Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Eric Adams's hotels reset


 

 Bloomberg

Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, called for tens of thousands of shuttered hotel rooms to be turned into housing to ease the city’s housing insecurity.

Adams, speaking at a campaign event on Monday, said the city has a chance to reverse years of bad planning and convert hotels that have become eyesores. The Brooklyn borough president and former cop said he was looking to turn 25,000 rooms into housing, adding that the city should foot much of the bill.

“The combination of Covid-19, the economic downturn, and the problems we're having with housing is presenting us with a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Adams said in remarks outside of the Phoenix Hotel, a vacant property in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. “We can use this moment and find one solution to solve a multitude of problems.”

Adams echoed other recent initiatives to bolster housing security across the U.S. Earlier Monday, Bloomberg CityLab reported that the White House is launching a new national initiative, “House America,” to combat rising homelessness. In August, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would finance the purchase of distressed hotels and commercial office properties by nonprofits to convert them into affordable housing.

The need for such housing remains urgent in New York City, where more than 45,000 people were being housed in city shelters at last count, and thousands more are grappling with unsheltered homelessness.

The new state law would address, at best, a small slice of Adams’ target of 25,000 units. It sets aside $100 million to help finance building purchases, splitting units evenly between low-income households and people experiencing homelessness. But converting hotels is pricey in New York City. Manhattan hotels sold at a median price of $275,000 per unit in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data from PWC’s Manhattan Lodging Index. The 100-room Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City, a Queens neighborhood, sold for $384,000 a room in May.

Fire ride with me

https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/09/citibike-explodes-on-tracks-426.jpg?quality=90&strip=all 

NY Post

A Citi Bike exploded on the tracks of a Queens subway station on Sunday night after being “rolled” onto the roadbed and hit by a train, according to police and video of the collision.

Footage posted on Instagram showed the blue rent-a-bike strewn along the tracks at Steinway Street in Astoria while the person filming mutters, “Oh no no no” as the R train enters the station.

The train hits the bike once, then twice — then the two-wheeler erupts into flames.

The clip ends with the train stopped as the tracks and platform becomes engulfed in smoke. Straphangers can be seen fleeing the scene to avoid the breathing in the muck.

An NYPD spokesperson said the incident occurred at 10:25 p.m. when an unidentified male “rolled” the bike onto the southbound track.

Women's Plaza needs a shave


 NY Post

You’re sneezing for a good cause.

Outrage over a “sexist” statue in Queens prompted its removal and a nearly $1 million project that transformed its base into a planter — but neglect has led to a bumper crop of allergy-causing ragweed right outside Borough Hall.

The centerpiece of the 1922 monument “Triumph of Civic Virtue” — a nude man with a sword standing over two female figures representing vice and corruption — was exiled to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery nearly a decade ago.

The move came in response to complaints of sexism from activists and pols, including since-disgraced, then-US Rep. Anthony Weiner, who proposed selling the 17-foot, white marble statue on Craigslist.

But following the statue’s removal, the fountain on which it stood fell into disrepair until the city spent $960,000 to restore its stonework and add lighting and benches to create the “Women’s Plaza in Queens” in 2017.

The fountain was also turned into a planter.

At the time, former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman — who had called for the statue’s removal while in office — said the renovation work created “a beautiful space at Borough Hall where people can relax and women will now be celebrated rather than denigrated.”

But since then, it’s again suffered from a lack of upkeep that includes ragweed growing in the former fountain.

Borough President Donovan Richards on Monday called the conditions “shameful” and said he wanted to finally replace the original statue with a new one.

 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Ida flood homeowner victims and basement tenants got shafted by Biden


 

 Gothamist

 President Joe Biden and a contingent of federal, state, and local officials toured flood-ravaged sections of Queens earlier this month in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida, promising speedy relief to homeowners and renters. Impacted residents were told about the $32,000 maximum payout they could expect to receive to help them recover.

But two weeks later, many are realizing it's far less simple than they were promised.

Officials are now telling residents that funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency aren’t intended to cover all of the damage caused by Ida. Instead many residents are being directed to apply for low-interest loans they’ll eventually have to repay through the U.S. Small Business Administration to defray any costs FEMA won’t cover.

