Friday, December 31, 2010

Should Dave take some of the blame?

From Capital Tonight:

Mayor Bloomberg has been bearing the brunt of the blame for the lackluster post-blizzard clean-up, but one state lawmaker thinks there’s more than enough of that to go around with a share belonging to outgoing Gov. David Paterson.

Assemblyman Bill Colton, a Brooklyn Democrat, said Paterson should have declared a state of emergency after the storm, following New Jersey’s lead, arguing that would have allowed for the mobilization of resources – from the National Guard, for example – to help the city with its sub-par snow removal effort.

“I think the governor clearly had a responsibility to, at the very minimum, call the mayor and say: Do you need help? Should we call a state of emergency? At the very minimum, the governor should have done that,” Colton told me during a brief telephone interview this afternoon.

“There should at least have been a discussion of whether it was needed.”

When I noted Paterson has one foot out the door (although he has managed to find the time to issue more than a few pardons and a commutation), Colton replied:

“The reality is the snow occurred a week ago and it would seem to be that he’s got to keep his hand on the helm of the ship.”

Baby brain dead after ambulance gets stuck in snow

From the NY Post:

A 3-month-old Queens boy was left brain dead last night after snow-clogged routes prevented medics from reaching him quickly -- and unplowed streets later forced the EMS workers to ditch their ambulance and sprint with the ailing baby to the hospital.

As little Addison Reynoso hovered at death's door, a priest performed last rites, and his family considered pulling him off life support.

The baby's heartbroken father fumed at the city's lax clean-up response to last weekend's monster blizzard.

"Clean the streets," Luis Reynoso said, "because that's why the ambulance came too late."

On top of the half-hour it took rescuers to get Addison to the emergency room, family members and friends said they were forced to call 911 several times before they could even reach a dispatcher.

"The weather hampered our efforts," an FDNY source said, hours after Addison -- apparently suffering from a respiratory infection -- was declared brain dead. "The snow did impact this."

Addison was being watched by a family friend in Corona Wednesday afternoon when he suddenly lost consciousness.

The frantic baby-sitter knocked on a neighbor's door after failing to reach a 911 dispatcher at around 1 p.m. and told the neighbors to call for help. A few minutes later, the boy's parents arrived, and his father lay the child on the floor and started performing CPR.

Addison's mom, Rocio Xoyatla, meanwhile, made several 911 calls, but only got a tone. She finally reached a dispatcher at 1:12 p.m., a family friend said.

It took at least 12 agonizing minutes longer for EMS crews to reach the home on 39th Avenue, near 108th Street in Corona.

When they arrived, medics found Luis Reynoso hovering over his dying child, desperately trying to blow life into the tiny lungs of the baby.

Reynoso and his wife sprinted down three flights of stairs with their child and climbed into the ambulance, which slogged two miles through the snowy streets with a police escort.

Then, the unthinkable happened. The ambulance got stuck in the snow on an unplowed stretch at Baxter and Layton streets, just 30 yards short of the emergency room door at Elmhurst Hospital.

EMS workers had to sprint the rest of the way cradling the baby, arriving at 1:42 p.m

"The City is going fine." - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Steinway Mansion owner dies

From Queens Buzz:

Michael Halberian, owner of the Steinway Mansion in Astoria, died Monday evening around 7 pm. We have unofficial reports that he died of cardio obstruction pulmonary disorder. Michael turned 82 in November.

Michael is survived by two children, Michele Kazarian and John Halberian [wife Stephanie]; his sister, Rosemary; five grandchildren including Jackie and Katie Kazarian and Christopher, Meg and Jack Halberian; and nieces and nephews.

Kelty tells Bloomberg to duck

From the Daily News:

Gene Kelty, 56, was just a kid when the '69 storm hit. He lives in the same Whitestone house and remembers the locals throwing snowballs at Lindsay when the mayor finally appeared in Queens.

His advice if Bloomberg comes to the borough: Duck.

"If he comes to Queens, we would have thrown snowballs at him as well," Kelty said.

"Is the man oblivious?"

Photo from Times Ledger

King has tougher stance on illegal aliens

From the NY Post:

Rep. Peter King, who next week becomes chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says he will push legislation to tighten border security and arrest more illegal aliens -- challenging what he considers to be President Obama's lax immigration policies.

"The Obama administration continues to display an obvious lack of urgency when it comes to gaining operational control of the border, which is absolutely critical," King (R-LI) said.

He said Obama has "done little" in the past two years to keep out illegal immigrants and the country needs a new strategy "that incorporates the necessary staffing, fencing and technology to do the job."

King's immigration proposals will include an aggressive crackdown on private companies that hire illegal aliens and increased federal support for local police to help arrest illegal immigrants.

These measures are near the top of a packed Homeland Security agenda that includes efforts to better combat domestic radicalization, stopping Obama's plans to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US for civilian trials and bolstering national cybersecurity.

The border security initiatives would be a sharp departure from the current Obama administration policy that is focused on deporting illegal aliens who commit serious crimes.

Too bad Paterson decided to go the other way.

Goldsmith failed major test

From the Daily News:

Bloomberg named Goldsmith his top deputy in April and has handed him enormous power to do the same thing here.

The blizzard was the new deputy's first big test - and he flunked.

To begin with, Goldsmith and Bloomberg refused to declare a snow emergency, even after they learned a blizzard was on the way.

"I started getting text messages from ambulance drivers at 3 a.m. Monday that they were stuck in the snow," said Pat Bahnken, president of the EMS workers' union. "I urged the Fire Department to declare a snow emergency, but they were told City Hall said 'no.'"

Back in 1996, a similar monster storm struck our city. It dumped 20 inches, closed airports, and left drifts 20-feet high.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani not only declared a snow emergency and ordered all nonessential vehicles off the road, he took 3,300 city buses out of service so they wouldn't block sanitation trucks and rescue vehicles.

