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Gabfest Radio

Gabfest Radio: The Chillaxing Bridezilla Edition

Saturday, March 16, 2013

On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio from Slate and WNYC, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss Paul Ryan’s updated GOP budget proposal and President Obama’s visits to Capitol Hill, and the overturn of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban by a New York judge.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Soda-Popcalypse

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nestor Davidson, professor and director of the Fordham Urban Law Center, and Sierra Tishgart, assistant editor of Grub Street at New York Magazine, explain Judge Tingling's ruling blocking enforcement of Mayor Bloomberg's sugary drink restrictions.

 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

School Bus Strike Impasse

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, discusses the state of the school bus strike negotiations--and the union's position.

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WNYC News

NAACP, Beverage Lobby Challenge City's Soda Ban

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Restaurants, beverage producers and the NAACP are in court on Wednesday challenging the city’s new rule that limits the size of sugary sodas in food service establishments.

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Transportation Nation

New Laws On the Books for NYC's Commercial Cyclists

Thursday, October 25, 2012

(photo by Ed Yourdon via flickr)

Mayor Bloomberg has signed off on a package of legislation designed to regulate the behavior of commercial cyclists.

The laws create civil penalties for businesses whose bicyclists fail to adhere to rules already on the books, like wearing reflective vests and helmets. It also requires commercial cyclists to complete a safety course, and revises the identification requirements for cyclists.

The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed the legislation earlier this month. The New York City Department of Transportation is currently going door-to-door to commercial businesses to make sure they understand the new requirements.

Starting in January, the DOT will begin issuing fines to businesses whose cyclists fail to comply with the new laws.

From the DOT's "commercial bicyclist safety" poster

 

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Transportation Nation

NYC Speeds Up $1 Billion in 'Unglamorous' Infrastructure Work

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Comptroller John Liu

New York will be accelerating more than $1 billion worth of work on infrastructure projects already in the city's capital plan.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg cautioned that these are not big ticket items. "The bulk of them are completely unglamorous," he said, adding that most of them can be completed within a 20-month time frame. The city is accelerating the work to take advantage of low interest rates.

A description of the authorized projects includes road and bridge repairs, waterfront infrastructure development, and improvements to city buildings and libraries. The mayor said an additional 300 miles of city roadways will be resurfaced, and it will also speed up the removal of PCBs from lighting fixtures in schools.

These are projects that are "ready to go, need to happen, and will be finished in the fixed timetable," the mayor said. He estimated that the work would create 8,000 jobs, mostly in the construction industry.

Read more about the project here, or watch a video of the announcement.

Bonus: hear the mayor announce the initiative in Spanish.

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New Tech City

New Tech City: New York City and Its Small Businesses Go Digital

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A year ago, the city outlined its strategy to make municipal government and New York City residents more high-tech. This week WNYC's New Tech City goes one-on-one with the woman tapped to make it all happen, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot.

 

A year ago, the city outlined its strategy to make municipal government and New York City residents more high-tech. This week’s Money Talking goes one-on-one with the woman tapped to make it all happen, NYC’s Digital Officer Rachel Haot

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New Tech City

Rachel Haot Explains Upcoming Redesign of the City's Website

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Tech City host Manoush Zomorodi talks to the city's Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot about what the city is doing to retain top-level software engineers and expand broadband around the city.

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Transportation Nation

Bloomberg: NYC Bike Share Delayed Until Spring (UPDATED)

Friday, August 17, 2012

(Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

(UPDATED 9:55am) There will be no shiny blue Citi Bikes on the streets of New York until March.

"Unfortunately there are software issues" said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday on his radio show on WOR with John Gambling. The mayor said: "One of the newspapers keeps writing, 'you're hiding something.' Yeah, well, nothing. The software doesn't work. Duh. Until it works, we're not going to put it out until it does work."

"We did think there would be a possibility of a partial launch but at this point --

At which point, Gambling interjected: "Next year?"

"The spring," Mayor Bloomberg responded. "Hopefully the software will work by then. We want to make sure that it works. Washington and Boston are pretty good tests." The Mayor added that "mother nature" makes winter a poor time to launch a system.

