Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Grad Glass Remains Half Empty

New York City high school graduation rates have risen from 46.5% in 2005, to 49.8% in 2006 to 52.2% in 2007. To be fair, GED’s add a bit more to each statistic. Unfortunately, "a bit” isn’t nearly enough to do justice for our kids. Some proudly point to these increases as “progress.” I think it points to the continued failure of those we entrust to educate our children. Special needs children who need even more of our attention graduated at a significantly lower rate; 19.8%. Despite these low numbers, local politicians applaud themselves. Board of Education school officials applaud themselves. Next year though, over a third of our kids probably won't receive diplomas. Why all the celebration then? Mayor Bloomberg said, “I don’t think you can overstate the value of a high school diploma.” I agree, but in today’s marketplace, a college education should be stressed ... not a high school education. Regardless of the rhetoric, much more needs to be done NOW to graduate a higher % of our kids in 2009; higher still in the years to come. Billions of dollars have been thrown at the problem. That’s not the answer. Parents must take charge of ensuring their children’s education. Good people with foresight and proven principles need to be responsible for our children’s scholastic future too. From top to bottom, the school system needs to be revamped. Who then is qualified, courageous and independent enough to take on this school of hard knocks?

Thanks Vice President Al Gore

The Carbon Disclosure Project convinced officials in twenty American cities, New York City included, to measure their carbon footprint. This will be done to find ways to curb dangerous emissions. Each city is required to collect specific data and assess citywide emissions. The CDP is scheduled to publish the study’s results in January 2009. Perhaps this information is important. Perhaps of equal importance, we'll get to see direct evidence linking mankind to this latest of many global warming cycles in our planet’s history. Think we’ll find that missing proof in their report?

Bad Economy Burns Ex-New Yorkers

As hard economic times take root in the city, fewer New Yorkers can afford to leave the traditional way … in a casket. More and more families are turning to cremation as a less expensive alternative to saying “goodbye” to the dearly departed. Low end cremations cost around $400 compared to $8,500 for a burial crypt; plot not included. The Cremation Association of North America claims that cremations are up by 33% between 2004-2006. I wonder why the Association doesn’t have more current statistics available. I guess they’re waiting for the smoke to clear!

Where Politicians Find NYC Bread

A Manhattan Upper East Side zip code, formerly 10021 (now 10021, 10065 & 10075), gives the most money to politicians and into political coffers. In this blue city, most donations wind up with Democrats, not Republicans. Over the last two years in fact, the NYC metro area raised $144.6 million compared to Washington D.C., $121 million and Los Angeles in third place with $73 million. New York City. It's quite a place for politicians to find bread for all the baloney they serve us during election seasons.

"No Bid" - No More

Yet another questionable deal by New York City's Board of Education has come to light. The Board claim their “no bid” contract policy gets things done quicker and provides for a better curriculum. In fiscal year 2000, they approved 7 no-bid contracts for $693,000. In fiscal year 2007, 76 were approved for $72 million. In 2003, the Board of Ed came under Mayor Bloomberg’s control; except that the bidding process seems to be spiraling out of control. “No bid” contracts with the Department of Education, or with any city agency for that matter are “no good.” Often, money is wasted on deals with questionable contractors with poor monitoring and unfavorable results. Whether or not the school's “curriculum” improved by a factor of 100 like bid contract totals the past seven fiscal years is doubtful. The city’s bidding process for government contracts should be wide open to public scrutiny. All qualified bidders (Measured by dollars and details.) should be permitted to contest for all city contracts. New Yorker's are entitled to the most and the best for their money. Every penny of it.

Jet Brett

To begin with, quarterback Chad Pennington’s attitude and effort in New York will always be appreciated. His leadership and grit will be missed. May happiness and success follow him to Miami (Except for the Dolphins’ two games against the Jets.). With that being said, it’s still hard to believe that Brett Favre is a New York Jet. Even after reading the newspapers, watching his press conference, seeing him play in exhibition football games, it’s still hard to believe that Brett Favre is a New York Jet. Unfortunately, being a long suffering Jets fan, I know disappointment is a certainty every year. Even with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, we fans will likely have our hearts broken somewhere during this NFL season. But for now anyway … J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!

Lipstick On A Pig

The MTA may sell corporate sponsorships of subway stations. This would generate cash for New York City Transit while granting station-naming rights to the company. It would also create mass confusion for mass transit riders. They’d be forced to relearn already familiar train stop names. Instead, why not offer exclusive advertising and special rates throughout select stations? That revenue could be used to improve that station. In the long run, changing a station’s name won’t make the subway look, smell or run any better. Money and effective management will. MTA-Mass Transit Authority-Must Try Again.

MTA Perv Posters To Be Posted

New York City's female commuters have been under attack, underground. 10% claim sexual abuse when using mass transit while an astounding 63% report being sexually harassed. Ever responsive to the immediate needs of transit riders, NYC Transit will put up signs to combat this indecency! These signs state that “sexual harassment” is a crime. Victims will be encouraged to report incidents whenever they occur. That's the MTA's response. Our subways shouldn’t be a Coney Island amusement park, "tunnel of love" for low-lives. I think more undercover cops and stiffer court sentences might reduce the problem. How about "lifetime bans" for convicted touchers from taking trains or buses with mandatory jail time if they're ever found on board? The MTA’s solution is a sad sign of our times. The poster-writing is on the wall.

Falls May Fell River Café’s Trees

August is not the time to see brown autumn leaves. That’s the scene though at Brooklyn’s landmark eatery, the River Café. One of four water displays, which is part of New York City’s newest public arts project, “The New York City Waterfalls” is kicking up a saltwater spray. This mist is turning tree leaves brown and doing damage to the landscaping. Similar harm is being caused at Governors Island. To their credit, the Public Art Fund has responded quickly. They’ve hired a landscaper to get to the root of the problem.

Don’t Wait To Walk The Dog

New York City’s Web site has, “gone to the dogs.” Mayor Bloomberg announced that dog owners may now go to to get or renew licenses for their pooches. This will save about three weeks compared to mailing back and forth. Surprisingly, an estimated 500,000 New Yorkers own dogs. Not surprising is the fact that many New Yorkers don’t register their dogs. What dogs!