Giuliani also asked then-Gov. George Pataki for help. Pataki dispatched 400 national guardsmen with 100 Humvees that were used as ambulances to transport medical supplies and health workers.

If Bloomberg and Goldsmith had done the same, we wouldn't have had hundreds of stuck buses and ambulances blocking main arteries.

"Under Rudy, every snowstorm was considered a big deal," one former Giuliani official said. "All commissioners and top staffers were expected to be at the command center and we all worked hard together."

This time, Goldsmith was out of town and didn't even show up at the command center until Monday. A City Hall spokesman wouldn't say where he was.

Answers, pal!

From the Daily News:

Bloomberg rightly pledged a top-to-bottom look at how, with the same number of snow-removal personnel and the same amount of equipment as in previous snowstorms, so many streets, especially in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, took agonizingly long to clear.

He must start that review within days. He must finish it within a week. The next storm could already be brewing. We must learn:

Why emergency vehicles that normally barrel through drifts got stuck in the snow this time.

Why tow trucks didn't or couldn't clear blocked streets.

Why the 911 system was unable to handle a thoroughly predictable flood of calls.

Why some streets - even bike lanes, for crying out loud - were fully cleared before others saw their first plow. The administration's talk of "primary," "secondary" and "tertiary" streets may leave bureaucrats nodding their heads, but most New Yorkers live on those tertiary streets.

Most of all: How on God's snow white Earth, after blowing a response to a storm that was no surprise, is the city going to do better next time, given the resources available today?

That's the key question, because what we have now is as good as it's going to get.

Snow means trouble for bubbles

From A Walk in the Park:

Three tennis bubbles located in City parks collapsed under the weight of snow from the storm that blanked the area on Monday.

One bubble, housing five courts at the controversial $ 19 million dollar Sportime Randall's Island caved in. Workers were seen removing snow by a small front-end loader and clearing away debris. Personnel were also seen reviewing blue prints of the bubbles.

The facility is home to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy for Elite players and is managed by John's brother Mark. The enormous project was ushered through by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation and bypassed ULURP and appropriate environmental reviews.

All indoor tennis in Prospect Park in Brooklyn were suspended after its two bubbles at the Prospect Park Tennis Center collapsed Monday.

"The Prospect Park Tennis Center is currently closed," a message on the Prospect Park Alliance tennis center voice mail says. "Both bubbles collapsed due to heavy snow. We are making a concerted effort to remove the snow and re-inflate the bubbles. We plan to be open on Sunday, January 2nd."

A message on the website stated: "The severe storm conditions caused the Tennis Center bubbles to come down. The Tennis Center may be closed for the week. Please check our website or give the Center a call at (718) 436 2500 for updates.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

And now the other side of the story

From the Huffington Post:

The source of the claim? Three "unidentified" plow workers.

The story claims the unions did this to protest budget cuts. Of course the obvious cause of the snow mess was that budget cuts caused the problem because there were not enough people employed to clear the snow.

Oh snap! I guess that's true. More than $26M of the snow removal money was taken out of the budget for this year. You know, the budget that the mayor created and the City Council passed. Now they're all scratching their heads at why the snow removal system collapsed and are calling for investigations.

I ask, do you really think a "word of mouth" action could actually spread across 4 boroughs? And if they really wanted to muck things up, why not include Manhattan?

In related news, the MTA didn't follow their own protocols for dealing with the snow. But enjoy that fare hike.

Photo from the Daily News

Bike lanes cleared of snow before Queens streets

From the NY Post:

It was a breeze getting through the snow from Columbus Circle to Times Square yesterday -- all you needed was a bicycle.

While most of Broadway from 48th to 58th streets remained impassable to cars and buses in the blizzard's wake, the city was rolling out the red carpet for Mayor Bloomberg's favorite class of commuters: maniacs and deliverymen on two wheels.

Astoundingly, it diverted precious, strained resources to plow the wide but little-used Midtown Broadway bike lane Tuesday night, even as streets all over town were still waiting to be dug out.

Yesterday, while cars and trucks inched their way south, cyclists had a clear field for 10 blocks. Except for a few windblown traces, they were as snow-cleansed as the East 79th Street block that Bloomberg calls home.

Not that many riders took advantage: We counted three in a 15-minute stroll along the bike path, which runs parallel with an equally underutilized asphalt "pedestrian mall."

But Broadway below Columbus Circle remained slow for motorists even after finally being cleared. Vehicles squeezed into a single lane at many points, thanks to wayward drifts, cars parked at the sidewalk and others parked in the mid-avenue buffer lane designed to shield the bike lane from moving traffic.

Is there any better evidence of the warped priorities of Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan?

The Broadway bike route is one of many installed throughout the five boroughs by the DOT over objections by residents, store owners, business advocates and community boards.

With the mayor's backing, Sadik-Khan rides roughshod over the public will despite repeated promises to heed their complaints.

Asked to justify the waste of plows, a Sanitation Department rep bafflingly said bike lanes are cleared "once primary, secondary and tertiary routes are complete" -- which, of course, was nowhere near to being done -- and "cleared by the truck plow on the route where the bike lane is. The department starts cleaning bike lanes when we clear crosswalks and bus stops."

Bloomberg actually denied this happened.

"Isn't it nice to know that the NYWaterTaxi serving East River luxury condos and Wall Street was running fine yesterday morning?

Image attached is of one at Schaefer Landing, from the Williamsburg Bridge. Note the TWO waiting commuters." - Kurt

And the buses are still not running properly.

Top photo from LTVSquad

Every street plowed?

NYC: Every Street Now Plowed:

New York City's Sanitation Department says it has met its goal of plowing every street at least once.

