Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Jobs Competition Getting Old

Those who study things like this report more adults are applying for jobs usually taken by students. More are being hired, too. Blame it primarily on the weakening economy. The city’s Summer Youth Employment Program budget has also been significantly cut by the Federal government meaning there’s less financial assistance for 14-21 year olds looking to land minimum-wage jobs in New York City. Whatever the reasons, more kids will be forced to hit up their newly hired parents for a bigger allowance.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nathan’s Nixes Two Minutes Of Gluttony

The annual July 4th hot dog eating contest held at Nathan’s in Coney Island will be doing its' part to reduce global warming. They’ve agreed to reduce the contest length from 12 minutes down to 10. This change is being made at the insistence of George Shea of Major League Eating which manages the event. He claims that he’s found notes from 1917 stating that the frankfurter contest lasted only 10 minutes. An article from 1986 corroborated that time limit. Shea believes he’s preserving history, not changing it by instituting this new rule. Whether last year’s winner, Joey Chestnut can best his record of eating 60 hot dogs in just 10 minutes this year remains to be seen. Takero Kobayashi from Japan has previously won the event on six occasions. This year, time and time difference will decide who eats the most hot dogs and buns. Hot gases will be rising from the contestants’ buns this coming week. Be prepared for a heat wave, Brooklyn! Look away from your television set, Al Gore!


OTB Remains A Sure Bet

Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg crossed the Finish Line with a last minute agreement to save Off-Track Betting in New York City. The deal is pending approval by both houses of the New York State Legislature. The pact is somewhat complicated with many financial considerations for both sides. No details will be discussed here. Suffice to say, Mayor Bloomberg’s gamble to close OTB offices in the city unless New York received a bigger share of the profits apparently worked. Albany chose to "bite the bullet" that might have sent OTB to "the glue factory." The compromise between the city and state guarantees the jobs of 1,500 OTB workers and no doubt pleases the many hundreds of thousands of pony-players who bet throughout the Big Apple. Well, it probably pleases them only until their horses finish out-of-the-money! And now, some famous quotes … A racehorse is an animal that can take several thousand people for a ride at the same time. ~Author Unknown … I bet on a horse at ten-to-one. It didn't come in until half-past five. ~Henny Youngman … A race track (OTB?) is a place where windows clean people. ~Danny Thomas

Saturday, June 28, 2008

City Site For City Wheelers

There’s a new Internet Web site (Because billions just isn't enough!) that assures New York City bike riders a better chance of getting from “here to there” than ever before. It’s called Ridethecity.com. Before biking away to your destination, click here first to learn the fastest and safest bicycle routes to take and to receive other cyclist’s input which may prove invaluable. Surf before you pedal!

Cheaper Pills For New Yorkers’ Ills

Finally, something for some city residents to feel better about. Drug manufacturers and some participating drugstores including Duane Reade, CVS and Rite Aid are working together to offer New Yorkers without prescription drug benefits, reduced prices on their purchases. Plan participants will receive a “New York Rx card” to get their discounts. You may obtain more information and apply for the card at any Kmart store. You may also go online at newyorkrxcard.com. Get it. Flash it. Save. Swallow. That’s good medicine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Gift Of Akituusaq

In the Siberian Yupik language, Akituusaq means, “gift given in return.” Many aquarium-goers have come and gone since the first mammals of this species were displayed over a century ago. It took 112 years for a walrus to successfully deliver the first baby walrus at the New York Aquarium. Though Akituusaq remains his mama's son, he is truly a gift for all New Yorkers. Now 1-year old and a healthy 115 pounds, Akituusaq is a gift that will keep on giving, both to us and our children, many years of enjoyment as he matures. Happy birthday blubbery boy!

Pigeons' Cooing Fanatics

Some bird enthusiasts truly enjoy New York City’s infamous pigeon. Most city residents (and all statues) do not like the bird. They regard it as did Woody Allen when he referred to a pigeon as “a rat with wings.” Nevertheless, a small group of admirers recently gathered together on Pigeon Hill in Central Park to celebrate “National Pigeon Day.” The group praised the bird in song and word. They spoke of pigeons' honorable service during both World Wars as message carriers. When all was said and done though, no plans were mentioned to erect a statue in the pigeon’s honor. I wonder why?

