Week of October 24, 2005
October 28, 2005Firefighters Contract
The Bloomberg administration reached a deal with the firefighters union yesterday, giving firefighters a 17 percent raise retroactive to June 2002 while also reducing the pay for new hires from its current level of $36,878. Under the new contract, firefighters will start at a $25,100 annual rate for a 13-week period, after which their base salary will rise to $32,700. The contract also extends an agreement keeping five people on 64 fire engine companies, despite the mayor�s belief that many of these should only have four. It is not clear how much the contract will cost the city.
Will Port Authority Verdict Affect Service?
It is unclear whether this week's verdict finding the Port Authority negligent in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center will affect services the agency provides. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking $1.8 billion in damages. To pay this, said Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia, the agency would have to drastically reduce spending on airports, bridges, and tunnels, and might also be forced to raise tolls and fares. Plaintiffs believe that insurers will shoulder most of the cost, and one estimate has the Port Authority itself paying only $4 million. The Port Authority declined to discuss insurance.
For more, see Transportation Links in the News
Divided MTA Board Approves Holiday Discount (NY Times)
MTA Plans Extra Security for Verrazano (Daily News)
Council Approves $1.3 Billion for West Side Development (Gotham Gazette)
Cool(er) Roofs (Gotham Gazette)
Environment Links In The News (Gotham Gazette)
October 27, 2005Port Authority Found Negligent
A jury yesterday ruled that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner of the World Trade Center, was negligent before the 1993 terrorist bombing that killed six people and injured 1,000. The six-member jury in State Supreme Court unanimously found that the agency did not heed warnings that the underground garage was vulnerable to terrorist attack and should be closed to public parking. This failure, the jury said, was "a substantial factor" in allowing the bombing to occur. The trial consolidated more than 400 cases, including suits filed by people injured by the blast, the families of the dead and businesses. A lawyer for the Port Authority said it will appeal.
Investigation of Towers' Fall Is Criticized (NY Times)
October 26, 2005Subway Fares and Fires
The holiday discounts for New York City mass transit have moved closer to reality. Metropolitan Transportation Authority executive director Katherine Lapp has ordered the discounts -- including half fares on subways and buses on weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas and during Christmas week. The authority board could stop the discount program, estimated to cost $50 million, but that is considered unlikely -- even though, according to the Post, Governor George Pataki opposes the plan. The money for the discounts will come from the authority's anticipated $450 million surplus.
Meanwhile, subway officials and riders got another indication yesterday of how vulnerable the system is to even minor problems. Officials announced that wires hanging from a single light fixture caused last week�s fire that disabled seven subway lines and disrupted the morning commute for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
For more, see Transportation Links in the News.
Smoking in State Hits Record Low (NY Post)
October 25, 2005Housing At Ground Zero
Mayor Michael Bloomberg�s announcement this week that he would prefer more housing and less commercial development at Ground Zero drew criticism from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Governor George Pataki, and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. For details, see the housing topic page links in the news. For views on the mayor�s sudden heightened attention to Ground Zero, check out the Wonkster.
Clarence Norman, Jr., the former leader of the Brooklyn Democratic party convicted of illegally soliciting more than $10,000 from a lobbyist, will not cooperate in prosecutors investigating judicial corruption in the borough, because �he has never received any moneys for any reason from judicial candidates or sitting judges and therefore has no information to share," said his attorney, Edward Rappaport. For details, see the topic page links in the news.
Landlord Group Suing To Increase Rent Hikes (Daily News)
Chancellor Joel Klein, Polarizing But An Asset To The Mayor (New York Magazine)
Subsidizing Slumlords (Gotham Gazette)
Housing Links In The News (Gotham Gazette)
October 24, 2005Rethinking Rebuilding
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has inserted himself into the plans to rebuild the World Trade Center site. The mayor reportedly told the Daily News editorial board that it would be best if Larry Silverstein, who holds a 99-year lease on the site owned by the Port Authority, were no longer involved. Bloomberg also expressed concern about the power of the victims' families groups. Yesterday, the mayor questioned plans to build 10 million square feet of office space, suggesting housing be added to the mix. "You should always keep asking and changing as the marketplace changes," he said.
New Ferry Terminal
A new ferry station opens today on a pier at the west end of 39th Street, known as the West Midtown Ferry Terminal. The glass, two-story facility took six years to build and cost the city $56 million. New York Waterways, which pays the city $12,500 a month in rent, is the only ferry providing service to the dock, but officials hope that other companies will make use of it in the future. The terminal can handle up to 20,000 passengers an hour.
Children in City Foster Care at Record Lows (NY Times)
City Council Races to Watch (Gotham Gazette)
Underfunding City University (Gotham Gazette)
Nursing the City Back to Health (Gotham Gazette)