Archive for July, 2009

Giuliani's Not Talking on Gov Run
July 30th, 2009

It might take more than a stalemate for former mayor and republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani to run for governor in 2010.

At a breakfast hosted by Crain’s New York Business this morning, Giuliani said the state of New York State must be “so bad” before he would gear up for a gubernatorial race. When asked how bad the state of New York State is now, Giuliani gave our situation a 9 or 10 (10 being the worst-it-could-get scenario).

“The only way I can get elected governor is the way I got elected mayor — things have to be so bad,” said Giuliani this morning. “New York is in pretty bad shape. Not as bad as California. Not as bad as New Jersey. Not as bad as a few other states.” The former mayor paused. “I am talking about the economy here.”

The nearly standing room only crowd erupted with laughter.

Right now, Giuliani looks like a strong contender for the Republican party ticket. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this month, had the former mayor leading Gov. David Paterson by more then 20 percentage points. He was behind Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a potential general election, but only by 41 to 48 percent. Of the 800 people polled, 28 percent saw Giuliani as very favorable, 28 percent said somewhat favorable and 22 percent said very unfavorable.
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By on July 30, 2009, 2:36 pm
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They're Coming Back!
July 30th, 2009

There is hope for those who miss the excitement, intrigue and general silliness our Senators have delivered for our entertainment this year.

The Senate will return to Albany on August 6 to vote on the Assembly’s school governance bill, along with the amendments negotiated between the Senate and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said that the Assembly will not return early to deal with the Senate amendments. Silver has made it clear that there is no guarantee the amendments will pass.

Meanwhile, the Division of the Budget released its first quarter update for the state financial plan, and the news isn’t good.

The state now faces a $2.1 billion deficit that is expected to grow to almost $5 billion by by the 2010-2011 financial year. Visit the Division of the Budget web site for the nitty-gritty.

Gov. David Paterson is scheduled to call the legislature as a whole back to the Capitol sometime in September to deal with the issue. In the meantime Paterson is working on an “economic and fiscal recovery plan” with Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch. Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 30, 2009, 11:32 am
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Pols and Activists Blast Atlantic Yards Project
July 30th, 2009

Public Advocate Candidate Norman Siegel, Spokesman of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Daniel Goldstein, and Councilmember Letitia James at yesterday’s protest

Opponents of the Atlantic Yards development plan in Brooklyn blasted it as a “sham project” and a “billion-dollar boondoggle” outside an Empire State Development Corporation public hearing on the project yesterday.

Chanting “hey hey, ho ho, Atlantic Yards has got to go,” and holding signs that read “Stop Atlantic Yards,” activists, elected officials and politicians forcefully called for a halt to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan. Ratner, the chief executive for real-estate development company Forest City Ratner, is the current owner of the New Jersey Nets, a basketball team.

The 22-acre development plan calls for an arena for the Nets, as well as skyscrapers, offices and apartment buildings. In the works for six years, a crippled economy, lawsuits and community opposition have delayed the project considerably.

The plan is predicted to cost $4 billion, with $2 billion coming from taxpayers, according to a New York Post analysis.

Ratner’s “secret taxpayer funded back room deal, reliant on an abuse of eminent domain, out of scale development, and massive taxpayer subsidies, is aided and abetted by Gov. [David] Paterson and his puppets on” the Empire State Development Corporation, said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the main group fighting the project.

The subject of the hearing yesterday was a “modified project plan” concerning “the plan to pursue eminent domain in two stages rather than one and Forest City Ratner’s revised deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Vanderbilt Yard,” according to Norman Oder, a blogger at Atlantic Yards Report.

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By on July 30, 2009, 11:13 am
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Silver Ready to Work With Ravitch
July 29th, 2009

Tomorrow a judge will hear arguments about whether to continue a stay on an injunction that would keep Richard Ravitch from from performing the duties of lieutenant governor.

The Daily News reported today that Gov. David Paterson is arguing that he needs Ravitch to help him guide the state through perilous financial waters.

Paterson says that Ravitch should be able to assit him while the courts decide whether his appointment was legal. Today Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver backed him up.

“I am well aware that the question of Governor David Patersons ability to appoint Mr. Ravitch to the position of lieutenant governor is currently being litigated.” said Silver in a statement.

“However, while the matter is under consideration in the courts, it is clearly in the best interests of New Yorkers to allow Mr. Ravitch to serve in the role. My Assembly colleagues and I stand ready to work with him along with Governor Paterson and the State Senate to take on the many challenges that we face.”

