Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Movie and TV production tax credits brings diminished results for local jobs

Times Union

  Billions of dollars to subsidize film and television projects in New York hasn't had a statistically significant impact on employment in the entertainment industry, according to a new study.

University of Southern California associate professor Michael Thom conducted a peer-reviewed analysis of a handful of state's that offer the bulk of motion picture incentives in the country and found that — when controlled for economic factors such as the growth in the labor market — there is "not much" of a link between job creation and the lucrative credit offered in New York, which was created in 2004.

The study represents a continuation of scholarly analyses questioning whether the refundable tax credit, which was recently extended by state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, is a prudent investment.

Thom determined that employment in the entertainment industry, which increased in New York by more than 60 percent from 2004 to 2017, based on federal jobs numbers, was largely the product of trends in the overall economy and national growth in the industry. He also found a low correlation between the credit and wages paid in the below-the-line jobs that benefit from the credit.

“It’s not the incentives, its simply the normal ebb and flow of the labor market," Thom said.
This conclusion is vociferously disputed by organized labor groups working in film and television, who point to their own studies and anecdotal evidence that the credits have led to a flourishing sector with wide ripple effects.

de Blasio offers to build affordable housing by Bronx tower jail and concessions to other boroughs to get Rikers shutdown plan approved

NY Daily News


Horse-trading is in full swing as the City Council readies to vote on Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plan to close the notorious jail complex on Rikers Island and replace it with four new facilities.

The plan calls for jails to be built in Downtown Manhattan, the South Bronx, central Queens and Downtown Brooklyn by 2026, at an estimated cost of $8.7 billion.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow for some residents of those nabes. So the de Blasio administration is offering a proverbial spoonful of sugar to Council members rep’ing the areas.

The city is committing to building up to 233 units of affordable housing next to a new jail sited at 320 Concord Ave. in the Bronx nabe of Mott Haven, according to Councilwoman Diana Ayala.
She hopes new housing might mollify residents in the area, where the community board unanimously rejected the mayor’s plan in May.

“I’m sure that they’re not going to be excited about this, either,” Ayala said of the new jail’s opponents. “In an effort to try to do the best thing by both the community and shutting Rikers, this is the best place I can get to.”

In spite of pockets of opposition from pols like Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer — who’s been tormented by socialist activists as he seeks the Queens borough president’s seat — the Council is expected to pass the mayor’s plan. The Land Use Committee will conclude a review process known as ULURP on Wednesday, followed by a full Council vote Thursday.

Council members in districts where the new jails were sited were likely “yes” votes from the start of the debate.

But an insider noted the ULURP process, in which the Council tends to defer to the votes of colleagues rep’ing areas where projects are proposed, gives members in Ayala’s shoes lots of leverage.

“If you’re a member who’s going to vote yes, then why not secure benefits?” the Council insider remarked. “The ULURP provides a rare occasion to provide community benefits. Why not?”

Monday, October 14, 2019

de Blasio's and Banks' DHS covers up the severity of violence and drug dealing in city shelters

NY Post

City officials covered up nearly 120 “serious incidents” at homeless shelters by downgrading their severity so they wouldn’t have to be disclosed to state regulators, according to the city Department of Investigation.

The DOI conducted a yearlong probe into allegations that the Department of Homeless Services wasn’t “adequately” reporting arrests and other problems to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is responsible for ensuring that shelters are safe.

The investigation revealed that DHS created its own “priority codes” that minimized “life-threatening injuries,” mental-health emergencies and some arrests of residents, visitors or staffers, according to an April 8 DOI memo obtained by The Post.

There were “approximately 117 internal reports” from January through June 2017 that contained information that should have been reported, the memo said.
City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-The Bronx), who tipped off DOI to the situation, told The Post, 

“There’s only one word for the conduct of DHS: inexcusable.”

“DHS adopted a dubious definition of serious incidents that it knew would lead to the under-reporting of incidents consisting of serious injuries, mental health emergencies, arrests and situations affecting the safety of its own residents and staff,” Torres said.

