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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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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MTA Not Taking Any More Questions
January 4th, 2011

From the MTA

Image from the MTA

Were you befuddled by the stranded passengers on the A or the lack of service for days on the Q post Boxing Day blizzard?

Well, at least for now, you’re not going to get any answers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

When Gotham Gazette touched base with the authority this afternoon, spokesperson Charles Seaton said the agency won’t be taking any more questions on the service-stalling storm.

“We are being investigated by the [Inspector General’s] office and the City Council,” said Seaton. “We are not taking any more questions on the storm.”

But they will have to on Monday.

Seaton said authority officials would testify at the City Council’s hearing on the blizzard response, scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. Several top officials at the Bloomberg adminsitration have also been invited to testify, including Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, Sanitation Commission John Doherty and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Today’s response from the MTA follows a Daily News editorial, which blasts the authority for its slow response to the massive snowfall and demands an explanation.

The investigation by the authority’s inspector general is expected to take 60 days, an official said.

By on January 4, 2011, 5:06 pm
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Station Will Give Electric Cars a Charge
July 15th, 2010

This post was filed by Bill Sweet, who blogs about energy and climate for IEEE Spectrum.

In a press event held yesterday in a mid-Manhattan parking lot, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. housing secretary Shaun Donovan hailed the installation of an electric car charging station that’s meant to inaugurate a revolution in passenger transit. The station, the first of 100 to be deployed in New York’s five boroughs by the beginning of next year, was designed and developed by Coulomb Technologies, a California startup. It resembles a cute little gasoline pump and is featured, coincidentally, in the triennial design exhibition currently at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. (For photo of pump and background, go to IEEE Spectrum.)

The New York City scheme is part of a national program to install nearly 5,000 Coulomb charging stations in 9 U.S. metropolitan areas, at a cost of about $37 million and with $15 million in support from the U.,S. stimulus bill. Donovan, Bloomberg’s former housing chief, made plain yesterday that the charging station plan should be seen as part of the Obama administration’s aim to create future jobs. He noted that today Obama would be cutting the ribbon at a new car battery factory in Michigan. When the stimulus bill was passed there were no mass manufacturers of car batteries in the United States, he said; now there will be nine.

Bloomberg said that the city plans to have its 100 charging stations in place by the time carmakers like Chevrolet, Nissan, Ford and Daimler introduce electric cars next year. Daimler has just introduced an electric version of its Smartcar to the United States on a trial basis, with commercial sales slated for 2012.

By on July 15, 2010, 11:25 am
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A Budget Breakdown
May 24th, 2010

Not all is fair in fiscal year 2011 — at least to the hordes of advocates and politicians vying to save their favorite projects and programs.

Below you can find out how your favorite agency has fared, whether its proposed cuts are deeper than other departments and how much it’s slated to spend this year.

Click on the chart to interact. You can click through agencies on the side and roll over the graphic to view the funding level by fiscal year. If you want an expanded view, you can click on the title.

Enjoy!

By on May 24, 2010, 12:13 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Environment,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Immigrants,Law,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services,Tech,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Budget Hearings Breakdown
May 13th, 2010

The City Council kicked off its executive budget hearings this morning, and over the next month there will be dozens more.

This schedule is subject to change, but here is how it’s laid out now.

Friday, May 14

Human Rights Commission, 10 a.m.
City University of New York, 10:30 a.m.
Education and School Construction Authority (Capital), 12 p.m.

Monday, May 17
Citywide Administrative Services, 10 a.m.
Board of Elections, 10:45 a.m.
Campaign Finance Board, 11:45 a.m.
Aging, 12:30 p.m.
Juvenile Justice, 2 p.m.
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By on May 13, 2010, 6:00 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Crime & Safety,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Health,Housing,Land Use,Law,nextNY,Parks,Public Finance,Social Services,sustainability,Tech,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Capital Projects Bill Passes Senate
May 5th, 2010

A bill sponsored by Sen. Martin Dilan that would force the state to pay contractors who are working on state road and bridge projects passed the senate today.