Spokesman Keith Mellis says not every street has been taken down to blacktop but the roads were passable by the 7 a.m. Thursday, the time the agency said it would have them plowed.

Mellis says Thursday's goal is to "keep working on the streets."

He says the department also will position snow melters throughout the city to begin clearing the streets of large mounds of the plowed snow.

He says "we're actively plowing and hauling during the course of the day."

He says the agency received a few calls of missed streets and would investigate.

Ok, send in photos if you find one that's not plowed. I have a feeling there are a number of them.

Was it intentional?

From the NY Post:

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

"They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important," said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department -- and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan -- at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

The snitches "didn't want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation," Halloran said. "They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."

New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

They said crews normally would have been more aggressive in com bating a fierce, fast-moving blizzard like the one that barreled in on Sunday and blew out the next morning.

The workers said the work slowdown was the result of growing hostility between the mayor and the workers responsible for clearing the snow.

Sources said budget cuts were also at the heart of poor planning for the blizzard last weekend. The city broke from its usual routine and did not call in a full complement on Saturday for snow preparations in order to save on added overtime that would have had to be paid for them to work on Christmas Day.

The result was an absolute collapse of New York's once-vaunted systems of clearing the streets and keeping mass transit moving under the weight of 20 inches of snow.

Deadline for snow removal has passed!

From WPIX:

The mayor says he expects all the streets will be plowed by 7 am on Thursday, but residents are doubtful. While the main streets have been cleaned, many residential areas have been ignored, especially in the Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.

The sanitation department has caught the bulk of the blame for the slow response to clear the streets. Bloomberg said part of the problem was that several cars and buses were abandoned in the middle of streets. While Mayor Bloomberg says he is dissatisfied with the city's performance, he also defended city officials.

"Everybody has worked hard," Mayor Bloomberg said. "The results were not what we'd like them to be, but it has not been for lack of effort." Bloomberg says he will find out what went wrong so that the city can do better the next time.

Well, it's after 7am. Is your street plowed?

No happy new year for Richmond Hill men

From the Daily News:

Two men were shot - one fatally - in a booze-fueled argument at card game in Queens early Wednesday, police said.

Officers responding at 12:50 a.m. to a Richmond Hill building on 135th St. found a 35-year-old man shot in the head. An EMS crew pronounced him dead at the scene.

The other victim, also 35, was shot in the hip and suffered a graze wound to the face. He was in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.

The shooting took place inside what appears to be a vacant storefront that has been converted into a neighborhood hangout, sources said.

The gunman is still being sought.

Vallone wants fluoride out of water

From the Village Voice:

A city councilman from Queens apparently wants your your teeth to rot and fall out. The Daily News says Councilman Peter Vallone is planning to introduce a bill that would end New York's 45-year practice of adding fluoride to its tap water, citing safety concerns and comparing the mineral to prescription anti-depressants.

Via the News:

"This amounts to forced medication by the government," said Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens), who plans to introduce fluoride-removal legislation at the next Council meeting, "What's next? They decide we're depressed and add Prozac to our drinking water?"

Of course, scientists and government agencies (including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have long held that water fluoridation is a coup for public health since it drastically helps to reduce tooth decay.

LIC street necrology

Click photo for story.

Reforming and fining public authorities

From the NY Post:

An Assembly committee says the agency that oversees more than 700 public authorities in New York needs statutory authority to impose fines on the quasi-public entities that fail to report their borrowing, bonus payments or other activities.

In a report Monday, the Committee on Corporations, Commissions and Authorities says more than 100 authorities are essentially defunct and hundreds more are duplicative and should be shuttered.

The report urges applying technical analysis and common sense, noting a recent “disturbing trend” by local governments in establishing not-for-profit organizations that assert they aren’t subject to the oversight.

Committee Chairman Richard Brodsky says reform under the Authorities Budget Office has begun.

How they built the Unisphere

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eastern Queens buried

"72 Hours Later in Springfield Gardens (Picture says it all)" - Donovan

It is 8:30 PM Tuesday - nightime in Glen Oaks - this is what is happening right now. A wall of snow was left by City Sanitation blocking access to 249th Street just off Union Tpke.

2 Buses Stuck & Bus Stuck: Major intersection of 260 Street and Langston Avenue, 2 buses are trapped and can't move. This blocks nearby access to LIJ Medical Center which is adjacent to Glen Oaks Village

1 Access-a-ride bus is stuck at another intersection

Earlier today - Fire Battalion Chief Car gets stuck in Glen Oaks as he travels behind a Fire Truck. The streets have not been plowed here.

City Sanitation Plow Truck broke down on Little Neck Parkway and needs to be pushed by another City Plow Truck.

On Monday afternoon an LIJ ambulance was stuck in Glen Oaks Village and had to be towed out.

However, I am happy to report that Councilman Mark Weprin and Assemblyman David Weprin's streets in front of their homes have been plowed to the asphalt.

I called Dist 13 sanitation a few minutes ago, spoke to the foreman and begged for snow plows tonight in our community. I will keep my fingers crossed.

This is a SNOW JOB and there is no accountability, only excuses.

Bob Friedrich
President, Glen Oaks Village

Mad as hell!

Click photo for story. Then head over to Miss Heather's and read some more.

LTVSquad sums it up perfectly with a photoshop.

The aftermath... death by neglect

From Eyewitness News:

An 8-year-old boy was killed in a fire that quickly moved through a two-story home in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn.

The fire broke out inside an East 57th Street home just after 6 a.m.

Fire trucks navigated their way on a plowed street, around at least one abandoned vehicle, to get to the building.

The 8-year-old boy was trapped in the house and pronounced dead at the scene. Two others were treated for minor injuries.

