Saturday, November 1, 2014

You'll probably still be overcharged for parking

From the Daily News:

A proposal to spare drivers extra charges if their time on a meter runs out shortly before parking regulations expire for the day is a nice idea, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the City Council on Wednesday.

The city has 10 million reasons why it can’t give motorists a break on parking meter charges.

A proposal to spare drivers extra charges if their time on a meter runs out shortly before parking regulations expire for the day is a nice idea, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the City Council on Wednesday.

But she said it would cost the city big bucks.

“While I sympathize with motorists who may be overpaying at our meters, this bill raises serious financial and technical challenges,” Trottenberg said — adding that the city could lose $8 million a year in parking revenue, plus $2 million to reprogram the meters.

Currently, drivers have to pay for an entire 15-minute increment, even if there are only a couple of minutes left until parking regulations end. Parking costs 25 cents for every 15 minutes at most outer-borough meters, and more in central Manhattan.

Under the bill, a driver who parked at 6:39, for instance, and paid for 15 minutes would have meter time extended until regulations end at 7, instead of having to drop in another quarter for the last six minutes.

Adams picking up where Vito left off

From Brownstoner:

Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams wants to revive the affordable housing development on a 30-acre piece of land known as the Broadway Triangle. Sandwiched between Bed Stuy, Williamsburg and Bushwick along Broadway near Flushing, the controversial development was halted by a judge’s injunction following a lawsuit by community groups arguing the plans and a rezoning of the area favored Hasidic families and discriminated against blacks and Latinos. In a written review of an unrelated project at 695 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Adams called on the de Blasio administration to resolve the legal dispute so housing can be built, Crain’s reported.

One thing that has changed: Former State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the king of affordable housing in the area, was heavily involved in the Triangle project, but is no longer in office. The nonprofit group he created to deliver services to constituents, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizen’s Council, which still exists and continues to be a big landlord and developer in Latino-heavy Bushwick, was one of two developers in the Triangle project, along with nonprofit partner United Jewish Organizations.

What the ballot questions are about

From Capital New York:


If approved: The constitutional amendment would establish a commission to redraw legislative and congressional district lines, as required by the federal government to account for population changes every 10 years. Currently, lawmakers themselves handle redistricting, a system good-government groups argue leads to gerrymandering. The new panel would include legislative appointees.


If approved: Also a constitutional amendment, this proposal would remove the requirement that bills are printed before lawmakers may vote on them. Lawmakers would still need access to the bills for three days before voting, absent a message of necessity from the governor, but the legislation could be distributed in electronic form instead.


If approved: The state would be authorized to borrow $2 billion for various education purposes. Proposed by Cuomo in his 2014 State of the State, the chief advertised purpose of the bond is for technology upgrades in school districts, which vary widely in terms of their resources. While the funds would cover infrastructure upgrades to support reliable, high-speed internet access and devices like laptops and tablets, there are other allowable uses. For example, school districts might use it to build or renovate pre-kindergarten classrooms, obtain space to eliminate trailers in overcrowded schools or to purchase high-tech security upgrades. The money would be distributed using existing school-aid formulas. Approval of the bond act would also authorize the state to borrow another $5 million for technology upgrades in schools that serve students with disabilities.

Click the link above to read more about them.

An indecent request?

From the Daily News:

As part of Mayor de Blasio’s drive to help Democrats retake the state Senate, a key de Blasio fundraiser hit up a city developer for a suggested contribution of $50,000, an email obtained by the Daily News shows.

The solicitation made the developer “feel uncomfortable” in part because he deals with the city on permitting and other land-use issues, a person who spoke with him said.

“He wasn’t sure how to play it because he has business with the city,” the source said. “While he likes the mayor, he doesn’t feel the Senate Democrats are friendly to the real estate industry.”

It was not immediately clear Wednesday if the developer, who did not wish to be identified, made the donation. His name is not listed among the donors whose contributions already have been reported to the state Board of Elections.

Earlier Wednesday, The News reported that another major player in the city's business community, supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis, gave $50,000 to the Democrats’ cause after de Blasio asked him for help.

Catsimatidis said he ponied up because he does business in the city and “I just wanted to show an indication I was willing to work with” de Blasio.

De Blasio is leading a coalition of unions and activists fighting for Democratic control of the Senate. The solicitations show the extent to which the mayor is putting his political and fund-raising muscle behind the effort.

Technology can't keep up with ridership

From PIX11:

The New York City subway system, which celebrated it’s 110th birthday this week, is experiencing record ridership. More than 6 million daily rides were reported not once, but five times in September.

For many trying to get to work or around town, that means waiting for trains and buses that arrive already filled to capacity.

MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast, asked about peak capacity by PIX11 News Reporter Greg Mocker, said the increases have been on the weekend, evenings and during the afternoon.

“The first place where we are going to see a crush, literally and figuratively, is in the rush hour,” Chairman Prendergast said. “We do need to be able to respond to that.”