“What the f--k?” said Erika Kasouto, 41, when she was told to apply for a federal loan in one of several calls to FEMA agents. The Woodside home she lives in with her parents took in five feet of water on the ground level. “It’s ridiculous. It’s disheartening.”

Despite assurances from elected officials in the immediate aftermath of the flooding, FEMA representatives have since tried to clarify on their hotline, through email, and at the city’s disaster service centers set up after Ida that grant funding is only intended to cover the essential costs of someone staying in their damaged home.

Several residents from hard-hit areas like Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Hollis told WNYC/Gothamist about similar correspondence with FEMA. And federal officials confirmed as much, adding that homeowners would likely qualify for the maximum $32,000 payout if their home was destroyed. People can qualify for a loan and still receive a FEMA grant, officials said.

THE CITY

 Two weeks after the remnants of Hurricane Ida tore through the city, killing 13 people, basements across the city are still drying out as many New Yorkers struggle to recover from the punishing storm.

With millions of dollars in federal assistance now unlocked for the city, some households that saw rivers of rain and sewage pour in will have a lifeline to begin repairing and rebuilding.

But that help isn’t for everyone.

Left out of Federal Emergency Management Agency aid are undocumented immigrants — many of whom live in the Queens neighborhoods that were pummeled hardest.

“I’ve lived in this country for four years and this is the first time I’ve lived in a basement. I was looking for affordable housing,” Marlén Romero, a 32-year-old Corona resident, told THE CITY in Spanish.

Her home and belongings were drenched as Ida dumped more than seven inches of rain in an hour on parts of the city, flooding her apartment with about two feet of water.

“I had no idea that living in a basement would be so dangerous,” she said.

A native of Mexico, Romero and her husband are both undocumented, which would shut them out of federal disaster assistance. But her family may still qualify for assistance because the couple’s 4-year-old daughter is a U.S. citizen.

“It’s not fair for all of us who are undocumented who don’t have someone ‘legal’ in their households. We live in basements so we can save some money because rent in this city is so expensive. Our income doesn’t stretch that far to get a better home,” she said.

She only learned that there was financial aid available for flooding victims through a local community group, Familias Unidas, when a school social worker mentioned it as her daughter began preschool earlier this week.

 

Eric Adams games the DOB and the IRS


 

 THE CITY

Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, is also a landlord who owns a four-unit red-brick Brooklyn townhouse where he says he rents out three apartments and, since 2017, has lived on the ground floor.

But tax and city records show potentially serious irregularities tied to his management of the Bedford-Stuyvesant property.

The city Department of Buildings is investigating a complaint alleging an illegal conversion of an apartment in the Lafayette Avenue building — and hasn’t heard from Adams since an inspector plastered a notice on his door more than a month ago, demanding a response.

Meanwhile, amended personal income tax documents Adams released following his June 22 primary victory clash with his claim that he uses the building’s ground floor as his residence — reporting zero days living at the property.

The filings could have allowed him to reduce his taxable income by tens of thousands of dollars, accountants who reviewed the records at THE CITY’s request say. After amending three years of tax returns once already, he will be refiling for 2017, 2018 and 2019 yet again after THE CITY pointed out irregularities to his campaign.

And THE CITY has learned that the accountant who signed Adams’ tax returns was fired from his job four years ago managing a Harlem co-op building following accusations of embezzlement.

Adams purchased the Lafayette Avenue building in Bedford-Stuyvesant from the federal government for $361,000 in 2003 when he was an NYPD captain. Last summer, after POLITICO NY raised questions about where he actually lives, Adams gave the press a tour of what he said was his apartment there.

 

Green Party candidate slams Crescent St. bike lane and Citibike racks as counterproductive to residents safety and the environment


Queens Post 

I am a healthy 24-year-old man who commutes to work on a bicycle, and I love it. I think it’s a great alternative mode of transportation. However, I understand that there is a huge community of people who cannot or prefer not to bike around the city.

I have spoken with many local residents who feel ignored by the rollout of bike lanes and Lyft-owned Citi bike docking stations in northwest Queens. The major rollout of docking stations throughout 2021 has been uncareful and unsafe. It does not align with the interests of our community.

