Tag Archives: Mayor Bloomberg

Queens pol has high hopes for Sandy Funding Tracker


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Councilmember Donovan Richards

Sandy recovery money is now under close inspection, and one Queens pol wants accountability for every dollar moving forward.

In November, Councilmember Donovan Richards introduced a bill that would track all funds related to superstorm recovery via an online database.

Before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg bid adieu to City Hall in late December, he signed the bill into law, along with 21 others. It will take effect in late March.

Richards said new Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration will carry out the bill as it was intended, making sure local jobs are created and devastated areas are rebuilt stronger than before.

“De Blasio spent a lot of time with us during the storm, helping and bringing out supplies,” Richards said. “It’s not like we have to convince him we have a need.”

The Workforce Center recently opened in the Far Rockaway Queens Library branch is also equipped to prepare local residents for the rebuilding job opportunities.

“These things all tie into what we want to do,” Richards said. “Twenty billion dollars is going to come through New York City over the next few years. We want to make sure it’s distributed [equally].”

The Sandy Funding Tracker provides a funding summary, which gives an overview of all recovery money by funding type and funding details, broken down by borough and individual.

“You can see where this money is and where it’s going,” Richards said.

In addition to tracking federal funding, all contractors doing work locally are required to disclose everything from the wages they pay workers to the area from which they hire these workers. This is meant to encourage contractors to fulfill local hiring mandates.

The tracker also provides detailed information about projects and programs in each major category of disaster relief funds, such as Build it Back, the city-sponsored recovery program.

For more information and to see the website’s progress thus far, click here. The website will continually be updated once the law goes into effect.

 

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Op-ed: Bloomberg was a boon to this city


| oped@queenscourier.com


ANDREW SANTIS

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is no more.

To New Yorkers who criticize and accuse Bloomberg for being ignorant and a tyrant, this is a relief. For others, like me, it is saddening to see the man responsible for today’s New York go.

Bloomberg entered City Hall at a very peculiar time, as it was only four months after the 9/11 attacks. In addition, he faced three consecutive years of budget gaps and an underperforming school system. And yet, he was still very optimistic about the city’s future. On his inauguration day, he said, “New York is safe, strong, open for business and ready to lead the world in the 21st century.”

He was right.

Under Bloomberg’s watch, New York City became the safest large city in the country. He and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly reduced crime by 35 percent.

Bloomberg also became a public opponent of guns, leading efforts to eliminate the sale and distribution of illegal guns in the city. Eight thousand guns are now off the streets of New York. Bloomberg has also devoted his efforts to making New York City’s counterterrorism programs the best in the world.

To stimulate the city’s economy, Bloomberg created the Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan, which focuses on creating jobs for New Yorkers, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city’s economy and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. As a result, areas in Coney Island were rezoned for housing and commercial use. In addition, the Lower East Side will generate more than 1 million square feet of housing, open space and shops, the West Side of Midtown Manhattan will see residential housing, office buildings and the extension of the 7 line (also a Bloomberg initiative) and Willets Point in Queens will add housing, retail, entertainment, public space and much more that will transform the area around Citi Field.

Among Bloomberg’s major accomplishments was making New York the healthiest city in the world. First he tackled smoking by signing the Smoke Free Air Act in 2003, making smoking in public places illegal; he raised taxes on cigarettes; started an anti-smoking campaign and recently succeeded at raising the cigarette buying age to 21. Youth smoking has decreased by 51 percent and adult smoking by one third.

Obesity followed. In 2006, trans fats were banned from restaurants. In 2008, calorie counts began appearing on menus and menu boards. In 2010, he unveiled a plan to reduce salt in packaged and restaurant food. Thanks to his efforts, the city now boasts an 80.6-year life expectancy.

Of course, Bloomberg has had his share of flops. One was appointing Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor, and another was being unprepared for the 2010 Christmas blizzard. And let’s not forget the flawed, over-priced, revamped 9-1-1 system.

However, this will not eclipse the good Bloomberg has done.

There are more parks, affordable health insurance for all New Yorkers, environmentally friendly hybrid taxis, a city-wide information and non-emergency service and an improved public school system.

