Tag Archives: Michael Bloomberg

Mayor de Blasio files to drop city’s stop-and-frisk appeal


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration filed papers on Thursday to drop the city’s appeal of a judge’s decision to reform the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

Under the court papers, which were filed in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, the city came to an agreement with the plaintiffs in the ongoing case against stop-and-frisk, Floyd vs. City of New York. 

“This is a defining moment in our history. It’s a defining moment for millions of our families, especially those with young men of color,” de Blasio said. “This will be one city, where everyone’s rights are respected, and where police and community stand together to confront violence.”

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled last year that the Police Department had discriminated against minorities with stop-and-frisk, and ordered that monitor oversee the NYPD and other reforms.

In the agreement announced today, a court-appointed monitor will oversee the NYPD’s reform of stop-and-frisk for three years.

The city filed to appeal the decision last year under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Despite the city dropping the appeal, the case may not be over. When de Blasio was elected mayor last year, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) promised that they will seek to intervene and carry on the appeal if the city drops the case.

“We continue to have serious concerns about how these remedies will impact our members and the ability to do their jobs,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said. “Our goal is to continue to be involved in the process in order to give voice to our members and to make every effort to ensure that their rights are protected.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-ed: Prohibit the installation of tolls


| oped@queenscourier.com

 STATE SENATOR TONY AVELLA

Once again, congestion pricing plans, which include the imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, have been circulating throughout the city.  Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg first began to push his own congestion pricing plan in 2008, I have been vehemently against congestion pricing in any form whether it is through charging drivers a fee to enter Manhattan or through the implementation of tolls on the East River bridges.  Congestion pricing in any form is nothing more than an undue tax on working and middle class families and small businesses. That is why I recently held a press conference with Assemblymember David Weprin, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Civic Congress, announcing legislation I will be introducing in the State Senate that would prohibit the installation of tolls on any bridges controlled and operated by the City of New York, which include the East River bridges.

The imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, including the Willis Avenue, Third Avenue, Queensborough, Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, is not a revenue-generating option that the residents of this city should be forced to endure.  Such tolls would place an unfair burden upon Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan residents who would be forced to pay to travel between the boroughs.  Given the always increasing cost of living in the city and with constant bus and subways fare hikes, city residents are in no position to again face another huge increase in their daily living expenses.

Penalizing businesses, especially small businesses, and individuals for using their cars is not a viable option or solution for reducing traffic.  New Yorkers still need to get to work and conduct business and raising taxes should never be the first option.  It would have a devastating effect on those families near or at the poverty level.  Everyone agrees that we need to address traffic congestion problems throughout the city, but the first step has to be improving mass transit.

A popular plan being circulated by an organization called Move NY, led by former Transportation Commissioner Sam Schwartz, would charge all drivers that enter Manhattan by crossing either the East River or 60th Street a toll, while drivers on bridges linking the other boroughs, would see their tolls go down.  According to Move NY, this would lead to more funds dedicated to transportation in the region, with the majority of it going to improved transit service.

In a perfect world, this plan could work.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world; we live in the real world, where the next fiscal crisis could be just around the corner.  What happens to this plan then?  What happens when the legislature raids the funds dedicated to transportation, which has happened time and again? How can this plan guarantee that the tolls for the outer borough bridges don’t go up again, when more funds are needed?  As the saying goes, there are only two guarantees in life-death and taxes.

In the end, congestion pricing and any plan to impose tolls on the East River bridges is merely another revenue generating plan, not a traffic-reducing plan.  It should be the responsibility of the leaders of the city to find ways of decreasing traffic congestion without placing a new fiscal burden upon those who can least afford it.

Avella represents the 11th Senate District

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

De Blasio sworn in as 109th mayor of New York City


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/Official Photos by New York City Mayor's Office

Updated 1:30 p.m.

The Bloomberg era has ended and the de Blasio administration has begun.

