Sunday, September 19, 2021

Governor Hochul will continue Cuomo's High Line boondoggle

Cuomo's proposed extension of the High Line. Hochul has not discussed the second phase 


The Empire State Development Corporation — the state's main development arm — will pay $20 million of the estimated $50 million price tag, a spokesperson for Hochul confirmed. The rest will be privately funded by Brookfield Properties and Friends of the High Line, with the Port Authority contributing the land.

Like much of Cuomo's developer-friendly plans for Midtown, the extension has attracted scrutiny. It will bring the High Line directly into the arms of Brookfield's new seven-million-square-foot mixed-use development, likely benefitting the developer substantially.

In a statement, Brookfield Properties Executive Vice President Sabrina Kanner praised the "vibrant gateway connecting Moynihan Train Hall directly to the entirety of the High Line and the new West Side."  

The state has also been accused of prioritizing the posh park, while ignoring critical safety and quality-of-life issues on the pedestrian-hostile streets below. The Port Authority has long used the area for construction staging and parking.

de Blasio yearly mayoral shitshow report released



NY Post 

New York City has come undone in Bill de Blasio’s final year as mayor, with even his big-ticket initiatives proving disastrous while Hizzoner continued to focus on his public image with daily briefings about a pandemic even he acknowledged the city was ready to put in the rear-view, stunning new statistics show.

The Mayor’s Management Report, released late Friday and covering the period from July 1, 2020 and June 30 of this year, reveals a city that is fundamentally unsafe due to police cuts and failure to enforce laws already on the books — all against the backdrop of a big dip in school enrollment amid a push to scrap advanced classes for gifted children.

The revelations in the report, prepared by City Hall, include:

  • Major felony crimes increased for a third consecutive year
  • City streets — the mayor’s No. 1 priority under his keystone initiative, “Vision Zero,” are less safe as 275 people – including 133 pedestrians – were killed in traffic accidents, a 30-percent jump over the previous year and the most since 2014
  • Meanwhile, the NYPD managed to arrest just 13 drivers for striking pedestrians with their cars, despite recording nearly 1,800 such collisions. And the number of speeding and failure-to-yield summonses issued by cops dropped by more than 27 percent and more than 63 percent, respectively.
  • Despite the mayor’s frequent pronouncements about the urgency of fighting climate change, the city added no new Select Bus Service miles this past fiscal year – and the number of new bike lanes was the lowest since 2016.

Presiding over the chaos is de Blasio, whose daily briefings, begun amid the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, have often devolved into sideshows seemingly aimed at bolstering his personal brand as he weighs his political future — to the point of reportedly mulling a run for governor next year.

Chancellor Porter allows assistant prinicpals who fostered culture of cheating at Maspeth High School to remain at their positions

NY Post 

 Let them work at Taco Bell.

Maspeth High School created fake classes, awarded bogus credits, and fixed grades to push students to graduate — “even if the diploma was not worth the paper on which it was printed,” an explosive investigative report charges.

Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir demanded that teachers pass students no matter how little they learned, says the 32-page report by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, Anastasia Coleman.

“I don’t care if a kid shows up at 7:44 and you dismiss at 7:45 — it’s your job to give that kid credit,” the principal is quoted as telling a teacher.

Abdul-Mutakabbir told the teacher he would give the lagging student a diploma “not worth the paper on which it was printed” and let him “have fun working at Taco Bell,” the report says.

The teacher “felt threatened and changed each student’s failing grade to a passing one.”

The SCI report confirms a series of Post exposes in 2019 describing a culture of cheating in which students could skip classes and do little or no work, but still pass. 

Kids nicknamed the no-fail rule “the Maspeth Minimum.”

Chancellor Meisha Porter, who received the SCI report on June 4, removed Abdul-Mutakabbir from the 1,200-student school and city payroll in July pending a termination hearing set for next month.

But she left Maspeth assistant principals Stefan Singh and Jesse Pachter — the principal’s chief lieutenants — on the job.

Singh and Pachter executed the principal’s orders, informants said, and helped create classes to grant credits to students who didn’t have to show up — because the classes weren’t even held, according to the report. 

Abdul-Mutakabbir, Singh and Pachter all refused to answer questions by investigators, citing a right to remain silent, SCI says.

