Archive for November, 2009

Kruger's Offensive
November 16th, 2009

Some Senate Democrats are troubled by the aggression displayed by Sen. Carl Kruger in deficit reduction negotiations this weekend. The Brooklyn Democrat has gone on the offensive against Gov. David Paterson, pledging to block any serious cuts to health care and education. The Times points out that Kruger has managed to stockpile a $2.1 campaign chest with the help of labor unions.

Kruger claims Paterson’s office has not provided him with key information, and as a result he plans to subpoena the the financial records of state agencies and has said he is considering having a judge force Paterson to collect taxes from the sale of cigarettes on Indian reservations. The Post is reporting that Kruger is considering $1 billion in new taxes on medical services as an alternative to budget cuts.

Some Democratic Senators say they are troubled by Kruger’s actions . They say if a plan to reduce the budget isn’t agreed to and voted on this week Senate Democrats are likely to get stuck with the blame. They see the Assembly and Paterson getting off relatively unscathed should negotiations collapse. They also worry that Kruger is trying to block needed cuts to the budget. Some observers also see Kruger as moving instinctively against Paterson because of his low approval ratings.

Paterson took to the the airwaves this morning to insist that the legislature needs to come up with real cost saving measures. He complained that legislators have proposed “phony remedies” to the deficit problem. He said that proposing serious cuts to the budget has hurt his approval ratings.

By on November 16, 2009, 11:49 am
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No New License Plates?
November 15th, 2009

Gov. David Paterson and legislative leaders have heard the public outcry over the state’s new license plate requirement. Are they going to do something about it? Well, maybe.

Paterson issued a statement this evening saying that he is willing to work with the legislature to repeal the requirement that was contained in this year’s budget but only if the legislature will work with him “to identify real, responsible, recurring alternative savings measures that will replace the revenue that would be lost and won’t increase the deficit.”

If the provision is not repealed New Yorker’s would have to pay $25 to buy a new license plate after April 1, 2010.

Here is the statement from Paterson’s office: Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 15, 2009, 9:27 pm
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Weekly Web Wrap
November 13th, 2009

City Ranks Sixth Highest as Music Location
(Creative Class)
But Two City Districts Rank in Bottom Tenth for Happiness
(Creative Class)
The City and its Flooded Double
The Black Middle Class
(Huffington Post)
Teachers Not Paid to Teach
(The Weekly Standard)
Palestine in Queens
(The Nation)
Westboro Baptist Church Vs. New York
(The New Republic)
Cartoonist’s Take on Albany’s Budget
(Matt Davies)
The Times’s Impact on Academic Treatment of the Atlantic Yards
(Atlantic Yards Report)
Economic Development in the Outer Boroughs
(DMI Blog)
One Block Off the Electric Grid in Brooklyn
(Idealist in NYC)
Rethinking Design for the Homeless
(Urban Omnibus)
State Legislative Ethics Filings
Musing on the Role of Buses in the City
(Second Avenue Sagas)
City’s Capital Plan Grows
(IBO Web Blog)
Good Government Groups Ask for Investigation into Contribution Violations
(League of Women Voters of New York State)

By on November 13, 2009, 7:44 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Weekly Web Wrap

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Yankees Beat Giants in Paper Tossing
November 12th, 2009

Judging by the amount of debris cleaned up after their victory parades, New Yorkers were more excited by the Yankees 27th World Series victory than the Giants third Super Bowl win last year. The tallies are in, and the Department of Sanitation reports cleaning up 56.5 tons of paper after the Yankees parade. The Giants left behind 36.5 tons.

Of the total cleaned this year, 18.2 tons were recycled by the Sanitation Department. But only about a ton of the confetti came from recycled paper, donated by the Downtown Alliance and Atlas Materials of Red Hook. In fact, it was widely reported that a number of important documents were tossed into the streets.

But neither can stand anywhere near the 5,000 tons of paper that filled the air during the 1945 V-J parade.

By on November 12, 2009, 2:15 pm
In category: Environment | Comments Off on Yankees Beat Giants in Paper Tossing

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A Fiscal Report Card
November 11th, 2009

With Gov. David Paterson and various fiscal experts warning of dire financial starts for the state, a report released by the Pew Center for the States gave Senate Finance Committee chair Carl Kruger reason for cheer. Citing the report — a fiscal scorecard for the 50 states — Kruger issued a statement saying that a number of them, including California, Florida, Wisconsin, and Illinois, “are on the verge of collapse.” But here, he continued, “actions we have taken to maintain a balanced budget and secure access to vital services for at-risk or unemployed families has kept New Yorks economy stable even in an economic crisis.”