Assemblyman Vito Lopez is sponsoring the bill in the assembly. If the bill passes that house and is signed into law the state would be required to pay contractors retroactively to March 31.

Paterson announced in April that he would freeze contractor’s pay until a new budget deal is reached. Contractors say the move is costing jobs and jeopardizing important repair projects. They have brought a suit against the state to try to get paid.

Here is the release from Dilan’s office:

Albany, N.Y.Today, the State Senate passed a measure sponsored by Senator Martin Malav Dilan (D-Brooklyn) that will assist New York construction crews in getting back to work on the states roads and bridges by authorizing the continued payment of all capital construction contracts.

New York made a commitment to contractors that come construction season the money would be there for them to conduct the work they agreed to do, said Senator Dilan, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. By honoring these contracts we not only meet the requirements by which we are legally bound, but also protect the public, employs its workforce and invest in critical transportation projects.

The legislation is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn.

S.7686 makes all capital contracts binding liabilities, and requires they be honored. Since April 1, New York has operated without a budget, relying instead on emergency spending measures to pay its expenses. These liabilities have included the public employee payroll, social security contributions and aid to localities.

The first three budget extenders allocated funds toward projects funded solely through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As each new extender came before the Senate, Senator Dilan asked that Governor David Paterson include all capital projects, whether funded through ARRA, Federal or State coffers. Just two weeks ago, capital project funding in New York was extended to federally funded capital projects.

But approximately 80 percent of these federally funded construction projects currently let by the New York State Department of Transportation require some form of state match in order to qualify for the remaining federal dollars.

Without the states match, the work, federal- or state-funded, will be delayed this construction season, and some larger projects may not get done at all, said Senator Dilan. This legislation is a vital step toward shoring up tens of thousands of construction jobs across the state.

The legislation awaits Assembly approval. Upon final passage, the measure will be effective immediately and cover liabilities dating retroactively to March 31, before the state budget expired.

By on May 5, 2010, 4:06 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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City Planning Responds
May 4th, 2010

Sandy Hornick, director of strategic planning for the Department of City Planning, defends the city’s record on encouraging mass transit use in a comment posted today.

Reacting to Brian Paul’s article accusing the administration of building parking lots while at the same time not doing enough to boost transit use, Hornick writes, “No American location has more transit-oriented development than New York City. Thats why New Yorkers who own cars drive significantly fewer miles than the average American and those who live in our denser, inner city neighborhoods drive even fewer miles. ”

Hornick says that, in his article, Paul embraced ” a fundamental misconception that transit-oriented development means an absolute absence of cars.” Instead, Hornick continues, ” The essence of transit-oriented development is that people have practical choices for travel other than by private automobile. ”

Hornick also cites an array of actions by the Bloomberg administration that, he says, encourage the use of transit, as well as biking and walking. These include rezonings, limits on curb cuts and efforts to make streets more attractive.

Hornick’s comments are the latest entry in a debate sparked by Paul’s article. To read Hornick’s post and the others on parking and auto use, go here.

By on May 4, 2010, 4:30 pm
In category: Land Use,sustainability,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Dilan's Capital Projects Bill Expected to Come to a Vote Tomorrow
May 4th, 2010

Sen. Martin Dilan, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he expects his bill that would require the state to pay for road and bridge projects to come to a vote on the Senate floor tomorrow.

Technically the legislation would make all capital contracts “binding liabilities.” Dilain said he expects “strong support” from his senate colleagues.

He is not quite sure what kind of support the bill will receive in the assembly where Assemblyman Vito Lopez has sponsored the measure.

Gov. David Paterson cut funding to state funded road and bridge projects earlier this year angering the construction industry and jeapordizing dozen’s of crucial repair projects. Paterson said the state simply did not have the money to fund them.

Dilan has pressed Gov. David Paterson to restore the funding so that critical projects can continue and so that contractors are not forced to lay off staff during the height of construction season.

At one point Repulican Sen. John Defrancisco tried to insert an amendment into Paterson’s budget extenders that would have forced the state to make good on contracts. Dilan opposed the measure, saying that meddling with the extender could bring state government to a halt.