Here is his full statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 29, 2009, 3:50 pm
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A Debate -- Smackdown Style
July 29th, 2009

This post was contributed by Dan Compitello.

Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Main Entry: smackdown
Pronunciation: \ˈsmak-ˌdaun\
Function: noun
Date: 1997
1 : the act of knocking down or bringing down an opponent 2 : a contest in entertainment wrestling 3 : a decisive defeat 4 : a confrontation between rivals or competitors

That definition was read by moderator Susan Albrecht of Neighbors Aligned for Good Growth at the start of the “Ultimate Verbal Smackdown” last night — a candidates forum for those vying to replace David Yassky in Brooklyn.

The main event may have disappointed WWF fans, but “smackdown” was a fitting name. The high stakes seat is open this campaign season, since Yassky is running for city comptroller. The debate had an audience of roughly 100, a moderator dressed as a referee, a rounds bell, and six trained candidates. Ahem, fine: ultimate fighters.
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By on July 29, 2009, 11:23 am
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Watch Out Betsy
July 29th, 2009

Councilmember Simcha Felder is out to get you.

Felder will introduce legislation this afternoon which would call for a referendum to eliminate the office of the public advocate.

It is clear to me that given the services provided by the citys 59 community boards, five borough presidents, and numerous city, state, and federal elected officials, the office of the public advocate could easily be eliminated without a loss of service to city residents, Felder said in a press release. People in the city will finally have a chance to decide whether they want or need this office.

The position, as we know it, was created in 1993 by a charter revision. It was supposed to replace the old position of City Council president. Currently, the public advocate is second in line in a mayor’s succession. Felder would like the comptroller to be second in line.

Felder’s press release is in full after the jump. You can imagine his proposal won’t be popular among several of his colleagues, Bill de Blasio and Eric Gioia (as well as Civil Rights Lawyer Norman Siegel and former advocate Mark Green) who are running for the office.
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By on July 29, 2009, 9:36 am
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Electoral Politics,Governing,Law,nextNY,Public Finance | Comments Off on Watch Out Betsy

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Gerson Remains Off Ballot
July 28th, 2009

The New York City Board of Elections ruled this afternoon that City Councilmember Councilman Alan Gerson of District 1 is still off the ballot for the Sept. 15 Democratic primary. According to City Hall News, Gerson was bumped off because of a “technical error” resulting from the printing of petitions that incorrectly listed his address.

At a regularly scheduled meeting today, the board considered Gerson’s case as well as that of Councilmember Robert Jackson, who was restored to the ballot, according to the Daily Politics.

Valerie Vazquez-Rivera, the Board of Elections spokeswoman, said that the commissioners cover sheet review committee, which consists of Gregory Soumas and Frederic Umane, ruled that Gerson will remain off the ballot.

“We believe that the mistakes involved were trivial,” and that Gerson will be back on the ballot, said George Arzt, a spokesman for the Gerson campaign. Arzt said that the campaign collected 7,000 signatures, far in excess of the 900 required.

To learn more about New York City ballot access, click here. To play Gotham Gazette’s “ballot bump” game, click here.

Arzt believes Gerson will be “restored, and if not, we’ll go to court.” The Gerson campaign has an appeal hearing scheduled for Aug, 3.

City Hall News reporter Chris Bragg wrote that Gerson’s address was incorrectly listed as 1505 LaGuardia Place, instead of 505 LaGuardia Place. Bragg said Gerson tried to “cure the error this weekend, but tried to do so without the assistance of an attorney. He tried to cross the extra ‘1’ in the address off the petitions, but the board was not satisfied.”

Gerson, who would have been out of office had it not been for the extension of term limits that he voted for, is locked in a tight five-way race. He is trailing candidates Margaret Chin and PJ Kim in fundraising.

By on July 28, 2009, 6:18 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 4 Comments »

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De Blasio Back On
July 28th, 2009

The City Board of Elections put councilmember and public advocate candidate Bill de Blasio back on the ballot this afternoon by a vote of 9 to 0 with one abstention.

De Blasio had been removed from the ballot because of a typo in his cover sheet. The councilmember’s campaign had written that it had submitted 131 volumes of petitions to the Board of Elections when it had submitted 132.

Now de Blasio can rest assured he will face off against former advocate Mark Green, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel and Councilmember Eric Gioia in this fall’s Democratic primary — with some added sympathy publicity. All of the candidates are scheduled to appear tonight at a forum sponsored by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Elsewhere, other council members appear to be having some ballot trouble, including Alan Gerson, who was kicked off today, and Robert Jackson.

