Streams

Kathleen Horan

Reporter, WNYC News

Kathleen Horan appears in the following:

Sept. 11 Victims' Families to Watch as Tribunal Hears Case

Friday, May 04, 2012

WNYC

Family members of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks will get the opportunity to watch the arraignment of five men accused of training and funding the hijackers — including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed — at the Fort Hamilton army base in Brooklyn.

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New York City Comptroller Says He's Blocking Taxi of Tomorrow

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Nissan NV200 -- New York's "Taxi of Tomorrow" - on display at the 2012 New York Auto Show (photo by Kate Hinds

Comptroller John Liu further complicated the New York City’s "Taxi of Tomorrow" project  Wednesday by saying he wouldn’t approve the city’s contract with Nissan because the vehicle selected isn’t wheelchair accessible.

Surrounded by other elected officals and advocates for the disabled, Liu said he believed the contract ‘as is’ violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

But Liu, who is under an ethical cloud for campaign finance violations,  may not be able to reject the contract outright.  Liu's campaign treasurer and a fundraiser have been indicted for using "straw donors" to circumvent city camapaign finance rules.

Kate O’Brien, spokeswoman with the City Law Department, said, “the law limits the issues upon which the Comptroller may refuse to register a contract. None of the matters raised, including ADA compliance, would constitute lawful grounds for refusing to do so.”

The city chose Nissan to be the single provider of yellow taxis for the next decade beginning in 2013. The new cabs will be rolled out as older cabs are retired.

The Nissan NV 200 has transparent roofs, USB chargers and extra legroom.  However, even though it’s a mini-van, it isn't accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Liu said “requiring cabs to have independent climate controls is nice but when you fail to make them accessible to a growing number of New Yorkers, it’s not just a slap in the face, its illegal.”

Taxi and Limousine Commssion spokesperson Allan Fromberg called Liu’s objection to the contact “mysterious and ill-informed.” He said, “Nissan is providing a wheelchair accessible version of the Taxi of Tomorrow, the city will create an additional 2,000 wheelchair accessible medallion licenses and they’re on the cusp of launching a demand responsive wheelchair accessible taxi dispatch system.”

Disabled groups sued the city over the Taxi of Tomorrow, and in 2011, a federal court ruled that the city, through the Taxi and Limousine Commission, violated ADA because it failed to provide passengers in wheelchairs meaningful access to taxis.  But an appeals court has allowed the city to put new taxis on the street without complying with the lower’s court’s order.

Currently, only 2 percent of the city’s taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible.

Attorney James Weissman with United Spinal Association, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit against the Taxi of Tomorrow, rejected the notion that a dispatch system will provide “meaningful access” to cabs for the estimated 60,000 New Yorkers in wheelchairs.  He noted that a separate system just for people with disabilities is a classic violation of civil rights.

“If it was any other protected class would we even question whether or not this was a shameful practice?” he asked. “What if we were running a separate system –substitute any other protected class…women have to take a separate system, blacks have to take a separate system – they can’t get in the same cabs…it doesn’t pass the smell test.”

By taking on the taxi issue, the embattled comptroller isn’t only taking on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg  He’s going head-to-head with TLC Commissioner David Yassky—his rival in the 2009 runoff for the office of Comptroller—an office many political insiders believe Yassky would make a run for again.

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Liu Vows to Block 'Taxi of Tomorrow'

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

WNYC

Comptroller John Liu further complicated the city’s Taxi of Tomorrow project on Wednesday by saying he wouldn’t approve the city’s contract with Nissan because the vehicle selected isn’t wheelchair accessible.

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Yellow Cabs Get Poetic

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TLC Commissioner David Yassky

Starting Thursday, yellow taxi passengers will find something new in the back of their cabs. It's not a stranger's cell phone. It's a poem.

Poems like “Graduation,” by Dorothea Tanning and “Noche de Lluvia, San Salvador,” by Aracelis Girmay will appear at various times in the city’s 13, 237 cabs on the loop of Taxi TV that is refreshed every two hours.