In addition, three teachers in the principal’s “clique” – a favored few who followed orders and got lucrative overtime assignments — also remain.

Great Whitey Way

 43rd Street between 34th and 35th avenues was dubbed Edward Charles "Whitey" Ford Way. 

NY Post

It’s another win for Whitey Ford!

The late, great Hall of Fame Yankee pitcher out of Astoria, Queens, was celebrated Saturday afternoon with a neighborhood street renamed in his honor.

Friends, family and elected officials beamed as 43rd Street between 34th and 35th avenues was co-named Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford Way.

Nicknamed “The Chairman of the Board” for remaining calm under pressure, Ford was raised in Astoria and spent his entire 16-year MLB career with the Bronx Bombers on his way to becoming a 10-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion.

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer — who facilitated the tribute — was joined by state Sen. Michael Gianaris, the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association and the Friends of Whitey Ford Field for the ceremony, which took place on the southwest corner of 43rd Street and 34th Avenue.

The Yankee great — who was born in Manhattan and graduated from the Manhattan High School of Aviation Trades — cut his teeth playing sandlot ball with the Thirty-fourth Avenue Boys Club of Astoria.

Ford went 236-106 during the 1950s and ’60s for the Yanks, who signed the crafty 5-foot-10 left-hander out of high school in 1947 for $7,000, outbidding the crosstown New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

It only took five days

The entrance to Horan School at 55 E 120 St. in East Harlem.

NY Post 

After being open only a week, a city public school in East Harlem is the first to cancel in-person classes, after a COVID-19 outbreak among staffers.

Nineteen people tested positive as of Friday at P.S. 79 on East 120th Street, prompting officials to switch over to remote education, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer tweeted.

“My understanding is there are enough cases of COVID that the [Department of Education COVID-19] Situation Room has decided to close the school for 10 days until Sept. 28,” Brewer told The Post.

In addition to 19 “confirmed” cases, 45 others were quarantined, the City Council’s education chair, Mark Treyger, added.

The DOE said all of the cases were among staff.

de Blasio's DHS shuttled homeless people from hotels to shelters despite advisory from de Blasio's health department about resurgent pandemic


City Limits 

Back in May, as New York was on the precipice of reopening after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions, the city submitted plans to the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) seeking permission to begin transferring around 9,000 homeless adults from hotel rooms back to the group shelters the city had used before the pandemic.

The rooms, rented by the city at the start of the crisis at some 60 hotels across the boroughs, were intended to help curb the spread of the virus by providing shelter residents with access to more private space instead of the often crowded, dormitory-style sites that make up the shelter system.

The effort worked—just 0.4 percent of the city’s total COVID-19 cases have been among New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, officials say—but their use was always intended to be temporary, Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly stressed.

In seeking the state’s permission to cease using the hotel sites, the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS) and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) submitted detailed plans to the state on how it would do so in order to minimize COVID risks, including meeting a series of specific criteria laid out by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

But a month later, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines in light of increasing vaccination rates, meaning the city no longer needed state permission to move forward on the hotel phase-outs. Those earlier required plans, a spokesperson for the former governor told City Limits at the time, were “moot.”

In the months since, the city has pushed forward on the controversial hotel transfers, despite legal challenges that temporarily halted the practice this summer. And the moves have been carried out without needing to meet the requirements the city set for itself in those May plans sent to the OTDA, since it was no longer required by the state to do so.

But those earlier draft plans, obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request by advocates from the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project and shared with City Limits, offer a look at the city Health Department’s initial recommendations for the moves, at odds with how the actual transfers have been carried out since.

The letter city agencies sent to OTDA on May 18 includes a list of Health Department “shelter reopening metrics,” and recommends that shelter populations should “remain in hotels until the criteria laid out in this document are met.” The criteria included, among other things, that the 7-day average hospital admission threshold for COVID-like illnesses remain below 50 cases per day, and that the city sees “no unforeseen changes in the COVID-19 disease landscape” such as “a major increase in COVID-19 variants of concern.”

The Health Department also recommended that the hotel-to-shelter relocations should be “discontinued (if not yet complete) or there should be a return to the use of hotels” if those factors are no longer met. The city’s average COVID-19 hospitalization admissions began to surpass that 50-case threshold beginning in July; it was 54 on Thursday, city data shows. Meanwhile, the highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for 98 percent of positive city COVID tests over the last four weeks, what advocates argue constitutes a major change in the city’s “COVID-19 landscape” that the DOHMH warned about in its draft recommendations.



