Archive for July, 2008

One More Reason to Stay Home
July 31st, 2008

A state bill that united unlikely allies Transportation Alternatives and the New York State American Automobile Association was quietly signed into law last Monday, offering New Yorkers a good reason to stay within the relative safety of the city. Segways, the wildly expensive motorized standing scooter things that you can’t park outside (and, at 120 pounds a pop, can’t possibly carry to your third floor walkup), are street legal now. And sidewalk legal. And bike lane legal, at least anywhere in the state with a population under a million. Within the five boroughs their legality remains hazy.

The bill, Assembly Bill A 11429-A / Senate Bill S7509-A, doesn’t name the Segway specifically, referring repeatedly instead to “electric personal assistive[sic] mobility devices,” as though any exist that fit the requirements of a device “designed to transport one person by means of an electric propulsion system with an average output of not more than 750 watts” and aren’t Segways.

Sen. Owen Johnson‘s sponsors memo describes the unnamed device as one “which transforms a person into an empowered pedestrian, allowing him/her to achieve more than they could by simply walking” and promises that “unlike bicycles, scooters and mopeds,” these “electric personal assistive mobility devices” are “designed to be pedestrian friendly.” He offers no particular explanation of the curious stipulation in the bill of a $50 fine for Segway riders who forgo helmets.

Pedestrian friendly, but riders … or rather “empowered pedestrians” need protection?

By on July 31, 2008, 5:32 pm
In category: Albany,Transportation | 2 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

More Setbacks for New Voting Machines
July 31st, 2008

The drama over New York’s compliance with federal voting machine rules never seems to stop.

After a protracted battle, voting machines were finally chosen across the state in February. And things were quiet on the voting machine front for a while.

Then there was the recent news that half of the machines Sequoia sent to the state were flawed. After that, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s Board of Elections had been using money set aside to comply with federal standards for regular budget expenses.

Now, testing of the new machines might not be finished by the time elections roll around. What now, you ask? Well, for one, some of the machines showed up for testing without hardrives or USB ports. That includes the ES&S machines that were chosen for the city.

Those “seem like pretty big oversights on the part of the manufacturers of the machines,” the Brennan Center’s blog said.

In response, some good government groups are worried this might be used as an excuse to rush along the testing process. If that happens, voting machine vendors will “continue raking in millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars while supplying bad equipment; a slap in the face for the public’s right to require accountability and quality from those who would profit off our vote,” says Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting on his blog.

By on July 31, 2008, 5:10 pm
In category: Governing,Tech | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

No Cuts! No New Taxes!
July 30th, 2008

No one (well, except maybe for the New York Sun) doubts New York faces some tough economic times. But reaction to Gov. David Paterson’s speech last night (and his budget pronouncements today) indicate a wide range of opinion on what the governor and the legislature should do about it.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 30, 2008, 5:27 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Gotham City,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

A Needed Address?
July 29th, 2008

Gov. David Paterson’s address this evening has garnered criticism from a state union over a warning that public employee positions may be cut, while other officials applaud his prudence.

Was Paterson’s less than specific proposal (actually, he just announced the state legislature would go back into session next month) to address the state’s so-called fiscal crisis a knee-jerk reaction or a necessary measure?

You decide. The full text is after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 29, 2008, 11:05 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Public Finance | 4 Comments »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

Sullied Surf
July 29th, 2008

The water quality at New York State’s beaches is getting worse, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The number of water samples taken at coastal and Great Lakes beaches that exceeded state standards for bacteria reached 11 percent in 2007, up from 9 percent in 2006. New York ranks eighth worse (out of 30 coastal states ) in terms of the percent of water samples taken at beaches that exceeded health standards. And it seems New York may have snagged the council’s prize for least forthcoming state.

On that measure, at least, the city does better by providing lots of data. And the environmental group’s report applauded the city’s monitoring of its beaches and its method of issuing advisories. But in describing the city’s pollution of its water, the report paints a sickening picture (particularly if you’ve been at the beach recently) of a witch’s brew of stormwater and sewage flowing into the sound and the ocean.