New York City’s 109th mayor, Bill de Blasio, was sworn in during a ceremony at his Park Slope, Brooklyn home just after midnight Wednesday, followed by a formal inauguration on the steps of City Hall later that day.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman officiated the New Year’s Eve oath of office, which was also attended by the mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

“From the beginning, this has been our family together reaching out to the people of this city to make a change that we all needed. I want to thank you for having brought us to this moment,” de Blasio said after taking the oath in front of his home.

“To everyone this is the beginning of a road we will travel together,” he added.

Former President Bill Clinton swore in de Blasio on the steps of City Hall with a bible once owned by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

De Blasio previously served as a regional director in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign. Both endorsed de Blasio for mayor in the general election.

Before administering the oath, Clinton said it had been a “great joy” for his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and him to see de Blasio’s progress “because he has served with such passion and because he represents with his family the future of our city and the future of our country.”

Telling New Yorkers “our work begins today,” in his inauguration speech de Blasio pledged to expand the pay sick leave law, require big developers to build affordable housing, stem the tide of hospital closures, reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy and ask the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes to provide universal, full-day pre-k and after-school programs for middle schoolers.

“We won’t wait, we’’ll do it now,” he said.

“Let me be clear: When I said I would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it.” he added.

A thousand tickets were reserved for the general public to attend the public swearing-in ceremony, with de Blasio pledging that it would be an “inauguration for all New Yorkers.”

Several dozen New Yorkers from across the city were additionally invited to join the mayor on stage. The group included a Queens engineer who emigrated from Bangladesh, according to de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio takes the subway with his family to his City Hall inauguration.

Queens resident and the 2014 New York City Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, read an original poem at the inauguration, which she dedicated to de Blasio.

Ramana, a first generation Indian-American, grew up in the borough and recently won the New York Knicks’ Poetry scholarship to St. John’s University, where she is a first-year student, according to the mayor.

Letitia James, who is succeeding de Blasio as public advocate was also sworn in at City Hall Wednesday. The councilmember is the first woman of color to hold citywide office. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President since 2006, was sworn in as city comptroller, replacing John Liu.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

City officials announce new pay-by-phone parking program


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

City residents can soon pay for parking on-the-go, officials said Thursday.

Motorists will be able to pay for parking via cell phone and also online at all 14,000 city parking meters, taking away the need to place paper receipts on dashboards.

The Department of Transportation (DOT), NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the new program Dec. 26.

Visitors of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx are the first to trash the receipts. The rest of the city will be on board by early 2015.

“By eliminating the need for coins, credit cards or receipts, pay-by-phone parking has already been a game-changer for drivers in the Bronx,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, DOT Commissioner. “Expanding the system across the borough will now help more New Yorkers dial in for faster, more convenient parking.”

Drivers will be able to pay by downloading a smartphone app or calling a toll-free number and identifying their location by entering the number displayed on muni-meters.

Payment information will be instantly accessible to NYPD traffic enforcement agents.

“Technology is critical to making daily interactions with government simpler and easier,” said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “This innovative program will allow motorists to remotely pay from their mobile devices, and it’s another way we are bringing parking into the 21st century.”

The DOT has additionally tested sensors embedded in parking lanes to deliver information on available parking spaces along Arthur Avenue and is looking to expand that system citywide as well.

RECOMMENDED STORIES:

Quinn officially announces mayoral run


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Official NYC City Council photo by William Alatriste

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is officially running for mayor.

The long-term city rep kicked off her campaign Sunday, becoming the second to do so, after more than a year of speculation.

“I’m about keeping New York City a place for the middle class to live and grow,” she said in a video officially announcing her campaign. “And to help all of those hard working people get into the middle class.”

Along with protecting the middle class, Quinn’s platforming on her record fighting for New Yorkers’ civil rights and a record of passing seven balanced budgets.

The speaker will now begin a “walk-and-talk” tour, in which she’ll walk through city neighborhoods to gauge the needs of a community.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio kicked off his campaign for mayor last month. The dems can also expect former Comptroller Bill Thompson and incumbent John Lui as opponents.

 

 

 

Citywide school bus strike over


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

The month-long citywide school bus strike has come to a screeching halt.

