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Scandal Raises Questions About Member Items

A recording of a wiretap featuring Councilman Dan Halloran bragging that he could extract tens of thousands of dollars from the City Council to use as a bribe has brought attention back to oversight of the council's member items. Although there isn't evidence Halloran did what he bragged a number of mayoral candidates are using the issue to attack fellow candidate Council Speaker Quinn. Bill de Blasio blasted Quinn at a press conference saying, "these things happened under her watch." Bill Thompson and Sal Albanese also attacked Quinn's record on member items. Republican Mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota called for an inspector general to oversee the council in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Lhota has attacked Quinn's proposal for an NYPD inspector general. “There have been so many accusations over the last four to six years about the abuse of member items,” Lhota told the Journal. “I think it’s about time that the council seriously consider having an inspector general for itself, to oversee what is obviously an area that is ripe for people with bad character.”


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Council Votes to Curb Deportations

The City Council overwhelmingly voted for two bills yesterday that will further restrict the city's cooperation with federal immigration authorities in an effort to prevent unnecessary deportations. The laws would stop the city from honoring detainment requests except for immigrants with previous felonies, who are on gang or terrorist watch lists, have outstanding criminal warrants, or have committed misdemeanors such as sexual abuse, gun possession and assault. However, the law would prevent holding immigrants charged or having been found guilty of most misdemeanors. The impact of the laws is unclear as they echo recent guidelines from the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chair. "Current policy is eroding the trust between immigrants and local law enforcement and that frustrates the stated purpose of ‘Secure’ Communities,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in a statement. “If immigrants believe that the police will hand them over to immigration authorities, they are less likely to report crimes, and this can only have a negative effect on public safety. We have seen too many families torn apart by current detention and deportation practices


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Public Advocate Bill De Blasio has called on the Federal Emergency Management Administration to help pay for the removal of mold growing in homes that were flooded during Superstorm Sandy.

De Blasio also called yesterday for the creation of a hotline for mold-related inquiries, expanding mold inspections and the establishment of a health surveillance network to monitor respiratory illnesses in areas affected by the storm.

De Blasio, a presumptive candidate for mayor in 2013, posted his four-point plan for dealing with mold on his website.

Gotham Gazette reported earlier this month that public health officials and recovery workers are increasingly concerned about the health risks posed to residents living in homes where mold has been growing.

The city's health officials have been monitoring the situation in storm-ravaged areas.

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The public advocate wants the city agency responsible for overseeing the construction of affordable housing to make sure it doesn’t contract with potential crooks.

Bill de Blasio announced earlier today that he had sent the commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development a letter urging the agency to review all current contracts and suspend any involving companies that might be under investigation.

De Blasio said he was spurred to write the letter following reports that an executive at a company bidding for projects with HPD is under investigation for bribery.

“We need to take commonsense precautions any time there is a chance a company bribed its way to city business,” De Blasio said in a statement earlier today.

Catie Marshall, an HPD spokeswoman, said the agency does extensive background checks on all developers and contractors to identify whether they may have been convicted or have been involved in any violations.

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