Saturday, March 30, 2013

Habeas Corpus

You can't make these up.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What the Steamship and the Landline Can Tell Us About the Decline of the Private Car - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities

Interesting read. 

Cohen figures that we're unlikely to maintain the deteriorating Interstate Highway System for the next century, or to perpetuate for generations to come the public policies and subsidies that have supported the car up until now. Sitting in the present, automobiles are so embedded in society that it's hard to envision any future without them. But no technology – no matter how essential it seems in its own era – is ever permanent. Consider, just to borrow some examples from transportation history, the sailboat, the steamship, the canal system, the carriage, and the streetcar.

All of those technologies rose, became ubiquitous, and were eventually replaced. And that process followed a pattern that can tell us much about the future of the automobile – that is, if we're willing to think about it not in the language of today's "war on cars," but in the broad arc of time.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Stoop Lottery

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hobroken: Town Inundated By Two Broken Water Mains

Money is cheap. People need jobs. There is a ton of crumbling
infrastructure in this country. Invest some damn money in stimulus.
The first break -- a 12-inch main -- occurred early around 3 a.m. at
Willow Avenue and Eighth Street. The second break -- a 30-inch main
that supplies water to much of the city -- occurred at 14th Street and
Willow Avenue. Officials said aging infrastructure is to blame for the
early break and a construction mishap for the second break.

Bloomberg's Greatest Legacy: 10 Smoke Free Years Later

For all of his faults, Bloomberg has also done some great things.  The best thing he accomplished was the smoking ban.  It used to be just disgusting, I can't believe people tolerated it for so long. 
According to the report, since New York City passed this landmark legislation, an estimated 10,000 premature smoking-related deaths have been prevented among New Yorkers.
"Ten years ago when New York City prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, many predicted the end of the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries," said Mayor Bloomberg.
"Yet 10 years later, fewer New Yorkers are smoking, we are living longer, our industries are thriving and nobody longs for a return to smoke-filled bars and restaurants."
Bloomberg deserves full credit for passing that ban in the face of screeching, sky is falling media coverage and business opposition. 

Amtrak Asks U.S. for $2.1 Billion to Buy Trains, Improve Tracks - Bloomberg

A country with its priorities straight would award them that and then some. 
Amtrak, in a letter today to Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, asked for $2.1 billion in U.S. funds for its capital budget and $212 million for debt service for the 2014 fiscal year. In the 2013 fiscal year, Amtrak is receiving $905 million for those expenses.
"If we truly want to realize our vision of what rail can offer America, in terms of real mobility improvements and rational modal choices, policy decisions must be made and funding provided to match them," Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said in a statement. "These are big decisions, and will require bold thinking, but they will deliver value for the money."
Unfortunately with a Congress full of Republican troglodytes, we are not a country that has its priorities in order. 

1973: When Marlon Brando Refused the Oscar

I learn new things every day. I had no idea that this little moment
of history happened. Granted, I wasn't born until 1974. Is this
important in the great scheme of things? No. But it's a little
reminder of how much there is that I don't know. I love filling my

Report: It Pretty Incredible That Americans Entrusted With Driving Cars | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

"Americans make millions of mind-boggling, idiotic mistakes every day,
and when taking into consideration the sheer amount of lives that
could be lost due to just the slightest human error while driving,
it's actually pretty goddamn shocking that we let citizens operate
4,000-pound machines capable of going 200 mph," the report read in
part, later adding that if one truly thinks about who their neighbors,
friends, and children are as people, the absolute last thing one would
be comfortable with would be them merging onto a busy highway with
cars traveling 85 mph.
All kidding aside, it is pretty amazing.  Destructive force routinely placed in the hands of cretins and imbeciles on a daily basis.

Stringer: Give MSG ten more years, but then … « Second Ave. Sagas

This makes good sense.  Penn Station IS a problem, and we need the flexibility to be able to address capacity constraints without being held hostage to a 50 year deal
The Penn Station problem, as I've written lately, is often tough to discern in media coverage. Some prominent city historians and architectural critics have grown too obsessed with rectifying a 50-year wrong. They want to promote the Moynihan Station venture as penance for Penn Central's decision to tear down the Beaux Arts Penn Station, and they want to move Madison Square Garden to build something that looks majestic. That solution doesn't address the fundamental problem: Penn Station rail capacity is maxed out. The platforms are too narrow, and the trans-Hudson rail tubes are too few. How can a new MSG and a new Penn Station improve rail capacity into and through New York City?
To that end, Stringer has an answer, and he lays it out in the ULURP recommendation [pdf]. Noting that both Moynihan Station and the Penn Visioning plan do not "go[] far enough, nor address[] the physical constraint of the Garden on meaningful improvements to Penn Station," Stringer first calls for improvements at the track level. Amtrak's Gateway Tunnel will work, he says, only if platforms are wider, and to widen platforms, MSG and its support columns must go. "While moving Madison Square Garden," he writes, "would potentially lead to a new, modern head house serving as a grand gateway into New York City, the true benefits in moving the arena would be increased below-grade flexibility that would allow for efficient track design."
Thus, says Stringer, it's time to develop a master plan for area. Involving all stakeholders — MSG, the city, the state, the feds, the MTA, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, area business — will be a challenge, but the future economic development of the Midtown area and the city on the whole depend on it. "Master plans for regional and mass transit improvements can take years, sometimes decades, to implement," Stringer says. "The city must begin to create a master plan now and not wait until the system is so congested as to be broken."
Of course the arena operators have to talk their book, but it's funny how a 50 year renewal is a natural right, and a 10 year renewal is an artificial constraint.  If we're not ready to move forward with improvements in ten years, give them another ten.  And if necessary, another ten after that.  But to write off the possibility of a fix for 50 years is madness.