Drivers and matrons are expected to be back at their posts on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city officials and members of Local 1181 met on Thursday to bring an end to the strike which left more than 150,000 children stranded.

“We appreciate the hard work our bus drivers and matrons do and we welcome them back to the job. In the city’s entire history, the special interests have never had less power than they do today, and the end of this strike reflects the fact that when we say we put children first, we mean it,” said Bloomberg.

New program to help with post-Sandy mold damage


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Though FEMA assistance can help homeowners deal with some of the devastating effects of Sandy, there is no direct federal funding for mold removal.

A new program aims to solve that issue for around 2,000 homes in hard-hit areas.

Using private money raised to help storm victims, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, in partnership with the American Red Cross and Robin Hood Foundation, is sponsoring a $15 million mold remediation program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced.

The mold treatment will be performed free of charge by private contractors and nonprofit organizations.

“Through our first-of-its-kind Rapid Repairs program, we have helped more than 15,000 families return to their homes. But mold remains a challenge that many residents are confronting,” said Bloomberg.

“More than three months after Hurricane Sandy, while recovery and rebuilding is ongoing, families are beginning to discover that mold is a serious concern for their families,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “For most, mold remediation was too costly or when done, not addressed properly and now with summer season approaching, mold can have a very dangerous effect on our health and environment.”

The Mayor’s Fund is also sponsoring free training sessions on mold remediation, where thousands of free mold supply will be distributed.

Below is a list of the first series of these mold treatment sessions. The locations will continue to be updated as they are scheduled. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov or by calling 311.

January 31, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Shorefront Y (Spanish Only)
3300 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235

February 2, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Gerritsen Beach Fire Department
43 Seba Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11229

February 4, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Gerritsen Beach Fire Department
43 Seba Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11229

February 4, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
P.S. 195
131 Irwin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235

February 5, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Gospel Assembly Church
2828 Neptune Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11224

February 5, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Bayswater Jewish Center
2355 Healy Avenue
Far Rockaway, NY 11691

February 23, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
CYO-MIV Community Center at Mount Loretto
6541 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10309

February 9, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
St. Clare’s Parish
137-35 Brookville Boulevard
Queens, NY 11422

February 13, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
P.S. 277
2529 Gerritsen Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11229

February 13, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island
3001 West 37th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11224

February 13, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Bayswater Jewish Center
2355 Healy Avenue
Far Rockaway, NY 11691

February 16, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
St. Clare’s Parish
137-35 Brookville Boulevard
Queens, NY 11422

February 16, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Oasis Church
539 Greeley Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Shadows are no-shows, groundhogs predict early spring


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Twitter/@ChrisCQuinn

Spring is coming early if the city’s most famous marmot has predicted correctly.

Groundhog Chuck in Staten Island and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania did not see their shadows this morning.

City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn celebrated at the city’s Groundhog Day festivities in Staten Island after the tiny rodent predicted the end of winter.

Shadows were not the only shy ones Saturday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also absent.

Sandy’s surge delays bike share yet again


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO BY MICHAEL PANTELIDIS

The city’s previously stalled bike share program is again slamming on the breaks after Sandy.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) announced that its hotly-anticipated Citi Bike will be postponed for a second time to May of 2013 because of damage incurred by the Superstorm.

Sandy’s surge flooded NYCBS’s facility located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River and housed roughly two-thirds of the system’s equipment. According to the DOT, while portions of the equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, several integral electrical components require repairs or replacing.

“DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

The initiative was originally supposed to unveil 7,000 bicycles in March of 2013 after being delayed from the fall because of faulty equipment. The DOT said they intend to increase the number of bikes in the program to 10,000 eventually, but do not presently have a timeline on when that will occur.

According to the DOT, 5,500 bikes will be implemented at 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Long Island City – initially slated to receive bikes in the first phase of the program – will not be included in the May 2013 debut. Western Queens cyclists can expect to see the shiny cobalt cruisers on their blocks sometime towards the end of 2013.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who has long been in support of the bike share program, said the delay is a major disappointment. Regardless of Long Island City’s exclusion from phase one, the councilmember said he would continue to advocate for the active neighborhood to increase its ability to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“I understand the Department of Transportation is doing its best to get the nation’s largest bike share program up and running but leaving Western Queens out of the mix does not seem logical when so many residents here rely on alternate transportation options,” said Van Bramer.

