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Occupy Albany Set to Expand
October 24th, 2011

If nothing else reports about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desire to crackdown on Occupy Albany seem to have inspired protesters. Word out of the Occupy Albany camp is that the group expects their ranks to grow significantly with support from across the state now that it is clear that they have the governor’s attention. Furthermore, the group is prepared to “mobilize” in the event of any crackdown. Some Democratic legislators are licking their chops over the prospect of having protesters in their front lawn when the legislature reconvenes next year. Not sure what protesters are going to do about the cold–its getting chilly in Albany.

By on October 24, 2011, 12:17 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Economy,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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Soares on Occupy Albany
October 24th, 2011

“For some people who arent familiar with Albany this may seem like some big event,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares referring to “Occupy Albany.”

“For me, driving by the Capitol and seeing the protests–this is just a Monday– you have protests here all the time. We have people exercising their first amendment rights peacefully. It has been our position not to prosecute them if they are arrested and this time we put it out there that this was our position beforehand,” Soares said responding to reports that his reluctance to prosecute Occupy Albany Protesters stopped the Albany Police Department from bending to pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to arrest protesters for violating a curfew.

“Sure there are some people that come from out of town who want to break things or attack law enforcement as acts of civil disobedience, to get on television but these are not those people,” said Soares.

“The backdrop to this is that on Friday we had three kids shot and you are going to try and tell Chief Krokoff to take his officers off those cases to arrest people who are playing the guitar and eating cider donuts?”

Two fifteen-year-olds and a twenty year old were shot in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood on Friday. Soares says that Albany County does not have the resources to arrest and prosecute people involved in peaceful protest.

Soares says he has had “open lines of communications” with the protest organizers and the police department since before the protests started. He says he has checked in with them about concerns he had about providing proper provisions for the children and elderly present at the protest and that he and the APD continue to monitor the situation. But he says he has not hasn’t been pressured by any official to make arrests.

By on October 24, 2011, 11:11 am
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Economy,Eye on Albany | 18 Comments »

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Sleep Over on Wall Street
October 20th, 2011

Thought Occupy Wall Street had jumped the shark when MTV started trying to cast protesters for the Real World? Well think again, because OWS just got even more main stream in a way that will almost certainly send Fox News anchors into stuttering tirades.

Break out your sleeping bags kids! Parents for Occupy Wall Street is holding a “Family Sleep Over” on Friday at 4 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. A similar event was planned last week but canceled do to the (cancelled) eviction and clean up.

“Occupy Wall Street is a place for everyone, including families. At the Family Sleepover, families and children will find arts and crafts, a childrens music sing along, a pizza party, and a bed time story,” reads a statement released by organizers.

The group has already made the New York Police Department aware of the event and parents will wear shirts to identify themselves as being affiliated with the sleep over.

By on October 20, 2011, 3:13 pm
In category: Economy,Education,Parks | 7 Comments »

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Quinn Ducks and Parries
October 6th, 2011

Yesterday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn presided over the passage of a bill that Mayor Michael Bloomberg adamantly opposes. Will she do it again?

This issue yesterday was the city’s increasing reliance on outside contractors. The City Council — obviously with strong backing from Quinn or else it wouldn’t have happened — unanimously passed a bill requiring a kind of cost-benefit analysis of proposed contracts.

Bloomberg later, according to WNYC’s Bob Hennelly blasted the measure. “To put impediments to us getting the best deal for the taxpayers particularly during this economy is something we can not tolerate. We are just not going to have this bill,” Bloomberg said.

The next issue could be the so-called Living Wage bill, a measure that would require businesses that get a city subsidy to pay their workers, not just the minimum wage but a living wage of $10 to $11.50 an hour, depending upon benefits.

The administration opposes that one too — usually trying to obscure the fact that it would only apply to employers getting city money. Yesterday Bloomberg somehow linked it to the Soviet Union.

Quinn wants the mayor’s business supporter and backing for her mayoral quest. She’s also probably like at least some unions on her side and a stamp of approval from the many council members who are for the living wage. And so despite repeated questioning from reporters who phrased and rephrased the question yesterday, Quinn would not be pinned down.

The verbal dueling after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 6, 2011, 3:55 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Gotham City,Health,Work and Labor | 3 Comments »

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Bloomberg's Record on Poverty
September 22nd, 2011

For many months, the Bloomberg administration has boasted that as poverty rose elsewhere in the country, it remained constant here, thanks in part to his policies.

