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CFE-style lawsuit launched to raise school spending
TA coalition of advocates and individuals, including Community Education Council 28 in Central and Southeast Queens, and a parent from Far Rockaway, are suing the state to increase its funding for education.
Kathryn Mallon, the head of the city’s problem-plagued Hurricane Sandy recovery program, Build it Back, abruptly resigned last week.
The combination of the press conference for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Derek Jeter’s announcement that this will be his last season certainly put the spotlight on the Yankees last week. That may be one reason why news of the Mets’ refinancing of a massive loan did not get a lot of play. Nonetheless it is a big story with plenty of troubling implications for Mets fans.
Bloomberg.com sports financial correspondent Kavitha Davidson wrote in her Feb. 6 article that the Mets were on the verge of delaying repayment of a $250 million loan issued by Bank of America for another seven years. Davidson cited New York Post financial columnist Josh Kosman’s Jan. 30 article saying the massive balloon payment was due this spring. Davidson took pains to point out that Kosman wrote that the new loan agreement did not restrict the Mets payroll the way the previous financial agreement did. It’s that aspect of the original covenant that raised my eyebrows.
In the last two weeks, Mayor de Blasio has taken two giant steps toward fulfilling his campaign promise to change the makeup of and the culture at the beleaguered New York City Housing Authority.
Two weeks ago it was the appointment of new managers in three key housing positions, the most prominent being Shola Olatoye, tapped to replace the embattled former NYCHA Chairman John Rhea.
Mayor de Blasio delivered his first preliminary budget on Wednesday with few surprises but far more detail than before on how he expects to pair his governing agenda with challenges that include uncertain state and federal economies and more than 150 unsettled municipal labor contracts.
“This is a progressive administration,” he said “Our budget will be a progressive budget, one that will put us on the road to giving hardworking New Yorkers a fair shot. There’s nothing mutually exclusive about being both fiscally responsible and economically progressive.”
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton was quoted recently in published reports as saying that the city’s stop and frisk problem has been solved, given the dramatic drop-off in the number of stops in 2013.
The numbers do appear to bear Bratton out — the NYPD reported 194,000 stops citywide in 2013, down from about 533,000 in 2012 and more than 694,000 in 2011 — but local leaders who called for changes to the NYPD’s procedure told the Chronicle that they still are taking a wait-and-see approach.
Mayor de Blasio and a newly configured City Council rode progressive platforms to victory in November.
De Blasio did so in a landslide, running as the anti-Bloomberg, and Southeast Queens supported him overwhelmingly while electing or re-electing a solid bloc of Democrats to the Council.
Though the wind was biting, hundreds of New Yorkers bundled in down coats and winter boots to witness Bill de Blasio, the 109th mayor of the City of New York be sworn in on New Year’s Day.
As departing Mayor Bloomberg skirts the city saying his “farewells” and touting his accomplishments, I reflect on his mayorship from my Flushing digs.
Crime may be down, yes, but I give the credit to Commissioner Ray Kelly and the fine work of our local precincts that now use numerous cameras and new technology as crimefighting aids.
Bloomberg is leaving a balanced budget, yes, but he balanced it on our backs, the homeowners. My real estate taxes have more than doubled during the Bloomberg years, and I just got a bill for this last quarter showing another $256 increase. That means over a $1,000 increase next year! Thanks, Mike, for the added 25-percent increase as your parting gift. Water rates are way up also.
Mike bullied his way into getting a third term as mayor, which further soured our view of “King Michael.” Wanting to be known as the education mayor, he sidestepped the community, made unwelcome changes and installed business leaders who didn’t understand education. Remember Cathie Black?
Surveys show 30 percent say he helped education; 70 percent say he hurt it. Every teacher I know is in the “hurt it” category. More charter schools have not raised education standards, and now force kids who are not chosen to attend them into long commutes to go to school. Union contracts have been delayed and pushed off for the next mayor to negotiate.
Bloomberg’s one million trees may sound like an environmental win, but how does the city that can’t take care of 300,000 existing trees take care of a million trees? Duh. Many of those are now pushing up our sidewalks, causing us to be ticketed for violations and forced to pay expensive repair bills.
Queens, the “forgotten borough,” remained so under Bloomberg, but we somehow got our Queensboro Bridge renamed after Mayor Ed Koch, who had nothing to do with Queens. And here I thought it already had another name, the 59th Street Bridge. Bridge tolls have more than doubled.
Mike will be known as the “building mayor,” the guy who brought us the Willets Point disaster to be, the final feather in his cap. He used eminent domain around the city to push out unwanted businesses to sell the land to his developer buddies. Willets Point just got sold for one dollar! Millions squandered.
One has to balance his accomplishments with the down side. From my digs, the bads outweigh the goods, and I welcome the past-due change. I won’t be missing Mike.
You can make the argument that putting a titan of business at the head of a government is a risky proposition, with all the opportunities for cronyism and undue influence that person would have at his disposal.
Or you could make the argument that an extremely wealthy individual is a good choice for a position of political power because he could hardly be bought off by interest groups whose resources pale in comparison to his own. And that someone who rose to the very top of the private sector would do well in the public sector too.
