Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NYT Bike Share Reporting Malpractice

Two good takedowns of Ginia Bellafante's lazy, incompetent bike share article from the Sunday NYT. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Triumphant Return of the Smith/9th Street Subway Station

Sad to have missed the grand reopening. But happier to have it back.
I see Brad Lander, Joan Millman, Marty Markowitz, Carlos Menchaca, and
Craig Hammerman were all there. Who else am I missing? I'm going to
take a detour on my way home today to check it out.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Modern Farmer | Who Can Stop These Adorable Pigs?

So you watched "Wild Hogs" with Travolta and friends, and thought, "How could this get any worse?"

"This may seem like a ludicrous pitch for a doomsday blockbuster or a leftover gag fromBabe: Pig in the City or an excuse to put even more bacon in our diet but the fact is, wild pigs have overrun the planet. To wit: Pig populations are nearing a million in the state of Florida, encroaching on urban areas and destroying an F-16 fighter plane in Jacksonville. Feral pigs arerunning (hog) wild in the streets of Berlin, with dedicated pig squads waging a losing battle to overtake them. They've become a fixture on the West Bank, after Israeli settlers, some say, released boars to destroy Palestinian croplands. There are even thousands of radioactive wild pigs wandering Europe, thanks to the tainted feeding grounds near Chernobyl."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

The 1891 Battle Over a Trolley Along Prospect Park West | Curbed NY

The PPW NBBL NIMBYs, Version 1.0. The parallels are downright eerie.
I need to illustrate this post with that group photo at the Overlook
Hotel bar from the end of The Shining when I have time.


Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Anti-Bike Lane Lawyer Offers to Help Foes of Queensboro Bridge Plan - DNAinfo.com

Well, I'd say that sounds like Jim Walden all right.  I wish he'd been as candid with reporters when he filed suit on behalf of the NBBLers. 
""I don't know the facts and circulation about what's happening there," Walden said."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With A View 2013 Line Up Announced | Brooklyn Heights Blog

With the exception of 8 Mile, a pretty great lineup. 8 Mile? A
missed opportunity for a double header with Who's The Man? or Cool As


Typos courtesy of my iPhone

City Expands Recycling Program to Include Hard Plastics - NYTimes.com

It's about time.  The biggest change for me will be that I will no longer have to transfer 50% of the "recycling" that my fellow tenants sorted into the regular garbage on trash day.  But seriously, it's about damned time.  When I lived in the suburbs and the boonies we recycled this stuff. 
"The city announced the biggest expansion of its recycling program in 25 years on Wednesday, saying all hard plastics would be accepted. This includes shampoo bottles and clothes hangers as well as countless toys and other household objects.
"Starting today," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a news conference in City Hall Park, "if it's a rigid plastic -– any rigid plastic -– recycle it.""

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, April 22, 2013

Subway Trains Soon to Stop Again at a Gowanus Station - NYTimes.com

At last!
"Nearly two years after closing for repairs, and one year after it was expected to reopen, the Smith-Ninth Street subway station in Gowanus, Brooklyn, will return to service next Friday at 10:30 a.m., transit officials said."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

CB6 EPPL Tonight - No Brooklyn Night Bazaar!

FYI - the organizer of the Brooklyn Night Bazaar intended for the Gowanus at Huntington Street has pulled their application - they will NOT be on the agenda tonight.  I have no idea what their future plans are but my understanding is they have decided not to move forward with this location.  I was interested in hearing more about it.  But even so we've got a full agenda tonight:

Presentation and discussion with representatives for National Grid on the pilot study for the Citizens/Public Place manufactured gas plant site at Smith/5th Streets which will provide important information needed to complete the design of the remediation work plan for the site.

Presentation and discussion with a representative for the Department of Environmental Protection on air quality in New York City.

Continued discussion and review of an on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Nick Cora Bella Ltd at 274 4th Avenue (between Carroll Street/Garfield Place).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of 427 7th Avenue (between 14th/15th Streets).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of WSL NY, LLC at 115 Columbia Street (between Kane/Baltic Streets).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Bierkraft Inc. at 191 5th Avenue (between Union Street/Berkeley Place).

Presentation and review for an Alteration and Corporate Change to a current on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of D.P.T. Supreme Corporation at 383 Carroll Street (at Bond Street).

Presentation and review of a renewal for a on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Bogota LLC at 141 5th Avenue (between Degraw Street /Douglass Street).

Review of an amended on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Major Otis LLC, at 454 Van Brunt Street (between Reed/Beard Streets).

Presentation and review of a new unenclosed sidewalk cafe permit application submitted to the Department of Consumer Affairs on behalf of Pinkberry at 161 7th Avenue (between 1st Street and Garfield Place) to permit 3 tables and 9 seats.

   Old First Reformed Church
   729 Carroll Street
   (corner of 7th Avenue)
   Brooklyn, NY 11215
   6:30 PM

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I don't have anything of value to add to the discussion, so I'm not
going to be posting stories. It's a horrifying, cowardly act. I hope
the authorities investigate thoroughly and avoid trying to please the
news media. I'd hate to see another Richard Jewell incident where an
innocent guy, a hero actually, was destroyed by a media machine hungry
for a villain.

I can't help but shudder thinking that last year, my wife and kids
were standing right there, clapping the runners through. You never
know when your life could be changed in an instant. I take some
comfort knowing that if I get hit by a bus or a meteor, the last
conversation will have has with my wife or daughter always contains
the words "I love you". I do love them, and I share that with them
multiple times every day. Gives me peace of mind.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Work Responsibilities

Light posting, certainly today, likely this week. Cheers!

