King of Kings County
Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo–who caused a national controversy after writing a letter on racial violence that blamed recent attacks partially on “Jewish success” and “Jewish landlords”–is sorry.
A week after the controversy first emerged, Ms. Cumbo is out with a new statement apologizing “for any pain I have caused” and insisting she meant to help bridge the gap between the African-American and Jewish communities as a purported “knockout game” continues in city streets.
Nearly 40 supporters of Ken Thompson’s Brooklyn district attorney campaign gathered on the steps of Borough Hall today to demand incumbent Charles Hynes apologize for allegedly accusing Mr. Thompson of being a gun trafficker–which they linked to a larger plot to scare white voters in the November election.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the surprising new front-runner in the topsy-turvy mayor’s race, is now getting a taste of his own medicine.
After spending months slamming City Council Speaker Christine Quinn over her decision to overturn term limits to allow the current mayor to run for a third term, Mr. de Blasio is facing Read More
Affordable Housing or Lack Thereof
City Councilman Brad Lander is looking to rein in exploding expenditures from super PAC-like groups with proposed new legislation that would slap cigarette-style warnings on their mailings, among other regulations.
The package of proposed reforms comes as outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into city races through so-called “independent expenditures,” following the Citizens United court decision, which allows near-unlimited spending, as long as the groups don’t directly co-ordinate with campaigns. Of particular concern to Mr. Lander in the real estate industry-backed “Jobs 4 NY” committee, which has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on local City Council races–sometimes in the face of candidates’ opposition.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
In 1971, the State of New York passed the Urstadt Law, which took away New York City’s ability to set rent controls that were stricter than what the state—dominated by considerably more conservative upstate politicians—would allow. For 25 years the city has tried to coax developers into creating affordable housing through “inclusionary zoning” programs, which dangle density bonuses and tax abatements in exchange for building (or in some cases, maintaining) below-market apartments in their new buildings or nearby.
Some developers take the bait, but not many. Now, as Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years are up, his would-be successors running in the Democratic primary seem to have found a way around the Urstadt Law: they want to make the inclusionary zoning programs mandatory.
Big in DC
Given the mind-boggling costs and glacial pace of building new rail in New York, transit advocates have turned their attention to a less exciting mode that they say can be rolled out much more quickly, and at lower cost: bus rapid transit.
To that end, über-progressive Brooklyn councilman Brad Lander, who represents a district snaking from the Columbia Waterfront to Borough Park via Park Slope, has introduced a bill calling on the Department of Transportation to create a comprehensive citywide plan for rolling out what the MTA terms “Select Bus Service” (their brand of bus rapid transit, consisting of bus lanes and fare pre-payment, among other things, to speed up buses), already in operation on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan and a few routes in the outer boroughs.
Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander’s interest in local issues has resulted in some national attention.
Tomorrow morning, the White House will be honoring Mr. Lander as an “open-government and civic hacking” “Champion of Change” for his work on behalf of participatory budgeting in the City Council.
Katy Perry once asked, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?”
Park Slopers have an answer for you, Ms. Perry. It’s a no.
On June 24, the Brooklyn neighborhood, along with the No Impact Project, will host a “Ban the bag from NYC” workshop to help reduce and eventually eradicate the use Read More
By the time Anne Pierre and her sons arrived at 199 Amboy Street, it was after midnight. The heat of the unusually warm April day had all but drained away, but there was a mellowness to the air, a contrast to the sharp, cold spring nights that had come before. From the outside, the red-brick building looked clean and well-maintained, though the darkness made it difficult to tell for sure. In Ms. Pierre’s experience, the exteriors of homeless shelters were poor predictors of conditions inside.
Late though it was, the family’s arrival at the Brownsville shelter marked the somewhat triumphant culmination of a bureaucratic odyssey that had started two days earlier, when Ms. Pierre had reapplied for shelter at the family intake center in the Bronx. It was only somewhat triumphant in that 199 Amboy was just a 10-day placement, the latest in a string of temporary housing assignments that had become the norm since the family lost its eligibility for shelter in February. But as it turned out, 199 Amboy was the nicest place Ms. Pierre and the two boys stayed since entering the shelter system in June 2012.
As 9-year-old Jordan described their arrival, “When we saw it, we was shocked. It was nice. It was decent.”
Decent is the kind of good-enough existence that has seemed to elude the family for the last 10 months. But it felt potentially within reach again when they fell asleep that night at a little after 1 a.m., relieved if still wary, with the alarm set for 6 a.m.—the preparations necessary for the school day ahead as uncompromising as the dawn.
Like many other families who have recently swelled the ranks of the city’s homeless population, routine has taken on an almost talismanic significance for Ms. Pierre and her boys. They live an approximation of a life that involved, until recently, an apartment of their own—a two-bedroom on Legion Street rented for four years with the help of a Section 8 voucher. Ms. Pierre paid $350 of the $1,100 rent until a recurrent mold problem disqualified the apartment.
Cobble Hill really wants to keep its hospital. Ever since the State University of New York trustees voted unanimously to close the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, local politicians—and just about everyone else involved—have been desperately trying to keep the medical center open. A group of unions and doctors won a temporary reprieve, but the prognosis for the hospital is not good.
SUNY chairman H. Carl McCall claims that “There is no plan whatsoever with respect to real estate,” but local councilman Brad Lander, who represents the 39th District, snaking from Cobble Hill to Borough Park, thinks otherwise.
“It’s hard to pin down motives,” Mr. Lander told Crain’s New York Business, “but it doesn’t seem like all the avenues have been explored to make this facility profitable and have it continue to function as a hospital.” He estimated the value of the real estate at $500 million, if converted to housing, as is allowed by the current zoning designation.