The 15-second, silent, animated poems are an expansion of the MTA’s popular Poetry in Motion program that posts verses next to dermatology and mattress ads on the city’s subways.

At the announcement of the literary partnership between subways and cabs in Times Square on Thursday, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said he thinks when New Yorkers see the new content, they will be less likely to switch off the unpopular TV screens in the back of taxis.

"When there's something worth watching people keep the screens on and I think these poems are absolutely worth reading and absorbing," he said.

Yassky read a poem that he wrote himself for the occasion:

…And topping all, the Sunday’s cherry, making us gleeful and so merry is your partnership with the TLC, beautifying the Taxi TV, for I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a taxi. When raindrops fall like an autumn leaf, an empty cab is sweet relief.

Thursday is also Poem in Your Pocket Day, on which poetry fans are encouraged to choose a poem and carry it with them before sharing it with a co-worker, friend or a family member.

Below, check out some of Yassky's verses.

The poem Times Square, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky wrote in honor of the literary partnership between subways and cabs.

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Yellow Cabs Receive Poetic Infusion

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Starting Thursday, yellow taxi passengers will find something new in the back of their cabs. It's not a stranger's cell phone. It's a poem.

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Children's Safety Concerns Revived in Wake of Patz Search

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WNYC

The recent search for the missing school boy Etan Patz, who disappeared 33 years ago after walking alone to the bus stop, has reignited an age old debate: at what age should parents give their kids more freedom?

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East Village’s Lakeside Lounge to Shutter After 16 Years

Monday, April 23, 2012

WNYC

An East Village bar known for its live music, vintage jukebox and $3 dollar beers is closing for good next week. The Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B, will be added to the growing list of the neighborhood's recently shuttered nightspots, such as the Mars Bar and Banjo Jim's.

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BREAKING: NYC Taxi Commission Approves Plan for Outer Borough Street Hails

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission voted 7-2 to approve a new plan for outer-borough livery drivers — the last major hurdle before the city can start issuing new licenses so livery drivers can pick up street hails outside of Manhattan.

It was a raucous public hearing ahead of the TLC's vote.   Two yellow cab drivers were ejected for shouting.  One owner called it "the biggest taking of property ever by New York City."

The topic of street hails is a hot-button issue for some in the yellow cab industry, which  filed a suit to block the proposed plan on Wednesday.

The plan would allow 18,000 livery drivers who purchase the new street hail permits to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and parts of upper Manhattan.

The first 6,000 street hail licenses are scheduled to be sold in June.

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TLC Approves Draft Plan for Five-Borough Street Hails

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has voted 7 to 2 to approve the rules governing outer borough livery street hails, 15 months after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his intention to expand taxi service throughout the city. It's the last hurdle before the city starts selling some 6,000 new medallions in June.

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Taxi Group Goes to Court to Block Livery Street Hail Plan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WNYC

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, an organization that represents 33 taxi fleets, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the Bloomberg administration’s plan to legalize street hail service for cars other than yellow cabs. The suit comes right before Thursday’s scheduled Taxi and Limousine Commission’s vote on the draft rules that will govern the livery street hail service.

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As NY Taxi Commission Prepares for Historic Vote, Dissent Looms

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY -- WNYC) The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote tomorrow on a set of rules to pave the way for a historic change in the way New Yorkers can hail cabs.   Beginning this summer, if the rules pass, New Yorkers will be able to hail cabs in all five boroughs, not just Manhattan.

But there's dissent among some of the commissioners about whether the 200 pages of regulations that will govern the service is being rushed to a vote.

Some on the nine-member board of the TLC say they’d like more time to consider the repercussions and make necessary tweaks to the plan.

And TLC Commissioner David Yassky is frantically trying to settle the biggest differences before the vote (for a peek at his internal memo, click here).

Queens Commissioner Norah Marino thinks there should be more time to digest the biggest change in the industry in more than 70 years.