The 2-way bike lane on Crescent Street is dangerous because it runs against oncoming traffic on a busy street near Mt. Sinai hospital. Last Sunday marked 10 months since Alfredo Cabrera Licona was killed by a reckless driver in this bike lane – a collision that could have been avoided with proper bike lane placement.

Protecting bike lanes is necessary; however, the majority of cycling-related accidents occur at intersections. A bike lane going the opposite way never belonged on Crescent Street. There are better side streets for DOT to allocate its resources within Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst.

Many of us are in favor of making the streets safer. Recently, I was almost hit by a car while I was trying to access Citi bike parking on 29th Street and 24th Avenue, near the Triboro Bridge. Not only is it dangerous to dock a bike in the middle of a street, it is reckless of large corporations like Lyft to normalize not wearing a helmet.

I recently met Aubrey Manfredi, a lifelong Astoria resident who is disabled. She told me the following about living near the Crescent Street lane: “It’s good for bike riders but not for people like me, who are going to the store. It’s very hard. Trucks get stuck in the bike lane because there is no room. Parking space is so limited. Cars are waiting for a spot every morning.”

Manfredi’s family is now paying $225 each month to reserve a private parking spot a few minutes away from her apartment. “It really has affected my health. In the snow, I have to walk to the corner to get into the car. I can’t get into the car in front of my house because of the parking, and it’s painful for me to walk.”

A lack of parking space results in overcrowded streets, which makes it difficult for ambulances to reach hospitals like Mount Sinai, and difficult for delivery vans to serve our families in Astoria. Ultimately, workers are forced to idle in the bike lane, causing further danger and noise pollution.

Circling the block or idling to wait for a parking spot results in higher emissions and defeats the green objective behind the ramping up of bike lanes citywide. Furthermore, our city should have compassion for the many families who lack the financial means to afford a driveway.

Street parking is a necessity during a deadly pandemic, especially for immunocompromised folks who must avoid public transportation. We need to be much smarter and more class conscious in determining the location of bike lanes.

The development of new infrastructure must incorporate common sense. In particular, we can move Citi bike docking away from alternate side parking onto wider sidewalks, and add mini-stations near schools and bus stops.

If we are going to reimagine the relationship between motorists and cyclists, there must be some compromise involved. For example, instead of creating rush hour congestion with a bike lane on the 59th Street bridge, the city could significantly expand ferry service between Queens and Manhattan for cyclists’ benefit.

This is not a battle between motorists and cyclists. This is a result of corporate greed and corrupt politics which are failing us. We must hold our leadership accountable for systemic issues due to a lack of consideration for the most vulnerable. As a community, we ought to stand in solidarity; we must make it clear to city leaders when new transportation initiatives are hurting New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, both Democrat and Republican politicians care more about re-election and their resume than doing the right thing. A selfish City Council member would boast, “I placed X amount of bike lanes during my tenure” without considering the impact on residential and commercial streets. That is no way for a representative of the people to think and behave.

We must push for a smarter rollout of bike lane placement which preserves street parking, reduces congestion and maintains quality of life for seniors, students, veterans and the disabled. Bike lanes should be approved by the community and only implemented if appropriate safety guidelines are met. Above all, we ought to design a system of decision making that works for everyone in Astoria.


Caption these 3 Queens politicians

 

Costa really likes that water.

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 

Gothamist 

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

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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.

HOORAY! THE RENTS TOO DAMN HIGH AGAIN!


 

 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 

NY YIMBY

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

 https://assets.bwbx.io/images/users/iqjWHBFdfxIU/i1Iue5hOnAr8/v0/1000x-1.jpg

Bloomberg

 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

 https://www.brooklynpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Rendering-of-840-Atlantic-Avenue-Vanderbilt-Atlantic-Holdings-LLC-1.jpg 

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

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Ugh

 QNS

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.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Bike zealot puts his baby in front of parked vehicle to decry reckless driving

Politicians scared straight after Rikers tour

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AMNY

Elected officials inspected the conditions at Rikers Island on Sept. 13 following yet another death in the jail — and they said what they found shook them to the core.

The visit came days after Esias Johnson, a 24-year-old awaiting trial, became the 10th individual to perish within the controversial penal facility this year when he was discovered unresponsive on Sept. 7. A coalition of politicians toured the prison on Monday in hopes of pinpointing the issue at hand.

