Archive for August, 2008

Non-Convention Web Wrap
August 29th, 2008

  • Powderly, now free, recounts his time in Chinese custody.
    (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Proposals to remove urban highways in the metro region.
    (Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
  • Times’ endorsements for judgeships.
    (New York Times)
  • Video of health commissioner speaking about reducing smoking.
  • Surrogate Court candidates pledge reform.
    (Judicial Reports)
  • Why city’s third try with tidal power is good news for US.
    (Business Week)
  • Five things you can do to conserve energy and resources.
    (Green Brooklyn)
  • Chair of Time Warner says (again) he isn’t running for mayor.
  • State law allows more job flexibility for reporters and anchors.
    (Broadcasting and Cable)
  • Four year report on city’s graduation rates.
  • Most startups in city receive funding since ’01.
    (Wall Street Journal via NYConvergance)
  • The Board of Elections’ baffling logic.
  • Hope for a pro-consumer Public Service Commission?
    (PULP blog)
  • Smart para-transit: A new vision for urban transportation.
  • Brooklyn Sen. Kevin Parker in pro-Obama video:

    By on August 29, 2008, 10:19 am
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Non-Convention Web Wrap

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    Primary Endorsements
    August 28th, 2008

    As the other blogs are reporting, Citizens Union (whose sister organization Citizens Union Foundation publishes Gotham Gazette) has issued its endorsements for the Sept 9. primary. The good government group came out for Kevin Parker (Brooklyn’s 21st Senate District), Inez Barron (Brooklyn’s 40th Assembly District); Pedro Espada (the Bronx’s 33rd Senate District), Adriano Espaillat (Manhattan’s 72nd Assembly District) and Toby Stavisky (Queens’ 16th Senate District).

    Perhaps as if not more interesting are the elections the group did not take sides on. Most notably, it did not endorse either Speaker Sheldon Silver or either of his two rivals, Luke Henry and Paul Newell, in the race for the 64th Assembly District. It praised Silver for being ” a strong and directed leader of the
    New York State Assembly [who] has been attentive and responsible in representing not only the interests of his district, but also of the entire city.” But it added, “much remains undone in the area of state government and political reform and the Speaker is responsible in part for that record.”

    As to his leading opponent, Newell, it called him ” a strong and appealing first-time candidate, with knowledge and specific ideas,” but felt “he has not generated the support within his district to wage the kind of successful campaign that is necessary.”

    The group also took no position on any of the Bronx State Assembly races, on a number of contests where incumbents are facing what is thought to be token opposition, and the election in the 22nd Assembly District in Flushing where Ellen Young and Grace Meng are on the ballot. Citizens Union is still mulling the race between Martin Connor and Daniel Squadron in the 25th Senate District in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the 55th Assembly District contest in Brownsville between William Boyland Jr., Leonard Hatter and Royston Antoine, and the Manhattan’s Surrogate’s Court.

    For a rundown on all the contested races and more primary information, check out Gotham Gazette’s Guide for the Last Minute Voter on Tuesday.

    By on August 28, 2008, 6:19 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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    A Nasty Race Gets Nastier
    August 28th, 2008

    As is often the case in local races, the battle for Kevin Parker‘s Senate seat in Brooklyn has not been an issue oriented one. Indeed, this was highlighted by the recent debate between Parker and his two opponents, Councilmembers Simcha Felder and Kendall Stewart. There was talk of buying support, carpetbagging, and race baiting.

    But the race took a particularly nasty turn earlier this month in the pages of the ethnic newspaper Carib World News when Stewart’s campaign manager, Michael Roberts, brought the murder of somebody’s child into the debate.

    “A couple days ago, somebody in Sen. Parkers district was shot and killed,” Roberts told the paper. “He doesnt go to homes of grieving mothers who lost their children in the street. Its Councilman Stewart.”

    Of course, Roberts didn’t miss the chance to also take a swipe at Felder, albeit a relatively less barbed one. “Felder wont know what a roti look like or what some jerk chicken look like because hes never on this side at all,” he said, referring to the fact that Felder resides in a smaller and demographically different part of the district.

    For more on this race – baggage included – see Giovanni Russonello’s article, which we published last month. (A bit of an update to that piece: Parker noted that one of his accomplishments was helping expand pre-kindergarten to all kids in the state. A recent article in the Times, however, revealed that hasn’t quite happened yet.)

    By on August 28, 2008, 3:29 pm
    In category: Albany,Governing | Comments Off on A Nasty Race Gets Nastier

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    Who Sent Out This Campaign Ad?
    August 27th, 2008

    Ill give you a hint: he is running in a three-way primary in Brooklyn.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 27, 2008, 11:26 am
    In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Governing | 2 Comments »

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    Winning Teams
    August 26th, 2008

    Whatever happens in their key series this week ( Mets vs. Phillies; Yankees vs. Red Sox), the teams’ front offices have clearly figured out what it takes to win in New York.