A press release from the NYC Department of Transportation (full text below)  sent out shortly after the Mayor's radio statement clarified the launch date will be "March" for phase 1 of the program, which will include 7,000 bikes at 420 stations. The statement did not specify what neighborhoods, or with what pace the bikes would be deployed.

Chicago also delayed its launch until spring, and before its own system went live, Boston delayed so as not to have the system get going just as a cold, northeast winter was getting under way. Bike share relies on physical activity, and streets clear of snow and ice.

The New York bike share program was to have launched July 31. But that day came and went with city officials tight-lipped about why. Mayor Bloomberg only said the problem had to do with software issues.

"It really is very advanced technology," the Mayor said Friday. "Each station is like a dock, each place you stick in a bike is a computer, and everything runs on solar power so you don't need a lot of wiring and there's no burden on the electrical system. There's an enormous number of transactions you have to communicate in real time to central computers."

With 10,000 bikes at full roll-out New York's system will be, by several orders of magnitude, the largest system in U.S., and the largest in North America. The next largest U.S. system is in Washington, with about 2,000 bikes.

Even before Friday's announcement, there were indications that the initial, breathless announcements may have been overly optimistic. When it named its sponsor, the city let it slip out that launching the system would take 13 months, and that neighborhoods like Park Slope and the Upper West Side wouldn't get bike share until 2013.

That turned out to be because finding a sponsor took so much longer than anticipated, and because of that the vendor who is supplying New York with its bikes, Alta Bicycle Share, didn't have any money in hand to order bikes until months later than planned.

Alta is also preparing large bike shares for San Francisco and Chicago. The Chicago system, set to be 4,000 bikes, is similarly delayed, and the losing vendor in that city has sued, saying the Chicago transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had an inappropriate consulting relationship with Alta. A Klein spokesman says there's nothing untoward and that Klein recused himself from Chicago's selection.

Alta is the only vendor in the U.S. who has undertaken large-scale bike share systems, running both the Washington, DC and Boston networks. Those programs are widely deemed to be successful, and both are expanding. They both use a previous version of software, made by a different vendor, than newer Alta bike share systems. Boston's launch was also delayed by several months when it opened with 600 bikes in Summer 2011.

On Thursday, at an unrelated press conference in Coney Island, Brooklyn, the mayor said: “We’re trying to figure out when we can put a date that we’re sure or reasonably sure that it will work."

He said the reason for New York's delay is straightforward. “Look,” he said, “everybody wants to say there’s a secret agenda here. The software doesn’t work. And putting it out when the software doesn’t work, it wouldn’t work. Period.”

He wet on: “The fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn’t want bicycles are now screaming ‘where are they?’. So I guess we’ve come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me.”

On Friday, cycling advocates praised the Mayor's edition.  " “While we are eager for Citi Bike to begin, it’s more crucial that this ground-breaking transit system be launched correctly, not quickly, " said Paul Steely White, the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

"New York’s public bike share program will not only be the largest bike share system in the Western Hemisphere, it will also be the city’s first brand-new, full-scale form of public transit since the subway’s debut more than 100 years ago—this is not a moment to rush. When bike share launches in 2013, it will transform New York City by giving New Yorkers unprecedented convenience and freedom of mobility. In time, the circumstances of Citi Bike’s launch will be all but forgotten and we’ll all be enjoying a city made safer, healthier and less congested," Steely White added.

The contract inked between Alta Bicycle Share and New York City last September, which Transportation Nation has obtained, stipulated the company was to have least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31.

Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.

The announcement came on a summer Friday, typical a time politicians use to announce news they hope will garner little attention.

Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.

“It’s all private money. And the people who’ve put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what’s going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don’t have bicycles, but the city doesn’t lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly — but you’ve got to do it right.”

The city’s Department of Transportation and Alta -- which is contractually not allowed to speak without prior DOT approval --  had been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike’s official twitter account has been dark for a week.