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cuomo Finally Names Tom Prendergast MTA Chief

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo named Tom Prendergast Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Prendergast had been serving as interim executive director of the agency for more than three months, since Joseph Lhota departed at the end of last year to run for mayor. Prendergast, like previous MTA chiefs Lee Sander and Jay Walder, brings deep experience in transit management to the job.
Once again, my hope unreasonably rises.

“Ecological Barriers: Holding Sea Levels at Bay” Lecture | ArchDaily

Claire Weisz, AIA, founding principal of WXY and a frequently cited expert source on waterfront design, will be speaking on the topic "Ecological Barriers: Holding Sea Levels at Bay" with a panel at 6:00pm on April 25 in . A leading advocate for post-Hurricane Sandy infrastructure design, Weisz's firm is known for such waterfront projects as the East River Blueway, a planned reconstruction of miles of Manhattan water's edge, as well as Transmitter Park, Rockaway Park, Sherman Creek Waterfront, and Battery Park.

Queens Crap: The pagan and the Meaghan

Dan Halloran, 41 — who is charged in a bribe scheme to get state state Sen. Smith into the mayoral race — repeatedly hooked up with Meaghan Mapes, then 21, in her Queens home between 2010 and 2011, sources said.
She served as his deputy chief of staff during that same period, earning $30,000.
The relationship was the final straw for Halloran's wife, Cynthia, and the two were locked in divorce proceedings by early 2011.
Generally I don't care about the sex-related indiscretions of politicians.  Except the family values scolds and the anti-gay closet cases.

Just can't help myself here though - just piling on at this point as the guy's career is over.  And the Halloran stuff is fascinating because of the unusual ren-fair LARP religion thing

Thursday, April 11, 2013

$300K Ferrari On Official Police Business Parks In No Standing Zone: Gothamist

End placard abuse.  Actually, end placards entirely.  Enough of this easily abused, above-the-law nonsense for officials and employees alike
"$300,000 late-model Ferrari bearing a police parking placard sat unattended in a No Standing Zone in Lower Manhattan yesterday afternoon, no doubt on official police business. Given that the placard is registered to the Sea Gate Police Department, a private police force wholly separate from the NYPD with full arrest powers that patrols a gated community in Coney Island, 12 miles from where the vehicle was parked, what official business do you think they were on?"

Peter Orszag Syndrome

That's what I call it anyway. What the astrophysicists and linear
algebra geeks did to finance, these arrogant, hubristic dicks will do
to government policy. If we let them get away with it.
This isn't just a failure of an overly conservative Administration
that has somehow bought into the austerity line. It's not just the
failure of a Washington culture dominated by corruption and neoliberal
economic theory.

It's also the failure of a crew of Ivy League technocratic wonks in
love with their ability to design complicated legislative contraptions
designed to cut costs by using abstruse measures to slice away fat
from people they think can take it, while leaving just enough meat on
the bone so no one completely starves.

The complexities of this Social Security "solution" remind one of the
Affordable Care Act. The answer to the healthcare crisis should have
been Medicare for All from the very beginning. Politically feasible?
Perhaps not. But that should have been the starting point for

And the answer to the Social Security non-crisis, such as it is,
should be to raise the payroll cap. It's that simple. Politically
feasible? Perhaps not. But that should be the starting point.

It's impossible to prove, of course, but one gets the sense that these
arcane machinations are being pursued not so much out of necessity, as
out of a wonkish belief that the new crew of preppy budget wonks can
rightsize the government to behave with greater efficiency and lower
cost without real damage to the system. It's as though the lean
company craze that overtook corporate America in the 1990s has finally
hit the government as well, with predictable results.

The Obama Administration promised a bloodless government that
abandoned ideology in order to reach across the aisle to do what is
"practical." The only problem is that trend-seeking Ivy League wonks
vastly overestimate their ability to cut efficiently and bloodlessly
without nicking an artery. "Practical" is usually in the eye of the
beholder. When all the beholders went to Harvard and make six figures,
their eyes tend to shaded.
Spot on. Enough with these ridiculous, Rube Goldberg policy approaches
where we have better, simpler solutions available. You'll ruin the
country, ruin lives, and wreck the Democratic Party with these
too-cute bullshit shell game policies.

End rant.

John Liu's Bridge Toll Plan Panders to Motorists - Streetsblog

By exempting motorists who live in the five boroughs, Liu's plan would not solve the city's transit funding problems — the next MTA capital program will still have a gaping hole. (Compare Liu's $410 million to the $2.8 billion projected net revenue from the Sam Schwartz plan.) While Liu suggested devoting revenue to "infrastructure," he also mentioned that it could be used for "offsetting increased city contributions to the MTA," which might just lead to tolls that pad other areas of the city budget.It's somewhat baffling why Liu would propose a non-starter like this. Exempting millions of motorists negates the value of tolls as a tool to meaningfully reduce congestion, and it undermines the notion that motorists should pay for using roads. Let's hope this idea doesn't infect the other campaigns.
I guess it's good to hear someone talking about tolling the bridges at all, which is necessary.  But this is not the way to do it.

