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Gale Brewer

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NYC City Council Presses for More School Crossing Guards

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

With the city budget under review, local leaders are calling for more funding to hire school crossing guards and beef up protection at dangerous intersections. .
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The Brian Lehrer Show

Manhattan Boro President on Saving the "Storefronters"

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, talks about her proposal to protect Manhattan's small retail storefront businesses.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Meet the Borough Presidents

Friday, February 07, 2014

In the first of a series of roundtables with the borough presidents, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., new Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and new Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams discuss life and politics in New York City and compare notes about our diverse neighborhoods.

 

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WNYC News

Calling It a Balance, Quinn Says She's 'Proud' of Sick-Leave Bill

Friday, March 29, 2013

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn reached a compromise Thursday night with supporters of a bill that would require companies to provide paid sick leave for thousands of employees in the city.

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WNYC News

'No Guarantee' City Can Handle Run-off as Scheduled, Election Officials Testify

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A potential run-off in citywide elections this year could be a disaster, elections officials told the City Council Thursday. Board of Elections officials also argued that chronic underfunding is partially to blame for some of the recent problems at city polls.

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WNYC News

Council Considers Extending Whistleblower Protections

Monday, April 16, 2012

The City Council considered a package of bills aimed at preventing fraud in city contracting and strengthening protections for the people who expose it during a hearing Monday.

and strengthening protections for the people who expose it. 

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WNYC News

In a Data-driven City, How Good Are the Numbers?

Monday, November 14, 2011

When members of the public want to know how many people visited city-owned museums in a given year or how much city agencies paid workers in overtime, they can check the Mayor's Management Report. On Monday, city council members examined the merits of the report itself by asking: How well are we measuring the city's performance?

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WNYC News

Council Passes Bill Requiring More Transparency in City Government

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WNYC

The public will soon be able to learn more about decisions made by city government under legislation passed by the City Council Tuesday.

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Transportation Nation

Car-Free Central Park Won't Happen Until September, If Then

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Central Park's Great Lawn (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Neither New York City Mayor Michael Blooomberg nor City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is getting behind legislation banning cars from Central Park's loop drives -- even on a trial basis.

City Council member Gale Brewer's bill has four co-sponsors. But no hearing has been scheduled, and both the Mayor's office and Speaker Quinn said this week they had no official position on the measure.   The speaker generally controls the council agenda (and most of the votes in the heavily Democratic body), and legislation with her support tends to pass overwhelmingly.

A report on the Central Park Conservancy's website says the presence of cars is one of the most common complaints.

Last week Brewer sent a letter to the mayor asking for a six-week trial closure this summer.  But the Mayor says he won't discuss the matter until there's a hearing, and a spokesman for City Council Transportation Chair James Vacca says there's no room in the schedule for a hearing until September, at the earliest.

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Transportation Nation

Parks Are For People, Not Cars, Says City Councilwoman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Central Park (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A New York City Council member is pushing to ban cars from the loop drives in Central Park and Prospect Park.

Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, said this isn't the first time the idea's been floated. In 2006, the City Council held a hearing on this issue, but the legislation was withdrawn after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned cars in the parks for much of the day.

Which, Brewer said, made the parks even more popular.

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"Parks are supposed to be livable, and you're supposed to be able to do exercise, and you're supposed to be able to breathe," Brewer said. "I think that cars do not have a place in these two parks...That’s why I’m introducing this legislation – to just have the people, not the cars."

Read the full story at WNYC.

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Transportation Nation

Politicians: We Like the Columbus Avenue Bike Lane, We Just Want Tweaks

Sunday, February 06, 2011

NY Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, pharmacy owner Ivan Jourdain, Community Board 7 chair Mel Wymore, and NY City Councilwoman Gale Brewer unveil recommendations to improve the bike lanes. (Photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Columbus Avenue bike lane, which stretches from 96th Street to 77th Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side, has been the source of neighborhood tsuris since is was put in last summer -- despite the fact that the community actively sought its installation.  Now a new report may help pave the way for mitigating what some call the "unintended consequences" of the lane.

