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Fare Increase Not a Bargaining Chip?
April 29th, 2011

Asking for a fare increase as city officials are trying to get a new class of cab in the outer boroughs isn’t playing hardball, Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told Gotham Gazette today.

It’s merely about timing.

“It’s generally not a negotiation ploy by us,” Desai said, citing the increased cost of gas. “For us, the fare proposal has been in the works, because we know next month it will be seven years since we’ve had an overall raise. Driver income has not been at a livable standard.”

The alliance announced this week it will be asking the Taxi and Limousine Commission for an approximately 25 percent fare increase. The proposal will not be finalized until Wednesday, but Desai said it would likely ask for the waiting rate to increase from 40 to 50 cents and the mileage rate to go up to $2.50 from $2. The alliance will also ask for increases in taxi surcharges for rush hour and late night.

The request comes as the Bloomberg administration attempts to drill down a proposal to get more cab service in the outer boroughs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in his State of the City speech in January he would propose legislation to allow livery cabs in the outer boroughs to pick up people hailing on the street — prohibited under current law.

After a backlash from city officials and the taxi industry, the administration is considering creating another class of yellow cab that would be limited to outer-borough pick ups instead.

Desai said the alliance isn’t opposed to servicing the outer boroughs, but as it stands now it’s not economical. Drivers cannot cruise residential streets for street pickups without losing money, she said. A fare increase would help convince drivers to go to Brooklyn or Queens, Desai added. She also suggested creating cab stands in commercial areas of the outer boroughs.

On his radio show this morning, Bloomberg said he was sympathetic to the cab industry’s qualms.

Above all else, Desai said she wants to make sure the yellow cab reserves the exclusive right to pick up New Yorkers at the curbside.

“We don’t want to see more vehicles on the road,” she said. “It’s going to increase congestion and increase competition in a field where it’s already competitive.”

By on April 29, 2011, 4:44 pm
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Immigrants,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation,Work and Labor | 2 Comments »

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Walcott Visits the Council
April 8th, 2011

In his first visit to the City Council as the schools chancellor designee, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott was informed, cordial and calm.

Most council members lauded him. All of them offered congratulations.

“You are much more knowledgeable than Cathie Black,” said Councilmember Letitia James. “You are much more accessible.”

And that praise came despite the fact Walcott was the bearer of bad news. Toeing the administration’s line, Walcott slammed state budget cuts to the five boroughs, claiming the city was treated unfairly. While the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was supposed to give the city its fair share of education aid, Walcott said city revenue would cover 61 percent of non-federal education spending in next year’s budget. The state would only cover 39 percent.

Walcott claimed the vast majority of controllable costs at the Department of Education go to teachers’ salaries. The only way to close a $1 billion budget gap, he said, would be to lay off teachers.

“That means, with a budget shortfall of this magnitude, a reduction in headcount is unavoidable,” Walcott said.

There was some dispute between Walcott and Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson on the administration’s proposal to repeal the city’s last in, first out policy — which requires the city lay off teachers based on seniority. The policy’s repeal is a major goal of the Bloomberg adminsitration this year.

Walcott said the city has incentives for principals to keep teachers based on skill instead of how much their salary is. Jackson, however, said the repeal of LIFO could spur discrimination — with principals getting rid of the more senior, expensive instructors in favor of cheaper, younger ones.

Ultimately, Jackson said, the issue is moot.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on April 8, 2011, 3:32 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Work and Labor | 2 Comments »

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Vote Breakdown for Koch Queensboro
March 24th, 2011

We have had a number of requests for a breakdown of yesterday’s vote on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

(We cover the debate this morning here.)

So, without further ado, here you go:

Maria Del Carmen Arroyo — absent
Charles Barron — no
Gale A. Brewer — yes
Fernando Cabrera — yes
Margaret S. Chin — no
Leroy G. Comrie, Jr. — no
Elizabeth S. Crowley — yes
Inez E. Dickens — yes
Erik Martin Dilan — yes
Daniel Dromm — yes
Mathieu Eugene — yes
Julissa Ferreras — yes
Lewis A. Fidler — yes
Helen D. Foster — no
Daniel R. Garodnick — no
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By on March 24, 2011, 11:08 am
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Land Use,Law,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Brennan Tries to Block Crash Tax (UPDATE)
March 18th, 2011

Assemblymember Jim Brennan is taking aim at the Fire Department’s proposed crash tax by introducing legislation in Albany that would prohibit the city from charging drivers for services provided at the scene of an accident.

