Thursday, November 15, 2007

OTB May Finish Out Of The Money in 2008

Mayor Bloomberg said OTB could be done with horse racing by June of 2008. It’s simply not making enough to keep it “in the money.” To his credit, the mayor doesn’t want city taxpayers to pay any increase to subsidize OTB. That’s because the present revenue sharing agreement with Albany takes too large a cut from the city. It’s their piggish percentage that is making OTB unprofitable for the city to keep as a “cash cow.” If Albany refuses to change an unfair revenue sharing plan with the city, the city’s only legal bookie may be on the unemployment line. The mayor is right to play hardball with the governor over this issue. They need the racing revenue upstate. They’d be wise to take millions less rather than collect nothing at all. Hmmmmm. Politicians in Albany being wise? OTB may truly be on it’s last legs. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cell Phone Locker Plan Schools Still Absent From Schools

On the one hand, you have parents, who for safety concerns want their kids to carry cell phones to and from schools. On the other hand, Mayor Bloomberg wants to prohibit students bringing cell phones into all school buildings. A pilot program to install “cell phone lockers” on school premises was to serve as a compromise for the two sides. Not surprisingly, testing is now on hold until sometime next year. It seems that both government and Board of Education officials can’t figure out how to safeguard a row of lockers on their premises! A year, perhaps years of planning and then installation loom ahead now. Realistically, it should probably take just a few weeks or months to decide and act upon.

This latest example of the lack of leadership and decision making that’s needed here makes me wonder about two things. Do we really trust that this kind of management team is responsibly protecting the city’s students now? Will we, the citizens of New York City, ever learn our lesson and demand better service and accountability from those who work(?) for us?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The New Battlefront Is Here At Home For Some Old Warriors

The National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that the number of homeless military veterans in New York State doubled in 2006 to 21,147. That number includes 5,670 in New York City and Long Island alone. Throughout the country, they now estimate that one in four homeless people is a veteran. These numbers are both staggering and appalling. These statistics cry out for action to reduce and eliminate them long before the next study is completed. But do we have the mindset and heart to accomplish that?

America honored its military personnel on Veteran’s Day and rightly so. Without these Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine troops and the courageous sacrifices they’ve made throughout our history, we might not today be in a free land called “America.” It might have been lost to a conquering enemy years ago. One national day of remembrance is certainly not enough to pray and give thanks for our sons and daughters who served. Commemorating America’s veterans should last a lifetime, demanding gratitude and respect from us all. Quite simply, America can truly never repay or honor these brave and patriotic men and women for all that they so justly deserve. The debt we owe is staggering … beyond comprehension … yet worth every penny, plus interest. Nevertheless, we must try. We must all be doing whatever we can to contribute to this cause of civilians protecting our veterans. Let it begin with these, our homeless veterans. Let it continue to those in VA hospitals. And let it embrace those on active duty as well.

New York City makes huge investments every year to invite tourists here. Can we not make a significant effort as well to welcome home and care for our homeless sons and daughters? These individuals have each paid a very high price for their service to our country. For some apparently, it’s cost everything. We all need to give whatever it takes to get the job done to help them … just like they previously gave all they had to do the same for us. Contact your local VA facility today to find out what you can do to help.

Monday, November 12, 2007

NYC Pigeon Proposal Is Full Of Poop

So now there’s talk about penalizing those who feed pigeons in New York City with a $1,000.00 fine! I guess our politicians believe we each have “money trees” in our backyards to afford that kind of fine. Councilman Simcha Felder, D-Brooklyn said “We hope people who are spending their time collecting old bread from bakeries to feed pigeons to poop on your head will stop." The belief is less food, less pigeons, less baby pigeons.

History shows that regardless of the plans that have been tried before, pigeons have never flown the NYC coop. There are too many food sources here besides breadcrumbs from the elderly. Strong initiatives should be taken to control the pigeon population (as with rats) but not with another new civil law and layer of government behind it. We don't need a "NYC Pigeon Czar." Try asking the public to understand the problem and to stop feeding the birds … don’t levy yet another outrageous fine upon those who elect you. We may respond better than you give us credit for.