The Sam Schwartz plan now being advocated by MoveNY has a lot of sensible features.  This is a plan that officials should get behind.  But the keys to implementing any such plan lies in Albany.  And we also need action from Albany to bring back the commuter tax if we're to have any hope of adequately funding our infrastructure needs.


More Thoughts On The 7 Extension Study

"The questions though outweigh the answer. First, the report dispatches with the idea of any additional stations on the New Jersey side of the tunnel. It should at least contain a stop in Hoboken, if not a second prior to the Secaucus terminal. Second, the section on legal issues raises a number of concerns that warrant more than a few paragraphs in this feasibility study."
I said in my post that I was agnostic on the alignment of an extension of the 7.  That's not quite accurate.  If we do Gateway, I'm not sold on the Secaucus alignment for a 7 extension.  It could be a good destination. But what I'd really like to see is real NYC subway service in the densely populated towns (and those with potential to be densely populated) across the Hudson. Even if Secaucus is the terminus, there should be stops along the way. 

Again, my views on the 7 extension are premised on the idea that we do the Gateway project first or concurrently. And with Gateway in place, a 7 train to Secaucus that skips key population centers in Hudson County would be a boondoggle of Xanadu proportions. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Plan To Extend 7 Train To NJ Back In The News; Still A Good Idea, Still No Money To Do So

A possible alignment. Parsons Brinckerhoff via nycedc.com
So, the NYC EDC issued a new report that says extending the 7 train to NJ is a good idea.  A couple of things. First, I think the proposed Gateway project should take precedent over the 7 train extension proposal - not that it should be one or the other, but just in ordering priorities. 
Second, I'm agnostic on what the alignment of such an extension should look like.  And third, there absolutely should be MTA subway service into northeastern NJ. New York's "Sixth Borough" is a natural fit for a comprehensive 24-hour metropolitan rapid transit system. PATH ought to be integrated into the system as well. 
A report commissioned by New York City, posted this morning on the city's Economic Development Corp. website, extols the benefits of the plan.
"The extension of the No. 7 Subway would result in the first trans-Hudson tunnel connection that would provide direct rail access from New Jersey, not only to the West Side of Manhattan, but also to the East Side and multiple locations in Queens," noted the report by the Parsons Brinckerhoff engineering firm. "It would provide needed capacity across the Hudson River and advance the broader goal of enhancing regional connectivity."The report, obtained Tuesday night by The Star-Ledger, noted the next step would be an advanced study on the feasibility of extending the No. 7 subway line — which runs from Queens to Times Square — into Secaucus Junction. Coordinated with the Federal Transit Administration, the study would include a cost benefit analysis, identification of financing opportunities and analysis of ridership and revenue."It's been a century since there was a new rail tunnel under the Hudson, and demand for travel between New Jersey and Manhattan is growing rapidly and quickly exceeding the capacity of existing transit infrastructure," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today in a statement. "The lack of new transit investment is creating a serious and urgent threat to New York City's economic competitiveness. Extending the 7 train to Secaucus is a promising potential solution – it would leverage existing investments and be compatible with other proposed projects – and is deserving of serious consideration."
Of course this raises the question of how to equitably pay for such assets.  The MTA does not have the money to do so.  We need to take a hard look at the structure of both the MTA and the Port Authority and how we can best manage transportation in the NYC metro area.  Along with a restructuring of those two agencies, it's long past time to bring back the Commuter Tax to replace the poorly designed Payroll Mobility Tax.  There are a lot of different conversations we need to have about how we best plan and fund infrastructure on a sensible, equitable, regional basis. I view this report as an opportunity to get those conversations started again.

Story found via Gothamist.

Republicans accusing Democrats of balancing the budget on the backs of seniors

That didn't take long. Obama's inclusion of the Chained CPI in his
budget is the worst case of political malpractice I think I've ever

Did he think they'd be above this sort if rank hypocrisy, after
watching 2010 unfold? Did he think the media wouldn't gleefully help
them along?

Is Obama incapable of learning? Or is he actually determined to
destroy the New Deal?

Soaring Bee Deaths in 2012 Sound Alarm on Malady - NYTimes.com

This is an incredibly serious issue.  All the more reason to buy organic, but what we need is serious action on the regulatory front.  The vaunted free market fairies will not solve this problem. 
The explosive growth of neonicotinoids since 2005 has roughly tracked rising bee deaths.Neonics, as farmers call them, are applied in smaller doses than older pesticides. They are systemic pesticides, often embedded in seeds so that the plant itself carries the chemical that kills insects that feed on it.Older pesticides could kill bees and other beneficial insects. But while they quickly degraded — often in a matter of days — neonicotinoids persist for weeks and even months. Beekeepers worry that bees carry a summer's worth of contaminated pollen to hives, where ensuing generations dine on a steady dose of pesticide that, eaten once or twice, might not be dangerous.
There's no money to be made in NOT selling dangerous pesticides, after all.  This is a regulatory failure with potentially disastrous consequences.  Immediate action is required.

U.S. District Court Upholds Key Provisions of NYC's Campaign Finance Laws | Brad Lander

This was a good decision.  My hat is once again off to Brad Lander for participating in the suit.  I've developed a healthy respect for Brad since meeting him in 2008. Brad's work ethic is unbelievable, and damn it, I think he might be smarter* than me.  The guy is everywhere.