NY Post 

 Security at the city’s homeless shelters is so shoddy that one Harlem facility had its own in-house heroin dealer, according to records and fed-up workers.

Parkview Inn resident Alice Cuesta, 52, was finally busted last month with 60 glassines of heroin after clumsily dropping them right in front of an NYPD sergeant inside the elevator at the West 110th Street shelter, prosecutors said court papers.

Before her fateful fumble, Cuesta had held free rein at the shelter “for a long time,” law-enforcement and DHS sources told The Post — adding that the situation is similar at shelters across the city.

Security gaps, as well as overworked DHS officers who simply don’t have the time, training or help to conduct thorough investigations, have left some residents wondering if they wouldn’t be better off taking their chances on the street.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Architects and engineers have a way to save Rikers plus provide it with ferry service.

Queens Chronicle

Can ferry boats be the way to stop a bruising battle over New York City’s jail problem?

A group of designers and engineers who live and work in Downtown Manhattan unveiled a plan last week that outlines in detail how to rebuild Rikers Island and use secure buses aboard ferries to transport prisoners to and from court.

It is one of the first specific, workable alternatives put forward by opponents to Mayor de Blasio’s sweeping plan to replace Rikers with four borough-based jails, including one in Kew Gardens behind the Queens Criminal Court building.

The City Council has scheduled a crucial vote on the mayor’s jail plan for next Thursday.

At bottom, the 49-page ferry proposal was drawn to upend the mayor’s $11-billion plan — $9 billion for the jails, plus $2 billion to repurpose Rikers as a multiuse city facility — that would take a decade to complete.

Local groups are bitterly opposed to the proposal that calls for the new jails in largely residential neighborhoods, as are criminal-justice reformers who want to see Rikers closed but oppose constructing new lockups.

The reimagining of Rikers calls for the city to demolish “every building” on the island and build a series of smaller, low-rise jails — each with a different level of security.

Renderings for a reconfigured Rikers include open spaces, sports facilities, a family center and a small farm.

Connecting a rebuilt island jail system with the boroughs by ferry “liberates Rikers” from the necessity of moving hundreds of prisoners being held on charges before conviction each day on long bus rides through city streets to the courts, said architect Bill Bialosky, a spokesman for the group.

A group of about a dozen volunteer architects and engineers has been working on the plan for about a month, meeting regularly at the Lin Sing Association, the century-old Chinese-American organization on Mott Street, with community leaders.

 Ferries, said Bialosky, are “the answer to the problem.”

Ferries would also be a good commuting alternative for the families and friends of prisoners.

Why didn't de Blasio and his bullshit city Economic Development Conspirators provide a ferry pier at Rikers in the first place? Well now you know. 

de Blasio offers city services as a bribe to get Kew Gardens tower prison approved.

Forest Hills Patch

 In a private meeting this spring with Kew Gardens residents to discuss hotly-contested plans for a new jail in their neighborhood, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised they would be compensated for the jail's incursion, but he didn't provide specifics.

Now, a tentative list of those specifics has come to light. 

 Koslowitz has also pressed city officials to reduce the size of the Kew Gardens jail, which current plans say would be 27 stories tall and have a capacity of 1,150 detainees.

The proposed jail — one of four new jails the city wants to build to replace detention facilities on Rikers Island — is expected to be smaller than that by the time the City Council votes on the plan next week, according to Koslowitz's spokesperson, Michael Cohen.

Cohen pushed back on using the word "exchange" to describe the list of items City Hall is promising 
Koslowitz, who represents Kew Gardens, to secure her vote in favor of the jail plan.

He declined to specify other items being negotiated because he said the list hasn't yet been finalized.

Asked how he would describe the deal, he said, "I would describe it as the Mayor making good on his word that he understands that the community is sacrificing something here and his administration would like to do something for the community."

Koslowitz's vote is critical to the passage of the city's controversial jail plan, which calls for building a new lockup in every borough but Staten Island by 2026.

That's because members of the City Council, whose binding vote on the jails is scheduled for Oct. 17, tend to vote in lockstep with the council members whose districts are affected by a given land-use plan.