Initially, 10 docking stations were expected to be placed strategically to provide riders access to premier locations in LIC, including waterfront parks, the business district and LaGuardia Community College.

The delay will not impact the program’s $41 million price tag, funded privately by Citi.

School bus drivers threaten to strike after holiday break


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After the new year, kids may be looking for a new way to get to school.

Yellow school bus drivers have threatened to strike when children are scheduled to return to school after the holidays. The city’s contract with Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1181 is set to expire in June and a bid, open to all suitors, was issued to secure a new contract.

“Going through with the strike now would be unfair to our kids and absolutely unacceptable,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The union is upset that the bid does not include language that will guarantee current drivers a job in the next contract, something Bloomberg said was deemed illegal.

“The union is protesting a job guarantee the DOE is not allowed to provide,” the mayor said.

The strike would affect 152,000 students and 7,700 school bus routes citywide.

The DOE has taken efforts to provide transportation if the strike does occur and sent parents a letter on the step that will be taken.

Metrocards will be provided to students who receive yellow bus service and to the parents of children in grades kindergarten to second grade and parents of children with special needs.

Those in areas where public transportation is not readily available will be reimbursed by the DOE for any transportation costs.

Field trips that required a yellow bus will be cancelled in the event of a strike and after-school programs will remain open.

The union also threatened to strike in November of 2011 over similar circumstances, but the work stoppage was averted.

Calls to the union for comment were not immediately returned.

Bloomberg demands a plan to end gun violence


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo by Edward Reed

Dozens of Americans affected by gun violence joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall for the release of 34 videos renewing the call for the federal government to reduce gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The 34 videos each tell the personal story of survivors and family members of victims of gun violence, one video for each of the 34 Americans killed daily by guns.

“Gun violence is a national epidemic — and a national tragedy — that demands more than words. It demands immediate national action, from the president and from Congress. It needs to be at the top of their agenda,” Bloomberg said.

The videos can be viewed at demandaplan.org.

Survivors and family members of deceased relatives from shootings in Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech and Columbine told their stories on the series of two-minute videos of the trauma they continue to face following the tragedies.

“While I was laying in my hospital bed and watching the news, I heard a lot of public officials offering their condolences, but I guess I’m still waiting for all of that to turn into some sort of policy that will prevent these mass tragedies from happening to anyone ever again,” said Stephen Barton, a survivor of the movie theater shooting in Aurora.

Among the legislation Bloomberg demanded passed when the 113th Congress convenes next year was closing the gun show loopholes and requiring all gun purchases to be subject to background checks, reinstating the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and making gun trafficking a felony.

Con Ed to invest $250 million to protect equipment against future storms


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Con Ed has announced that it will secure $250 million for protecting city infrastructure and maintaining reliable service for customers during storms such as Sandy.

“Our commitment would represent an initial infusion of preventive measures [and] we expect that even greater investments will be needed as regional discussions evolve over the coming months and years,” the company said in a statement.

Con Ed invests nearly $2 billion annually in electric, gas and steam systems, but this $250 million will be reserved specifically for measures that can help protect critical equipment from flood damage.

To execute these measures, Con Ed would raise electrical relay houses in substations, install stronger barriers and flood pumps, and potentially put major overhead power lines underground.

“Con Ed recognizes that, in order to withstand a Category 2 hurricane, it needs to significantly harden its . . . systems,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “As this planning work begins, we’ll also have to look to identify steps we can take immediately.”

NYC looking to ‘Reinvent Payphones’


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Payphones may appear like anachronisms when residents whiz by them glued to their cellphones, but the seeming artifacts still prove useful, especially in times of emergency.

Payphone usage tripled during Superstorm Sandy in areas affected by the storm, as those without power were forced to use the coin-operated phones to make calls.