To all the do-gooder councilmen and other city officials, let’s be more concerned about pigs wasting taxpayer’s money instead of pigeons pooping on the statues of ex-politicians. Who knows? That attitude might get a statue erected for you.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tough To Find A Real Home Bargain In NYC

The Empire State Building was erected (land included) at a cost of $24.718,000. 102 stories … monkey not included. Now, rumor has it that a real estate tycoon by the name of Leonard Blavatnik may buy a 3 story condo atop the Mark Hotel on East 77th Street for a record $150,000,000! Fortunately for him, he’s a billionaire. Things like that help when you’re shopping for new digs, I’m sure.

Now, I’m a sensible guy. Manhattan real estate has gone up a bit since the early '30s. I know too there’s about 75 year’s difference between these two purchases. I’m sure inflation took its toll in the huge price/floor disparity. But, for $150,000,000 for only 3 floors compared to roughly $25,000,000 for 102 floors … can the seller be nice enough to throw in a big gorilla too?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"I Love New York" Vs. "Mr. Bloomberg Goes To Washington"

Rumor has it that New York city Mayor Bloomberg will run for New York state governor in 2010 and not the White House as President in 2008. With a 75% job approval rating here in the city, he’s likely to give current governor Eliot Spitzer a serious run for his money. Knowing the political histories of both candidates and the amount of money Bloomberg can spend, this race might be over long before it begins … assuming Spitzer is even in Albany that far in the future.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Links Between Unhealthy Homes And Asthma

Protestors were out in force the other day demanding that authorities take action against landlords who fail to rid homes of dangerous mold, mildew, dust, rodent infestation, bedbugs, cockroaches and harmful pesticides. These harmful agents of disease and death are most widespread in the poorer areas of NYC. Extermination helps control problems but repairs and lifestyle changes are often needed too. Activists want the Department of Health to amend the health code to include these agents as asthma triggers. To this point, the DOH insists additional study is required to make health code requirements any stronger.

Molds in particular can cause severe breathing problems. This should be of great concern to all New Yorkers where an estimated 300,000 children have been diagnosed with asthma. It’s important to note that asthma is the number one cause of children being absent from school. One problem leads to another.

All sides must work together to reduce this problem. Landlords must provide safe and healthy living conditions for tenants. Tenants must be held to a higher standard for keeping their homes clean and available for monthly exterminating. Lastly, the government should take immediate and appropriate action against whoever is responsible for poor sanitary conditions. If they can insist that transfats be removed from our burgers, they should act even more aggressively to eliminate bigger dangers that put our children and the rest of us at greater risk.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Skateboarders “Bomb” On Broadway

The “Broadway Bomb” is an unofficial/illegal eight mile long race of extreme skateboard enthusiasts. About 100 men and women participated a few days ago. The course winds dangerously down busy, traffic-laden Broadway, beginning on 116th Street and ending at Bowling Green. Boarders takeoff downtown at breakneck speed (literally), ignoring traffic signals and trying to avoid pedestrians, potholes, cars and police … not always without incident. The race’s motto … “You could die.” seems like an understatement!

Not having had my car on the course at the time and not having been an endangered pedestrian myself, I think there’s something very “New York” and thrilling about this kind of race. Maybe there’s something to be said for living life boldly and flaunting authority just a bit. Maybe in some ways too, a part of us wishes we could skateboard past the city’s traffic jams or crowded sidewalks. Imagine Errol Flynn boldly striding past “Do Not Enter” signs. You know he’s wrong to do so, but there’s a smile on your face anyway. You have a certain respect and admiration for him. In some ways, you might wish you were a rebel like him. Maybe there’s some skateboarder in you?

Pack a skateboard in your car’s trunk tomorrow. Stick one in your bag if you’re on foot. Tomorrow may be the day when you decide to take on Broadway yourself … all eight miles.