The controversial tax is part of the FDNY’s attempt to close a looming budget gap. The department already has 20 fire companies on the chopping block.

The tax, which other cities across the country have implemented, would require drivers to pay between $365 and $490 if the Fire Department responds to a motor vehicle accident. The tax would not need City Council approval and is scheduled to go into effect in July.

City residents already pay taxes for these core, fundamental, public-safety services. People should not have to check their wallets before calling for the police or fire departments to respond to an accident, Brennan said.

Though dozens of officials have criticized the tax, it’s unclear whether the proposal has support of the full State Legislature.

UPDATE: Brennan’s office said they don’t know whether the State Senate would support the measure, but they have 23 co-sponsors in the Assembly.

By on March 18, 2011, 12:24 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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Schools Respond to Applied Science Request
March 17th, 2011

From Korea to India to the United Kingdom, universities across the globe want to get to New York — at least according to the Bloomberg administration.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced the city has received 18 responses from colleges and universities that are interested in building an applied science campus in the Big Apple. The city will narrow the pool over the summer and make a final decision by the end of the year, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

The city has promised to make a “significant investment” towards the construction of a campus. According to the adminsitration, the proposals expressed interest in sites like the Navy Hospital Campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Goldwater Hospital Campus on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, Governors Island, Farm Colony on Staten Island and other privately-owned areas.

The campus is part of a larger effort by the adminsitration to attract emerging technologies to the five boroughs (we cover the race to attract bioscience extensively here).

Here are the schools that expressed interest:

bo Akadmi University, Finland
Amity University, India
Carnegie Mellon University with Steiner Studios
Cornell University
Columbia University and the City University of New York
The Cooper Union
cole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Korea
New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the City University of New York, the University of Toronto, and IBM
The New York Genome Center, with Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University, Rockefeller University, and the Jackson Laboratory
Purdue University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Stanford University
The Stevens Institute of Technology
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
The University of Chicago
The University of Warwick, United Kingdom

By on March 17, 2011, 1:45 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Law,nextNY,Public Finance,Tech | 1 Comment »

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Regulation of Bus Companies Questioned
March 15th, 2011

Just hours after officials called for stricter safety regulations for discount buses departing from Chinatown yesterday, another fatal accident took the lives of two more passengers.

A Super Luxury Tours bus headed for Philadelphia slammed into a guardrail on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing the driver and another passenger. The crash came just three days after a brutal accident in the Bronx, which killed 15 people.

Saturday mornings crash was a heartbreaking tragedy and requires us to look closely at the safety regulations in place for the discount tour bus industry, said Sen. Charles Schumer in a prepared statement yesterday. While its vital we get to the bottom of what caused Saturdays crash, we must make sure that the regulations that govern the overall safety of this industry are effective and being followed by operators.

Schumer wants to see the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the entire industry.

According to the release, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced legislation last month that would require these discount bus companies, many of which operate from the curbside in Chinatown, to get permits from the city. They are now regulated exclusively by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. His bill would also designate where they can drop off and pick up passengers.

According to a study from the Department of City Planning, these companies conduct 2,000 trips from Chinatown every week.

We covered the issue last year. For an in-depth look at the controversy, go here.

By on March 15, 2011, 2:07 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Fire Department Cuts to Affect 'Every Community'
March 11th, 2011

truck

Photo (cc) Just Us 3

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano didn’t sugarcoat how fire company cuts would affect the city during a City Council hearing this morning.

“Every community in the city will be affected, not just those communities in the first-due areas of the closed companies,” said Cassano in prepared testimony. “Twenty closures would require us to make adjustments in our operations, which will make it extremely challenging to maintain the same levels of service to the communities we serve.”

