Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good Guys Playing “Hide And Seek" With Bad Guys

GPS tracking devices are being used by the NYPD to fight crime. One device that they employ is a $439 LiveWire GPS system. It’s a transmitting device about the size of a deck of tarot cards. This device transmits a car’s location every five seconds relaying the vehicle's location, speed and direction. Cops simply plant these devices in the suspects’ vehicles, receive vital information from them and make their arrests at the appropriate time. Police say they have been using devices like these in just this manner for years. Cops have not always bothered obtaining a search warrant for this electronic cop, though. They claim they’re not using it to catch suspects; only to monitor their movements. In other words, it’s like high-tech tailing. That argument is now being challenged in court. It’s suspected that the good guys are going to win this legal battle.

JFK JetBlue In New Blue Heaven

JFK Airport will soon have its first new terminal since 9/11. It’s a massive $743 million ($663 million from the Port Authority) renovation of Terminal 5 by JetBlue. It's scheduled to open this October. Inside, flyers and their guests will find nine sky-high-class restaurants. Other amenities and services will include food orders delivered right to the gate, automated baggage screening, high-tech bathrooms and twenty fast security lines. Kennedy Airport's Terminal 5 is connected to TWA’s unique and beautifully styled Eero Saarinen-designed building. It's been vacant since 2001, in part because TWA’s former building simply can’t accommodate modern jets. It may eventually be turned into a museum by the Port Authority. As nice as JetBlue’s facility will be, I wonder if travelers will want to depart for their destinations!

A Bowery Bum’s Dream

There’s a grape winery opening in the Big Apple. Wine lovers need not trek to Napa Valley any more. Connoisseurs and collectors may purchase their own oak barrel of vintage wine made right on the spot … in Manhattan! There’ll be 200 casks for sale with prices ranging from $5,000 to $1,500. Price varies depending on the quality of the grapes that are imported from around the country. City Winery owner, Michael Dorf said, “This is for cultural aficionados, sophisticated New Yorkers who want to spend their money in a very special way.” Vintage Brooklyn Bums (non-aficionados) will likely stick with their tasty “egg creams” instead.

NYPD Car Crashes Climbing

Police officers in cars start a new tour of duty by "hitting the streets." Unfortunately, that expression has recently taken on a whole new meaning. New York City has 8,839 police vehicles. Accidents involving these NYPD autos are up 11% over the past three years. Damage reports rose from 4,014 accidents in 2005 to 4,477 in 2007. Most auto accidents occurred in Manhattan below 59th Street. Thankfully, a large number of them are considered very minor. Legal costs for New Yorkers from 2003-2008 are a whopping $155 million. Repairs are additional. Next time you see a “cop in a cruiser,” remind them to "be safe and buckle up!"

7 WTC No Longer A Mystery - Maybe

A three-year study by fifty Federal investigators concluded that fire, not explosives or the building’s stored diesel fuel brought down 7 World Trade Center in New York City on the afternoon of September 11th, 2001. So says Shyam Sunder, lead investigator for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. According to his team, "a single column" gave way when supporting girders were loosened by the heat. This was the factor that caused the entire building to collapse. Sunder admits this has never happened before in a high-rise building. I doubt conspiracy theorists will be silenced by the team’s explanation. It will probably only add fuel to their fire and create even more explosive theories of another government cover-up.

Harlem Stage Is On Cue

Richard Rodgers is about to produce another big hit. The family of this well known Harlem-born composer donated $1 million in his name towards the renovation of the bandshell in Marcus Garvey Park. New York City will also kick in $4 million for the project. Work is set to begin in the latter part of 2009. Rodgers personally donated $150,000 to help fund this outdoor facility in 1970. During his lifetime, Rodgers penned songs for classic plays like The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, The King and I and South Pacific. Even though he’s gone, Rodgers still enables the music to play on.

Cops Cop Real Raise

Happy cops make unhappy crooks. New York City and the Police Department reached agreement on a new pay scale for New York’s Finest. NYPD rookies will get $42,000 instead of $36,000. NYPD officers will get a 17% increase over four years. Their base salaries will shoot from $65,382 to $76,488. NYC officers will soon be at a more comparable level to cop salaries in surrounding communities making it less likely for them to leave for greener pastures. It's smart to pay this kind of protection money.