Morning Headlines | Must-Reads from the WNYC News Hub

NYC Probe Finds Massive Number of Illegal, Untaxed Cigs (NYPost)
David Seifman reports: Millions of dollars in cigarette-tax revenue for the city are going up in smoke.  A special unit of the city Finance Department that conducted a sweep of 1,700 stores licensed to sell tobacco products found an astounding 42 percent either peddling untaxed cigarettes or using counterfeit stamps to duck the combined $5.85 city-state tax, The Post has learned.”

Megabus Booted From Choice Parking Spot (Crain’s)
Daniel Massey reports: The city's Department of Transportation will boot low-cost carrier from its choice location outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown, ending a controversial experiment... The trial had angered Greyhound Lines, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Adirondack Trailways, which pay a combined $6 million annually for spaces inside the bus station and felt it was unfair for Megabus to have a free spot right outside.”

EPA Dredge Report Faulted (Times Union)
Brian Nearing reports: Several environmental groups are challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the future of the PCB cleanup of the Hudson River, claiming Thursday that the EPA is planning on an incomplete cleanup. An EPA report issued last week found that river bottom dredging... is expected to meet cleanup goals...But the report did not address two problems — areas where PCB pollution that turned out to be greater than what was expected in 2002 and the fate of the Champlain Canal navigation channel.

Tax Breaks Help Developers Clean Up (Times Union)
Brian Nearing reports: As the state searches for ways to control expenses, leaders ought to look at a program meant to clean up pollution that has turned into a billion-dollar cookie jar for affluent developers but does too little to help polluted poor neighborhoods, an environmental group said Thursday...So far, 68 developers have gotten an average tax credit of $14.7 million... but thousands of polluted sites across the state, especially in poorer areas with legacies of industrial pollution, remain untouched.

Booker’s Big Mouth Ruins Relationship with Obama, Cabinet Hopes (NYP)
Josh Margolin reports: “Newark’s mayor, who was gunning for a spot in President Obama’s Cabinet, lost the chance after he shot his mouth off during a blunderingly honest TV appearance last month, sources told The Post. ‘He’s dead to us,’ one ranking administration official said of the prevailing feelings at the White House and Obama headquarters in Chicago.”

CDC: Circumcision Sucking Gave 11 NYC Boys Herpes in the Last Decade (Gothamist)
Garth Johnston reports: “According to the CDC, between 2000 and 2011 a total of 11 baby Jewish boys in New York City were infected with herpes after having their bits snipped in an out-of-hospital Orthodox circumcision performed by a mohel. Ten of the 11 boys were hospitalized afterwards and two of them died.”

Three Men Found Fatally Shot in BMW Near Columbia (NYDN)
Edgar Sandoval and Sarah Armaghan report: “Investigators believe the shooting is drug-related, one police source said, noting that the homicide has all the earmarks of a drug hit. No weapon had been recovered Thursday night, police said, as they were still dusting and photographing the outside of the vehicle.”

Upgrading Private Property at Public Expense (Community Service Society)
Tom Waters and Victor Bach report: Since 1955, New York State and New York City law have provided for tax benefits to certain property owners who rehabilitate buildings for residential use. This tax break... is one of the city’s most expensive housing programs, amounting to $256.6 million in tax expenditures for 2011.
The policy justification for the J-51 program is that it encourages improvements in the city’s housing stock, but the very wide application of its benefits suggests that it is not well targeted... The program’s high cost also raises the question whether better results could be achieved through a different policy design.”

NYC at Highest Risk of Hurricane Losses: Report (Reuters)
Ben Berkowitz reports: When people think of hurricane damage they usually think of Miami or New Orleans, but a new report suggests the greatest financial risk of all may be much farther north: the greater New York City area. Data analysis firm CoreLogic said in a new report released on Thursday that the U.S. metropolitan area at greatest risk, both in the number of properties affected and the potential value of damage, was New York City.”

Columbia University Students Defend Engineering Dean Over Campaign of Attacks (NYDN)
Juan Gonzalez writes: “Faculty at the engineering school have been pressing Bollinger for months to oust Peña-Mora, even passing a ‘no confidence’ vote in his leadership. … But Columbia students and engineering school alumni have rallied to the dean's defense. In just three years, they say, he has sharply lifted the engineering school's rankings, nearly doubled enrollment, built closer ties with the upper Manhattan community and recruited a much bigger and more diverse faculty.”

Cops Find Toy, Clothes at Home of Alleged Etan Patz Killer Pedro Hernandez (NYP)
Jamie Schram reports: “NYPD detectives found an old toy and worn clothing that are “age appropriate” for Etan Patz hidden in the New Jersey home of the boy’s confessed killer, law-enforcement sources told The Post yesterday.”

Korean-Speaking Man Busted Charging Immigrants to Translate at Elmhurst Hospital  (NYDN)
Vera Chinese reports: A Korean-speaking swindler was busted at a Queens hospital after he reportedly tried to fleece non-English speaking immigrants, hospital officials said. The man had been repeatedly spotted offering to translate between staff at Elmhurst Hospital Center and Korean speakers for a $240 fee, said hospital spokesman Dario Centorcelli. Hospitals are mandated to provide interpreter service at no cost and freely advertise that fact, he said.”