This Old House May Want Yours

After 29 highly successful seasons, PBS’s “This Old House” is about to really make it to the big time. The show’s producers are planning to renovate their very first home in New York City! So far, Brooklyn homeowners have responded more than those elsewhere, but homes in all boroughs are still being considered. The project home must meet certain criteria. 1) Renovations must be able to be completed within 5 months. 2) The home must be at least 50 years old. 3) The home’s neighborhood must have “character,” but probably not characters. Historic districts might be a problem because of the red tape involved in getting approval for improvements and alterations. 4) The producers are looking for homes that are in a neighborhood with history and places to explore. 5) They’d also prefer that renovations include a bit of everything like wiring, heating, cooling, plumbing, landscaping, etc. Now after all of that, think your money pit still qualifies? If so, visit oldhouse-myhouse.thisoldhouse.com by July 4th to apply. Maybe you’ll be fortunate enough to have the bearded one enter your home so you can shout out, “Norm!” Sorry. Wrong television show.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Borough Foreclosures Building Up

A foreclosed home can bring down property values on an entire block … and across the street ... and in the immediate neighborhood. Taking that into account, more than 50% of NYC is now dealing with foreclosures and the ripple effects. Throughout New York City in the first quarter of 2007, there were 554 foreclosures as compared to 918 in the first three months of 2008. Queens had the most with 508. The second quarter looks like we’re in for more of the same. Those who stay up late and purchase one of the Be A Foreclosure Property Shark Millionaire packages as advertised on television may soon be in a "feeding frenzy" gobbling up our neighbor's homes right in our own backyards.

Manhattan Beach Bias Brouhaha

Attorney Gene Berardelli was ticketed while intervening on behalf of several black teens trying to enter a public beach in predominantly white Manhattan Beach. Police claim that they were at the beach and others, in response to “Senior Cut Day,” a day when many New York City high school kids play hooky. However Berardelli claims cops were permitting white kids onto the beach while preventing blacks. The NYPD explained that the white kids were on a field trip while the black kids were cutting classes. Berardelli plans to file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Hopefully this matter won’t prove as black and white as it seems.

Board Of Ed Fishing Off Wrong Pier

Building a new 1,650 seat high school (or two smaller ones) on Pier 40 is what the Board of Education recently proposed to do. This 14 acre property is currently the site of several nice ball fields, recreational facilities and a parking garage. Building a new 1,650 seat high school (or two smaller ones) on Pier 40 is what the Board of Education SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO DO. This beautifully situated property on Manhattan’s West Side is better suited to the entertainment of New Yorkers and tourists rather than the education of our students. In fact, the pier should be enhanced and expanded. Other suitable locations for a school can be found nearby. Find them ... and build the school in one of those spots … off the waterfront.

Hunts Point-ing Away

The privately owned Hunts Point produce market may move out of New York. The city’s refusal to give $150 million towards a new $750 million “green” facility in The Bronx has the owners of this wholesale fruit and vegetable co-op ready to box up and go. The owners claim it would only cost $500 million to build elsewhere. They’re scouting other locations now. They’ve been in their present location since 1967 but will soon outgrow it. People must really be eating their fruits and veggies! The produce market is part of the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center which includes separate fish and meat markets. It’s the largest food wholesale market in the world today ($2 billion in annual revenue) servicing the tri-state area. If the market departs, it will drive up the cost of food at many smaller grocers and restaurants. They'd be forced to travel further to obtain the food they get from The Bronx. Additionally, many people will lose their jobs and the city will lose badly needed tax revenue. New York City officials will likely come up with the money needed. It’s hoped that they’ll do it sooner, rather than later though. It'll help prevent us from getting indigestion at the thought of less food at higher prices!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MTA Getting Ready To Ride Us Again