One thing is for sure: Bloomberg is leaving behind an unparalleled legacy.

On his inauguration day, Bloomberg promised Rudy Giuliani he would not fail the people of New York.

He did not.

Mayor Bloomberg, thanks for all you have done. I will miss you.

Andrew Santis is a sophomore in the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University.

 

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Bloomberg signs last bills as mayor, including indoor e-cigarette ban


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr / Photo by Edward Reed

Michael Bloomberg held a marathon bill signing session Monday, enacting his final 22 pieces of legislation as mayor, including an indoor ban on e-cigarettes.

The new law includes electronic cigarettes in the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act and will prohibit their use in restaurants, offices, parks, beaches and other public spaces.

“E-cigarettes heat up a chemical solution and emit vapors to provide its user with nicotine, the same highly addictive ingredient found in combustible cigarettes. The next generation of potential smokers could gravitate to getting their nicotine fix from these products,” Bloomberg said.

A protestor who was at the bill signing lit up a cigarette and read a statement against the smoking ban, according to published reports.

Additional legislation Bloomberg signed Monday included a bill that could lead to the ban of plastic foam containers following a year-long study to determine if the material can be recycled, and the creation of a database to track expenditures related to Sandy.

“EPS [Expanded Polystyrene] foam is a major source of litter, where it often breaks up into small pieces, littering our streets, waterways, catch basins, and neighborhood sidewalks. EPS foam also costs the city money. The city must pay $1.8 million annually to have it landfilled where it can sit for more than five hundred years,” Bloomberg said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 37. WSW winds at 5 to 10 mph, increasing to 15 to 25 mph. Tuesday night: Clear skies. Low 26. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Z Hotel’s New Year’s Eve special

Open bar and buffet until midnight, festive party favors, champagne toast at midnight, DJs Rob TV and Lil Roy. $125 ($39.95 dinner only/$75 open bar only). Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio vows to end horse-drawn carriages in Central Park

The days of the horse-drawn carriage in New York City are galloping to a close. Read more: NBC New York

City sues FedEx for $52M over ‘illegal’ cigarette deliveries

New York City has sued FedEx, accusing the package-delivery company of illegally delivering millions of contraband cigarettes to people’s homes in violation of a 2006 settlement. Read more: New York Post

Speaker Silver calls for faster increase in state minimum wage

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said Monday that he wants to accelerate the state’s scheduled minimum wage increase to $9 by 2015 and tie it to the inflation rate. Read more: CBS New York

Woman protests Bloomberg’s policies by lighting cigarette inside City Hall

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill banning e-cigarette use indoors as one of the last pieces of legislation he approved, an opponent protested Bloomberg’s policies by lighting up a real cigarette right inside City Hall. Read more: CBS New York

Dead frog found in salad from chain sandwich shop

A sandwich restaurant chain says it’s looking into how a dead frog got into a customer’s salad in Manhattan Monday. Read more: NBC New York

Mayor Bloomberg’s official portrait unveiled


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be leaving office shortly, but his image will continue to live on in City Hall.

The mayor’s official portrait was unveiled Monday and now hangs in City Hall outside of the Blue Room, along with all recent official mayoral portraits, according to Bloomberg’s office.

Painted by portrait artist Jon R. Friedman, the painting is oil on canvas and is 50 inches tall by 36 inches wide.

It was created from a photograph taken of the mayor in June of this year, where he is standing in the Bullpen at City Hall.

Though the painting was privately funded and is a gift to the city, it needed approval from the Public Design Commission, a requirement for any artwork adorning city property. Final approval was given on Dec. 9.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly to mostly cloudy. High 39. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Monday Night: A few clouds. Low 24. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Holiday Puppet Party Workshop

Children become puppet makers and performers at the Holiday Puppet Party Workshop at the Museum of the Moving Image. In this hour-long workshop kids use simple materials to design their own unique characters, and then take turns performing with them in a short televised puppet show. 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio expected to pick veteran NYC educator Carmen Farina as next chancellor: report

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is expected to appoint veteran New York City educator Carmen Farina as the next chancellor of the nation’s largest school system, according to a report. Read more: NBC New York