Menchaca vs. Gonzalez: Jabs and Left Hooks in Red Hook

Gonzalez (D–Sunset Park) primary challenger Carlos Menchaca accuses the 10-year incumbent of being missing in action in the months following Sandy's assault on Brooklyn's largest public housing complex — a charge Gonzalez denies, and she says she has the photos to disprove it.
Menchaca hopes to pull the district that includes Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, and parts of Bay Ridge, Park Slope, and Borough Park from under Gonzalez by campaigning on his relief work in the massive housing projects that stretch from Clifton to Richards streets, where last fall over 6,000 residents were left without heat, hot water, and elevator service — and, according to Menchaca, without the aid of their councilmember.
This is a district that could use a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mazzone's Hardware Store Now Hiring

Need a job? I've always been pleased with the service at Mazzone's.
Looks like they have a couple of openings.

Busy retail hardware store in Brooklyn seeking full and part time employees.

Position 1: Garden Center assistant. Should have a basic understanding
of how to care for plants. Must be well spoken, able to communicate
well with customers and fellow employees, and able to lift up to
50lbs. This is a seasonal position but could lead to year round
employment based on performance. Starting salary 8-11/hr depending on

Position 2: Retail sales/stock. Applicant must be well spoken and able
to communicate well with customers and fellow employees. Knowledge of
hardware and/or Benjamin Moore paint a plus, but not required. Must be
able to work in a fast paced environment.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Controversial Pro-Palestine Ads Went Up At Metro-North Stations On Passover: Gothamist

Pam Geller is an absolutely awful human being, and she is 100%
responsible for these ads running.

The MTA was forced to run these types of ads by none other than racist
lunatic freak and grifter Pam Geller. Now Geller will use these ads
to raise more money for yet more hateful anti-Muslim ads.

At least the money is going to the MTA. How does a person like Pam Geller
sleep at night?  No link to her hateful blog.

Fracking Wastewater Injection Spurs Earthquakes, Study Finds

A new study in the journal Geology is the latest to tie a string of unusual earthquakes, in this case, in central Oklahoma, to the injection of wastewater deep underground. Researchers now say that the magnitude 5.7 earthquake near Prague, Okla., on Nov. 6, 2011, may also be the largest ever linked to wastewater injection. Felt as far off as Milwaukee, more than 800 miles away, the quake—the biggest ever recorded in Oklahoma—destroyed 14 homes, buckled a federal highway and left two people injured. Small earthquakes continue to be recorded in the area. The study appeared today in the journal's early online edition.

I've never once seen it raised as a possibility in the press, but I have always wondered if the 2004 tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people was set off by oil and gas exploration.  There is a great deal of extraction going on in the immediate vicinity.  But literally, never once did I see a single instance of speculation in the news media about the potential that this disaster could have been unwittingly caused by man. 

Human activities are capable of massive, horrific unintended consequences.  There is a huge amount of money to be made in extractive industries, and very little profit margin in ensuring the public's safety.  Fortunately, the self interest of NYC which relies on upstate water for our very existence provides a counterbalance to what is usually a massively stacked deck in favor of exploitation.

Awesome Rock Formations: Photos

Basalt formations, a la Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, looking
like paintings from fantasy novel covers.

NYPD Inspector General Act and The Mayoral Candidates

Who will watch the watchers?

I've been following the recent news stories about Mayoral candidates debating whether the NYPD should have an IG.  And absolutely, it should.  My favored candidate Bill deBlasio has been outspoken in support of an NYPD Inspector General "with teeth".  From Councilmember Brad Lander's website, here's a few reasons why we need an IG for NYPD:
Why do we need an Inspector General for the NYPD? 
  • Inspectors General are a valuable and standard feature of government agencies.  All federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies (including the CIAFBI, and U.S. Department of Justice) and most NYC agencies (including the NYC Departments of EducationParksHPDFDNY) have an IG. 
  • Inspectors General perform investigations to help ensure agencies are following the law; to identify waste, fraud, and abuse; to find deficiencies in agencies' programs that limit the ability to achieve their mission; to recommend corrective action; and to ensure appropriate transparency and oversight.
  • Decades-long concerns about corruption, as well as more recent concerns about potential civil liberties violations in the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policies and the NYPD Intelligence Unit, reveal the need for an NYPD IG.
  • While the Civilian Complaint Review Board and Internal Affairs Bureau investigate individual cases, no mechanism exists to provide for independent, secure investigations to ensure that NYPD policies and procedures are operating effectively and consistently with the law.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department has an IG, and all five of the next-largest municipal police departments have some form of independent oversight with subpoena power.
Chris Quinn claims to support a bill, but has not yet allowed a vote on the act. There is some concern over how robust a bill she supports, given her close ties to Bloomberg and her proposed NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, who both oppose it. 
Other candidates are embarrassing themselves on the issue. John Liu, opposed (though to his credit, also opposes stop and frisk). Bill Thompson made the almost unbelievably stupid suggestion that the proposed IG report to the Police Commissioner.

That's ridiculous alright.  It's also a damning indictment of Thompson's thought processes.  

Not surprisingly, the GOP candidates are opposed.

Given that there is a veto-proof majority in favor of the Inspector General Act, what is Chris Quinn waiting for? 

Red Hook a Destination for Eating, Exploring

Via Brownstoner, the NYT food critic has taken a look at Red Hook, and
likes what he sees.

Now that the weather is looking better, I'm really looking forward to
our favorite leisure activity: walks around Brooklyn. Red Hook is a
favorite jaunt of ours, including Valentino Park, Fairway, Hope and Anchor, the food vendors, Steve's Key Lime Pies, etc.

Of course the walk to Brooklyn Bridge Park has become a staple as well, and just gets better every year.

