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Lobbying Commission Delay Explained
January 18th, 2011

Right as we speak, the City Council is voting to approve four of the five members to sit on a lobbying commission charged with examining the effects of the city’s lobbying law overhaul in 2006.

The panel, however, is nearly three years late.

Chaired by former council member Herbert Berman, the panel was supposed to be called in 2008. When we wrote about it in August, adminsitration officials said the approval of the city’s subsequent pay to play law in 2007, which restricted contributions by lobbyists, delayed its implementation.

Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the delay was attributed to finding the right people.

“We wanted to find a diverse group of commissioners,” said Quinn.

Both the mayor and the council select the commission’s members. Those commissioners include, Berman, Jamila Ponton Bragg, Lesley Horton and Margaret Morton. The final commissioner should be appointed soon.

The commission will likely examine how the lobbying law affects small nonprofits, who have struggled to comply with all of the city’s robust reporting requirements.

By on January 18, 2011, 3:29 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,nextNY,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Crowley Statement on Fire Charges
January 14th, 2011

We already know Council Speaker Christine Quinn opposes charging drivers for accidents that need emergency services — a proposal from the Fire Department in response to budget cuts.

But what does Fire and Criminal Justice Services Chair Elizabeth Crowley have to say?

Here is her statement delivered at the Fire Department’s hearing on the issue today.

“Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule which would impose a schedule of charges for Fire Department motorist services, which is before you for consideration at today’s hearing.

In the City Council, I Chair the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, which oversees the New York City Fire Department. Our first responders not only fight fires and save lives, but also respond to the needs of motorists on the city’s roadway accidents.

One of government’s most important responsibilities is to keep people safe—that is why we allocate taxpayer money to our emergency services. To raise revenue by charging New Yorkers deemed to be at fault in auto accidents is unreasonable, misguided and a simple case of double-dipping. New Yorkers already pay for this service by means of taxes on their income and property. The FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano considers these charges as a “fee” for service but let’s call this “fee” for what it really is: a double tax.

If the FDNY starts charging for emergency response to motorist accidents, what will they charge for next? Will there be fees for putting out house fires? We cannot begin to go down this dangerous road; therefore, I respectfully request that you withdraw this proposal from consideration.”

By on January 14, 2011, 12:15 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services | Comments Off

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Bloomberg Issues Weather Emergency Declaration
January 11th, 2011

This just in from the mayor’s office:

WEATHER EMERGENCY DECLARATION

At the direction of the mayor, the public is hereby advised that significant snowfall has been forecast for tonight.

1. The public is urged to avoid all unnecessary driving during the duration of the storm and until further directed, and to use public transportation wherever possible. If you must drive, use extreme caution. Information about any service changes to public transportation is available on the MTA website at http://www.mta.info/.

2. Any vehicle found to be blocking roadways or impeding the ability to plow streets shall be subject to towing at the owner’s expense.

3. Effective immediately, alternate side parking, payment at parking meters and garbage collections are suspended citywide until further notice.

4. The Emergency Management, Fire, Police, Sanitation, and Transportation Commissioners will be taking all appropriate and necessary steps to preserve public safety and to render all required and available assistance to protect the security, well-being and health of the residents of the City.

By on January 11, 2011, 4:50 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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Winter Weather Alert
January 11th, 2011

weather_lg

As I am sure you and the Bloomberg adminsitration are aware, New York City is expecting a snowstorm this evening.

As of noon, the National Weather Service predicted between 8 and 14 inches of snow and warned that travel would be hazardous.

Here is the latest forecast from the National Weather Service:

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY
1148 AM EST TUE JAN 11 2011

…COASTAL STORM TO IMPACT THE AREA TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY…

WESTERN PASSAIC-EASTERN PASSAIC-HUDSON-WESTERN BERGEN-
EASTERN BERGEN-WESTERN ESSEX-EASTERN ESSEX-WESTERN UNION-
EASTERN UNION-NEW YORK (MANHATTAN)-BRONX-RICHMOND (STATEN ISLAND)-
KINGS (BROOKLYN)-NORTHERN QUEENS-SOUTHERN QUEENS-
1148 AM EST TUE JAN 11 2011

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING
TO 6 PM EST WEDNESDAY…

A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING
TO 6 PM EST WEDNESDAY.