(For more on efforts to keep water safe and sands clean at city beaches, click here. And for Gotham Gazette’s tour — via audio slide show — of our not so pristine shore, go here.)

Despite that, the city’s beaches are cleaner than some of those on Long Island or along the Great Lakes. Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 29, 2008, 2:42 pm
In category: Environment,Health,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

Advice for Governor's TV Speech
July 29th, 2008

Governor David Paterson has scheduled a TV address for 5:10 p.m. on Tuesday to talk about the looming fiscal crisis facing the state – and he is getting plenty of advice on what to say.

The New York Post says that “Gov. Paterson has a big chance, in his televised address tonight, to prove that his repeated warnings about the state’s fiscal woes haven’t been just . . . talk.”

The Daily News calls for “decisive action that cures Albany’s addiction to overtaxing and overspending without regard for reality.”

Columnist Bill Hammond tells Patersonto “channel his inner George Pataki” and talk about the need for tax cuts, as well as spending cuts.

State Senator Diane Savion suggests the line “we’ve run out of monopoly money.”

By on July 29, 2008, 10:42 am
In category: Albany,Economy,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

And The Cloud Grows
July 28th, 2008

Our gloomy economic picture was the topic of the day today, with Comptroller William Thompson testifying before the Finance Control Board — he said we were prepared, but likely to see some nasty fiscal times.

His testimony is available here.

That was similar to what Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced at the same meeting. While prepared, he said, fiscal prudence is necessary in uncertain financial times with looming deficits in the billions. His testimony can be found here.

The governor is scheduled to address the economic situation tomorrow. It will be televised live at 5 p.m. and he is expected to announce cuts in services and possibly layoffs.

Stay tuned.

By on July 28, 2008, 6:30 pm
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

The Tides See Tragedy
July 28th, 2008

A body has reportedly been pulled from the water in Queens following dangerous rip currents that swept two individuals off of city sands over the weekend.

A 23-year-old man was missing after he had gotten caught in a rip current on Jacob Riis Beach, and a 10-year-old girl disappeared off of the shores of Coney Island on Saturday.

After a weekend mired by tragedy, some may question the safety policies practiced on the city’s sands. So far, no one is pointing blame at the city (Jacob Riis Beach is a federally overseen park). The presumed drownings are attributed to strong rip currents.

But safety in the water is not the only issue the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation as well as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have to tackle to keep our urban sands worry-free. From glass in the sand to water quality to keeping beaches staffed, manning seven city beaches that get an estimated 15 million visitors a year can be challenging.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 28, 2008, 2:33 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on The Tides See Tragedy

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

The Price of Security
July 27th, 2008

On a visit to Chicago last week, it quickly became apparent something was missing — and not just the Waterfalls, the latest Mike Bloomberg rumor, our ocean beaches or a World Series contender (oops, they do have that). No, it was the constant searches and surveillance — the never-ending security that New Yorkers have come to take for granted since 9/11.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 27, 2008, 10:16 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety | 1 Comment »

| More

RSS Feed RSS Feed

End of the Week Web Wrap
July 25th, 2008

  • Developer sues blogger.
    ( via Curbed)
  • Kick off of a campaign for “clean elections” in the city.
    (Daily Gotham)
  • Eviction begins for famed Harlem record shop.
    (The Real Estate)
  • How to evaluate the success of Summer Streets?
  • Cartoonist makes fun of MTA fare hike.
    (Matt Davies)
  • Human powered, floating gym concept for city.
  • New Web site encourages consumers to mail in used compact fluorescent bulbs.
    ( via Queens Ledger)
  • Soares cleared press release concerning Troopergate with Spitzer administration.
    (Politics on the Hudson)
  • By on July 25, 2008, 12:04 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on End of the Week Web Wrap

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    'Emotionalizing' Global Warming
    July 24th, 2008

    Turning off the lights in office buildings after hours might seem like an obvious way to save energy and cut back on carbon emissions. But one creative team has another idea – leave some of them on.