Koslowitz has already pushed de Blasio's office to nix plans for an infirmary in the Kew Gardens jail that would serve all four new detention centers.

In the private meeting earlier this year, de Blasio indicated he would go even further.

"When we ask a community to do something for the whole city, which is what we're doing here, then the community has a right to say, here are things that would help our community, including things we've been trying to get for a long time and haven't gotten," de Blasio said, according to a recording of the March 27 meeting reviewed by Patch.

"How can we say to the community, we're asking you to shoulder a burden but we want to do something back that's really going to make a difference?" de Blasio added.

Still, the jail proposal is intensely controversial among Koslowitz's constituents as well as advocates for No New Jails NYC, who say the city should close Rikers but not build any new jails.

Koslowitz's response? "Whether I supported it or not, that jail was happening."

 The elected in NYC do not represent the people anymore. What the mayor wants, the mayor gets it. Got it.

Friday, October 11, 2019

City Council draws up pointless resolution to prevent building more jails on Rikers Island to assure approval for borough tower prisons.
NY Daily News

The city will prohibit construction of new jails on Rikers Island under a proposal approved by the Council’s land use committee on Thursday.

The resolution allows the Council to submit an application to the Department of City Planning to remap the island so that the land can’t house inmates after 2026, when the troubled complex is expected to close.

Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the map change, which must go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, ensures the island will cease as a correctional facility after the new jails are built even after they leave office.

“We’re making our commitment ironclad and ensuring no future administration can reverse all the progress we’ve made,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Mass incarceration did not begin in New York City, but it will end here.”

The 17-member Council land use committee passed the resolution 11 to 2, with two other lawmakers abstaining and two absent from the vote. Councilman Bob Holden, who is not on the land use committee, said the vote “sets an extremely dangerous precedent in New York City, with the Council essentially turning the ULURP process on its head and neglecting the voices of our citizens.”

Bipolar homeless man attacked a child in front of his house

NY Post

 A homeless man with a history of mental illness randomly attacked a 6-year-old boy in front of his grandparent’s house in Queens on Thursday afternoon, seriously injuring the boy, police and sources said.

The child was sitting on the steps of his grandparent’s house on Metropolitan Avenue near 123rd Street in Kew Gardens at about 5 p.m. when the vagrant walked into their driveway, said Rabbi Naftali Portnoy, the boy’s grandfather.

The 35-year-old vagrant then grabbed the child, picked him up and threw him to the concrete, slamming his face on the ground, police said.

His brother rushed into the house and told his grandfather about the attack.

Portnoy called 911 and tailed the vagrant, who was shirtless, while he walked away from the scene down Metropolitan Avenue.

Cops arrived soon after and arrested the suspect, who sat down on the street and said, “I’m bipolar,” the grandfather explained.

The kid was rushed to Cohen Children’s Medical Center and treated for hemorrhaging to the brain and facial contusions, a source said.

Quick First Lady McCray, send some simps to hand out Thrive pamphlets on Metropolitan Ave.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Council Member Holden gets blown off inquiring officials about Thrive program's ineffectiveness

NY Post

A Queens lawmaker accused the head of first lady Chirlane McCray’s embattled “ThriveNYC” mental health initiative of refusing to explain why the city ignored so many warning signs surrounding the vagrant who bludgeoned four homeless men to death in Chinatown last weekend – because she has no answers.

Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) initially called out ThriveNYC Director Susan Herman and other city officials during a council hearing Tuesday. He was asking them how Randy Santos, 24, went under the city’s radar despite having a history of unprovoked violence – including a November arrest for allegedly biting a man on the chest.

“There were certainly a number of red flags over the years,” Holden said. “There was a trail of violence all involving random people.”

“These signs were here with this individual for years, and he was in and out of the system,” added Holden. “This is again happening all over the city – random attacks. Does this kind of thing red flag your agencies at all to say ‘we should step in’?”

Neither Herman nor Myla Harrison, assistant commissioner for the Department of Health, directly answered his questions during the hearing on mental health services for immigrants.