 NY Post

 Yes, Queens!

Despite consecutive quarters of plummeting rents across the city following the March 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for certain landlords.

Queens has seen its highest-priced tier of rentals — or homes priced more than $2,500 per month — recover 99% of its pre-pandemic highs, according to just-released data from real-estate portal StreetEasy. That makes this borough’s high-end rental market the first in New York City to reach recovery in the wake of COVID.

It means that renters have flocked to prime Queens neighborhoods, including Long Island City and Astoria, instead of normally more expensive Manhattan and Brooklyn — ratcheting up housing demand in the process and making luxury property landlords raise their prices, StreetEasy adds. 

But for many, the rent can be too damn high. The borough’s lower- and mid-tier rental homes are far from their pre-pandemic levels, with StreetEasy adding that prices have only recently begun to recover — and are doing so slowly. That means, depending on renters’ budgets, there are still deals to be had. 

Overall, when compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens still remains relatively more affordable. Queens’ median rent was $2,200 in July — whereas for Manhattan it was $3,000 and, for Brooklyn, $2,600. The report does not mention The Bronx or Staten Island.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Two more luxury public housing towers being squeezed in on Hunters Point

Rendering of Gotham Point South Tower - Courtesy of VUW Studio 


The Gotham Organization and RiseBoro Community Partnership have revealed a collection of new renderings for Gotham Point, a dual-tower residential project located within the Hunters Point South mega-development. The property is positioned on Parcel F and Parcel G of Hunter’s Point South, which is among the largest mixed-use residential developments in Long Island City, Queens.

This latest component will include 1,132 rental apartments, 75 percent of which will debut as affordable housing units and age-restricted homes for seniors. Additional components include a publicly accessible underground parking garage, ground-floor retail in the north tower, and a 3,000-square-foot community facility in the south tower. The latter will debut as a new permanent home for Flux Factory, a non-profit organization that provides affordable exhibition and collaborative spaces for new and emerging artists.

“After an incredibly difficult year, New York City seniors deserve to have access to affordable homes with integrated services,” said Scott Short, CEO of RiseBoro. “Gotham Point accomplishes that goal within an iconic project on the LIC waterfront. We look forward to bringing this critical resource to the community and sustaining it for years to come.”

 The south tower at Parcel G topped out earlier this year at 33 stories and is expected to debut in late 2021. The north tower, or Parcel F, will stand 57 stories above ground and is expected to open in 2022. When complete, the project will yield 847 rent-stabilized units with income limits ranging from $15,806 to $137,940 for an individual. Income limits for a four-person household range from $23,692 to $196,845.

A total of 98 homes will be set aside for low-income seniors in an 11-story dedicated wing with its own personal lobby space, a lounge and laundry room on each floor, a library, and a community room with a shared pantry. RiseBoro will be leading special programming for the senior community. These residences will be available to individuals across income levels from $15,806 to $85,920.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

What was that about vaccinations again de Blasio?

 PIX 11 News


Oh, I've been waiting to use this and to use it this soon is the chef's kiss

how's that key to NYC working y'all

Baited, switched, fisted


 The pandemic-era rental market in Manhattan gave people the chance of a lifetime to move into the apartment of their dreams. Ten months is all they got.

Landlords are jacking up rents — often by 50, 60 or 70% — on tenants who locked in deals last year when prices were in freefall. Some renters are being forced to move at a time when the market is roaring back to nearly pre-pandemic levels. And concessions are slipping away.

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Andy Kalmowitz didn’t think twice in November before signing a 10-month lease on a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the desirable East Village neighborhood for $2,100 a month. When it was time to renew, his landlord asked for $3,500, a 67% increase.

“When I asked why, they said, ‘It’s a different world,’” said Kalmowitz, 24, who works in TV and had moved from New Jersey.

Across New York, landlords last year were forced to cut rents and offer freebies when the Covid-19 pandemic all but shut down the city, scattering residents who were looking for additional space or more-affordable housing.

Now the market has rebounded, and people appear to be flooding back: Large employers are demanding people return to the office, universities are ramping up in-person teaching and New York City’s public-school system — the largest in the country — has reopened without a remote-learning option.