* LOCATIONS…NEW YORK CITY…AND NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY.

* HAZARDS…SNOW…HEAVY AT TIMES.

* ACCUMULATIONS…8 TO 14 INCHES…WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS
POSSIBLE.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 11, 2011, 1:57 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation | 5 Comments »

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Blizzard Answers At Council Hearing
January 10th, 2011

Deputy Mayor Goldsmith Answers Questions from the City Council--(c) William Alatriste New York City Council

On Christmas Eve, days before snow began to fall on New York City, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty were on the phone.

The winter weather watch had not yet been issued by the National Weather Service. Doherty and Sadik-Khan talked about their options for the looming storm, which at that time was supposed to bring several inches to the Big Apple.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who oversees both agencies, was in Washington, D.C. To this day, it is unclear where Mayor Michael Bloomberg was.

A day later, on Christmas, the National Weather Service upgraded the city’s storm warning to a blizzard at 3:55 p.m. It defiantly told New Yorkers: “Do not travel.” It warned the city could see high winds and up to 16 inches of snow.

On Dec. 26th, two days after their first conversation about the storm, the two commissioners decided not to call a city snow emergency — a rare designation that would force certain residents to move their cars off narrow streets and prohibit driving any vehicle not equipped with chains or snow tires.

They did not tell Goldsmith or the mayor about their decision.

This one decision, officials said today, created a serious snowball effect that ultimately left the city unprepared to deal with the now-infamous Boxing Day blizzard.

“We didn’t want residents to take those cars out, start looking for a parking space — we all know in New York City it’s very difficult to find — and then [create] more problems that we were trying to avoid,” Doherty told the City Council this afternoon at the first of seven hearings on the blizzard response. Every agency head involved and 42 council members attended today’s hearing, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn who normally sits out of the hearing process.

In retrospect, Goldsmith said this afternoon, the decision to call a snow emergency would have acted like a “catalyst,” triggering other agencies to respond with speed and seriousness to the storm. Instead, between Dec. 26 and New Year’s Day, Bloomberg administration officials scrambled to keep up with the 20-inch snowfall, which left ambulances, buses and abandoned vehicles stuck in unplowed streets.

Officials acted without a concrete chain of command and City Hall failed to get a complete picture of how bad the situation really was, Goldsmith said.

“The mayor did not have the information he deserved,” Goldsmith said, contending there was a communication breakdown between city agencies. “I accept responsibility in doing that more rigorously in the future,” he added.

Goldsmith, a former mayor of Indianapolis who joined the administration last spring, promised to never let it happen again. As part of that pledge, the administration unveiled a 15-point plan to prevent similar slow responses. (More on that plan here.) They will have an opportunity to test it tomorrow. Snow is expected to start accumulating tomorrow evening, and by Wednesday night we could have another foot on the ground.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 10, 2011, 7:02 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,sustainability,Transportation,Work and Labor | 1 Comment »

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Quinn Gets into Budget Cuts and Snow
January 7th, 2011

Appearing on the John Gambling Show this morning, Council Speaker Christine Quinn outlined her expectations for Monday’s blizzard hearing and reiterated her position on tax increases in the next city budget.

The council and the Bloomberg administration released a mid-year budget agreement yesterday, which staved off the nighttime closure of 20 fire companies and saved nearly 200 positions at the Administration for Children’s Services.

When asked this morning whether Quinn would consider tax increases, the speaker again said no way.

But Quinn did hint at harder times to come (We cover the upcoming budget battle this morning here).

“There aren’t any ideas that relates to budget cuts that are going to disappear and never come back,” Quinn said. “We are not at a point anymore, and I know New Yorkers know this, where you can say waste, fraud and corruption.”

“We are making choices between things that are good and things that are great,” she added.

The speaker confirmed she would attend Monday’s hearing on the blizzard. Quinn rarely attends public hearings, which points to the significance of the snow showdown.

To listen to the entire segment go here.

By on January 7, 2011, 12:15 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | Comments Off

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Blizzard Fallout Continues
January 6th, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg got testy with the City Hall press corps this afternoon during a briefing on the city’s next big snowfall, which is expected to start Friday.

Bloomberg announced he would pilot GPS systems on 50 city sanitation trucks during tomorrow’s snow and send out the city’s SCOUT teams to monitor the cleanup’s progress. The mayor said one of the problems during the Boxing Day blizzard was a miscommunication between City Hall and those on the snow-covered streets.

