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Christine Quinn

Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Maryland Population Growth Expected Near Transit, Transpo Groups Like President's Budget, And NCDOT Combats Junk in Your Trunk

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transportation groups have much to like in President Obama’s budget request for infrastructure improvements -- but fear the spending plan might not get off the ground in Congress. (The Hill)

Planners in Montgomery County, Maryland, expect population growth will happen around transit centers and mixed use developments near the area's Metrorail station. (WAMU)

Christine Quinn announced her plan to ease NYC's parking restrictions and introduce new legislation that would allow ticket agents to literally "tear up" tickets. (WNYC)  Also: Quinn will be on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show today, and it's safe to say that this parking plan will come up in the conversation.

A political battle brewing over the New Starts transit funding program could endanger at least $394 million for Minneapolis's Central Corridor light-rail line. (Star-Tribune)

The North Carolina DOT has launched a campaign to combat junk in your trunk. Drive lighter, save money at the pump:

Ray LaHood takes to his blog -- and Twitter, and Facebook -- to defend the president's high-speed rail plan in the face of critics. "As the Secretary of Transportation, let me be clear: there is no amount of money that could build enough capacity on our highways and at airports to keep up with our expected population growth in coming decades."

Greece's socialist government was able to pass its sweeping public transportation reform legislation in a final vote two hours past midnight on Wednesday, despite protracted strikes since December. (Dow Jones)

NY's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has refused to move from a parking lot slated to be turned into a park on Greenpoint's waterfront. (NY Daily News)

Is Burlington's pro-bike policy part of the secret behind Vermont's low unemployment rate? (Good)

An app to report potholes has come to Boston. (Wired/Autopia)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: We look at the politics behind the iconic beleaguered middle class driver. Senator Jeff Sessions weighs in on high-speed rail -- and what he thinks transportation policy should focus on. Montana grapples with megaloads. Houston's light rail system stands to get more money if the president's budget is passed. And: we just can't get enough of love on the subway.

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The Empire

Quinn's New York

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

With apologies to Chris Smith, an excerpt from my story:

For the Manhattan-based Democrat who has been leading the Council since 2006, many of Quinn's proposals were aimed at eliminating the "red tape" of the "bureaucracy" surrounding city government.

Politically, it's a novel approach to proactively rebut what her likely 2013 mayoral rivals will do: tie her down to the less desirable aspects of city government. Rep. Anthony Weiner, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio are likely challengers and have less direct responsibilities over city agencies than Quinn.

Advance excerpts from the speech focused on her proposals to reduce parking violations rules. But the speech had broader, more significant proposals were announced at the speech, delivered at the CUNY Graduate Center.

The easing of parking rules on streets where multiple-day cleanings are not necessary is a proposal that will impact outer boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn — places the Manhattan Democrats has sought to focus since becoming Speaker.

It's unclear if the reduced street cleaning will result in additional street cleaning in other, more problematic streets. If not, it would be a novel maneuver: announcing a service cut as an easing of burdensome parking rules.

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WNYC News

Speaker Quinn's New York City: More Communication, Less Red Tape

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Contradictory regulations, Kafka-esque bureaucratic mazes, and a financial cliff crumbling the foundation of where we stand. 

The New York City as described in City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's State of the City Speech is one in need of changes — big, small, and at times, absurdly obvious.

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The Empire

Quinn's fiscal plan for NYC

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It includes paying up front for capital projects and nudging the mayor and labor leaders to reform pension benefits.

Excepts from the speech:

"I propose that we begin paying for a portion of our capital budget up front. We'll make a commitment that as our finances improve, we'll steadily increase the amount we pay out of pocket - until we're investing a billion dollars a year, instead of borrowing that billion dollars and leaving our kids with the bill."

"It's clear that New York City needs pension and benefit reform. Many factors have combined to create these long-term strings on the city budget. There is no single cause, nor any single group that bears all the blame. But if we want to have money to invest in a safe and livable city - if we want to avoid a tax burden that stifles economic growth 0 and if we want to safeguard the retirements of the hard working public servants of today - then our current pension and benefit structure is simply not sustainable. I urge both the mayor and our city's labor leaders to be equally open to negotiating and making fair and responsible changes to meet the difficult challenges ahead."

UDPATE: There's also this line:

"Now Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a more traditional way to lower our debt cots - a 20% cut to capital spending. That kind of across the board cut comes with serious consequences - and I simply cannot support it."

