Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reading Between The New Menu's Fine Print

The city’s Board of Health votes tomorrow on whether to add calorie data to fast-food menus. This law would target restaurants with 15 or more locations; an estimated 10,000 places citywide. New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden believes eateries should be "proud" to display this data rather than fight to suppress it. That may be true Commissioner but if this info is so vital to our health, why shouldn’t ALL NYC food establishments have the same rules? Aren’t the rich and even top-level government officials too, deserving of the same protections as those who patronize fast food joints? Shouldn’t the city’s best French restaurants and steakhouses be as "proud" to display calorie data as a McDonalds or Taco Bell franchise, Commissioner? Why the focus to ram a law down the throats of only a very small percentage of places where some New Yorkers eat? Something doesn’t smell right here … and the bad odor isn’t coming from the kitchen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The “Big” Picture

From September 22, 1968 through March 22, 1970, an American science fiction show called “Land of the Giants” had it’s semi-successful television run. The plot involved a group of travelers from earth marooned on a planet inhabited by “giants.” Now, in 2008, a group of Giants find themselves traveling to a place to meet a group of undefeated “giants among men.” How the New York/New Jersey Giants got to travel again can’t really be explained by football science. The truth of them winding up there is, in fact, somewhat stranger than fiction. But, if the Giants next 60 minute run is successful in Arizona, they’re guaranteed to be better remembered than the television show … or the 18-1giants among men.” Manning vs. Brady would have once brought David vs. Goliath analogies to mind … but somehow it doesn’t today. Yesterday’s playoff victories could be the start of something “big.”

Congratulations to both teams for their contrasting seasons so far and to their fans. Predictions to come next week.

And May The Best Person Win

Stephen Hess, a prominent presidential scholar, is advising New York's Mayor Bloomberg not to enter the 2008 presidential race to the White House. It seems that while Hess easily heaps praise on Bloomberg for his accomplishments and what he might do in the White House, he’s worried about him running. Hess said, “He can’t win, but he could very likely defeat the Democratic nominee.”

Mr. Hess is a political junkie who served in the Eisenhower administration and advised many other politicians along the way. His statement raises a question. Is not the presidential race supposedly open to all qualified individuals to make their best case before the American people, leaving it up to them to decide who the best choice for President is … regardless of who doesn’t win? It seems that his one-sided concern for Democrats is both politically biased and opposed to any legitimate third party candidate for fear it may harm the status quo of the strongly entrenched two-party system. Ross Perot’s weak presidential bid in 1992 nevertheless garnered 19% of the vote. This proved that the American public is very open to consider options other than Republican or Democrat. By the way, most analysts believe Perot’s candidacy stole votes from the Republican slate, not the Democratic one. I’m curious if Mr. Hess prior to 1992 advised Perot not to run for fear of defeating Mr. Bush, the Republican entrant.

I believe many Americans would vote for an overwhelmingly best-qualified candidate regardless of party. Perhaps Mr. Hess, you too should consider supporting a candidate who is best for America … not best for a particular party. I invite Mr. Hess to tell us if our city's Mayor enters the race, who then, in his expert opinion, is the best individual to lead Americans of all parties.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watt A Shocker!

Want FREE electricity from Con Edison? To get a personal volt-jolt, simply touch the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) Con Ed-managed light pole, electric switching box, manhole cover or other equipment. Some of them leak electricity! In fact, this can occur in roughly three quarters of a million places in New York City. According to Con Ed, 295 people "made the connection" in 2007. But before you make plans to turn yourself into a power user, remember this. Con-Ed's loose-juice can be powerful enough to kill and regrettably has before. So be careful out there. Don’t turn yourself into another "light on Broadway."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Mark Of Champions

