Author Archive

Under the Hood of Balance
August 10th, 2009

Part of our commitment to the Knight Foundation, which funded Gotham Gazette’s most recent round of games, is to make the source code for our games available to anyone else who wants to, say, create a Balance! style game for their own town or city.

We’re rolling our source code out slowly as we try to find that balance between making the code reasonably accessible and publishing it all expediently. Still, we’re pretty thrilled to announce that the code for Balance is now available on Git Hub. If you want to take a stab at setting it up for yourself, feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll be happy to work through it with you. Hopefully we can improve the documentation together!

By on August 10, 2009, 4:59 pm
In category: nextNY | 1 Comment »

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The MTA, in Pie Charts
March 17th, 2009

Albany’s new Senate CIO wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to be trying new things. The State Senate CIO’s office announced a couple of new web initiatives in coordination with the MTA. (Wonkster got this announcement by Twitter — we invite you to follow Gotham Gazette on Twitter.) One, they’ve put a few piles of numbers on a site, Swivel, that lets you review and visualize large data sets. They’re taking your ideas for a rescue of the MTA on and they’ve published the Senate’s MTA Proposal on The MTA regularly comes under fire for keeping their books under wraps, but is this the transparency you’re looking for?

What are your MTA ideas?

By on March 17, 2009, 2:30 pm
In category: Albany,nextNY,Public Finance,Tech | 1 Comment »

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Finally! Breathing Life Into the Fulton Mall
March 12th, 2009

That was a joke, for anyone who hasn’t roamed Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall recently: most Saturdays the strip is as crowded as Times Square, and with 100,000 shoppers per day it ranks among the most successful commercial stretches in the five boroughs. Nonetheless, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the local BID collaborated to develop plans to spruce the strip up. Renovations are proceeding apace on Albee Square, the plaza at Fleet and DeKalb, set to open next spring. Yesterday’s Brownstoner writeup of the plans has readers in a tizzy over the curiously Caucasian crowd in the renderings (which are also curiously free of street vendors and city vehicles skirting the bus-only rules).

By on March 12, 2009, 12:02 pm
In category: Economy,Land Use | Comments Off on Finally! Breathing Life Into the Fulton Mall

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Think You Could Balance the State Budget?
February 12th, 2009

Balance, Gotham Gazette’s latest game, will let you have a crack at balancing the New York City budget, but if you’ve got ideas about how the state can balance its budget, the senate wants to know.

They’ll take your cost cutting and revenue generating ideas by voicemail (800-706-9995), sms (text NYSS to 41411) or Twitter. No word on whether they’re planning to take input via MySpace comments.

PS. You can find Gotham Gazette on Twitter and MySpace, too.

By on February 12, 2009, 1:49 pm
In category: Eye on Albany,nextNY,Public Finance,Tech | Comments Off on Think You Could Balance the State Budget?

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Ugh Indeed. Maybe We Can Call it Bailout Ballfield?
January 30th, 2009

An anonymous tipster pointed out that we skipped over a significant bit of news in this morning’s Eye Opener: a bi-partisan committee of two is asking the Mets to vacate Citigroup’s naming rights contract — in 2006 the now-beleaguered bank agreed to pay $400 million for naming rights to the stadium. With taxpayers funneling more than a few dollars into Citigroups gaping maw, some in Washington think that stadium naming is a luxury the bank can ill-afford. No word yet on how far back that would set the otherwise complete stadium financing.

By on January 30, 2009, 1:31 pm
In category: Gotham City,Land Use,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Fare Hike Hearings Start Tonight
January 14th, 2009

The MTA is kicking of a series of public hearings about the proposed fare hike tonight at 6. There’s still time to get to the Midtown Hilton if you don’t need bus service to get you there. You can follow the proceedings on NY1 if you can’t make it (or check the schedule to find a hearing you can make).

By on January 14, 2009, 5:22 pm
In category: Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Bored of Your Community Board?
January 14th, 2009

Think you could do better? Streetsblog wants you to know it isn’t too late. They’ve got information and applications for all five boroughs. You’ve got until tomorrow to apply for a Manhattan spot, the Queens BP is taking applications all month and Bronx or Brooklyn residents have until early February. Staten Islanders can cool their heels until May, though.

By on January 14, 2009, 5:07 pm
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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What will '09 bring?
December 22nd, 2008

Will newspaper publishers be the next to demand a bailout? Azi thinks so. Paul thinks Governor Paterson can save the MTA by taking a cue from Chicago politics and auctioning off New York’s open senate seat to the highest bidder.

They’re kidding, of course. Or are they? What is Caroline Kennedy spending to court the state’s movers and shakers?

What we know for sure is that Gotham Gazette’s annual predictions issue is back.