By on July 28, 2009, 3:27 pm
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Duane Calls for Hearings on Hospital Incident Reporting
July 27th, 2009

Sen. Thomas Duane will use his position as chair of the Senate Health Committee to hold hearings across the state “to better understand what is working well in our hospitals, and what contributes to the breakdown in our mandatory reporting system.”

Duane made the announcement in a statement that was released in response to a recent Daily News story that detailed how city hospitals have failed to report “serious medical mishaps” to the state.

The story detailed how events that left patients dead or injured were not reported, were misreported, or were completely made up and in some cases records detailing care were changed to protect hospital staff.

“This is a wake-up call to all of us.” said Duane in the statement.

City Comptroller William Thompson released a report in March that showed that hospitals generally under report mistakes. Thompson told the Daily News that their findings are “extremely disturbing,” and demanded that the Health Department repair New York’s oversight system.

A spokesperson for Duane said that it is too early to say when the Senate hearings will take place but said “We are planning them as we speak.”

Duane’s statement follows.

Statement of Senator Thomas K. Duane

RE: Medical Error and Adverse Event Reporting in Hospitals

“As chair of the New York State Senate Health Committee, patient safety is a primary concern of mine. The report in Sundays New York Daily News, which echoes recent findings by New York City Comptroller William Thompson, points to inadequate oversight of hospitals compliance with the New York Patient Occurrence and Tracking System, the states system by which hospitals are meant to report adverse events.

This is a wake-up call to all of us.

I will be holding hearings across the state to better understand what is working well in our hospitals, and what contributes to the breakdown in our mandatory reporting system. Health care reform in New York State will only be successful if the institutions providing care honestly report their activities, both good and bad. It is critical that the Department of Health use its oversight capabilities to ensure that the system works the way it is designed, to improve the quality of care at our hospitals and to protect patients obtaining needed health care services.”

–New York State Senate Health Committee Chair Thomas K. Duane (D, WFP-Manhattan)

By on July 27, 2009, 3:31 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Health | 2 Comments »

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De Blasio Could Get Back on the Ballot
July 27th, 2009


Councilmember Bill de Blasio, a candidate for public advocate who was knocked off the ballot last week because of a typo, is hoping the City Board of Elections hands him a reprieve tomorrow.

The city’s election commissioners are slated to meet at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow to vote on whether or not to reinstate de Blasio on the ballot. De Blasio was removed by a review committee at the board, because his cover sheet misstated the number of petition volumes the campaign handed into the Board of Elections. The cover sheet said the campaign had 131 petitions, while it in fact had submitted 132.

Because of another cover sheet error earlier in the petitioning process, the committee removed de Blasio from the ballot. He had collected 125,000 signatures. In order to get on the ballot for a citywide race you need 7,500.

De Blasio’s campaign now argues keeping him off the ballot would be equal to the disenfranchisement of 125,000 New Yorkers who signed his petitions to get him on the ballot. A simple typo, he says, should not limit the choice of voters.

“Our election law should be about helping legitimate candidates get on the ballot,” said de Blasio this morning outside of a City Hall subway station. “This is for the voters to decide, not bureaucracy.”

If the board keeps him off the ballot, de Blasio said the campaign would take them to court. The campaign has already started that proceeding by filing court papers Friday.
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By on July 27, 2009, 12:56 pm
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Ballot Access Laws Strike Again
July 27th, 2009

(This post was written by DeNora Gethachew, director of public policy and legislative counsel for Citizens Union Foundation, which publishes Gotham Gazette.)

With a little over 50 days until the Sept. 15 primary, New Yorks arcane and overly procedural ballot access laws have declared another victim this past week — Bill de Blasio. De Blasio, a candidate for public advocate, was required to submit petitions with 7,500 signatures or a number totaling 5 percent of the voters qualified to vote for the office, whichever is less. He filed 125,000.

So why is it possible that de Blasio may not be on the primary election ballot? Because his required petition cover sheet contained the incorrect number of petition volumes. While the law allows a candidate to cure such a flaw to ensure that these types of errors are not fatal, the campaign, according to published reports, put the wrong number of volumes again - and the law and rules only allow one chance to cure mistakes.