But when questions turned to last month’s blizzard, its management and Bloomberg’s whereabouts during the storm, the mayor’s response went frigid. Bloomberg abruptly ended the press conference, leaving the room with reporters shouting questions after him.

When asked where he was during the storm, the mayor said: “I have a right to a private life.”

Bloomberg was repeatedly asked about the performance of the city’s Emergency Medical Service and why chief John Peruggia was the first fallout from the blizzard.

“Last week’s storm exposed problems in the way [EMS is] operated and I decided to make changes in EMS,” Bloomberg said. “[Peruggia] did not give the public the service that the public has a right to expect when it came to ambulances.”

“I though it was time to have a fresh look,” the mayor said.

The city is expected to get two to six inches of snow tomorrow. Bloomberg said today his administration has responded to 70 storms of similar magnitude.

“We plan to do a great job,” the mayor said.

By on January 6, 2011, 7:01 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Bloomberg Joins It Gets Better Campaign
January 4th, 2011

The latest in the It Gets Better Project from Hizzoner himself.

By on January 4, 2011, 5:25 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Demographics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Immigrants,nextNY | 1 Comment »

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Bloomberg Mulls Over ATM Bill
December 20th, 2010

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is mulling over whether to sign a bill that would drastically increase fines for property owners with illegal sidewalk ATMs after small business owners expressed concern over the bill’s impact this afternoon.

According to a spokesperson, the mayor will take the next couple of days to consider the bill and announce his decision after Christmas.

“I don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas,” the mayor said today. “On the other hand the city has requirements, where one of the issues here is the ability to pass on the sidewalk.”

Up until this morning, the mayor was expected to sign the measure, which the council approved earlier this month. At today’s bill signing, small business owners reportedly said the legislation would limit access to cash for neighborhoods without banks and hurt small businesses.

Under the current version of the bill, fines could increase from $250 to $5,000. These ATMs are already illegal, but there is barely any enforcement or regulation of them, council officials said.

If the mayor vetoes the measure, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the council would move to override it.

“This will give the power for them to be taken off the street,” said Quinn. “It actually gives the city the power and the tools to make this illegal behavior end. That’s a good thing.”

Here is the mayor’s statement this morning courtesy of the City Hall press office:
Read the rest of this entry »

By on December 20, 2010, 2:49 pm
In category: Community Development,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Council Set to Expand Housing Law
November 30th, 2010

For some New Yorkers, their apartments are far from welcoming.

Their one or two-bedroom abodes actually make them sick.

Three years ago, the City Council approved legislation to target buildings with the worst housing code violations — those perennially without heat or hot water or collapsed floors and roofs. Together, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the City Council targeted 200 buildings a year and forced landlords to make the repairs.

Now, Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced this morning, the council is set to consider legislation to expand the program to target larger buildings with hazardous conditions related specifically to asthma, such as vermin or mold.

“We are recognizing peoples’ homes can actually make them sick,” said Quinn, surrounded by a crowd of officials and advocates on the steps of City Hall.

Hazardous building conditions have long been connected to the city’s concentrated asthma pockets, which affect neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Corona or Bushwick. By using targeted enforcement of these violations, Quinn said the city could curtail asthma rates in these areas.

The legislation, she said, promises to more than double the amount of units in the program. The council will have its first hearing on the proposal on Dec. 14.

By on November 30, 2010, 12:04 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Immigrants,Land Use,Law,nextNY | Comments Off

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CCRB Slims Down Prosecution Unit (UPDATE)
November 23rd, 2010

Thanks to a $300,000 budget cut, the Civilian Complaint Review Board will drastically downsize its newly minted prosecution unit — part of a pilot program that allows the board to prosecute cases of police misconduct for the first time.

When first announced in February, the unit was set to have two attorneys, an investigator and a clerical worker. Now that the city faces a $3.3 billion budget deficit next year, the “unit” has been cut down to one attorney, said a board spokesperson. The decrease is part of $1.6 billion in cuts the mayor announced last week.

Despite the obvious setback, the board has pledged to move forward with the experiment.

“One attorney is going to be handling this start up phase,” said Linda Sachs, the board’s spokesperson. “She is a former federal prosecutor, and she is really good.”