An off-duty Department of Sanitation worker driving to work was alerted to the blaze by a screaming woman who ran out of the house.

From the Daily News:

A blizzard baby delivered inside the lobby of a snowbound Brooklyn building died after an emergency call of a woman in labor brought no help for nine excruciating hours.

The baby's mother, a 22-year-old college senior, was recovering Tuesday night at Interfaith Medical Center, where her newborn was pronounced dead at 6:34 p.m. on Monday. That was 10 hours after the first 911 call from the bloody vestibule on Brooklyn Ave. in Crown Heights.

"No one could get to her. Crown Heights was not plowed, and no medical aid came for hours," said the student's mother.

By the time a horde of firefighters and cops finally trooped to her aid through snow-covered blocks, the baby was unconscious and unresponsive, sources said.

In Queens, a woman tried to reach 911 operators for 20 minutes Monday and then waited for three hours for first responders to arrive. By then, her mom had died, state Sen. Jose Peralta's office said.

Laura Freeman, 41, said her mother, Yvonne Freeman, 75, woke her at 8 a.m. because she was having trouble breathing. When the daughter couldn't get through to 911, she enlisted neighbors and relatives, who also began calling.

One of the callers reached an operator at 8:20 a.m., but responders stymied by snow-clogged streets didn't reach the Corona home until 11:05 a.m., said Peralta, who wants the death investigated.

"The EMS workers walked down the block trudging through snow," Freeman said. "They tried. I could tell by the look on their faces. I really would just like [Mayor] Bloomberg to admit that there were casualties."

From the NY Post:

Michael Bloomberg, who aspires to be known as the greatest mayor ever, was a tad testy yesterday.

Why? Because Mother Nature had snowed on his parade and -- as mayor -- he had to deal with it.

In the event, not very well.

Certainly, New Yorkers aren't terribly dazzled by the city's performance.

Indeed, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty -- the man in operational charge of the snowplows -- admitted the storm "got ahead of us."

"I'm angry, too," Hizzoner snapped when asked about the many streets that remained unplowed yesterday -- and about his seemingly cavalier take on it all on Monday.

Asked if he had any regrets, Bloomberg went sarcastic: "You know, I regret everything in the world."

Maybe even running for a third term?

Bottom line: It's the mayor's job to run the city; the buck stops with him.

New Yorkers are owed answers.

Maybe even an apology.

Meanwhile, let's hope the rest of the clean-up is smoother -- and speedier -- than it's been.

From Newsday:

As Nassau and Suffolk County officials Tuesday boasted one of their best responses ever to a big winter storm, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pleaded for residents' patience through another day of unplowed streets, crippled mass transit and a sometimes-overwhelmed emergency call system.

"It is a bad situation and we're working together to correct it," Bloomberg said at a news conference at the city's emergency center in Brooklyn. "Nobody suggests that this is easy. Nobody suggests that this is pleasurable. But I can tell you this, we are doing everything that we can think of, working as hard as we can."

No such plea was needed from Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano or Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who said nearly all major roadways in their jurisdictions were passable by midday Monday and there were no major glitches in storm cleanup. Even residential streets maintained by villages and townships appeared to have done better than those in The City That Never Sleeps, with five major towns reporting that all their roads were clear by noon Tuesday.

Toby concerned about pork in her hot dogs

From Forest Hills Patch:

The new year won't be happy for New York State's kosher food inspectors, as Gov. David Paterson decided this month to terminate them as of Jan. 1, 2011, as part of an effort to trim a budget deficit that will probably exceed $10 billion next fiscal year.

Paterson plans to slash about 95 percent of funding for the Division of Kosher Law Enforcement, which is part of the state's agriculture department. Currently, the state employs eight kosher food inspectors who carry out about 5,000 inspections a year, examining roughly 3,000 food sellers and manufacturers. All eight will lose their jobs.

However, local politicians and other members of the observant Jewish community railed against the decision, claiming that the state will lose its ability to ensure the integrity of kosher products, thus weakening kosher traditions and respect for kosher law.

"These cuts would undoubtedly mean that untrained Agriculture and Markets inspectors would monitor kosher food, resulting in little or no protection from fraudulent products," said State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. "Who is going to make sure that hot dogs containing pork products don't wind up next to the Hebrew National ones?"

There are about 82,000 kosher-certified products for sale in New York State, which is the world's largest manufacturer and consumer of kosher products outside of Israel. The state has enforced kosher inspections since 1915.

Interestingly, there is no Division of Halal Law Enforcement... Why was the state funding a religious practice in the first place?

Another state senator with a shady non-profit

From the NY Post:

State Sen. Eric Adams funneled $30,000 in taxpayer money to a nonprofit he founded, 100 Blacks Who Care, but doesn't know how, or if, the money was spent.

The Brooklyn group, which got $15,000 in 2008, didn't record the money, as required on its federal tax returns, or document any expenses.

"Once the money is turned over to an organization, we, as elected officials, can't get involved in how they use it. I don't know how it's used," Adams told The Post last week.

The Brooklyn Democrat said he couldn't remember, without checking his records, why he gave the organization the "member item" grants in the first place.

Adams approved a $20,000 member item for 100 Blacks in 2007, money that was to go toward equipment, including a slide projector, a laptop case, microphones and computer software, and $600 for staff members who conducted forums, according to state documents.

The state sent only $5,000 to the group, which never submitted an expense report to get the rest of the cash, according to an Education Department spokeswoman.

Adams secured the $10,000 member item the next year.

But, he said, he resigned from the organization before he took office and had nothing to do with its spending.

Bloomberg after welfare recipient's Lotto winnings

From Eyewitness News:

There is an update on a story Eyewitness News brought you more than a year ago about a former welfare recipient who won the lottery, only to have half his winnings taken away by the state.