To assure that as technology continues to evolve payphones are not left behind, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the  Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) launched the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, a competition calling on urban designers, planners, technologists and policy experts to create New York’s payphone of the future.

The number of payphones within the five boroughs has shrunk significantly over the past few years. There are currently approximately 11,000 in the city, down from a high of 35,000 in the late 1990s.

“Payphones have been an iconic part of the city’s streetscape for decades, and can be vital lifelines for communication in times of emergency. But to thrive, the payphone of the future needs to offer valuable services at all times, and with various pilot programs already underway, we’re evaluating how some of those amenities are publicly received,” said (DoITT) Commissioner Rahul N. Merchant.

The goal of the competition is to foster innovative ideas to help modernize payphones and optimize use of public space when the city’s current contracts expire in 2014. Modernization of the phones has already begun with 13 already equipped as Wi-Fi hot spots.

Currently, the phones rake in nearly $18 million of revenue each year; $1.2 million from calls and $15.9 million from advertising.

For more information on the competition visit reinventpayphones.splashthat.com.

Bloomberg says city will rebuild smarter along shore


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC_0128w

Despite record storm surges, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to rebuild along the shore, but said it must be “smarter, stronger and more sustainable.”

Bloomberg made the remarks at the New York Marriott Downtown to an audience that included former Vice President Al Gore.

“Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront,” Bloomberg said. “We are not going to leave the Rockaways or Coney Island or Staten Island’s South Shore. But we can’t just rebuild what was there and hope for the best.”

The city’s more than 500 miles of shoreline include some of the most desirable places to live, but also the most vulnerable.

Bloomberg announced the launch of an engineering analysis of coastal protection strategies to understand the best options to help protect the city.

An expansion of Zone A will be considered, he said, as well as new structural requirements to ensure that buildings can withstand intense winds and waves. While sea walls are not a likely option, dunes, jetties and levees must be considered to protect the city from rising storm surges, he said.

“We may or may not see another storm like Sandy in our lifetimes, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that we should leave it to our children to prepare for the possibility,” said Bloomberg. “And sea levels are expected to rise by another two and a half feet by the time a child born today reaches 40 years old, and that’s going to make surges even more powerful and dangerous.”

More than two-thirds of homes damaged by Sandy were outside of FEMA’s 100-year flood maps. The maps are drawn to represent an area likely to be flooded about once per century.

“No matter how much we do to make homes and businesses more resilient, the fact of the matter is we live next to the ocean, and the ocean comes with risks that we just cannot eliminate,” Bloomberg said.

Forbes names Bloomberg the world’s 16th most powerful person


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr/nycmayorsoffice Photo credit: Spencer T Tucker

New Yorkers who believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg wields too much authority will not be surprised by his high ranking on Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people.

Bloomberg placed 16th on the annual list that includes heads of state, CEOs and magnates, one spot behind Warren Buffet and one ahead of Walmart CEO Michael Duke.

President Barack Obama unanimously topped the rankings for the second consecutive year, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bill Gates. Pope Benedict XVI, who recently joined Twitter, rounded out the top five.

Seventy-one people from 24 countries made their way onto the Power list.

The list was compiled based on four standards: whether the candidate has power over lots of people, how much money is controlled by the person, if the person is powerful in more than one area and whether they actively used their power.

Forbes said Bloomberg, who was 17th on the list last year, projects his influence in myriad ways.

“New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has power because he’s a politician, because he’s a billionaire, because he’s a media magnate and because he’s a major philanthropist,” Forbes wrote.

The magazine also pointed to his push to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces as a highlight of the past year.

Bloomberg, who is about to enter his final year in office, will continue to wield power even after his days at City Hall are over. Independence USA PAC, a Super PAC created by Bloomberg to back candidates around the country who share his views, spent nearly $10 million on elections this fall and will continue to support office-seekers who share Bloomberg’s ideals, including gun control, the environment and education.

Other well-known names on the list include Mark Zuckerberg (#25), Rupert Murdoch (#26) and Bill Clinton (#50), though his wife and Secretary of State Hillary, who Bloomberg reportedly called to gauge her interest in the mayorship, was left off.