Thus the Board of Elections bipartisan committee on cover sheet review ruled de Blasios petitions invalid — despite the fact that he submitted approximately 16 times as many signatures as the law requires. On Friday, De Blasio filed court papers to appeal the boards ruling that his petitions were invalid. Thus instead of campaigning and increasing his name recognition, he will be navigating the legal system to try to be reinstated on the ballot.
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By on July 27, 2009, 8:05 am
In category: Gotham City,Governing | 1 Comment »

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Pols Stand With "Tent City Ten"
July 24th, 2009

Picture the Homeless and the so-called “Tent City Ten” kept beating the drum on warehoused property and affordable housing this afternoon outside a vacant lot in Harlem.

The event came just 14 hours after 10 housing activists were released from Harlem’s 28th Police Precinct after being arrested for occupying a vacant lot for over 6 hours yesterday. (To read more about that action, see “Homeless Advocates Arrested.”)

Officials and candidates on hand were Councilmember Melissa Mark Viverito, who represents Council District 8 and is seeking re-election; Norman Siegel, the long-time civil rights attorney and current candidate for public advocate; and the Rev. Billy Talen, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate.

If there was a theme for the press conference, it was “take back the land” and “power to the people” — lines that almost every speaker closed with.
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By on July 24, 2009, 5:12 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Gotham City,Housing | 7 Comments »

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Bloomberg Weighs In
July 24th, 2009

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press office has issued a statement in reaction to the Senate Democrat’s school governance deal:

The agreement announced by the Senate Democratic Leadership today enables progress in our schools to continue. It preserves the accountability and authority necessary to ensure that the gains weve made in math and reading scores, graduation rates and school safety continue.

At the same time, the agreement addresses concerns that have been raised by legislators in a way that makes sense. We are grateful to Senator Sampson for working with us to bring closure to this crucial issue, and to Speaker Silver, Assemblymember Nolan, and to Senators Smith, Skelos, Padavan and Squadron for their advocacy on behalf of New York Citys 1.1 million school children.

We also thank Governor Paterson and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten for their support, and look forward to the Senate coming back to Albany the first week of August and passing this important legislation.

Liz Benjamin says she will believe there is a deal when a vote is actually taken. The Senate Democrats remain fractured and it is quite possible that Democrats who are unhappy with the deal will interfere.

Azi Paybarah says that some reporters left the Democrat’s meeting today wondering “what specifically the senators had agreed upon, and with whom.”

By on July 24, 2009, 4:49 pm
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Weekly Web Wrap
July 24th, 2009

  • Possible Deal on Mayoral Control of Schools
    (City Room)
  • Public Advocate Calls for Ending Fingerprinting for Food Stamps
    (Public Advocate’s Corner)
  • State Has Sixth Highest Number of Discouraged Workers
    (US News and World Report)
  • Does Bloomberg Still Want to be President?
    (Huffington Post)
  • Unearthing a Buried Bronx Stream
    (New York Moon)
  • DUMBO’s Early Free Rents as Community Development Model
    (Where Blog)
  • Measuring the New Senate Rules Against the Assembly
  • Evolving the Open Hydrant Tradition
    (Urban Omnibus)
  • Having Private Employers, Health Unions Accept Concessions
    (NY Fiscal Watch)
  • By on July 24, 2009, 3:05 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Weekly Web Wrap

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    A School Deal (Update)
    July 24th, 2009

    Gotham Schools is reporting that Senate Democrats have slowly emerged from a meeting on mayoral control at 250 Broadway and announced that a deal has been reached.

    Majority Leader Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. and Democratic Leader John Sampson announced that a deal has been agreed to but “language is not finalized.”

    Democrats are expected to return to Albany before the new school year starts to approve the Assembly’s school bill and chapter amendments that would create a parental training center at CUNY and an arts education panel, among other things.

    Negotiations between Senate leadership and the Bloomberg administration continued this week all while the four amigos traded barbs with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Gotham Schools reported that Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Hiram Monserrate walked out of the talks early. Diaz told reporters that the “four amigos” are “divided” on the deal.

    Gail Robinson, who was staked out at 250 Broadway earlier, reports that the sticking points on the negotiation were, according to Sen. Tom Duane, “how to increase parental involvement in the city schools, with many senators also concerned about how to insure transparency at the Department of Education.”

    Duane said that reaching the agreement was “a lot like trying to put a big jellyfish in a box.”

    Here is the press release from the Senate Majority: Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 24, 2009, 2:37 pm
    In category: Albany,Education,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | Comments Off on A School Deal (Update)

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    Mayoral Control Mess
    July 23rd, 2009

    The four amigos paraded in front of City Hall again today to attack Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his record on schools. Both sides have been engaged in a nasty game of name calling. Earlier this week Bloomberg compared senators to Nazis and the amigos taunted Bloomberg at a lunch meeting, even saying they would have the mayor for lunch.

