The Takeaway

Science May Speak, But Money Talks

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Politicians often ignore facts because they don't align with their ideology. But scientists hype research to secure more funding. 

Comments [3]

The Brian Lehrer Show

When Private Money Funds Public Parks

Friday, February 13, 2015

A new report details the pros and cons of conservancies as a model for city park creation and funding. What does it say for the future of new green space in New York City?

Comments [17]

The Brian Lehrer Show

35 Parks, $130 Million

Friday, October 10, 2014

A discussion on what a $130 million in public funds to 35 parks will mean for smaller parks and the approach of de Blasio and Bloomberg administrations to parks funding. 

Comments [18]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Melissa Mark-Viverito's New Rules

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Speaker, talks about the reforms enacted by the City Council to the way money for "member items" is allocated and other council news.


Comments [3]

Transportation Nation

New York's Transit Lockbox Bill Now in Cuomo's Hands

Friday, November 01, 2013

A dedicated source of revenue for the state's transit system is just a gubernatorial signature away.

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Transportation Nation

Meet the Little Known Board Making Big Virginia Transportation Decisions

Monday, August 26, 2013


In Virginia, a major transportation project goes nowhere unless it receives the support of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. This influential, 17-member panel picks the winners from the state’s long wish list of road improvement projects. Yet, few of the members are known to the general public, and most do not have transportation or urban planning backgrounds. Most of these key transportation decision makers come from the real estate or banking sectors. 

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Transportation Nation

Virginia Prepares Public Push to Win Local Support for New Highway

Friday, August 02, 2013


Virginia officials are taking a more personal approach in the state's attempt to sell a proposed highway to the locals. Now, in the face of ferocious opposition, the Virginia Department of Transportation is preparing to meet with county officials to present the state's vision of what the Bi-County Parkway would be.

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Transportation Nation

Transportation Secretary Foxx: States and Local Governments Need to Step Up Too

Friday, August 02, 2013


In an hour-long conversation with reporters, the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx fielded questions on topics from transit repair to funding challenges (spoiler: he says the feds can't do it all). But don't try to pin him down on the gas tax.

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State of the Re:Union

State of the Re:Union: Stories of Veterans Returning from War

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Broadcast times: Saturday at 6am on 93.9FM, 2pm on AM820. Sunday at 7am and 8pm on AM820.

More than two million veterans have come home so far from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For returning veterans, reintegrating into society can be a challenge. How do you find your place, when you’ve changed and the people you love don’t recognize you? When that old life is gone and you have to start a new one from scratch. In this hour State of the Re:Union explores reintegration and asks the question: how do you come back home from war?


The Brian Lehrer Show

"Citizen Koch" Filmmakers

Friday, May 31, 2013

According to a recent New Yorker piece, the film was halted because of pressure applied on PBS from philanthropist and conservative businessman David Koch

Comments [23]

Transportation Nation

NY MTA Ponders How To Spend An Extra $40 Million

Monday, April 22, 2013


The NY MTA is deciding all the time how to spend the discretionary part of its budget. But rarely is that budget unexpectedly enriched by an extra $40 million, which occurred last month when Albany bestowed that much more than requested in state funds. Now the debate begins on how to spend it.

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Comments [6]

On The Media

Should Government Fund Public Broadcasting?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said in Wednesday's debate that, if elected, he'd end the use of taxpayer money to support public media. Should we? In 2010, editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie told Brooke that yes, we should. On the other side, New Yorker editor Steve Coll told Bob why public radio should continue to receive some taxpayer support.  

Emiliana Torrini - Gun

Comments [19]

Transportation Nation

DOT Doles Out $363 Million in Highway Funding

Thursday, August 02, 2012

This just in from the U.S. Department of Transportation. View a list of recipients here. And read the DOT's announcement below.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces More Than $363 Million in Grants for State Highway Projects

Funds will create jobs by expanding highway repairs and roadway safety

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced more than $363 million in grants to fund a wide variety of highway improvements, from interstate rehabilitation and reconstruction to technologies that result in improved safety and reduced construction congestion.

“Investments in transportation projects like these create jobs right away in communities across the country, and lay a foundation for future economic growth,” said Secretary LaHood. “Thanks to these grants, states, cities and local communities can move forward with the transportation projects Americans need to reach their destinations more safely, quickly and efficiently.”

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) invited states, cities, tribal governments and local planning organizations to apply for federal funding from 12 grant programs. Nearly 1,500 requests poured in from every state, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. totaling approximately $2.5 billion. Grant funding was made available through enactment of the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II.

