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Mayor Michael Bloomberg

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Obama Saddled With National Debt Debate While Clinton and Bloomberg Go Global

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Washington, President Obama was to give a speech on how our future would be framed by our debt. But he had waited so long to weigh in, his opponents had already thoroughly defined the topic. His speech couldn't break out of that "me too" sound. If he thought the world faced a pressing environmental, public health or youth unemployment crisis, there was no hint of it in his speech.

In New York, it was one of those precious damp spring mornings at Gracie Mansion. A hard overnight rain had cleared the air. From the manse's generous porch, you could see the East River, just beyond the rolling lush lawn and bursting magnolias. A tanker glided effortless upstream. It was a day of limitless possibilities.

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Transportation Nation

BLOOMBERG: Ped Plazas Reduce Air Pollution by 40 to 60 Percent

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This in from NYC Mayor's Office:

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES LATEST RESULTS OF HEALTH DEPARTMENT AIR QUALITY STUDY THAT SHOWS AIR IN TIMES SQUARE IS CLEANER AND HEALTHIER SINCE PEDESTRIAN PLAZAS WERE OPENED

PlaNYC Report Shows Reduction in Harmful Pollutants that Can Irritate Lungs, Worsen Asthma, Emphysema, and Increase Risk of Premature Death

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and the Mayor’s Sustainability Director David Bragdon today released the results of the most recent Health Department air quality study which shows the impact of traffic on neighborhood air pollution across New York City.  The report documents an immediate and substantial air quality improvement in Times Square after the creation of a pedestrian plaza. The data are contained in the latest report from the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS), a comprehensive survey of street-level air quality in the five boroughs created as part of PlaNYC. A quarter-million pedestrians enter Times Square each day and have the potential to benefit from the cleaner air. After the pedestrian plaza was created, concentrations of traffic-related pollutants were substantially lower than measurements from the year before and were less than in other midtown locations.

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WNYC News

Mayor Heralds Signing of First 'Green Lease' in City

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The first green lease was signed by a commercial tenant Tuesday in what Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes will become blueprint for future leases and help cut the city's emissions.

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Transportation Nation

New York State Continuing to Issue Thousands of Parking Placards

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Subaru in Lower Manhattan parking in a no parking zone displays placard that says "this vehicle is on official police business." Photo: Andrea Bernstein

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is continuing to issue some 3500 parking placards to state legislators and state government employees. Those placards permit the bearer to park in most areas in New York City where others could not.  Many of the permits say “this vehicle is on official police business,” even though they are frequently carried by officials with no law enforcement responsibilities.

The practice is not new – it’s so accepted that spokespeople for the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader could not immediately say how the placards are distributed, who gets them, or why.   But, according to Queens State Senator Tony Avella, who cut up his placard and then issued a press release about it, “it’s the kind of business-as-usual we promised to reform.”

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Governor Andrew Cuomo was swept in last November -- a Democrat winning in a pro-Republican year around the country -- on a platform of bringing a new era of ethical responsibility to Albany, a notoriously dysfunctional state government.    To the relief of many New Yorkers, he said he would "end business as usual."

Avella said he would not use his placard because, as a State Senator, he should experience New York the way his constituents do “and that includes looking for parking.”  Avella also said “I’m not on official police business, nor is any politician who gets one of these on official police business.”

Other elected officials have said in the past that having the placards enables them to attend several community events in a day, and that driving around looking for parking would mean they couldn’t serve their constituents as effectively.

Despite repeated inquiries over the course of a week, Governor Cuomo’s spokesperson, Joshua Vlasto, did not explain why the placards refer to “official police business,” even though that is not the case.

Some years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg faced a controversy when it was revealed that there were some 140,000 placards in use by city employees.  Those placards also used to refer to “official police business.”  But the Mayor promised to reduce city placards by half, and changed the language for non-law enforcement officers to “this vehicle is on official city business.”

The placards were a potential embarrassment because nothing irks a New York City resident more than the whiff of a city official getting a privilege he or she does not.  But also, making it easier for city employees to park is an inducement to drive to work at a time when Mayor Bloomberg is encouraging people to drive less and take mass transit more.   Other mayors around the country have also been  eliminating employee parking privileges for that reason, notably former Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who took away the right of city employees to park free at meters.

When asked if Governor Cuomo would look at changing practices involving the state permits, Vlasto said in an email, “we are reviewing the matter.”

Right now, some 6000 placards are distributed by the state, according to the David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, which oversees the production of the placards.  Some 3500 go to New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.  Those placards say “State of New York Executive Branch.”  A spokesman for that Division, Dennis Michalski, could not immediately say on Friday how the recipients of those 3500 placards are chosen.