By on December 22, 2008, 2:59 pm
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Are Broadway Busses Running Faster?
December 19th, 2008

The famously frustrating bus bulbs of Broadway get a review in this week’sDowntown Express, which includes a somewhat disorienting revelation that the D.O.T. didn’t start the project with any data on bus speeds on Broadway:

“But [Lower Manhattan borough commissioner for the city Department of Transportation] Sanchez does not know if that’s an improvement in bus speed since the D.O.T. did not collect data before the bulbs were installed. It’s possible the bulbs have slowed down cars, rather than speeded up buses.”

Someone should have talked to Straphangers, which has been gathering data on bus speeds since they started awarding their Pokey Awards to the very slowest of the lot. Broadway’s own M1, which NYPIRG reports was “significantly off schedule” 24% of the time, was a runner up for the Schleppie. That represents something of an improvement over 2006, pre-barricade, when the M1 won the Schleppie by bunching up, leaving riders waiting and departing way off schedule 28% of the time.

Now. Go make a donation to our annual appeal while I call NYPIRG to find out just how fast the ems one and six were travelling in 2006. Deal?

Maybe one day we’ll be able to see, at a glance, when the next bus is really going to arrive.

By on December 19, 2008, 11:51 am
In category: Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Essay Contest Insights
November 6th, 2008

We’ve closed voting on Gotham Gazette’s first ever writing contest, but we’d still love to know what you think of the entries. Read the five finalists that we think best answered the question, “How will the 2008 elections affect you?” and let us know who you think ought to win.

Beyond the Rhetoric of Change

Educating Children with Special Needs

The Fading of the American Dream

Sad Times Call for a Bit of Optimism

What the Candidates Can’t Do

By on November 6, 2008, 5:44 pm
In category: Gotham City,Governing | 1 Comment »

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It's Election Day!
November 4th, 2008

Today is Election Day. Polls are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Board of Elections website can help you find your polling place and Gotham Gazette’s thorough coverage of state and local races includes information for first time voters and tips on handling problems at the polls.

In addition to the president, New Yorkers are choosing members of Congress, state legislators, one City Council member and a handful of judges. The contest between State Sen. Serphim Maltese and challenger Joe Addabbo in Queens could be key in determining whether Republicans keep control of the State Senate.

Gotham Gazette will begin posting results in all local races when the polls close tonight.

By on November 4, 2008, 7:24 am
In category: Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing | Comments Off on It's Election Day!

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Report from the Hearing Room
October 16th, 2008

Today’s standing room-only hearings on term limits extensions got underway at 1 PM, though the scramble for seats had started several hours earlier. A room-full of New Yorkers is watching on closed circuit TV next door to council chambers, while those who couldn’t fit into the overflow room were sent home to watch NY1.

If you don’t have cable, City Room is live-blogging the hearings and
Liz Benjamin has been
posting regular updates, including an observation that many of the seats filled early with “Democrats for Choices,” a collection of Bloomberg supporters who “have steadfastly refused to tell reporters their names and also won’t say if they were paid to show up at City Hall.” The Observer has more from their source inside council chambers.

Citizens Union Foundation’s resident Coro Fellow, Daren Mills, not (yet) acclimated to the perambulations of elected officials, complained that the preambling, post-ambling, non-questions, multi-part questions and generally avoiding getting to the point make for a whole lot of dragging out. Just two hours in and already, he’s drained.

The overall debate has centered around predictable issues: the Council does have the legal authority to amend the charter, though that doesn’t mean they should; the Council does have the legal authority to amend the charter, which does mean they should; a referendum would draw too few voters; incumbents have too much power; a referendum would be expensive.

Nonetheless, the multi-part questions are a long way from over, though things are starting to heat up a little. Hearings are expected to extend well into the evening and start all over again at 10:00 tomorrow.

By on October 16, 2008, 5:11 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Governing | Comments Off on Report from the Hearing Room

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Where do you stand on term limits?
October 2nd, 2008

So far, voters in this morning’s Eye Opener Poll are pretty evenly split between letting term limits stand and wanting them gone. The top two choices point to New Yorker’s concern that the voters should have a chance to make the call, with 38% of respondents answering No, the voters have spoken twice already and another 28% arguing Yes, but only if the voters approve it in a referendum.

Let us know what you think or take a look at the results yourself.

By on October 2, 2008, 11:19 am
In category: Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | Comments Off on Where do you stand on term limits?

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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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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 »

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Rent Guidelines Board Decision
June 20th, 2008

Today’s Lead: Highest Rent Hikes in Years

The Rent Guidelines Board yesterday approved increases of 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases for tenants in rent stabilized buildings. They also approved an alternative increase that will allow landlords to raise rents by up to $45 per month (one-year leases) and $85 per month (two-year leases) for tenants who’ve lived in their homes for more than six years. Landlords can choose between the flat increase or the percentage increase.