Massive blocks of limestone and granite bearing the carved inscription “Yankee Stadium” were set atop a very special building in the Bronx last week. It’s fitting that this type of material was used. Legends are by cliché written in stone, aren’t they? Once again, both the name of baseball’s greatest team and the nation’s first stadium crown New York’s future premiere sports destination, scheduled to open in 2009. Unlike other sports facilities throughout the world, the naming rights to this world famous location in the Bronx were not for sale to a corporate advertiser. It wouldn’t be fitting. By changing the name alone, it would no longer have been a place where true legends should battle or for future championship moments to occur.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Con Ed Steamed Over Idea To Cool It

In the wake of last July’s deadly steam pipe explosion in midtown, some here are openly questioning whether steam is still vital for power generation. Currently, steam accounts for only 5% of Con Ed’s business. So, if steam service has been reduced to this level, why not completely? For several reasons, chief among them being public safety and maintenance costs, it seems logical to replace this century-old system with electric or other technologies. Yet, Con Ed spokesman Bob McGee declared, “Doing without the steam system in New York’s energy mix would be like commuters doing without the subway.” That poor analogy alone is enough to warrant independent study! Maybe the time has come to shut down the 105 miles of potential steam pipe bombs under the streets of Manhattan … and the hot air that escapes those who seek to justify it’s necessity.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ready The “Canyon of Heroes” For A Parade!

Sorry. Wishful thinking. No need to make plans to clear Broadway in lower Manhattan just yet. I got a bit carried away because my Knicks have a three-game winning streak. Will miracles never cease? Probably. Probably soon.

Home Values Go Down --- Taxes Go Up

Honestly, I don’t know enough about economics, real estate or taxes to give much weight to my thoughts on this story. I leave it to the viewer and experts to make sense of New York City’s homeowner market. With that said, I read as much of the city’s Finance Department report as I dared for fear of internal bleeding. This report details figures and formulas, assessments and explanations as to why many homeowners will be paying more on less. All may be kosher with everything they stated. I don’t know for sure. But perhaps because of it’s presentation, I was reminded of a quote which reads, “Statistics don’t lie, but people who use them occasionally do.” Take this blog for what it’s worth … or assessed for.

Waterfalls To Cascade In The East River

This coming summer, four manmade waterfalls ranging in height between 90 to 120 feet will teem into the waters under and near the Brooklyn Bridge. Designed by Olafur Eliasson, they’ll be built upon scaffolding and pumping 35,000 gallons of water a minute. This isn’t the first time that privately funded art in New York City will be used to inspire those who see it and enrich others who benefit from the extra tourist traffic. For example, the popular Central Park “Gates” exhibition created by the artist Christo in 2005 generated $254 million. If 7,500 gates with orange windblown banners can bring in that much cash, 4 magnificent waterfalls should have the money pouring in.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bronx Students Take Unauthorized Field Trip From Principal

A walkout by nearly 200 of the city’s brightest pupils at the Bronx High School of Science occurred because principal Valerie Reidy, is "excessively" strict and harmfully “micromanaging” the school. This, according to students who attend there. They say top teachers are fleeing and being replaced by "sub-standard" ones. Punishment for “cutting classes” is also being more strictly enforced by Reidy with more severe consequences meted out than before. Principal Reidy believes the students are misinformed about the facts but didn’t clarify those facts for reporters.

Students should be fully aware of their responsibilities to the school, their families and to themselves. Cutting class and walkouts should have consequences. As for the latter though, it should be recognized that these children protested because they want to ensure themselves of the best education possible, being taught by the best educators. Indisputable facts are what’s needed here to understand and resolve this class crisis.Their approach may be inappropriate but their message should be heard and thoroughly investigated. After all, providing New York City kids with the best education should be everyone’s goal. There are administrators and high officials aplenty in the Board of Education. It might be best for one of them to check things out NOW and take whatever corrective action may be required. Students rebelling to learn and graduate should have allies in each of us. Let us remind ourselves of that while teaching them that lesson.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Brooklyn By The Bomb-Bay