While the board currently investigates complaints of police misconduct, it has never had the power to prosecute the claims it substantiates — only the Police Department has. For years, advocates and officials have pushed to bolster the board’s power as, some say, the police fail to prosecute its officers.

Even so, when the city announced the pilot earlier this year some were skeptical, claiming budget cuts could setback the program.

As part of the pilot, the board’s prosecution “unit” will not select cases to prosecute. Selection will be done randomly — one in every five cases set to go to trial will go to the CCRB. It will amount to approximately five cases a year, Sachs said.

UPDATE: The CCRB called in to reiterate its support for the program this morning, contending it will eventually come up with the money to fund it.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 23, 2010, 3:44 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | Comments Off

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CCRB Considers Cutting Pilot Prosecution Program
November 22nd, 2010

Just nine months after the Civilian Complaint Review Board announced a pilot program to independently prosecute some cases of police misconduct, they are considering cutting it.

Faced with a budget deficit and a mandate from the Bloomberg adminsitration to cut costs, Ernest Hart, the chair of the board, told Gotham Gazette that nothing was off the chopping block, including the highly anticipated program.

“The final decision as to how we would implement the budget cut has not been made,” said Hart. “When we look at the budget, we look at all the programs. I wouldn’t say that it was not under consideration with everything else. Everything is under consideration.”

The pilot program, which was revealed in February, would give the civilian board the power to prosecute a handful of cases independently for the first time. Currently, the board investigates and substantiates complaints of police misconduct across the city, but the prosecution is left up to the Police Department. For years, critics have been calling for independent prosecution by the board, claiming the police department has increasingly failed to prosecute cases referred to it.

Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed nearly $1.6 billion in cuts to help close a $3.3 billion budget gap in the next fiscal year. Under the proposal, the city’s work force could shrink by more than 10,000 employees, including 6,166 teachers. The adminsitration proposed about 6,200 layoffs.

The board faces a $300,000 cut in this fiscal year and a $157,000 cut in the next. According to a City Council report from June, the new prosecution unit would cost $366,000.

Should the board decide to slash the program, it would not be the first time a similar proposal fell through. The Giuliani administration promised to give the board independent power to prosecute cases in 2001, but the proposal was later abandoned.

The board is working with the Office of Management and Budget to determine the final cuts, which should be made shortly, Hart said.

The NYPD remains “fully supportive” of the prosecution program, Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said in an e-mailed statement.

By on November 22, 2010, 7:42 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 3 Comments »

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Cuts Coming Today
November 18th, 2010

Brace yourselves.

The adminsitration is set to reveal those cuts Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered at the end of September — which equates to the ninth round of budget cuts within the last three fiscal years. (But who’s counting?)

We hear they won’t be pretty. The nightly closure of fire companies are on the chopping block in addition to thousands of jobs across city agencies. In total, the mayor is looking to lose $1.5 billion from the budget over the next two fiscal years. In September, the city ordered uniformed forces and education to expect 2.7 percent cuts, while all other agencies were urged to prepare for 5.4 percent cuts.

Even before we know the details, there is a backlash.

Earlier this week, Lillian Roberts, the executive director of DC37, the city’s largest municipal employees union, sent the mayor a letter, urging him to consider revenue generating proposals instead of just cuts.

The letter is below.

Stay tuned.

PDFsss

By on November 18, 2010, 11:46 am
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Measuring UP,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services | Comments Off

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Critics Say Study is a Sham (Update)
October 27th, 2010

living

Advocates and council members gathered on the steps of City Hall today to slam a city commissioned study on living wages, calling it “smoke and mirrors.”

The $1 million study, which is being conducted by Boston-based Charles River Associates, will examine the sustainability of a living wage policy in the five boroughs. A bill to require living wages at city-subsidized developments is currently languishing at the council.

At issue is one economist on the study team — David Neumark of the University of California. Supporters of living wages say Neumark is inherently biased, having authored several studies critical of living and minimum wage policies.

“Hiring David Neumark to advise the city on wage policies is like hiring a global warming skeptic to evaluate the city’s greenhouse gas strategy,” said Paul K. Sonn of the National Employment Law Project.

The city Economic Development Corp., which commissioned the study after advocates started to call for living wages last year, argues Neumark is in the top 5 percent of economists. City officials point to studies where Neumark found living wages reduced poverty — albeit those studies show his “support” for the policy overall is tepid at best.