It didn't take long after the lane was installed for elected officials and Community Board 7 to begin hearing complaints from businesses about all things parking: trucks were having a hard time making deliveries, customers didn't understand the new signage, no one could find a spot to quickly run in and grab something.  So CB7, with local politicians and residents, formed the Columbus Avenue Working Group (CAWG) to survey local businesses about the lanes. Sixty-five businesses on the east side of Columbus Avenue, adjacent to the lane, were approached and asked to fill out questionnaires; 36 completed it.

The responses weren't pretty: of the businesses surveyed, 72% responded they believe the street redesign had a negative impact on their business, compared to only eight percent who felt the lane was positive.

"Everybody complained about parking and loading zones," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "Meaning: there had to be real change."

So local politicians brokered what seems to be a compromise: an agreement from the city's DOT to return some parking spaces, tweak some signs, and reprogram meters. In a response to CAWG's recommendations, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan sent a letter to all of the stakeholders, going through their recommendations one by one.

State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said today that "bike lanes have recently gotten some bad publicity in the city." This could be an understatement: in just the last few days, the DOT has been threatened with a lawsuit over the Prospect Park West bike lane, and Janette Sadik-Khan was the subject of yet another tabloid editorial on Sunday, accusing her of being secretive in how -- and where -- bike lanes are installed, a charge she has repeatedly denied.

Standing in front of Ivan Pharmacy on Sunday, Scott Stringer said the lessons learned from the Columbus Avenue bike lane represent a model of collaboration that should be repeated throughout the city. "This study and this working group may finally break new ground in bringing together the Department of Transportation and communities," he said. "It is very clear to all of us, that you cannot design a street -- design a community -- simply by having downtown experts tell us what should be in the street grid. We have learned, in a very painful way, what happens when you impose a bike lane on neighborhoods without doing proper due diligence."

"If they follow this model today around the city," he said, "we are going to be able to mix street design and bike lanes with businesses, pedestrians, and cars. And that's how you change what a city looks like -- through collaboration."

City Council member Gale Brewer was more conciliatory. "The Department of Transportation -- I want to be very clear -- was very responsive, even early on in the game."  And the chair of CB7 also voiced strong support for the lane. "I want to be clear that Community Board 7 voted in favor of the bike lane, just because it's the right thing to do," said Mel Wymore. "This is an opportunity for all of us to make it work for everyone."

But it's clear that even within the pro-bike lane CAWG there are some disagreements. During today's press conference, Scott Stringer complained about the pedestrian islands.  "(They are) I believe, a big error," he said -- only to see his colleagues at the podium start shaking their heads. "No," said Gale Brewer. "We like them."  "Well, this is my opinion," amended Stringer. "I think 28 or so are perhaps too many, we think there should be a discussion.  You see, that's what community consultation is all about."

And so far no one has filed a lawsuit.

You can read the Columbus Avenue Working Group's report below, as well as see NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan's response to the group's recommendations:

COLUMBUS AVENUE STREET REDESIGN_ Recommendations for Mitigating Unintended Impacts-1
Columbus Response From Janette Sadik-Khan

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WNYC News

The Woman Upgrading Bloomberg's Government: Rachel Sterne

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WNYC

Talking points for Mayor Bloomberg used to be printed on small, white, index cards. Last year, he repaved those cards with an iPad. During a City Council hearing into the city's botched snow removal efforts, City Council members vented their frustration…on Twitter.

In many ways, New York City government is embracing 21st century. But to critics, the city — capital of finance and media — is woefully behind other cities in incorporating modern technology when it comes to governance.

Enter Rachel Sterne, the 27 year-old founder of the GroundReport, an open-source journalism portal. On Monday, the city announced Sterne is now New York City's first chief digital officer, charged with, among other things, helping Mayor Bloomberg's administration adapt to the 21st century.

