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The city's 911 system crashed several times yesterday, forcing responders to resort to pen and paper, creating a backlog of about 200 calls at one point. At least one elderly woman had to wait an hour for an ambulance. The Fire Department says no calls were lost, but were not yet able to explain the crashes. The system has come under fire for repeated failures recently.

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Other Stories We're Following

City Loses Millions In Teacher Training Funds (WNYC)

MTA's Budget Calls For Service Improvements (Associated Press)

Subway Rush Hours Blending Into “Off-Peak” Times (Wall Street Journal)

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Bill de Blasio was escorted out a State University of New York school today, hands bound in a zip tie handcuff after the mayoral candidate and public advocate joined healthcare workers to protest talks of closing Brooklyn's Long Island College Hospital.

De Blasio was among a handful of arrests at the protest, organized by healthcare union SEIU 1199, which endorsed de Blasio's mayoral campaign in mid-May.

Brooklyn Councilman Steve Levin — whose district includes LICH — was also arrested by the New York Police Department, as were a handful of protesters.

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Christine Quinn yesterday said she wants to impose health standards on meals marketed towards kids at chain restaurants. She said those meals should meet the guidelines set by the USDA for school lunches. The standards would apply to chains with at least 15 locations in the city. The change would be made either through legislation, which she may try to pass while still council speaker, or through rules adopted by the Board of Health if she's elected mayor. The proposal was one part of a plan to combat childhood obesity.

Other Stories We're Following

Silver Kills Own Ban On Confidential Settlements (Daily News)

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Panel To Review Up To 50 Convictions (NY Times)

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NEW YORK — After almost four years of negotiations and months of political bickering, about one million working New Yorkers are a step closer to gaining paid sick days.

The City Council approved a bill today that will require many businesses to give sick workers time off. It passed 45 to 3.

The bill is much transformed from the one originally introduced in 2010 and kept from a vote by Speaker Christine Quinn until a near insurrection from her colleagues and criticism from advocates threatened to become a political liability as she seeks the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Under the bill approved by the Council, eligible workers would be guaranteed a minimum of five paid sick days. The bill also says that no one in New York can be fired for taking an unpaid sick day. Whereas the original bill would have forced businesses with five or more employees to provide paid sick days, the version passed today applies to those with 20 or more employees.

The law would go into effect in April of next year, with the possibility of expanding to businesses with 15 or more employees in late 2015, depending on the law's success. Full-time and part-time workers would be protected under the law, although it excludes interns and seasonal workers.

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Superstorm Sandy caused 11 billion gallons of partially or untreated sewage - the equivalent of Central Park stacked 41 feet high - to leak into rivers, lakes, and waterways, according to this report by Climate Central. New York City reported six sewage spills larger than 100,000,000 gallons, and 28 larger than 1 million gallons. New York authorities estimate it will cost nearly $2 billion to repair flood damaged sewage treatment facilities. Sewage overflow is common in the city, although not on this scale, and climate change will only make things worse, the group warns:

"Climate change is making sewage treatment plants more vulnerable to major failures and overflows due to rising seas, more intense coastal storms, and increasingly heavy precipitation events."

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The City Council has once again delayed a vote on paid sick leave despite an earlier goal of a vote tomorrow.

After working to move the controversial bill to the Council floor for three years, Manhattan City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said yesterday that she hopes the bill will come to a vote in early May after negotiating the final language.

She added that only small, auxiliary verbs like "may" or "must."

"I think we'll be fine," Brewer said. "I still feel ecstatic."

Whatever language is eventually adopted into the bill is a result of weeks of negotiation between City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, labor advocates and the city's business leaders.

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Speaker Christine Quinn yesterday announced legislation that would raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 21, up from 18. The idea was originally proposed by Queens Councilman James Gennaro. Mayor Bloomberg supports the proposal, although he opposed a similar plan in 2006. His office said his position changed after seeing data from the UK showing that a higher age limit would cut smoking for among teens. Data from the journal Health Policy also found similar results.

Other Stories We're Following

Bloomberg: Interpretation of Constitution Should Change After Bombing (Politicker)

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Day Centers Sprout Up, Luring Fit Elders And Costing Medicaid (NY Times)

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Lawmakers want New York City to be the first city in the U.S. to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18.

The law would make ban vendors from selling any tobacco products to New Yorkers under the age of 21, which Council Speaker Christine Quinn cautiously likened to the sale of alcoholic drinks.

She pointed to an 80 percent decline in drunk driving deaths after the drinking age increased in the 1980s.

Quinn stood alongside Health Department Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, fellow council memebers and anti-smoking advocates when she unveiled the new legislation today. The bill would join a group of bills also recently endorsed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg aimed at curbing New Yorkers' smoking habits.

"This can work," Quinn said during a press event at City Hall.

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After three years of waiting and debating, Councilwoman Gale Brewer said the controversial paid sick days bill could go to a vote as early as next week.

"April 25 -- that's the goal," Brewer said this afternoon. She said the language was still being finalized, but was confident it would go to a vote sooner rather than later.

The bill, Intro 0097, would be introduced through the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, which will convene the day before the bill heads to the Council's floor. It already has several cosponsors, including Speaker Christine Quinn, who held back a vote on the measure since Brewer first introduced the bill in 2010.

Quinn came under pressure in recent months as supporters of paid sick leave -- including unions and fellow mayoral candidates, most notably Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson -- demanded that the bill go to a vote. Quinn had long held that she didn't oppose the spirit of the bill, rather that the city's economy was too fragile to expect small business to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

However, despite initial opposition from chambers of commerce from all five boroughs and various business leaders, Quinn was able to draw up a compromise version of the bill that would not got into effect until next year, and only if it meets a minimum measure of a financial index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has followed up on a promise to help prepare New Yorkers for the coming changes to the healthcare industry.