Gathering at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Hazen Street after their visit, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, state Senator Jessica Ramos, Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and many more stood in shock and disgust after visiting the complex. They professed ] seeing urine and fecal matter strewn over the floor; individuals coughing up blood and even an attempted suicide.

Some of the speakers said Rikers Island had become a humanitarian crisis.

 “I can’t begin to tell you the deplorable conditions that we saw inside OBCC. In one of the intake rooms there are at least one dozen men per cell. The conditions are so extreme that Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas and I witnessed somebody attempting to commit suicide just a little while ago. These men are desperate for simple medical attention as just measuring their sugar. They need their fingers pricked to figure out whether their diabetes is under control or not, never mind they are not obviously receiving any insulin. Those that need to access the methadone clinic have not been able to do so,” Ramos said, describing the unsanitary conditions. 

“It’s all because the incarcerated men and women who are on that island are being treated unfairly, and the correction officers are working under very deplorable conditions themselves,” Ramos added, stating that everyone on Rikers Island should be kept safe. 

In response to these claims regarding the conditions within Rikers Island, DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi has launched #NewDayDOC to target initiatives that will help increase staffing and safety through scheduling changes, new recruitment, and establishing a new process for calling out sick with Mt. Sinai so that they may return to active duty quickly, as well as other changes.

Yeah, a hashtag will stop the violence and abhorrent environment that was exacerbated by the city's decision to shut down Rikers to build borough jails and the closing of other facilities on the island. Feckless moron.


Eric Adams will bail out failed hotels and repurpose them for housing the homeless

Jenifer's parking plan controversy gets some clarity, again

 


Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar walked through Woodhaven with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia last week to discuss adding parking spots to the area, sparking a heated debate about the proposal. 

Rajkumar said that a lack of parking has been a long-standing issue in Woodhaven, claiming some of her constituents even sleep in their cars waiting for a spot.

The proposed initiative would add angled parking on 98th Street between Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South, turn the median striping on the Woodhaven Boulevard Service Road into parking spots and slim down the bus lane on Woodhaven Boulevard to add more spots. Rajkumar also proposed turning a private vacant lot outside of the Forest Park Co-Operative on 98th Street into a parking space.

There has been contention over the proposed parking on 98th Street near the co-op, which is right next to Forest Park. 

The confusion erupted after Rajkumar released a statement saying she would advocate to “convert” the “vacant park space” on the “corner of 98th Street and Park Lane South” into a parking lot. However, the assemblywoman has walked back on that statement, saying she never intended to take away any green space for parking.

That proposal to convert a “vacant park space” is for a gravel lot across the street from Forest Park on 98th Street.

Before the assemblywoman clarified her mistake, people took to Twitter angrily responding to her plan.

“Leave 98th Street and Park Lane South alone,” a Twitter user wrote. “I’m a Woodhaven resident, and I will never support converting public space to parking.”

All of the confusion stemming from the original statement even resulted in a protest outside of Rajkumar’s Woodhaven office on Sunday, Sept. 5. 

Rajkumar’s chief of staff clarified that statement and said none of her proposals include taking over any green spaces. 

“To be abundantly clear, Rajkumar never at any time proposed a parking lot inside Forest Park,” said Rajkumar’s chief of staff Vjola Isufaj. “Facts matter. That kind of outrageous sensationalism based on wrong facts and lies may be fun on Twitter, but it’s not truthful and isn’t helping anyone in our district.”

 

 
 
Queens Chronicle

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar needs to learn to admit when she’s wrong and just move on. Instead, she’s led us and her constituents down a rabbit hole of confusion this week, one so weird and in denial of reality that seeing Alice in Wonderland joining a tea party at the Forest Park Co-op in Woodhaven would not be the strangest thing.

As with so much in Queens, the root of the problem is parking. Rajkumar, to her credit, wants to get more for residents of the co-op. She’s proposed, for one thing, some diagonal parking on 98th Street where it runs through the complex just north of Park Lane South. If there’s room, that’d be great. But she also proposed, bizarrely, creating parking in “the vacant park space at the corner of 98th and Park Lane South.”