But on Friday, the city issued DOT its longest statement in months on bike share.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) today announced that the Citi Bike system will launch in March 2013 with an initial phase of 7,000 bikes implemented at 420 stations. The timeline, agreed to by all parties, does not affect the Citi Bike sponsorship structure, which uses $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system for five years and ensures that NYCBS will split profits with the City.

 “New York City demands a world-class bike share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on Day One,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “The enthusiasm for this program continues to grow and we look forward to bringing this affordable new transportation option to New Yorkers without cost to taxpayers.”

“NYCBS continues to be committed to bringing the largest and best solar-powered bike share system in the world to New York City,” said Alison Cohen, President.  “We recognize that New Yorkers are eagerly anticipating the launch of the bike share system and we will deliver on that promise.”

NYCBS continues work to conclude manufacture and testing of the high-performance software necessary to operate the new system, which is being tailored for New York City. The system uses new solar power arrays and circuit boards, and engineers will continue to thoroughly test data communications, power management and payment systems to ensure overall system performance. Following the March launch, work will continue to expand the system to 10,000 bikes, covering parts of Manhattan and from Long Island City to parts of Brooklyn.

 

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Transportation Nation

NYC Mayor Bloomberg: No Date Yet for Bike Share Launch

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (center), flanked by Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro and Brooklyn City Council member Domenic Recchia (photo by Arun Venugopal)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (center), flanked by Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro and Brooklyn City Council member Domenic Recchia at the New York Aquarium (photo by Arun Venugopal)

[The Mayor said on Friday the system won't launch until next spring.  Here's our post on it.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't putting a date on when New York's delayed bike share program will be up and running. The program was to have launched July 31, but that date came and went. The mayor has attributed the delay to unspecified software issues.

"We're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work," Bloomberg said Thursday.  He also said, without explanation,  the city is "getting very close."

Bloomberg was speaking at a press conference trumpeting the new shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium.

New York's bike share, at 10,000 bikes, is by far the largest planned bike share anywhere in North America. The next largest system is in Washington, which is about a fifth that size.

An ambitious bike share program in Chicago has also been delayed, and a vendor who lost the bid has sued, saying that city's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had a conflict because he was a consultant on Alta's bid to New York City. A spokesman for the Chicago mayor has said Klein recused himself from the Chicago negotiations and that the suit is baseless.

Alta is also the vendor for Boston's "Hubway" bike share. That program was also delayed by several months, though officials there declare the system a success and are expanding it.

On Thursday, Bloomberg said the reason for the delay is straightforward.  "Look," he said. "Everybody wants to say there's a secret agenda here. The software doesn't work. And putting it out when the software doesn't work, it wouldn't work. Period. And so we're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work. And we're trying."

"Everybody - a lot - the fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn't want bicycles are now screaming 'where are they' so I guess we've come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me."

Alta Bicycle Share, the company picked by New York City last September to run its program, was supposed to have had at least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31, according to its contract with the city, which Transportation Nation has obtained.

Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.

Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.

"It's all private money. And the people who've put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what's going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don't have bicycles, but the city doesn't lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly -- but you've got to do it right."

The city's Department of Transportation and Alta have been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike's official twitter account has been dark for a week.

 

 

Image from bike share contract (photo by Kate Hinds)

 

 

 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Bloomberg's Public Health and Safety

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Joyce Purnick, WNYC political analyst, longtime New York Times political writer and author of Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, discusses Mayor Bloomberg's policies on health and safety: sugary drink sizes; transfats; smoking; and guns.

Comments [42]

Transportation Nation

No Launch Date For NYC Bike Share

Thursday, July 19, 2012

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (photo by Colby Hamilton/WNYC)

New York City won't commit to a new launch date for its vaunted bike share, the largest planned for North America.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered the first explanation Thursday for why the city’s bike share program won’t launch in July: technical reasons.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony in Harlem's Sugar Hill, the mayor was asked when the program was going to be up and running — and what the problems were.

He replied: “Well, its software isn’t working yet. And just rest assured we’re not going to put out any program here that doesn’t work.”