By on May 4, 2010, 4:26 pm
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Dilan Proposes Legislation to Restore Funding to Construction Projects
May 3rd, 2010

Sen. Martin Dilan has proposed legislation that would force the state to pay contractors who are repairing state-owned roads and bridges.

Gov. David Paterson stopped payments on those projects months ago in reaction to the state’s escalating fiscal crisis. The move forced some contractors to question whether they could afford to keep paying workers, and drew a lawsuit from an association of contractor groups. A number of high-profile projects were put in jeopardy.

Dilan’s legislation, S.7686 makes all capital contracts “binding liabilities” and will have to be honored by the state.

New York made a commitment to contractors that come construction season the money would be there for them to conduct the work they agreed to do. For us to renege on that agreement jeopardizes thousands of jobs and the safety of all New Yorkers, said Dilan in a statement.

Here is the full release from Dilan’s office: Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 3, 2010, 10:02 pm
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Hard Hats Take Albany
April 30th, 2010

More than 50 Men and women in yellow vests and orange hard hats marched by the Capital today. Unfortunately they weren’t there to fix Albany’s crumbling infrastructure.

Why not?

Well the state isn’t paying them to do that sort of thing anymore. The hard hats were in town to protest just that. Gov. David Paterson has been withholding payments for state road and bridge projects while contracting companies try to pay their workers without help from the state.

The yellow vested crew marched down to the State Supreme Court where arguments were being heard in the case brought by a coalition of contractors associations against the state. Former Lt. Gov. Al DeBello argued the case for the contractors. He says holding back payments to contractors is illegal because the state still expects them to complete the projects they are working and therefore they have to pay the costs out of their own pockets.

Some legislators have pushed to have Paterson restore funding for contractors in the budget extenders the legislature has passed each week but so far Paterson has not budged. Legislators say they have no choice but to vote for the extenders otherwise state government will be shut down.

The mess isn’t expected to be resolved until there is an actual budget in place and at this point no one seems particularly confident that will happen anytime soon.

Without a budget contracts that could go forward and have money assigned to them can’t go forward because their is no budgetary authority to initiate them. Felice Farber of the General Contractors Association of New York said that emergency repairs for the Gowanus Expressway have been held up because there is no budget in place even though a low bidder has been chosen for the project. “There is a reason these are called emergency projects,” she said.

“Hopefully legislators and the governor got the message that this is killing our industry and costing jobs at the worst time,” said Farber. Who described the hard hat march from the Capital to the court as a, “funeral procession.”

By on April 30, 2010, 2:48 pm
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Dilan to Paterson: Restore Capital Project Funding
April 22nd, 2010

Gov. David Paterson issued a statement today saying that his budget extender bill for next week will not include appropriation funding for State funded road and bridge projects across the state. However, he announced that, “this bill will include provisions to allow federal and local spending on hundreds of capital projects that have no State funding component and were authorized in prior State fiscal years. Approximately 124 State Department of Transportation projects that are 100 percent federally funded, and approximately 219 local projects that receive federal and local funds may move forward after this action.”

Contractors and legislators are up in arms that important repair projects have been delayed and construction workers are being laid off because they are not being paid for their work.

Sen. Martin Dilan, who has been pushing for full restoration of funding responded to the announcement with an open letter demanding all funding be restored.

“Your proposal to authorize the release of funding for only 100% federally funded projects does not accomplish what the people of this state need. Approximately 80% of construction projects currently let by DOT require some form of state match in order to qualify for the remaining federal dollars and would therefore be ineligible to move forward under your proposal. Additionally, by not allowing DOT to let new projects we are shortening the construction season, and risking a further loss of jobs and needed repairs. Without moving these projects forward, I question whether we can survive another blow while New Yorks unemployment rate approaches double digits, and its transportation infrastructure lies in disrepair.”

There will likely be another heated complaint session before the Senate votes on the extender next week.

It should be noted that in the official letter sent by Dilan he crosses out Gov. David Paterson in blue ink and addresses the governor simply as David.