    Season prices at Citi Field, the new home of the Mets, will nearly double from this year’s prices at Shea. The average price of a good seat (purchased on a season ticket) next year — Citi Field’s debut season — works out to about $495 a game, up from $276 this year. Comparable prices for Yankee games will soar even higher from $1,000 this year to $2,500 in the new Yankee Stadium in 2009. And prices are as up for the city’s (well New Jersey’s actually) pro football teams.

    Discussing the price hikes, John Mara, co-owner of the Giants told the Times, “It’s impossible to build a stadium of this magnitude without public funding unless you do something significant with ticket prices or [seat licenses].”

    We don’t presume to speak about what happens in the Meadowlands, but “without public funding”? That’s not quite the case here in New York City.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 26, 2008, 3:11 pm
    In category: Gotham City,Parks,Public Finance | Comments Off on Winning Teams

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    The Anti-Industrial Zone
    August 26th, 2008

    While we focused our latest story on community participation in city zoning policy, a story-plus-slideshow in the News today takes a gander at how rezonings are deconstructing the city’s industrial and manufacturing economy.

    The News examines a recently released report from the Pratt Center for Community Development that details the administration’s overwhelming effort to rezone industrial spaces. According to the center, the city had 12,542 acres of developable manufacturing space pre-Bloomberg agenda. As a result of the 84 rezonings approved by the City Council, we now have fewer than 10,746 acres.

    The effects: businesses are being pushed out, sometimes even to New Jersey, and these types of working class jobs are vacating the five boroughs.

    So as residential condominiums take root where warehouses once were, the ire of community activists are not only aggravated, but laborers are left struggling to find employment close to home.

    By on August 26, 2008, 12:52 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on The Anti-Industrial Zone

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    Silver Angst: Bringing New York Media Together
    August 25th, 2008

    Paul Newell whose candidacy against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his State Assembly seat in the 64th district was frequently called a “long-shot bid” at the beginning of the campaign recently gained some high-profile fans. Newell received the endorsements of both the Times and the Post.

    The most interesting thing to glean from this may be that critics on both sides of the political spectrum are dissatisfied with long-time incumbent Silver. But this primary isn’t a two man show-down: Lesser-known candidate Luke Henry is not bowing out.

    In response to Newell’s big-name endorsements, the Henry campaign said the Times “is not a predictor of success, particularly in local races” and added that the New York Post’s endorsement is even less relevant because “the outwardly conservative editorial board of that publication wants to see Silver out but we can be fairly sure does not want to see him replaced by a strong Democrat, and certainly not a true progressive Democrat.

    Facing two challengers in one election surely demonstrates the abundance of negative feelings about Silver but if the two newbies split the opposition vote, it may be just the thing that lets him keep his seat.

    (For more on the contest, see Running Against Albany on the Lower East Side.)

    By on August 25, 2008, 3:56 pm
    In category: Albany,Electoral Politics,Gotham City | Comments Off on Silver Angst: Bringing New York Media Together

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    End of Summer (Streets)
    August 25th, 2008

    “There are many annoying and frustrating things about living in New York City, but every once in a while, they are balanced out by something incredible. Something that is completely unique to New York and only has the real impact the it does because it takes place here.” So wrote Advocate of Green about Summer Streets, the city’s closing of 6.9 miles of Manhattan roadway to cars and trucks for three summer Saturdays until 1p.m.

    The program ended this weekend with widespread raves, as blogs featured effusive praise along with accounts of how the writer had taken advantage of the closings of Park Avenue and Lafayette Street.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 25, 2008, 12:07 pm
    In category: Environment,Parks,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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    Who's Saying What on Term Limits
    August 22nd, 2008

    We’ve been reluctant to venture into the third term for Bloomberg issue because it seemed like just the latest round in the series of gambits designed to feed the mayor’s ego floated by aides who want to keep the billionaire’s money flowing. What next? Bloomberg for pope perhaps (a refreshingly ecumenical choice)?