The city also says a diverse stakeholder group will review the study’s findings, which should be completed this spring.

All of those arguments aren’t silencing critics.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 27, 2010, 2:49 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 1 Comment »

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Ferreras Responds to Suit (UPDATE)
October 26th, 2010

We just received this from Councilmember Julissa Ferreras in response to the lawsuit brought by her former aide.

“I have not been served with a copy of Mr. Castro’s complaint, so it is difficult for me to respond to allegations I have not seen. I can say, however, that I did not discriminate or retaliate against him for any reason and I am confident that his claims will ultimately be rejected by the court.”

First reported in the Daily News today, the suit alleges Ferreras and her chief of staff, Yoselin Genao, taunted Steven Castro, a 24-year-old with cerebral palsy who worked for the councilwoman for approximately seven months. Castro also alleges he never received a steady paycheck.

This is the second time in a week Ferreras has made headlines. Ferreras, the former chief of staff to the recently indicted Hiram Monserrate, ran the nonprofit LIBRE, which was the subject of the aforementioned indictment.

Said complaint should arrive shortly, which we will post straight away.

Update: Here it is.

Castro Complaint

By on October 26, 2010, 4:36 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | Comments Off

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Living Wage Waters are Choppy
October 26th, 2010

In the wake of Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s decision not to support paid sick leave, some City Council members and advocates are attempting to make waves on another issue: the living wage.

Currently two bills to require some sort of wage mandate at city-subsidized developments are treading water at City Hall. One would require a prevailing wage for building service employees, while the other would require a living wage for every worker on a city-assisted development, including the development’s tenants.

Quinn has not taken a position on either. When asked during her sick leave announcement earlier this month, she sidestepped the issue.

The issue came to a head last year when the council defeated a proposal to morph the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a shopping mall. The developer on the project would not agree to a living wage mandate — defined as $10 an hour with benefits — which is largely credited with killing the project. Photo credit: (cc) 2009  Atomische • Tom Giebel

In the latest feud, council members and advocates will gather on the steps of City Hall tomorrow to denounce a $1 million city-funded study on the effectiveness and success of living wage policies. The study was commissioned by the Economic Development Corp. and is being conducted by Charles River Associates — a consulting firm based in Boston. It is supposed to be completed by next spring.

The presser tomorrow, according to an advisory we just got, will “exposes Charles River Associates (CRA), EDC’s choice to conduct the study, as a business-backed lobbying group using economists who oppose living wage and even minimum wage policies for EDC’s study.”

The chief economist on the study is Daniel Hamermesh, a reputable professor at the University of Texas at Austin. David Neumark, a professor of economics at the University of California and a fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, is also on the study team. He has authored several studies questioning the sustainability of living wage policies.

The Bloomberg adminsitration said it would not consider a widespread living wage policy until the study was completed — a move some critics say is meant to stall the legislation at the City Council. Earlier this year, one administration official said the wage proposals could squash economic development and be potentially against the City Charter.

By on October 26, 2010, 12:39 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Immigrants,Land Use,Law,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | 2 Comments »

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Sick Leave Dead?
October 14th, 2010

Council Speaker Christine Quinn will announce this afternoon that she won’t support the paid sick leave bill languishing in the City Council.

The bill, sponsored by 35 council members, would force businesses with fewer than 20 employees to provide five days of paid sick leave, while businesses with more than 20 employees would have to give nine days per employee. Other paid time off can be counted towards the sick time.

The bill was vehemently opposed by the city’s businesses community, including the powerful Partnership for New York City and all five chambers of commerce.

Most of the time, the speaker’s support, or lack thereof, will determine of the fate of all legislation. However, the majority of council members who do support the bill have one option.

To bring the bill to the floor, 10 council members must support a “motion to discharge,” which would give the full council an opportunity to vote on it. But they also must keep their solid 35-member strong support, otherwise the bill would not survive a mayoral veto.

The motion has only been used once, during the term limit debate. Other times there was talk of tapping the power, it was quickly quashed.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently called the bill “disastrous.”

There are all sorts of political calculations and angles to this news today, so stayed tuned for further analysis at Gotham Gazette.

By on October 14, 2010, 12:36 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services | Comments Off

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Sick Leave Movement
October 7th, 2010

We got word Council Speaker Christine Quinn is sitting down with supporters and opponents of the sick leave bill today in hopes of potentially finding a compromise.