In addition, Bookstaver said, some 2500 placards are distributed to the New York State Judiciary – and some of those – about a hundred, go to the New York State Department of Environmental Protection, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Waterfront Commission. Those entities do have law enforcement responsibilities.

Senator Tony Avella's placard, cut down the middle

Senator Avella was unsure how he was chosen to receive one.  He said his placard was delivered to his Albany office, and that his understanding was that all State Senators received them.  A spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, whose party regained power after two years on the outs, Scott Rief,  said placards had been distributed previously by majority leaders as a perk, but he said that practice had ended.  The Governor’s office did not offer clarification on how the placards are distributed.

The pro-transit advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, has been working for many years to shine on light on the practice, which it says encourages the use of personal vehicles over other forms of transportation, a practice they say is environmentally harmful.    TA’s Noah Budnick said “this is one of those things that recipients don’t question, because things have always been done this way.  But widespread distribution of placards for people who don’t need them has got to stop.”

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WNYC News

State Continuing Practice of Issuing Thousands of Parking Permits

Sunday, March 27, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is continuing to issue thousand of parking placards to state legislators and state government employees. Those placards permit the bearer to park in most areas in New York City where others could not. Many of the permits read "This vehicle is on official police business," even though they are frequently carried by officials with no law enforcement responsibilities.

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Transportation Nation

Mayor Bloomberg on Iris Weinshall

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his first public remarks on his former Transportation Commissioner, Iris Weinshall, today, in answer to a question about whether her opposition to the Prospect Park Bike lane is about defending her tenure as Transpo Commissioner.

Bloomberg said "I've known Iris for twelve years she was a commissioner in our administration for eight. She did a very good job. I was sorry she chose to leave, I tried to convince her to stay. I read about her position on bike lanes I think I'm probably on the other side of it. It's probably not fair to ascribe motives to Iris for trying to stop a bicycle lane other than she doesn't think there should be a bicycle lane there."

His comments came at a question-and-answer session after a press conference announcing New Yorkers can now pay parking tickets online.

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Transportation Nation

NY City Hall Weighs in on Bike Lanes

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) None of the following will be new to our readers.  But it's interesting, in light of reporting that the New York City Mayor may not be backing Janette Sadik-Khan, that this memo comes today from Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, an extremely smart and experienced politico pro (former Schumer aide, former Hillary Clinton aide)  within the Bloomberg Administration, in response to a New York Magazine article (whose contents will also be no surprise to our regular readers, sniff.)

Would seem to indicate pretty strong support for JSK, which those familiar with the situation tell me is real, not manufactured.

UPDATE:  Howard emails me he's been tweeting on this issue for a while @howiewolf.t...Here are a few:

From March 18: Will those who say bike lanes are "imposed" note this? CB6 trans committee unanimously endorsed modifications for PPW bike lane last night

From March 18:  New Q Poll NYers support bike lanes by 15 points 54-39. Strong #s.

The City of New York

Office of the Mayor

New York, NY 10007

MEMORANDUM

To: Interested Parties

From:  Howard Wolfson

Subject: Bike Lanes

Date: March 21, 2011

In light of this week's New York magazine article about bike lanes I thought you might find the below useful.

  • The majority of New Yorkers support bike lanes. According to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, 54 percent of New York City voters say more bike lanes are good "because it's greener and healthier for people to ride their bicycles," while 39 percent say bike lanes are bad "because it leaves less room for cars which increases traffic."

  • Major bike lane installations have been approved by the local Community Board, including the bike lanes on Prospect Park West and Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn and on Columbus Avenue and Grand Street in Manhattan. In many cases, the project were specifically requested by the community board, including the four projects mentioned above.

  • Over the last four years, bike lane projects were presented to Community Boards at 94 public meetings. There have been over 40 individual committee and full community board votes and/or resolutions supporting bike projects.

  • Projects are constantly being changed post-installation, after the community provides input and data about the conditions on the street. For example:

o       The bike lane on Columbus Avenue was amended after installation to increase parking at the community’s request.

o       Bike lanes on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg and on Father Capodanno Blvd. in Staten Island were completely removed after listening to community input and making other network enhancements.

  • 255 miles of bike lanes have been added in the last four years. The City has 6,000 miles of streets.

  • Bike lanes improve safety. Though cycling in the city has more than doubled in the last four years, the number of fatal cycling crashes and serious injuries has declined due to the safer bike network.

  • When protected bike lanes are installed, injury crashes for all road users (drivers, pedestrians, cyclists), typically drop by 40 percent and by more than 50 percent in some locations.