It's a given that transit operating costs have gone up since the last rate increase. What isn’t a given though at the MTA is whether or not all unnecessary costs and wasteful spending have been eliminated. Even with an increased number of riders, the MTA continues to lose money. A 12-person commission appointed by Governor Paterson is studying whether to raise transit fares, impose congestion pricing (though the idea was rejected before) and even raise taxes. No real mention though of increasing the MTA’s efficiency or trimming the budget, FIRST! Their report is due out in December. Who’d bet against a new transit rate hike in 2009 or 2010 at the latest? Get ready to personally get the MTA back on track again with your financial support. It's obvious that those we pay, can’t do their jobs … except with more money from us.

Energy Consumption Tax Too Taxing

Mayor Bloomberg thinks the best way to reduce energy consumption is to raise taxes. It’s sad for us how most politicians believe that "higher taxes solve problems." He doesn’t see any short-term fixes for the high price of oil. The fix he does see though is a breathtaking rise in energy taxes to discourage our energy usage. It’s true that much higher prices at the pump will force some motorists to curtail unnecessary driving. However a higher price for gas will also punish those who must drive for employment. It will unfairly raise costs for those who don’t even own cars (Sounds like "Taxation without transportation!). These poor souls will pay more for many retail goods and services that use or depend on vehicle deliveries. What’s needed now are innovative ideas … not old ones like higher gas taxes, tolls or mass transit fares. Improving and expanding mass transit services to accommodate more riders, reducing the size of city-owned vehicles to burn less gas (Let the politicians and police squeeze into Austin Coopers like we're being forced to!), maybe even issuing tax breaks to vehicle owners who drive more efficient cars; these are just a few examples. Give residents of New York City better transportation options instead of sticking the City's hand deeper into our pocket.

Local Fitness Centers Unfit

Male and female workout enthusiasts are complaining about more and more lewd and rude club members throughout facilities in New York City. This offensive behavior is taking place both in the gym area and locker rooms. Bad conduct nowadays goes beyond guys posing in mirrors and kissing their biceps. Excessive nudity in locker rooms, inappropriate stares, open-leg vogue-ing by men and women not to mention pickup attempts and sexual comments is out of control. What’s that famous saying? No pain-in-the-asses, no gain. That doesn’t sound quite right. You'd better build up your muscles quickly so you can better deal with these ill-mannered people … or get the hell out of these places faster!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Herpes Hits NYC Hard

26% of New York City adults now carry the virus that causes genital herpes. That’s 7% higher than the national average! "Sex in the City" is obviously more than just a television show to New York’s party people. The number of people with herpes simplex virus 2 is frightening because there’s no cure. What’s more, those afflicted are more easily infected with the HIV virus. HIV causes AIDS. Statistically, those with herpes are at two to three times greater risk of getting AIDS. Almost 50% of African-Americans and 35% of Hispanics have herpes. These numbers could (Should?) scare some to celibacy. I wonder what happened to the good old days when a boy could meet an old-fashioned girl, here. You know the type. A girl who only had V.D.!

Grass To Grow In Concrete Plant Park

Later this year, a 2.7 acre plot of land in the Bronx will be transformed from a deserted concrete plant to beautiful parkland along the Western shore of the Bronx River. The land has been abandoned since 1987. This is great news for the residents of the area and worth the $10 million to make it happen. Now, the city also has 7,600 acres of contaminated land scattered throughout the five boroughs. Mayor Bloomberg has asked Albany for financial aid to clean it up. No surprise, it’s been slow in coming. To speed things along, the mayor wants developers to be responsible for cleanup on sites and most significantly, released from any liability. Say what? Problems may arise down the road. Albany should think twice before granting carte-blanche approval to cart toxic waste. NYC acreage should not be reclaimed without responsibility.