A reading of the report, however, indicates it does not exactly offer cause for celebration. Yes, some states, notably California, the poster child for bad fiscal management, score worse than New York. But 33 of the 50 are doing better than we are. And while the fiscal peril score for all states comes out to 17, New York is in somewhat worse shape with score of 20 on a scale of 1 to 30. (The higher score, the more trouble you’re in, so California has the dubious distinction of a negative perfect 30.)

New York gets help from its comparatively low home foreclosure rate: 0.76 percent, compared to 1.37 percent for the country and a whopping 3.12 percent in Nevada. We’ve also had less of an increase in unemployment than many other states.

But, Kruger to the contrary, New York shows up badly on the very thing the state government can control: the size of the budget gap. Pew puts ours at 32.3 percent of general funds for fiscal year 2010. This is the fifth highest in the nation. New York also saw the third largest drop in revenue — 17 percent — exceeded only by Virginia and Oregon.

By on November 11, 2009, 5:36 pm
In category: Albany,Measuring UP,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

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New London's Troubles
November 11th, 2009

The possibility that the Atlantic Yards project could become a parking lot was a one of the criticisms leveled against the development by its critics last year. And it seems that similar circumstances actually unfolded in New London, Conn., the location of the landmark eminent domain case that effected the nation. Redevelopment plans for the area didn’t work out as planned and the site is left overgrown.

Now, Pfizer, the focus of the city’s economic development plans — and of its home condemnation — will be closing up shop there, adding to the fallow area’s troubles. “The announced closing of the New London site eight years after it opened to great fanfare came as a blow to a city that had counted on Pfizer’s multimillion-dollar facility to help revive its fortunes,” reports the Hartford Courant.

By on November 11, 2009, 3:13 pm
In category: Economy,Land Use,Law | Comments Off on New London's Troubles

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What Was Actually Accomplished
November 11th, 2009

After hours of negotiations, what did the state legislature actually accomplish during yesterday’s special session?

Besides adding to the general perception that they are a “bunch of bumbling do nothings,” as one frustrated observer put it, they actually managed to vote on two pieces of legislation.

The first was a mandate relief bill that is designed to reduce the cost of local governments by making them more efficient. According to a press release from Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office the bill would: Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 11, 2009, 11:42 am
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The Deficit Will Wait Until Next Week
November 10th, 2009

“Two bills,” that is what Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. replied when asked what he expected to achieve during today’s session.

After hours of waiting, protests, negotiations and general frustration the special session will not produce a vote on same-sex marriage or a deficit reduction package. Espada said he expected to be back on Monday to vote on a deficit reduction package and “marriage equality.” He said he expected Gov. David Paterson to admit that “progress had been made” in budget discussions.

Downstairs at nearly the same moment Paterson was saying almost exactly that. Paterson said he would call the legislature back to vote on budget cuts on Monday. “I mean I dont want to infringe upon their negotiation. They put real numbers on the table now. Were actually talking,” Paterson told reporters. Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 10, 2009, 6:10 pm
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Off to a Slow Start
November 10th, 2009

The Senate began special session today by paying tribute to soldiers in honor of Veterans Day. After about half an hour of tribute the Senate stood at ease to wait for bills to be delivered from the Governor’s office.

Both houses have agreed to take up a few issues that include: mandate relief, a loan initiative to increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses, a bill that would close a loophole that allows felons to become eligible for parole earlier than intended and a bill that would change foreclosure law.

Legislators say they are in agreement on more than half of Gov. David Paterson’s budget cutting measures but the sticking points remain unpopular cuts to education and health care.

A number of Democratic Senators have indicated they do not expect a vote on same-sex marriage.

By on November 10, 2009, 2:03 pm
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Will They or Won't They?
November 10th, 2009

Gov. David Paterson gave it his last big push yesterday in the form of an address to a join session of the state legislature.

“I will mortgage my political career on this plan,” Paterson said. “But I will not mortgage the fate of the State of New York.”

And now the stage is set for a special legislative session at noon today.

Paterson wants an agreement to cut the state’s growing budget deficit, but the state Senate is solidly opposed to Paterson’s deficit reduction plan, which would cut funding to schools and health care. Senate Democrats have suggested an alternative plan that would eliminate Paterson’s harsher cuts and replace them with one-shot cash-creation strategies such as refinancing the state’s tobacco bonds and reducing the state’s reliance on consultants.

There is also no agreement between the legislature and Paterson about the size of the budget. Negotiations among all sides continued last night, but a resolution does not seem likely by today’s session. Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 10, 2009, 11:54 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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New York's Say on Health Care
November 9th, 2009

If it were up to New York, the health care bill in Washington would have been approved by a much wider margin. The vast majority of the state’s 29 members of Congress said “ay.” (The Empire State’s Congressional Delegation approved the bill 24 to 5. The final vote in the house was 220 to 215.)

