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President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force report was released yesterday with 69 recommendations that focus on planning for future storms. It calls for development of a more advanced electrical grid and the creation of better planning tools and standards for storm-damaged communities. Making wireless communications networks more resilient in extreme weather emergencies was another recommendation. City projects, like the Blueway Plan to make the East River more accessible, are already incorporating resiliency efforts into their plans.

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Tagged in: Superstorm Sandy

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The city's new evacuation maps include 600,000 new residents, bringing the total number to 2,990,000. That's 37 percent of all the city's homes. It also adds 26 project buildings. The map is now divided into six zones, up from three, with Zone 1 being the most at risk. The new zones offer more flexibility in ordering evacuations. They were designed using data from the National Weather Service's view of sea rise.

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Lawsuit Asks Federal Judge To End NYPD Surveillance Of Muslims (Daily News)

Women's Equality Act Split Into 10 Bills (Albany Times Union)

Bill: NYPD Must Notify New Jersey of Spying (WNYC)

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As Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveils his administration's vision for making New York City more resilient to climate change, Gotham Gazette is working to help democratize the public debate on the issues.

Gotham Gazette is partnering with veteran journalists and technology pioneers to bring you AdaptNY, which aims to "curate, document and foster conversation about how New York will adapt to the coming challenges of climate change."

The project is led by veteran journalist A. Adam Glenn, of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

The project will be edited and curated by Glenn, and Gotham Gazette will be providing content and editorial guidance. We'll also be promoting AdaptNY's efforts on Facebook and Twitter, and encourage readers to visit the project site.

We are also proud to be partnering with DocumentCloud to develop an online tool for stimulating public policy discussion around key reports on climate change.

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Increased flooding, more rain and storms, and higher temperatures are all predicted in a new report by the Bloomberg Administration. Over 800,000 residents are expected to live in flood plains by 2050, more than double the number currently estimated at risk. By that time, 90 degree days could become as regular as they are in Birmingham, Ala. Heat waves kill more people than storms. Sea levels are anticipated to rise four to eight inches by 2020. Bloomberg will give a speech today about how the city will begin preparing for this new climate.

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Vote To Be Forced On NYPD Bills (Politicker)

Cuomo Bill Eyes Public-Financed Elections (Albany Times Union)

Federal Cuts Trim City Housing Vouchers By As Many As 8,000 (Daily News)

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Yesterday Con Edison revealed some of its first improvements to protect its network of equipment against flooding and storms as hurricane season quickly approaches. The planned upgrades are expected to total $1 billion over the next four years. To pay for it, the utility is asking for a rate hike that will amount to $3 a month per customer. Con Ed has been criticized for being understaffed when the storm hit and for handing out bonuses to executives for their handling of it. The utility is also planning to spend $1.2 billion this year on upgrades to prepare for the summer heat.

NEW IN GOTHAM GAZETTE: A Culture of Sexual Harassment In Albany?

Several lawmakers, longtime Albany political operatives, and former staffers say that there is a “boys' club” atmosphere in the capitol where women are pressured to go along to get along. They blame a failed system of protection for women from unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior from male superiors -- including outdated and sometimes confusing requirements for reporting sexual harassment that fail to provide the kind of safeguards that exist in the corporate world. By David Howard King.

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Unions Say City Owes Billions In Back Pay (Daily News)

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Female Parks Department Workers Stripped For More Work (Daily News)

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A Manhattan judge has ruled that hundreds of Sandy evacuees currently living in hotel rooms paid for by the city can stay until at least mid-May.

After meeting with attorneys in chambers for almost 30 minutes, Judge Margaret Chan announced today that the 365 Sandy evacuees with no current housing alternatives can stay in the hotel rooms until May 15.

The city had said they would be evicted from the hotels on April 30, after funding for the program ended. 

Attorneys for the city said that they planned on extending the deadline to the same date regardless of how the judge would have ruled today.

The city's Law Department said that the city had spent close to $60 million on helping households transition into stable living arrangements. Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond told reporters last week that the hotel program had cost the city $40 million.

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Mayor Bloomberg delivered a passionate speech yesterday defending his police policies and lashing out at critics. He lambasted civil rights groups and the media for not showing outrage at the recent murder of a boy in the Bronx. He signaled out the NY Times in particular for publishing an article opposing stop and frisk days afterwards. The paper's rebuttal was that the editorial and news gathering sections are separate. But they did however mention the shooting in an op-ed. The victim's mother supports the policy. Bloomberg also panned legislation in the City Council that would create an independent monitor for the NYPD and another addressing profiling. He argued that outside agencies wouldn't share sensitive information if another department could gain access to it and that it would somehow sow confusion among the ranks of who was in charge. The mayor also claimed that the second bill would bar the use of skin color in descriptions of suspects, which the bill's co-sponsor points out is not the case.

SUPERSTORM SANDY ROUNDUP

A New York Supreme Court judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit that could determine the outcome for hundreds of people displaced by Superstorm Storm and facing eviction from a city-funded hotel program that was supposed to terminate at the end of April. The New York Times reports that relief efforts by members of Occupy Wall Street has created a split in the nascent movement. Community groups in low-lying neighborhoods aren't waiting for the government to develop plans to respond to extreme weather; they've decided to create their own agenda. 

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Con Ed Executives Return Bonuses (NY Post)

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Hundreds of displaced Superstorm Sandy victims are safe from eviction from dozens of hotels paid for by the city — at least until tomorrow afternoon. 