Side note: coming home late Sunday afternoon, passed PokPok. The line
was insane. That guy should consider branching out with more NY
locations.  The Brooklyn Greenway is going to make that stretch of Columbia street more and more a destination for walkers and bikers.  I'm looking forward to the forthcoming connections through Atlantic Basin down to Valentino Park.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Game of Thrones Actor's Ear Bitten Off During Brutal Attack

Life imitates art!
The incident occurred after the six-foot, five-inch actor asked fellow
guests at a Travelodge to keep the noise down. The two rambunctious
guests disagreed with Mantle and, rather than quieting down, decided
instead to bite the actor's ear off.
I feel for the actor, but it's just the sort of thing that would
happen to a GoT character … especially the Greatjon.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Stealth Political PAC Is Reportedly Raising $50 Million | Betabeat

Given that Mark Zuckerberg is our generation's poster boy for avarice, I would be shocked senseless if he wasn't a Republican
Mark Zuckerberg–fresh off his fundraiser for Republican governor Chris Christie!–is working on launching the group, along with his close friend Joe Green, a former Harvard University roommate. Mr. Green was previously involved with and and is now an entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz. (As we noted last fall, founder Marc Andreessen himself contributed exclusively to a number of Republican campaigns, after previously supporting Clinton-Gore.)
But the tech and Republican connections don't stop there.

GoogaMooga Expands To 3 Days With Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, Flaming Lips And Foie Gras Doughnuts: Gothamist

Great googly-moogly.

10 Years On

The intolerable media situation persists. 

Laughing beats crying. 

The Strange Tale of a Court Street Stabbing

And a reminder of the sad state of our mental heath care system.
Court Street resident Ron Lindo told The Brooklyn Paper that Jackson
Alexandre jabbed him in the shoulder inside their apartment at about 8
pm after Lindo told Alexandre that he should seek psychiatric help.

"I noticed that he was stressed for the past couple of days. He was
very withdrawn and paranoid," said a stitched-up Lindo, who lived with
Alexandre at the second-floor residence near Hamilton Avenue for the
past year. "I wanted him to go to the hospital. I figured he needed
some kind of treatment."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Drivers who hit people on sidewalks not being prosecuted -

The law needs to be changed. Also, note some more color on the killer
of Brooklyn Heights resident Martha Atwater:
In another case, driver John McKinney, an ex-con with a history of
drug arrests, walked free after hitting Emmy-winning TV producer
Martha Atwater. She was killed Feb. 22 coming out of a Brooklyn
The absence of criminal charges against any one of those drivers
illustrates the need for New York to reform its vehicular-crime laws,
according to Steve Vaccaro, a lawyer who specializes in representing
pedestrians hit by motor vehicles.
Under the law, when drivers haven't been drinking, prosecutors must
first find "recklessness" when applying the most serious criminal
Did John McKinney get a blood test?  He damn well should have.

Driving is a privilege that carries with it responsibilities. One of
those responsibilities ought to be to explain yourself when you drive
onto a sidewalk and mow down some pedestrians.

Carroll Street Bridge Work: Four Month Closure

From CB6:
The Deparment of Transportation will commence component rehabilitation of the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal on or about April 1, 2013. Work at this location will require the complete closure of the bridge to all cars, bicycles and pedestrians. There will be no parking permitted in the work zone area. The scope of work for this bridge includes: replacement of the deteriorated timber deck; restoration of expansion joints; replacement of impacted stiffeners, angles and plates, cleaning and painting structural steel at deterioration locations; resetting roadway paving units at west abutment; sidewalk repairs; installation of new timber curbs and rubber dock fenders. The anticipated completion date for all work is August 2013.

Commencing April 1, 2013
Day Work: 7:00am-4:00pm, Monday through Friday
No Night or Weekend Work anticipated at this time.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Alleged Carroll Gardens Roommate Stabber Shot, Killed by Cops: Sources

Looks like the block between Garnet and Hamilton?

Man stabs roommate, threatens police, is shot dead.

Terrible story.

Google's Trust Problem - Daring Fireball

A great point. With Reader, Google cancelled a product that people
used and loved.

That is frightening to people who use Google products. What else is
subject to their whims? Everything, of course.

Of course Google can do whatever they want with their products. But I
think this was a short-sighted move.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Mighty Quinnberg - The Huffington Post

Alec Baldwin demolishes Christine Quinn, teases deBlasio endorsement:
As the pendulum inevitably swings again, New York needs a mayor who is
three things: one who truly possesses middle class values (whether
they be middle class or not), one who is uncompromising in their
integrity and one who can genuinely stoke the ineffable spirit that
defines New York. A spirit of diversity that says come as you are. A
spirit of community that says all for one and one for all, yet
encouraging an opinionated, muscular individuality. A great New Yorker
once told me "If you are truly one in a million, there are seven other
people like you in this town. You can form a club."
In a forthcoming post, I want to tell you why Bill de Blasio is that New Yorker.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Thanks to Marty Golden, Life-Saving Speed Cameras Not in State Budget

I'm having a party down at the yacht club on Saturday.  How would you like to mow my lawn?
Somebody needs to knock Marty out of the Senate.  I was hoping Andrew Gounardes could pull it off last year, but no luck.  Golden's latest antics:
Said Golden to the Daily News: "What we need are the actual police officers on the street. Cops on the street are what slows people down."
In reality, traffic cameras are highly effective at reducing speeding, red light-running, and crashes. In D.C., speed cameras led to an 82 percent reduction in drivers exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph or more, according to Richard Retting, the director of safety and research at Sam Schwartz Engineering.
Regardless, as one of three Republicans in the Senate who represent the city, Golden has the power to head off whatever NYC-related legislation he doesn't like, for whatever reason.

Jews Upset After Prospect Park Accuses Them Of Throwing Bread In Lake: Gothamist

I chose to ignore this story when it originally surfaced last week.  The idea of giving attention to an idiot isn't appealing, and the story was so brain-hurting stupid.  But It's not fair to let a decent guy like Paul Nelson (former chief of staff to Assemblywoman Joan Millman) take even the tepid heat this nontroversy is generating. 
According to the Brooklyn Paper, the release said, "For many years people have brought chametz to Prospect Park to throw into the lake to feed the waterfowl. While this is done with the best of intentions, feeding the waterfowl can be very harmful to them." But Gary Schlesinger, of United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations and Enrichment, says, "For Passover nobody drops the chametz into the lake. That is totally untrue."
Usually, observants Jews will burn unleavened bread (the chametz). However, Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Paul Nelson told the NY Times, "It usually is several hundred over the few days before Passover starts and all around the lake... When asked, they said they were disposing of their bread products in preparation for Passover and thought they were doing a good thing by feeding it to the waterfowl." He explained that with the leavened bread bonanza, geese are diverted from their usual vegetation, "We are not saying it's one branch of Judaism or another, or a particular neighborhood or synagogue. Nor is it organized."The fake outrage is nonsense.  Gary Schlesinger's statement is demonstrably false, and it is he who owes the Prospect Park Alliance an apology.  This would not even be a story but for the ginned up outrage of a buffoon like Schlesinger. 
I've fed the geese in various places many, many times without thinking I was doing the wrong thing.  I don't think there's any scandal in observant Jewish people doing so.  Hmm. I've got to lose this bread, and I'm supposed to do X with it, but I could feed it to the geese. Everybody wins!  Who doesn't like to feed animals?

