Friday, August 26, 2011
As Hurricane Irene continued its march toward the East Coast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday issued a mandatory evacuation of the city's low-lying areas and the announced a system-wide mass transit shut down beginning at noon on Saturday.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The governors of New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency Thursday as Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged city residents in low-lying areas to find high ground ahead of possible evacuations this weekend as Hurricane Irene barreled toward the East Coast.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Citing a $1.3 million discrepancy between the most and least funded council districts through a process described as murky and subjecting, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer released a report calling for a complete overhaul of how New York City Council members receive discretionary funding for their districts.
"I know people are going to be upset with this proposal but we can't keep putting our head in the sand," Stringer said on a conference call with reporters. The Manhattan borough president is seen as a likely candidate for mayor in 2013, as is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
City councilmembers and the borough presidents are given these discretionary funds each year during the budget process. These funds are primarily spent on constituent services through non-profits and other groups. While the distribution of the funds by individual councilmembers has at times been the subject of controversy, the borough president’s report focused on which members were getting what, pointing to what the report described as “too often based on a member’s political standing within the Council.”
"The member items are used by the speaker as an instrument of power," explained Doug Muzzio, political science professor at Baruch College and an expert on city government. "You reward your friends and you screw your enemies." Reforming member items as Stringer is suggesting would be, in essence, curtailing the power of the speaker of the city council—currently Christine Quinn.
Specifically, the report called for replacing the current, speaker-based system with one that would have the mayor’s office allotting the money evenly, or on a more transparent process that took the needs of the districts’ constituents into account. Currently, $49.6 million in funding is divided among the council’s 51 members. If the report’s recommendation were implemented, it would likely mean even more power in the hands of the mayor, at the expense of the council’s speaker, and potentially the council itself.
Quinn’s office released a statement through Maria Alvarado, the council’s press secretary, saying they were reviewing the report and were “proud of the budget reforms the Council has already implemented that increase transparency and accountability—including an online database that the Borough President has embraced today.”
The borough president’s report highlighted the significant difference between the council members. For example, Brooklyn Councilmember Domenic Recchia received the most funding during the budget process--$1,630,064 to be exact. This is more than four times as much as either Bronx councilmembers Larry Seabrook or Helen Foster received. Their districts are some of the poorest in the city. The report’s figures are based on reviewing the past four years of available data.
"I agree with Borough President Scott Stringer that District budget allocations should be based on the needs of each district," Seabrook said in a statement. "City Council Speaker Christine Quinn decides on the budget allocations for each district and I certainly hope that next year’s decision for my district is a more favorable one."
“The players at the table get more,” Foster said about the current system. “It’s not based on fairness at all. I don't know that there is any system in politics that is based on need." While she made it clear she was not in favor of any reform that took power away from the council in favor of the mayor, Foster agreed with Seabrook, that the system should be taking some level of need into account.
"The disparities should not be so great," she said.
The map below illustrates just how removed from a standardized system the process is. When the districts for the five lowest and highest receivers of total funds are put on a map, it turns out that three of the highest receivers are directly next to or one district away from all but one of the least funded districts.
NYC City Council "Member Item" distribution for fiscal year 2012.
Top five district allocations are in green, bottom five are in red.
Source: Office of Mannhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Friday, July 15, 2011
Will John Liu be flush from Flushing? Is Christine Quinn collecting checks in Chelsea? Will De Blasio get bank rolled by Brooklyn?
The presumptive 2013 Democratic mayoral hopefuls have until 5pm today to submit their third financial statement to the Campaign Finance Board. With the help of WNYC's map guru John Keefe, the Empire is giving readers a visual way to look at where the candidates are raising funds. The deeper the shade, the more the money. We'll update the map as the numbers come in, and will be sure to post the raw figures as well. Dig in and let us know if you find anything!
Friday, July 15, 2011
New York's Hispanic community became significantly more diverse over the last decade. Unlike many other parts of America, there is no one ethnic group that dominates the Hispanic category here. Yet when you take a look at Hispanic representation in the city's political landscape, it would seem that Puerto Ricans have the job of speaking for all.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
New York City recorded a 27 percent increase in the number of same-sex couples over the last ten years, according to the latest data from the 2010 Census.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
UPDATE: Check out the New Little Map Below! We've taken our data set and mapped it.
Each Thursday in June, the Brian Lehrer Show and Andrew Beveridge of Social Explorer will discuss New York’s diverse communities - areas of ethnic concentration you may not know about or are changing quickly. ...
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Bloomberg Administration on Wednesday released the names of 20 fire companies the mayor is considering closing to help close the city's budget gap. The document given to the City Council lists eight closings in Brooklyn, four in Queens, three each in the Bronx and Manhattan and two in Staten Island.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The latest census figures show New York City has far more baby boomers and seniors and fewer children.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By Ailsa Chang
Police arrest 140 people every day in New York City for possessing small amounts of marijuana. It's now by far the most common misdemeanor charge in the city, and thousands of these arrests take place when police stop-and-frisk young men in the poorest neighborhoods. Police say these stop-and-frisks are a way to find guns, what they find more often is a bag of marijuana.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
As the city plans to challenge what it says are low census numbers by showing that many of the thousands of vacancies – namely in Brooklyn and Queens – were in fact occupied homes, some residents in those areas spoke of an impenetrable "housing underworld" that census workers could not reach.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Census 2010 figures for New York City and the state were released and will serve as a guide to drawing congressional and legislative districts throughout the state. Check out changes in the city by population and racial break-down — click, zoom, embed and play around with WNYC's official Census 2010 interactive map.
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.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
By Kathleen Horan : Reporter, WNYC News
Locating public bathrooms in the city is challenging for many who live, work and visit here. There are even online sites and mobile apps for people seeking help finding a restroom. But these tools don't really work for taxi drivers. Drivers often work 10-to-12 hour shifts and require a public restroom with an adjacent parking spot.