    Some other Senate Democrats are growing increasingly embarrassed by the showy actions of the amigos and their “petty” battle with Bloomberg. Those senators say that a group of “adults” are continuing negotiations with Bloomberg’s office over mayoral control while the “children” fight. They are optimistic that a deal could be reached before the fall but have noted that the situation remains volatile.

    At City Hall today Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr., had enough vitriol to share not just with Bloomberg but also to lash out at reporters who wanted him to answer questions about his incomplete campaign finance reports. Azi Paybarah has the footage.

    Espada was not only late filing his records this month but when he did file he failed to report at least one high profile fund raiser. He also only reported one expense. Espada’s spokesperson has insisted that he will amend the reports if anything was mistakenly left out. Espada has a long history skirting election law.

    By on July 23, 2009, 5:10 pm
    In category: Albany,Education,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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    Homeless Advocates Arrested (Update)
    July 23rd, 2009

    Photo by Jaisal Noor

    Nine people were arrested this afternoon by the New York Police Department after occupying a vacant lot for over six hours to press their demand that the city use vacant property to house the homeless.

    The protestors want the city to help turn so-called warehoused property into livable homes for low-income and homeless New Yorkers. A survey conducted in 2006 by the advocacy group Picture the Homeless found that 24,000 potential apartments could come out of warehoused property, enough to house the city’s homeless population.

    This morning, blue tents were erected on a vacant lot at 115th St. between Madison and Fifth Avenues to create makeshift dwellings for the homeless, as dozens of housing advocates created an festive atmosphere with food, music, art and defiant chants.

    “They say gentrify, we say occupy,” the crowd shouted.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 23, 2009, 5:02 pm
    In category: Gotham City,Housing | 7 Comments »

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    Yes 39, There is a Republican Party (and a Green One Too)
    July 23rd, 2009

    Reporting from Brooklyn, this post is from Douglas A. Hinnant.

    Much to the surprise of the five Democrats running for the City Council’s 39th District, the Republican and Green Parties have candidates in the race. When the candidates heard that all eight would be interviewed for a campaign profile, at least one member of each Democrat’s campaign, and even a couple candidates, raised an eyebrow that said, “Eight?” When I pointed out that the Republicans have two men running and the Greens have one, responses ranged from, “Oh, yeah,” to, “Oh, really.”

    In a district where Democrats reportedly outnumber Republicans and Greens eight to one, it might be understandable that Democrats are so focused on the primary. As one campaign worker speaking off the record explained it, for a Democrat to win the primary and not the general election, he would basically have to die. Still, the lack of concern of one party for the others in this election is interesting.

    By on July 23, 2009, 1:06 pm
    In category: City Hall,Community Development,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | 1 Comment »

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    League of Conservation Voters Endorses
    July 23rd, 2009

    Here is the New York League of Conservation Voters latest endorsement list:


    David Yassky


    Eric Gioia


    Scott Stringer

    CITY COUNCIL – Manhattan
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 23, 2009, 10:10 am
    In category: City Hall,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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    Deal on Coney Island
    July 21st, 2009

    <i>From City Planning's Coney Island Redevelopment Plan</i>

    From City Planning's Coney Island Redevelopment Plan

    The City Council’s committees on zoning and land use both approved the redevelopment plan for Coney Island this afternoon, including revisions that take the property surrounding the Wonder Wheel out of an established parkland area.

    The deal, which was brokered between the Bloomberg administration and the area’s Councilmember Domenic Recchia, would also include a pedestrian walkway along Wonder Wheel Way.

    The plan was approved by the zoning committee by a vote of 5 to 1, with chairman Tony Avella dissenting. It was approved by a vote of 13 to 2 in the land use committee, with Avella and Charles Barron dissenting.

    Up until yesterday, Recchia’s support was not guaranteed. In a press release in full after the jump, Recchia explains why he changed his mind this afternoon, saying he can support the deal because it includes money for Coney Island Hospital and it would create local jobs.

    It is unclear how this deal would affect Coney Island developer Joseph Sitt. Sitt owns at least five acres the city would like to acquire for its plan.

    What is clear is that not everyone will be happy with the deal. Save Coney Island, a coalition that was lobbying for changes in the development plan, wanted the amount of amusement space in the plan doubled and wanted to do away with the high-rise hotels planned for Surf Avenue. Neither of those concessions were included in this deal.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on July 21, 2009, 3:01 pm
    In category: City Hall,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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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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