But apparently its not great for the geese, and due to the holiday, it would seem that a larger number of people all get the bright idea at the same time, which results in overfeeding the geese with grains, which is not good for them. Hence what should have been an unremarkable PSA to the community, turned into a news story by a thin-skinned buffoon. 

The end. 

Full disclosure: I will no doubt continue to feed ducks, geese, chipmunks, squirrels, occasional pigeons, and even an accursed seagull or two, on occasion.  But I'll try to avoid doing so at highly trafficked places. And no trans fats. 

White Supremacist Eyed In Murder Of Tom Clements | TPMMuckraker

This just reminded me of how the right-wingers screamed bloody murder about DHS tracking right wing hate groups back in those halcyon days of 2009.  No idea what will ultimately turn out with this case, but yeah, white people are also capable of terrorist acts and political murder. 

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, told TPM on Friday that the center did not have any prior knowledge of Ebel or his reported involvement with the 211s. In a blog post on the center's Hate Watch blog, Potok wrote that the gang tied to Ebels is called the 211 Crew, also known as the Aryan Alliance, "a particularly vicious regional white supremacist prison gang whose size has been estimated at somewhere between several hundred and a thousand members, all in Colorado."

"A major, four-year racketeering investigation of the group culminated in 2007 with the arrests of 32 gang members and associates," Potok wrote. "One of them was Benjamin Davis, who started the gang in 1995, and was ultimately convicted of racketeering, assault and conspiracy and sentenced to 108 years in prison."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Alternate Side Rules Suspended Tuesday-Friday, March 26-29

The title said it all.

Alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations will be suspended Tuesday through Friday, March 26-29 for Passover, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

dot email alert

Bergen Street: Subway Entrance Mystery Solved

The southerly entrance to the Coney Island bound F/G platform has
reopened … and the opposite stairwell on the Manhattan bound side has

This time the sign spells it out - the stairwells are getting a rehab.

A little preview if what's in store for the 7th Avenue station this summer.

Room Gate: Abraham is No Lincoln

I don't know where the Room 8 diaspora have settled, and largely don't
care. But I have tracked Gatemouth to his bloggerly lair, and enjoyed
his barb-laced broadside against would-be Levin challenger Isaac
Clearly, Abraham is an influential figure among an influential
minority of an influential minority.

But he has slightly less chance of being elected to the City Council
than he does of being elected Grand Marshall of the Brooklyn Pride

Local politics is a dry business to most people. I don't think Gate
is always entirely fair, and he sticks a shiv in as well as anyone, but
he's always thoroughly enjoyable to read. There are few people who
have his institutional memory of the NY political scene, and precisely
none who share as much, with such biting wit.  I dread the day it is turned on me.

All of which is my way of saying it's a good read.

Know Your Right-wing Shill Organizations: Third Way

You better know, because the New York Times won't bother to scratch the surface for you, and lets Third Way and other wolves of their ilk masquerade in sheep's clothing. 
I showed in these pieces how journalists and Republicans used Third Way's "false flag" status as a self-described "center-left" organization to add faux credibility to their arguments. The Republicans, for example, used comments by one of Third Way's founders deriding Elizabeth Warren as the centerpiece of ads trying to defeat Elizabeth Warren in her run for the U.S. Senate. Similarly, the Washington Post's ultra-deficit hawk, Robert J. Samuelson, used Third Way's support of austerity as faux evidence that even liberals who studied the question realized the need to inflict austerity on the Nation.
One of my prior articles provides the finance background of every member of Third Way's governing board – exposing the total dominance by Wall Street and finance. My goal was to make it impossible for a journalist who did even the most perfunctory research on Third Way to describe it as a "center-left" organization (or any analogous term).
I had not counted on the New York Times failing to clear such a tiny research hurdle. Sadly, on March 20, 2013 the New York Times gave prominent coverage to a study sponsored by Third Way, which the reporter called "a center-left policy research organization" in an article entitled "As Men Lose Economic Ground, Clues in the Family."
Once again, Wall Street's cynical effort to mislead by labeling its far-right economic policies and its lobbying group as "a center-left policy research organization" has triumphed. It triumphed because the curve of Wall Street's cynicism intersected with the curve of lazy journalism at their respective maxima. The reporter emphasized Third Way's faux "center-left" politics and its faux "research" function to make his story and the report seem more credible to the reader. The "central-left" aspect was supposed to lend credibility because the study was portrayed as supporting some extremely conservative memes. If even lefties admit that conservatives are right about the family and marriage, then surely the study is correct. It also suggests that Third Way must be a remarkable research organization because it is a "center-left" group that sponsors research that discredits "center-left" family policies.
None of this faux legitimacy is warranted. Third Way is a lobbyist for Wall Street. It conducts minimal research. Its publications overwhelmingly read like crude propaganda attacking the safety net, trying to create a "moral panic" about the deficit, and praising big finance. Third Way religiously avoids discussing the massive growth of inequality (driven largely by finance). (I used their web site's search feature to find references to "inequality" without results.) Third Way's introduction to the report explains that it is part of a series of pieces designed not to be objective research. Instead, Third Way admits that it is sponsoring pieces it intends to "confront" the Democratic Party in a "provocative" manner – pieces premised on the view that government fails because it embraces the Democratic Party's obsolescent dogmas.
Added bolding.  They can only run this bullshit propaganda with the media's help.  And as exhausting as it is, they need to be called on it.  Again, and again, and again.  Even good reporters have bad days, everyone can get lazy, and there are always fresh-faced new reporters who need an education.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Culver Line: F train Update

It's hard to overstate the positive impact this project will have on the street environment at 4th Ave and the intersections with 9th and 10th Streets.
Good news, beleaguered F train commuters, especially the Red Hookers among us.