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The Empire

Reading Christine Quinn's 2011 Speech

Monday, February 14, 2011

It is an early iteration of the 2013 mayor's race, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's upcoming State of the City speech is more than that, says Chris Smith:

Is she distancing herself at all from Mike Bloomberg? How much is she pandering to the constituencies she’ll need in a crowded Democratic primary, like the business community? That analysis is entirely appropriate, because the jockeying by Quinn and the many other mayoral aspirants — including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Congressman Anthony Weiner, former comptroller Bill Thompson, and current comptroller John Liu — is well under way. Yet Quinn’s speech deserves to be taken somewhat at face value, too, because among the platitudes, her four previous SOS’s as council speaker have contained an unusually high number of actual smart ideas — things that haven’t simply sounded good on the podium only to be promptly forgotten the next day.

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The Empire

Stringer calls Bloomberg's comments 'outrageous'

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scott Stringer - the Manhattan borough president and prospective 2013 mayoral candidate - is out with a statement slamming Bloomberg for "outrageous" comments about pension payments he'd like the city to stop paying.

It's a milder criticism than Bloomberg got from police and fire union leaders yesterday, who called him a "liar" and other unflattering things.

At issue are $12,000 annual payments the city makes to uniformed retirees from what's known as the Variable Supplement Fund. Officers with more than 20 years on the force receive them. Bloomberg has called the payments a "Christmas bonus," and therefore, a perk that can be taken away in a budget crunch. Union members say it's part of their pension, and therefore, can't.

Having to takes sides on the issue is problematic for most officials, particularly those expected to run for mayor: angry unions on one side, angry taxpayers on the other.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn - who has strong ties to unions and the mayor - hasn't publicly stated her position, saying she needs to speak with her colleagues on the Council. A spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu - whose work looking over the city's finances will play a large role in any future campaign - said he's "extremely concerned with any proposal that breaks a promise" made to these retirees.

In a statement, sent to me by a spokeswoman, Stringer takes a shot at Bloomberg, but doesn't come out definitely on whether the city should keep the payment plan in place, which city officials say cost NYC about $1 billion a year. (Unions say the city got cash and concessions decades ago that more than make up for it.)

Here's Stringer:

“I am becoming increasingly concerned about the tone and direction the Mayor is taking as it relates to union negotiations and a discussion around pensions. To characterize the Variable Supplement Fund benefit as it relates to the men and women of our police and fire departments as a “Christmas bonus” is simply outrageous. When you throw mud, it splatters. We need a serious conversation between City Hall, our labor leaders and Albany about pension reform. In a time of serious fiscal crisis, we’re going to need collective sacrifice. Grandstanding, bomb throwing and divisive accusations by City Hall will undermine the fiscal soundness of this city.”

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The Empire

Brooklyn Dem: Cuomo budget 'complete disaster' and will cost NYS 150,000 jobs

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Andrew Cuomo's budget will lead to the loss of 150,000 jobs, with about half of them coming from New York City, according to Assemblyman Jim Brennan, a Democrat from Brooklyn.

Brennan described the budget as  "a complete disaster" for New York City and the state.

He made the comments while the joint budget committee he sits on was receiving testimony from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Quinn said, "I would not describe the governor's budget as a complete disaster"

"Partial disaster?" Brennan asked.

Quinn, trying to settle the matter, said, "I would not describe - lest I be misquoted - I would not associate the word 'disaster' with Governor Cuomo's budget."

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The Empire

Council Speaker: home rule message 'likely' needed to nix 'bonus pay'

Monday, February 07, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg has made eliminating a $12,000 payment to uniformed firefighters and police officers a key push in his 2011 Albany legislative agenda.

He's gone as far to say that eliminating that payment could save thousands of teachers from being laid off. But when in Albany, the mayor was asked if a home rule message - a formal request from a local legislative body to state lawmakers - would be forthcoming on this.

Bloomberg said it probably wasn't needed. Bloomberg also said it's a controversial move and he would not be inclined to encourage City Council members to vote on a controversial piece of legislation if there was no guarantee that state lawmakers would also vote on it (which happened with congestion pricing).

In a Q&A with reporters after his testimony, Bloomberg reiterated a home rule message on eliminating the $12,000 payment  - something he's dubbed a "bonus" - would not be needed. The mayor said he didn't know "why" the home rule message would be needed, he told reporters. But if it was needed, the mayor said it would likely pass, once legislators (and the public) understood it was needed to save thousands of teacher jobs.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who testified about the budget here in Albany after Bloomberg, said a home rule message on the $12,000 payments probably was needed.

"It would most likely, yes, need a home rule message," said Quinn. "My sense is we would need one."

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WNYC News

New Yorkers! Meet the Candidate, Wal-Mart

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The midterm elections are over and the 2012 campaign for President has not officially started, but in New York City, a campaign of a different sort is already underway.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: MTA Defends Performance During Blizzard, and Disconnect Over Transit Btw. Candidates and Voters in Chicago Mayoral Race

Monday, January 17, 2011

MTA officials went before the New York City Council to defend their handling of the recent blizzard.  Speaker Quinn: "It really left me not feeling any greater level of confidence that the MTA can handle the next storm." (Wall Street Journal)

The Chicago Tribune says that transit is a sleeper issue in that city's upcoming mayoral race--and highlights a big disconnect between candidates and voters. "Transportation issues are not raised on the candidates' campaign Web pages, and no one has put together a position paper.  But a new public-opinion poll on mass-transit issues found that the Chicago electorate cares greatly about CTA service, extending even to individuals who don't ride the system."