To close a multi-billion dollar budget gap, the Bloomberg adminsitration is proposing to shutter 20 fire companies to save $55 million next fiscal year. The adminsitration has already reduced staffing from five to four firefighters on 60 engines — a move fire unions are challenging.

The City Council successfully averted fire company closures for the past three years by plugging the department’s budget with its own discretionary funding. One councilmember this morning couldn’t promise they would be able to do the same this year.

“This council has worked really hard within our body to save these cuts,” said Councilmember Jimmy Oddo of Staten Island. “If [Bloomberg] is relying on the council to put this money back, that’s a lift.”

(We cover the cuts to the Fire Department in depth today here.)

It’s still unclear what companies would be affected. The Fire Department does not have to release a list until 45 days before the companies are scheduled to close.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 11, 2011, 4:10 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,nextNY,Work and Labor | 1 Comment »

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Council Members Give to Crisis Pregnancy Clinic
February 22nd, 2011

billboard

Funding for one Flushing-based pregnancy crisis center trickled into the City Council’s discretionary budget last year just before the speaker’s office drew up legislation to target the pro-life facilities.

The council is currently considering a controversial bill to force pregnancy crisis clinics to reveal in advertising and in their offices if they do not provide abortions or referrals and do not have licensed medical professionals on staff. There are about two dozen centers across the five boroughs.

One of them is The Bridge to Life in Queens. Republican Councilmembers Eric Ulrich and Dan Halloran allocated a portion of their member items to the group in June — $3,000 and $3,500 respectively. (Check out our new tool Councilpedia for more on the connections between legislation, member items and campaign contributions.)

According to the council’s member item database, the contributions are “to fund pregnancy counseling, testing and referrals” and for “pregnancy crisis counseling, free pregnancy tests, referrals to post abortion counseling. Referrals to Maternity homes and shelters. Material assistance of clothing, supplies, referrals for sonograms.” The funding was channeled through individual member items — not through the much larger “speaker pot.”

In comparison, Planned Parenthood of New York City was allocated $365,000 in council discretionary funds last year.

When The Bridge to Life’s executive director Marcy Sarosick was asked how the organization counsels pregnant women, she said: “[We first] ask how far along you are and explain that the fetus is not just a blob of tissues, and it’s a living human being.” She said the center would refer women to adoption services. Sarosick opposes the pregnancy crisis bill at the council, calling it “anti-First Amendment.”

Supporters of the bill say these crisis centers are deceptive and give the perception they perform all medical procedures. Staff have been known to walk around in scrubs although they are not medically trained.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been very vocal on the issue. According to insiders, the legislation could be up for a vote as soon as next month.

In an e-mailed statement in response to The Bridge to Life allocations, the speaker’s spokesperson, Maria Alvarado, said, “We stand fully behind Council member [Jessica] Lappin’s legislation. Allocations from individual council members are made at their discretion.”

When the bill comes to the floor, Ulrich said he won’t vote for it.

“I’ll be a voice on the floor against it when it does come up for a vote,” Ulrich said today. “If a young girl is walking into a convent, you think she is being duped?” One crisis center is run by nuns, Ulrich said.

This bill is one small example of the recently reinvigorated, fierce national debate on abortion clinics and their funding. Just today, the pro-life nonprofit, Life Always, installed a large anti-abortion billboard (pictured above) on Sixth Avenue and Watts Street in Manhattan. The provocative billboard shows a photo of a young black girl, and the message reads: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
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By on February 22, 2011, 6:35 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Law,nextNY,Public Finance,Social Services | 9 Comments »

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Bloomberg Goes After Teachers
February 17th, 2011

In what some have cast politics at play, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to announce the reduction of 6,166 teaching positions, three-quarters of which would be through layoffs, in his preliminary budget this afternoon.

Some have said the move was made with merit firing in mind — a proposal the mayor has been pushing for in Albany. Bloomberg hopes to get rid of teachers based on their success with students not seniority. To repeal “last in, first out,” the mayor would need approval from the State Legislature.

The head of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, told the Times: “I dont understand why the mayor continues to be talking about teacher layoffs, Mr. Mulgrew said. This is all a politically bogus game on their behalf.