The Smith-9th Street station is set to reopen the week of April 22. It
feels necessary to specify April 2013. In just over a month the
station will be back online and looking sharp.

Also: 4th Ave will be finished by the end of May. The MTA hopes to
have retail tenants installed some time in 2014.

The seemingly endless Culver Viaduct rehabilitation as a whole is
scheduled to be finished by end of year.

As To The Express Tracks
A portion of the express tracks beyond the viaduct run beneath Windsor
Terrace after cutting under Prospect Park. Historically, vibrations
from trains using those tracks have generated frequent complaints from
residents of the place blocks in WT. The MTA has installed continuous
welded rail in this stretch of tunnel, which has yielded improvement.
But post sandy, when NYCT ran 8 car G trains the vibrations generated
a flurry of complaints. Seems like more anti-vibration retro-fitting
will be necessary if express service is to be viable along the Colver

We need to find the money to do express service right if we're going
to do it. In the meantime, we've got two greatly improved stations
that will be fully reopened soon. And that's something.

Bonus Culver Line Construction Report:
7th Avenue station - in the planning stage of rehabilitating stairways. Should
start in June, six-eight month schedule. One or two stairways on
either end will be closed for renovation at a time.

Brooklyn Heights - Brooklyn Bridge Park Bridge Opened Today

View from the Squibb Park bridge facing west.  Image credit: Brownstoner.
Sweet! Details at Brownstoner

Yo dawg, we heard you like bridges, so we put a bridge in your park so you can park while you park.

Officials oppose state Senate yeshiva bus plan that could open floodgates to hundreds of millions of dollars more in city busing costs - Daily News

But last year, over the objections of Mayor Bloomberg, the Senate GOP successfully pushed to require city bus service for students at private schools that offer classes until at least 5 p.m.
Thirty schools took advantage — 29 Yeshivas and one charter school — for a total cost increase that was capped at $3 million.
Also, I don't know how accurate it is to call Simcha Felder a Democrat any more. 

Lhota Pushes Carrión Out of the GOP Primary -- Daily Intelligencer

As for Carrión, while the news is a major blow to his campaign, he's
been endorsed by the city's Independence Party and doesn't intend to
drop out of the race. "Mr. Carrion isn't interested in backroom
dealing. He's interested in winning a general election," his campaign
said in a statement. "As we have stated previously, he will be running
to November on the same Independence line that has helped hand the GOP
victory in the past."
Yeah, the guy that switched from the Democrats, to the GOP, to the
Independence loons all in the space of one cycle … he's not at all
interested in back room dealing. Give me a break.
At this rate the next DSM might feature Carrion under a new category,
Multiple Party Disorder.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bottomless Pit of Despair

A possible gateway to the underworld.
Located on 57th Street.  The light was fading, and I honestly couldn't make out the bottom.  Pennywise the Clown would be right at home down there.

Here's What The Tallest Residential Tower In NYC Will Look Like: Gothamist

(Copyright dbox for CIM Group & Macklowe Properties)
 I've got no complaints about tall buildings in Manhattan. Just wish
the designs had some character - like Gehry's Beekman Tower, as one
recent example. I half expect to see Fedders units sticking out of
this thing.

Go to Gothamist for details and image gallery.

Quinn and Catsimatidis Would Keep Ray Kelly

Ok, so that's two candidates who are presumptively disqualified from
holding the office of Mayor.

New Bike Lanes, Culver Viaduct Update at CB6 Meeting Thursday - Carroll Gardens, NY Patch

The Culver Viaduct.
A reminder from the Carroll Gardens Patch that CB6 Transportation committee meets this Thursday night:

At Thursday's Community Board 6 - Transportation Committee Meeting, locals will receive information on two important transit updates to the neighborhood.
First the Department of Transportaion will present its proposal to install a new pair of bike lanes along the eastbound side of Union Street and the westbound side of Sackett Street between Van Brunt Street and 3rd Avenue.
Second, an update on progress on the Culver Viaduct reconstruction project and station rehabilitations.  Can't wait for this project to wrap. 
6:30, Thursday 3/21
Good Shepherd
441 4th Avenue (corner of 9th Street)

Participatory Budgeting in District 39

Cobble Hill Association's blog and a timely email from Brad Lander remind me that Participatory Budgeting is upon us.  Want to have a say in how $1,000,000 in capital budget gets applied?  Vote!

Actual voting dates and times are listed on Councilman Lander's Participatory Budgeting page and pasted below.

Early Voting: 
Tuesday, April 2nd – Thursday, April 4th 7:30 AM – 8 PM daily
@ Councilmember Lander's District Office 456 5th Avenue, 3rd Floor, between 9th and 10th Street

Regular Voting: 
Saturday, April 6th
@ Carroll Gardens Library, 396 Clinton St (at Union St) 10 AM – 7 PM
@ Old Stone House, 336 3rd Street (Washington Park) 10 AM – 7 PM
@ Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace, 1224 Prospect Avenue (at Vanderbilt Street) 10 AM – 7 PM

Sunday, April 7th
@ Beth Jacob, 1371 46th Street (at 14th Avenue) 10 AM – 5 PM
@ PS 230 Lower School, 425 McDonald Ave (bwn Church Ave & Albemarle Rd) 10 AM – 5 PM
@ Park Slope Armory YMCA, 361 15th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue) 10 AM – 5 PM
@ Carroll Park House, Carroll Street and Smith Street (in Carroll Park) 10 AM – 5 PM

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NYPD Spent One Million Hours On Marijuana Arrests In Ten Years, Despite Staff Cutbacks : Gothamist

An almost unimaginable waste of resources. And that's not even
counting the damage done to young lives disrupted by this asinine

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

SUNY Death Panel Votes To Pull The Plug On LICH

"We are resource poor. We don't have the financial sustenance to keep LICH open," said SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher as SUNY trustees voted at the meeting held at state College at Purchase in Westchester.
More than 100 workers and former patients bused to the meeting by the nurses' union chanted "The vote is fixed. Don't close LICH" during the meeting.