On Thursday, April 4, 2013, Judge Swain of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan upheld key provisions of New York City's campaign finance laws, bringing the ongoing litigation concerning the constitutionality of the city's elections laws closer to an end.  At issue in Judge Swain's order were two provisions:  expenditure limit waivers for those candidates participating in the city's campaign finance program and the "sure winner" provisions, which were originally designed to prevent the overuse of public money in uncontested races. 
Under the current system, a candidate running for city office may receive public funds, the exact amount of which is based on the office for which the candidate is running, and the amount the candidate raises privately from donors.  If a candidate chooses to do this, the candidate is subject to an expenditure limit, which prevents the candidate from spending beyond a certain amount of money, counting both the public and private money the candidate has raised.  However, if the candidate is running against a privately-funded candidate, and that privately funded candidate spends far beyond a certain threshold, the candidate who received the public money is no longer subject to the applicable expenditure limit and may spend additional money.

* I'm not a conceited person but I am proud of my IQ. And good looks. And legendary modesty. 

Trailer trash: Abandoned big rig left to rust on Flatbush Avenue • The Brooklyn Paper

This problem of passing the buck amongst City agencies has been criticized by Public Advocate Bill deBlasio.  One of his proposals as a candidate for Mayor is to force the first agency that takes the call that has the capability to address the problem to actually do so.  A good idea.  One that would address this abandoned tractor trailer on Flatbush.
Someone apparently abandoned a tractor-trailer on a section of Flatbush Avenue near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden months ago — and no department in the city is taking responsibility for cleaning it up."I have seen this tractor-trailer abandoned since at least November," said Olgierd Bilanow, a Ditmas Park resident who passes the big rig frequently while walking through Prospect Park.
And isn't this incredibly irresponsible?  There could be radioactive toxic waste or a dead body on there for all we know.  

Serfs Up! The U.S. Collects Less In Taxes Than All But Two Industrialized Countries | ThinkProgress

Good news!  We're still (just barely) ahead of Mexico.  Who knows, with the latest bold leadership from President Obama and the Republican Party, maybe we'll fall out of the industrialized nation category altogether.  Feudalism here we come!
The U.S. has historically collected less in taxes and spent less than the majority of its OECD counterparts, in part because it operates such a stingy social safety net that doesn't assist the least fortunate in society as well as programs in other countries do. Still, the chart shows that the U.S. is far from a high-tax country, and Democratic offers to raise modest amounts of revenues in the budget process would hardly send the nation's level of taxation through the roof.
We need to fight the proposed Social Security cuts like our lives depend on it.  Because they do.

People Magazine Profiles Anthony Weiner

Did I say People?  My mistake
Early this morning, The New York Times Magazine published an extensive, 8,400-word profile of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, his wife Huma Abedin and their life since an infamous social media-induced scandal destroyed his political career. The piece directly addressed the topic most political observers are interested in: "Weiner quickly put all the speculation to rest: he is eyeing the mayor's race."
Is this a joke?  I think Weiner would have an honest shot at Comptroller, Public Advocate or Borough President with that war chest.  But a Mayoral run would just be a farce. 

If he were to somehow win the primary, he'd expose himself to vicious attacks in the general, possibly giving us another Republican mayor.

Weiner was actually a great voice on health insurance policy when he was in the House, and I wish he was able to tough it out without stepping down.  But between needing to recover his family situation and the specter of redistricting I can understand why bowed out.  I'd be open to seeing him run for office again - what he did shouldn't be the end of a career.  But not Mayor, not this year.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Earth-Shattering Developments At East Side Access Project.

Literally.  The MTA states, via Gothamist:

Since March 7, 2007, nearly 1,000 employees working 24 hours a day, five days a week, have completed more than 2,400 controlled blasts - all without affecting the nearby operations of MTA Metro-North Railroad or the New York City Subway. Approximately 857,000 cubic yards of rocky muck were excavated and removed, enough to cover the entirety of Central Park one foot deep.
“This is a very significant milestone for the East Side Access project,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. “The caverns are essentially now fully excavated. Much work remains to be done to build the platforms and tracks, and finish what is currently raw, cave-like space. But we now have a fully built shell in which all future work will take place.”
What's also cool is that a lot of this fill is finding it's way into the new parts of Brooklyn Bridge Park, building up the uplands and forming the bulk of the coming "sound-attenuating berm" that is intended to cut down on highway noise pollution.

DOT To Reveal 4th Avenue Safety Ideas TONIGHT

Don't even think of doing this on 4th Avenue.
This is a worthwhile effort to improve the safety of a dangerous corridor.
The DOT has focused on reducing speed along the avenue, creating safer
pedestrian crossings, simplifying turns, and generally improving
safety for all street users. The meeting is tonight from 6:30 to 8:30
pm at St. Thomas Aquinas Church at 249 9th Street.
I'm looking forward to the results.

Obama's Offer To Cut Social Security Is Terrible Politics, Even Worse Policy

Social Security's austere payments —averaging $1,262 per month — replace only about 33 to 40 percent of annual earnings, when most experts argue retirees need about 70 percent of their income to maintain their living standards in retirement. Sixty percent of Americans receive at least two-thirds of their retirement income from Social Security, with the bottom 40 percent receiving 84 percent of theirs from Social Security.Yes, we need to reform Social Security, but the reform should increase, not cut the income support that millions rely on. In an important political blueprintfor sensible reform released by the New American Foundation, Michael Lind, Steven Hill, Robert Hiltonsmith and Joshua Freedman call for adding a supplement to Social Security that would guarantee all retirees about 60 percent of their average wage in retirement (similar to that of most other developed nations).
Seriously, everyone of our Senators and Representatives need to hear about this.  It is insanity.  Fortunately actual progressives are already organizing against this plan. All the information you need to get started is here.