The “vacant park space” at that corner is a part of Forest Park designated as Forever Wild by the city Parks Department. It must remain so, for the benefit of all (think drainage in a storm!). It’s also on a hill, next to an old railroad. Turning any of it into parking would be an engineering nightmare, if not impossible.

When this was pointed out to Rajkumar — and when a mix of environmentalists and her political opponents protested — her office went silent. Then, as the Chronicle pressed the issue, things got weird. A staffer claimed Rajkumar had never proposed parking at that corner. But she did, in writing, on the internet, in public. Eventually the assemblywoman sent us an email her office previously had sent the Department of Transportation claiming that she “never at any time supported such a plan.” Really? She proposed it.

Then the office shifted to claiming that she really had been talking about a “vacant plot of gravel,” with the assemblywoman herself explaining that it was not at 98th and Park Lane South but on 98th off Park Lane South. She’s apparently talking about an asphalt (not gravel) seating area in the co-op complex. It doesn’t look like it would fit many cars, but if that’s what the residents there want, OK; it’s not precious parkland. (But,but trees...-JQ)

Meanwhile, Rajkumar denies any mistakes at all, telling us that “all of the releases and plans that I have sent out were perfectly correct.” Nope. Why claim something so obviously false? Just admit the error. Otherwise it’s tea time with Alice at the co-ops.

Cute analogy, but all those charlatans still showed up and held a fake protest in front of the abandoned Rockaway Rail Line train station. And despite the "forever wild" designation, it's been a transit graveyard for 60 years. It's also not parkland. Plus Rajkumar's chief of staff sent a post clarifying the parking proposal. These actorvists chose to be confused.

You know Alice could have decided not to follow the bunny. But then there wouldn't be a story...

Monday, September 13, 2021

Was this today????

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AMNY

The city will deploy inspectors to enforce the vaccine mandate for restaurants, bars, gyms, and other indoor venues starting Monday, Sept. 13.

Municipal workers will check on the businesses to make sure they require workers and patrons aged 12 or older to have at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the new regime last month, when the policy known as Key to NYC first went into effect on Aug. 17, giving businesses almost four weeks to prepare for the requirements.

“This is going to reach hundreds of thousands of people and convince them it’s time,” de Blasio said at the time. “We know this is going to work because New Yorkers love our arts, our culture, entertainment, restaurants — they’re part of who we are.”

The mandate covers eateries, indoor fitness, and entertainment venues like movie theaters, museums, and concert halls, and de Blasio hopes the measures will boost inoculations among younger New Yorkers, who still lag well behind older residents for vaccination rates.

“I am absolutely certain this is going to motivate a lot of people to get vaccinated, particularly young people,” he said in August. “We know one of the biggest areas of concern is reaching younger New Yorkers.”

Hizzoner said New Yorkers can show proof with the paper card, the Excelsior Pass, or the NYC COVID SAFE app.

NYPD won’t be part of the enforcement, which will instead have civilian inspectors from 13 city agencies, such as FDNY, Department of Health, Buildings, Sanitation, and Transportation.

 

Notorious B.U.S. route redesign plan gets kiboshed

I

 AMNY

It will be five years longer than expected by the time MTA has redesigned all of its ancient bus networks borough-by-borough, after New York City Transit gurus pushed back the completion date for the mass transit project until 2026.

“We need to improve our bus system by delivering on key Bus initiatives like all-door boarding, expanded bus lanes, camera-enforced lanes, a complete network redesign in all boroughs by 2026,” wrote NYCT interim president Craig Cipriano in agency books released Friday ahead of this week’s monthly Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee and full board meetings.

The plan to modernize the bus networks was supposed to wrap “within three years” of its launch in 2018 — in other words by 2021 — under then-NYCT chief and “train daddy” Andy Byford.

But MTA put the plans put on hold during the pandemic, with only a revamp of Staten Island’s Express Bus network in place and the other boroughs at different stages of their overhauls. 

Transit bigwigs recently announced they plan to revive the scheme after the 18-month pause starting with the Bronx later this month, which MTA hopes to implement by June 2022, but one transit advocate said the year-and-a-half hiatus doesn’t justify the five-year setback. 

“Five years is too long to wait for faster bus trips,” said Danny Pearlstein of Riders Alliance. “The pandemic has made the redesigns only more urgent and redesigning our bus network to be more equitable should be one of the governor’s highest priorities.”