A New York Supreme Court judge will hear arguments tomorrow from the city and attorneys representing five evacuees who face eviction from the city's hotel program, which was supposed to terminate at the end of April .

While the city said on Monday night that the restraining order wasn't properly processed, the evacuees housed in any of the more the 50 hotels citywide can count on at least one more night.

Arguing on behalf of the five evacuees, the Legal Aid Society says that the city needs to secure an extension for those New Yorkers with no other housing options, which includes at least 125 households.

During a City Council hearing last Friday, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond told Council members that another 71 households rejected the options given to them by DHS and its hired caseworkers.

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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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Superstorm Sandy's six month anniversary continues to make headlines. The storm is credited for creating a rise in construction jobs in the state. But not everybody is choosing to rebuild, many in the area are walking away from their damaged homes. But hundreds of millions in additional federal storm-recovery funds are expected from a new grant FEMA announced to the Long Island Power Authority. Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo is ordering an investigation into the bonuses Con Edison awarded executives for their handling of the storm. In the storm's aftermath "we witnessed a complete failure by many of our state’s utilities to provide adequate service to the rate payers they serve,” he said.

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Consultants Work To Elect Lawmakers Then Lobby Them (Daily News)

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Tagged in: Superstorm Sandy

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A group of evacuees left homeless by Superstorm Sandy are suing to stay in hotels that the city says they need to leave by tomorrow. 

Six months to the day that Sandy hit New York City, five individuals filed a lawsuit today to prevent the city from following through with its deadline to end its temporary hotel program for Sandy victims.

Calling the city's deadlines "arbitrary," the suit seeks to force the city to keep paying for hotels until the residents can secure permanent housing. The lawsuit also says that the city's evictions notices were served without a fair hearing, which attorneys say does not comply with federal and state law.

"They have attempted to use whatever resources have been made available to them," said the complaint, "but have been stymied by poor case work, a lack of adequate housing resources and the failure of government agencies to timely implement forthcoming federally-funded housing resources."

The news came on the heels of a rally held in front of City Hall today, where a range of labor, faith and reform groups asked the city to extend the hotel deadline. They also called on the city to address the invasive mold problem in afflicted housing and properly track how the city spends money devoted to Sandy recovery.

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The hard-earned lessons of Superstorm Sandy shaped a mayoral forum yesterday where candidates fielded questions on waterfront development, expanding ferry service and creating a new agency to oversee the city's vast coastline. "Make no mistake," said Democratic candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, "you get to say once, 'It was an unprecedented storm.' You don't get to do that again." Six candidates were asked to respond to policy proposals put forward by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance that touches on everything from docks to land use. The public also got to submit questions. Continue reading the story on the Gotham Gazette to see what the other candidates had to say ... 

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Cuomo Proposes Bribes Legislation (Wall Street Journal)

NAACP: Stop-And-Frisk A National Priority (Associated Press)

Albany Riveted By Double Life Of Assembly Informer (NY Times)

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A coalition of environmental organizations, labor unions and community groups advocated grassroots recovery in areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy has released a report recommending that New York develop "community-based green infrastructure and climate adaptation projects," "mitigate industrial waterfront threats" and "improve evacuation and disaster response planning." The report was released by the Sandy Regional Assembly. The authors of the report write: 

It is imperative that low-income and communities of color be an integral part of the Sandy Recovery decision-making process and help hold recovery projects accountable after funds are allocated. This means having a place at the table when recovery plans are made and funds are allocated; working to ensure that recovery efforts are coordinated locally and regionally; and demanding transparency from elected officials and appointed task forces. Low-income communities of color are on the frontline of climate change impacts - but we are also leaders in making our communities, homes, and workplaces safe and resilient now and in the future.

 

 

 

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Months after flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy forced Red Hook's Fairway Market to close it doors, the grocery store held a grand re-opening on Friday morning.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand for the event and called it a “great day for Red Hook.” The 39,000-square-foot store was one of many businesses along the waterfront forced to rebuild after Sandy’s $19 billion in losses to the city. 

Reconstruction was also the focus of a City Council hearing on Friday. Members from the Finance and Community Development Committee released statements asking legislators in Albany not to punish home- and business-owners affected by Sandy. The Council members argued that the state’s property law doesn’t properly distinguish between reconstruction costs and home improvements.

“Clearly, one person is improving their property at their discretion and the other is trying restore their life and home after a devastating event outside of their control,” said Speaker Christine Quinn in a statement.

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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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NYU Langone Medical Center is getting a $114 million grant from the federal government this week. The hospital was shuttered by Superstorm Sandy. Also, Assembly Speaker Silver is trying to secure grants from the federal government to help small businesses demolished by the storm. But the destruction wrought by the storm was more than physical and financial, it was emotionally traumatic, and its toll is still being born out.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that the city would rethink evacuation zones, electrical infrastructure, telecommunications networks, hospitals and transportations systems after Superstorm Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage, paralyzed communities and killed dozens of people.

But Bloomberg said that his administration would not abandon the waterfront and dismissed the possibility of building sea walls to hold back the ocean. Instead, he said the city would look at "coastline protections" such as berms, dunes, jetties and levies.

"No matter how much we do to make homes and businesses more resilient, the fact of the matter is we live next to the ocean, and the ocean comes with risks that we just cannot eliminate," the mayor said.

Bloomberg outlined the post-Sandy plan, his first major address since the storm, at a Lower Manhattan event, where former Vice President Al Gore also made an appearance and praised the mayor's previous efforts to respond to the effects of climate change.

In the Press...

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