“We just got the amended rules a couple of days ago. It’s not enough time to make a responsible decision,” Marino said. She’d like to have at least a few more months to digest the proposal.  I know the city wants to sell these permits but that’s not a valid reason to rush this vote. "This is changing the landscape of an industry — it’s not a minor vote.”

The street hail livery plan will allow owners and drivers of for-hire vehicles to pick up passengers in Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens (excluding the airports), and Manhattan north of West 110th and East 96th streets.

Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout would also like to delay a vote. He said he has serious concerns about whether it’s good for Staten Island in the first place, but would like to have more time to consider the possible effects on his borough’s livery industry. “We’re trying to ask Chairman Yassky to extend the vote for a few months but he wants this done Thursday,” he explained.

TLC Spokesman Allan Fromberg said they have every expectation of moving forward with a vote this week as planned.

The plan to deliver legal street hail livery service beyond Manhattan where most yellow cabs operate has been a central focus of Bloomberg administration over the past year. The eagerness to complete the process is also budgetary, since the billion dollars in expected revenue from the scheduled yellow medallion auction this summer is tied to the sale of the first livery street hail licenses.

Commissioner Frank Carone of Brooklyn said he’s prepared to cast his vote in support because TLC has agreed to make some last minute rule changes. In the most recent TLC memo to commissioners, Commissioner Yasky addresses some of the last minute changes, including increasing penalties for accepting street hails outside the upper Manhattan zone, where the street hail liveries are banned from picking up passengers. Carone also thinks moving forward is the best for all concerned. “The industry needs closure,” he said.

While upper Manhattan Councilman and former livery driver Ydanis Rodriguez  supports the overall plan, he hopes the TLC exercises some caution as they move to implement it. “I believe it’s a good initiative but now is the time to look at the details so that the users, the livery divers, and base owners have a clear understanding. We should take the time that is needed to make sure we have a good plan,” he said.

The public hearing and TLC vote on the livery hail draft rules will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall at 9 a.m. on the April 19.

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Livery Street-Hail Vote Is Being Rushed, Some Say

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WNYC

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is poised to vote on draft rules for the city's street hail livery plan on Thursday. It's one of the final steps necessary before selling the first livery license permits in June. But there's dissent among some of the commissioners about whether the 200 pages of regulations that will govern the service is being rushed to a vote.

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Armed Suspect Shot Dead After Harlem Pharmacy Holdup

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An armed suspect fleeing on foot after holding up an East Harlem pharmacy at gunpoint Thursday was shot and killed by a retired police lieutenant who happened to be nearby, police said.

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Neighborhood Raises Concerns About Alcohol at Barclay's Center

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

About 100 Brooklyn residents concerned about crowds of beer-addled sports fans leaving the future Barclay's Center turned out in force at a community board meeting Tuesday night at the 78th precinct in the neighborhood. At issue is the arena's liquor license application.

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New Yorkers Check out Taxi of Tomorrow

Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's roomy...but also boxy. Those are some assessments of New Yorkers who got to check out the  'Taxi of Tomorrow," unveiled this week with much fanfare. The Nissan minivan has been chosen by city officials be the cab for the next decade, beginning next year as older cabs are retired.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked the tires with Nissan execs Tuesday night, as the press was treated to cocktails and hors d‘oeuvres while they inspected the vehicle.

But at the New York International Auto on Friday, potential passengers got to see for the first time the taxi that will shuttle them home in the wee hours or take them cross town when they’re late for a meeting for the next decade.

The  NV200 model attracted a small crowd.

Myles Simmons from Manhattan looked closely at the prototype on display. He said he appreciated many of the next taxi’s features.

"I do like that there's leg room, I like that you have personal climate controls in the back, and that there's the USB ports where you can charge things," he said.

He did wonder why the minivan couldn’t fit wheelchairs.

Brooklyn’s Eddie Fernandez said part of the reason he came to the auto show was to look at the taxi. “I wanted to see exactly what it looked like up close before they put it on the street.”

Fernandez said the larger size will come in handy for New Yorkers who schlep around tons of stuff. “A lot of people have baby carriages, or luggage, they carry big bags around with I-Pads and all of their electronics, so I like that,” he said.