Unfortunately, he can no longer say that.

New census figures, as reported in the Times this morning, show that poverty rose more rapidly in New York City by 1.4 percentage points — than in the nation as a whole from 2009 to 2010. This brought the number of people living in poverty in the city to 20.1 percent, the highest level since 2000. Child poverty rose even more by 3 percentage points leaving three out of every 10 city children in homes below the poverty level.

A report by Alliance for a Greater New York said the situation may be even worse than those numbers would indicate because of the high cost of living in New York a luxury brand, as the mayor has called it.

Incomes across the city fell by 5 percent. But some people continue to do very well. In Manhattan the county in the country with the biggest income gap the average earning of the top fifth of the population came to $371,754,

While deploring this high level of poverty, advocates quickly responded that the figures only confirm what they see every day an increasing level of need in the city. More homeless. Longer lines at soup kitchens and food pantries. People desperate for work.

More reaction and a review of Bloomberg administration poverty policies after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 22, 2011, 5:05 pm
In category: Demographics,Economy,Gotham City,Public Finance,Social Services | 5 Comments »

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A Poorer State
September 13th, 2011

One in six New York state residents — more than 3 million people — live in poverty, according to statement by theNew York City Coalition Against Hunger on census figures released this morning.

The figure 2009-10 represents an 11 percent increase from 2007-2008, the coalition said. The numbers become particularly striking when one considers just how low an income a family must have to be seen as living in poverty - less than $18,310 for a family of three.

In its statement, the coalition anticipated a rise in poverty for New York City alone, although it noted those numbers are not yet available. In 2009, more than one in five New York City residents lived in poverty, with experts saying the level would have been higher without the federal economic stimulus program.

While critics have warned of increased need in the city longer lines at food pantries and the like — the Bloomberg administration has maintained that poverty remained relatively constant during the recession and the weak — if that — recovery.

“To a large degree, economic stimulus programs and policy initiatives aimed at bolstering family income succeeded in preventing a rise in poverty in New York City,” concluded a report issued in March by the mayors Center for Economic Opportunity.

What no one can deny, though, is that the disparity in wealth in the city has increased. The wealthiest 1 percent of city residents has 44 percent of all income in New York, nearly four times as much as they did just 30 years ago, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.

By on September 13, 2011, 11:58 am
In category: Demographics,Economy,Gotham City,Social Services | 1 Comment »

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Fitch Downgrades MTA Revenue Bonds
September 8th, 2011

Fitch Ratings has downgraded $14.3 billion on outstanding Metropolitan Transportation Authority transportation revenue bonds from an ‘A’ to an ‘A-plus.’ The agency also downgraded the long-term rating of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority general subordinate bonds.

Fitch said the move came because of escalating operating costs and foretasted deficits.

Just like in Washington, decisions made by our elected officials in
Albany caused this downgrade, said Paul Steely White, Executive
Director of Transportation Alternatives.

The States raids on public transit funding have forced the MTA to pay for subways and buses with debt. Now, it will cost more for the MTA to run the system, and this will hit New Yorkers where it hurtsfare hikes and service cuts; unless our elected officials in Albany find secure revenue for public
transit.

The downgrades come as the agency waits for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pick a new director to replace outgoing chairman Jay Walder. Transportation advocates are concerned about Cuomo’s interest in the city’s mass transit system and have been pushing Cuomo to pick someone with experience with a large transit system. Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 8, 2011, 6:29 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Fracking and Flooding
September 8th, 2011

Flooding is a new major point of contention for environmental groups as they look over the fracking report or environmental impact study just released by the Department of Environmental Conservation. As upstate New York faces devastating flooding this week and rivers, streams and lakes continue to overflow, environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council are concerned that the Department of Environmental Conservation does not propose a complete ban of all fracking related activities in flood plains.

The DEC does propose banning well development in flood plains but it would seemingly allow holding ponds and other infrastructure to be located on them. Environmentalists worry that could lead to catastrophe if flooding occurred and toxic fracking materials escaped into the general water supply.

This does seem like an issue that might be able to be resolved during the public comment period that lasts until Dec. 12. However, environmentalists point out that the DEC plans on proposing draft rules to oversee fracking before their environmental review is complete. Those rules will be issued in Oct. and public comment will be open on them until December as well. Advocates insist that the comment period on the recently released environmental impact study is meant to inform the writing of the rules that oversee fracking and that they should not be taking place concurrently.

