Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Philly Cheesecake Newswoman Screams/Creams NYPD Officer … Or Was It Just A Dream?

In a story yet to be sorted out and with “he said/she said” on both sides, news anchor Alycia Lane either did or didn’t “insult/slap” a female NYPD police officer. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Don’t expect this story to end with, “and they all lived happily after.”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Weather Experts Blowing Hard Again

Remember when people referred to really bad weather simply as storms? Seems like now we always seem to have a powerful nor-easter headed our way. New Yorkers know it’s just some wind, rain, sleet and snow. We’ll deal as we always have before.

So chill (pun intended), weather girls (pun intended). No need to “battan down the hatches,” fearless forecasters. Go put on a hat and coat, morbid meteorologists. I’m sure somehow you’ll survive just like the rest of us.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

MTA’s Lost And Found Service Is Losing What’s Found

Leave something on a city train, bus or the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and you can probably wave goodbye to it forever. Poor recordkeeping, inadequate storage facilities, weak security measures and more abuses by MTA officials and workers have pretty much seen to that. According to Inspector General Barry Kluger’s recent report, of 8,000 items that were reported lost and turned in, only 18% were ever returned to their rightful owners! Many items never make it to the pickup office at Penn Station. Other facts from this document were equally appalling.

NYC Transit has supposedly instituted many of the recommendations from this report to improve the custodial care and to ensure the safe return of rider’s lost goods. We’ll believe their assurances, if and when we see them produce better statistics. In the meantime, “hold on tightly to your belongings, riders!” MTA employees might be more dangerous than the thief riding next to you. In the words of Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Price Of Friendship

A gold medal commissioned by George Washington and presented to the Marquis de Lafayette just sold for $5.3 million dollars at Sotheby’s in Manhattan. The medal was symbolic of the bond and friendship between America and France that existed at that time. It’s nice that the medal increased in value over the past 200-plus years but unfortunate that the bond and friendship between the two countries isn’t valued as it once was. Where are today’s Washington’s and Lafayette’s when we really need them?

NOTE: To add insult to injury, Brooklyn's famous Lafayette High School was recently closed down.

Carnival Of Fights Leads To Festival Of Lights

Congratulations to Hassan Askari. He courageously stepped in to defend Walter Adler and his friends from a vicious gang beating. This gang reportedly taunted and began fighting with Askari and his Jewish party in the subway system on a moving Q train. As the fighting continued and blood was being spilled, Adler managed to pull the train’s emergency brake. Police entered the car and subsequently arrested ten men. Based on eyewitness accounts, this appears to be a racial bias incident. None of the suspects have been charged with a hate crime as of yet. The Brooklyn D.A.’s office is still investigating the matter.

The story made headlines because Askari, a Muslim, aided Adler, a Jew. In sincere gratitude for his efforts, Adler invited Askari to his home to share in his family’s Chanukah festivities. The unreported and perhaps bigger story is why nobody else on board the train did anything to help. That is too often, a sad truth with violent crimes. Fear of involvement and physical injury is understandable. Admittedly, not all of us are heroes. However, failure to help others in need is a ride within a dark tunnel to a sad destination. It’s definitely not a trip on board the “Soul Train.”

The next time you ride the subway, pray you’re surrounded by those who will come to your aid if need be. And if need be, be as brave and selfless as Mr. Askari. He set a noble example I pray we all have the guts to follow.

Horse Carriage Riders May Soon Be Hailing Cabs

Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens) introduced a proposal to end all horse carriage rides in New York City. He believes they’re inhumane and detrimental to traffic patterns in Midtown. The Horse and Carriage Association objected to Mr. Avella’s claims and goal. They actively support this 100-year old industry citing it’s importance to hundreds of working class families in the industry and the carriage’s great popularity among tourists. Their spokesperson Carolyn Daly maintains that horses are well cared for and that the industry does far more good than harm in the Big Apple.

Horse carriages are undoubtedly one of the lesser causes for city traffic jams. If Mr. Avella so strongly believes that horses are put at risk while in traffic, than he should extend his ban to police mounts too. That of course would be a foolish thing to do. However, Mr. Avella’s position does have some merit. Perhaps it’s time to consider restricting carriage rides to Central Park or to designated zones where horse and driver can better co-exist than they do now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Public Meters Matter To The Parking Public

Believe it or not, the city is considering a plan to increase parking meter rates to as much as $15.00 an hour; all in an effort to reduce traffic. Metered parking in midtown now costs $2.00 an hour for cars and $9.00 an hour for trucks. Muni-Meters currently cost $2.00 an hour, $5.00 for two hours and $9.00 for three hours. Nevertheless, outside consultants and city planners are looking for still more. What a surprise!

A significantly higher parking rate would unfairly target moderate and lower income drivers. It’s one thing for private garages and parking lots to charge high fees. It’s the driver’s choice to park in these lots. However, it’s quite another thing for public parking meters to be setup with exorbitant rates. In so doing, they’ll create private parking spots for the rich by making these spots financially prohibitive to the general public of generally lesser means.

We know “Free Parking” is easier to find on a Monopoly board than in midtown Manhattan any day of the week. A reasonable meter fee is acceptable. With $15.00 meters on city sidewalks though, finding cars nearby valued under $10,000 will become a rarity … kind of like finding a parking spot now while circling around and around. We urge the Department of Transportation and other city officials to come up with a more creative plan to reduce traffic. Maybe we can reduce the fleet size of city vehicles as a start?

Transit Rate Rise Is No Pre-Christmas Surprise

While we’re happy that the basic $2.00 transit fare will not be raised, it’s unfortunate that rates for multiple-ride programs will increase. Though prices will increase for some, service will remain the same for all ... without any significant improvement in service. While transit-goer advocacy groups strongly oppose the measure, it’s unlikely to prevent the December 19th increase. It’s hard to win a battle against the combined forces of the MTA, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Spitzer.

It’s hoped that the no-toll policy for Santa’s sled and reindeer will be maintained. But give it time. Political grinches are probably working on the legislation now to impose that kind of fee. With increased pressure every year on politicians to do away with Christmas altogether, it’s conceivable that they will look to increase city revenue by imposing a new "San-tax." Reindeer rider-ship need only drop by one to affect those who still hold the Christmas holiday deer … uhhh dear.

Queens Pet Happy To Be In A Hog Heaven Haven City

In St. Albans, a gentle one-year old, 200-pound porker by the name of Romeo occasionally strolls the neighborhood with members of the Cummings family. This pot-bellied pig is the family’s pet and apparently not a nuisance to the neighbors. While keeping a pig this size is in violation of various city animal and health codes, city officials don’t appear to be in any rush to evict this illegal. Who said it’s tough to find a porking spot in New York?

Public Toilets Parked In Madison Square

Twenty toilets in a silver-bullet shaped building were setup the other day in Madison Square Park. The general consensus of neighborhood residents was that these outhouses were unwelcome. The Department of Transportation is admittedly moving forward slowly with this project … unlike others where they speed to get things done? They should be in operation by year’s end. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to perform the ceremonial first flush when he returns from China. The name of the city attendant to perform the less glamorous first plunging is yet to be announced.