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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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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.
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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 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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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:
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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 Kicks Off Budget Battle
December 6th, 2010

City Budget Director Mark Page brought his usual good tidings to the City Council this morning (insert sarcasm here), as he urged the body to propose alternative cuts if it wants to save any specific program from his budget ax.

The warning occurred at the first of several hearings the City Council has scheduled on the mayor’s $1.6 billion proposed mid-year budget cuts. Released last month, the unusual mid-year proposal is an attempt by the Bloomberg adminsitration to minimize an even larger looming budget deficit for the next fiscal year. If these cuts are enacted, the city will still face at least a $2.4 billion hole come July.

“The $2.4 billion gap is obviously considerable in itself,” said Page. “Unfortunately, the reality we are facing is likely to be considerably worse.”

Page was referring to a potential cut from the state, which faces an approximately $10 billion to $12 billion deficit. He estimates the city could see an additional cut of between $2 billion and $3 billion in state aid.

The council has already proposed more than $130 million in alternative cuts and identified several areas it would like to see held harmless, including case managers at the Department for the Aging and layoffs at the Administration for Children’s Services. Nonetheless, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said this morning the council recognizes the city has to cut back.

“Most of those we support,” said Quinn of the administration’s plan. “I don’t want that to be lost in the conversation today.”

“That said, there are many troubling cuts,” the speaker added and then rattled off her list, including the nightly closures of certain fire companies.

Council members took aim at the adminsitration over a slew of other slashes — from cuts to outreach for homeless youth (which we cover today) to funding reductions at libraries. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, said some libraries could reduce service to two or three days a week under the current cut.

And, of course, the conversation turned to politics.

Councilmember Jimmy Oddo, the council’s minority leader, questioned the administration’s reasoning for extending term limits — an argument based on its ability to use creative solutions for fiscal problems.
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By on December 6, 2010, 5:19 pm
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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.
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By on November 23, 2010, 3:44 pm
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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.
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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. Castros 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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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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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:

Lets 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 2008which Gov. David Paterson signed into lawremoving 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
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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 Mayors 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 isnt 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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Quinn Reacts to Sick Leave Study
September 29th, 2010

For months, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has put off opining on a proposal to require paid sick leave in the city, saying she wanted to wait for the results of a study on the issue by business leader, the Partnership for New York City.

That study came out yesterday, saying the proposal would cost $789 million. Also yesterday, the Drum Major Institute released its own study on the issue, saying the proposal wouldn’t harm job or business growth.

Quinn — granted she has had only one day to mull it over — isn’t ready to say which one she sides with.

“I am considering all of the pros, all the cons,” said Quinn. “There are few bills that are perfect.”

She said the council was “reviewing” the studies and would make a decision on the bill, which has a super majority of support in the council, “very soon.”

By on September 29, 2010, 2:58 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Civil Rights,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Work and Labor | Comments Off

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CBA Report From Liu is Here!
September 29th, 2010

The much anticipated report (well, for some of us) from Comptroller John Liu’s public benefits task force was released this morning, urging the city to adopt a new public process for community benefit agreements.

Having grown in popularity (included in Columbia redevelopment and in 125th street), the comptroller is calling for greater transparency, the inclusion of a consultant to coordinate the agreement and giving the comptroller’s office oversight over the agreements implementation.

The report is silent on the city’s Industrial Development Agency and its deals (which we covered extensively), despite Liu giving an early indication it might be included in the recommendations.

Enjoy!

PBA Task Force – Final Report[1]

By on September 29, 2010, 7:59 am
In category: City Hall,Community Development,Electoral Politics,Environment,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Work and Labor | 3 Comments »

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The Third Term Legacy?
September 21st, 2010

Labor watch out.

If deputy mayors Howard Wolfson and Stephen Goldsmith had their way, you might be in store for cuts to your pension benefits. At a breakfast hosted by the Citizens Budget Commission this morning, Goldsmith and Wolfson (who both joined the Bloomberg adminsitration this year) said curtailing pension costs will be a major goal of a Bloomberg third term.

“New York City runs the risk of becoming General Motors,” said Wolfson of the escalating cost. “We’ll be assuming a debt to retirees that is unsustainable.”

According to the mayor’s executive budget, pension contributions for fiscal year 2011 comprise 12 percent of the entire city budget — now at $63.1 billion. From fiscal year 2010 to 2011, pension costs are projected to increase from nearly $6.8 billion to $7.6 billion.

Unions looking to increase their standard salaries as their contracts expire this year should forget about it, Wolfson said. “There is no money for salary increases,” he warned.

The comments from both Wolfson and Goldsmith indicate the adminsitration will be taking a hard line with labor over the next four years — something some advocates have said is a long time coming. They also come as the adminsitration announces another hiring freeze.

And in a talking point that has become pro forma, Wolfson said: “The mayor is not running for anything.” That makes it all the more likely he will go after controversial policies and proposals, like pension reform, Wolfson said.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 21, 2010, 12:33 pm
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Empire Center and Council Spar Over Member Items
September 20th, 2010

Better late than never.

After more than six months, the Empire Center for New York State Policy is finally going to get a slew of information on the City Council’s member items requested through the state Freedom of Information Law. The request was filed shortly before Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled a new member items database, allowing New Yorkers to search through the council’s member items for this fiscal year.

The center had requested member items going back to 2006, including contact information for any nonprofit that received funding.

When it didn’t receive anything after several months, the state watchdog filed a suit against the council. Tim Hoefer, the center’s director of operations, said they plan to drop the suit as long as they get the information promised. According to the Daily News, they should receive the information on Wednesday.

“This is a victory for taxpayers throughout New York,” said Hoefer in a prepared statement. “We applaud Speaker Quinn for acknowledging the tardiness of the Council’s response to our FOIL and for her commitment to expanding openness in the future.”

The center operates the popular SeeThroughNY database, which catalogs all sorts of public information, including members items on the state level.

By on September 20, 2010, 1:11 pm
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Quinn Responds to Lopez Nonprofit
September 16th, 2010

The City Council will not freeze funding for the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council — a nonprofit founded by Assemblymember Vito Lopez now under investigation by the city’s Department of Investigation — but it will check in with the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services to “get further information,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn this afternoon.

The nonprofit came under fire this week after the Department of Investigation reported dysfunction and so-called incompetence within the organization and its board. Lopez denies this.

This fiscal year the council gave more than $581,000 to the group through its member items. All member items, Quinn said today, go through a rigorous vetting process by the council and the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

When asked this afternoon whether the funding of Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council called that vetting process into question, Quinn said, “We have a process that we believe is the best out there in the country.”

By on September 16, 2010, 2:46 pm
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

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