He went on to acidly comment that New Yorkers’ attitudes towards bike share seemed to be evolving. “What’s fascinating is there was a lot of screaming that ‘we don’t want bikes’ and now everybody’s screaming ‘we want ‘em now.’ We’re just not going to do it until it works. There’s no government money involved whatsoever here, the only thing about a delay — if it turns out there is one — is that people won’t be able to use something that we think is phenomenally popular. But until we get it working perfectly, have these private companies do it to our satisfaction, we’re just not going to put it out.”

Calls to Alta Bicycle Share (the company operating the system), as well to the New York City Department of Transportation, weren’t immediately returned. A spokesperson for the City Hall wouldn’t provide further information beyond confirming the Mayor’s comments.

Previous speculation about the delay focused on money and timing. New York City’s bike share program is unique among its peers in that it’s entirely privately funded. Citibank, the program’s main sponsor, wasn’t formally on board until the end of April. Until the sponsorship money was firmly in hand, the city couldn’t begin production. Which meant New York had only a couple of months to turn around 7,000 bikes, 420 stations, and a functional payment system. Some sources TN spoke to wondered if that timeline wasn’t too ambitious.

Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives said, “no one in any other city in the world remembers the start date.”

 

You can listen to the audio from the mayor's remarks below.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Open Phones: Your Micro-Apartment

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg announced a design competition for a building full of "micro-units" yesterday. Jerilyn Perine, executive director of Citizens Housing and Planning Council, explains what kinds of housing are needed in the city and which kinds of regulations are on the books.

Comments [51]

Transportation Nation

Sheridan Expressway: Did the Takedown Get Taken Down?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The city rules out a plan to tear down the Sheridan Expressway, saying it would cause too much traffic and cost too many jobs. (Pratt Center rendering)

For such a short highway, the fifty-year old Sheridan Expressway generates a lot of unhappiness.

"I don’t even know if you could call it an expressway," said Elena Conte, an organizer at the Pratt Center for Community Development. "It’s a fragment. It’s a mile and a quarter long."

It was planned by Robert Moses, whose original idea was to continue it through the Bronx Zoo. But local residents – not to mention the zoo and the New York Botanical Garden – opposed an extension and, in the 1970s, those plans were dropped.

But some Bronx residents have never made peace with even an abbreviated expressway. Activists, working together as the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, have for years been working to tear the highway down. In 2006, WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein went up to Bronx with the Pratt Center’s Joan Byron.

"There are three schools right on the expressway," said Byron. "So by redeveloping this as residential and parkland, those schools would have a green connection right across to the river." (A video of the plan is below.)

One of the supporters of this tear-down is Bronx congressman José Serrano. Two years ago he secured a $1.5 million federal grant to study three different options for the Sheridan: keep it, modify it, or take it down altogether. "The initial agreement we had, the understanding we had, was that they were going to look at everything," he said.

New York City won’t complete the study until next year. But officials recently said the removal scenario had “a fatal flaw” and it would no longer be considered.

"What I’m concerned about, what the community is upset about, what we’re all upset about, is that they immediately took off the table the possibility of full removal of the Sheridan," said Serrano. "We just think that’s totally unfair and improper."

But as much as some wanted the highway gone, others say it's a vital piece of the road transportation network.

"Well, we were completely dead set against that and have been since the dawn of time," said Matthew D’Arrigo. He's co-president of the Hunts Point Market, the massive food distribution center located off the expressway.

"Without the Sheridan," he said, "a thousand trucks a night would have just one way to get to this market."

He says the market hasn’t been shy about making it known that taking down the Sheridan could jeopardize its ability to do business – and the thousands of jobs it brings to the Bronx.

"Everybody. Everybody. Everybody knows our position on that," he said.

Right now, the market is in the middle of negotiations with the city for a long-term lease. After this weekend, if it doesn’t reach a deal with New York, Hunts Point Market can start talking to other places. Like New Jersey.

Privately, officials told WNYC that fear of losing the market prompted the city to drop the removal option.