Instead, they tried to shift focus by insisting most homeless New Yorkers don’t suffer from mental illness and that they’re limited from discussing Santos’ treatment history.

“We were all horrified by what happened, and we are all looking at it, and we will learn from this incident, “ Herman said. “[But] I think you are aware of the fact that we can’t talk about specific services this particular individual accessed [by law].”

Holden tried to ask follow-up questions but was cut off by Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the immigration committee, who claimed he wanted to give other legislators the chance ask questions.

Holden left the hearing fuming and later accused Herman of “dodging” his questions, adding McCray’s $250 million Thrive initiative “lacks a real plan to deal” with emotionally disturbed persons like Santos.
“[Herman] could have said, ‘I can’t speak about this case, but hypothetically we do this when this happens,’” Holden said. “But she didn’t want to because she couldn’t — and that’s the whole thing.”
“They are not helping the seriously mentally ill,” he added. “The city is not doing its job with all the money they are putting towards ThriveNYC.”

But let's focus on a few citizens saying inappropriate things about homeless people and not on what officials who are supposed to help them are not saying and are blatantly avoiding addressing the issue.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mayor de Blasio and DHS switches successful homeless shelter for women into one for men


 A homeless shelter on West 107th Street in Manhattan Valley, currently housing women, is expected to transition to single adult men in October. And much of the neighborhood is not happy. 

"Once men are involved here, the landscape could potentially change and everybody is concerned," neighbor Ali Jafry said.He lives next door to the shelter and said in recent years the women have been good neighbors.

The New York City Department of Homeless Services recently announced the change and Manhattan's Community Board 7 held a meeting Tuesday night to address it. But a DHS representative didn't come.

 "Up until 4 o'clock they were coming. At 4 o'clock they called the office to say they can't come," CB 7 Chair Roberta Semer told PIX11 News. This did not sit well with the shelter's neighbors. 

One man at the open meeting said, "Why are they not here? Why are they hiding from us?" The current shelter houses 120 women and most have jobs. Tari Wheeler said this shelter helped her get her life together. 

The Department of Homeless Services said it will move the women to permanent housing or another shelter. 

While Wheeler doesn't know where she will be sent, she is also worried about the kids in the neighborhood. "No offense on the men, but there are small children around here. We have to look out for the small children besides ourselves," Wheeler said.

Homeless shelter in Glendale has residents and advocates at loggerheads!%2FhttpImage%2Fimage.jpeg_gen%2Fderivatives%2Flandscape_1280%2Fimage.jpeg&f=1&nofb=1 

 Queens Eagle

Two days after four homeless men were brutally beaten and killed on the streets of Manhattan’s Chinatown, hundreds of central Queens residents packed a high school auditorium in Middle Village to condemn a planned homeless men’s shelter — and to demonize the New Yorkers who would live there. 

There are legitimate critiques of large-scale homeless shelters and the multi-million dollar city contracts awarded to shelter providers as the city contends with a record-high homeless population and a widening income inequality chasm.

But complex issues and possible solutions went unexamined Monday night at Christ the King High School — in part because speakers who attempted to address them were immediately booed and cursed at. The public hearing was the latest phase in the saga over a proposed 200-bed men’s shelter that the city plans to build inside a vacant warehouse at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

At the beginning of the event, hecklers interrupted a moment of silence for the four men killed while sleeping on the sidewalk early Saturday morning. 

From there, the dialogue devolved into discriminatory denunciations of people, particularly men, who experience homelessness. Roughly 60,000 people, including 21,694 children, slept in a New York City municipal shelter on Oct. 6, according to the Department of Homeless Services’ most recent daily census.

”These homeless men are ‘tranks, lobos and zipheads’ … They’re drug addicts and sexual offenders,” said one woman who quoted a line from “Back to the Future.” “Put them in a separate area away from society. They should be locked away forever and out of sight permanently.”
Another woman went even further.

“I hope someone is going to burn the place down,” she shouted into the microphone.