The 12 programs are:

Public Lands Highway
Interstate Maintenance
Transportation, Community and System Preservation
Ferry Boat
National Scenic Byways
Value Pricing Pilot
Highways for LIFE
National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation
Railway-Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination in High Speed Rail Corridor
Delta Region Transportation Development
Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment
Truck Parking Border Infrastructure
All 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were awarded grants. Some examples of selected projects:

Louisiana received more than $3 million to improve I-10 from the Lafayette Parish Line to the Atchafalaya Floodway Bridge. In addition to new pavement, the project will upgrade the guardrail and add new roadway striping to the route. The road is a high-volume truck corridor and is one of the state’s major hurricane evacuation routes.

Ohio received $3.34 million to improve I-75 in downtown Dayton from Fifth Street to Riverview Avenue. This two-mile stretch of interstate is Ohio’s second-most congested area. The project will improve driver safety and reduce traffic congestion for the 104,000 drivers who use it each day.

Missouri received $2 million for engineering work needed to replace the two bridges on I-44 over the Meramec River and to add an eastbound lane to reduce congestion and improve safety for drivers in St. Louis County.

Descriptions of each program and grant awards can be found here.

“The demand for these funds demonstrates a clear need for increased infrastructure investment,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “The President asked us to rebuild America - we have work to be done and Americans ready to do the work.”

These programs were authorized by Congress to support projects that improve roadway safety, maintain the nation's roads and bridges and make communities more livable.


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Comments [4]

The Brian Lehrer Show

New York as National Checkbook

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

It's a Free Country reporter Anna Sale talks about how races around the country seek funding in New York. Then Noah Bierman who covers government and politics for The Boston Globe talks about the Massachusetts Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown. 

Comments [12]


City Warns Struggling Schools Against Spending

Friday, January 06, 2012

Three days ago Education Department officials told principals at the city's struggling schools to proceed as usual, despite the state's suspension of nearly $60 million in federal grant money they had been promised. But with the city-state dispute still unresolved, the Education Department is now advising principals to hold up on spending those federal dollars,

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Transportation Nation

Interview: Congressman Mica Opens Up on FAA Debate

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user Simon_sees)

(WMFE-Orlando) Congressman John Mica, chair of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, strenuously defended his negotiating stance on funding for the Federal Aviation Administration including the recent political stalemate that left the agency partially shut down for two weeks.  He spoke on WMFE's Intersection program, you can hear the full interview here.

He told WMFE that the democrats are "demagoguing the issue" and that they "bait the media" into making the debate about unions rather than "pork laden subsidies" to a few airports in the Essential Air Service program that Mica wants to reform to save money. "They actually put people out of work for two weeks because of their reluctance to pass even that kind of minor cut."

"The union issue is one of six remaining major issues" in partisan negotiations over long term funding he said. "I've been willing to compromise," he stressed. He said he wants a long term funding agreement for the FAA and the democrats are holding it up. "I will use every means possible to get a long term, four-year  reauthorization after four-and-a-half years of Democrat delay."

Mica criticized Democratic concerns about funding cuts to rural air service, as well as the role the of the Association of Flight Attendants (an airline union) in sparking further debate over proposed GOP changes to union organizing rules.

Of the AFA Mica said “They’re being used as pawns and duped tools in a larger national debate," adding "I feel kind of pity for them by the way they’ve been abused by the leadership in Washington."

The Winter Park, Florida Republican did say he is open to compromise on a variety of issues. "I've been willing to compromise on every issue, including the so-called union issue."

The FAA's current temporary funding measure runs through September 16th.  After that it's up to Congress to take up the funding issue again.

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Comments [1]

Transportation Nation

Fix Transit, Officials Say. Or Expand it. Or Both.

Monday, June 13, 2011

(Transportation Nation) The American Public Transit Association is making a big push for more funding for transit as rising gas prices make taking transit a whole lot more economically attractive.


Officials say systems are shutting down, service is getting worse, transit systems are aging, and there are $78 billion worth of needs out there -- just to keep the system functioning more or less as it is today.

And all that comes as Congress and Governors are showing themselves in no mood to fund public transit.

The tension between just fixing everything that's broken -- or about to break -- and all the new transit that's needed to really give Americans mobility options was fully on display at an APTA press conference at its annual rail conference Monday.

Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff argued: "We want to provide the American public in the maximum number of communities with real transit choices, and give them the opportunity to keep more money in their wallet rather than hand it over at the gas pump, but in order to do that the transit service has to be available, it has to be safe and clean. It has to be reliable and desirable." His remarks came at a press conference at the APTA 2011 Rail Conference, (see our earlier blog posts with highlights from that).

But before thinking about making transit a real option for most, if not all Americans, Rogoff said, there's a $50 billion hole that needs filling.