Not only did he recently gain a major court victory in his battle to get back his prize money, his case could result in millions of dollars being returned to others.

Last time we heard from Walter Carver, he was taking on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city's team of attorneys.

He is suing the city for taking half of his $10,000 in lottery winnings to reimburse the state for money he received years ago while on welfare. Under New York law, the state is entitled to half the winnings of any welfare recipient. That, plus taxes left Carver with a little more than $1,000 the day he went to claim his prize.

Carver says the state and city have no right to his lottery winnings, since during the three years he was on welfare, he worked 36 hours a week for his checks, washing floors on the Staten Island ferries. He sued, arguing that taking his winnings is a a violation of the Fair Labor act.

The U.S. District court ruled he had no case and moved to dismiss it. That's when the former sergeant in the Vietnam war and his attorney fired back by filing an appeal.

A few weeks ago, Carver and his attorney found out they won the appeal. The U.S. Circuit Court ruled that the lower court's dismissal was in error.

Eyewitness News has learned that since 2002, the state has intercepted $33 million in lottery winnings from welfare recipients, many of them having worked for their checks just like Carver. It is for them, he says, that he continues his David and Goliath battle against the city and state.

Corrupt pols should lose pensions

From the Daily News:

State Controller Thomas DiNapoli has seen enough shenanigans, and now believes that corrupt state officials should lose their pensions.

DiNapoli told the Daily News on Wednesday that he will publicly push for a law that bars pols busted on felony corruption charges from getting their pensions.

DiNapoli said he changed his long-held opposition to such a law after a spate of indictments and convictions - including his predecessor, the disgraced Alan Hevesi - that have tarnished the Capitol in recent years.

"We don't have anything now that's a deterrent," DiNapoli said. "We need to do something to build in some kind of penalty to get people to think twice before they do some of those things."

He's now researching ways to crack down on current lawmakers from collecting pensions if they commit a crime.

At least 21 other states have laws stripping pensions of legislators convicted of felonies related to their official duties.

Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo supports such a law.

Admiral's Row building in danger of collapse

Photo from Gothamist

From the Daily News:

A historic Admiral's Row building could soon be gone for good if the feds keep neglecting it, Navy Yard officials and preservationists have warned.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. plans to restore the 1830s-era Timber Shed - one of two Admiral's Row buildings they agreed to save from the wrecking ball after a long fight.

But unless the 19th-century structure is stabilized, it could collapse this winter before the group gets its hands on the property, now owned by the National Guard.

And it's not just the Timber Shed that's at risk - a $60 million deal to develop the site with a supermarket and industrial space could also fall through if it crumbles, officials said.

"The building is in real distress. The roof is starting to fall in," said Navy Yard Development Corp. President Andrew Kimball. "If action isn't taken very, very soon to stabilize the building, it will collapse."

Part of the roof of the Timber Shed - which was used to store ships' masts while they cured and is believed to be the last such structure of its kind in the country - already caved in during a snowstorm last winter.

Experts say the building can still be saved, but could be beyond repair if it's damaged further. Navy Yard officials hope to rehab it along with one of the stately former officers' homes that make up the. The rest will be razed to make way for a ShopRite and industrial space.

Saving the shed is a required part of the city's development deal with the federal government, Kimball said, adding that demolishing it "could jeopardize the whole project."

The feds have begun the process to sell the land to the city, but it's expected to take at least until the end of next summer. In the meantime, the Navy Yard wants the National Guard to either stabilize the building or let the Navy Yard's own developer do the work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowplows, buses stuck in snow

Here's one for the records - College Pt Blvd and 7th avenue in College Point. This bus got stuck on it's route on Monday at 8am. There has been no other buses since, no plows to plow the bus routes, and this poor bastard has had to stay with his bus since then. What's happening in Queens? If there isn't a sanitation job action, what is the reason for this screw up? It's inexplicable otherwise. - Jack

Bloomberg's block one of first to be plowed

From the NY Times

At least one city street is looking positively spiffy. That's East 79th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues you're looking at, grayish asphalt positively gleaming (metaphorically speaking) in the afternoon shade.

The block happens to be the home of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg - those are the bay windows of his doublewide townhouse on the left.

East 79th, it should be noted, is also a thoroughfare for buses, so there's plenty of reasons to keep it extra-clear. - COREY KILGANNON and ANDY NEWMAN

Subway crime increases

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Straphangers may feel the city's subway system is a little less safe these days.

Subway crime is up 5 percent.

The increase could be age-related, as the NYPD says 15 percent of all subway crime is committed by teenagers.

The most common crimes include stealing cell phones and iPods.

Subway crime is still about 55 percent lower than it was just six years ago.

State forgets its history

From the NY Times:

It was anything but civil. On Jan. 7, 1861, Mayor Fernando Wood exhorted New York’s Board of Aldermen to declare the city’s independence from Albany and from Washington — a bold stroke of self-preservation that he maintained “would have the whole and united support of the Southern States.”

Two years later, the federal government diverted Union troops fresh from the Gettysburg battlefield to quell bloody draft riots in Manhattan, a defensive military maneuver that might have allowed Robert E. Lee to escape and prolonged the war.

If that is all New Yorkers remember about the Civil War, it is no wonder that the State Legislature balked at authorizing an official sesquicentennial commemoration.

“The Union does not win the war without New York,” said Kenneth T. Jackson, a historian at Columbia University who edited the Encyclopedia of New York City.

Yet earlier this year, the State Senate failed even to authorize a sesquicentennial commission, much less appropriate any money to support commemorations, exhibitions, retrospectives or any other events around the state to mark the start of the Civil War 150 years ago.

Johnny's living the high life

From the NY Post:

It's good to be the comptroller.