Tonight at the CG Library, a free night of art and literature, wine & cheese too!

Well, how can you argue with that?

Transcendent  photographs. Evocative essays. Haunting watercolor paintings. No matter the medium, the sentiment of respect clearly shines through in the art and writings of a talented trio – Thomas Rupolo; Joan Marans Dim; and Antonio Masi, who will present their works in an entertaining evening at the Carroll Gardens Library, March 19, 7 to 9 p.m.

Carroll Gardens resident Joan Marans Dim, an essayist and historian, and New York City artist Antonio Masi will discuss their book New York's Golden Age of Bridges. With a visual presentation focused on the four bridges of Brooklyn – the Brooklyn, Manhattan Bridge Williamsburg and the Verrazano-Narrows  -- the discussion will "span" the bridges' artistic and cultural underpinnings, and their impact nationally as well as worldwide.

Bridges form connections over water, and many area residents feel a strong connection to the nearby waterfront community of Red Hook. Photographer Thomas Rupolo will explore the "lost continent" of Red Hook, where "even cabbies can't find their way" in a presentation of photos as bright and vibrant as the people who live there, as featured in his book Images of Red Hook.

This event is the latest in a series of artistic and literary evenings hosted by the Friends of the Carroll Gardens Library, offering free refreshments of wine and cheese. Signed books will be available for purchase. Auditorium (basement) of the Carroll Gardens Library, 396 Clinton Street at the corner of Union Street. Free and Open to the Public.

ABOUT ANTONIO MASI:  Antonio Masi, fascinated by bridges since childhood, began painting them a decade ago. He is drawn particularly to the 59th Street (the recently renamed Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, which his grandfather Francesco Masi helped build. Masi has won national and global acclaim for his paintings of New York City bridges.

ABOUT JOAN MARANS DIM: Joan Dim is co-author of The Miracle on Washington Square: New York University and the author of the novel Recollections of a Rotten Kid. She has traveled the bridges of New York City all her life and is a proud Carroll Gardens resident.

ABOUT THOMAS RUPOLO: Tom Rupolo has been living in and around Red Hook for 15 years. Formerly a nature photographer, he found that moving to Brooklyn provided new subjects such as industrial sites, architectural oddities, street life and close-ups of urban details.

ABOUT FRIENDS OF THE CARROLL GARDENS LIBRARY: Friends of the Carroll Gardens Library (FCGL) supports the library by fundraising and helping to make the Carroll Gardens branch a hub of the community with programs for children, youth and adults all year round. FCGL's website is FCGL can be found on Facebook at and Twitter at

Construction Under Way at Dinosaur BBQ Space On Union Street

To answer Brownstoner's question (click through for pic), Dinosaur BBQ is targeting a May opening.

Should be a good addition to this block. More eyes on the street on
one of the few convenient pedestrian corridors across the Gowanus.
One resident of the block came out to express concerns about potential
noise from the sidewalk cafe at our Permits & Licenses committee
meeting. This operator, however, has a solid track record in other
locations and seems genuinely interested in working with the

If I ever have a day off, I would like to try some of that BBQ.

When Bill Moyers Probed Media and Iraq

Never forget that it was the "liberal" (actually corporate) media, the
New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and on
and on that enabled Bush and Cheney to lie us into the Iraq War.

No one has ever been punished, and most of the guilty parties, both in
media and in government, have been rewarded with bonuses, raises, and
promotions … and on the media side, are largely still in positions of
influence and power.

Doesn't that make you angry?

The Dunning-Kruger-Madoff Effect - Krugman

All of which raises an interesting question: why don't people like Hinderaker who have been wrong about everything for years and years — demonstrably wrong, in ways that would have lost anyone who believed them a lot of money — ever reconsider? Shouldn't the thought at least enter their minds that maybe economic analysis is not their strong point? Shouldn't they at least entertain the notion that they are talking to the wrong "experts"?
So why doesn't this happen? Part of it, surely, is the Dunning-Kruger effect: the truly incompetent are too incompetent to realize that they're incompetent. Part of it, also, is the Madoff "affinity fraud" effect: people trust someone they perceive as part of their tribe — in this case the tribe of liberal-haters — and are blind to evidence that they are being taken for a ride.
Conservatives are particularly vulnerable to the grift, be it by the 700 Club or SarahPac.  Blind trust in those who appear to be on their team, or tribe, affinity group, whatever you want to call it.  It's weird.

DCP To Lightstone On Gowanus: Full Speed Ahead

City Planning gave the green light for Lightstone's Carroll Street
Gowanus development. I opposed the rezoning that Toll Bothers secured
for this property before abandoning their efforts when the Superfund
designation was announced. (Personally I suspect Toll was more worried
about the housing market than Superfund, which gave them an excuse to
exit gracefully under protest). But the Brooklyn housing market has
proved incredibly resilient, and Lightstone stepped in to pick up
where Toll left off.
The Manhattan-based Lightstone Group is set to break ground later this
year on the project along the shores of Bond, Carroll and Second
streets after satisfying new floodplains for the next century set up
by feds.
Lightstone is pulling the housing back another 17 feet so that 66 ¹/₂
feet will separate the canal from the closest planned building.
Lobby areas would be raised more than two feet so they're 10.6 feet
above the floodplains. Heating, air conditioning and power systems
would be moved out of the basements of each building and relocated to
"We are proud to be in a position to jump-start the transformation of
the largely abandoned or under-utilized borders of the canal to
productive use," said developer Mitchell Hochberg.
But Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the area, said he "still
believe[s] it's a mistake to move forward with" such a densely
populated project near the canal.
Brad's right of course, and I still believe the City has to take a
comprehensive look at the zoning around Gowanus before the facts on
the ground change much further (as of right hotels, one-off variances,
etc) and (I hope) before the next big storm surge. And we need to
address infrastructure needs with any change in development patterns.