Elections and new laws adopted in 2013 promised sweeping changes across the city’s horizon in 2014, with a new mayor, a new City Council, and an uncertain future for policies on education, law enforcement and city finances.
It could be said that 2013 was a good year to be a political junkie in New York City with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio being elected mayor, and Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner enjoying short-lived political comeback tours.
It also proved to be a bad year to be a school advocate, a Republican seeking elective office or former state Sen. Shirley Huntley.
School bus drivers and patrons took to the picket lines last Thursday.
But this time, they weren’t protesting the city or the bus companies; the target of their ire was their union.
During his 12-year run in office, Mayor Bloomberg had fewer issues more contentious than education.
But with 11 days remaining in office, it was a school in Queens that Bloomberg chose last Friday to discuss and assess what he has termed a very successful mayoralty.
The City Council voted last Thursday to ban Styrofoam containers in the five boroughs, but the ban is conditional on whether or not manufacturers can prove their products are recyclable.
The bill, sponsored by Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn), passed by a 51-0 vote during the Council’s last meeting of 2013. It would seek to ban items made of polystyrene, such as Styrofoam cups and containers often used by fast-food restaurants. It would also seek to ban the small pieces of Styrofoam used in packaging commonly called “packaging peanuts.”
Queens officials are hailing the City Council’s passage of a bill that will result in speed humps on busy streets that run past schools, and are pulling for one that would reduce speed limits on some side streets while mandating approval of slow zones.
Bill 732-A, introduced by Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-Staten Island), mandates that the Department of Transportation install one or more speed humps on a minimum of 50 streets per year adjacent to public or private schools.
Ever since June, Queens residents have been taking full advantage of a state appellate court ruling allowing specially licensed green livery cars to accept street hails.
But with the landslide election this month of Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, the program faces an uncertain future, and City Council members representing some of the areas where the Granny Smith-green cabs have been most popular are not commenting as to just where they stand on the matter.
Angry parents and students gathered in the Richmond Hill High School auditorium last Thursday night to fight against the city Department of Education’s attempt to close down the school’s annex several blocks from the main building and turn it into a new high school.
Several students talked about how the annex, located at 94-25 117 St., serves as a transitional location for freshmen to adjust from middle school to high school. It also increases morale and school spirit, they said.
We were thrilled to see the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit put on hold the so-called “remedies” Judge Shira Scheindlin had tried to impose on the Police Department after wrongly determining that it intentionally discriminates against minorities when stopping and frisking people officers deem suspicious.
As this page said after Scheindlin made her ruling last summer, the judge had not taken a fair view of the case from the start. Breaking judicial standards, she had made sure she was the one who got to hear it, had put excessive weight in the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert witness while dismissing the city’s own expert, and had made comments to the press that revealed she sees judging as a way to write the laws as she sees fit, rather than just determine if they’ve been broken. Scheindlin clearly sought to set Police Department policy, just as her fellow U.S. Judge Nicholas Garaufis set some Fire Department policy, to the detriment of members and the public alike. And she went even further than he had.
People from Brookville to Borough Hall are celebrating the city’s approval of $5.3 million for the construction of a nature center at Idlewild Park in Rosedale.
Borough President Helen Marshall, in a statement released by her office on Monday, said the city’s Office of Management and Budget has approved $4.9 million that Marshall had designated from her capital funds, and an additional $400,000 requested by Mayor Bloomberg.
Restrictions placed on the Police Department as a result of the federal lawsuit over stop and frisk are all on hold, and the judge who imposed them has been thrown off the case by the Court of Appeals.
The court determined that Judge Shira Scheindlin compromised her need to appear impartial in the case and criticized her for making sure she got to hear it when it was filed six years ago.
Melinda Katz emerged from a bruising Democratic primary season in September as the overwhelming favorite to win Tuesday’s election for Queens borough president against Republican Tony Arcabascio.
But last week she said that she is taking nothing for granted.
The public hearing on the proposed new high school co-location at JHS 226 in South Ozone Park on Oct. 23 was unlike most co-location hearings. It wasn’t a long night for irate parents and teachers demanding Mayor Bloomberg’s and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s heads on a platter.
Whether it was support, apathy, or just cynicism, only five parents of students at JHS 226, and the middle school that was co-located in the same building this year, MS 297, spoke against the proposed new high school at the hearing, which lasted just about 25 minutes.
A public hearing on Oct. 23 predictably brought out hundreds of staunch defenders of Martin Van Buren High School who want a new principal to get the time he was promised to turn the school around.
What those defenders may not have anticipated, however, was an unusually large and highly vocal group of nearby homeowners and civic groups who are very supportive of Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to co-locate a Pathways in Technology program in the school next year.
“MVB don’t want to share! Mayor Bloomberg, he don’t care!”
Thus went the battle cry on the steps of Martin Van Buren High School last Friday as more than 200 students, joined by elected officials, marched against the Department of Education’s effort to lower the Bellerose school’s enrollment next year to accommodate a Pathways in Technology, or P-Tech, charter school in the building.