The subway system operates with a signal system that was built, in many cases, decades ago. The MTA’s latest investment plan calls for expansion and new technology.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from Queens Crap!

Tweeding simply explained!

"These are the people who make sure we get nothing but then turn around and have us to vote for them again."

Van Bramer reveals what he really thinks about Queens

Hey, have you heard? Bikeshare was bailed out by a developer, and oh boy, Jimmy Van Bramer can't contain his excitement!

From NY1:

"This literally puts Queens on the map. There will be bikeshare stations. The app will send people to Queens. People will be encouraged to take their bikes to Queens. They'll be able to see our cultural institutions. They will spend money in our restaurants, in our shops in our stores."

I think he needs to be schooled on what the term "literally" means. Queens has plenty of things that have already "put it on the map", sir. In addition, cabs, buses and subways have come here for decades, and everyone that has wanted to get here has figured out how to do so without mounting a clunky blue mobile advertisement.

Rockaway homeless shelter nixed by DHS

From Capital New York:

One day after Councilman Donovan Richards asked the de Blasio administration to reconsider opening a men's homeless shelter in his Rockaway district, the Department of Homeless Services said it has scrapped the plan.

“After hearing the special concerns of Rockaway residents, D.H.S. will not be siting a second shelter on the peninsula,” Chris Miller, a spokesman for D.H.S. said in a statement.

In a letter to the administration this week, Richards cited concerns over the proposed shelter’s proximity to three schools. More specifically, he said his Queens district's “food, transit and infrastructure desert” did not have the resources to serve an increase in population.

From the Daily News:

The city had sought to transform the former Rockaway Manor on Beach 8th St. into a shelter for 100 adult men, but the proposal infuriated local officials who pointed out a new shelter was just been opened on the peninsula.

The former Daytop Center in Arverne started taking in homeless families over the summer.

Queens elected officials, including Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and City Councilman Donovan Richards, met with Mayor de Blasio and aides at City Hall to discuss the proposed homeless shelter and the Rockaway ferry, which is slated to make its last run.

“We are extremely disappointed at the decision to discontinue ferry service to the Rockaways,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for a ferry that the Rockaways deserves and need to connect the peninsula to lower Manhattan. We are, however, very thankful that Mayor De Blasio has decided to withdraw plans to place a homeless shelter on Beach 8th Street.

So a couple of rookie pols got a homeless shelter in their district nixed, while in Glendale and Elmhurst, the pols who have decades of experience between them can't (or more likely won't) do the same for their constituents?

Very interesting!

How's this for spooky?

From WPIX:

A giant drill bit narrowly missed drilling right through a packed subway car in Queens Thursday morning.

The machinery, being used for the East Side Access project, was being operated by a contractor above ground near the 21st St. Station in Long Island City.

The drill bit, measuring 10 inches in diameter, broke through the tunnel’s roof at about 11:45 a.m., grazing the top and side of an ‘F’ train with approximately 800 people aboard, according to the MTA.

No one was injured, and passengers were led to the station via a relief train.

Construction work has since been suspended in the area pending an investigation by the MTA.

DA ordered to stop trying to trick people

From the NY Times:

New York’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that a script prosecutors in the Queens district attorney’s office had read to criminal defendants before they were arraigned so undercut the Miranda warning that it violated their constitutional rights.

In a 6-to-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals found that the way pre-arraignment interviews were conducted in two cases gave the message to the defendants, “for all intents and purposes, that remaining silent or invoking the right to counsel would come at a price — they would be giving up a valuable opportunity to speak with an assistant district attorney, to have their cases investigated or to assert alibi defenses.”

The ruling was a milestone in a long-running fight between the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, and civil libertarians over the office’s practice of interrogating people accused of crimes one last time before they appear before a judge and are assigned a lawyer.

Mr. Brown, in a statement, said that to satisfy the court, his office had already cut the lines from the script used at the interviews. But he defended the program, saying it had been successful not only in winning convictions, but also in weeding out weak cases. He vowed to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court.

Writing for the majority, Judge Susan Phillips Read said that statements in the script like “give me as much information as you can,” “this is your opportunity to tell us your story” and “you have to tell us now” directly contradicted the later warning that they had the right to remain silent.

“By advising them that speaking would facilitate an investigation, the interrogators implied that these defendants’ words would be used to help them, thus undoing the heart of the warning that anything they said could and would be used against them,” Judge Read wrote.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Woodhaven businesses pissed off about tickets

From WPIX:

A group of small business owners in Woodhaven, Queens says the New York City Sanitation Department inspectors are playing dirty.

The enforcement agents, they say, are slapping the businesses with $100 tickets in the middle of the night.

Last year, Bill de Blasio, while he was still Public Advocate, called the middle of the night ticketing “unreasonable.” So why is it still going on? Mayor de Blasio refuses to answer. His office referred us to the Sanitation Department , which also declined to address our questions.