I worked hard to get Obama elected in 2008.  While I know without doubt an Obama presidency is better than a McCain or Romney presidency, I can't get over what a crushing disappointment Obama has been. 

Bobby Jindal: Stupid, Party of One -- Chait

The comparisons to Kenneth the Page are unfair … to Kenneth, who I have to believe would govern better than Jindal.  But look: once people actually grasp what GOP tax and budget policy is about (screwing the working class to benefit the rich) they hate it.  Hate it.  If we had a halfway decent press corps we'd never see a Republican majority again. 
Jindal's plan exploded because it was zero sum. It cut taxes on the rich and raised them on the poor. It had to be zero sum because states have to balance their budgets.But the federal budget doesn't have to balance, and this fact underpins the entire Republican policy strategy over the last three decades. Before Ronald Reagan, Republicans cared a great deal about controlling the budget deficit and very little about cutting taxes for the rich. In an environment where every dollar into one account had to come from another, giving a lot of the dollars to a tiny number of people is almost invariably unpopular.
That's why the GOP's makeover into a more plutocratic party occurred simultaneously with its abandonment of old-fashioned fiscal conservatism. Lower taxes for the rich can work politically only if you obscure the fact that eventually the money has to come from somewhere else.
That somewhere else is your pocket.

340 Court Street Has Got It Going On

Photo via Pardon Me For Asking
A facade, that is.  Although given the phenomenal sales results the building has produced the phrase works double duty.  As Katia notes, the facade is a marked improvement from the funereal proposal that was first out before the community back in 2008(?).
Work on  Union Sackett, the 32 unit condominium development on Court Street between Union and Sackett Streets has steadily progressed all through winter and finally, the 7-story building is getting its fa├žade.   Whereas the top floors of this Rogers Marvel-designed building are clad in glass, the lower floors are getting  a 'brownstone' treatment.   Large dark brown panels are currently being installed on the Union Street side as well as on the Sackett Street side.  Just yesterday, the first such panels have gone up on the side facing Court Street.
I love the lighting in this shot.

Bloomberg's Big Money Hypocrisy

Before getting to these paragraphs below, Michael Powell's article neatly summarizes the huge piles of cash Bloomberg showered on the Republican and Independence parties to (legally, as far as we know) buy access to their ballot lines.  Hizzoner is no angel in this area. 
No doubt electoral politics can be an annoyance. But if the mayor is in the mood for honesty, he might acknowledge that his class has made a substantial contribution to our corrupt age. Mr. Savino stands accused of taking a $15,000 bribe in exchange for promising to help place State Senator Malcolm A. Smith on the mayoral ballot as a Republican. And two assemblymen in the Bronx may have brought dishonor on themselves.At the same time, in the last three months, the United States attorney in Manhattan has announced the arrest of two hedge-fund financiers, and the sentencing of six more. Each of these finely educated and newly minted felons engaged in corruption worth millions of dollars.
Bloomberg and Malcolm Smith both sought to buy the GOP line.  Bloomberg had the money to do it legally, as well as a modicum of common sense, intelligence, and discretion.  All assets Malcolm Smith sorely lacked.  

Brooklyn Ranked No. 2 as Country’s Most Expensive City - Carroll Gardens, NY Patch

Brooklyn is the second most expensive place to live in the United States.  This will surprise no one who lives in Carroll Gardens:
The Council for Community and Economic Research recently measured the cost of the professional standard of living in 307 urban areas, and for the 5th year in a row, found Brooklyn as the second most expensive city to live in in the United States, Yahoo News reports.
I love it here.  But it is really expensive to live in this area, especially for young families. 

Cicadas Are Coming!

No link to Daily Intel, Fox News, or MyCentralJersey or whatever it was where I first saw the cicada reminders yesterday.  All were negative stories - and to hell with them I say. Cicadas are awesome. 

Totally harmless to people, and an excellent protein windfall to basically every other animal in the ecosystem.  It's a 4-6 week buffet for birds, mammals, and even turtles and amphibians. 

Plus, what kid hadn't been fascinated by the discovery of the husk left behind on a tree trunk when the mature cicada emerges to loudly cruise the neighborhood for sex before passing on?

More information on cicadas here from a previous, different species emergence in 2011:

Diaz: I Am Not A Crook

Ruben Diaz is a crook.  Diaz is the last holdout among the four "amigos" who (a) through
the state senate into turmoil and installed Malcolm Smith as leader and (b) killed congestion pricing. The other three went to jail. I'm still waiting on you, Ruben!  I know you won't disappoint.
There's really no other way to boil down what Sen. Ruben Diaz is trying to get through in his latest "What You Should Know" email in which he insists he's not the next lawmaker about to be indicted for corruption other than to put in the rather stark terms of "I am not a crook."
I'm a patient guy.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Outside Group Starts Spending to Block Quinn - NYTimes.com

