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Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jul 10, 2014.

Gas fracking ruling makes its practice upstate less likely

Municipalities have the right to ban hydraulic fracturing within their borders even if Albany decides to allow the technique for natural gas extraction, the state Court of Appeals determined in a 5-2 decision June 30.

The ruling addressed two cases the court decided together, each brought by an energy company against an upstate town that banned the practice commonly known as hydrofracking, or just fracking. The Office of the Manhattan Borough President had filed a friend of the court brief on the side of the town in one case.

The court’s majority ruled that municipalities may ban fracking using zoning codes under the concept of home rule, saying those powers are not superseded by any state law on oil and gas extraction. The minority contended that outright bans on fracking go beyond the towns’ powers and into regulation of the industry itself, which it said is the purview of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The state has been studying whether to allow fracking for years. Proponents say it is a valuable tool in energy production while opponents say it poses too much risk to the environment, specifically, in New York, to the purity of the city’s drinking water, which flows from upstate watersheds through several aqueducts. City officials oppose fracking for that reason.

Meng would revive tax break for biz upgrades

Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) last week introduced a bill that would make permanent an expired tax cut for property owners who make improvements benefiting businesses such as stores and restaurants in their buildings.

Called the Tax Equality for Entrepreneurs Act, the measure would allow property owners to either write off eligible improvements or depreciate them over 15 years. It was originally enacted in 2010 as a temporary measure in a small-business assistance bill and was renewed twice since then, but expired last Jan. 1.

“These important deductions are critical to keeping our economy on its delicate road to recovery,” Meng told the Queens Chronicle in an email. “If passed, these tax incentives would reduce costs for local small businesses, and in turn stimulate economic growth, create jobs and make communities better.”

The measure has been sent to committee.

Still in her first term, Meng has authored four bills that have passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but none has been taken up by the Democratic-led Senate.

Film traces sex slaves’ trip here from Mexico

A new documentary examines human trafficking and the sex trade by detailing the perils faced by girls and women brought to Queens and forced into prostitution.

“Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade” was produced by TV and online network Fusion. It tells the story of girls as young as 12 who are brought here from one town in Mexico, Tenancingo, where, it says, the dominant trades are pimping and prostitution.

One woman interviewed in the film, named Miranda, tells how she was taken from Tenancingo and forced to sell her body in Queens.

“Miranda’s story is, unfortunately, brutally common,” the documentary’s producer, Alice Brennan, told National Public Radio. “She was 14, sitting in a park in a small town in Mexico and a man who identified himself as ‘Rodolfo’ introduced himself to her and eventually kidnapped her. Through his family network, he forced her into prostitution, and trafficked her to Queens, where she was forced into a life of being a sex slave. As you just heard in that clip, she’d see up to 60 men a day — $35 each in 15 minute increments. It’s just — it’s incredible.”

The film is posted online at fusion.net.

Mets bigs in FoHi, Flushing

Mets legend Keith Hernandez and mascot Mr. Met will meet people at the Citibank in Forest Hills, at 107-01 71 Ave., at noon July 11, as part of an ongoing tour. The other Queens stop will be at 12:15 p.m. July 19 at Flushing’s Citibank at 38-17 Main St., but only Mr. Met will appear there.

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone


The item "Mets bigs in FoHi, Flushing" originally stated that one of two former Mets stars would appear at the Flushing Citibank event, but only Mr. Met will be there. We regret the error.


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