For a whole lot more color (and of course, pictures) on the hearing, check out Pardon Me For Asking.

One silver lining in all of this: the Lightstone proposal (at least as
presented when I saw it in the fall) is objectively better than the
original Toll plan.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crimes of the Century: Unpunished

We should all be ashamed to let these crimes go unpunished.
"The fact that no one in America or Britain has yet gone to jail or
faced serious justice for perpetrating the crime of the century in
conning the world into the invasion of Iraq is a disastrous,
monumental moral failure. It was replicated only a few years later in
failing to bring to justice the criminals who brought the world's
financial system to its knees while enriching themselves."

Lincoln Restler Drops 2013 Bid To Challenge Steve Levin

News hot off the press (via email).  Ultimately I think this was the smart decision.  Particularly after the redistricting, this was looking like an uphill battle, and probably an ugly one.  As much as I like Lincoln, Steve's not a bad guy, and I think an ugly primary would have been a net loss.  Lots to work on in 2013, and tomorrow is another day.  I'm pleased to note that he's supporting two of my choices this cycle, Bill deBlasio for Mayor and Carlos Menchaca for Council District 38
A number of people have asked me about my plans to run for office again and I wanted to share my thinking directly with you. I have decided not to run for City Council this year. While I've had my share of disagreements with Councilmember Stephen Levin, I also respect that he has been a member of the Progressive Caucus, has brought participatory budgeting to our community, and has strived to actively represent our neighborhoods. 

In all sincerity, it has been my greatest privilege to represent the 50th Assembly District and to help make local government work better in our community. My experience as a Brooklyn activist and elected representative has been guided first and foremost by the desire to help my neighbors and give back to our neighborhoods.  I don't believe we need a political
office to advocate for the issues that matter most to us.  For my part, I will keep fighting for reform in the Brooklyn political system, responsible development that meets our needs, improved mass transit, and the creation of more green spaces. I am now leading the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, where I'm focused on ensuring New Yorkers are attaining quality training and employment.  

While I do very much hope to have the opportunity to represent our community again in the near future, this election year presents a remarkable opportunity for us all to profoundly shape our City's future. I am committing my energy to helping elect some true progressive reformers that will help us realize the Brooklyn and New York City we deserve. I hope you will join me in supporting City Council candidates Antonio Reynosoto succeed Diana Reyna in Williamsburg and Bushwick and Carlos Menchaca in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Red Hook, and South Park Slope. I am proud to be supporting Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for Mayor - as the time has come for a progressive Democrat to lead our City.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Bloomberg Wants to Physically Hide Cigarettes (and Good For Him)

New York State anti-smoking ad, via NY Mag.
Cue all the jokes and teeth-gnashing about Nanny Bloomberg taking our precious freedom.  I'm sure the tabloid coverage will be measured and insightful*. But this is not a joke, it's sound public policy:
New York City would be the first place in the country to put packs out of view, although nations like Iceland and Canada have tried it and seen success stemming youth smoking, according to the city. Still, "Retail stores may advertise and communicate tobacco product and price information to consumers," much to the dismay of the mayor, who has put $600 million of his own money toward anti-smoking activism.
There are a million things to be critical of Bloomberg about. This isn't one of them.  Good for him for taking the heat on this. 

* Did I say measured and insightful?  I meant off the rails and inciteful. 

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese chemical additives targeted by food bloggers

A Kraft spokeswoman said that the company was committed to obeying all the rules set by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. "The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority and we take consumer concerns very seriously. We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold. So in the US, we only use colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the FDA," the spokeswoman said.
However, Leake said that the blogging pair would continue their campaign until Kraft stopped using the additives and replaced them with the ingredients that it already deployed in its products overseas and some brands already sold in the US. "They don't have to reformulate and re-invent the wheel. They just have to use the same formula that they do in the UK," she said.
Assuming arguendo that the dyes are actually harmless, why would you open yourself up to a potential PR nightmare like this when you already are using a natural, safe and palatable formulation for your international sales?  Stupid, stupid, stupid. And that's best case. Worst case is the dyes ARE harmful, and then you're in real trouble.

Anyway, we usually eat Annie's, which tastes better and is organic to boot.  But before marrying into food consciousness, I must have eaten hundreds of pounds of this stuff in my lifetime. It's a miracle I'm not obese.  I'll eat pasta in any form, at any time of the day or night.

Watch the Cyprus Bombast | The Big Picture

Barry Ritholtz on the flurry of piss-poor analysis/reporting/commentary already swirling around about the Cyprus situation:
This is not about punishing savers. It is about a 1 million person island that has become a tax haven for Russian oligarchs. It is not another MF Global. No one is confiscating.
I expect to see a run of very serious articles about "Confiscation" and "Moral Hazard" and other such empty headed filler. I plan on ignoring much of the blather, choosing to focus my limited time and attention on smart analysis and commentary. Like this and this.
An important skill to develop is the ability to read critically and think analytically. After years of practice — I taught the GMAT & LSAT while in grad school — it becomes second nature. I can tell in a sentence or three if something is worth reading further. Perhaps this accounts for the popularity of the AM and PM my reads.
Like Barry, I taught the GMAT and LSAT in grad school, and I credit that experience (along with the 1L law school curriculum) for my ability to spot bullshit quickly. 

Libraries Auctioned Off To Keep Taxes Low On Wealthy

"Brooklyn is booming and the library system doesn't want to sit on the sidelines and not use it as a chance to upgrade its branches," said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University. "At a time when people don't want to raise taxes, taking advantage of the value of the property is one of the more intelligent ways to invest in the library system while getting new revenue."
And by "people" he means our billionaire Republican mayor, though it could just as well be the Republican congress or the Republican state senate. When your top policy goal is keeping taxes low on rich people, this is what you get: crony capitalism, public-private partnerships, and the sell-off of valuable public goods to the highest bidder.  At least we haven't privatized the parking meters or sold off the bridges and tunnels. 