    That said, though, this is an issue of concern to many Wonkster readers and contributors, so here’s a guide to who is saying what about the possibility of a change in term limits that would bring back Mayor Mike (and his City Council minions) for at least four more years.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 22, 2008, 12:53 pm
    In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Law | 3 Comments »

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    Weekly Web Wrap
    August 22nd, 2008

  • Art project tries to draw attention to waste.
    (Next American City)
  • A new poster says posters on construction sites are illegal.
  • Alternative admiral’s row renderings.
  • Artists find a place in Sunset Park.
    (The Real Estate)
  • Martin Connor discusses freelancers.
    (Freelancers Union)
  • State’s subprime bill doesn’t include “yield spread premiums.”
    (Village Voice)
  • Weprin’s text walking ban jurisdiction of state, not city.
    (Daily Politics)
  • Owens campaigns against judicial conventions as a delegate.
    (Judicial Reports)
  • Video from Felder-Parker-Stewart debate.
    (The Politicker)
  • By on August 22, 2008, 12:23 pm
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    Chinese Government Detains Brooklyn Artist Activist
    August 21st, 2008

    A prominent new media artist from Brooklyn, James Powderly, was detained by Chinese authorities earlier this week for his involvement in a pro-Tibet protest. The Associated Press reported earlier this morning that although other protesters rounded up at the same time have been released, Powderly remains in custody.

    Powderly, founder of the Graffiti Reasearch Lab, had planned on projecting the words “Free Tibet” onto the side of a prominent landmark after being dis-invited from an art show in Bejing for refusing to censor his work. He said he “wonders why organizations like the MoMA, Parsons, Eyebeam, Ars Electronica and many other arts and cultural institutions around the world who claim to support free speech and expression would participate in a show like this.”

    The blog Animal New York has declared a “Free James Powderly Movement,” and has been posting designs advocating his release.

    By on August 21, 2008, 11:19 am
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    Did Money Fail the Test?
    August 20th, 2008

    The students have not collected their cash yet (that’s happening later today), but already people have started to question the efficacy of a program that pay kids in 31 city high schools — public and parochial — to pass Advanced Placement exams. While more students took the tests in 2008 than in previous years, the number who passed fell slightly, “raising questions about the effectiveness of increasingly popular pay-for-performance programs in schools here and across the country,” Elissa Gootman reports in today’s Times.

    Interestingly much of the debate around the incentives has revolved more around whether money is the proper way to encourage learning than whether the bonuses would spur students to do better. And so the results of the AP program, Yoav Gonen writes in the Post, surprised even some “those who have been skeptical of cash-for-kids programs, such as NYU education professor Pedro Noguera. “I would have thought that the kids who were on the margins [of passing] – that you would have seen many of them go over the top,” he said.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 20, 2008, 12:01 pm
    In category: Education,Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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    Remedial Lessons in Civil Liberties
    August 20th, 2008

    The $2 million awarded to people arrested for protesting — or looking like they might protest — on the streets of New York in April 2003 should “serve as a wakeup call to police departments across the country. … The lesson is simple: In the United States of America, you don’t arrest people simply because they assemble to protest government policy,” Juan Gonzalez writes in the Daily News.

    But will it serve as a wakeup call to New York’s own police? If words and deeds serve as a guide, probably not.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 20, 2008, 10:48 am
    In category: Civil Rights,Law | Comments Off on Remedial Lessons in Civil Liberties

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    Web Site Tracks State Spending
    August 19th, 2008

    The Empire Center for New York State Policy, a project of the fiscally and socially conservative think-tank Manhattan Institute, has launched a database for tracking state government spending: SeeThroughNY. Visitors can browse through state employee payrolls, government contracts, legislative spending records, and lists of “pork” or specific organizations and projects funded by individual lawmakers.

    While the site provides easy access to information that is publicly accessible but still a chore to obtain (sometimes requiring Freedom of Information requests), an intimate knowledge about state government – like names of specific employees, companies, or individual legislators – is still useful when wading through the data.

    An article in the New York Sun notes that the web site plans to expand the database to include city and county employees as well.

    By on August 19, 2008, 10:11 am
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    Landlord Lawsuit Harasses Council
    August 18th, 2008

    Surprise — landlords don’t like the City Council’s tenant harassment bill that was approved five months ago and signed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    Beyond dislike, they are now trying to throw it out entirely.

    Prometheus Realty Corp. and the Rent Stabilization Association of New York City have filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court, arguing that the city unlawfully went out of its jurisdiction when it approved the legislation earlier this year. (Here is a copy of the complaint via the Daily Politics)

    The bill allows tenants to pursue legal action against their landlords for harassment, which includes continual interruption in essential services (like hot water) to the damaging of locks. If found guilty, landlords could face fines as high as $5,000.

    Some protections were established in the law to ensure landlords were not constantly bombarded with frivolous lawsuits.

    The bill has not been without controversy before this. Councilmember Leroy Comrie had proposed legislation simultaneously that provided landlords protection from harassment, instead of tenants. He eventually abandoned that bill.