"She wants you to think that she's a progressive, but on the issues New Yorkers care most about, she is always on the wrong side," a male narrator intones. "All that's clear when the smoke lifts is her political ambition."As a succession of blurbs from newspaper articles suggest that she has waffled on key issues, the narrator concludes, "When Christine Quinn doesn't support our values, how can you support her for mayor?"So goes a commercial attacking Ms. Quinn that, starting on Monday, is scheduled to appear on cable television stations like MSNBC and Bravo for three weeks. The 30-second commercial, the first of the mayoral race, comes quite early in the primary season, underscoring the competitive nature of the contest to succeed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.The commercial is not the work of one of Ms. Quinn's opponents for the Democratic nomination, but of a coalition of left-leaning labor unions and Democratic activists who say they are not backing anyone in particular.The organizers have pledged more than $1 million to the campaign and are spending $250,000 for the initial television advertising, said Scott Levenson, president of the Advance Group, which produced the spot. Another commercial is to be released this week, followed by several mailers and radio ads.
Readers of this blog know that I support Bill deBlasio.  But I also pride myself on giving my honest opinion.  I'm no professional political analyst, but my take is that Quinn's front runner status is illusory, and her name recognition will ultimately work against her, as her negatives will be driven sharply up over the next several months. This is just the start.  I was not at all surprised to see this blurbed on NY1 this morning (neighbor's house).  Everyone else in the race and their backers will be gunning for her. 

Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime - NYTimes.com

Absolutely disgraceful.  Our good old friends the Koch brothers (funders of ALEC) strike again:
But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.Critics call them "Ag-Gag" bills.Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that in the past have included such things as "stand your ground" gun laws and tighter voter identification rules.
Same guys that fund the "libertarian" Cato Institute.  All they really care about is (1) cutting taxes for rich people and (2) protecting big business to the expense of everyone else.

Margaret Thatcher Is Dead

The drag alter ego of Dick Cheney has left us.  I was only a kid, but I remember the hagiography she got in the US press.  The "liberal" US media sure do love them some tough-guy establishment leaders who fight wars and kick poors. 
Thatcher was among the best-known foreign politicians in the U.S., likely because of her close working relationship with Ronald Reagan, with whom she shared a reactionary worldview and utter lack of compassion. She was also similarly transformative: In the 11 years of her premiership, between 1979 and 1990, Thatcher sold off billions of pounds worth of government assets—privatizing even industries for which no real competitive market existed—used an unnecessary and avoidable war against Argentina to manufacture enough jingoistic sentiment to earn her re-election, and broke the power of British trade unions, calling the miners who participated in a 1984 strike directed against her politics "the enemy within." Modern Britons are still living within the social, political and economic structures she built, and suffering from the absence of the structures she disabled. Millions of people in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales (and in South Africa and Cambodiaand Chile) will be celebrating tonight. (To be fair! Many will be mourning.) (Also celebrating: gay people!)
She was a horrible person, and her son Mark is also a horrible person.  Let's not pretend otherwise just because she has died.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Offshore Tax Havens Exposed

I'm hoping Carl Levin unleashes hell on these people before he retires.  I'm sure he already had wind of this leak when he announced he wouldn't be running for reelection. 
The records reviewed by The Post and ICIJ expose how havens in the South Pacific and Caribbean in some cases have become sanctuaries for individuals seeking to conceal their activities from investigators and investors.Among the 4,000 U.S. individuals listed in the records, at least 30 are American citizens accused in lawsuits or criminal cases of fraud, money laundering or other serious financial misconduct.They include billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted in 2011 in one of the biggest insider trading scandals in U.S. history, and Paul A. Bilzerian, one of the most famed corporate raiders of the 1980s, who was convicted of securities fraud.An attorney for TrustNet, which helped create the companies and trusts for the clients, declined to comment, referring questions to senior TrustNet officials who did not respond to requests to discuss their firm.Fraud experts say offshore bank accounts and companies are vital to the operation of complex financial crimes.Allen Stanford, who ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, used a bank he controlled in Antigua. Bernard Madoff, who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, used a series of offshore "feeder funds" to fuel the growth of his multibillion-dollar house of cards.
Let's see some public shaming.  Let's see some clawbacks, where taxes and judgements have been evaded.  Let's see some jail time where crimes have been committed.

More On (Moron) Rutgers Coach Controversy

The President needs to step down, or be removed by the Board of Governors.


And yeah, I'm just delighted to see this story cropping up not just in the local press, or in the sports pages, but in national political blogs I read.  Sigh.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why Are There Lord Of The Rings-Themed Mock MTA Posters Around The Subways?: Gothamist

Worlds collide. Two things I love to geek about, together (improbably
enough) at last.

Rutgers Athletics Director Tim Pernetti Resigns, Claims He Wanted To Fire Abusive Coach Immediately: Gothamist

Hard to tell who the guilty parties are (aside from the obvious Coach
Rice) at this point. Just another facepalm moment from my alma mater.

I don't understand the culture of college sports. By which I mean, the
anything goes, above the law type culture for athletes and
administrators. I get the tailgating part just fine.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sunday 4/7: March To Save LICH

'Arrested Development' Season 4 will debut May 26th on Netflix | The Verge

After months of hype, Netflix has finally announced the release date for the new season of Arrested Development. In a post on Twitter, Netflix says the new season will debut on May 26th with 15 new episodes — one more than we were expecting.
Now where the #@&! are my hard boiled eggs?