By on September 8, 2011, 4:53 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Environment,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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More Impressions on Fracking Report
September 8th, 2011

“A new report out of Albany yesterday confirms what most folks already know: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will bring huge benefits to New York — with scant chance of environmental harm,” reads the opening line of the NY Post’s editorial on fracking this morning. Guess what? The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Green Party don’t buy it.

Eric Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council has a blog up detailing what he sees as the major missing elements of the Department of Environmental Conservations new environmental study of fracking.

“Our first impression of the new draft environmental study is that it has left a boatload of unresolved issues and unanswered questions in its wake,” writers Goldstein.

What does the NRDC think is missing? Like he said–a boat load.

1. The report fails to address how to deal with fracking in flood plains–an issue made all the more poignant by tropical storm Irene.

2. The report fails to propose how to protect small communities from “rapid industrialization”–such as pollution, heavy machinery etc. when fracking takes off.

3. The report is vague on what will happen to millions of gallons of toxic waste water from fracking.

For more of what the NRDC thinks is misgiving check out Goldstein’s blog.

Meanwhile the Green Party just wants to throw the entire study in the trash and demands that Gov. Andrew Cuomo institute a ban on fracking. See a snippet of their statement here: Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 8, 2011, 8:13 am
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DEC Backtracks on Public Meetings
September 7th, 2011

Environmental groups are responding to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s fracking report and they continue to say that the public comment period should be extended. The DEC does seem to have extended the comment period to over 90 days but not to the requested 180. Environmental groups say that New Yorkers are still recovering from tropical storm Irene and need more time to process the report. A press release from a coalition of environmental groups called New York Water Rangers demands the DEC add two more public meetings.

Originally the DEC website said there would be 4 public hearings. “The meetings will be held in Broome, Steuben and Sullivan counties, as well as New York City. Dates and locations will be announced shortly,” read the website.

However, DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis e-mailed me earlier to say, “To clarify, no final decisions have been made on the locations of the public hearings. The hearings will be held in counties within the Marcellus Shale region, as well as New York City. Exact dates and locations will be released in early October.” The original statement seemed fairly clear.

Anyway, the Water Rangers’ response is fairly blistering: Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 7, 2011, 2:30 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Environment,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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Bloomberg: S&P Got It Right
August 8th, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Standard& Poor’s got it “righto the nose” when it condemned dysfunction in Washington and downgraded the U.S. credit rating. “Don’t blame the messenger,” the mayor said at a press conference this afternoon, saying the ratings agency had delivered “a demining indictment of how bad things have gotten in Washington.”

“We’ve gotten a two-month civics lesson in how to talk the economy down,” he said

As he has done in the past, the mayor excoriated Washington for not doing more to put the nation’s fiscal house in order and for coming so close to default earlier this month, but did not volunteer whether he blames everyone in Washington equally or, like the American people, holds some more responsible than others.

By on August 8, 2011, 3:56 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy | 1 Comment »

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Budget Division Tamps Down Expectations
August 3rd, 2011

Tax revenue may be better than expected so far this year but the State Division of Budget doesn’t want anyone to get to excited. The just-released quarterly budget update predicts that tax receipts will be much lower in coming months.

However, the state expects to end the budget year with a $1.7 billion surplus. That bad news? A $2.4 billion deficit is expected for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. In fact the budget division expects major deficits in the next three budget cycles–$2.8 billion in 2013-2014 and $4.6 billion om 2014-2015.

By on August 3, 2011, 12:12 pm
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State Unemployment Rate Rises
July 21st, 2011

The State Labor Department is reporting that the jobs picture in New York is not exactly pretty. The state unemployment rate increased to 8 percent in June from 7.8 percent in May. The national unemployment rate for June was 9.2 percent. The number of unemployed also increased from 751,600 in May to 760,500 in June. The state gained 13,600 jobs in June or .2 percent.

“In June 2011, the New York State economy continued its recovery from the effects of the last recession, adding 13,600 private sector jobs. Like the nation as a whole, our state unemployment rate increased over the month, and now stands at 8.0%. However, we remained significantly below the nation’s jobless rate, which increased to 9.2% in June,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Chief of Labor Statistics, Division of Research and Statistics in a statement.