  • From 2001 through 2005, four pedestrians were killed in bike-pedestrian accidents. From 2006 through 2010, while cycling in the city doubled, three pedestrians were killed in bike-pedestrian accidents.

  • 66 percent of the bike lanes installed have had no effects on parking or on the number of moving lanes.

I

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Transportation Nation

Poll: By 54 to 39 Percent, New Yorkers Say Bike Lanes "A Good Thing"

Friday, March 18, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) A new Quinnipiac poll out today says, by a 54 to 39 percent margin, New Yorkers say bike lanes are "a good thing" because they are "greener and healthier." Those who didn't like them said they took room away from cars and "cause traffic."

Men like them more than women,  Democrats and Independents more than Republicans, and Manhattan residents and people 35-49 like them the most.

In Brooklyn, where a lane along Prospect Park West has been the subject of controversy, residents like them 54 to 40 percent. Republicans and Queens residents (by a small margin) were the only groups that disfavored bike lanes, and union households, are almost evenly divided, with 49 for and 45 against.

Pollsters asked some 1,115 registered voters, from March 8-14, a series of questions about New York City life.  The margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

The poll should come as balm for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose bike lanes have been subjected to noisy cannon fire, and to city DOT transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who's received some critical ink lately.

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Here's the relevant question: 

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WNYC News

Obama’s Proposed Budget May Hurt New York Nonprofits

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

President Barack Obama's plans for cuts to domestic spending, as part of his $3.73 trillion budget for 2012, would directly impact local nonprofits that provide an array of social services. There would be less federal money to go around, and stiffer competition for a smaller pot of funds.

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Transportation Nation

City Finally Puts $$ Behind Subway to New Jersey

Friday, February 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Call it the return of the Secaucus 7. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has finally put some muscle into his proposal to extend the number 7 subway train under the Hudson River to New Jersey, making it the first NYC subway train to go to another state.  It would be a substitute for the NJ Transit commuter tunnel, known as the ARC, or Access to the Region's Core, that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed last fall.

This week, Mayor Bloomberg's Economic Development Corporation voted to put a quarter of a million dollars into a three-month feasibility study of the tunnel.  The contract for the study goes to Parsons Brinckerhoff, a major engineering firm that had been working on the ARC tunnel.

The firm is tasked with assessing demand and cost -- which Mayor Bloomberg, without any engineering studies behind him -- has said would be roughly half that of the ARC tunnel.

The head of the MTA, Jay Walder, has been genial about the project, but the agency is already struggling to pay for capital costs for its current system, and this week learned it would be faced with another $100 million in cuts from the state budget.  Bloomberg does not control the MTA -- NY Governor Andrew Cuomo does -- though Bloomberg does have representation on the MTA board.

When the city was pushing construction of a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan, Bloomberg succeed in gaining MTA approval for extension of the #7 train to the far West Side of Manhattan by promising to foot the $2 billion in construction costs.  But that was during flusher times, when neither the MTA nor the city was broke.

It's unclear whether the federal government's investment of $3 billion, lost when the ARC tunnel died, could be applied towards this project, or whether the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would contribute funds, as it did to the ARC.

Here's the EDC documentation on the contract:

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WNYC News

Fact-Checking Mayor Bloomberg's State of the City Speech

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some quick fact-checking on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City speech.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Tries GPS to Track Snowplows

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A NYC plow working after the post-Christmas blizzard. AZI PAYBARAH/WNYC

[UPDATED WITH CITY HALL RESPONSE.]

(John Keefe, Transportation Nation) As meteorologists forecast more snow for New York City, City Hall plans to track where the streets are being cleared -- with GPS-equipped plows.

In the post-Christmas blizzard two weeks ago, cars, buses and ambulances were stranded throughout the city, and many streets remained unplowed for days. City officials and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were widely criticized for their response to the storm.

At a press conference this afternoon, Bloomberg said last time, "there was a discrepancy between information coming into and out of City Hall and what people were actually experiencing on the streets."

In a pilot project that will be tested if the snow flies tomorrow, GPS-enabled plows -- many of which are modified garbage trucks -- will roam the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Midwood, Flatbush and Ditmas Park, and also parts of Kensington.

Bloomberg said the tracking devices have become so cheap that eventually all 1,700 plows could be tracked, providing information not only on snow removal but also salting and trash pickup. Drivers of municipal vehicles in other cities, and in NYC taxi cabs, have fought such tracking systems as an invasion of their privacy.

Whether snowplow location information will be made public remains an open question. The Mayor's spokesman, Stu Loeser, said in a phone interview with TN that the city could expand the number of plows with GPS's. If it goes well tomorrow, he said, that could happen as soon as next week.  As for making the data public in real time, "we wouldn't rule it out."   In other cities, public access to real-time tracking data lets residents know when they can expect plows and buses.