NYS Assemblyman Eric Stevenson Arrested in Bribery Scheme -- Daily Intelligencer

Fresh off of the arrests of State Senator Malcolm Smith, Councilman Dan Halloran, and four others in a bribery scheme that hoped to rig the mayoral ballot, the U.S. Attorneys office announced that Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was allegedly taking illegal payments of his own. "Stevenson is accused of taking bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation that would benefit the co-defendants' businesses," according to an announcement. And that's not all: Yet another anonymous-for-now assemblyman tied to the mess has been working with investigators and will resign as part of the deal.
Truly amazing.  I'm not the bribable type.  But if someone ever DID try to bribe me, my presumption would be that they were trying to entrap me in some scheme. And I'd turn their ass in. 

I still can't fathom how open so many politicians are to this crime. 

First Bologna, Now Cardona: City Declines To Defend Violent Actions By "White Shirt" Officers Against Occupy Protesters

Any candidate :cough Christine Quinn cough cough: who wants to keep on Ray Kelly as Police Commissioner should be disqualified from the job. Via Gothamist, the City has declined to defend Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona, the officer who sucker-punched an occupy protester: 
In Bologna's case, Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said, "State law prohibits the city from representing or indemnifying city employees who are found to have violated agency rules and regulations." The NYPD has yet to discipline Cardona or accuse Like Bolgnahim of wrongdoing. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne initially said that Rivera-Pitre elbowed Cardona, and that the department was seeking his arrest, but those charges fizzled. 
After the City refused to represent Bologna, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly expressed concern: "I think it can have a chilling effect on police officers taking action…And I'm concerned about an adverse effect on officers' willingness to engage."
Officers SHOULD think twice before pepper spraying a defenseless woman or sucker-punching a non-violent protester in the face.  The department should support the hell out of good cops, but weed out the bad apples who think they're above the law themselves.  Ray Kelly can't tell the difference.  And that flows down from management through the ranks.  And these aren't rookies we're talking about - these were the actions of relatively senior officers 

Tractor Trailer Kills Pedestrian on Flatbush and Atlantic Aves - Park Slope, NY Patch

A short piece on yet another preventable tragedy from yesterday - the
comments are worth reading.

According to police, a 40-year-old man was crossing in between cars in
the intersection near Barclays Center when he was hit by a tractor
trailer traveling northbound on Flatbush Avenue at around 12:29 p.m.
today, April 3.
Since posting, I read that the victim has been identified as Irvin Gitlitz, 83 years old.  How people confused an 83 year old man for a 40 year old is beyond me, but a reminder of just how inaccurate eyewitness accounts can be.  Any lawyer or psychologist can tell you eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable.

Quinn In The Hot Seat After Halloran Disgrace

As I've been telling you for months now, Christine Quinn does not have the primary support that the polls and press coverage would have you believe. 

This is a tiny sliver of the electorate we're talking about: in 2009 (if memory serves, I've repressed it as best I could) turnout was only 11%. And that's 11% of registered Democrats.  This is going to be a ground war, and meanwhile everyone's artillery is aimed at Quinn
But Ms. Quinn may ultimately be more vulnerable to attacks on a different issue: her vote in 2008 to overturn the city's term limits law and allow Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to seek a third term.At a candidate forum on Wednesday, Mr. Thompson called the episode a disgrace; Mr. de Blasio said the speaker had "undermined the democratic process." Ms. Quinn, who defended her decision, was met with loud jeers from the left-leaning crowd. It was one of the most blistering receptions she has received on the campaign trail thus far.
Bill deBlasio is going to be the Democratic candidate for mayor. And then he'll be the first Democratic mayor we've had in 20 years. 


New crosswalk paint at 1st and Court.  Shiny.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cretin Mugs Woman At Borough Park Subway Station, Now Behind Bars

Be careful out there - there's still no shortage of idiots out there,
and some of them ride the F train.
A man caught beating down a 56-year-old woman during a subway robbery
in Borough Park wore a college fraternity sweatshirt with his nickname
on it, law enforcement sources said.
Aidan Folan, 21, was caught on camera wearing his favorite Alpha Phi
Delta hoodie with custom lettering on the back that reads, "Stugotz
27," sources added. The Italian slang term roughly translates to
"testicles" and is so loved by the suspect he chose it and the number
"27" for his Facebook page, sources added.
I'm glad the victim is ok. And the alleged perpetrator should be
entered into a lottery for World's Stupidest Criminals.

Through-Running A Solution To Penn Capacity Constraints?

Worth your time.  Good discussion in the comments section too.  I've been an advocate for through-running and greater coordination among METRO-North, LIRR, and NJTransit for years now.

It won't be free, and the logistical changes will take time, but the service and capacity improvements would be worth it.  We shouldn't let artifacts of the past, or the arbitrary legacy of political borders between states stand in the way of sensible regional transportation management.

Queens Crap: The bigger their mouth, the harder they fall

Some more color on Queens Republican Dan Halloran's implosion and
future life in prison. What an unbelievable imbecile. Nice to see
some corruption getting exposed and punished.

Giant Stump Of A Once Mighty Tree Gone From Park-Adjacent Carroll Street

Farewell to the last remnants of one majestic tree felled by that
hellcat Sandy.
A Carroll Gardens sidewalk is fully walk-able once again after workers
hauled away the remains of a massive Hurricane Sandy-toppled tree last
Of course, I should have known that Katia has an even more thorough account, with a lot of pictures, at PMFA.