As the pension time bomb ticks, city Comptroller John Liu took in the Yankees' home opener, a whiskey tasting with the British consul- general and countless photo ops with community groups.

A 250-day schedule of the city's top financial watchdog -- obtained by The Post under the Freedom of In formation Law -- suggests he spends more time chasing his mayoral dreams than sniffing out budgetary waste and confronting the city's mounting financial troubles.

While Liu attended just one of the dozen meetings of the city's biggest pension fund in his first eight months in office -- and ducked out of that single NYCERS meeting after just 15 minutes -- he did find time to attend two stickball parties and a dragon-boat event, meet with foreign diplomats, take in a preview of MoMa's Matisse exhibit, drop by the grand opening of the restaurant Valentino's on the Green, and hit an endless circuit of galas, award dinners and press conferences.

In fact, Liu regularly showed up to as many as seven grip-and-grins a day that had little or nothing to do with his comptroller duties.

Elected comptroller last year, the Flushing-based Democrat is custodian of the city's five pension funds and their $100 billion in assets. Underfunded, snakebitten by years of stock-market losses and with mounting annual obligations -- $6.8 billion this year and expected to double in six years -- the pension system threatens to bankrupt the city.

"The absence of business groups, academics, and financial-service professionals on his schedule is startling," said a fellow Democrat who has met with Liu this year and reviewed his schedule. "He's showing no intellectual curiosity. There are a lot of labor meetings, but that's it."

Political observers say Liu's schedule is less about auditing agencies and managing pensions than about crafting a campaign strategy for a possible mayoral run in 2013.

In particular, it shows an interest in rallying support from gay and Irish New Yorkers -- two constituencies thought to support City Council speaker and potential mayoral-race rival Christine Quinn.

City studying stability of the Pavilion

From the Daily News:

A city study next year on the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair will analyze the structural stability of its foundation and three deteriorating towers, officials said yesterday.

The $300,000 review is expected to examine two key aspects of the Queens landmark: below-grade parts of its elliptical rotunda and its spaceship-like towers, which were immortalized in "Men in Black."

Preservationists figure the study - the second in two years on the decaying pavilion - will dictate whether the city reuses or demolishes what has become a borough symbol.

A city Parks Department spokeswoman said the analysis will provide "a fuller picture of the situation" and help the agency "determine the next steps."

The city hired the Dutch firm Arcadis to undertake the four-month project starting in March.

The study results will be crucial to the fate of the trio of towers that are visible from major highways.

Illegal dumping in Elmhurst

On Dec 23, an enormous amount of trash and cardboard was dumped by 85th Street off 57th Avenue. I took a picture of the U-HAUL truck but was unable to get the license plate number. Do you think you could alert the media of this problem and make it known throughout the neighborhood? I called 311 and faxed a note and two photos to city council member Koslowitz's office. This is getting out of hand, what else can I do?

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Jersey helps with City EMS calls

From CBS 2:

A winter storm that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on New York City is also whipping up criticism about how the city handled the response.

The heavy snow sent city emergency services into a nose dive, with ambulances and fire trucks trapped in snow and facing long delays. There was also bickering between the city and some unions over whether a snow emergency should have been called, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

Just how much did the city struggle in its response to medical and fire emergencies on Monday? So bad that CBS 2 has learned EMS crews from three counties in New Jersey had to rush to New York City’s aid Monday night.

Crews from Burlington, Somerset and Mercer counties in New Jersey arrived in New York City to help with the back load of calls – 20 crews were assigned to Queens and 20 ambulances went to Brooklyn.

Blocked Street Delays Firefighters:

"The city is going fine."

From the NY Observer:

"The world has not come to an end," Bloomberg said. "The city is going fine, Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves. Two people told me they went to the theater last night and afterwards tried to get into a restaurant and there was a waiting list. I think the message is, 'The city goes on.' Our Sanitation Department needs some help, they need cooperation. If you do that, things will get better much quicker."

Bloomberg encouraged New Yorkers to take mass transit and to continue to enjoy the city. But the mayor may have had his eyes on the tax revenues that will be lost if too many people stay home. His message was contradicted by some of those tasked with getting the city up and running again.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder said that the subways and buses will not be up to normal capacity, especially the lettered lines in Brooklyn and Queens, until some time tomorrow. And Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said it would take at least 24 hours for all of the city's roads to be plowed.

Well thank God. My main concerns were the Broadway shows and whether tourists were enjoying themselves.

(At 8:30, Mr. Bloomberg makes up a new name for Juniper Valley Park...)

MTA not going their way

From the Daily News:

Some 500 weary and frustrated straphangers have been stuck on a disabled A train in Queens for six hours after the blizzard sapped power to the third rail.

"This train is completely dead," the conductor announced at one point.

The Manhattan-bound subway, filled with passengers from Kennedy Airport who already had waited hours for flights that were ultimately canceled, came to an abrupt halt between the Aqueduct and Rockaway Blvd. stations. The train has since been moved to Aqueduct station, but the passengers have not been let out despite the desperate need for bathrooms, water and food.

"It wasn't like the storm just snuck up on us," said David Kelley, 25, who tried unsuccessfully to get to his security job at Kennedy before being forced to turn around. "They were aware ... They need to have a backup plan. This isn't a Third World country. This is New York City."

The passengers received some hope with an announcement that a rescue train was on the way -- only to hear a second announcement a short time later: "The rescue train is stuck."

A conductor estimated that 500 passengers are on the train.

Manhattan councilmember supports terrorist

From the Daily News:

A City Councilman Wednesday accused a colleague of pandering to a terrorist in a blistering email that evoked 9/11.

The flare-up started when Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) asked colleagues to support the upcoming parole hearing of Puerto Rican radical Oscar Lopez Rivera, a leader of the violent FALN.