Are drivers just eminently distractible? USA Today looks at federal distracted driving efforts and wonders if the focus on phones and texting is misplaced.  One hospital researcher says that cellphones are "yet another thing that's distracting people," but a "flood of new distractions are being built into vehicles."

Edmonton, the only city in Canada that doesn’t allow alcohol advertisements on its buses and rail, wants to overturn a long-standing ban on transit ads for liquor. (Edmonton Journal)

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: The new GOP chief is not a fan of high speed rail.  One study says that biking infrastructures create more jobs than road-based ones. And Governor Cuomo appointed a state DOT commissioner.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.


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WNYC News

Council Members Rip "Ridiculous" Blizzard Response

Friday, January 14, 2011

New York City Council members blasted transit officials during a Friday hearing on the city's response to last month's blizzard.

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WNYC News

Housing Policy Face Lift Means City 'Won't Wait' for Complaints, Says Quinn

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WNYC

The city will no longer wait for rundown buildings to become unlivable before intervening, according to Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

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WNYC News

When Wal-Mart Comes To Town

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wal-Mart has over 4,000 stores across the country, but none of them are in New York City. The company has tried unsuccessfully to open stores before in the region, but is now making a concerted effort to secure locations in all five boroughs.

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The Empire

Probing the NYC snow removal

Monday, January 10, 2011

Some information is already coming out about the city's response to the 2010 blizzard.

Among the questions City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she wants answered was why the city did not call a snow emergency.

In his opening remarks to the City Coucnil, Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith provided an answer. He said he and others feared that calling a snow emergency would put more cars on the street.

Also, in his opening remarks, Goldsmith said half of the city's sanitation trucks do not have radios, slowing down the information flow between drivers in the field and management back at headquarters.

As one political operative noted, it's a striking digital divide, considering some people in government are walking around with iPads.

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The Empire

Snow Probe, live

Monday, January 10, 2011

Here's the link to the live video feed of the City Council hearing into the city's botched snow removal efforts.

NYT reporter Javier Hernandez says"The hearing on Monday promises to be one of the most explosive political events of the year."

Among those expected to testify are Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith - who tweeted what a good job city workers were doing; Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, who has said he sees seen no evidence of an unofficial work slowdown.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn - an ally of Mayor Bloomberg - has already forwarded to his office the questions the City Council would like addressed during the hearing.

Quinn explained, "We sent this to the administration so that they don’t show up and say, ‘I’m sorry, we’ll get back to you.’ ”

The head of the Council's Investigation and Oversight Committee, Jumaane Williams, told me the question he'd like City officials to answer:

"What was making you say that these streets were plowed and everybody was telling you that it wasn't?"

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WNYC News

City Reaches Deal to Avoid Overnight Fire Company Closures

Thursday, January 06, 2011

WNYC

The planned overnight closings of 20 fire companies in New York City have been spared, for now, thanks to a budget deal reached between Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council.

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WNYC News

One Blizzard, Two Markedly Different Approaches in NJ and NYC

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On Monday morning, New Jersey was under a state of emergency and state government operations were closed except for emergency personnel. Across the Hudson in New York City, no emergency was declared, city offices kept regular hours, and Mayor Bloomberg pointed to the full audiences at Broadway shows. 

But as the heavy snow stayed stacked on city streets through another full day on Tuesday, critics questioned Bloomberg's response.

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WNYC News

Park 51 Opponents Cancel Protest

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

As noted last week, opponents of Park 51 were planning to hold their first protest in months on Tuesday. The protest was meant to be held in a committee room at 250 Broadway, during a City Council hearing on Wal-Mart. But last week, that hearing was postponed until January 12, so the Park 51 protest has also been put off. 

WNYC News

New York City Council Postpones Wal-Mart Hearing

Friday, December 10, 2010

Citing a committee room too small to accommodate growing interest in a hearing next week about the economic impact of Wal-Mart opening stories in New York, the New York City Council postponed the meeting until next year, when it will be held in a larger space.

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The Empire

Why counting votes isn't as easy as 1, 2, 3

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn drills into Steve Richman, the lawyer for the NYC Board of Elections yesterday over the voting results reported on Election Day, which turned out to be around 200,000 votes below the official results certified weeks later.

Richman's argument is that the initial, unofficial results are produced by the Associated Press and the NYPD, not the BOE. Quinn argues the initial results need to be more accurate, since that's what everyone responds to.

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