The ruling is effective as of Oct. 1, 2008. For more, see Housing Links in the News, or read the Board’s summary after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 20, 2008, 11:59 am
In category: Eye Opener,Gotham City,Housing | 1 Comment »

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Cleanups, Calorie Counts and Campaigns
June 2nd, 2008

Elsewhere in the blogosphere today …

Miss Heather has some sharp words about Exxon’s recent Greenpoint Courier insert, which addresses the still-stalled spill cleanup effort there.

Gothamist commenters are nonplussed that many city restaurants have chosen to ignore new rules requiring that they post calorie information on menu boards, but one reader makes the rather salient point that “obesity and heart disease kill more New Yorkers than crane accidents.” Anecdotally at least, it sounds like the calorie count information does lead to changes in people’s eating habits.

Finally, Simcha Felder’s announcement that he’ll seek Kevin Parker’s state Senate seat this year has ruffled at least Parker’s feathers: Liz Benjamin reports that Felder may or may not be a Republican in Dem’s clothing. (Stay up to date on all the races with Who’s Running for What, Gotham Gazette’s up to the hour guide to candidates and their campaigns.)

By on June 2, 2008, 5:25 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Health,Land Use | Comments Off on Cleanups, Calorie Counts and Campaigns

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To Be Poor in New York
May 27th, 2008

Gothamist commenters have plenty to say about Cara Buckley’s recent Time’s piece, written (apparently) in a demographic vacuum, about the suffering (oh, the suffering) of young, white new yorkers trying to get by on a budget. Tight budgets have them making difficult choices like mascara or lip gloss while foraging for B.Y.O.B. brunch spots (making your own waffles is, apparently, as unimaginable as a Saturday morning without mimosas). I double checked: April Fools Day has long passed. A little refresher course: the median income in New York City? $38,293. The suffering of a single guy making that and then half again sounds like the distant wail of one teeny, tiny violin.

One commenter came up with a fairly plausible theory: the Times is trying to stir up their comment boards by offending as many new yorkers in a single article as they possibly can.

For real coverage of New York City demographics, economics and fianance, I suppose we’ll all have to read Gotham Gazette.

By on May 27, 2008, 10:39 am
In category: Demographics,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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Rumblings of a Placard Crackdown
April 9th, 2008

In a sign that Bloomberg’s plans to reduce parking perks afforded to city employees weren’t just for show, Streetsblog reports that the Post reported that NYPD Internal Affairs is cracking down on falsified parking permits. Comments on Streetsblog say this isn’t enough — could it be the right approach to actually changing a pervasive culture of flagrant placard abuse? Not if the whole thing stops with one sweep.

I’ll confess to a teeny tiny bias on this particular issue, as my commute to and from Gotham Gazette HQ takes me down bike lanes that are rotten with, if not permit abuse, parked cars*

We’ll keep watching the city’s progress on this one, and we’ll let you know if any watchdog groups decide to raise the issue of parking with impunity as a basic issue of abuse of power by city employees.

* You probably can’t tell from the Google Map flyover that the Adams Street service road has a bike lane full of cars, but maybe if it weren’t so full of cars you’d be able to see the bright green bike lane beneath them.

By on April 9, 2008, 3:29 pm
In category: Gotham City,Transportation | Comments Off on Rumblings of a Placard Crackdown

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Diaz wants Green Roofs?
April 7th, 2008

Elizabeth Benjamin is reporting that the legislation might have a little fight in it, but nonetheless in the race to take credit for bringing down Congestion Pricing, at least one Albany legislator is offering up some interesting suggestions. No fan of the proposal, Bronx Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. argues in his release that …

If the Mayor really wants to protect the environment and the air that we all breathe then he should have proposed that a Green Roof is required on every new commercial development in our city.

Should we expect to hear more about his green roof visions?

Meanwhile, Queens Councilmember John Liu, who supported the legislation, is calling the Mayor to task for letting “A high-and-almighty approach [supplant] what should have been a collaborative process” and insisting that the city now needs to look at the alternatives that congestion pricing opponents argued would have been a better fit:

Opponents of congestion pricing did in fact offer constructive alternatives to help alleviate traffic congestion, including initiating programs for carpooling, cracking down on parking placard abuse and restoring express bus service to levels that existed prior to Bloomberg becoming Mayor.

So, was that bluster, or can we look forward to a round of proposals from the bills’ opponents here and in Albany, looking to improve express bus service and crack down on placard fraud?

By on April 7, 2008, 5:18 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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