But others like Brooklyn's Orlando Vargas didn't approve of the boxy shape of the Nissan. Vargas would have preferred something sportier.

"This is just too cargo-y, just like a delivery van in a way, a yellow delivery van," he said.

The  NV200 will retail for $29,700 when it goes on sale in 2013.

The brighter yellow cabs of the near future will be on display at the Javits Center until April 15.

Getting a closer look at the city's next taxi
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NYer’s Check Out ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ Now

Friday, April 06, 2012

WNYC

The 'Taxi of Tomorrow' was unveiled this week with much fanfare. The Nissan minivan has been chosen by city officials be the cab for the next decade, beginning next year as older cabs are retired.

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Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012

The livery industry is set to change how it does business when the Taxi and Limousine Commission will vote on rules for its new five borough street hail plan this month.

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Anxiety Looms in the Livery Industry as Borough Taxi Permit Sale Nears

Friday, April 06, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

The livery industry is set to change how it does business after the Taxi and Limousine Commission votes on rules for its new five borough street hail plan later this month.

It’s the last major step before the first 6,000 livery permits are sold in June and legal street hail service comes to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan in a new form -- and it’s causing much uncertainty within the industry.

At a TLC sponsored information session near Yankee stadium this week, about 300 livery drivers and base owners crowded into the auditorium at Lincoln Hospital voicing concerns and seeking answers.

Judy Vargas, who owns a livery base in Washington Heights, said she’s concerned about a new rule that would punish base owners if their drivers break the rules, such as accepting street hails outside the stipulated boundaries.

“The TLC should not fine base owners when the taxi drivers pick up in the street because if we are going to have a permit that costs $3,000, we shouldn't be fined for that."

Vargas is also worried about some of the other requirements but she believes if she doesn't opt in her drivers will leave. There are 476 livery bases throughout the city.

"If we're not part of it … my drivers will go somewhere else,” Vargas said.

Drivers are also up in arms about some of the changes outlined by the TLC is a 89-page rule book on the proposed street hails.

(Photo: TLC Commissioner David Yassky talks with livery driver Clara Santiago.Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Veteran Bronx driver Hamilton Delos Santos said he's been picking up street hails for a decade — even though it’s not technically legal. He has been ticketed three times in 10 years, but successfully fought the summonses.

He said he’s not sure why he would need to invest about $5,000 to upgrade his cab and buy a new livery permit.

“I’ve been taking street hails since I’ve been doing it, so now we have to invest all this money. It’s something we've already been doing for so long — what’s the total investment, the paint the meter, the taxi top — too many questions not being answered in there.”

The fine for accepting illegal street hails is $350.00.

During the information session, Clara Santiago, who works for Riverside Car Service, asked TLC Commissioner David Yassky why she'll have to paint her car a different color if she purchases a livery permit.

She has a black Lincoln.

“You want to keep it that way..I understand. But we’re trying to make a distinction about the cars that can pick up off the street and the ones that can't,” he said.

Yassky said he's not surprised there is still some confusion. He expects much of that to melt away after the plan is enacted and passengers do what they do best — put up their arms and hail a cab.

"Once we get the licenses issued and the drivers are in the street with borough taxis and people are able to hail them down, I think a lot of the questions people will figure out for themselves. Drivers are smart, passengers are smart. Our job is to just get those cars out on the street so people can flag them down.”

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Macy's Re-Opens After Fire Forces Evacuation

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Broken glass and soot on the sidewalk around Macy's in Herald Square serve as reminders of the fire that forced the evacuation of the iconic store for about an hour Wednesday afternoon.

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Coney Island's Operator Hopes 3rd Season is the Charm

Sunday, April 01, 2012

WNYC

A sure sign that spring is here is the sound of the of the Cyclone roller coaster rattling in Coney Island. The 2012 season officially begins on Sunday and will be operating on weekends until Memorial Day when the seaside amusement areas Luna Park and the Scream Zone open daily.

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