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Affairs and Appointments – Week of February 23 – 27

Affairs and Appointments – Printable pdf
Week of February 23 – 27

New York State

New York City

City Council Hearings


Appointments
  • Lawrence S. Schwartz: to serve as Secretary to the Governor
  • Peter Kauffmann: to serve as Communications Director
Special Section: New York City Special Elections

3 City Council Special Elections – So Far Only Two Winners

Special elections were held on Tuesday for three City Council seats in Queens and on Staten Island to fill vacancies left by candidates who were elected to other offices in November.

Eric A. Ulrich won in the 32nd Council District in Queens and Julissa Ferreras won in the 21st Council District, also in Queens.

With about 10,000 votes cast in the 49th Council District on Staten Island, Kenneth C. Mitchell was leading Deborah L. Rose by 34 votes, but numerous absentee ballots still remained to be counted. Mr. Mitchell or Ms. Rose will fill the seat formerly held by Michael E. McMahon, who was elected to the House of Representatives.

The winners will serve through the end of the year and will then need to run again in primaries and in the general election to keep their seats.

There were 395 absentee ballots that remained to be counted in the Mitchell-Rose race, said Valerie Vazquez-Rivera, a Board of Elections spokeswoman. The absentee ballots will not likely be counted for another week, Ms. Vazquez-Rivera said.

Early returns showed Ms. Rose leading, but shortly after midnight Mr. Mitchell had moved ahead.

Paterson announces first economic recovery projects

February 23, 2009
GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES FIRST ECONOMIC RECOVERY PROJECTS, AIMING TO CREATE 1,100 JOBS

Governor David A. Paterson this week announced the first transportation projects eligible for federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be put to bid as early as March 5, creating thousands of jobs in Upstate New York. These projects include the replacement and repair of bridges in Steuben, Onondaga, Oneida and Herkimer counties, and will be fully-funded through the federal legislation. The Governor also outlined the process that will produce the final list of transportation projects to be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Full story here.

Paterson, legislative leaders reach revenue consensus

February 24, 2009
GOVERNOR PATERSON, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS REACH REVENUE CONSENSUS

Governor David A. Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader James N. Tedisco today announced that they have reached an agreement on available revenues for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 State fiscal years – five days earlier than the statutory deadline of March 1.

The legislative forecasts incorporate updated job loss figures recently issued by the federal government that showed greater deterioration in the economy in 2008 than previous figures demonstrated in December when forecasting was completed for the Executive Budget. Furthermore, since December, the economy has continued to decline. Full story here.

Governor Paterson Urges Action on Ravitch Committee Recommendations

February 24, 2009
GOVERNOR PATERSON URGES ACTION ON RAVITCH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

“This week I asked Richard Ravitch, Chairman of the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Financing, to come to Albany to advance my goal of enacting the recommendations outlined in the final Ravitch Commission report. This proposal is critically important to the people of New York. The fare increases and service cuts that will happen without this legislation will do further damage to our fragile economy and bring added financial strain to New Yorkers already suffering during this economic downturn. I have discussed this with the Legislative leaders, and they agree that this must be addressed before our final budget deliberations are underway. To this end, the Senate and Assembly have scheduled conferences for tomorrow to discuss this MTA issue.

“The time to do this is now. These Ravitch Committee recommendations have the support of business and labor, civic groups and straphangers. I will speak with lawmakers who have any doubt about the critical nature of this issue, and have asked Mr. Ravitch to remain in Albany tomorrow to hold further discussions and bring this process to a close. We must get a final agreement in place within the next week.”

Silver Proposes Tolls on East and Harlem River Bridges

February 26, 2009
SILVER PROPOSES TOLLS ON EAST AND HARLEM RIVER BRIDGES

With time running out for the State Legislature to act on a plan to bail out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, proposed a compromise on Wednesday that endorses putting tolls on the bridges over the East River and the Harlem River.

Any plan that Mr. Silver puts forward carries considerable weight with Democrats in Albany, who control both the Assembly and the Senate.

But by proposing new tolls — albeit more modest ones than what a state commission proposed in December — Mr. Silver has put himself at odds with many legislators in Albany, particularly those from boroughs outside Manhattan and the suburbs who represent people who drive into the city regularly.