By on July 21, 2011, 2:52 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Work and Labor | 3 Comments »

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Chin Applauds Quinn, Wants Millionaires Tax
June 29th, 2011

The City Council voted to pass Mayor Bloomberg’s $66 billion budget earlier today and council members seem pretty happy with their votes. Councilman Charles Barron was the only dissenting vote.

A release from Council member Margaret Chin notes that she “thanked Speaker Quinn and Finance Chair Recchia for their leadership and pairing down the massive cuts proposed in the Executive budget.” A last minute deal averted the layoff of 4,000 teachers.

But it also notes that Chin supported a resolution sponsored by Council members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander which calls on the New York State Legislature to pass a law extending the millionaires tax.

The budget season may be over but the millionaires tax does not expire until the end of the year. Tonight the City Council has taken the first step in signaling to the State our need for real revenue raising options in the year to come. We want to ensure that this years cuts are the bottom line. It is now time to look at ways to raise money and to do that we need a progressive income tax in New York City

Here is her full statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 29, 2011, 2:07 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy | 2 Comments »

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CityTime Manager Fudges Timesheets
May 25th, 2011

In an impromptu press conference, Comptroller John Liu revealed even the project manager of the Bloomberg administration’s plagued time keeping project couldn’t keep his own time.

According to a letter Liu received today, Science Application International Corp., the prime contractor on the project, put Gerard Denault on administrative leave in December after the project manager fudged his own time sheets. As a result, the company will refund the city $2.5 million.

“The very company entrusted by our city to build a time keeping system for New York City employees has grossly mismanaged their own time keeping and in the process overcharged the city taxpayers for sums of money still to be determined,” Liu said. “This is a sad day for New York City taxpayers.”

Liu said today he would ask the adminsitration to work with him on this issue. He also called for the administration to freeze all payments to SAIC and force the Department of Investigation to conduct a comprehensive review of other possible violations.

In response, Bloomberg spokesperson Marc LaVorgna sent over the following statement:

We will withhold any and all payments until the completion of the Department of Investigations ongoing review, which includes a forensic accountant we added last year. The project is essentially fully online and operational and SAICs contract with the city expires on June 30th. We already had stated we were not renewing the contract. SAIC is owed $32 million for the completion of the project; no payments will be made until the review is completed.

CityTime has been the bane of Bloomberg’s third term. Mired by delay and cost overruns, the debacle culminated in December when federal authorities indicted six employees for using shell companies to divert city money into their own pockets. Originally the project was supposed to cost about $60 million. Its price tag now is more than $700 million.

By on May 25, 2011, 5:41 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 4 Comments »

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Living Wage Gets Its Hearing
May 12th, 2011

Labor and city leadership collided this afternoon at a packed and feisty hearing on legislation to require city subsidized developers pay a living wage.

Under a bill introduced nearly a year ago, recipients of more than $100,000 in financial assistance would have to pay all of their employees either $11.50 or $10 an hour plus benefits. The controversial bill has garnered 30 sponsors at the council, but it does not have the Bloomberg administration’s support. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who controls the council’s agenda, has yet to take a position on the measure.

At today’s hearing, the chief of staff to the deputy mayor for economic development, Tokumbo Shobowale, endured two and half hours of back and forth with council members — the vast majority of those in attendance support the proposal. Shobowale attempted to convince the council that the adminsitration agrees with the premise of raising the standard of living for the working poor. It questions, Shobowale argued, whether a wage mandate is the way to do it.

“It’s not a philosophical difference,” Shobowale said. “It’s looking at the data.”

The hearing followed the release of a study on Monday by the Economic Development Corp., which argued the living wage proposal would result in between 33,000 and 100,000 job losses for the city. The study’s methodology and findings drew ire from supporters of the bill today.

“The administration is so full of it, you might want to consider a high-fiber diet,” said Councilmember Jumaane Williams. “It might help with that situation.”

The hearing amounted to a clash of academics and methodology — with supporters citing studies that supported living wage mandates, and the adminsitration calling its recently released analysis solid, current and comprehensive.

Just this morning, supporters of the bill released a counter analysis of the city’s living wage study, which argued its modeling did not rule out other factors that could affect job growth (like an economic downturn). Supporters also claim the city-sponsored study examines the wrong population of projects — it includes an as-of-right subsidy for industrial and commercial properties the bill is not meant to capture.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 12, 2011, 6:37 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 8 Comments »

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Clash at IDA Board Over Study
May 10th, 2011

A small spat erupted at this morning’s Industrial Development Agency board meeting, when Bronx borough president appointee Albert Rodriguez questioned the legitimacy and release of the city’s living wage study.