Mike Papa of the anti-shelter group Glendale Middle Village Coalition criticized the nonprofit organization Westhab, which will receive a lucrative city contract to operate the shelter on Cooper Avenue. He then turned his attention to shelter residents, implying that they are criminals. 

“Homelessness is their business and thanks to Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Correction will supply all the customers that companies like Westhab want,” said Papa, garnering applause from the crowd.

Moments later, the same attendees screamed at a Crystal Wolfe, a local resident who runs a nonprofit providing food for the homeless, when she said that “homelessness is a complex issue that is the result of problems that have been ignored for decades.”

Tousif Ahsan, a member of the Ridgewood Tenants Union, also attempted to speak “in support of our homeless neighbors.”

“Get the [expletive] outta here,” one man screamed. Most of Ahsan’s speech was inaudible amid the jeers.

District 30 Councilmember Robert Holden, whose 2017 victory over incumbent Elizabeth Crowley was driven by anti-shelter sentiment, did not condemn his constituents’ commentary. Instead, he stoked their anger.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Church holds mass in honor of Mother Cabrini, the saint who won and got screwed out of the city's women's statue program

NY Post

More than 1,000 parishioners packed a Brooklyn church on Sunday to give Saint Frances Cabrini her dues — after the city passed her over for a statue, despite a groundswell of support.

The overflow crowd at Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary & St. Stephen church was the latest outcry from Catholics and Big Apple Italian-Americans after Cabrini was snubbed by First Lady Chirlane McCray’s “She Built NYC” statue program.

Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who founded 67 institutions to help the needy, finished first in a citywide poll asking who should get an effigy — but McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen nonetheless decided not to grant her the honor.

“That’s a disgrace,” said Connie Gessler, who said Cabrini taught her grandmother. “Why did they have an election if they weren’t going to give one to the person with the most votes? How would she like it if we didn’t make her husband mayor if he got the most votes.”

The mass came after hundreds of Cabrini supporters gathered at Mother Cabrini Park on President Street and to the church.

NY Post 

Brooklyn Catholics are waging a holy war against First Lady Chirlane McCray.

After McCray enraged the faithful by ignoring the public’s top choice for her women’s statue program — Mother Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants — the Brooklyn Diocese has launched a campaign to build its own monument to her.

“Mother Cabrini recently received the most votes in the ‘She Built NYC’ competition, which aims to build more statues honoring women,” the Diocese wrote in a press release. “But despite earning this top ranking, a public statue honoring her life is not being planned.”

The flock felt compelled to act after The Post revealed McCray’s statue snub, according to Monsignor 
David Cassato of the Italian Apostolate, which is leading the fundraising effort along with the diocese.

“There was a story in the New York Post about Mother Cabrini, that she did not receive a recognition of a statue, and that’s what precipitated our honoring her,” said Cassato, who plans to donate $1,000 to the cause.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio noted Cabrini is deserving of the “She Built” honor because she literally helped build New York City.

“Her work to establish orphanages, schools, and a hospital, along with her commitment to immigrants, absolutely should be recognized,” he said. “The failure to honor Mother Cabrini with a public statue would be an affront to many New Yorkers, especially Italian-Americans, who see her as most deserving.”

McCray, meanwhile, insisted through a spokeswoman that she is not “anti-Catholic.”

“To claim that the First Lady is anti-Catholic is a falsehood and outrageous,” said spokewoman Jaclyn Rothenberg.

“She was invited to speak at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and has worked with Catholic Charities on a variety of mental health issues. Every one of the monuments for She Built go through the same process and the decision-making on this one was no different.”

Cabrini was public’s top choice for a statue, garnering 219 nominations, but she, along with two ohter top-5 vote-getters — Emily Warren Roebling, who directed the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan Music School founder Janet Schenck — were tossed in favor of more women of color and an LGBTQ activist.

The woman who finished in second place was journalist and author Jane Jacobs. So it makes sense why her and Mother Cabrini were blown off by the craven phony first lady/co-mayor and the neoliberal developer crony and fixer Alicia Glen. Because if they were alive they would be excoriating the policies affecting the affordable housing and homeless crisis those two elitist women are complicit with.