Monday, September 8, 2008

Old-School Withdrawals

In 2008, bank robberies are up 57% in New York City. So far this year, there have been a total of 263 Big Apple bank heists. How yesterday! Haven’t these thieves ever heard of using an ATM to get money?

Schools May Have New Ruler And Rules

The school year for NYC’s 1.1 million students has started and will end in June of 2009. Coincidentally, Mayor Bloomberg’s control of the school system which began in 2002 ends June 30, 2009. Groups are forming on both sides now to present their cases to the state legislature over who should have authority over city schools on July 1, 2009; the mayor or the original seven-member Board of Education. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will push to retain mayoral control. Klein (who was appointed by Bloomberg) is one of the 13 current board members. Many parents are upset with the lack of say they have in important school decisions. New York City’s 32 Community Education Councils (CEC’s) believe they’re powerless on major issues too. Many in the CEC’s believe that a Chancellor should be more independent of the mayor than Klein. The other side argues that since Bloomberg took over school control in 2002, per-student spending has risen from $10,694 to $15,110. Graduations have risen from 51% to 62%. Major crimes have fallen from 1,577 (2000-2001) to 1,047 (2007-2008). Before anyone looks to take the mayor out of the equation, they should offer very detailed plans on how they intend to improve upon his results. As it seems to students every September, "June will never get here!" For parties on both sides of this issue however, the time to come up with ideas that benefit our children is already running out.

Gas Fuels Frauds

As gas prices go up, more and more gas guzzling cars, trucks and SUV’s are going too. Some, supposedly by theft. Some, in flames. So far in 2008, New York State Insurance Department investigators have caught 88 insurance scammers in New York City alone. That’s compared to just 77 here in all of 2007. The climbing fraud statistics are reminiscent of those seen in the 1970's when gas prices also rose significantly. Disgusted owners of fuel wasting vehicles believe they can only get a car's "book value" from their insurance carriers. Some are willing to risk arrest trying to fake a crime. Insurance companies are well aware of what goes on in today’s economic climate. Each have special investigative departments for the sole purpose of checking out insured’s claims. They use the latest investigative techniques whenever fraud is suspected ... and it usually is. They can and do deny payment even if there is no arrest of the vehicle’s owner. Borough car owners would be well advised to be satisfied with whatever they get legally for their inefficient vehicles, or simply to drive less. It beats making license plates in prison for someone else’s ride … or being an "inmate’s ride" while you’re in jail.

It Looks Like Rain

New York City weather may have clear skies across its five boroughs, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be golden showers raining down on one of Manhattan’s newest restaurants, Delicatessen. This hot Nolita eatery opened in July. It’s a glass-roofed lounge with pricey food, model patrons, tons of yuppies, but also an angry, unknown fellow citizen who isn’t happy that the restaurant is there. You see, at least one of their neighbors (maybe more) is pissed off to the point that he (or she) is peeing down on the restaurant's glass roof below. It’s not an intellectual or classy protest but it delivers a message as clear as "yellow snow." Someone doesn’t like the restaurant there. Many residents at 265 Lafayette Street complain that the trendy restaurant’s glass ceiling does nothing to keep loud noises inside. Its patrons hope that the roof is properly sealed to keep urine, outside the panes. Hopefully, the disgruntled protestor doesn’t resort to hitting the restaurant with plan “number two.”

Meter Man In The Can

New Yorkers hate feeding parking meters. What car driver in any city could possibly be happy about parking meters? Well, Maurice Mizrahi of Brooklyn loves them. He must because he was arrested by the NYPD with 87 of them in his home! It’s believed that they were illegally hijacked in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. This makes Mizrahi’s eighth arrest for copping these coin collectors. Residents say Mizrahi would go up and down their blocks, shaking meters until he found a full one. It’s believed that later in the evening, he’d back his car up to knock the meter out of the ground. Sometimes he’d simply drill into the meter to take off the top. Meters can carry up to $90 in cash. They cost the city $500 each. DOT has no estimate on the amount of money Mizrahi may have stolen. It’s a safe bet that Gravesend motorists want Mizrahi out of jail and back on their streets again ... before they park again!

Waterfalls Hard On Brooklyn Trees

“A tree grows in Brooklyn” ... but they don’t grow like they used to! It seems that the Waterfalls have been kicking salt up into the air which damages local trees. In an effort to save the trees along the Brooklyn shoreline near the art exhibit, New York City officials are cutting the hours that the Waterfalls may be turned on. Local residents wanted the water turned off after Labor Day. City officials decided to keep the water flowing less than 50 hours a week. Additionally, the city promises to wash tree leaves daily (That should be an exhibit all by itself!). Opened in June, the water is supposed to pour through October 13th. Let’s hope the trees haven’t been harmed too much and survive the winter.

Getting Humped At The Pump

Many local gas stations are advertising low gas prices but charging more than the attractive price. So says New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. A survey by his office found these “bait and switch” tactics going on at 25% of the 130 gasoline stations they investigated. Cease-and-desist orders were sent to 30 stations.

High Fives For High Bridge

Mayor Bloomberg announced that High Bridge Park in Washington Heights is now "safe." He also declared that the 1800’s pedestrian bridge that connects Manhattan and The Bronx will be getting a $60 million rehab. This project will be part of many other improvements throughout the park. Much more needs to be done in this long neglected area. Nevertheless, local residents and all New Yorkers should celebrate the fact that something is finally being done. In our "city of bridges," this is a truly beautiful and historic span worth every penny spent towards its preservation.

The Bronx Is Gay Family Friendly

A new study has found that Manhattan's gay couples are more likely to hit city nightclubs, while gay pairs in The Bronx are more likely to be at home with their kids. The Bronx has an estimated 11% of New York City’s gay couples and 32% of homes where children are being raised by homosexual or lesbian couples. In fact, nearly half of all gay households in the Bronx are raising kids. That's close to NYC’s overall rate of 55% of households with kids. Statistics show that minority same-sex partners are more likely than gay white couples to have children. Maybe the Bronx rates so high because most gay men in Manhattan are more concerned about careers, working out and clubs than diapers and families. Perhaps another reason is that the four “outer” boroughs are a better place to raise kids than Manhattan.