An MTA spokesman said the new timeline is only preliminary and that transit planners are adjusting to the pandemic shaking up people’s commutes. 

“The pandemic is resulting in evolving ridership patterns. We want to conduct additional public outreach and allow some time for new longterm norms to develop,” said Aaron Donovan in a statement.

MTA will restart with the Bronx’s local bus network later this month, and the Express Bus routes there will follow some time after the mid-2022 deadline. The borough already had a final redesign plan before the pandemic outbreak.

The Queens redesign had a draft proposal, and Brooklyn was at a more preliminary stage, with just a report on that borough bus network’s current conditions, and “internal work” continues for those two boroughs for now, according to MTA.

MTA has yet to start any work on Manhattan’s bus network and Staten Island’s local buses.

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Queens elected officials endorse basement dwellings because they lived in them

 


LIC Post 

A group of Queens officials who have lived in basement apartments themselves said Wednesday that calls to remove such units are not realistic.

Critics who want the city to crack down on illegal basement apartments and end their use say the units are unsafe and lead to overcrowding. They point to the 11 New Yorkers who died last week when flooding from Hurricane Ida turned their subterranean homes into death traps.

However, advocates of basement units and elected officials such as Queens Borough President Donovan Richards say the city should find a way to legalize the units, while increasing safety standards. They note the city has little choice but to adopt this approach.

Richards, who held a media roundtable with Congress Members Grace Meng and Hakeem Jeffries Wednesday, said people will continue to live in basement-level apartments as long as there’s a housing affordability crisis in the city.

“One of the reasons people in Queens County live in basements is because we’re in an affordability crisis and basements play a key role in providing affordable housing,” Richards said. “… We’re going to need some real solutions moving forward on how we bring these illegal basements into compliance with the city.”

The three elected officials said the city needs to have a serious conversation and come up with a plan to address the multitude of basement apartments across the city.

There are 312,658 such units that could potentially be converted to safe, legal and affordable homes, according to NYC BASE Campaign, a group formed to fight for the legalization of basement apartments in New York City.

Richards said he has lived in basement apartments himself.

“I’m a basement baby I like to say,” he said. “A basement apartment helped get me through college as well to an extent.”

Meng said she also spent the early years of her life in a basement apartment.

“I too am a basement baby,” she said. “I spent the first six years of my life in a basement in Queens and Donovan’s right, people are going to live in basements whether we like it or not — whether we legalize them or not, they are going to live in basements.”

Likewise, Jeffries said he lived basement apartments in college, graduate school and even during his first four years as a Congress member in Washington D.C.

“Basement apartments are a reality because we have a housing crisis that exists here in New York City and the United States of America,” Jeffries said.

Meng said that she met a seven-month-old “garage baby” Tuesday while out surveying storm damage and assisting constituents in her district. The garage was converted into a small two-bedroom apartment, which was flooded in the storm.

She said the family didn’t know it was illegal for them to be housed in a garage. In fact, most tenants of basement apartments who she spoke to didn’t know their homes were illegal, Meng said.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Caption our dear leader

 
 
 
"It's not about freedom or personal choice. COME ON MAN!!!"

Mysterious fire ignites on top of Far Rockaway hospital

 

PIX News 

In one of Mario's Son's last attempts to abuse his power to benefit his donors before all those woman exposed what a serial sexual deviant he was, Andy tried to downsize this hospital during a pandemic.

And who knows how many thousands would have survived if he didn't kill Peninsula Hospital 9 years earlier.

9/11/01-9/11/21





 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Bill Gates is taking over NYC hotels

https://s12.therealdeal.com/trd/up/2021/09/main-Bill-Gates-Cascade-taking-over-Four-Seasons-Hotels-Resorts-705x439.jpg

The Real Deal

Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment is taking a swing in the hotel industry, paying more than $2 billion to take control of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.

Cascade is planning to buy 23.8 percent of a stake belonging to Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, spending $2.2 billion, according to Reuters. The purchase will give Cascade a 71.3 percent stake and operating control of Four Seasons.

Prince Alwaleed is hanging on to his remaining stake. The purchase values the hotel chain at about $10 billion on an enterprise basis.

