Week of January 02, 2006
January 06, 2006Record Year for Tourism
A record 41 million people visited New York last year, according to estimates from city tourism officials. In November and December alone, 8.25 million tourists visited the city, spending $4 billion on hotels, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment, one of the best holiday seasons in years. These numbers seem to indicate that the predicted economic disaster of the subway strike did not come to pass. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there�s no reason to expect the trend will reverse, but he and other city officials took the chance to urge the importance of faster progress on the Javits Convention Center.
January 05, 2006Pataki's State of the State
Governor George Pataki delivered his 12th and final State of the State address yesterday, arguing for extensive tax cuts, including elimination of the "marriage penalty" and the estate tax. During the nearly hour-long speech, he said the state of New York is "strong and getting stronger every day," and he promised to push for stricter sentences and continued confinement for sex offenders; boost math and science education and expand charter schools; attract research and technology investment money; and make cleaner, non-petroleum fuels more available.
While leading state Republicans supported Pataki's message, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said the governor's tax cuts could mean more deficits and more debt for New York. Some Democrats thought Pataki's words were aimed at voters as far away as Iowa, where ethanol, an alternative fuel made from corn, is a popular topic. The governor's presidential aspirations are well-known. In his speech, he mentioned John F. Kennedy as an early inspiration. Afterwards, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver quipped, "He's no John F. Kennedy."
For a transcript of Pataki's speech, click here.
For Silver's response, click here.
New Details of World Trade Center Memorial (Daily News)
Boom in New Bank Branches Skips Over Poor Neighborhoods (Amsterdam News)
Christine Quinn and Gay Rights in NYC (Gotham Gazette)
Civil Rights Links In The News (Gotham Gazette)
January 04, 2006State Surplus
The state will end the fiscal year with a $2 billion budget surplus, Governor George Pataki announced yesterday. The news prompted some observers to predict that Pataki will propose cuts in state taxes when he delivers his 12th and final State of the State address today. Pataki attributed the surplus partly to �good government policies,� though many budget experts credited improvements in the economy. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the state should use the funds to comply with a court order to increase funding for New York City public schools, while Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno indicated the money should go toward reducing property taxes.
For more see Finance Links in the News.
With Christine Quinn set to be elected as City Council Speaker today, much of the coverage centers around the openly gay woman�s role as a trailblazer. "In terms of raw political power, the size of the city budget and the council's powers, she will become the most powerful openly lesbian or gay official in the country," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Yesterday Quinn vowed to promote "an aggressive legislative agenda" and said she envisioned her role as that of an equal partner with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On the other side of City Hall, Peter Madonia, Bloomberg's chief of staff, resigned to become chief operating officer of the Rockefeller Foundation. And the mayor�s communications director, Bill Cunningham, will leave city government for the job of executive vice president at Dan Klores Communications.
For more see City Hall News.
Boys Choir of Harlem Faces Jan. 31 Eviction (NY Times)
DA Morgenthau Sworn in for Ninth Term (Daily News)
Katrina Evacuees Still Languish in NYC Hotels (Village Voice)
Majora Carter � A Champion for the South Bronx (Metropolis Magazine)
Old Industrial Buildings on the East River (Gotham Gazette)
Waterfront Links In The News (Gotham Gazette)
January 03, 2006Not Over Yet
Though negotiators reached a tentative agreement last week on a new transit contract, the city’s 33,000 bus and subway workers must still approve the deal in a mail-in vote scheduled for later this month. Yesterday, dissident members of the executive board of Transport Workers Union Local 100 urged the union membership to vote against the pact, criticizing it for making too many concessions, especially for requiring workers for the first time to contribute toward their health insurance premiums. The union critics hinted that there could be another strike.
Governor George Pataki is also threatening to veto the part of the agreement that calls for refunds to about 20,000 of the workers for previous contributions towards their pensions. For details, see the transportation links in the news.
New Year, New Politics
New York City Councilmember Christine Quinn, having received the backing of three county Democratic organizations, is set to be elected City Council Speaker tomorrow by her colleagues, becoming the third Speaker since the position was created by the revised city charter in 1989, and both the first woman and the first open lesbian.
In an optimistic inaugural address on Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged a focus in his second term on housing, schools and the fight against guns.
For details, including the text of Bloomberg’s speech, see Gotham Gazette’s City Government section.
See The Speaker Speaks Out, our book club interview with the first Speaker, Peter Vallone, author of a new book, "Learning To Govern."
And, since so much of what happens in the city is dependent on what happens (or doesn't happen) in Albany, where the new state legislative session begins this week, read about the impact of the state's dysfunction on the city and what is being done about it in Waiting For Albany
New Laws Go Into Effect With The New Year (Daily News)
Gun Violence Resists Drop In Murders (Newsday)
101 Best Restaurants In NYC (None Cheap) (New York Magazine)
Weiner: Hunger Growing In NYC (1010 WINS)
Cop Killings -- Will The New Laws Do Any Good? (Gotham Gazette)
Crime Links In The News (Gotham Gazette)