Central Park Eagles Safe Thanks To Stool Pigeon

After more than 30 years, two bronze eagles stolen from a Central Park war memorial were seized by the Feds. Back in the 1970’s, a drug dealer used the “birdie banks” to conceal cash and drugs. Deciding that he would like the statues more at home, rather than at his place of business, he absconded with them. In the 1990’s, with a desire to redecorate his place no doubt, he sold them to an addict, later identified as jewelry dealer Brad Lempert, for only $200. The birds were confiscated at Lempert's office but he was not charged. Though replaced by replicas in 2003, these eagles will soon be remounted. Ornithology lovers take heart; but not the birds!

The Writing Is On The Wall

Archaeologists have found “graffiti” in ancient Rome and in other cultures around the world. Perhaps cave drawings done by our ancient ancestors, was nothing more than graffiti in it’s day. Throughout history, graffiti has been “expression” to some; an attack on society and personal property to others. 2007 in New York City saw just 773 arrests for graffiti, yet only 31 of 392 convicted wall painters spent time in jail. Usually, graffiti is considered a misdemeanor but taggers who do extensive damage (Or paint poorly?) may be charged with felony criminal mischief. Law enforcement and the courts will probably choose not to look at graffiti as a serious crime; the mayor’s “quality of life” campaign, be damned. If true, they’ll be expressing the wrong message to thousands of city taggers. They’ll soon believe that every can of spray paint is the tool to make their mark on society; every brick wall a canvas to get their message seen. Then things will get real colorful around here!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Coney Island “Funny-Money” Home

Dick Zigun, 55, is referred to as the “Mayor of Coney Island.” He’s been in Coney most of his life. He owns “Zigun’s Coney Island USA” which runs a popular circus sideshow and museum. Zigun also organizes the annual "Mermaid Parade" in Brooklyn and manages a nonprofit organization he founded in 1980. He’s also been a member of New York City’s Coney Island Development Corporation for three years. Zigun has lived and operated his not-for-profit business for ten years at 1208 Surf Avenue in a modest two room apartment. Coincidentally, the CIDC approved a $3.6 million dollar sweetheart-deal for Zigun to buy the building where he resides using public grant money to do so. This is where the story begins. You see the building is supposed to be used only for public entertainment; not for residential use. Though he never hid his home address, Zigun may now face an investigation for inappropriate use of the millions he received. Could it be that this is coming to light now because a city watchdog alertly spotted the illegality here? Unlikely. Could it be that this is coming to light now because Zigun has been opposed to recent CIDC building plans which sacrifice amusement space for retail locations and motels? More likely. Perhaps his vocal objections kicked some sand in a financial bully's face. Hopefully this story won’t get swept, under the boardwalk. If Mr. Zigun inappropriately received public funds, the law should be upheld regardless of where the sand castles may fall. If however, Mr. Zigun's points about the public losing out to private interests are substantiated, he, and his modest two room apartment should be protected.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Big Apple Bus-Busters Are A Bust

There are times when getting stuck in a bus might be a good thing. That’s what Homeland Security and some officials here in New York City think anyway. What they're planning for is to reduce the threat of a hostile takeover of a bus by terrorists. They intend to combat terrorists with technology. Here’s how their device works. In the event of trouble, the bus driver hits a panic switch which alerts both the bus company and the device’s manufacturer in Pennsylvania. A device connected to the bus’s computer system automatically relays details about the bus’ location, speed and direction. The dispatcher notifies authorities. Then, they have the option to slow the bus to 5 miles per hour or to turn the engine off without the ability to restart it. Great idea, right? Many private bus companies have already received millions of dollars to install this new, high-tech gadget. Many have. However, NYC Transit is still testing GPS on 155 of their 4,500 bus fleet. They’ve yet to install any of these potentially disaster-saving devices. I guess Transit officials there aren’t too concerned about a terror attack in New York City. Perhaps they were out of town on a bus trip the morning of 9/11. Maybe they haven’t gotten the news headlines from that day yet. High-tech security in buses requires vision. Some had vision of sorts in the 1930's (see picture below). Some have it now. Others don't. Let’s speed things up, Transit guys!