Many of Rivera's fans consider him a political prisoner by supporters.

"Mr. Lopez was arrested in 1981 and is serving a sentence of 70 years for seditious conspiracy, for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico," Mark-Viverito wrote in an email to Council members Tuesday night.

Lopez Rivera's 29 years in prison is enough, Mark-Viverito wrote, adding: "He was not accused of causing harm or taking a life."

Queens Republican Dan Halloran went ballistic.

He said his "jaw hit the ground" when he read the note.

"I couldn't believe that somebody could seriously say that FALN was a non-violent organization," he said, noting its ties to a series of bombings in New York and Chicago.

He dashed off a skewering response that he copied to every member of the 51-person Council.

"This terrorist, like all terrorists, should rot in jail forever," he wrote. "It is only a shame the death penalty was not imposed to prevent him from becoming a threat in the future."

He added: "I guess the 9-11 bombers could make the same argument. They were merely responding to the 'evils' of the U.S. Will you be asking for them to be pardoned too?"

MTA budget bloat

From the Daily News:

Infighting and faulty oversight has pushed the MTA's big-ticket megaprojects nearly $2 billion over budget and up to five years behind schedule, a damning new report says.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's extension of the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal may not be completed until April 2018, five years late, the report from MTA Inspector Barry Kluger found.

The LIRR link, the Second Ave. subway and the Fulton Transit Center projects, are a combined $1.93 billion over budget.

"The failure to complete megaprojects on time and within budget has raised serious concerns...and indicates a need for more effective oversight," the report said.

Kluger's probers say managers bicker with consultants and the responsibilities of an outside engineering firm were left unclear. The first leg of the Second Ave. subway project is expected to be completed in 2017, about five years late.

The Fulton Transit Center is about two years behind schedule and is slated for a 2014 finish.

It was Nazli's job to get mosque approval

From the NY Post:

Dozens of emails between Mayor Bloomberg’s aides and developers of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero show the mayor’s office has gone out of its way to support the controversial plan – with one of his commissioners going so far as to ghost write a letter to a community board leader on the mosque’s behalf.

In one exchange Nazli Parvizi, commissioner of the city’s Community Affairs Unit, penned a favorable letter to Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin -- thanking her for being open-minded to the project – which has drawn scrutiny nationwide for its proximity to Ground Zero.

Parvizi emailed the drafted letter to the mosque’s imam and his wife – Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan – for their permission and ended it with Daisy’s first name.

She sent along the fax number and mailing address for CB1 – which voted in favor of the project in May – and offered any further help.

The letter thanked Menin personally for “giving us an audience to share our vision of the Cordoba Center in Manhattan,” referring to the planned project.

“We are incredibly saddened by the media distortion on what this project actually is and to whom it serves,” Pavizi went on to write.

Menin, a major proponent of the development, said she never received the letter.

Bloomberg has been a vocal fan of building the project – commonly referred to as Park 51 – near Ground Zero, decrying opponents as foes of religious freedom.

His spokesman Stu Loeser today said Parvizi’s job is “to help groups navigate city government, and from helping prepare for a Papal visit to extending approval of a Sukkah in a midtown Manhattan park, this kind of assistance is typical of its regular work.”

Nazli Parvizi only helps favored groups navigate city government. When it comes to Queens, she's more likely to throw up roadblocks than help. And she makes a 6-figure taxpayer funded salary for this.

Living in Jamaica building is no picnic

From the Daily News:

A rent-stabilized building in Jamaica has become hell on Earth for many of its tenants.

Residents of 88-22 Parsons Blvd. have battled vermin, sporadic heat and moldy apartments - and until yesterday many of the 37 units had little to no water.

The building's water pump was shut down Dec. 12 after a strange noise began emanating from the basement, she said.

The pump controls the water flow in each unit. After it was turned off, tenants on the building's top floors complained their water stream had been reduced to an anemic trickle.

"There's not enough water for the toilet to flush sometimes," said Asahafik Chowdhury, 16, who grew up in the building. "When you're taking a shower, water trickles out. Sometimes the water comes out discolored."

Tenants have complained that the building has been left to deteriorate since it came under new ownership in late 2007. It was bought by five corporations, including the New York Affordable Housing Associates III LLC, said city Department of Finance spokesman Owen Stone.

The facility now has 132 city Department of Housing, Preservation and Development violations. And there are another 24 active Department of Buildings violations against the facility, DOB officials said. This led HPD to sue the owners of the building in May to force them to make repairs.

Manhattan Project still haunts Ridgewood

From the Times Ledger:

A city agency announced that it found radioactive material in and around a Ridgewood building, and will continue to test the site. Area officials said that the material was left over from the World War II-era nuclear experiment known as the Manhattan Project.

Gary Giordano, district manager for Community Board 5, relayed the announcement at a meeting Dec. 15, but said the material is not dangerous.

A statement released by the city Department of Health also said that the material was not harmful.

The Manhattan Project was the code name for a secret military project responsible for developing atomic weapons during the war, and according to another board member many locations around the five boroughs participated.

The Ridgewood building, which houses auto repair and iron working shops between the addresses of 11-27 and 11-29 Irving Ave., was entirely occupied by the Wolff-Alport Chemical Corp. during the war.

When America joined the allies, the company — along with many others in the industrial sector — was asked to help with the war effort, according to Vincent Arcuri Jr., chairman of the community board.

“We were major participants in the Manhattan Project,” he said, adding that by farming out the projects to sites all over the city, the project’s secrets would be harder to steal.

The chemical company extracted minerals from a sandy substance called monazite in the 1940s and ’50s, according to a document released by the city. But along with the minerals, the company also extracted a radioactive element called thorium.