Mr. Silver also called for adopting the tax on business payrolls that was proposed by Richard Ravitch, the former transportation authority chairman who led a state commission to address the authority’s budget crisis.

The Ravitch plan would help the authority close a projected deficit of $3.4 billion through next year by adding bridge tolls, the payroll tax and a modest fare increase. If the plan is not enacted, the authority says it will raise fares by 23 percent or more and sharply cut services on bus and some subway lines. Full Story here.

DiNapoli Proposes Legislation to Strengthen Oil Spill Fund Collections

February 21, 2009
DINAPOLI PROPOSES LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN OIL SPILL FUND COLLECTIONS

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced he has proposed legislation to improve collection of monies owed to the New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund (the Fund). The Fund pays for oil spill clean ups when spillers cannot be identified or refuse to conduct the clean up. The Fund then turns the case over to the Attorney General’s office to commence an enforcement action to recover the monies expended for clean up. Once the court case has been decided in favor of the state, the Attorney General can pursue collection of the monies owed. Full Story here.

Cuomo announces major public health victory

February 23, 2009
ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH VICTORY AGAINST WEAK BUSH-ERA AIR POLLUTION STANDARD

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he and a coalition of 18 states and cities, led by New York, have won a major victory in a challenge of lax Bush Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) standards for fine soot pollution that had wholly failed to protect public health, particularly for children, elderly people and other vulnerable populations.

Fine soot pollution (also known as fine particulate matter pollution or “PM 2.5”) comes from diesel vehicles, power plants and other sources, and is prevalent in New York City and other urban areas.  Because fine soot can lodge deep in the lungs, as today’s decision notes, it can cause numerous harmful health effects, including premature death, chronic respiratory illness, decreased lung function, cardiovascular disease and asthma.  More than 100 million Americans (one-third of the nation’s population) have special susceptibility to harm from fine soot pollution, including children, senior citizens, and people with existing lung and heart diseases. Based on these impacts, EPA’s own scientists and scientific advisory committee recommended strict new standards for fine soot in 2005. However, the Bush Administration rejected their advice and chose a weaker, less protective standard. Today’s decision clears the path for the Obama Administration to issue new, stronger standards. Full story here.

Mayor Plans to Close Parts of Broadway to Traffic

February 26, 2009
MAYOR PLANS TO CLOSE PARTS OF BROADWAY TO TRAFFIC

The city plans to close several blocks of Broadway to vehicle traffic through Times Square and Herald Square, an experiment that would turn swaths of the Great White Way into pedestrian malls and continue Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s effort to reduce traffic congestion in Midtown.

Although it seems counterintuitive, officials believe the move will actually improve the overall flow of traffic, because the diagonal path of Broadway tends to disrupt traffic where it intersects with other streets.

The city plans to introduce the changes as early as May and keep them in effect through the end of the year. If the experiment works, they could become permanent. The plan was described by several people who were briefed on it this week.

Mr. Bloomberg was expected to announce the plan Thursday.

A City Hall spokesman declined comment in advance of the announcement.
The plan calls for Broadway to be closed to vehicles from 47th Street to 42nd Street. Traffic would continue to flow through on crossing streets, but the areas between the streets would become pedestrian malls, with chairs, benches and cafe tables with umbrellas.

Seventh Avenue would be widened slightly within Times Square to accommodate the extra traffic diverted from Broadway.
Below 42nd Street, Broadway would be open to traffic, but then would shut down again at Herald Square, from 35th Street to 33rd Street. Then, below 33rd, it would open again.

The plan is the latest move by Mr. Bloomberg to change the way the city thinks of its streets, making them more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and chipping away at the dominance of the automobile.

Once the changes are in effect, a large stretch of Broadway in the heart of Midtown would be radically changed. Full story here.