Cops Can Be Stunning Too

Thousands of NYPD sergeants are now being issued Tasers. They’ll wear them on the opposite side on which they carry their gun. These newer model guns are lighter and easier to handle (not shown). Police believe these stun guns can be an effective tool and remedy when dealing with an emotionally disturbed person. Cops received 80,000 calls to deal with that type of situation last year. With that many calls, it’s very likely that these stun guns will be used. It's likely too that they will prevent serious injury and probably save the lives of several menacing, mentally troubled citizens who might otherwise have been shot with a bullet. More than likely too, somewhere along the way, a neighborhood activist will complain about stun gun "use and abuse." It wouldn't shock me at all.

NYC Charity CEO’s Do Real Good

A recent study showed that CEO’s of New York City registered charities make more in salary than charity bosses anywhere else in the country. The median salary here is $169,000 … $15,000 more than second-place execs in San Diego. However, NYC based charities only ranked 5th out of 30 cities in annual fund-raising. So, more pay but fewer dollars collected. Maybe it’s the competition. NYC does have 575 large charities. Maybe it’s the cost of living. Things do cost more here. Or, maybe “our guys” just aren’t as benevolent or as good at their jobs as "their guys.." To learn more, visit http://www.CharityNavigator.com.

Day-Care Without Careful Screening

Child safety concerns in all five boroughs once again. Most New York City day-care centers and pre-schools are not doing proper pre-employment background checks and not verifying children’s immunization histories. In addition, they’re hiring unqualified teachers and staff. Since last July, the Department of Health has issued 11,000 violations to 2,100 facilities. All types of centers were cited from small operations to well known, established day-care facilities that can cost parents up to $27,000 per year. Widespread irresponsibility and dangers are now out in the open for parents and politicians to see. Let us see who from among these groups will act like responsible adults to better safeguard our children, to punish those who put our kids at risk and to work towards assuring that this won’t happen in the future. We're watching.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gas Rises As Oil Soars

No revelations with that headline. Want a heads-up on a near-future headline? Numerous oil industry analysts predict that the price of regular gasoline at New York City gas stations will be over $5.00 ... by the Fourth of July! Maybe it's time to invest what’s left of your money in charcoal and SPAM company stocks. Who can afford restaurant steak? The highways around here will be less backed up than usual this year. Many more New Yorkers will likely be celebrating Independence Day right at home. Backyard barbecues are expected to be going strong in all five boroughs. Enjoy your SPAM burgers!

Hot Dog!

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the most valuable things aren't always found inside the Metropolitan Museum. The Parks Department received a $630,100 bid from Pasang Sherpa for two hot dog vending spots located outside the front doors of the museum. That bid is $54,110 higher than what last year’s, and current franchise holder, Thomas Maddos paid. It will take a few weeks for the Park’s Department to verify all bids and confirm service quality. Service quality? Woody Allen says, "take the money and run!"

Got (Cash To Afford) Milk?

The City Council says that last November, 86% of city food retail outlets that were studied were charging more that the state-mandated price for milk. That fixed rate is set each month by the New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The price overage averaged a whopping 40 cents per container! State officials argue they don’t have the resources to enforce the law. Current rates for New York City in June are $3.93 per gallon, $2.01 per half-gallon and $1.04 per quart. Milk isn’t a luxury for our children. It's a necessity. Mayor Mike and city officials should take immediate action to protect city kids and to stretch the family’s food dollar. Maybe stores that sell milk should be required to post their milk prices on their windows right next to the state's milk maximums for consumers. Cops could write tickets for lawbreakers. The city could put the fines they collect towards the school lunch program. Parents could then buy milk at the legal and one would think, lesser rate. They say "the cream always rises to the top." Let's hope our elected officials can do the same here.

Free Water Beats Fee Water

Home water bill going up, up, up? This month, the Department of Environmental Protection will give away 250 rain barrels for FREE to Queens' residents. The barrels will be used to collect storm water from homeowner's roofs to water their lawns with. And the water is FREE! Estimates are given that 40% of a house’s water bill is for irrigation. These barrels may also serve to prevent flooding during bad storms in poor drainage areas. DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd has a good idea worth testing. The "common sense" of it seems overwhelming. I expect that the sooner more homeowners (and perhaps apartment dwellers too) can collect water and recycle it, the better. With this kind of "green" plan in the days of the Bible, Noah might now be known more for his gardening than his boat building!

