Monthly Archives: February 2010

Does Big Business Understand that NYC Has Five Boroughs?

Ester R. Fuchs

Many New Yorkers, including the folks at the Center for an Urban Future, believe that the city’s economy must diversify geographically and industrially for its middle class —and the city — to survive. Whether this happens will depend on whether local political power reflects a five-borough perspective. The current relationship between the mayor and the City Council does not suggest that this will occur soon; nor does a recent move by Professor Ester R. Fuchs to the Partnership for New York City. Continue reading

Community Boards in the News: Feb. 5, 2010

The Daily News reports that Freshman Queens Councilman Dan Halloran (R-19CD) has let veteran members of Queens Community Boards 7 and 11 know their years of volunteer service won’t matter if recent attendance at board meetings is poor. “We need new blood,” Halloran said.

Spec News reports on Manhattan Board 7’s rejection of a sidewalk café permit renewal for Magnolia Bakery.

Queens Tribune reports on community board budget priorities eliminated from the mayor’s Executive Budget.

Manhattan Community Board 4 viewed as crucial to approval of proposed Hell’s Kitchen hotel and entertainment complex for the gay community.

The Manhattan Borough President’s office says school zoning issues are like other land use issues when considering community board members’ conflicts of interest.

Mcbrooklyn covers Marty Markowitz’s State of the Borough address; notes BP’s intent to strengthen community boards through charter revision.

Pressure Builds for November Charter Revision

James Brennan

Mayor Bloomberg’s rumored charter revision commission is under the gun to get its proposal(s) on the ballot before New York State alters existing charter revision rules.

The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Cities, chaired by James Brennan (44AD, Brooklyn), just announced a public hearing to be held on February 17 to consider changes in the way city charters can be modified. Brennan’s committee has been considering legislation “that would change the composition of charter revision commissions and legislation that would repeal the provision that prevents citizen initiated ballot questions if a charter revision commission has been convened.”

To avoid any changes that the Assembly might try to enact, the mayor’s charter revision commission would have to meet a schedule for an Election Day ballot this November.

More on the relationship between New York City and New York State here.

Community Boards in the News

Queens Community Board 1 is reviewing a proposed “spot” rezoning of 240 blocks in Astoria. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 16.

Brooklyn Community Board 6 moves closer to disapproving a charter school’s special permit application. New York Magazine calls this “a classic case of intrusive ‘nanny state’ overreach.”

Former Manhattan CB2 District Manager Rita Lee is recovering from hip surgery in Vermont.

Manhattan Community Board 3 fights proposed East Side bus route service cuts. Meeting scheduled for February 10.

Queens Community Board 7 to consider proposed Flushing Commons mixed-use development project for Flushing Municipal Parking Lot site.

Marty’s State of the Borough: Keep the Beeps!

One of our favorite bloggers, Faye Penn, was among the Brooklynites honored tonight by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at his swearing-in by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his State of the Borough address — as always, a spectacular tribute to Brooklyn’s diversity and achievement. Faye’s accomplishment? Her snappy new blog for savvy consumers, Brokelyn.com. (Full disclosure: Faye’s News Editor, Jonathan Berk, also serves as Associate Editor of CityPragmatist.com.)

Although Marty never quite said “it’s the economy, stupid,” his message was clear: Faye and the other stars on the stage at the Park Slope Armory are the reason that Brooklyn continues to grow and prosper. As to his own role, which is rumored to be threatened by an anticipated Bloomberg charter revision commission, Marty promised his audience that he will “demand charter changes to beef up the borough presidents, the Public Advocate, and the community boards.”

In Marty’s audience were the borough presidents of The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, which, to this observer, implies that at least four of the city’s five beeps — and the Public Advocate — may be aligned in an effort to preserve and strengthen the voices of boroughs and neighborhoods in New York City.

With the Best of Intentions: Ending City Council Stipends

Elizabeth Benjamin, who writes The Daily Politics, a must-read political blog, cites Frank Lombardi’s Daily News report that several members of the City Council are foregoing the extra stipends—anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 in so-called “lulus”—they could get for chairing a Council committee or subcommittee. Three of the members, Ydanis Rodriguez, Matthieu Eugene, and newcomer Jumaane Williams, are generously calling for their lulus to go to relief efforts in Haiti.

Benjamin reports that the good-government group “Citizens Union wants to get rid of the stipend system, arguing it is little more than a tool with which the speaker exerts control over rank-and-file members – bestowing favors on those who are loyal, and, as with [Councilman Charles] Barron, punishing those to step out of line.”

What Benjamin does not say is that the main beneficiary of ending the lulu system would be the mayor, who, without a powerful Speaker, would find it easier to reward or punish individual Council members to achieve mayoral goals. The Council as a body would find it harder to unify around an issue.

Due to a legal principle called the “doctrine of curtailment,” a change such as eliminating lulus might have to be made through a public referendum. A charter revision commission could call for such a referendum on November’s ballot. This is yet another reason for voters to be alert to how the charter revision game is played.

Not NIMBY says CB1 to Terror Trials Proposal

Manhattan Community Board 1, which comprises Wall Street, Battery Park City, and the City Hall area, drew positive media coverage for its reaction to the Federal proposal to try accused terrorists in lower Manhattan — a proposal initially supported by Mayor Bloomberg and other leaders.

What do you think about holding these trials in NYC? Tell us in comments.

Unbalanced Coverage: NYC School Closings

WNYC’s Morning Edition ran a four-and-a-half minute story about the lawsuit brought by the UFT and the NAACP against NYC to stop the city from closing 19 underperforming schools. Articulating the NAACP position was NYS NAACP Chair Hazel Dukes, whose sound bite ran for 10 seconds. But the story gave City Hall, in the person of Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, a three-and-a-half minute interview to make the city’s case. No quote from UFT.

Evidently the Mayor Needs Editorial Support

A NYC blog about small businesses, The Neighborhood Retail Alliance, calls the Daily News’ editorial treatment of job losses in The Bronx “a classic case of misdirection!”