Bloomberg gives final radio address as New York City mayor

Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg says serving New Yorkers as mayor for 12 years has been an “honor and privilege.” Read more: AP

Bloomberg spent $650 Million on NYC in 12 Years: report

A new report says Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent $650 million of his own fortune on New York City over the course of three terms in office.  Read more: NBC New York

3 NYC employees arrested in separate incidents

Three New York City employees were arrested in separate incidents early Sunday. Read more: CBS New York

Justice Sotomayor to helm Times Square ball drop

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lend some high-profile help to the countdown to 2014 in Times Square. Read more: NBC New York

 

NYC murders, shootings reach record lows


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leaving office with the fewest murders and shootings in recorded city history.

He made the announcement Friday along with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly at the graduation ceremony for 1,171 new police officers at Madison Square Garden.

“New York’s crime-fighting strategies have made us America’s safest big city – and one that cities across the globe want to learn from,” said Bloomberg. “Twelve years ago, no one thought New York’s crime rate could go any lower. But it did.”

There have been 332 homicides so far in 2013, down 20 percent from the previous record low, set last year, according to the mayor. Murders have dropped 32 percent since 2001, when he was elected.

In Queens, there were 1,374 fewer homicides between 2002 and December 20 of this year than during the 12 years prior to that period.

Shootings have declined by 20 percent from 2012’s record low, with 1,093 shootings through Thursday, December 26, and have dropped by 32 percent since 2001.

The city began recording homicide numbers in 1963, when there were 548 murders. The homicide rate peaked in 1990 with 2,245 deaths, according to Police Department stats.

Shootings statistics were first recorded with the introduction of NYPD’s Compstat crime reporting system in 1994, according to the mayor.

Crime in schools and on the subway has also seen significant drops in recent years.

Major crimes in schools are down 56 percent and violent crime has decreased 55 percent since 2001.

In 1990, there were 50 crimes per day on the subway, and only 7.1 crimes per day in 2013.

The mayor said the crime drop could not be attributed to putting more people in prison, since incarceration rates have decreased since 2001.

Policing strategies, such as Operation Impact, which pairs rookie and veteran officers to “flood high-crime zones” and Operation Crew Cut, an initiative combating loosely affiliated gangs, helped keep the shooting and murder rates down, the mayor said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Sunshine to start, then a few afternoon clouds. High 39. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 32. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: ReMake the Holidays

Build and animate a new version of the holiday season with workshops, demos, artist installations, ice sculpting and a screening of Bag It The Movie at the New York Hall of Science. Friday, December 27- Monday, December 30. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City incarceration rate drops by more than a third during Bloomberg’s tenure

In his final days in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted a historic drop in crime in the city. Read more: CBS New York

Computer glitch gives some lucky fliers cheap airfare on Delta Air Lines

Christmas came a day late for some quick – and lucky – travelers.Read more: CBS New York/AP

NY minimum wage rising to $8 per hour

New York’s minimum wage will increase to $8 per hour at the end of this year, 75 cents higher than the federal minimum and the old state rate. Read more: NBC New York

De Blasio inauguration tickets sell out quick — then get scalped

It took just two hours for the 1,000 public tickets to Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s Jan. 1 inauguration to get snatched up and only a few more minutes before they were being scalped on CraigsList. Read more: New York Post

UPS, FedEx still delivering after pre-Christmas shipping snags

UPS and FedEx are still working in overdrive to deliver packages promised by Christmas that never made it. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Mainly sunny to start, then a few afternoon clouds. High 28. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph. Monday night: A few passing clouds. Low 23. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: “Caught On Tape”

“Caught On Tape” starts at 9:30 p.m. at The Creek and the Cave at 10-93 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City. Join Ashley Brooke Roberts as she hosts a night of NYC best and brightest up and coming comics doing taped sets. The event is free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Federal Metro-North review begins; senators call for more money for inspections

Two U.S. senators on Sunday called for expanded national railroad safety inspections, a day before a special federal safety team arrives in New York for a 60-day probe into operations on the Metro-North Railroad commuter train after the deaths of four passengers. Read more: NBC New York