But that one sentence explains why we have put condos in our parks, publicly financed private arenas, alienated parkland to private interests, and now selling off the libraries.  It's the original sin of the Bloomberg administration.  You can't have nice things unless my taxes stay low and my friends get to cherry pick the sweetest plums the city has to offer.

Island Nightmares: Incipient Cypriot Bank Mess

A snip from Krugman followed by two more links on what could be an explosive mess in Cyprus (and financial markets). 
Anyway, the Cyprus story has obvious parallels with both Iceland and Ireland, with RMML — Russian mobster money laundering — as an extra ingredient. All three island nations had a run of rapid growth as banking havens that left them with banking systems that were too big to save. Iceland, at peak, had banks with assets that were 980 percent of GDP, more than 10 times the US number; Ireland was at 440 percent. Cyprus, at around 800 percent, was closer to Iceland in this respect. For a good summary, read this.
In all three, runaway banking was the source of the crisis — although not everyone seems to get this, even now. Joe Weisenthal finds the most clueless remark so far about Cyprus, and it comes, you guessed it, from George Osborne, who seems to think it has something to do with lack of fiscal discipline. Actually, as the IMF (pdf) points out,
Before the 2008 crisis, Cyprus enjoyed a long period of high growth, low unemployment, and sound public finances.
Oh well. In any case, the question is what to do now.
I have to imagine the high overseas/absentee depositor (even if that includes Russian mobsters) factored into the remedy.  Beware of chasing yield in overseas depository institutions. 
Analysis from Calculated Risk., who highlights the regulatory faiulure and danger of chasing yield.  And a non-technical perspective that focuses on the possible policy consequences.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The New Times Square: Groundbroken

Rendering of a redesigned Times Square. (Courtesy MIR)
via AN Blog
The groundbreaking was this week.  The old situation was intolerable, the interim reallocation of street space to pedestrians was a huge improvement, and the installation of permanent fixtures should *ahem* cement Times Square's place as one of the great public spaces the City offers.

To tourists.  Still too crowded for my liking, but I get my ritual fill when we have friends and family from out of town.  I'm looking forward to a much better space to take them through the next time I'm so afflicted.

CIA Continues to Cover Up Dick Cheney’s War-Mongering

Dick Cheney belongs in prison.  He has the blood of thousands on his hands. 

LEVIN:We knew it never took place. And yet repeatedly, particularly the vice president, made reference to there was a report of a meeting between these two.

Now, it's very significant to the historical record here. We went to war based on allegations that there was a relationship between Iraq and the attackers, the 9/11 attacks. It's very important that this cable be declassified. The only reason to keep it redacted and classified, frankly, is to protect the administration. Not to protect sources and methods, because the sources and methods, if you will check with the Czechs, I'm sure will tell you they have no objection to the release of that cable.

'We have a bit of a trend': City Hall announces that New York is gaining people | Capital New York

"We are going to have a problem with mass transit," declared Mayor
Michael Bloomberg on Thursday, during a press conference in City Hall.
Well, what are you going to do about it? Frankly Bloomberg hasn't
been setting a great example on transit investment. When the city had
a couple of billion fiscal surplus just a few years ago, I was
advocating for an investment in transit infrastructure.

Bloomberg decided to send out rebate checks instead.

A wave of development looms in downtown Bklyn | Crain's New York Business

A few weeks back I was walking to Borough Hall to pick up the 4/5 (that brisk mile walk gets the blood going) when I ran into a planning professional I know.  We were discussing the latest crop of towers sprouting downtown, and he reminded me that the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning was really suppose to generate office development. So this quote below is a bit rich:
"When the rezoning was done, people complained it did not do enough for affordable housing, but this shows that's not the case," Mr. Reed said. "The rezoning worked."
The rezoning was one of the first major undertakings of the Bloomberg-era Department of City Planning, led by Commissioner Amanda Burden. The city has now rezoned more than one-third of the city's landmass, and the downtown Brooklyn one served as a model for many, pushing inclusionary housing as a means to foster affordable housing development.
Some complained that housing for low- and middle-income families should have been mandatory in all new developments, but the administration prefers a market-driven approach that uses government incentives and tax breaks to promote the private development of affordable housing.
That said, two points. 
One, the Downtown Brooklyn upzoning as a general matter was a good decision. Excellent transportation options in downtown are the attraction:  easy access to jobs, entertainment, parks, etc. when you have such an abundance of subway access are a real draw (a point Norman Oder made in a much more comprehensive post on this topic). And these upzonings are a perfect complement to contextual zonings in well established, moderately scaled neighborhoods. A vibrant city should have a range of densities that support walkability (there is a minimum level of density required to support transit and neighborhood amenities aka businesses).

Two, the Bloomberg administration has failed miserably when it comes to demanding concessions for the unlocked value of up-zoned property, and also on the broader matter of housing policy.  I'm hoping that the next Mayor will do a better job in these areas. 

NYC Population at Record High With Brooklyn Outpacing Manhattan - Carroll Gardens, NY Patch

I know I'm a broken record on this, but for good reason.  The City needs to focus on the infrastructure that makes a growing city thrive.  Choked subways, streets, schools and sewers do not a sustainable growth model make. 

Every borough is experiencing a population boom, with Brooklyn outpacing Manhattan and leading the city in a new resident explosion, according to Census data release on Thursday.
Census figures show that Brooklyn grew by 2.4 percent to 2,565,635 between 2010 and 2012, compared to Manhattan's 2.1 percent growth to 1,619,090. Queens came in third, adding 1.9 percent more residents, followed by The Bronx's 1.7 percent jump and then Staten Island's 0.4 percent increase.

I'm not at all surprised to see a growing population and welcome the news.  It is far better to grow our urban population than to see our farms and forests paved over for sprawl.  We need to do a better job planning and provisioning for population growth.