Rodriguez chastised the Economic Development Corp., which is the parent agency to the Industrial Development Agency, for hastily releasing the study’s executive summary to the press before giving a copy to the board on Monday. He also seriously questioned the report’s findings, which suggest a living wage mandate for city subsidized developments would result in job losses. Legislation to require similar wage standards is currently ruminating at the City Council.

Rodriguez called the study “political football for the interest of the Bloomberg adminsitration” and “very flawed.”

“This was a waste of money,” Rodriguez said. “We could have hired nine more teachers.”

The IDA board authorized the agency to spend $1 million on the study, which was conducted by Boston-based consulting firm, Charles River Associates.

The study’s executive summary was released yesterday afternoon in anticipation of a City Council hearing scheduled for Thursday, said EDC President Seth Pinsky. The City Council had asked the agency to accelerate the study’s release so it could discuss the findings at the hearing. The full report will be released in the “coming weeks,” Pinsky said.

In defense of the study, Pinsky said it was “disappointing” officials would allege the agency was playing politics.

“I think [the study] is very similar, in fact, to the approach that’s been taken on many of the studies that have been cited by proponents of wage mandates,” Pinsky said. “What the study found was the legislation that has been proposed in the City Council here in New York is dramatically different from wage mandate legislation that has been proposed across the country. The additional requirements that are put into this particular legislation… they would make it extremely difficult and unlikely that people would continue to take the benefits.”

Pinsky said there are other ways to create better “living standards,” including expanding the benefits of the earned income tax credit. Any change in that tax credit would need federal, state and city approval. Pinsky also said the agency is conducting an internal study on how it can expand jobs in various middle income sectors, like construction or health care.

“There is nobody on either side of this debate who doesn’t want to figure out a way to raise the living standards of the least fortunate members of society,” Pinsky said. “The question is: Is this the right way to do it?”

The study found living wage policies would increase the standard wage at city subsidized developments, but could result in substantial job losses — anywhere from 33,000 to 100,000. Immediately after the executive summary was released, a Bloomberg spokesperson reiterated the administration’s opposition to the bill.

Rodriguez too is not without political motives. His boss, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., proposed the living wage legislation after the City Council rejected a proposal to develop the Kingsbridge Armory in the borough. The proposal was defeated because the developer would not promise to force tenants to pay a living wage.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 10, 2011, 12:26 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Land Use,Law,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 1 Comment »

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Living Wage Study Says Policy Costs Jobs
May 9th, 2011

After much anticipation, the city Economic Development Corp. released a $1 million study on living wage policy today, which finds implementing higher pay standards at city subsidized developments would cost jobs.

The study examines legislation at the City Council to require any entity who recieves more than $100,000 in financial assistance from the city to pay a living wage. Thirty council members have signed on in support of the measure. Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not revealed her position. Although the speaker has Ok’d a hearing on the bill, which is scheduled for Thursday.

The adminsitration called for the study, which was conducted by Boston-based consulting firm Charles River Associates, last year after the City Council defeated a controversial development at the Kingsbridge Armory. The developer refused to guarantee tenants of the proposal would pay a living wage.

The study found certain development projects would no longer be “financially feasible” if the city adopted a living wage mandate. As a result, it argues, the city would lose jobs.

In response to the study, Andrew Brent, a mayoral spokesperson, released the following statement:

The study is clear: the legislation would result in major job losses at all income levels and particularly among low-income New Yorkers. The biggest job losses would occur in the areas with the highest unemployment at a time when too many New Yorkers are without jobs as it is. The legislation would have a very harmful effect on growth opportunities of small businesses and the creation of affordable housing, and it would reduce overall private investment in New York City by an estimated $7 billion. Aggregate wages among low-skilled workers would not change because any gains among some workers would be more than offset by families losing employment opportunities entirely. The goal of increasing wages among New Yorkers of course is a good one, but this type of approach in other cities hasnt just failed, its done so with severe consequences for job-seekers and businesses.

But not everyone was thrilled with the results. In response to the study, Comptroller John Liu (a frequent critic of the Economic Development Corp.) released the following statement:

The EDCs claim that a living wage kills jobs shows just how distorted the agencys operations have become. The proposed living wage would be a requirement on new projects that are heavily subsidized by taxpayers. It may curtail the number of new minimum wage jobs, with the hope that these new jobs would then pay a decent wage. The claim of job losses is rhetoric at its worst.