In the seven largest systems, which carry 80 percent of the rail transit passenger load in the U.S. --  including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco,  Washington  and Los Angeles -- there is a $50 billion backlog of major maintenance needs.  Rogoff said the FTA has proposed combining funding streams to "rifle shot" resources to where they are most needed.

"Reliable transit is really the difference between getting home in time to have dinner as a family, or not; getting home in time to supervise homework, or not; or being able to pick your kid up on time from day care, all of these core quality of life issues, which are critical if we are going to entice more people on transit. But for  for the millions of transit riders who do not have an automobile option these investments are critical to maintaining a viable transit system,"  Rogoff said.

Rogoff acknowledged that Congress must approve the above plan, as well as a proposal to allow transit systems to use federal funds to operate and not just for their capital budgets.

The seams are already splitting, said Richard Davey, General Manager of Rail and Transit for the MBTA in Boston.  On the "Orange Line, we’re required to run 96 cars, and 102 in rush hour, in order to have proper headway. We’re not seeing that anymore. Our customers are waiting in platforms a little longer -- 30 seconds, maybe a minute. If we don’t invest in our vehicles, you will be standing on platforms," Davey said.

But Rogoff still questioned  whether bringing systems into a state of good repair is more important than expanding transit -- which makes it more of a choice for more Americans.

"Why should we invest in expanding a footprint when we know that they they are not adequately investing in their current footprint?  Rogoff asked of transit agencies across the country.  (He promised to ask Boston that question soon.)

"It’s a critical and important question to ask and we don’t back away from it. We’re having that dialog now with the MUNI system in San Francisco and the central subway project where we want to see a continuing financial commitment to, at a minimum, not allowing the MUNI system to go backward when we are also investing money to expand the system that they will then be required to maintain."

"One of the challenges we have with a number of systems across America is that there was a lot of enthusiasm and political support to build out the services to communities that want and need it and far less enthusiasm for making the necessary  investments to maintain them."

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Transportation Nation

Republicans Announce Proposed Spending Cuts; HSR and Amtrak Take Hits

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Republicans released their list of spending cuts earlier today, proposing slashing funding to a wide swath of programs -- including transportation. Among the $74 billion worth of potential reductions: cutting Amtrak's budget by $224 million, and slashing funding for high-speed rail by $1 billion.  The bill will be formally introduced tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal points out that "it’s difficult to determine the actual level of cuts from current federal government funding levels since the cuts are proposed against President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request, which was never taken up by Congress."

The list can be found below or here.

From the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations:

CR Spending Cuts to Go Deep

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today announced a partial list of 70 spending cuts that will be included in an upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR) bill. The CR legislation will fund the federal government for the seven months remaining in the fiscal year and prevent a government wide shut-down, while significantly reducing the massive increases in discretionary spending enacted in the last several years by a Democrat majority. A full list of program cuts will be released when the bill is formally introduced.

The total spending cuts in the CR will exceed $74 billion, including $58 billion in non-security discretionary spending reductions. The statement by Chairman Rogers on these cuts follows:

“Never before has Congress undertaken a task of this magnitude. The cuts in this CR will represent the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation.

“While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt. We have taken a wire brush to the discretionary budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people.

“Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit. These cuts are real and will impact every District across the country - including my own. As I have often said, every dollar we cut has a constituency, an industry, an association, and individual citizens who will disagree with us. But with this CR, we will respond to the millions of Americans who have called on this Congress to rein in spending to help our economy grow and our businesses create jobs.”

The List of 70 Spending Cuts to be Included in the CR follows:

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Transportation Nation

If Transportation is Such a Smart Investment, Where's the Money?

Friday, September 24, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Put a few hundred infrastructure contractors in a room with politicians, planners and transit junkies and you're going to hear tons about grand plans like mega rehab projects, high speed rail, and new tunnels. When you ask, "where's the money going to come from?" the room gets quiet, panelists hope someone else will answer. And then debate kicks in.

At the New York State Transportation Summit today, leaders from across New York's transportation industry tried to tackle tough questions, including how to find the billions of dollars of funding for projects around the Northeast and the nation. Stanley Gee, Acting Commissioner of  New York State Department of Transportation, summed up the most popular solution, "to truly meet our infrastructure needs,  stable, dedicated funding sources need to be provided" such as a multi-year dedicated source of income: higher tolls or a specific tax, not just one time grants from stimulus money.

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The Takeaway

House to Vote on Major Education Bill to Save Teachers' Jobs

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The House is expected to return from its summer recess for an emergency vote which, if passed, could potentially save tens of thousands of teachers' jobs. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the emergency vote, some Republicans accused the Congresswoman of pandering to teachers' unions and special interest groups ahead of November’s mid-term elections.