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NEW YORK — Legendary former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recalled yesterday how in the 1960s and 1970s police avoided making stops of potential suspects out of fear of retribution.
"That's where we were," he said as he stood with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and a bevy of law enforcement leaders who had gathered at One Police Plaza. They had gathered to voice their opposition to a package of City Council bills aimed, in part, at reining in the New York Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk.
Morgenthau, who was the city's top prosecutor for more than three decades until his retirement in 2009, praised the NYPD's record and said that, instead of pursuing the legislation, the Council should tackle what he called the disproportionate deaths of black men by gun violence.
"What's the City Council going to do about that?" he asked. "If City Council wants to do something that's important, let see how they can reduce or propose a reduction of the murder of African American men."
It was an argument that echoed defenses of stop-and-frisk put forth in the past by Bloomberg and Kelly.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council agreed to a $70 billion budget deal last night. The Daily News reports that the agreement mostly avoids cuts to the public housing authority under the federal sequester. Other than that, the budget deal largely maintained last year's agreement: there are no tax cuts and planned cuts to funding of libraries and after-school programs won't happen. The budget also includes $250 million in new spending to prepare the city for future extreme weather.
Weekend Roundup: The governor said Sunday he will ask federal prosecutors to look into a report on the Long Island Power Authority that found "breathtaking waste and inefficiency." Albany approves speed cameras, but not the women's equality agenda at the end of session. Here's one take on why the women's equality agenda failed. And here's an editorial in the Daily News about some of the fallout. State voters will now get to decide whether to expand casinos upstate.
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New York City officials are planning to roll out a food composting program to all five boroughs this fall in an effort to cut down on the amount of waste that goes into landfills. It had previously been limited to Staten Island. Officials with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration say that food composting could become mandatory.
Weekend Roundup: Former state Sen. Pedro Espada was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement. Mayoral hopeful John Liu may not get public matching funds for his campaign until August, the New York Post reports. The Associated Press says the governor wants to allow more video slot casinos across the state. Charter school backers want to be a counterweight to teachers' unions in the mayoral race, Crain's reports.
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Thousands of union workers rallied yesterday at City Hall Park to demonstrate their frustration over the lack of contract negotiations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and city employees.
"The people united will not be defeated," unionized teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and police officers continuously chanted, their words echoing through the park as giant screens showed images of the protest.
The rally, coordinated by the Municipal Labor Committee, was touted by organizers as a vigorous response to Bloomberg's decision to allow city unions' contracts to expire, leaving over 300,000 employees without labor agreements.
Bloomberg presented his final $70 billion budget plan in early May, which marks his 12th budget in his 11-and-a-half years in office. Under the proposal, 20 fire companies would be closed and $135 million cut from afterschool and early-childhood education programs.
The budget also has no money allocated for city employees' backpay in case renegotiating contracts results in salary increases. The cumulative price of paying the city's workforce retroactively could be over $7 billion.
Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams calls opposition to two bills that would increase oversight and regulation of the New York Police Department "paternalistic."
The bills to create an independent police department inspector general and expand the city's ban on racial profiling are expected to be introduced at tomorrow's Council meeting.
"What sometimes disturbs me is that the most vociferous people against these bills generally are not the ones that deal with gun violence in their district and are not the ones who deal with over-policing in their district," Williams said earlier today after unveiling the latest versions of the bills at City Hall. His district has already seen at least 27 shootings this year.
"I would wager a bet," Williams continued while punctuating his points by thumping his fist at the podium before him, "that I have been to more funerals of young black men than they have. That I have spoken to more mothers just minutes, hours, days after they've lost a young black or Latino male than they have."
Yesterday, Williams and fellow Brooklyn City Councilman Brad Lander, a co-sponsor, announced that they would bypass the chair of the Council's public safety committee in order to get the bills to the floor for a vote in the next few weeks.