City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
By Beth Fertig
The city's largest labor union is slated to make an endorsement in the mayoral race on Wednesday, after members of the United Federation of Teachers meet to consider the Democratic candidates who have been seeking the UFT stamp of approval.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
By Anna Sale
Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn outlined her views on education Tuesday. She backed many of the changes implemented under Mayor Bloomberg but also argued for less emphasis on standardized tests and more of a role for parents.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
By Yasmeen Khan
The Education Department is changing the rules around suspension of younger students. Children in kindergarten through third grade can no longer be suspended for more than five days for disruptive behavior, such as pushing and shoving.
Monday, June 04, 2012
By Kyle Spencer
As the city tries to decrease its student suspension rate with a revised discipline code, Christine Quinn, the city council speaker, urges the Department of Education to consider even more measures to keep students in school.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Nearly four years after overcrowding in Greenwich Village led parents and elected officials to demand a new school, the city has agreed to buy 75 Morton St., a seven-story state-owned building.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
The 2011-12 school year, which has already resulted in painful budget choices by school principals, is likely to get even leaner. Just a few days away from the scheduled layoff of about 700 school workers, Mayor Bloomberg will impose citywide budget cuts of $2 billion, and this time, the city's public schools will not be spared.
After Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Public Subsidies, Barely Used Yankees Parking Garages Face Financial Collapse
Thursday, May 19, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(Bronx, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) In the far North Bronx, near the Yonkers border, right fielder Stephan Alamies of the All Hallows High School varsity baseball team is batting against Mount Saint Michael. This is a home game for All Hallows--but they’re playing on their opponents’ field. They drove 45 minutes by bus to get here. Coach Edgardo Guttierez says the team used to play four blocks from school.
“Unfortunately, the Yankees built their parking lot on the field that we used to practice on," he said.
On the team bus, the players weren't any happier than their coach. "We feel like a bunch of gypsies just traveling all over the place," said Alamies before the other players chimed in: “It’s depressing.” “People want to come see us but they can’t see us. We don’t have a home field, we don’t know where we’re at.”
The team, like the rest of the neighborhood around Yankee Stadium, is still waiting for promised replacement fields.
Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.
But so few Yankee fans are parking at eleven garages and lots around the new stadium that the company managing them may soon default on $237 million in tax exempt bonds used to build them. In an effort to stave off collapse, the garages recently hiked prices to $35 a game. But as of last month, they were two thirds empty on game days.
According to public documents and two separate analyses, the Bronx Parking Development company owes the city $17 million in back rent and other payments. The city is paying $195 million to replace the parkland it gave to the Yankees. And New York State spent $70 million to build Parking Garage B. That's where Derek Jeter and his fellow players park, along with VIP ticket holders. The garage is not open to the public, and allows those who use it to enter directly into the stadium.
Bettina Damiani is project director at Good Jobs New York, a government watchdog group. "It doesn't seem to make sense to publicly subsidize the stadium and also publicly subsidize the parking garages," she said, adding it isn’t just about the money. "This is about the impact it's had on an entire generation of kids who have not had access to open public park space the way they did have."
The new Yankee Stadium is smaller than the old one. But when the team insisted in 2006 that it needed 2,000 extra parking spots, the New York City Industrial Development Agency issued 237 million dollars in tax exempt bonds for an expanded parking system--paving over the neighborhood's only regulation baseball diamonds to do it.
The Yankees insisted from the beginning that they needed 9,000 parking spots, 2,000 more than before. They even made it a legal condition for not moving out of the Bronx.
At a City Council hearing in 2006, Yankees president Randy Levine predicted additional parking garages would bring less traffic to the neighborhood. “By building the new parking spots, the cars will get out of the community, won’t circle around the community and disrupt it, and will go into parking lots," he said. As a sweetener, the Bloomberg administration, pushing the plan, added a last-minute concession: it would build a new Metro-North stop next to the field.
The Yankees got their new stadium -- and their 9000 parking spots. The stadium plan passed the city council, 44 to 3.
In 2006, Speaker Christine Quinn defended the garages.
“I think it would be great if people could go to sporting events exclusively on mass transit but that’s not going to happen," she said. "So one has to, when they’re developing projects like this, have a reality sense of what the needs are as it relates to parking."
But the MTA tells WNYC that more than 50% of a typical sell-out crowd arrives by train, bus or ferry. Many fans who do drive skip the $35 dollar charge for a spot at a Yankee garage and either park on the street or at cheaper lots in the neighborhood. One local garage advertises on a flyer that says, "Don't pay 35 dollars." Its prices start at $15.
Little has changed from 2006 outside the stadium on game days. Traffic cops stand on corners directing the circling cars. By first pitch, every one of the area’s 3,200 curbside spots is filled.
Angel Castillo, a car-owner who lives four blocks from the stadium, sees it all season. “Oh my God, sometimes if I come and the game starts, I gotta wait when the game finished one hour after the game," he said. "After midnight.”