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WNYC News

The Transit Strike: Five Years Later

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WNYC

It was a colder day than it is today. I’d hardly slept -- waiting, as I was, for word on whether there would be a transit strike. Negotiations went up to midnight, and then beyond.  I was quite sure there wouldn’t be a vote to strike. How could there be? And then there was. The trains and buses -- hundreds and hundreds of miles of them, had stopped. Stations were locked.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg's Big Budget Cuts

Friday, November 19, 2010

More than 10,000 city jobs are on the chopping block if Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s revised budget plan is passed. The plan, released Thursday, is the latest sign of the toll the recession has taken on the city. And Bloomberg says this budget still wouldn’t go far enough.

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Transportation Nation

New York City Picks Finalists for Taxis of Tomorrow -- You Can Vote!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Here's one-- there are three other "Taxi of Tomorrow Finalists:  Click here for the others --

From the Press Release: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner/Chairman David S. Yassky today unveiled the three finalists to be the new, exclusive New York City taxicab. The competition, called the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” will introduce the first-ever custom-built taxicab specifically designed for New York City. The Taxi of Tomorrow project includes a public input campaign where New Yorkers can vote of the features they want to see in the next New York City taxicab. The winning vehicle will be the exclusive New York City taxicab for a minimum of ten years and will be chosen from among several competitive proposals. The three designs selected as the finalists to be the Taxi of Tomorrow are submissions from Ford Motor Company, Karsan USA and Nissan North America, Inc.

Love 'em? Hate 'em?  Vote here

And send us your comments!

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It's A Free Country ®

Endorsement Report Cards: How Palin, Bloomberg and Christie's Picks Fared

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

This midterm election, Sarah Palin, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Governor Chris Christie stumped for candidates in districts far and wide. See their midterm grades.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg to Support Two-Term Limit on Election Day

Monday, October 25, 2010

New York City's three-term mayor says he plans to cast his vote in favor of returning to a limit of two, consecutive, four-year terms. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he supports the recommendation of the City Charter Commission to return to two terms.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg Defends Rattner

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg is standing by one of his philanthropic advisers, Steven Rattner, who is reported to have been fined millions of dollars by the Securities and Exchange Commission for his role in a pension fund scandal. The mayor says he won't be replacing Rattner anytime soon.

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Transportation Nation

As Trans-Hudson Transit Tunnel Teeters on the Brink, Mayor Bloomberg Says City Can't Help

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) -- Supporters of the federal government's largest transit new start are steeling themselves for an announcement that could come this week that NJ Governor Chris Christie will not fund a transit tunnel under the Hudson River, the nation's largest transit new start project in the works.

Christie has said he's worried the $8.7 billion project could run over by as much as $5 billion, and that if that's the case, he says NJ doesn't have the funds to back it. And he's said, with the NJ highway trust fund broke, the roads need the money.

But though this project has always been more a child of NJ than NY, NYC stands to benefit by one of the tunnel's promises -- doubling the number of New Jerseyans who live within a 50 minute transit commute of New York City. That brings more workers and shoppers to the city, and serves an off-stated Bloomberg goal of reducing carbon emissions.

Today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, NYC won't step in and keep the project from dying, if that's what Christie decides.

"We are not party to this," the Mayor said at a City Hall news conference. "It is a Port Authority Project," he added, before saying some nice things about Port Authority staff. "They have their own financial problems, and they can afford some things and not others. "

The Port Authority, a bi-state authority, it should be said, is fully behind the project -- it's Christie who has indicated he may take his $2.7 billion and re-purpose it to roads.

The death of this project would be a major blow to the Obama administration, which has made quite clear that it believes that denser, more transit,oriented development, prioritized over road-based sprawl, is what's needed for a more sustainable future.

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Transportation Nation

NY Mayor Bloomberg: "Enh" on Privatizing Parking Meters.

Monday, October 04, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Matt D. wrote on Friday about  Indianopolis's flirtation with privatizing its on-street parking.  Turns out former Indy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, now the Deputy Mayor of NYC,  is eying it too, as first reported in the New York Post.  But his boss, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sounded a little iffy about the idea at a press conference on Governor's Island, in the NY Harbor.

"We're trying to think outside the box and look at everything," the Mayor said, preparing for the big BUT. "What we're not going to do is sell our birthright, take some money to balance the budget toady and leave our kids with a greater liability.  If the private sector can do something better than the public sector then we certainly would talk  to them. What's generally done with these privitization things is to take all the money for budget balancing, leaving those cities or states without assets and with an obligation going forward.  That's just terrible fiscal planning."

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