A full breakdown is below.

Also check out our series this week — “New York and the Health Care Debate” — where members of our State Legislature and several experts opine on what health care reform could mean for New York.

Votes on Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962):

Ackerman, Gary, New York, 5th: yes
Arcuri, Michael A., New York, 24th: yes
Bishop, Timothy, New York, 1st: yes
Clarke, Yvette D., New York, 11th: yes
Crowley, Joseph, New York, 7th: yes
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 9, 2009, 12:53 pm
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Weekly Web Wrap
November 6th, 2009

  • The New State Legislation Web Site
    (Open Legislation)
  • Price of Green Roofs Limits Benefits to Wealthy
    (The Faster Times)
  • – Senate Should Take Advantage of New Reforms
  • Cartoonist’s Take on New Bottle Deposit Critics
    (Matt Davies)
  • Biking is Only Part of a Balanced Transportation System
    (Word on the Street)
  • Living Wages are Good for Private Sector, Too
    (DMI Blog)
  • Numbers Don’t Support Migration to ‘Cool Cities’
    (New Geography)
  • Bloomberg Campaign’s Online Spending
    (paidContent via NYConvergence)
  • Voters Repudiate Rich Man’s Politics
    (The New Republic)
  • Bloomberg Meets Law of Diminishing Returns
    (The American Prospect)
  • By on November 6, 2009, 10:01 am
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    Conventional Wisdom
    November 5th, 2009

    After predicting for months that Mayor Michael Bloomberg was invincible and would win by a double-digit margin, the pundits now offer their explanation for why the mayor did so much worse on Tuesday than they had anticipated. A consensus seems to have emerged: People were furious about term limits, the angry voters went to the polls in disproportionate numbers, and the mayor’s supporter were complacent.

    “There are only two plausible possibilities for the depressed Bloomberg turnout: over-confidence or protest,” Joyce Purnick wrote on Huffington Post. “And it was probably both. With most polls predicting he would win by double digits, some of the mayor’s supporters must have assumed he did not need their votes. Others clearly were turned off by his over-the-top spending, especially in a bad economy, and the mayor’s self-interested push to change the term limits law.”

    Undoubtedly that played a substantial role, as did a campaign that many saw as mean-spirited (very much politics as usual). But as an issue-oriented publication (and one that has examined the Bloomberg Record in a number of key areas), can we offer another explanation for at least part of the non-Bloomberg vote? Some New Yorkers may not like what the mayor has done on the issues. The commentators generally have either not addressed that or, if they have, say people like what Mayor Mike has done. The Times in its post mortem, the Observer’s Azi Paybarah pointed out, did not even mention taxes or the economy.

    City council and parts of the press offer a kind of hallelujah choir for the mayor. But that does not mean all New Yorkers are singing.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on November 5, 2009, 2:57 pm
    In category: Crime & Safety,Economy,Education,Electoral Politics,Housing | Comments Off on Conventional Wisdom

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    Posturing in Puerto Rico
    November 5th, 2009


    Image (c) Coast Guard BM

    Just in case you were wondering where some of your elected officials were posturing post-election, many are heading to Puerto Rico today for the annual Somos conference.

    First started in 1987, Somos courts itself as the “largest gathering of Puerto Rican/Hispanic civic and political leaders in the State.” (Of course, its not actually held in the Empire State but in San Juan’s Resort and Casino. The weather forecast there today is party cloudy and 87 degrees.) According to its site, it was founded to “create opportunities that increase the participation of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic community in the public policy making process and build the capacity of New York’s Hispanic communities to work towards the development of policies, laws, state rules and regulations that address the needs and issues of Hispanics across the state.”

    We hear there might even be a side-trip for skydiving on Saturday, organized by Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera. The city’s comptroller-elect, John Liu, is expected to attend, said Rivera from the island yesterday, who has jumped out of a plane before.

    According to the speaker’s office, council members cannot pay for the conference out of council funds.

    Here’s the conference schedule:

    Sponsored by: Promesa & American Insurance Assoc.

    FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2009

    Sponsored by: Hon. Thomas P. DiNapoli, NYS Comptroller GRAND BALLROOM INTERCONTINENTAL
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on November 5, 2009, 10:33 am
    In category: Albany,City Hall,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | 1 Comment »

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    Stray Voltage Around the City
    November 5th, 2009

    Within a quarter-mile of Gotham Gazette’s offices, there were 103 incidents of stray voltage in the past 21 months. Five of them were potentially fatal, and one shocked a person or a pet.

    We know this due to a new map from the Jodie S. Lane Public Safety Foundation that lets you search for stray voltage around the city. The foundation was formed by the parents of a woman who was killed after being electrocuted by stray voltage from Con Edison’s system. The data for the maps are culled from reporting requirements that the city implemented after her death.