‘Sanitary’ restaurant violations nearly impossible to overturn

A new report shows that “sanitary” violations issued against restaurants by city health inspectors were upheld 97 percent of the time in administrative court last year. The appeals are heard by an independent health tribunal. Read more: New York Post

Black, Jewish leaders unite to condemn ‘knockout game’ attacks

Leaders of the black and Jewish communities joined together Sunday on the steps of Brooklyn Supreme Court to repudiate the violent “knockout game.” Read more: CBS New York

Bloomberg to push gun control efforts after term ends

A day after the first anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterated his call for tighter gun control laws. Read more: CBS New York

‘Lawrence of Arabia’ star Peter O’Toole dies at 81

Peter O’Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, his agent said Sunday. Fox New York

Nelson Mandela dies at 95


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons/South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za

HEATHER CHIN, MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

Former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela has died at age 95.

South African President Jacob Zuma confirmed that Mandela had died on Thursday at 8:50 p.m. South African Standard Time (1:50 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).

Born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in Transkei, South Africa, the world renowned civil rights activist went on to become South Africa’s first black president as well as a major mover in the fight to end the South African apartheid regime. His efforts and continuous activism earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Mandela was hospitalized in April 2013 for 18 days due to a lung infection. He had previously been treated for gall stones in December 2012. His last public appearance was in July 2010 at the World Cup in South Africa.

Following Mandela’s passing, national and local leaders offered their condolences and spoke of his legacy.

“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” said President Obama. “So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-staff in Mandela’s honor.

“When I presented Nelson Mandela with the Key to the City in 2005, he spoke passionately about the work of his foundation and his ongoing efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic and many other important issues. He devoted his life to building a more just, equal and compassionate world, and we are all better for it, said Bloomberg. “On behalf of the people of the City of New York, I offer my sincere condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa.”

 

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with rain showers. High of 61. Winds from the WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Friday night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 37. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Fall Festival: Free Film Screening and Community Health Fair

Come to a free community health fair and film screening of “A Place at the Table” with special guest Joel Berg Harvest Room in the Jamaica Market from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods for a Thanksgiving Food Drive. Snacks from the Jamaica Farmers’ Market will also be provided! Sponsored by the Neighborhood Hunger Network. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Mayor Bloomberg: Mayor-Elect de Blasio to get balanced budget

For the first time in decades, an incoming New York City mayor will not face a budget deficit. Read more: CBS New York/AP

NYPD asks bars to not serve ‘SantaCon’ participants

There may be a little less “jolly” in Santa’s sleigh this year, at least if the NYPD has its way. Read more: ABC New York

Weprin goes to bat for Mariano Rivera street

At least one candidate for council speaker is going to bat for Yankee great Mariano Rivera. Read more: New York Post

NFL embraces possibility of snowy Super Bowl

Instead of shrinking from the possibility that football’s ultimate game could be played in a blizzard, organizers of the first outdoor, cold-climate Super Bowl have decided to embrace the snow as the game’s unofficial theme. Read more: NBC New York

JFK assassination remembered 50 years later

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, thousands will mark the day with a solemn ceremony in Dealey Plaza, through which the president’s motorcade passed when shots rang out. Read more: AP

Newly elected mayor de Blasio meets with Bloomberg


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


New York’s next mayor met with the current mayor this morning at City Hall.

Hours after Bill de Blasio won Tuesday’s election in a landslide victory, he spoke with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a private sit down, according to the AP.

De Blasio, addressing media at the steps of City Hall, said he “feels great,” reported the AP.

“All this, it’s incredible.” he added.

De Blasio also launched his transition website and Twitter handle @nyctransition today.