Quinn announced a new partnership today to help prioritize retraining for current healthcare workers to meet new standards and incentivize jobs in the industry. The effort comes as city leaders seek to capitalize on the expected demand for healthcare jobs stemming from the rollout of the national Affordable Care Act and the state's Medicaid redesign.

Quinn first announced the new partnership, called the New York Health Employment Coalition, during her State of the City address in February.

"If we get this right, it will mean thousands of new job opportunities for working and middle class New Yorkers," Quinn said when she introduced her proposal in February. "If we get it wrong, we’ll see major disruptions in our healthcare system, and healthcare professionals could actually lose their jobs.

The coalition is co-chaired by Health Committee Chairwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske, 1199 SEIU Training and Employment Funds Executive Director Deborah King and the City University of New York's Dean of Health Bill Ebenstein.

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Mayor Bloomberg introduced a bill yesterday that would force retailers to keep cigarettes out of view from customers. It would not affect advertising, which falls under First Amendment protections. Speaker Quinn said she is very open to the idea. A Health Department study found that 80 percent of stores selling cigarettes devote most of their space behind the register to tobacco displays. A British study found that simply noticing tobacco on display raised the odds kids would try smoking by threefold. A second proposed bill would raise penalties for retailers who evade tobacco taxes and create a minimum price of $10.50 per pack. Retailers complain they will lose a lot of business.

Other Stories We're Following

Focus On Three Encounters In Stop-And-Frisk Trial (NY Times)

State Budget To Include $9 Minimum Wage (Associated Press)

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A judge struck down Mayor Bloomberg's sugary drink ban yesterday, calling the limits “arbitrary and capricious” with confusing loopholes and voluminous exemptions. The limits of city authority means some businesses, such as 7-Eleven, would still be able to sell the drinks banned in other stores if it passed. The administration will appeal, and likened the decision to a string of other lower court rulings against the city's initiatives that didn't stand up against appeal. The ruling was a surprise, as the judge had been expected to rule only on a request for a temporary restraining order. The mayoral candidates differed on the ban. For more, read our story on the ruling.

Other Stories We're Following

Riot Breaks Out In Brooklyn After Vigil For Boy Shot By Cops (Daily News)

Housing Officials Say They're On Track To Eliminate Repairs Backlog (Daily News)

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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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Gov. Cuomo says he's optimistic about his meetings yesterday with the White House and Congressional leaders where he pressed for aid to help rebuild from Superstorm Sandy. Congress and the president are currently trying to agree on how to avoid a possible fiscal crisis next month. The disaster aid will most likely be tied to those talks. Some in Congress have suggested the aid be offset by cuts elsewhere, a move that would put the money at risk. This is the first time Cuomo has visited Washington since being elected. Mayor Bloomberg made a similar visit last week. New Jersey is also seeking about $37 billion in aid.

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Gov. Cuomo said Hurricane Sandy affected more people than Katrina in his plea for nearly $42 billion in federal aid. He noted many more died in Katrina, but that the economic toll of Sandy was higher, reaching almost $33 billion in clean up costs. The aid request from Cuomo grew from his previous plea for $30 billion.The aid would be used to cover damage and restoration, but $9 billion of it would be used to prepare for future storms. Mayor Bloomberg is making his own plea for nearly $10 billion in aid. State health officials are also asking for almost a half-billion dollars in special Medicaid funding for hospitals, nursing homes and clinics affected by the storm.

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Many city hospitals are still struggling to recover from the storm, and may be for a while. Bellevue won't reopen its emergency room until at least December, Coney Island Hospital fully operational until January, and the reopening timetable for NYU Langone Medical Center nor the Veterans Affairs Hospital is still murky. The extended shutdowns are stretching the resources of other hospitals, which are running at near capacity. Over 3,000 patients in the city had to be moved to other facilities due to the storm.

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In many pockets throughout the city, the effects of Sandy are still being felt. It could be weeks before damaged hospitals reopen, but Mayor Bloomberg $500 million emergency plan for those hospitals and also public schools. Out of the city's 1,750 schools, 37 remain shuttered. Public housing residents who still have no power will receive a rent credit for their time without services, but not until January. Rockaway is still a demolition zone and mold is becoming a large concern. The city is launching "one-stop restoration centers" that will provide recovery services and disaster relief. The extra money Gov. Cuomo requested from the federal government is far from definite.

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The Cuomo Administration plans to try offering cash bonuses to Medicaid recipients who get regular check ups. The incentive will initially target 16,700 people with health problems like diabetes and hypertension. Meanwhile, community health advocates in the Bronx say more jobs for the community could improve the overall health of the borough. Also, the Health and Hospitals Corporation's inspector general will make more records available to the public after it was exposed to have failed to follow up on hundreds of cases.

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Childhood lead poisoning cases dropped 17 percent in 2011, achieving new historic low in New York City, according to this Health Department report. The number of lead poisoning cases in young children has declined 56% since 2005.

"While fewer children are suffering from lead poisoning in New York City, too many of our children are still vulnerable to this serious, but preventable, health problem,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “It is critically important that landlords follow the law and promptly repair peeling lead paint in homes with young children."

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The state announced on Friday it would restart the regulatory rule-making process over hydraulic fracturing, pushing back a decision about approval into next year. This comes after the move to study fracking's impact on public health. The industry is worried Gov. Cuomo may not approve the drilling after all.

In the Press...

An ugly message sent on marriage vote (Albany Times Union)

State Senate Democrats to get campaign cash lifeline from teachers union (Daily News)

In Southeast Queens, epicenter of housing bust, holding onto homes still elusive (WNYC)

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