Bloomberg announces 900 guns taken off the streets

February 24, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY BROWN ANNOUNCE OVER 900 GUNS TAKEN OFF THE STREETS DURING QUEENS ONE-DAY GUN BUYBACK

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced that 919 guns were taken off the streets during a gun buyback program that took place at six Queens churches on Saturday. Since last summer, similar buyback programs held in Brooklyn, Manhattan and on Staten Island, coupled with the buyback results announced today, have resulted in the recovery of over 3,500 guns, more than half of them handguns. The announcement took place at the 101st Precinct Stationhouse in Rockaway, where major felony crime is down 25 percent this year when compared to the same period last year, and down 64 percent since the Mayor took office.

Major felony crime citywide is down 28 percent from 2001 through 2008, and down another 14 percent so far this year, including declines in every crime category. Full Story here.

Bloomberg Statement: Urging Obama to remove Tiahrt Restrictions

February 26, 2009
STATEMENT BY MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ON NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION LETTER URGING PRESIDENT OBAMA TO REMOVE TIAHRT RESTRICTIONS FROM FY 2010 BUDGET

“Twenty-four members of the New York Congressional delegation have taken a stand for law enforcement and public safety by today sending a joint letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking President Obama to remove the so-called Tiahrt Amendments from his executive budget.  These damaging restrictions block access to critical gun trace data and prevent ATF from requiring gun dealers to check their inventories – despite the fact that more than 30,000 guns went missing from just 10 percent of gun dealers in 2007.

“This letter was sent because of the diligent work of Representatives Carolyn McCarthy and Peter King, as well as Senator Charles Schumer. And I am especially pleased that our new Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, has joined in our effort to combat illegal guns.  I want to thank all the signers of the letter, including the members of Appropriations Committee: Representatives Maurice Hinchey, Steve Israel, Nita Lowey, and Jose Serrano.  Their leadership is crucial in removing the Tiahrt Amendments and helping our bi-partisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns achieve one of our most important goals: giving our police officers the tools they need to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.”

Bloomberg Statement: $70 Million on 9/11 Health Programs

February 26, 2009
STATEMENT BY MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ON INCLUSION OF $70 MILLION FOR 9/11 HEALTH PROGRAMS IN U.S. HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

“I want to thank the entire New York Congressional delegation, especially Representatives Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Peter King, Michael McMahon and former Representative Jim Walsh, for securing an additional $70 million in funding for 9/11 health programs. Many first responders, community members and others who suffer from exposure to contaminants after 9/11 rely on this critical federal funding. The attack on September 11th was an attack on our nation, and we are grateful that our delegation and the Congressional Appropriations Committee continue to affirm their commitment to ensuring these programs remain intact and those who need the healthcare they provide get it.”

Who Controls Schools? Depends How You Ask

February 25, 2009
WHO CONTROLS SCHOOLS? DEPENDS HOW YOU ASK

A Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday said that 55 percent of New York City voters wanted the mayor’s control of the public schools to continue, echoing a similar poll last month that said 56 percent would keep the mayor in charge. Both numbers suggest significant change from last summer, when a Quinnipiac poll said 29 percent wanted to retain mayoral control and 55 percent said the mayor should share control of the schools with an independent school board. Full story here.

IBO Report Questions Whether Higher Funding for CUNY Construction Can Continue

February 25, 2009
IBO REPORT QUESTIONS WHETHER HIGHER FUNDING FOR CUNY CONSTRUCTION CAN CONTINUE

“While both the city and state budgets currently show a continuing commitment to funding the city university’s capital needs, these commitments may become harder to sustain as both levels of government face difficult budget shortfalls. For example, the Mayor has proposed reducing the city’s capital plan for 2009-2013 by 30 percent but has not yet detailed what effect this cutback may have on capital funds previously targeted to city university projects.” Read IBO’s full report here.

Bloomberg announces agreement to offer pet spaying services free

February 24, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO PROVIDE FREE PET SPAYING SERVICES DURING FISCAL HARD TIMES THROUGH A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NONPROFIT TOBY PROJECT

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that as part of a continuing effort to identify and implement innovative ways to deliver better services to New Yorkers for less money, the Toby Project has begun providing free spaying and neutering for New Yorkers’ pets in low-income neighborhoods, ensuring that tight budgets do not affect this important service. The city’s Animal Care & Control (AC&C) will lease a mobile Spay and Neuter lab to the non-profit Toby Project for $1 a year, allowing the group to provide this service to New Yorkers near their homes. The Mayor was joined for this announcement by Animal Care & Control Executive Director Charlene Pedrolie, Toby Project Founder/Director Dr. Andrew Kaplan and his dog Toby, and Patricia Castillo and her dog Leika. The mobile lab stopped at City Hall today, which is also the Humane Society of the United States’ 15th Annual Spay/Neuter Day. Full story here.