Dredging plans in Gravesend Bay to develop a Brooklyn waterfront waste-transfer station just took an unexpected trip down to Davey Jones' Locker. Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) learned that back in 1954, a barge unloading live ammunition from the aircraft carrier Bennington capsized in the bay. Sunk to the bottom went 219 tons of munitions. The barge turned up the next day but over 15,000 shells failed to turn up with it. The Navy said that by 1955, it had recovered all 15,003 shells. Let’s hope they recovered each and every one of them. Let’s hope too that should dredging proceed, all precautions will be taken … just in case the Navy's shell count was wrong … intentionally or not.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weather I’m Right Or Weather They’re Wrong

Yesterday, all the local weather forecasters predicted New York City’s first major snowstorm of 2007-2008 to begin late Sunday night. By most estimates, 3” to 7” was expected. I woke up this morning hoping to see several inches of snow already on the ground (I'm off today commuters!). I looked out the window. No snow. Not a flake. Only flakes to be viewed I guess are the local weather forecasters who predict snow in the winter for New York City. The climate just doesn’t do that kind of thing too often around here anymore. Hey weather forecasters! Next time you’re playing with your weather map, go against your best judgment. Stick on the orange and yellow Colorform sticky. It’s a safer guess if you want to look knowledgeable in our tropical paradise.

Big Blue Apple

This blog and site is exclusively about New York City and it’s residents. However, I know nearly all Giants fans refuse to admit that Big Blue is really a Jersey football team playing in the meadowlands of Secaucus; no longer in the Bronx. They ignore the 33 years since the Giants played a home game at Yankee Stadium. The last time I checked, the Big Apple still isn’t part of the Garden state. Nevertheless, in recognition of how the Giants have pleased so many New Yorkers, I’ll make an exception to the NYC-only rule and give the final score of the semi-finals game. New York City bookies … you owe me one!

2008 NFC Championship Game Football Prediction: Packers 27 Giants 24 (Sorry fans. Can’t bet against Favre at Lambeau Field as long as he’s wearing a helmet!)

PS … Since I already made the one exception …
2008 AFC Championship Game Football Prediction: Patriots 30 Chargers 20

Sunday, January 13, 2008

People With Disabilities Complain About Access-a-Ride Inabilities

In a new city Council report, dozens of disabled riders stated that customer service was poor, bordering on rude and occasionally even dangerous. An estimated 12,000 disabled New Yorkers use Access-a-Ride every weekday. MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said the MTA was committed to “fair and equitable transportation service” for all riders. Whether or not that leads to service improvements or reduces the service level to that which over one million MTA riders get remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hostage Crisis Continues In Manhattan

It began on December 22, 2003, though only a handful suspected it at the time. On that day, we welcomed Isiah as the next savior of the Knickerbockers franchise. A little over four years later, the Knicks are 9-26 with the 3rd worst record in the NBA. Their excessive team payroll is among the worst in the NBA as well. Isiah Thomas remains team President and Coach. He's still preaching though about the good times ahead. Ownership seems unlikely to make an obvious change anytime soon. Let’s be honest. There’s no reason or hope to expect the imminent release of diehard Knick fans trapped inside the torture cell known as "Madison Square Garden."

To someone who began following the Knicks in the late 1960’s when the team had Reed, DeBusschere, Bradley, Frazier and Barnett, this year’s group is hardly worth mentioning in the same sentence. To be fair, perhaps it’s not the players' fault. After all, they were brought here by the team’s savior ... the one who’s turned out to be nothing more than another false prophet. Marv Albert screamed “YESSSSSSS!” in his old broadcast days. Does anyone doubt when he watches a Knicks’ "boredcast" now he's shouting, “NOOOOOOO!” at the television? Luckily for him, he’s no longer a prisoner in the Garden. He’s free of the routine pain and suffering. Too bad we all can't be freed.

