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Infrastructure

WNYC News

FDNY Commissioner Under Fire

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Firefighters protest fire house closures outside City Hall

Firefighters protest fire house closures outside City Hall

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta says he'll be forced to close 16 firehouses unless the firefighters union agrees to reduce staff at 60 engine companies. Scoppetta says ...

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The Takeaway

Public Transit: Charlotte Bucks the Cutback Trend

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cities around the country are shrinking their mass transit systems in the face of economic woes. Charlotte, NC, is bucking that trend, though. They are in the process of tripling the light rail in their city. Takeaway Correspondent Andrea Bernstein is just back from Charlotte and she joins The Takeaway to explain what the city is planning, why they are prioritizing transit, and how they're paying for it.

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The Takeaway

ShovelWatch: Looking at the Stimulus in Charlotte, NC

Friday, May 08, 2009

Takeaway correspondent Andrea Bernstein is in Charlotte, North Carolina, looking at how the stimulus is affecting people's lives. She spoke with the mayor, employees of the big banks headquartered there, and workers in the local textile mills to learn about how federal dollars are being spent. The Charlotte area launched its first road-building project funded by the stimulus this week. And with unemployment there at 11.4 percent, the stimulus funds should be particularly crucial.

Stress-test results: click here to see which banks still need more cash.

ShovelWatch is a joint project of the non-profit investigative outfit ProPublica, the morning news program The Takeaway and WNYC, New York's flagship public radio station. With investigative reporting, interactive features and help from you, we're tracking the stimulus bill dollars from Congress to your community.

Follow the dollars online and tell us how the stimulus plan is playing out in your community. We're sharing your stories online and on air, and we'll continue the investigation with your help.

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The Takeaway

Surprise! Optimism in Charlotte

Friday, May 08, 2009

As part of The Takeaway's ShovelWatch project, Correspondent Andrea Bernstein is in banking capitol, Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite Wachovia's announcement that is was laying off over 500 employees in Charlotte, she found the locals there surprisingly upbeat about the economy.

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WNYC News

The Tax That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

As mentioned in today's 411, people paid a lot of attention to the ill-fated East River bridge tolls over the course of the MTA bailout debate, but very little to the payroll tax (a.k.a. 'mobility tax').

Music to soothe the nerves of exasperated commuters. Musicians discuss their performances May 5 after auditioning for the Music Under New York arts program which funds NYC subway artists. (Getty)

Music to soothe the nerves of exasperated commuters. Musicians discuss their performances May 5 after auditioning for the Music Under New York arts program which funds NYC subway artists. (Getty)

Maybe that was Richard Ravitch's intention all along: to create a maddening diversion with tolls (which would only have net $600 million a year in their most expensive form) while the payroll tax came in under the radar and did all the work ($1.5 billion and counting). It's a steadily increasing tax that should do wonders to shore up MTA's portfolio. That's because the taxes that currently subsidize fares tend to be transactional and therefore extremely volatile. The MTA's $1.8 billion operating deficit this year wasn't created just because real estate values dropped--because they did, though not very much. But what really plummeted were the number of real estate sales. And the MTA only makes money off of real estate when it is bought, sold or mortgaged. (The city of New York, by contrast, makes money based on property values.)

Just look below at the slow, steady growth in the region's total payroll over the past 20 years, as provided by the state Department of Labor. By comparison, according to the MTA, the Urban Tax (imposed on sales and mortgages of commercial property in the five boroughs), went on a five year slide in 1987, dropping a total of 85 percent before recovering. Last year, the Urban Tax began another decline, which the MTA expects (hopes?) will bottom out next year, down 46 percent from its 2007 peak.

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WNYC News

M8 Bus Riders Say "Hallelujah!"

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The M8 Bus connects the east and west village

The M8 Bus connects the East and West Village

It's a silver lining for East and West Villagers. Under the latest MTA bailout proposal, bus and train fares will only go up ...

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WNYC News

Building Collapse Closes Streets in Lower Manhattan

Thursday, April 30, 2009

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There's a street closure in lower Manhattan as emergency personnel clears the site of this morning's three-alarm building collapse.

A five-story building at 69 Reade Street has suffered a partial collapse of the front of the building. A car was ...

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The Takeaway

Vice President Joe Biden pushes mass transit spending

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Instead of spending his Earth day out in the wilderness, Vice President Joe Biden held an event at a bus depot in Maryland. He was announcing a plan to spend $300 million in stimulus funding for clean-fuel buses. While the money for this program was buried in the stimulus plan, Vice President Biden was seemingly excited to introduce the green mass transit program to the crowd in Maryland. The event marks the second time in one week that the Obama administration brought transit policy to the fore. We speak to Takeaway correspondent Andrea Bernstein to see "Amtrak Joe's" emerging portfolio.

If you weren't in Landover, Maryland yesterday, you can watch Vice President Biden's speech below.

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WNYC News

Mayor's Earth Day Mandate: Green Thy Buildings

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

mayorgreenroof

Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn used this Earth Day to roll out four bills, aimed at getting older buildings to install more energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling systems. Quinn says the legislation would require buildings of 50,000 ...