Supporters of the proposal, which would require businesses to provide sick days, take the sit-down as a good sign, saying the speaker has expressed willingness to create an open dialogue and negotiate.

One critic of the bill seemed less optimistic — saying only to check back in tomorrow.

Just last week, the opposing sides released dueling studies on the bill’s impact. The study from the Partnership for New York City put the proposal’s price tag at $789 million annually, while a study from the Drum Major Institute said it would have no deleterious effect on city business.

After the sit-downs were scheduled, a rally scheduled for this morning by supporters of the bill was abruptly canceled.

By on October 7, 2010, 2:14 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services,Work and Labor | Comments Off

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Stringer Responds to Quinn... Again
October 5th, 2010

Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, both anticipated candidates for mayor in 2013, are once again clashing over a bill to count vacant buildings and lots stalled at the council.

After Quinn’s spokesperson responded to Stringer’s criticism in the Wonkster late last week, Stringer, once again, sent over a response.

This is the response to Quinn’s response to Stringer’s criticism. Follow me?

From Stringer:

Let’s set the record straight: My 2007 report on vacant, under-utilized land in Manhattan produced major policy changes. As a result of these efforts, and with my strong support, Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell and Senator Jose M. Serrano introduced legislation in 2008—which Gov. David Paterson signed into law—removing special tax treatments for vacant residential sites above 110th street. The measure also provided financial incentives for owners who build affordable housing on these sites. In approving this bill, the state legislature took decisive action. But the city council has dropped the ball. With my endorsement, then Council member David Yassky introduced a measure calling for an annual citywide survey of such properties, to see if they could be used as new housing resources for homeless people, as well as hospitals, schools community gardens and the like. Armed with the results, we could fill so many unmet needs in our city. But unfortunately the legislation has languished in the city council without a full hearing or discussion. Then as now, I call upon the council to conduct an annual survey of vacant properties that could be transformed into vibrant new uses and benefit all New Yorkers.

By on October 5, 2010, 8:11 am
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services | Comments Off

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Quinn, Stringer Showdown?
October 1st, 2010

Yes, both are potential mayoral candidates in 2013.

It might be a little early for a full-blown rivalry, but Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer definitely disagree on a proposal to survey the city’s vacant properties stalled at the City Council. The bill, which has 28 sponsors, would create an annual accounting of all of the city’s vacant buildings and lots.

The group pushing the proposal, Picture the Homeless, hope it would spur the development of those properties as temporary housing for the homeless. Quinn said this week the survey would be “enormously expensive” and the money for it would be better used serving the homeless.

In response to our reporting on the issue, Stringer sent over the following statement.

I am disappointed that the City Council quashed legislation that would survey vacant buildings throughout the city, in order to identify new sources of temporary housing for the homeless.

In 2007 I released the results of Manhattan’s first ever survey of vacant properties, finding that there is a significant number of vacancies in the borough representing potential for thousands of new affordable housing units. Along with the results, I proposed an annual survey of vacant buildings which had been actively backed by Anti-Homeless organizations. Although there is a cost to this idea, its potential long-term value to the city is so obvious.

If a citywide vacant lot count would indeed cost “millions of dollars,” then I believe we should look to more creative options, rather than throw up our hands and pull the plug on this important initiative.

One possible approach to a vacant lot count that keeps costs low would be to utilize volunteers from the Mayor’s NYC Service program. The City already dispatches volunteers for its annual street homeless count, so this approach would not be without precedent. And, to be honest, counting vacant lots isn’t rocket science. It would require a minimal amount of training. Most able bodied New Yorkers interested in enhancing the long-term vitality of their communities could make a positive contribution by participating in a city-wide vacant lot count.

I call on the City Council to reconsider this decision and let this badly-needed housing program go forward. We cannot afford to be pennywise and pound foolish at a time when the recession has made day to day survival for the homeless tougher than ever.

In response to Stringer’s statement, Maria Alvarado, Quinn’s spokesperson, said the bill at the council would require the survey of vacant buildings, which is “more complicated” than just counting empty lots. The council applauds the borough president for his study, Alvarado said, but simultaneously asks what “clear policy changes” came out of it?

By on October 1, 2010, 1:35 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services | 3 Comments »

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