Here is the full text of Dilan’s letter: Read the rest of this entry »

By on April 22, 2010, 3:16 pm
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Senate Debates Budget Extender
April 12th, 2010

The Senate is currently considering the budget extender that would keep state government running for one more week in the absence of a real budget agreement.

Before the bill came to a vote Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco put forward an amendment that would have required the budget extender to include funds to pay contractors who are working on state construction projects. Francisco argued that the construction projects need funding to protect public safety on decaying roads and bridges and to preserve jobs.

Late last month Gov. David Paterson put funding for hundreds of road and bridge contracts on hold. As a result of the move contractors have begun having to lay off workers who they can no longer afford to pay.

Sen. Martin Dilan, head of the Transportation Committee, told DeFrancisco that he has written to the Paterson’s budget office to demand funding for the projects. He said he has also been “fighting” with the Paterson administration to restore the funding. But Dilan said he would not vote for DeFrancisco’s amendment because he said the Assembly has already passed their budget extender and not passing the extension, “would shut down government.”

I understand Sen. Dilan’s position,” said DeFrancisco, “but I think there comes a point in time where we really truly ought to fight in the forum where we have some power rather than hoping on the good will of the administration. ”

DeFrancisco’s amendment failed.

The Republicans are now admonishing Democrats for holding secretive budget negotiations and not holding conference committees to hash out the differences between budget proposals between houses.

Paterson said earlier today that he is considering asking legislators to stay past Wednesday this week to negotiate the budget. Legislators are scheduled to work a Monday to Wednesday scheduled for the rest of the month. The budget is currently two weeks late.

By on April 12, 2010, 5:35 pm
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Jumping the Bloomberg Administration
March 30th, 2010

skyler_hiressm
A report on City Room has been confirmed by the Bloomberg administration: Deputy Mayor for Operations Ed Skyler will be leaving City Hall next month.

At his post, Skyler oversaw the fire, police, sanitation, environmental protection, buildings and transportation departments. He even moonlighted as a robber-stopping samaritan. Skyler was also one of Bloomberg’s top aides that reportedly opposed a third term.

He is now moving on to the private sector after serving 8 years with the Bloomberg administration. Skyler is not the first to go.

The full release from the mayor’s office is after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 30, 2010, 10:59 am
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Jet Blue Calls Queens Home
March 22nd, 2010

jetblue

Photo (cc) 2008 matt.hintsa

Score one for New York City. Florida — zero.

The Bloomberg administration and JetBlue announced this afternoon that the airliner would not be moving to Florida as it had considered last year. It will be calling Queens, specifically Long Island City, its permanent home.

The Big Apple and Florida had been in a bidding war over JetBlue, which recently built a $734 million terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The airline said last year it was considering moving its headquarters, and it had narrowed its pick down to New York City and Orlando, Fla.

As part of the deal to stay in New York, the city will contribute up to $3 million to JetBlue’s hub at JFK. The airliner was also offered other tax incentives from both the city and state, including up to $7 million in city job growth credits and $6 million in state capital grants for job retention and growth, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp.

The airliner, currently in Forest Hills, will headquarter in the Brewster Building, now 1 MetLife Plaza, in Long Island City.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 22, 2010, 4:47 pm
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Protecting Pedestrians
February 24th, 2010

The hit and run accident that critically injured mayoral aide Errin Phelan early Sunday morning and hurt her friend Alma Guerrero points up how dangerous it can be to simply cross a street in New York. And while on the face of it, the conduct of the driver seems completely egregious, if past cases are any indication, there is no guarantee anyone will be convicted of a major offense for the crime.

As Gotham Gazette reported late last year, people who kill with their vehicles usually get off with a slap on the wrist — unless it can be proved they were drunk at the time of the accident. Since the driver who struck Phelan has not yet been apprehended, there is no way to determine whether she was drunk, stoned or high when she mowed down the two young women on Flatbush Avenue. (Police questioned the owner of the car, Cindy Jasmin, who says her sister Frances was driving. Investigators reportedly are skeptical.)
Read the rest of this entry »

By on February 24, 2010, 9:09 am
In category: Crime & Safety,Health,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Ravitch: "I Personally Wouldn't Raise the Payroll Tax"
February 22nd, 2010

Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch told the Gazette today that he personally does not support Gov. David Paterson’s plan to change the structure of the payroll tax on all counties serviced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“I personally wouldnt raise the payroll tax in the city or cut it in the suburbs. At this point leave well enough alone.” said Ravitch.