    JWT New York, an ad team, has proposed leaving all of the lights on at night on the eighth floor of every building on Park Ave. “If both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt, sea levels will rise 80 feet, or, in city terms, eight stories,” the group said in its proposal. The idea, which they dub “The Datum Line,” was the winner of the “Concepts” category of I.D. Magazine’s Annual Design Review. (Via Razor Apple)

    The design review also featured the West 8th Street Subway Station Facade in Coney Island as a winner in their “Environments” category. Submissions to the review will be on exhibition at The New School through September.

    By on July 24, 2008, 4:59 pm
    In category: Arts,Environment | 1 Comment »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Don't Forget The E.
    July 23rd, 2008

    Memories flooded the council chamber this afternoon when the City Council called a moment of silence in remembrance of the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Brooklyn Councilmember James E. Davis.

    Davis was shot and killed by a political rival five years ago exactly — an unprecedented event for a building that had been immune to violent acts.

    Today, members, many of whom served with Davis, recalled that day and that politician: One who had ironically made it his mission to fight gun violence in New York, who was always found in a dark suit, whether on the beach or in his district, and one whose smile is recalled when remembering his politics.

    Here are some thoughts from members on the floor today:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 23, 2008, 6:26 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Don't Forget The E.

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Fare Hike... Already?
    July 23rd, 2008

    So no one likes a fare hike, but some seem to think the second rise in two years is inevitable.

    A New York Times editorial says the ballooning debt of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority may offer officials no choice other than to raise fares. But if they do, they say, New Yorkers better get better service.

    That comes after a scathing report earlier this week that subway delays are 24 percent more prevalent in 2008 than last year.

    Also, Comptroller William Thompson released this statement on whether the city should see a hike:

    If adopted, the MTAs preliminary 2009 budget would hurt riders and the citys economy. Any fare hike next year would be simply unacceptable. A fare hike is a tax hike and a particularly regressive one.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 23, 2008, 6:05 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Fare Hike... Already?

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Big Donors for New Governor
    July 22nd, 2008

    New York Magazine has a selected list of new large donors who gave $10,000 or more to Governor David Paterson’s re-election campaign. The governor, who took office in mid-March, has brought in $3.2 million in donations since April 14.

    By on July 22, 2008, 3:36 pm
    In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Governing | Comments Off on Big Donors for New Governor

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    New York's Natural Gas Future (Update)
    July 22nd, 2008

    Most natural gas exploration happens in the West, in places like Nevada, Colorado, and Texas. But today WNYC public radio looks at the future of natural gas exploration in New York. Thousands of feet below the ground, the state has plenty of Marcellus Shale, a largely untapped source of natural gas. It could be worth billions, but drilling for it also comes with some serious environmental risks.

    One of the main issues in deciding how to regulate such industry is that local state representatives are not familiar with gas exploration. For example, on the last day of the State Legislature’s session this summer, an important bill related to the drilling passed, but according to the report “Democratic Queens Assemblywoman Toby Ann Stavisky says she -and most of her colleagues first heard about [the] bill just hours before they voted on it.”

    See a slideshow on natural gas exploration or listen to the story.

    Update: We also wanted to point out this project was a joint investigation by WNYC and ProPublica.

    By on July 22, 2008, 8:00 am
    In category: Environment | 2 Comments »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    The New York Post's War on Poverty
    July 21st, 2008

    Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed changing the formula for calculating the federal poverty level, the New York Post editorial page has waged a steady campaign to discredit the idea – even questioning the notion of poverty itself.

    No family of four could survive for a year in New York City on a total income of $26,138. Period.” the Post declared last week. The problem, the paper believes, is that any measurement of poverty fails to account for the reality of life in this town with its immigrants (legal or otherwise), its hustlers, its elderly, its huge student population – and, above all else, its pulsing underground economy.”