“More are moving back from out of town, after being away quarantining for the past 18 months,” said Bill Kowalczuk, a broker at Warburg Realty. “There are more inquiries, more apartments renting within a week or less of the list date, and more prices going over the asking price than I have ever seen.”

The median asking rent in Manhattan rose to $3,000 in July, the highest it’s been since July 2020 and up from the pandemic low of $2,750 in January 2021, according to StreetEasy.

Redeploy the police to calm traffic


Manhattan Institute 

In the race to reform policing, a few advocates and politicians have recommended that New York City police be removed from traffic enforcement. State Attorney General Letitia James, for example, concluded that the NYPD should cease conducting noncriminal traffic enforcement in her review of the department’s handling of the George Floyd protests. Brad Lander, a member of the city council and erstwhile safe-streets advocate, proposed “removing NYPD officers from routine traffic stops” for infractions such as speeding. He suggested that they “only enforce driving behavior that visibly and immediately endangers public safety (e.g., drag-racing, visibly erratic, aggressive, intoxicated, or road-rage driving).” Others have recommended assigning the traffic-enforcement function to a new, unarmed enforcement agency, or have suggested increasing the use of automated enforcement tools like speed cameras to replace police.

These ideas are ill-considered and dangerous. Police traffic enforcement saves lives, reduces street disorder, and plays an important role in criminal investigations. The events of 2020, which disrupted the NYPD’s traffic enforcement, laid these facts bare.


The primary purpose of the NYPD in enforcing the traffic laws is to reduce crash-related injuries and fatalities. Before the pandemic, the department held regular “TrafficStat” meetings to ensure that its 77 precincts focused on this goal. These meetings, modeled after the department’s CompStat management accountability system, required precinct executives to meet with department leaders at police headquarters and explain their precincts’ responses to traffic safety problems. At these meetings, department bureau heads asked pointed questions to precinct executives about their enforcement at collision-prone locations, drunk-driving arrests, and approach to safety education and outreach. This forum ensured that officers enforce the right violations in the right places while focusing on the overarching goal of the department’s traffic strategy: injury reduction on the roads.

This process has been effective in focusing enforcement on violations that endanger road safety. In 2019, the department wrote 747,343 tickets for moving violations. Of those, 90.4% were for “hazardous violations”—offenses such as speeding, texting, and failing to yield to pedestrians. These are the violations that elevate the risk of crashes and injuries, according to department data. Equipment violations, which reformers often argue function as pretexts for police harassment, [5] accounted for just 3.1% of the tickets issued. These violations include minor infractions such as nonfunctioning lights. Given limited time and resources for traffic enforcement, it’s a department priority to concentrate its efforts on offenses that will reduce injuries.

This focus matters. There is considerable evidence that police traffic enforcement reduces crash injuries and fatalities. When the City of Fresno Police Department increased the staffing of its traffic division from 20 to 84 officers in 2003, officers wrote 229% more traffic citations between 2002 and 2004. Injuries from collisions dropped 9.3%, and fatal collisions fell 42%. In the surrounding county, enforcement dropped 6%, while rates of injury collisions and fatal collisions did not change. Research published in The Lancet showed that traffic convictions reduce drivers’ relative risk of a crash in the period following their conviction. Another study showed that after 35% of the Oregon State Police were laid off in 2003, the subsequent drop in enforcement led to 11% and 17% increases in injury and fatality crashes, respectively.

This is consistent with recent experience in New York City. In March 2020, the department shifted resources after the onset of the pandemic. A substantial percentage of officers also fell ill to Covid-19. Traffic enforcement plummeted. In April, officers wrote 14,290 tickets for moving violations, 85.2% fewer tickets than the 96,559 tickets they wrote in April 2019. In May, the department redeployed officers as a result of the protests following the murder of George Floyd. The agency did not return to regular levels of enforcement for the rest of the year.

From March 12 to December 31, 2020, the NYPD wrote 52.9% fewer tickets than it did during the same period in 2019. During that same period, fatal crashes spiked 16%, resulting in 31 more traffic deaths, compared with the previous year. In the first quarter of 2021, traffic enforcement was down 37.2%, when compared with the same period the previous year—and fatal crashes were up 9.7%, compared with the first quarter of the previous year. The change in traffic dynamics, however, confounds any analysis of this correlation. Mode share (travel by public transportation, automobiles, bicycles, and ferries) changed, vehicle miles traveled fell, and motor vehicle speeds increased. The increase in fatal crashes argues for more enforcement of dangerous driving behavior, not less.