Paterson’s plan would raise the tax on businesses in New York City from .34 to .54 percent. The tax on businesses outside of New York City would drop from .34 to .17 percent. New York City would go from paying 70 percent of the overall tax burden to 88 percent.

The commission Ravitch headed recommended the payroll tax along with bridge tolls to provide the MTA with a steady funding source but the plan was rejected by a recalcitrant Senate and only some of Ravitch’s recommendations were enacted.

Ravitch said he came to the conclusion that the payroll tax was an appropriate fundraiser for the MTA, “After consulting with business groups, the fed, every economic forecaster the state and the city use, all the budget offices and everybody concluded that would have the least adverse impact of all possible tax revenue.”

Paterson’s plan clashes with Ravitch’s previous assertions that the entire metro area benefits from the MTA and should therefore share the burden. However there has been great outcry in the suburbs against the tax.

The payroll tax has yielded lower than forecasted returns, leaving the MTA with a growing budget gap.

“I think had the legislature passed the tolls that I recommended we would have had a cushion up to this point,” said Ravitch.

By on February 22, 2010, 6:04 pm
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Assembly Members Demand MTA Save Student MetroCards
February 18th, 2010

Twenty four Assembly members have signed on to a letter demanding that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority preserve funding for student MetroCards. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the program costs them $214 million a year and a current budget shortfall means they have to phase out the program. The Assembly members reject that notion and claim the funding provided by the state and city is enough to keep the program running.

The MTA says it faces an $800 million hole in its operating budget and a $10 billion gap in its five-year construction plan. Here are some of the highlights from the Richard Brodsky penned letter:
“While the MTA asserts it needs $214 million in additional state and city aid to preserve the program, the actual cost of free and discounted student fares is close to zero. We reject the MTA’s assertion that the program must be valued at the ostensible lost revenue, and point out that state and city funding for the program actually exceeds the cost of providing the service.”

“We understand the use of political tactics in budget controversies. But there are limits, and the decision to put students and families out as a pawn in the struggle to increase City and State funding crosses a line.”

Gene Russianoff of New York Public Interest Group’s Straphangers Campaign disputed Brodksy’s claim that providing students transportation costs almost nothing.

“I am disappointed in Richard,” said Russianoff. “He has done good work watching over authorities and passing important legislation this year, but I don’t think he is adding anything constructive to the conversation.”

Here are comments made by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz on the situation: Read the rest of this entry »

By on February 18, 2010, 4:53 pm
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Broadway Walkway Here to Stay
February 11th, 2010

For all you Times Square revelers, the Bloomberg administration is going to give you a little more room to stretch your legs — permanently.
broadway
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced this morning the pedestrian plazas at Times and Herald Squares were here to stay. When the plazas were first announced in February last year, the administration said they would be made permanent if they improved traffic flow on 6th and 7th avenues and if it made the areas safer for pedestrians.

The results, according to the administration, will allow tourists and New Yorkers alike to sit back and relax in the plazas colorful furnishings for years to come.

According to the Department of Transportation, travel speeds for trips north in West Midtown improved by 17 percent from fall 2008 to 2009, compared with 8 percent in East Midtown. For trips south in West Midtown, travel speeds fell 2 percent. East Midtown had an increase of 3 percent, according to the transportation department.

Before this morning’s announcement, some speculated that the results would not be good enough to keep the plazas. A report in the New York Times said officials found the results “disappointing.”

Disappointing or not, Times and Herald Squares have officially been taken over by pedestrians.

Pictured above is Times Square now and below is a video from the transportation department about the project.

By on February 11, 2010, 11:56 am
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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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