Workers got rid of the thorium by flushing it into the sewer system until the Atomic Energy Commission stopped the practice in 1947. Afterward, the atomic mineral was kept in solid form and sold to the government, the document said.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Watch the mayor blow his nose and cough

Mayor Bloomberg Updates Storm: - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg updated the blizzard on Sunday afternoon.

Bloomberg said, "This really is dangerous."

The 13 minute news conference was held in a Sanitation Department building on the West Side of Manhattan.

Bloomberg appeared to be under the weather, and coughed several times as he delivered his message.

The mayor urged people to stay home but said if New Yorker's needed to go out, to use mass transit.

"Fortunately, this is a week many people take the week off from work anyways so tomorrow there should be fewer people commuting," Bloomberg said. New York City schools were already closed on Monday for the winter break.

The NYPD was also being deployed to look for dangerous situations, such as stranded drivers and downed power lines.

The FDNY was also adding a fifth man to all trucks for the night.

Mayor Bloomberg asked citizens to shovel out any fire hydrants in front of their buildings to aid fire fighters in an emergency.

ER alternative popular

From Crains:

In New York City, new urgent-care centers are being built to meet demand after the shuttering of several hospitals. With the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and Lenox Hill Hospital are opening an urgent-care center next month at 121-A W. 20th St. It will temporarily be located in 3,625 square feet of cellar space currently occupied by Village Care of New York. The urgent-care center will occupy the space from 7 p.m. through 8 a.m., after Village Care ends its daily hours of operation. The two will never be open at the same time.

In November, North Shore-LIJ opened a $4.2 million, 6,675-square-foot urgent-care center on the site of a former St. John's Hospital-Queens clinic in the Rego Park section of Queens. The center has eight exam rooms; diagnostic equipment, including imaging and electrocardiogram devices; and laboratories. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, with shorter hours on weekends. The health system says the center should take the stress off its busy Forest Hills Hospital emergency department, where visits have spiked by 40% since the closures of St. Johns and Mary Immaculate hospitals.

NYPD to change policies on sex crimes

From Wall Street Journal:

A committee chosen by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to study how his department handles sex offenses has made six recommendations aimed at decreasing the number of misclassified complaints and increasing officer sensitivity when dealing with victims.

The committee, called the Sex Crimes Working Group, was convened in April after sex-crime victim advocate groups and rape counselors said they believed many rape and sexual-assault complaints were being classified as lesser crimes or reports weren't being taken at all.

Paul Browne, the NYPD's spokesman, said that over the past nine months the NYPD has conducted an audit of 1,922 sex-crime cases. Of those, police found the charges in 19 cases were misclassified and needed to be corrected, he said.

Mr. Browne said Mr. Kelly has "accepted all of the recommendations and is moving forward in coming weeks with expanded training and the assignment of the additional detectives to Special Victims."

According to a copy of the committee's report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the committee recommended that all sexual-assault complaints be assigned to Special Victims Division (SVD) detectives who are specially trained in sex-crime investigations. Currently, sexual-assault complaints are also handled by patrol officers.

The committee members believe the change will lead to a decrease in the number of sex-crime misclassifications, the recommendations state.

Bimmy's goes bankrupt

From Crains:

The holidays will shower a little less love on Bimmy's, the Long Island City, Queens-based gourmet sandwich maker whose slogan is “Food made with love.” The wholesaler, which sells its sandwiches at airport cafes and in other locations, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late last week, citing more than 50 creditors.

The 15-year-old business, which also has an outpost on Second Avenue in midtown, listed fewer than $50,000 in assets, along with liabilities totaling more than $500,000. In 2007, the sandwich maker had $10 million in revenue, though the recession has taken its toll. Thanks to a drop in sales at airports, where many of Bimmy's prepared foods are carried, the company has slashed employee headcount and tried to improve productivity over the last two years.

Neither Bimmy's founder, Elliott Fread, nor his attorney, were immediately available for comment.

Maybe it was all the campaign contributions.

They had fun while it lasted

From the Daily News:

Spend-happy Senate Democrats leave their two years in the majority in the same shape they helped leave the state - deep in debt.

The Senate Democratic conference exceeded its $29 million legislative budget by a whopping $7 million, or 24%, Senate sources said.

Salaries for Democratic staffers are now being paid with money left over from unspent money from previous budgets, they concede.

Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) called the excessive payouts "the height of irresponsibility" at a time the state is dealing with one of its worst fiscal crises ever.

"It goes along with the [billions of dollars] in new spending, taxes and fees they agreed to in the budget," Golden said. "The last two years they've spent like drunken sailors."

Senate Republicans, conversely, came in $2 million under the $23 million they had been allocated, sources said.

Senate Democratic officials confirmed the budget numbers, but had no comment.

Insiders say much of the Democratic overspending traces back to the leadership coup that paralyzed the House for a month last year.

After the Republicans claimed to have retaken the chamber, the Democrats wrested control back through a series of costly agreements.

Bayard balcony crap

Miss Heather featured a good one on her blog recently. Fox News couldn't resist picking it up!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wreath a victim of budget cuts

From the NY Post:

Bah! Humbug!

For as long as anyone can recall, a gigantic wreath adorned the Municipal Building across from City Hall each Christmas season.

Not this year.

Chalk up another victim of the city's severe financial crunch.

"Given the budget cuts announced in the fall, we could not justify the $3,500 expense," said Mark Daly, a spokesman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Officials said that the city used to order live greenery every year and that city workers would spend days assembling into a festive wreath that was 10 feet in diameter and weighed 2,000 pounds.

The cost of the raw materials consumed most of the expense, they said.

City officials might want to check the Web site of Christmas Tree for Me, which was offering 10-foot-diameter wreaths for $1,097, shipping included.

Photo from jenblossom on Flickr