 

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Political Roundup: Another poll shows strong voter support for de Blasio


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

ROUNDUP

HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WEB

Poll finds support for de Blasio, if not all his ideas

New York City voters want to keep Raymond W. Kelly as police commissioner. They want more charter schools. And nearly half of them support the Police Department’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic. Read more: New York Times

Obama: No shutdown talks “with a gun held to the head”

President Barack Obama told reporters Friday that he won’t negotiate with Republicans to end the budget standoff “with a gun held to the head of the American people.” Read more: NBC News 

Bill de Blasio considering Bill Bratton for old job as police commissioner

Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton could be back at 1 Police Plaza if Bill de Blasio is elected mayor. Read more: New York Daily News

Bloomberg defends DC police, and remembers Democratic shutdowns

Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning defended the police officers involved in yesterday’s shooting at the Capitol, saying they faced the same kind of instant judgments as officers in New York City. Read more: Capital New York 

New York state credit card surcharge law blocked

A federal judge has ruled that a New York State law that bans merchants from imposing surcharges on customers who pay by credit card is unconstitutional. Read more: AP

Mayor Bloomberg files suit to stop law making it easier to sue city over profiling


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


From the City Council to the courts.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday against the City Council to challenge a law that would make it easier for people to sue the city in discrimination cases.

The mayor’s latest move in the battle over the controversial Community Safety Act only targets the profiling measure and doesn’t include the law that creates an inspector general.

The profiling law will expand biased-based protection from ethnicity, religion and national origin to age, gender, sexual orientation and other categories. It allows individuals to sue in state courts and seek declaratory or injunctive relief, such as asking a judge change the city’s practices, instead of monetary damages.

Bloomberg said in the lawsuit the profiling law “exceeds the bounds of permissible legislation in the Council,” because changing criminal procedure law is restricted for the state legislature.

“There’s an important principle at stake here,” Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said in a statement. “Local legislative bodies should not be passing laws affecting the regulation of law enforcement activity in this way.”

The Community Safety Act was originally passed on June 26, following strong support from minority groups, who said they were being unfairly targeted by the Police Department. Statistics show cops stop-and-frisk minorities with about a 9:1 ratio to whites.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin recently ruled stop-and-frisk was being used unconstitutionally, but Bloomberg said the policy has resulted in lowering crime and gun possession and has filed to appeal the decision.

Opponents of the Community Safety Act believe the profiling bill will tie up the Police Department in court.

Last week a Queens black man was the first person to file a lawsuit against the city over alleged illegal stop-and-frisk, following Scheindlin’s ruling.

Allen Moye, 55, of Jamaica, was stopped three years ago and arrested, but charges were dropped, according to reports.

Queens opponents of the new laws are supporting Bloomberg’s lawsuit.

“I am hopeful that it will be successful in overturning the most dangerous bill ever enacted and removing the handcuffs the City Council has placed on our police officers,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., “All this legislation does is hand over control of the NYPD to the courts and control of our streets to violent criminals.”

The City Council now has 20 days to file a response.

 

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City files to appeal stop-and-frisk ruling


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr/Photo by Edward Reed

The city has filed to appeal U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional.

The appeal comes after Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his dislike for the decision on Monday and promised the city would fight the ruling in the case of Floyd vs City of New York. The appeal was filed electronically Friday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which will send the appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We have moved ahead with our formal filings,”  said Michael Cardozo, Corporation Counsel. “The mayor, the police commissioner and the city vowed to press forward immediately with an appeal — and we have done so. The safety of all New Yorkers is at stake.”

Minorities groups and some politicians have been fighting the policy, saying that stop-and-frisk is unfairly used against black and Hispanics. They have since applauded Schedindlin’s ruling and denounced the decision to appeal it.

“The overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk is driving police and communities apart instead of making our city safer,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to appeal the federal court’s ruling is wrong and deeply misguided.”

In Scheindlin’s decision on Monday she suggested reforms to stop-and-frisk. She appointed lawyer Peter Zimroth to monitor the NYPD and ordered that officers wear body cameras.

“I find that the city is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights,” Scheindlin wrote. “The city acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks.”

During a press conference after Scheindlin’s decision, Bloomberg said that the judge’s ruling was unfair.

“Throughout the trail that just concluded the judge made it clear that she was not at all interested in the crime reductions here [(in the city] or how we achieved them,” Bloomberg said.  “Through the case we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial and this decision confirms that suspicion,” he later added.

The city is going to request a “stay” before Scheindlin, to postpone her judgement during the appeals process.

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