But recent a press conference in the Bronx, Mayor Bloomberg said the decision was driven by data, not politics. "All of the traffic studies show that it would not be feasible to do that," he said.

Predictions that losing a highway would cause traffic hell have been wrong before. Sam Schwartz – also known as Gridlock Sam – worked for the city DOT in 1973, when part of the then-elevated lower portion of the West Side Highway collapsed. In a 2010 interview with WNYC, he described what happened.

"People panicked," he said. "They thought that was Armageddon. They thought that was the end."

It wasn’t the case. Traffic on some roadways did go up. “We had trouble tracing one-third of the people and it wasn’t that they weren’t coming in," Schwartz said. "When we looked at transit, transit went up. We had the same number of people coming in, but they weren’t coming by car.”

Schwartz wouldn’t comment specifically on the Sheridan, but cities like Milwaukee, San Francisco and Portland all say they’ve seen big economic and environmental benefits when urban highways have been torn down.

New York City DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan called that comparison flawed.

"I think you know the Bloomberg administration has been very innovative when it comes to traffic engineering," she said. "But in this instance this particular option didn’t work -- but that doesn’t mean other options can’t work here and we’re going to continue to explore them."

 

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Transportation Nation

NYC's Livery Plan, And Billions in Budget Funding, Remain in Limbo

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Livery Cab (photo by Kate Hinds)

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York isn’t planning to appeal a temporary injunction against the city's five borough taxi plan — even though Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the decision “worrisome.”

Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engron’s ruling Friday against the plan has put the sale of 18,000 outer borough livery permits, as well as the auction of 2,000 yellow medallions on hold. That sale was estimated to bring in about a billion dollars to the city's cash strapped budget.

Bloomberg told reporters on Tuesday that money is key.

"If we were to not get it, it would be very serious,” he said. Bloomberg believes the city is on the “right side of the law” and the courts will eventually rule in their favor.

The court's ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by yellow medallion owners and lenders. It alleges the city’s plan to allow livery taxi street hail service outside Manhattan violated the state's constitution because Bloomberg went to Albany for approval instead of the City Council.

Michael Woloz, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (one of the plaintiffs in the case) said, “we hope the city realizes that the law is unconstitutional and unsalvageable – and that we can work on a clean slate so the city can get real revenue.”

While the city said last week that the court was “mistaken” in its analysis and was exploring its appellate options, Corporation Counsel’s Michael Cardozo said on Tuesday that the city isn’t appealing the ruling because the judge's decision is only an interim one, expected to be in place for only a few weeks. “We believe that immediate resolution rather than appealing one interim ruling is in everyone’s interests,” he said.

The court will be receiving submissions from all parties in the case on June 19 in connection with motions for summary judgment.

The livery permit sale was to begin this month; the medallion auction was set for July.

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Schoolbook

Bloomberg 'Optimistic' on Teacher Evaluations

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called on school districts to negotiate new teacher evaluations with their unions or risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott toured a Bronx high school and said they were optimistic they can still strike a deal. But they said they are also pursuing a separate plan to close and reopen 33 failing schools.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

The State of the City

Friday, January 13, 2012

WNYC reporters Bob Hennelly and Ilya Marritz discuss the Mayor's State of the City address.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

The State of NYC Education

Friday, January 13, 2012

Beth Fertig, WNYC's education reporter and SchoolBook contributor, discusses the education proposals in Mayor Bloomberg's State of the City address.

Comments [42]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Open Phones: State of Your Neighborhood

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg will deliver his State of the City address this afternoon. Call in at 212-433-9692 and let us know what the state of your neighborhood is.

Comments [11]

On The Media

The Fed's Lending During the Crisis Revealed

Friday, December 02, 2011

After a long court battle, Bloomberg.com has obtained crucial details about Federal Reserve lending during the financial crisis. We now know which banks got what amount of money. That's information lawmakers didn't have when they were crafting financial regulations. Brooke spoke with Bloomberg's Bob Ivry, who says that if law makers had known more - the financial regulations we have now might look very different. 

Stateless – Ariel

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