind feels like one shoe dropping,” writes the Times in an editorial today, “in this case leaving open the possibility of a fare hike, service cuts, or both.”

For this part, the comptroller wants to see more money — some $673 million — from Albany to pay for the needed maintenance and upgrades to fans that get smoke out of the tunnels, and lighting and communication systems.

The Times agrees that the system is being underfunded, and says that “a realistic contribution from Albany” is needed. If it comes down to it, the paper argues, maintenance must take priority over development projects like the 2nd Avenue Subway.

The Post also weighs in. It agrees with Thompson’s diagnosis, but says he is making the wrong prescription.

“If there’s not enough money to keep the system’s infrastructure up to speed, perhaps the fare should go up.”

By on February 5, 2007, 12:25 pm
In category: Gotham City,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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A Brave Budget; The Beginning of a Battle
February 1st, 2007

Eliot Spitzer has proposed “one of the boldest, bravest budget proposals in Albany in many years,” gushes the New York Times in an editorial this morning. It says the new governor has “made good on [his] promise to start upending the ailing culture in Albany.”

While the Times doesn’t find anything to criticize in Spitzer’s proposed budget, it has singled out his plan to change the formulas through which school funding is determined as its most exciting aspect.

EJ McMahon of the Manhattan Institute, however, says that “Spitzer’s ‘new paradigm’ looks a lot like the old one,” in the New York Post. Noting that the governor is calling for a greater increase in funding than George Pataki proposed in his last eight years as governor, McMahon wonders whether Spitzer will succeed in keeping the legislature from significantly increasing the cost, as usually happens.

By all accounts Spitzer has started a fight with the legislature, and some of the state’s more powerful political interests with his proposal. (The Politicker has posted a copy of what looks like an opening salvo from health care union SEIU 1199). The Sun says the governor may have bitten off more than he can chew, likening his effort to overturn the status quo to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt to make New York City’s elections non-partisan.

Spitzer believes that he is a steamroller, and can push his changes through, according to The Politicker. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno responds by regaling a New York Times reporter with an amusing anecdote about his own failed attempt to use a steamroller on the farm, and predicts that Spitzer’s combativeness guarantees another late budget.

By on February 1, 2007, 12:26 pm
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Cheap Shot
January 29th, 2007

Who wins?

By on January 29, 2007, 3:19 pm
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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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