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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:12 am, Thu Dec 5, 2013.

De Blasio reiterates call for tax hike on rich for education

Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, speaking at Columbia University on Monday, pledged to make improving education a top focus when he takes office in January, calling for free, universal pre-kindergarten classes and afterschool progams. To make sure those are funded, he repeated his call for an income tax hike on people making at least $500,000 a year, something that would have to be approved in Albany.

He did not specify how high the increase would be but said it would provide a dedicated revenue stream for free pre-K and afterschool programs, and that it would last for five years.

He described the tax hike as “a small addition to the local tax rate of those who are doing very well will make a huge difference in the lives of our children — a transformational difference,” and said it “will be an investment that we will feel the positive result of for years and the decades to come if we get it right.”

De Blasio spoke at the Summit on Children, an event hosted by The Earth Institute’s Program on Child Well-Being and Resilience.

NYPD’s chief clarifies stop-frisk law in memo

NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III, the top commander in the Police Department after Commissioner Ray Kelly, told officers in a new memo that they may still stop suspects based on descriptions, including race, despite a new law against profiling. Race cannot be the only reason for a stop, he said.

Police and the Bloomberg administration maintain that the new law, passed this year by the City Council over the mayor’s veto, is unnecessary because racial profiling was already illegal. The NYPD patrol guide reminds officers of that. Banks’ memo says that ethnicity can still be a factor in deciding whether to stop a suspect who matches a description given to officers.

“It is important to note that Local Law 71 does not prohibit an officer from considering these demographic factors in deciding whether to initiate law enforcement action,” Banks said in the memo, called a “Finest Message.”

He continued, “It would be unlawful to stop or otherwise engage that individual if the deciding factor for doing so was that he/she matched only the race of the person described in the radio run.”

Banks, along with former Commissioner Bill Bratton, has been mentioned as a candidate for Kelly’s job once Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio takes office in January.

City can get tax from online hotel booking

The city has the right to collect full hotel taxes from online booking companies, even when they pay less for a room than they charge a customer, the state’s highest court ruled last week.

That means that if Expedia, for example, charges a customer $80 for a booking but pays the hotel $40 for the room, it still must pay taxes on the full $80, according to the city Law Department, which announced the ruling.

The case, decided by the state Court of Appeals, resulted from a suit online booking companies filed against the city after it enacted a law demanding the full tax be paid.

“We are pleased that the court acknowledged the city’s broad authority to impose a tax on the full amount paid for a hotel room, regardless of whether that payment is made online or directly to a hotel operator,” said Law Department Senior Counsel Joshua Wolf, who oversaw the litigation. He said the decision reinforces the city’s ability to respond to technological innovations with new laws that reflect the original intent of those they are amending.

Schumer: Do not call!

Saying that the number of unwanted automated calls made by telemarketing companies is skyrocketing, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week introduced a bill that would double the financial penalty those firms must pay for violations to $20,000. The bill also would make those responsible subject to a prison sentence of 10 years if found guilty.

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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