Castillo says street parking is so scarce during Yankee homestands that he’ll leave his car in a spot for four days and pay fifteen dollars each way for a car service to his job as a barbershop manager in the North Bronx.
Mayor Bloomberg says private bondholders, not taxpayers, will be on the hook if the Bronx Parking Development Company defaults on the bonds. On his weekly radio show, he shrugged off the Bronx Parking Development Company's possible collapse.
“The city has no downside," he said. "If they were to go bankrupt, it doesn't hurt us. It wouldn’t be good for the project."
But taxpayers have been hurt.
Back at the game in the North Bronx, Stephan Alamies waits for the pitch. It’s 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning. He swings…and the ball is gone. All Hallows wins on a walk-off homer. The victory helps them clinch their division. Today, they’re preparing for the playoffs.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got a whole bunch of attention (including from WNYC), for her proposal, packaged to land with maximum punch in her state of the city address, to ease the lives of those New Yorkers who feel they are a slave to alternate-side-of-the-street parking and other motorist-related hassles.
As WNYC's Azi Paybarah reports it, Quinn said in her speech Tuesday: "almost every New Yorker has a story about getting a ticket they didn't deserve."
Azi explains: "new legislation would be written to allow ticket agents to literally "tear up" a ticket when a motorist presented proof that they stepped away from their car in order to purchase a parking ticket at a nearby meter. The problem, Quinn said, of those wrongfully issued tickets was bountiful."
But. The politics of driving in New York City are far from simple. Unlike every other city in America, the majority of New Yorkers take transit to work. More than 90 percent of people who work in Manhattan don't get there by private car. But in politics, the beleaguered middle class driver -- like "Joe the Plumber," an archetype with great political hold -- is a powerful icon.
Since I've been covering this issue, candidates for Mayor (and Quinn is widely expected to be one 2013) have tried, with varying degrees of success, to tap dance around it. To take a walk down memory lane, in an August 2005 mayoral debate I asked (page 11 of the transcript) the democratic candidates about whether traffic into Manhattan should be limited by tolling East River bridges (which unlike some other crossings into Manhattan, are free).
There were four candidates at the time vying to be the Democratic nominee against Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the time: former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer (who went on to be the nominee against Bloomberg), Congressman Anthony Weiner (who didn't run in 2009 because, he said, there was too much important work to do in Washington, but who very well may run in 2013), Gifford Miller, the City Council Speaker (Quinn's current job) and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. None of them were for charging drivers to enter Manhattan by tolling East River bridges. To Weiner, it was "a tax on the middle class."
Throughout the 2008 fight on congestion charging, that's how opponents portrayed it. Quinn, however, stood up and took the heat. Through arm-twisting, cajoling, and pleading, she pushed forward Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to charge motorists $8 to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan during peak hours. Proponents, including Quinn, argued that the charge would ease traffic, reduce driving and help the environment, and make hundreds of millions of federal dollars available for mass transit.
“This is a bold decision… which will send a message to the state Legislature that we are sick and tired of our streets being clogged with traffic," Quinn said after the relatively narrow council vote of 30-20. (Narrow, because Quinn is the Democratic Speaker of a Council that is almost entirely composed of Democrats, and can usually get upwards of 40 council members to support her on any given measure.) But the council didn't actually have the power to enact the charge -- the state legislature did. And that body never voted, leaving some city council members who'd gone along with Quinn bitter that they'd been forced to take a stand on a relatively controversial issue.
Congestion charging did not come to be in New York City. The federal government took back its offer of hundreds of millions of dollars in transit aid. Partly because of that, the MTA faced down an $800 million budget gap last year, imposed the most severe service cuts in a generation, and raised fares.
Of the candidates who may run for Mayor in 2013 in New York, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio is on record as opposing congestion charging. He was one of the 20 votes against Quinn. Weiner has remained opposed, and most recently, when former MTA chief and transit eminence gris Richard Ravitch put forward a plan to save the MTA with bridge tolls, Weiner wasn't for that, either. City Comptroller John Liu, formerly a city council member from Queens and chair of the transportation committee, supported congestion charging -- but not bridge tolls. And then of course, there's Quinn.
All of this is the backdrop of Tuesday's speech, which comes in the wake of general outer-borough fury at Mayor Michael Bloomberg for failing to plow the streets in a timely manner after the blizzard of 2010. That's been rolled into general Bloomberg-fatigue (he's now in his third term after promising to serve for only two), resistance to some of Bloomberg's reforms that are seen by some motorists as anti-automobile (bike lanes come to mind), and general frustration by middle class New Yorkers suffering the third year of a recession as property taxes, water rates, and parking fees rise.
And thus Quinn's refrain, in a speech that usually ricochets with resonance, that among her lofty goals "is just making it easier to find a parking spot."
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
By Bob Hennelly