For my last shot at the buzzer, I loosely translate the line of a "Sonny and Cher" song to now read ... “And the beatings go on.” That new song line should be played loudly after each new loss. Maybe someday, they'll hear it in the owner's box.

The Price Of NYC Politics May Be Going Up

According to several reports and depending on which story you believe, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is 1)considering, 2)not considering, a run for the White House in 2008. If he decides to become a presidential candidate ... and wins the election, New York’s famous bargain hunters will have a real dilemma on their hands. Where will they ever find a new mayor to accept Mike’s $1.00 annual salary?

New York City Has Become A Winter Wonder-Where-Is-It-Land

Remember when November’s and December’s here were filled with snow that seemed to be on the ground until February? Remember when winter’s here were really cold? If you do, you must have a very long memory. Reminisce about those days and you show your age ... maybe you're displaying some “snow on the roof” too. New York City hasn’t had many cold, snowy winters for a long, long time. Those who joined the NYC Department of Sanitation thirty years ago to collect great overtime by plowing and shoveling our snowy streets never got rich off their paychecks.

Perhaps global warming is to blame. Perhaps not. Let scientists and meteorologists debate the issue. The temperature is expected to hit 50 degrees today in Central Park. That’s 50 degrees … not 5 degrees. I'm glad. I’m older now with some “snow on the roof.” I don’t miss the cold or snow like I would were I still a kid. My apologies to the polar bears in the local zoos and our sanitation workers but, “Hooray for global warming!”

Friday, January 11, 2008

Prediction: “Rats 1 City 0”

Did you know we have a new “Rat Czar” in town? That’s right! Bobby Corrigan, a national expert on pest control was recently hired to run the rats out of the Big Apple (The Pied Piper was apparently out of town on business). His hiring is part of a new rat offensive. The last rat war, in case you lost track, was several years ago. We lost. This one however comes after a yearlong study which concluded that New York City has too many rats. No surprise to any city resident or local pest control expert who didn’t need a study to know that! The strategy this time? City health inspectors armed with handheld computers are cataloging signs of rat life and notating conditions which help them to thrive here. That's laughable. Whatever happened to the tried and true concept of more pesticides and fewer food resources?

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden stated, “there is no quick fix.” Health Commissioner, if we really need handheld computers to help lower the rat population, your quote couldn’t be any truer.

Knicks Reality TV?

The controversy about the New York Knicks hiring actors to parade themselves as “Knick fans” in a series of new MSG television commercials seems to have been resolved. The actors when questioned confirmed they were in fact "Garden groupies" who truly love our boys in blue and orange. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction! Perhaps the real question that should have been asked was … why didn’t the casting agency put out a call for stuntmen instead of actors? After all, no actors could properly display the pain and suffering that true Knick fans have endured for all these years. A guy used to getting bloodied and broken is what’s needed for that role!

Take The “C Trains” To Complain

Subway riders who took the time to complete their “New York City Transit Rider Report Cards” (maybe during a “slight delay” on their train ride) overwhelming graded the system with C’s and C-minuses. Schoolchildren know that while C-grades are passing, they should strive to do much better. Yet, NYC Transit President Howard Roberts said “if we can move from a C-minus to a C, then I will be satisfied… Moving from that baseline is the important thing.” Can you imagine if your child said the same thing at report card time??? Makes me wonder how someone (see above) would perform on that new TV game show on FOX – Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Yet, who’s really less intelligent? A government official for making that absurd remark … or New Yorkers for not punishing city bosses for poor performance.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Living In New York, Statistically Speaking

According to the Health Department, 2006 had the lowest death rate of any year on record. Only 6.7 out of every 1,000 NYC residents died. However, there were no statistics available for the death rate among the city’s tourists. We fear the high prices must have scared to death many an unsuspecting traveler from Mayberry, Podunk and other parts unknown. If true, and the number of dead tourists grows, who'll be left to buy the Statue of Liberty ashtrays?