Public hearings for Week of March 2nd, 2009

Parks & Recreation Helen D. Foster, Chair
Tuesday, March 3, 12:30 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Int 931 – By Council Members Arroyo, Barron, Comrie, DeBlasio, Gioia, Gonzalez, Ignizio, Jackson, Mealy, Mendez, Palma, Sanders, Jr., and Vacca – A Local Law – In relation to the naming of 18 thoroughfares and public places, Firefighter Peter A. Bielfeld Way, Borough of the Bronx, Citizens of Pozzallo Way, Borough of Brooklyn, Giorgio Perlasca Way, Borough of Brooklyn, Anthony Suraci Place, Borough of Queens, Jason Ruiz Way, Borough of Brooklyn, Lt. Brendan Drew Pearson Way, Sta. 23, Borough of Staten Island, Thurgood Marshall Boulevard, Borough of Manhattan, Homer Young Kennedy Way, Borough of Manhattan, Lucille Bulger Place, Borough of Manhattan, Alexander Felix Place, Borough of Manhattan, Mother Gloria A. Boyce Way, Borough of Brooklyn, Richie Perez Way, Borough of Manhattan, Franciscan Way, Borough of the Bronx, Reverend Dr. Jerry Mosby Way, Borough of the Bronx, Joseph Albergo Way, Borough of Queens, Michael A. Clarke Avenue, Borough of Queens, Mother Teresa Way, Borough of the Bronx, Poor Freddie?s Avenue, Borough of Queens and the repeal of section 38 of local law number 28 for the year 2007.
see agenda

Transportation; Governmental Operations; Parks & Recreation Helen D. Foster, John C. Liu, Helen Sears, Chairs
Tuesday, March 3, 1:00 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Street Trees and Sidewalks: Assessing the Parks and Recreation Pilot Program and
see agenda

Zoning & Franchises Tony Avella, Chair
Wednesday, March 4, 9:30 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available Friday, February 27, 2009, in Room 5 City Hall

Landmarks, Public Siting & Maritime Uses Jessica S. Lappin, Chair
Wednesday, March 4, 11:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available Friday, February 27, 2009, in Room 5 City Hall

Planning, Dispositions & Concessions Daniel R. Garodnick, Chair
Wednesday, March 4, 1:00 PM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: See Land Use Calendar Available Friday, February 27, 2009, in Room 5 City Hall

Technology in Government Gale A. Brewer, Chair
Thursday, March 5, 11:00 AM
College of Staten Island
Details: Hearing: Technology in Government is holding a joint hearing on broadband access with the Broadband Advisory Committee Location: College of
Staten Island Recital Hall at Building 1P / Center for the Arts 2800 Victory Boulevard Staten Island, NY 10314

Economic Development * Addition David I. Weprin, Thomas White, Jr., Chair Thursday, March 5, 11:00 AM
Committee Room – City Hall
Details: Oversight The Impact of the Federal Economic Stimulus Package on New York City Update

Contracts; Environmental Protection; Civil Service & Labor Miguel Martinez, James F. Gennaro, Letitia James, Chairs
Thursday, March 5, 1:00 PM
Council Chambers – City Hall
Details: Oversight – Outsourcing Operation of the Croton Water Filtration Plant

General Welfare; Education Bill de Blasio, Robert Jackson, Chairs
Thursday, March 5, 1:00 PM
Hearing Room – 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Details: Oversight ? Examining the Administration?s Plans to Transition Kindergarten-Aged Children from ACS centers to Public School

Immigration Kendall Stewart, Chair
Friday, March 6, 1:00 PM
Hostos Community College
Details: Tour: Hostos Community College Immigration Center Location: 427 Walton Avenue, T-501 Bronx, NY 10451