    By on November 5, 2009, 9:40 am
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    De Blasio and Bloomberg
    November 4th, 2009

    Sure, they squabbled over term limits, but they can still sit down for coffee.

    In a post-election photo opportunity, newly re-elected Mayor Michael Bloomberg sat down with Public Advocate-elect Bill de Blasio this afternoon to make nice. De Blasio was a Thompson supporter and was very critical of the administration during his campaign for the city’s second-in-line spot.

    Here’s the post-coffee statement from de Blasio:

    “The mayor and I had a productive meeting today. We discussed several priorities that I have been advocating for, including bringing public school parents back into our education system, reforming the Civilian Complaint Review Board and making elections more open and fair. I am hopeful that we can continue this positive dialogue in the years ahead. As I have said before, I plan to be a watchdog over City Hall. I will work with the mayor when he is right, but I won’t hesitate to stand up when I disagree.

    The post-election coverage all seems to point to a so-called vulnerable mayor with an energized and more vocal comptroller and public advocate. Both John Liu’s and de Blasio’s records have been more critical of the administration, but they are also no Tony Avella or Charles Barron.

    We will have to see how the new dynamic pans out come January.

    When asked about yesterday’s margin of victory, which was smaller than most expected, Bloomberg said, “What people are going to judge this administration on is accomplishments.”

    By on November 4, 2009, 6:03 pm
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    Council Races
    November 4th, 2009

    Republicans picked up two seats on the City Council yesterday, bringing their total to five seats out of 51. The GOP gains came in District 19 in Bayside, where Republican Dan Halloran defeated Democrat Kevin Kim, and in Flushing’s 20th council district, where Peter Koo, a Republican and businessman, defeated Democrat Yen Chou. The three incumbent Republican councilmembers — Erich Ulrich, James Oddo, and
    Vincent Ignizio
    — all held on to their seats.

    The race in district 19, to fill the seat formerly held by Tony Avella, was particularly nasty with candidates lobbing charges about the other one’s tactics and fundraising. At one point, the Daily News reported, Kim’s forces tried to capitalize on “Halloran’s acknowledged involvement in a pre-Christian pagan religion, Theodism.”

    In the Flushing race, which attracted less attention, Koo, who has run for office before, captured the seat now held by Comptroller-elect John Liu.

    Unlike primary day, yesterday was a good day for council incumbents. All those who managed to win their primaries in September kept their seats on Election Day. Diana Reyna held off a stiff challenge — and the opposition of the powerful Brooklyn Democratic boss, Vito Lopez — to keep her seat from Bushwick, and longtime Brooklyn politician Al Vann will get to remain in politics for another four years as he fended off a spirited challenge in Bed-Stuy from Mark Winston Griffith.

    For all results go to Gotham Gazette’s election page.

    By on November 4, 2009, 11:46 am
    In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | Comments Off on Council Races

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    Lame Duck Chancellor?
    November 4th, 2009

    Following his narrow victory last night, Michael Bloomberg may make changes — Ben Smith reports in Politico that he has “already promised a major shakeup of his senior aides.”

    So who’s headed out the door? David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College, bets on Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

    “Eight years seems enough for the chancellor, who has a history of short-term jobs and immediate prospects as an internationally acclaimed education consultant,'” Bloomfield writes. “Also, believe the rumor that Bloomberg traded the chancellors head for the legislatures renewal of mayoral control and that a new chancellor will help Bloomberg counter charges of third-term lethargy.

    Bloomfield sets out some possible successors, including former Chicago and Philadelphia superintendent Paul Vallas, and Christopher Cerf, who had a top post at Tweed before going to the Bloomberg campaign.

    By on November 4, 2009, 11:17 am
    In category: Education,Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 3 Comments »

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    Bloomberg Wins? (Updated)
    November 3rd, 2009

    According to the New York Times, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has successfully landed a third term.

    Just as the New York Times declared the race, so did NBC. According to NY1, with 22 percent of precincts reporting, Bloomberg has 49 percent to Thompson’s 47.66 percent.

    Stay tuned for election results here.

    By on November 3, 2009, 9:49 pm
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    It's Not Just Mike
    November 3rd, 2009


    It’s isn’t only Mike Bloomberg who is advertising.

    Even council members who face little opposition are taking to the world wide web. Seen here, Councilmember Jessica Lappin’s ads were spotted on the New York Times site yesterday even though she faces only token Republican opposition.

    Check out Who’s Running for What to see who is on the ballot in your district and send us other ads you see today.

    By on November 3, 2009, 4:12 pm
    In category: City Hall,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | 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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