Jamaica getting 3 new hotels

From DNA Info:

A Flushing-based developer who recently plunked down $22 million in cash to buy the largest property in Downtown Jamaica, is planning to build three Marriott-brand hotels in the area, he said.

Chris Xu, who built several hotels near LaGuardia Airport and in Chinatown, is also bringing apartments and a supermarket to the neighborhood.

Two of new hotels — Courtyard and Fairfield Inn and Suites — would be located in one building planned on Archer Avenue, near 149th Street, Xu, president of the United Construction & Development Group Corp., said.

The 16-story building would contain more than 330 hotel rooms (Courtyard would feature 224 rooms and Fairfield would have 114), he said.

Xu is also planning to build another hotel — SpringHill Suites — on Queens Boulevard, between Jamaica and Hillside avenues, he said.

That building would be six stories high and would feature 160 rooms, he said.

Queensboro Hill nightmare continues

"Hey Crappy,

In less than one year, a third oversized house is now being built on 56th Road in Queensboro Hill. The second house I wrote to you about a few months ago is nearly complete (it went up so fast I could have swore they brought in some Amish men to build it).

It looks like all the faux grandstanding "Mr. Useless" Peter Koo did (along with the even more useless Nily Rozic) just energized another resident to build this skyscraper-esque monstrosity in-between quaint row houses. Once this third one goes up, the block is officially ruined. The aesthetic of the neighborhood means nothing to many of the new residents in the area.

I've attached pictures of the house being prepared for demolition, along with images of the nearly completed second building. You can see the dramatic difference. It's astonishing to many residents how rapidly and dramatically the neighborhood has gone down hill and turned into the wild west of overdevelopment. RIP Queensboro Hill." - anonymous

Nice going, NYC!

From the Village Voice:

Federal authorities say they've uncovered a long-running Medicaid scam that extracted millions in fraudulent gains, and was run by...New York City.
A civil fraud lawsuit announced on Monday alleges that the city, through its Medicaid biller, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), used a sophisticated scheme of computerized fraud to violate Medicaid reimbursement rules, leading to millions in illegitimate payments.

The allegations, made by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, are complicated -- the city is accused of circumventing Medicaid rules in order to speed program payments for low-income children with developmental disabilities.

In order for Medicaid to cover such programs, the city first had to show that private insurers had already turned the claims away. The alleged scheme essentially made it look as if the city had submitted the payments for private reimbursement, when in fact it never had.

Among other aspects of the scheme, the vendor, CSC, allegedly programmed its computer systems to automatically insert a fake insurance policy number -- "999-999-999" -- with many of the claims submitted to Medicaid. The fake number ensured that every claim was immediately denied by private insurers, which got the Medicaid ball rolling much faster, expediting payments to the city.

There was no personal gain involved; the charging documents don't allege that anyone was, for example, pocketing these funds. They were going where they were ultimately supposed to -- to poor children who needed help.

Even so, Bharara, the federal government's chief law enforcement officer in the region, says the scheme was illegal. He's seeking "treble" damages from the city -- a fine of three times the sum of the ill-gotten gains -- but doesn't specify the amount fraudulently obtained, beyond saying that it was "millions" of dollars.

No one's home at the Pied a Terres

From the NY Times:

The question of who, if anyone, lives in the multimillion-dollar condominiums being built across Manhattan grows more intriguing with every new tower crane that hoists glass slabs and concrete blocks hundreds of feet into the sky.

New Yorkers want to know: Who are these people who hide behind limited liability companies while shelling out a fortune for a condominium — who see the apartment as an investment or even just a vanity play, and who are too busy sunning in St. Bart’s or skiing in Gstaad to actually show up and shop at the local market or pay for tickets to a Broadway show?

Many well-heeled New Yorkers are frustrated that while a large share of their income goes to taxes of all kinds, their non-New Yorker neighbors down the street pay a comparatively minuscule amount in property taxes. And an evening stroll through Midtown is starting to feel like the Wild West after the gold rush, with buildings like the Plaza — officially the Plaza Pied a Terre Hotel Condominiums — sitting mostly dark. It wouldn’t surprise some of us to see tumbleweed blow by the Apple cube on Fifth Avenue.

As it turns out, this is not just hyperbole.

In a three-block stretch of Midtown, from East 56th Street to East 59th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue, 57 percent, or 285 of 496 apartments, including co-ops and condos, are vacant at least 10 months a year. From East 59th Street to East 63rd Street, 628 of 1,261 homes, or almost 50 percent, are vacant the majority of the time, according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

“My district has some of the most expensive land values in the world — I’m ground zero for the issue of foreign buyers,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, whose district includes Midtown. “I met with a developer who is building one of those billionaire buildings on 57th Street and he told me, ‘Don’t worry, you won’t need any more services, because the buyers won’t be sending their kids to school here, there won’t be traffic.’ ”

The developer told her that the buyers basically would never be here, Ms. Krueger said. “He said it like this was a positive thing,” she added. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Well as far as providing services, that is a positive thing. As far as keeping cost of living reasonable, it's not.