    In response to the lawsuit, Speaker Christine Quinn released the following statement:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on August 18, 2008, 7:01 pm
    In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Gotham City,Housing,Law | Comments Off on Landlord Lawsuit Harasses Council

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    The Latest Candidate List
    August 18th, 2008

    Here is the latest from the city Board of Elections (from Friday actually) — the most current list of candidates post-challenges.

    Though the board’s challenge hearings are completed, cases that have been appealed to the Supreme Court are ongoing — so this list is subject to change.

    Take a look and let us know if you see anyone missing, who might have been kicked off the ballot and gone unnoticed.

    Expect updates to our election feature, Who’s Running for What, shortly.

    By on August 18, 2008, 1:25 pm
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    An Essay Contest: How Will the 2008 Elections Affect You?
    August 18th, 2008

    Gotham Gazette’s is pleased to invite submissions to our first ever Writing Contest. As election day approaches, we would like to know: How Will the 2008 Elections Affect You?

    You could win $200 and see your work in Gotham Gazette.

    To find out what this year’s elections mean to New Yorkers, Gotham Gazette presents its first essay contest. Tell us — in 500 words or less — how you think this year’s national, state or local elections will affect you or your community.

    We are looking for discussion of issues and of policies — not endorsement or attacks on individual candidates. All work must be original.

    Deadline for submissions is 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, 2008. During October, Gotham Gazette will publish the leading essays on our Web site.

    Between October 27 and November 4, readers will be able to vote for their favorite essay. The winner will be announced on Election Day, November 4. The first-place winner will receive $200.

    To submit an essay, send your submission via e-mail to [email protected].

    The subject line of your email must read “Essay Contest” or your entry will be discarded. Along with your essay, please also include: Your name, phone number and e-mail address, where you live now, your hometown, and, if you are a student, the name of the school you attend.

    No anonymous entries will be accepted. No submissions will be accepted after the deadline of October 8. We will not accept entries from Citizens Union or Citizens Union Foundation staff or their families.

    By on August 18, 2008, 12:27 am
    In category: Electoral Politics,Governing,nextNY | 2 Comments »

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    End of the Week Web Wrapper
    August 15th, 2008

  • A Marshall Plan for reading.
    (City Journal)
  • Infested: Bedbugs stay strong in the city.
    (Village Voice)
  • State to award time for researchers to use supercomputer.
  • Squadron: Why I’m running.
    (The Albany Project)
  • The cost of running the air-conditioner.
    (City Room)
  • City planning mega-hearing follow-up.
    (Community-Based Planning)
  • State lawmaker introduces “Room Eight legislation.”
    (Room Eight)
  • New York Times building eschews LEED rating.
    (Good Magazine)
  • Reformers’ position on voting machine failures.
  • Andrew Cuomo, “market savior.”
  • Video about “nasty newsracks.”
    (Municipal Arts Society via Anti-Advertising Agency)
  • By on August 15, 2008, 3:35 pm
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    Real Estate Glamour Stories
    August 15th, 2008

    Vanity Fair has pulled 14 New York real estate stories fromthe magazine’s archives and posted them on its Web site under the title I’ll Take Manhattan. The articles profile swanky apartments on Central Park, the demise ofBohemia in Greenwich Village, and the transformation of the Meat Packing district. And there is a still timely excerpt from Donald Trumps’ 1987 memoir, in which he blasts wealthy New Yorkers like Mia Farrow, Carly Simon, Alistair Cooke, William Shawn, and then-Mayor Ed Koch for living in rent controlled apartments that he thought should go to more deserving citizens – or at least be rented at market rate by Trump.

    By on August 15, 2008, 11:07 am
    In category: Land Use | Comments Off on Real Estate Glamour Stories

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    Should NYC Ban Text Walking Too?
    August 15th, 2008

    Queens Councilmember David Weprin is proposing a bill to ban text messaging while driving in the city. The proposal comes in response to an increase in text messaging while driving, particularly among young people, and an automobile crash involving text messaging that killed five teenagers in the Finger Lakes region last summer.

    But should there be a ban on pedestrian text messaging too?

    Last month, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued an alert warning that they are seeing an increasein emergency room injuries and deaths related to text messaging while walking, biking, and rollerblading, as well as driving. (Listen to a National Public Radio interview with an ER doctor talking about the dangers of “text walking.”)

    OneIllinois lawmaker thinks it’s worth someconsideration and has proposed a bill to ban the use of wireless devices while crossing the street. “It’s becoming more and more of a common problem with people haplessly crossing an intersection and almost killing themselves,” Rep. Ken Dunkin of Chicago told the Chicago Tribune.

    By on August 15, 2008, 8:56 am
    In category: Tech,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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    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.

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