High School Sports - Brought To You By …

City education officials are looking to expand revenues by getting brand name companies to help underwrite and promote New York City high school team athletics. Sports equipment, food and beverage companies are being especially considered. No billboards or uniform patches though. Brand name companies under the plan being considered would only be buying the right to claim an affiliation with the team. If the plan goes through, it's slated to begin next summer. On the face of it, things seem OK. Perhaps even after more analysis the plan will pass inspection. But, there's a certain purity in high school athletics that a financial affiliation might somehow diminish. Business providing direct financial support to schools for their own financial gain seems wrong. No harm may come from this idea. Many student-athletes may benefit. But, perhaps other measures to raise capital should be considered first before selling out to brand name sellers. Don't play "money ball" before knowing all the rules. The impact on our kids and the adults they'll become must be determined now.
o


Two Times To Times

First it was Alain Robert, 45 (aka “French Spider-Man”). Hours later and not connected with Monsieur Robert's deed, Renaldo Clarke, 33 of Sunset Park, Brooklyn did it too. What they each did still boggles the mind and stretches the imagination beyond normal limits. Both of these men climbed, by hand and foot (without any special tools or safety gear), the fa├žade of the 52-story New York Times building in Times Square! Mr. Robert ascended to the roof in about an hour; unfurling a banner along the way to "end global warming." Mr. Clarke's climb was motivated to end malaria (sporting a “Malaria No More” t-shirt) and also because he saw Mr. Robert doing what he had long been making plans to do. Both climbers were taken into police custody. Both were later sent to Bellevue for psychiatric evaluation. So, who is really crazy here? Mr. Robert and Mr. Clarke for daring to promote causes in which they believe? Or perhaps, many of us for believing in causes and not going above and beyond like the two of them. Or maybe, not taking any action at all.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

“Floating Pool Lady” Returns Home

Tugboats brought the “good-time gal” back home to New York after her long winter vacation in Bayonne, NJ. Last year, she entertained 50,000 children and adults in Brooklyn Bridge Park. This year, she’ll be in the water off Barretto Point Park in The Bronx for the entire summer. Once securely moored, she’ll be connected to water, sewer and electric lines. For city kids without access to pools on hot days, this large-barge with pool and amenities is a most welcome ship that's just, "sitting by the dock of the bay." Stop by and enjoy her. Maybe bring Otis along for good, mellow company.

Triborough Bridge To Be Renamed

The New York State Assembly voted to rename the Triborough Bridge in honor of Robert F. Kennedy. This unexpected, but welcome tribute comes on the 40th anniversary of the senator’s assassination. The pain of that night, the sense of "what might have been," still remains, undiminished by time. The bill awaits Governor Paterson’s signature which is expected. Built in 1936, the bridge connects Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan (3 boroughs). As a visionary man who looked to bridge the many gaps that divide all people, it’s even more fitting that a bridge spanning not just two, but three land masses will be named for RFK.

“Hole In The Wall” Gang Tryouts In Times Square

“Hole In The Wall” is a Japanese game show. It has a huge worldwide following. That kind of popularity means America’s creative producers must wakeup and pay attention. The game is similar to Tetris, the very popular computer game in which players steer shapes to fit openings. Here, players must contort themselves to fit through odd shapes in a giant Styrofoam wall. Easy, right? Not exactly. The wall is moving towards the three contestants. It will push the less limber and coordinated into a pool of water. The producers of “American Idol” are auditioning people here for the American version of this well-liked TV program. Interested? Apply at holeinthewallcasting-ny@gmail.com. Try to avoid winding up like a sad, Saturday morning cartoon character who runs toward a door but slams into the wall and slides down flat!