    A few days later, columnist Heather McDonald wrotethat any thresholdforpoverty is a “relative measure.” “Under this definition, no general increase in affluence can ever eliminate ‘poverty’ or the need for a larger federal government to ‘cure’ it,” she writes.

    And today, the paper warnsthat Bloomberg may be planning a”major expansion of government ‘antipoverty’ initiatives – a la John Lindsay 40 years ago.”

    “He may fear that fewer and fewer New Yorkers these days are actually poor,” the Post concludes.

    By on July 21, 2008, 10:26 am
    In category: Economy,Social Services | Comments Off on The New York Post's War on Poverty

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Summer Time Blues
    July 21st, 2008

    An estimated 2,000 Brooklyn residents lost power on Sunday. And to repair the problem, Con Edison told residents of Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Borough Park and Prospect Park that they needed to turn off appliances, including air conditioners. But some people are turning off their AC’s voluntarily. The New York Times reports on people who have signed up for Con Edisons time-of-use pricing service, which provides discounts for using electricity after 10 p.m.

    The city faces lawsuits from parents who say their childrens’ bare feet have been scalded by playground mats. NYC Park Advocates say they have registered 166 degree readings from the black plastic mats.

    Heat and jelly fish plagued the New York City triathlon. One man died in the event. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

    A transformer fire cancelled horse races at Belmont and the New York Racing Association is being criticized for not calling off the day’s events earlier.

    And this week, Gotham Gazette surveys the city beaches and the challenges of keeping them clean and safe.

    By on July 21, 2008, 8:10 am
    In category: Parks,Waterfront | Comments Off on Summer Time Blues

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    End of the Week Wrap
    July 18th, 2008

  • Fifty percent of new voting machines flawed.
    (Wired via ReformNY)
  • New Web site for cab sharing.
  • New Con Ed residential bill estimator.
  • Subway stations falling apart. Literally.
    (AMNY Tracker)
  • Park Slope resident fed up with those Kohl’s fliers.
    (Gowanus Lounge)
  • Last ever Hackers of Panet Earth Conference starts tonight.
    (CNET via NYConvergence)
  • What do petitions really show about a candidate’s support?
    (The Albany Project)
  • By on July 18, 2008, 4:26 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on End of the Week Wrap

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Housing Authority Moves Ahead with Rent Increases
    July 17th, 2008

    In an attempt to shrink a $170 million budget gap, the New York City Housing Authority is moving ahead with its plan to raise rent for certain households. The authority maintains that 72 percent – or 124,728 households – would not see any increase in rent. The plan would raise rents for those tenants spending less than 30 percent of their income on rent by 5 percent to 15 percent over two years. (Click here to see what your rent would be.) Tenants saw a similar increase in 2006.

    The targeted rent increase has been included in the authority’s annual plan, and there will be a public hearing regarding it on Aug. 13. Written comments can be sent by mail until Aug. 22. If the increase is accepted, it will be sent to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval.

    Some critics complain that the authority has to pay for certain city services that other agencies do not, such as police patrols. By shifting some of these costs to the city government, the authority could wipe out mare than half of its budget gap, they argue. In the new city budget, the City Council secured an additional $18 million dollars for the housing authority.

    By on July 17, 2008, 4:46 pm
    In category: Housing,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Campaign Cash Coming In
    July 16th, 2008

    Here’s a look at the latest campaign finance filings with the Campaign Finance Board, which were due yesterday.

    (Stay tuned for further updates to our campaign feature,Who’s Running for What. We should be inputting the latest figures shortly).

    Some notables:

    Comptroller candidates have raised $7.64 million so far, with Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion leading the way at about $2.32 million, followed by Councilmember Melinda Katz with $2.11 million and Councilmember David Weprin with $1.89 million. Councilmember David Yassky has received nearly $1.4 million in contributions and Assemblyman James Brennan has $492,203.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 16, 2008, 4:33 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Campaign Cash Coming In

    | More

    RSS Feed RSS Feed

    Gotham Gazette the Place for Politics and Policy

    Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    RSS Feed