The threat comes as the city announces $2 billion in unexpected tax revenue. That revenue makes up for anticipated cuts from the state and federal government.

We’ll be following the story all day, so be sure to check back for updates.

The mayor’s budget presentation begins at noon.

By on February 17, 2011, 11:08 am
In category: Albany,City Hall,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | Comments Off

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Bike Lanes on the Agenda
February 16th, 2011

The latest bike battle is rolling into the City Council today with several pieces of legislation, including a requirement to report bike and pedestrian accidents more frequently.

One bill will force the Police Department to report on its Web site the number of traffic moving violations, crashes and injuries or fatalities on a monthly basis. It will also force the Department of Transportation to study all traffic crashes involving a serious injury or fatality every five years.

In recent months, bicyclists and communities have clashed over the number of bike lanes across the city. Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the package of legislation would help communities and bicycle advocates understand why bike lanes go in certain areas.

“Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is a good thing,” said Quinn. “Bike lanes work great in some neighborhoods and don’t work well in others.”

We’ll report back later on how the council voted.

By on February 16, 2011, 2:50 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Law,nextNY,Parks,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Walmart Declines Hearing Invitation... Again
February 1st, 2011

This should come as no surprise, but Walmart once again will pass on testifying at a City Council hearing on Thursday.

In a letter dated today, Walmart‘s Philip H. Serghini attempts to strike down anti-Walmart sentiments wafting through the City Council, arguing the retail giant is committed to healthy foods, diversity and jobs. But Serghini says he could not commit to attending the hearing, because the council is only focused on Walmart and ignores the impact of other big-box stores in the city. You can see his explanation below.

The joint hearing, however, does not appear to consider the impact of the hundreds of NYC stores operated by these companies; rather it focuses solely on Walmart. Since we have not announced a store for New York City, I respectfully suggest the committee first conduct a thoughtful examination of the existing impact of large grocers and retailers on small businesses in New York City before embarking on a hypothetical exercise.

For these reasons and more, we respectfully decline participation in the February 3rd hearing.

Should the committee decide to conduct the hearing in a more comprehensive manner, we would be happy to revisit our decision. In the interim, we do feel a responsibility to better inform the planned discussion and share some facts about the company that the committee can share with participants.

Earlier this year, Walmart kicked off a major marketing campaign to persuade New Yorkers to support a store within the five boroughs. They are sending out mailers, taking out radio ads and have launched a NYC-centric Web site to corral support.

So far, no one at the council is budgeting.

The full explanation from Walmart is below.

Final City Council Letter

By on February 1, 2011, 5:54 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Community Development,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | Comments Off

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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 todays 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 citys roadway accidents.

One of governments most important responsibilities is to keep people safethat 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 lets 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 owners 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.
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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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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 arent 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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Mayor Signs ATM Bill
January 5th, 2011

The veto pen has been put away.

After much contemplation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation to drastically increase fines for illegal ATMs yesterday. The mayor held off on signing the measure in December after small businesses raised concerns that it might hurt communities with little access to major banks.

Fines for property owners with illegal ATMs — basically any ATM on a sidewalk — will climb from $250 to $5,000. If a property owner racks up $50,000 in fines, then the ATM will be seized.

By on January 5, 2011, 6:31 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Law,nextNY,Public Finance | Comments Off

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Quinn Denies Member Item Unequal Distribution
January 5th, 2011

Are member items distributed equally at the City Council?

Council Speaker Christine Quinn says so.

Refuting a report in the New York Times this week, Quinn said all of the council’s discretionary dollars, which come in the form of individual member items, capital funding and more, are spread throughout the five boroughs sans favoritism.

“The report looked at one of the funding sources the council allocated in the budget,” Quinn said before today’s meeting. “There are numerous different funding sources: initiatives, member items, the speaker’s list.”

She continued: “If you looked at all of those collectively, I think you see a set of data that shows a diverse distribution through out the city.”

We started examining those lists back in 2007 (and have done it every year since). In other funding areas, take capital funding, we have seen a similar pattern: those in leadership get more cash.

For our past coverage, go here and here and here and here and here.

By on January 5, 2011, 3:11 pm
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Housing,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | Comments Off

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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 dont 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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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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