Smokers Closer To Pack-ing It In

New York cigarette smokers now pay the highest cigarette taxes in the country. State excise taxes were just raised to $2.75. Coupled with $1.50 a pack for city excise taxes; cigarettes are taxing more than just your breathing! Cigarettes now sell locally for $8.50 to $12.00 … per pack! Not surprisingly, retailers are getting cigarette-burned with complaints from anxious customers. With a tightening economy, the choice between cigarettes in the pocket and food in the belly may be no choice at all. Nicotine addicts may soon have to settle for a compromise solution and take to chewing tobacco to satisfy their cravings and hunger. Hey, puffers! Isn't it time to quit smoking for good?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Freedom Tower Signs 1st Business Tenant

A Chinese development company becomes the first private tenant to sign a lease for office space in the Freedom Tower. It's currently under construction. Beijing Vantone Real Estate signed the Port Authority’s “letter of intent” for 190,000 square feet on a 22 year lease. Welcome to New York, BVRE! I recognize that this building like the Twin Towers, will also become a world trade center. However, wasn’t there a single American company interested in the recognition of being the first American organization to lease space in this building? No prejudice intended here. I'm simply struggling with the adjustment from national patriotism to global economy.

Scoop Poop Or Pay More For Manure

The fine for cleaning up after your dog will rise from $100 to $250 if New York Governor Paterson signs the bill into law. City Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said, “It sends a strong message to all dog owners about the seriousness of the law and their responsibility to comply.” This sh*t has got to end! I recognize it’s our duty to pick up our pet’s doody but let’s get real here. Is $250 reasonable punishment for a possible doggie--dump accident or mental lapse? It may be time to teach the old dog a new trick (see below). Then, let the city get it's money from some other asshole.

Illegal "Inn" The City

There are a reported 235 unlawful hotels operating within residential buildings in the borough of Manhattan. Foreigners are enjoying shorts stays in city apartments instead of local residents calling these units home. This practice is taking affordable housing away from needy tenants. It cheats the city out of millions of dollars too. Tourism is vital to New York’s economy, but tourists should not be welcomed into these buildings. Chanting “Peace and quiet, not a Hyatt!,” housing activists have joined forces with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Together, they’ll try to do something about these hostile hostels.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Don't Kiss And Tell On Bloomberg

The mayor doesn’t appreciate Scott McClellan’s Washington-insider book. In it, Scotty is highly critical of his boss, President George Bush. Mayor Bloomberg believes that aides should be more responsible. Bloomberg’s feeling is that an employee in an administration or a private company should never write a tell-all tome. You can put that in writing. Maybe.

Con Ed Bills To Rise Again

Are you shocked? Experts believe this summer’s electricity bills may go up 30% in New York City because of higher fuel costs. Are you shocked? Con Edison already charges the highest rate of any major electric utility. Are you shocked? Con Ed projects a 13% increase. Are you surprised???

Fight Club In The Park

The Union Square Spartans is a group of martial artists. Several dozen combatants were recently demonstrating their skills in Manhattan’s Union Square Park. That’s when The "NYPD Boys" made their appearance. The "club meeting" came to an abrubt end … without further confrontation. Remember the Spartans. They won’t be back anytime soon.

Cable Competition Coming

Time Warner and Cablevision may have to make room for Verizon’s Fios TV later this year. The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Commission approved Verizon’s plan. It now goes before the state Public Service Commission. Upon receiving their approval, service will begin in each of the five boroughs with service available to every home by 2014. Cable’s "chokehold monopoly" on New Yorkers has been loosened just a bit.

Wall Street Job Potholes Ahead

By the middle of 2009, an estimated 33,000 financial jobs may be lost. So says the city’s Independent Budget Office. New York City has recently seen 10,000 jobs disappear. The city took a harder hit after 9/11 when an estimated 60,000 jobs were lost. The local economy will always have it’s swings; good and bad. In downtown Manhattan, It looks like it’s about to strikeout before it hits it’s next homerun.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy 125th Brooklyn Bridge!