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WNYC News

Tenants Outraged Over Broken Elevators

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Disabled tenants who live in New York City's public housing are filing a federal class action lawsuit to force the New York City Housing Authority to fix and maintain its elevators. The tenants say disability and human rights laws are being violated. Phyllis Gonzalez lives on the 12th floor of NYCHA Chelsea Houses and relies on a wheelchair. When elevators break, she says she's stranded in her apartment. As she spoke, she was interrupted by the sound of an alarm signaling that someone was stuck in the elevator. The doors opened moments later.

The elevator issue first drew public attention last August, when a five-year-old boy, Jacob Neuman, died trying to escape from a stalled elevator in his Brooklyn housing complex. Many residents say the problems are chronic, and Gonzalez notes it's especially hard for people who have health conditions.


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WNYC News

Bond Splurge in NJ

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today the NJ Turnpike Authority issued $1.375 billion in bond debt - $175 million more than the Authority said it intended to raise. Not just a routine bond sale, says The Bond Buyer's Amy Resnick. She tells the Financial 411 it's a promising sign that new, federal government-backed Build ...

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The Takeaway

Laying tracks to the future of cargo shipping

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last week, President Obama announced an ambitious goal to build a high-speed passenger rail line in ten regions across the country. But even if President Obama’s plans for passenger rail materialize, it won’t necessarily help the entire rail system. America's freight, the cargo that moves goods across the country by rail, is in big trouble. To look at the state of the rails, The Takeaway talks with Rick Karr, a correspondent for Blueprint America. His report on the nation’s ailing freight-rail system will air on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer tonight.

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The Takeaway

High speed trains: The U.S. to the future

Friday, April 17, 2009

Imagine the ease of riding trains between metropolitan areas in the U.S. Simply buy a ticket, board a train, kick back and read, sleep, listen to your podcasts of The Takeaway. Doesn't that sound better than braving crowded airport drop-offs, hours-long security lines or snarled traffic on the interstate? This vision of the future of travel may become a reality. Yesterday, President Obama expressed his ambition towards building high-speed passenger rail lines in ten regions across the country. To discuss how this will be possible The Takeaway is joined by Matt Dellinger, a writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and the New York Times .
"It wasn't as if Eisenhower snapped his fingers and the interstates were built the next two years."
—Writer Matt Dellinger on Obama's proposed rail system

Here's a brief look at how one town, Springfield, is planning on upgrading their infrastructure:

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WNYC News

Cityscapes: What is Public Space?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The New Yorker's architecture critic Paul Goldberger is joined by landscape Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to discuss the role of public space in the crowded city with guest-host Amy Eddings on the Brian Lehrer Show.

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WNYC News

Obama Chicken Joint: Critics Cry Fowl!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

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The owner of a Brownsville fast food joint may have rode the wave of Obamamania a bit too far after he recently renamed his restaurant Obama Fried Chicken.

Despite protests last week, the manager, Mohammad Jabbar from Bangladesh, ...

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WNYC News

WFP to MTA: W.T.F.?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Poster

That's the theme of a new poster the Working Families Party is distributing, part of a campaign that targets state senators who aren't getting behind the MTA bailout package. The Working Families Party was a major part of the Democratic ...

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WNYC News

The Sludge Boat...Soon Will Be Making Another Run

Thursday, April 02, 2009

8,000,000 New Yorkers generate a whole lot of sewage, and on any given day some of that sewage - more than 2,000,000 gallons - is being shipped around on the city's waterways. I was treated to a ride on the city's fancy new sludge boat, dubbed the Red Hook.
...

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WNYC News

Governor Seeks to End Drug Laws and Break Prison Cycle

Friday, March 27, 2009

Protesters rally against New York's Rockefeller drug laws outside Governor David Paterson's office on March 25, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)

Protesters rally against New York\'s Rockefeller drug laws outside Governor David Paterson\'s office on March 25, 2009 in New York City. (Getty)

Governor Paterson and legislative leaders have announced an agreement to ease New York’s decades-old Rockefeller drug laws, once among the harshest in the nation. Speaking at a news conference in Albany, the governor says they are rolling back many of the mandatory prison terms for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.

“Where people are addicted and have committed crimes because of their addiction, we are going to shift our services from punishment to treatment, we are going to eliminate in most cases and severely reduce in other cases, the mandatory minimums that were set by the Rockefeller drug laws.”

The governor further explained the goal to reduce addict recidivism, shown to currently stand at 50 percent. He called the current legal system unjust and ineffective, creating “a revolving door for offenders mired in a cycle of arrest and abuse.”

The new plan to go before the state legislature will shift the sentencing of convicted abusers to new “drug courts” that will oversee their treatment rather than their punishment.

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WNYC News

Oscar Goes Under the Knife

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pet owners, like everyone else, are being squeezed in this down economy and looking for ways to save. In Bushwick, Brooklyn recently, about 25 cats and dogs lined up for low-cost vet care. The mobile clinic, run by The ASPCA, charges $75 to spay or neuter a pet and the same services are free if you are on public assistance.

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Oscar and his owner Caesar wait to take advantage of low-cost spay/neuter services in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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Pit bulls make up a disproportionate number of dogs that enter the shelter system in the city. Joel Lopez of the ASPCA says he started drooling when he saw the two pit bulls come to get spayed.

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WNYC News

Higher MTA Fares and Service Cuts

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sound off in the comments below: 'How would higher fares and service cuts affect you?'

exit doors

The MTA votes in favor of higher fares and service cuts:

Don't like the 25 percent fare and toll ...

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