Gates is taking a risk in a hotel market that has been struggling throughout the pandemic, despite showing some signs of life more recently. The market in New York City is in the midst of a depression as occupancy rates hover well below typical summer numbers. A CBRE study estimated that the market wouldn’t recover until 2025.

Yet Cascade has shown a willingness to spend big during the pandemic. Last October, Cascade formed a partnership with Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC for stakes in Storage Mart, a deal valued at about $2.7 billion.

While specializing in hotels and resorts, Four Seasons has expanded to residential rentals as well. The company has more than 100 hotels and resorts around the world. The company doesn’t typically own its properties, instead operating them on behalf of developers.

Fauxgressive council cronies writes bill to cancel criminal background checks for renters


 

Queens Chronicle

A bill pending before the City Council woud ban landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants.

Councilman Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn) and supporters say it is necessary and bans discrimination against ex-convicts who have turned their lives around. Many have trouble getting leases once their backgrounds are known. Advocates told the Daily News on Monday that the bill would ease homelessness and shelter overcrowding.

The bill reportedly has 27 co-sponsors — and the backing of Mayor de Blasio.

Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, represents thousands of landlords. He told the News on Monday the bill is problematic, and should be rewritten to allow exemptions.

He said landlords should have control over their properties, and have a right to prevent drug dealers, gun dealers and gang members from operating in their buildings. He also said the bill would expose landlords to unacceptable levels of potential liability. The measure is expected to come up for a vote in the next few weeks.

No vax, no test, no dice

  


SI Advance 

 Members of the NYPD will need to either get a COVID-19 vaccine or test negative every seven days as part of a new city mandate, or else forego their pay for every day of noncompliance, sources told the Advance/SILive.com.

The policy is set to begin Monday after data in late August showed about 47% of the department’s 35,000 uniformed officers and 18,000 civilian employees were vaccinated.

The testing must be done off-the-clock and the department will not accept at-home antigen tests as sufficient evidence of a negative test result. In a memo issued Wednesday to officers by the Police Benevolent Association, union president Pat Lynch wrote:

“Contrary to our previous conversations with the department, the order indicates that unvaccinated MOS must obtain a COVID-19 test on their own time. In the PBA’s view, any testing mandated by the Department must be conducted on job time and at the city’s expense, and any test received outside of the MOS’s regular working hours should be subject to overtime compensation.”

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Bad pick Governor Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul is joined on stage by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Hazel Nell Dukes outside of Adam Clayton Powell Jr building in Harlem to officially announce Brian Benjamin, NY State Senator, as her pick for New York Lieutenant Governor.

THE CITY 

Newly appointed Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin stands to make a hefty profit from insider stock he holds in a company that arranges loans with interest rates up to 500% and has been sued repeatedly, THE CITY has learned.

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently tapped Benjamin for her old job after she succeeded Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations and other scandals.

Benjamin, a Manhattan state senator for the past four years, is set to be sworn into his new role on Thursday.

The Harvard Business School grad got the inside edge via his role as a founding board member of Next Point Acquisition Corp., an investment firm that earlier this year bought the oft-sued California firm LoanMe, records show.

Benjamin resigned from NextPoint’s board in March, but kept his stock. THE CITY estimates that Benjamin could net a hefty $80,000 profit off what appears to be his initial $4,100 investment if he sold the stock tomorrow on the Toronto Stock Exchange where it’s traded.

The California-based LoanMe arranges small personal and business loans for borrowers with troubled credit histories, using banks in states with few restrictions on interest rates. LoanMe borrowers are then on the hook for interest rates of 98% to 500%, plus fees, according to rates in some states posted on the company’s website.

LoanMe does no business in New York because interest rates on most loans are by law capped at 16% per annum. The state considers rates higher than 25% to be criminal.

LoanMe has been sued 33 times in seven states in the last five years, records show. The firm has settled all but two of those lawsuits under terms that remain sealed, records show.

In some suits, consumers charged that LoanMe bombarded them with texts and robo calls pushing them to take out loans. In others, borrowers alleged LoanMe employed similar harassment if they were late with payments.

Some borrowers have also alleged LoanMe reported to credit rating agencies that they still owed money even after they’d paid their debts — an erroneous claim they said destroyed their credit.