To look upon this magnificent structure is to behold what was one of the great engineering feats of it’s day. However, there was something unknown to the builders and residents of New York City back in 1883. The linking of two counties, Manhattan and Kings (Brooklyn), was to become the catalyst of a five-borough metropolis. New York grew to be recognized as “the greatest city in the world.” It’s amazing what a man's dream along with some bricks and steel stretched across water can lead to. It’s also amazing as to what this bridge can lead to on either side. Drive, walk or bicycle across this bridge. Connect with the past and present.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

See London … While In New York

An English sculptor/artist by the name of Paul St. George has tunnel vision and because of it, New Yorkers (Londoners too) can see across the Atlantic Ocean. His “telectroscope” arises from the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn. An identical one was setup across the pond on London’s South Bank. When one steps up to the lens, they can see a real-time, life-size view of whoever may be peering through the lens on the other side. Paul St. George claims to have been inspired by his great-grandfather, Alexander Stanhope St. George whose dream was to tunnel under the Atlantic, put a telectroscope on either side and let people on both sides see each other. Technically speaking, it works with fiber optic communication but let’s keep that quiet. After all, why ruin the imagination of the young or the fascination of the old? This art exhibit is definitely worth a look. A display like this should find a permanent home so the public may continue to see and be amazed, long into the future.

MTA’s Double-Decker-Play Revisited

New York City Transit is considering a trial program to run double-decker buses in Manhattan this year. Howard Roberts, NYC Transit President said, “Back to the future is, at least in terms of productivity, something we would also like to look at.” The MTA is now reviewing several bus models from companies worldwide. The last time these British-type buses were tried on our streets was back in the 1970’s. Today’s “go green” mentality and the unique appeal buses like these have on riders and pedestrians makes this a play, a winning city could use.

White's Green To Make Gardens Greener

Shelby White, a Brooklyn girl, still proud of her roots recently donated $25 million dollars to two fortunate organizations that benefit all New Yorkers. It’s the largest private donation in the history of New York for the greening of the city! $10 million will fund projects in Prospect Park and $15 million will be put to good use at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Many are familiar with the story, “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.” Well, I guess angels grow up there too. Thanks, Shelby for your generosity.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Last Cigarette In Sight?

Is cigarette smoking coming to an end in New York City? Last year, 16.9% of New Yorkers smoked. That’s down from 21.5% when Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002. It’s also the lowest total in the last fifty years! One wonders if the mayor's ban on smoking in bars or the city’s higher tax on cigarettes had more of an impact than common sense. Whatever the reason/s, the drop from 2006’s 17.5% to 2007’s 16.9% figure will save an estimated 100,000 people from dying prematurely; hopefully nobody you hate.

Favorite Big Apple Baby Names

New York’s ethnic balance continually changes. It’s no wonder that the most commonly given names for babies would vary, too. It’s curious though why the most popular names in 2007 for boys reads like a list for a society, long since gone, whereas the girls’ names seem timely for today’s diverse culture. Boys: 1) Michael 2) Matthew 3) Anthony 4) Joseph 5) Daniel Girls: 1) Isabella 2) Sophia 3) Emily 4) Olivia 5) Ava

Sex And Pet Tricks

28% of New York City men have cheated while in a relationship. That compares to 12% of New York’s women. 30% of the men and 12% of the women say they’d continue an affair even if they could get caught. Interestingly, 53% of the men and only 48% of the women would forgive a partner having an affair. So what may these numbers show? 1) Men cheat more than women. 2) Men will cheat more than women, regardless of the danger. 3) Men will be more forgiving of their cheating loved one because they know cheating is wrong and the pain it can cause. See? Even straying dogs can learn not to bite the hand that is cooking their meals.

Water Is Rising (Again) In The City

The NYC Water Board approved a 14.5% rate increase for homeowners, effective July 1st. Rate hikes are nothing new (2007-11.5%, 2006-9.4%, 2005-3.0%, 2004-5.5%, 2003-5.5%, 2002-6.5%), but the % increase this year, coupled with the rising price of gas, electricity, food, health care, etc., makes this pill extra hard to swallow. There are those looking to end water boarding for terrorists. Who’s out there looking to end this water torture for New York City residents?