Asked what he thinks the study means for the living wage legislation currently under consideration at the City Council, Paul Sonn, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, still seemed optimistic.

“The council I’m sure will give it careful consideration,” Sonn said. “We expect them to look at more rigorous research, which includes other studies and hearing the real world experiences of other cities.”

And for your reading pleasure:

Living Wage Exec Summary_2011 05 09

By on May 9, 2011, 6:11 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Work and Labor | 1 Comment »

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Bloomberg Releases Budget, Slashes Teachers
May 6th, 2011

As expected, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a $65.7 billion budget this morning, which slashes 6,166 teaching positions, would close 20 fire companies and shutter four swimming pools this summer.

Bloomberg deflected all of the blame for the fiscal pain. Instead, he pointed towards Albany and Washington.

“Both places are keeping our tax dollars to close their budget deficits,” Bloomberg said. “If the state was paying 50 percent of the Department of Education, we would not be talking about laying off teachers.”

While Bloomberg did not hesitate to blame Albany, he also acknowledged the city was unlikely to receive any reprieve from the state or federal government. For now, the city will use the remainder of its surplus to close the budget hole.

The mayor’s executive plan did back away from slashing 16,000 child care slots — the result of a loss in federal funding. The administration plans to save the positions by expanding after school programs and increasing funding for the Administration for Children’s Services. The cost of the slots was originally put at $91 million. Officials said the program could be saved with just $40 million.

Advocates and council members, however, questioned the mayor’s calculations.

“With the budget released today, the administration is continuing its assault on early childhood education by cutting $50 million from our city’s child care,” said Councilman Steve Levin. “It is an outrageous sleight of hand that this administration would present itself as the savior of child care while simultaneously destroying it for thousands of New Yorkers. It’s like someone starting a fire, just so he could take the credit for putting 40 percent of that fire out.”

In a joint statement, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Finance Chairman Domenic Recchia identified teacher layoffs, the child care cuts, a 29 percent cut to libraries and fire companies as their top priorities.

“Since the recent financial crisis and recession, the City Council has worked aggressively to control spending and manage the citys budget in a fiscally responsible manner while protecting vital services,” they said. “Thats why we have grave concerns about a budget that allows for teacher layoffs, which would be immensely damaging to our education system and children’s opportunities for a quality education. Make no mistake, we will do everything in our power to prevent teacher layoffs.”
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 6, 2011, 2:13 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

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More Budget Cuts, More Budget Blame
May 5th, 2011

In his budget presentation set for Friday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce his 10th round of budget cuts but will try to keep New Yorkers from blaming him or Wall Street — for the layoffs and reductions in services. Instead the mayor intends to tell anyone listening that the federal and state governments are responsible for any fiscal pain they may feel next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

A budget preview released by the mayors office Thursday said cuts would not have been needed if the state and federal governments had increased their funding to the city to keep up with rising costs. Without providing any details those, no doubt, will come Friday morning — the statement also blames Washington and Albany for much of the rise in costs.

Overall, Bloombergs office said he has cut $5.4 billion in city spending since 2008 including some $400 million expected to be set out tomorrow. But by the administrations calculation if the state and federal governments were to provide the city with the same share of its budget as they had in 2002 (no explanation as to why they chose that year), the city would get an additional $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2012, eliminating the need for cuts.

While the state and federal governments may not be doing their fair share, Wall Street apparently has, according to Bloomberg. The administration projects the city will collect $5.75 billion in business tax revenues in the coming fiscal year up from $5.41 billion in 2008.

This aims to rebut claims from labor and other groups that the city has suffered because of mismanagement - and worse on Wall Street but is making working people pay the price. It does not, of course, address arguments that the richest New Yorkers — many of whom work on Wall Street — are getting even richer and paying lower taxes in a time of budget cuts.

As to whether Bloombergs criticism of the state and federal governments and exoneration of Wall Street — will stave off any public outrage or City Council opposition to the likely cuts remains unclear. Advocates and unions already are preparing to oppose some of the reductions in jobs and services. And one group already has been successful. In the material released Thursday, the mayors office said he would not cut the 16,000 child care slots Bloomberg called for eliminating in his preliminary budget.

It remains, unclear, whether Bloomberg will follow through on his threat to lay off thousands of teachers.

By on May 5, 2011, 11:06 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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