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Transportation Nation

Mixed Signals for NYC Pedestrians

Monday, December 20, 2010

(New York-- John Keefe, Jim O'Grady, and Brian Zumhagen, WNYC; Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation)

New Yorkers are famous for crossing streets whenever they feel like it, taking a blasé attitude toward crosswalk signals. But the signs tend to capture the attention of pedestrians when the "walk" and "don't walk" icons are lit up at the same time, which is the case at intersections all over the city.

At the corner of Spring and Greene Streets in SoHo, the orange "don't walk" hand is illuminated. But so is the "walking man" icon. Latonya Turner and her husband Otis are visiting from Arkansas. What would they have done if they'd been left to their own devices?

"We probably would have stood here and thought, 'Okay, what do we do?'" "I guess you have a choice then, you can either walk or not walk," Otis said.

"I guess you can just take your chances," Latonya added, laughing.

Listen to WNYC's story on the pedestrian crossing signals:

See WNYC's mixed signals map here.

And upload your photo to the map here!

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WNYC News

Mixed Signals for City Pedestrians

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Yorkers are famous for crossing streets whenever they feel like it, taking a blasé attitude toward crosswalk signals. But the signs tend to capture the attention of pedestrians when the "walk" and "don't walk" icons are lit up at the same time, which is the case at intersections all over the city.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Council Hosts "Heated Discussion" on Bikes

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bicyclists outside the City Council hearing rooms at 250 Broadway (by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New York City Council’s Transportation Committee held a meeting today on the impact of bicycles and bike lanes in the city. Committee chair James Vacca told the packed room that when it came to bikes, he knew passions were high. “Believe it or not,” he said, “few issues today prompt more heated discussion than bike policy in New York City.”

And it showed: there was a long wait in line to clear security, and the City Council hearing room’s overflow room had to be used. More than 70 speakers signed up to voice their opinions about bikes and bike lanes, but the hot seat belonged to City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who was grilled by council members for almost two hours. (Click the audio player to hear her statement, as well as the extensive—nearly two hour—question and answer session, below. The transcript -- all 296 pages -- can be found here.)

Sadik-Khan said that her department's goal is to create an interconnected bike lane network citywide.  “Half of the trips in New York City are under two miles, we think cycling has a strong role to play in the transportation network,” she said. In other words, if you build it, they will ride. “The addition of 200 miles of new bike lanes between 2006 and 2009 coincided with four straight years of double-digit percentage increases in our commuter cycling counts,” she said, adding that the increase in cycling, and the concurrent pedestrian improvements made to streets, made 2009 “the lowest overall traffic fatality rate in New York City’s history.”

But some council members felt that their districts had been left out of the planning process, and Brooklyn’s Lewis Fidler said that the DOT needed to do a better job of getting public input.  “You gotta go back to communities and ask them again,” he said emphatically.

"That's what we do! That's what we do, that’s what we do, council member!” the commissioner interjected. “I'm asking that it be institutionalized,” said Fidler.  Sadik-Khan said during her statement that her agency “remain(s) committed to problem-solving for and with the people of the City on a nearly 24/7 basis.”

She also said that the lanes have proven to be a good investment, because bicycle commuting in New York City has increased by 109 percent since 2006. It's a bargain according to her figures: the federal government bears 80 percent of the total cost, leaving New York City to pay just 20 percent of the bill for bike lanes.

But the topic of enforcement—of bicyclists who run afoul of the rules of the road, of buses and cars who block lanes—came up continually, with many council members wondering how best to ensure that cyclists obey the rules of the road.

Sadik-Khan said that the DOT is planning a major media campaign in the spring that will feature celebrities “bluntly tell(ing) cyclists to stop riding like jerks.” There will also be a bike ambassador program to help people obey the rules of the road.

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WNYC News

Council Speaker Quinn Opposes Paid Sick Day Legislation

Thursday, October 14, 2010

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she won’t support a bill requiring businesses to give workers paid time off when they get sick. Quinn said pushing the legislation forward now would backfire, and actually hurt the very workers the bill targets.

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