The contemporaneous increase in street disorder in NYC reinforces this point. There have been several anecdotal reports of increased reckless driving and other road incivilities. Complaints of drag racing, in particular, increased during this period. After March 12, 2020, 911 and 311 complaints involving drag racing spiked 226%, with 8,450 total complaints for the rest of the year, versus 2,587 during the same period in 2019. All these behaviors demand police traffic enforcement.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Queens City Council crony acts as proxy for Brooklyn City Council crony to approve luxury public housing tower in her district 

Brooklyn Paper

 The City Council moved to approve the controversial 840 Atlantic Avenue rezoning this week, despite its failure to gain support from Community Board 8.

The City Council Land Use Committee voted to approve the application — which will allow for an 18-story building on the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic Avenues in Prospect Heights that currently hosts a McDonalds drive-through — on Sept. 13, leaving only the full City Council to vote before it’s written into law. 

An updated version of the proposal was presented to and approved by the community board’s land use committee on Sept. 2. The latest version of the proposal reduces the number of affordable units to about 54, but cements their affordability at a deeper level under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program at option 3. It also reduces the building’s bulk by about 10 percent. 

The proposal to erect a dense mixed-use building at the corner of the two heavily trafficked thoroughfares was rejected numerous times by the boards land use committee, and by Borough President and would-be mayor Eric Adams, who requested a less dense alternative be proposed.

Committee members repeatedly raised concerns that the development was out of step with the long-planned M-Crown rezoning, which seeks to rezone the industrial corridors of Prospect and Crown Heights for development while retaining jobs in the area. The developer, Atlantic-Vanderbilt Holdings LLC, was asked by board members to resubmit their application.

Community boards play an advisory role in the Uniform Land Use Review Process, but they must officially weigh in before a project can move forward. 

The exact identity of Atlantic-Vanderbilt Holdings LLC remains murky, though Simon Duschinsky of the Rabsky Group development firm is known to be a passive investor in the project. 

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who represents the area and has the most influence over land use decisions, brokered a meeting between select committee members and the developer, which led to the most updated version of the proposal being presented to the committee and approved. 

Neither Cumbo nor any of her staffers participated in the meetings, which were attended solely by committee members and representatives for the developer, according to the source.

A statement read by City Council Land Use Chair Francisco Moya during a Sept. 10 meeting of the land use subcommittee indicated her support, though Cumbo has not attended any of the public meetings regarding the project. 

“840 Atlantic Avenue presents a rare opportunity to secure truly affordable housing and an affordable long term home for the beloved arts organizations and job-generating commercial space on a site that is currently home to only a parking lot and fast food restaurant,” the statement reads. 

A representative for Cumbo did not return a message seeking further comment. 


Jimmy Van Bramer wants to make government approved public performance obstructions a permanent thing


City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer introduced legislation (Intro. 2398) that would make the temporary Open Culture permit program permanent and year-round.

More than 220 Open Culture permits have been granted since the program’s inception, with more than 450 outdoor performances and rehearsals taking place across the five boroughs so far.

The program was created in response to traditional performance venues closing their doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its launch, the Open Culture program has become a vital tool for cultural institutions, performance venues and artists to share their work with the public, earn revenue and activate city streets with music, dance and performance art.

“By making the Open Culture program a permanent fixture in New York City, we will not only provide an additional lifeline for our artists, performers and vital cultural organizations, it will also create an exciting new norm for diverse performances throughout the city,” Van Bramer said.

In addition to making the Open Culture program permanent, his legislation will expand eligibility requirements to allow more arts organizations and artists to apply, and will also increase the number of available streets for permits.

The bill also creates a new annual reporting requirement, evaluating benefits and challenges of the program, potential funding, and production support from the city, as well as reviewing applicant feedback.

“Open Culture is an important first step using streets in every neighborhood for culture of every kind,” New Yorkers for Culture & Arts Executive Director Lucy Sexton said. “With more support for the artists bringing music, dance, words and art to our neighborhoods, the program could show the world that NYC prioritizes culture and community.”