No Good: Good Food On Court Street Is Closing

Good Food proprietor Mike Sale
Noooo! PMFA has a detailed story and pictures.
Sad news for Carroll Gardens.  At the end of April, Good Food, the Italian Superette will be closing its doors for the final time.   For 85 years, the storefront at 431 Court Street between 3rd and 4th Place has supplied the neighborhood with fresh  mozzarella, Italian sausages, olives and other Italian delicacies.  Besides the deli counter and meat counter,  Good Food also carried everything from canned goods to cleaning products and everything in between.
This is a neighborhood institution I will sadly miss. If you've never done so,
get in there and try the prosciutto balls before you've lost the
opportunity forever. Not to be missed.

Bloomberg To PBA On Hiring Cops To Catch Speeders: No Way! - Daily News

This is another edition of Bloomberg being right.  (And anyone who says I don't give credit where credit is due can go scratch. Just like the people who aren't willing to give Bloomberg credit when he does good policy can go scratch)
"For those in the PBA that think that this will get us to hire more cops, I don't know how to break this to you, but - No!" Bloomberg said. "That's just not going to happen."Bloomberg last week ripped into state law makers - calling by name Republican leader Dean Skelos and Brooklyn Senators Marty Golden and Simcha Felder - as "reckless and negligent" for blocking the cameras, and said they'll bear part of the blame when children are run down in the streets.
Bloomberg is absolutely right to point the finger at these three obstructionists.  All three will have blood on their hands if this is not rectified immediately.

The speed is too damn high!

NYC Murder Rate Down Again So Far in 2013 -- Daily Intelligencer

Incredible. Great news, and I'm not sure what the driver is, but I'll
take it. Maybe we really are over that lead poisoning hump and his
will be a lasting trend? Only time will tell.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Scam Company Dialing Brooklyn Phone Numbers

I got a call from these hucksters on my cell a week or two ago. Seemed like an obvious scam so I just hung up, made an annoyed comment to my wife and forgot about it.  But apparently I'm not alone:
Beware the scam phone calls announcing, "You indicated you were interested in a position in a survey."
I suspect the calls are actually automated - the pauses were unnatural and even the voice seemed artificially flat to me.

New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, Councilman Dan Halloran among arrests in corruption probe | 7online.com

Wow.  Can't say I'm surprised about Smith and Halloran.  Never heard of the others. 
Authorities say New York State Senator Malcolm Smith and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran were arrested Tuesday morning as part of an ongoing corruption case.
I'm not going to dig through the archives, but I know I've written some critical posts on these two bumbling, lying dirtbags in the past.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Eschaton: What Is An Infrastructure Bank?

Another edition of What Atrios Said:
I've asked this question a few times, and never had an answer. It
seems to involve a small amount of government money which can obtain
magical leverage (how?) from the free market ponies that then build
infrastructure and after stealing all of our underpants there is

At a time when the government can borrow for negative real interest rates.
(It's bad enough I stole his whole post, but I'm also stealing from his
style book. I should be ashamed of myself, but I'm not, because its an
excellent question.)

This ideological obsession with public-private partnerships is unhealthy.  Efficiency be damned, let's create a private skim, which creates a constituency, so we can sell infrastructure investment.

It's cynical, graft-laden crap.

Vinegar Hill’s Historic Cobblestones And Greenway Implementation

No exception for the Vinegar Hill NIMBY preservationists. The local
effort to thwart the Greenway and accessibility improvements on this
stretch is absolutely disgraceful.

A bunch of bullshit arguments thrown at the wall to stop a worthwhile project.

CB6 Environmental Protection, Permits and Licenses Tonight

Feel the excitement!  6:30 tonight at PS32.

Review and discussion of Brooklyn CB6 response to the EPA's Gowanus Canal Superfund Site's proposed remedial action plan, as released in December 2012.

Presentation and review of an on-premises liquor license renewal application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of 196 Fifth LLC, at 196 Fifth Avenue (Between Union/Berkeley Streets) in our district.

Continued discussion and review of an on-premise liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Nick Cora Bella Ltd at 274 4th Avenue (between Carroll Street/Garfield Place).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Littleneck Group LLC at 288 3rd Avenue (between Carroll Street/President Street).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Broccolino Corp. at 446A Dean Street (between Flatbush Avenue/5th Avenue).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of 209 4th Avenue (between Union Street/Sackett Street).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Downslope LLC at 420 Carroll Street (between Gowanus Canal and 3rd Avenue)
Following on the heels of Brooklyn Boulders and Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club turning Gowanus into a destination for clustered, active recreation, Downslope seeks to pair an indoor toboggan run with a rooftop lodge where patrons can enjoy an apres ski in the club's geothermal hot tubs, which will be fed with oyster-filtered water from the neighboring canal.  In addition to known carcinogens, the canals waters are known to be replete with minerals found in the highly prized therapeutic springs found in volcanic regions.

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Pierre Loti Park Slope at 78 5th Street (between Prospect Place/Saint Marks Avenue).

Presentation and review of a new on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Hardwood Productions LLC. at 375A 5th Avenue (between 5th Street/6th Street).

Presentation and review of an Alteration to a current on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority as well as a new unenclosed sidewalk cafe permit application submitted to the Department of Consumer Affairs on behalf of Simmons Provisions of NY LLC at 847A Union Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues).

Presentation and review of a new unenclosed sidewalk cafe permit application submitted to the Department of Consumer Affairs on behalf of LEAHLALA LLC dba Abilene at 442 Court Street (between 3rd Place and 2nd Place) to permit 8 tables and 32 seats.

P.S. 32 Samuel Mills Sprole
317 Hoyt Street, Auditorium
(between Union/President Streets)
Brooklyn NY 11231