Morning Headlines | Selected by the WNYC News Hub

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Must-read headlines from around the city, curated by the WNYC Newsroom.

N.Y. Speeds Through Health-Exchange Approval (WSJ)
Laura Nahmias reports: “New York’s application for its state-run health exchange won approval from the federal government Tuesday, making the state one of the first cleared to set up an online marketplace for health insurance.”

Council Passes Bill to Increase City Contracts for Minority Businesses (Gotham Gazette)
Christian Salazar reports: “The City Council approved a bill yesterday that would revise Local Law 129, passed in 2005, which was supposed to increase opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses to get contracts from the city. Among other enhancements, the new bill would add a greater level of accountability and eliminate a $1 million contract cap. Local Law 129 had set targets for city agencies to contract minority and women-owned businesses for certain sectors, including construction, architectural and engineering, as well as services and goods.”

Little-Known Program Can Help Flood-Prone Homeowners Stave Off Future Damage (NYDN)
Lisa L. Colangelo reports: “Local civic leaders are calling on the city to help streamline the process so more Broad Channel property owners can increase the elevation of homes and stave off future flood devastation. ‘After Sandy, during the clean-ups, I ran into a lot of people who said they are going to raise their homes,’ said Dan Mundy Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association. ‘But it’s a stress on their resources. More people would do it if they knew about this program.’ Mundy said property owners who file Increased Cost of Compliance claims through the National Flood Insurance Program can receive up to $30,000 to help raise structures above the flood elevation level.”

Cuomo to Make DMV Fun (NYP)
Erik Kriss reports: “Gov. Cuomo plans to make Department of Motor Vehicles offices friendlier places, complete with customer-service reps to greet and assist motorists and self-serve kiosks, starting at 15 locations this month. The changes are aimed at cutting in half the average hourlong wait at DMV offices by early 2014, he said.”

Court Limits Questioning of Motorists by the Police (NYT)
J. David Goodman reports: “Police officers in New York may not ask drivers or passengers during a routine traffic stop whether they have a gun or any other weapon unless the officers have a “founded suspicion” of some criminal behavior, the state’s highest court said in a decision released on Tuesday. The ruling by the Court of Appeals upholds lower court decisions and comes against the backdrop of a roiling debate over how the police deal with the public in encounters both on the street and on the side of the highway.”

Threat of Longshoremen's Strike Could Impact Port of New York and N.J. (Star-Ledger)
Steve Strunsky reports: “About 15,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, including 3,500 dockworkers in the Port of New York and New Jersey, could walk off the job as of Dec. 29, when the extension expires. The New York-New Jersey port is the East Coast’s largest, and accounts for about 270,00 related jobs apart from the longshoremen who work mainly in Newark and Elizabeth unloading container ships.”

Report: State Budget on ‘Unsustainable Course’ (Crain’s)
Andrew Hawkins reports: “York’s financial sky is falling, and little is being done at the political level to address the crisis, according to a report by some of the state’s most experienced fiscal experts who might also be described as gray-haired budget wonks. The state has a structural deficit “papered over with gimmicks,” they warned in a report released Tuesday.”

Work on Times Square Redesign Delayed by Months (DNAinfo)
Mathew Katz reports: “The city is looking for someone to rebuild Times Square — months after the massive project was initially supposed to be underway. On Friday, the city asked construction companies to bid for the chance to transform the Crossroads of the World into an ultra-modern plaza. Initial work on the project kicked off in spring, as utility companies upgraded and relocated their infrastructure, but the main work has yet to get started.”

Times Square Vendors Rally Round Alleged Subway Pusher (New York)
Adam Martin reports: “As they have at his past hearings, about a dozen Times Square vendors gathered at the indictment Tuesday of Naeem Davis, the 30-year-old man accused of pushing 58-year-old Ki Suk Han onto the subway tracks where he was killed by a train. He used to make a living doing odd jobs for them, and now they're rooting for him as he faces a murder charge. ”

Party Identity in a Gun Cabinet (NYT)
Nate Silver reports: “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics. It will come as no surprise to those with a passing interest in American politics that Republicans are more likely to own guns than Democrats. But the differences have become much more stark in recent years, with gun ownership having become one of the clearest examples of the partisan polarization in the country over the last two decades.”

Federal Government Should Pay for N.J., N.Y.’s Sandy Rebuilding, Poll Shows (Star-Ledger)
Matt Friedman reports: “The poll of 814 voters nationwide found 66 percent said the government should fund the effort ‘and worry how to pay for it later.’ Only 23 percent said the government “shouldn’t spend money it doesn't have, even if there is a natural disaster.”

Frank Macchiarola, Called the ‘Standard’ for a New York Schools Chief, Dies at 71 (NYT)
Joseph Berger reports: “Frank J. Macchiarola, who was widely regarded as one of the canniest and most effective New York City schools chancellors of the last half-century, died on Tuesday at his home in Downtown Brooklyn. He was 71. … Dr. Macchiarola (pronounced MAC-kee-ah-row-la), a sanitation worker’s son and a devout product of Roman Catholic schools, was 37 when Mayor Edward I. Koch appointed him to lead New York’s public school system in 1978. He held the post until 1983.”

Enjoy Vertiginous Photos Of An Escalator Being Hoisted To Top Of 1 WTC (Gothamist)
“For now we only assume somebody had the foresight to make sure they could actually fit that sucker through the doors.”