Angry New Yorker

Friday, December 31, 2004
We'd hope to let the year pass quietly into the deep, but, true to form, The New York Times pulls us back in.

Are We Stingy? No. Are the New York Times' Editorial Page Editors Liberals? Yes.

The New York Times ends the year with an idiotic editorial (Are we Stingy? Yes. , available here) that pulls off the liberal equivalent of a triple-play by tweaking Bush, striking up the band for a chorus of "The U.S. is the worst", and tossing it over to third to praise both Europe and the U.N.

First, the NY Times is populated by leftists with a superiority complex - granted, not all, but there are more people there who can't logically reason their way out of a paper bag than there are those who can rationally see and digest both sides of an issue. That's a fact.

Second, this insane rush to dump money at the tsunami catastrophe is both foolish and counter-productive. The end result will be, again, waste and fraud on a massive scale fueled by the understandable and righteous wishes of well-intentioned people around the world.

The proper way to gin up the necessary resources is to FIRST get a rough handle on the disaster; THEN, determine how much would be immediately needed; and FINALLY, get countries to pledge to pony up over time the funds as money is spent on the immediate relief and on longer term reconstructive aid. The one way most definitely NOT to go about financing the operation is the way the New York Times supports: namely, get countries to engage in one-upmanship of "I pledged more money than you to prove I'm not stingy."

Unfortunately, however, in addition to its heavy contingent of leftists, the Times must be heavily strewn with people from single-child families. As folks from families with plenty of kids we learned early on that engaging in "oh, yeah! are too!" battles never accomplished anything. Sadly, it's a lesson the Times has yet to master.

UPDATE: According to Andew S. Natsios (bio here), U.S. Agency for Int'l Development Administrator,, who sounds like a very reasonable and rationale person (e.g. "don't send in your used clothing, ... cans of food"; press conference available via C-SPAN, here), stated that according to actual figures, (see press conference link, supra, at time 14:44 of 1:02:21), regarding levels of contributions OECD figures reveal the U.S. contributed US $2.4 billion last year, s 40% of ALL contributions by ALL countries, making the U.S. the largest single aid contributor by far. Stick that in your pipe New York Times and U.N.

UPDATE II: (the following via

STINGINESS UPDATE: Over $7.5 million raised by so far.

UPDATE: It's over $8.5 million now.

MORE: U.S. government aid is now up to $350 million.

ARE AMERICANS STINGY? Daniel Drezner and Bruce Bartlett look at the numbers.

Day by Day has its own take, too:


UPDATE III The amazing Belmont Club notes the U.N. is better at taking credit than at actually accomplishing anything of substance, and loves to deny "legitimacy" to any actions not under the U.N. baby-blue flag of failure. Read it all here.

Also, Michael J. Totten gives the mindless Clare Short a full broadside for her comments (here), such as, "[i]t is the only body that has the moral authority [to carry on this relief effort]." D'oh!! Say what?! Read Totten's dead-on salvo,
First Stingy, Now Unilateral - here.

Monday, December 20, 2004
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Barring any major news, or items we can't resist skewering between now and Jan. 1, 2005, this will be the last post of 2004. It's been a long year, and since one of the most important hard drives here apparently accepted the offer of early retirement (i.e. it failed) this morning, we're going to be busy.

Still, this news story from the New York Times captured our interest for several reasons:

Report Sees Rail Expansion as Crucial for Manhattan


Published: December 20, 2004

Job growth in the New York metropolitan region will stagnate without a major expansion of commuter rail and subway access to Midtown and Lower Manhattan over the next 20 years, according to a report to be released by New York University today.

The full story is available here, and the report by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management referenced in the story is entitled, well, we don't know what the title is because The N.Y. Times' poor reporting fails to name it. And as far as we can tell, it isn't yet available on the Rudin Center website. But the Times' headline is both indicative and damning. Rail expansion crucial for Manhattan? Ahem, I think that should read "crucial for New York City." Granted the latte and croissant crowd at the Times readily forgets New York City isn't just Manhattan and four warehouse areas, but folks, please, try to make it a little less obvious next time, eh?

Second, the story continues with the observation that:
"'[w]e've gone through 40 years where we've really forgotten about the significance of building new capacity,' said Rosemary Scanlon, an author of the report. (The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, was completed in 1964.) 'All of the major cities in the world seem able to grab hold of what they need to expand and grow. We seem to be myopic about it.'"
Really? Paris, Tokyo and London have been doing exactly what to significantly expand and grow in the same period? Not to excuse NYC's shortcomings -- which are both many and deep -- but NYC has had a regional transit plan sitting in a drawer [see description of 1968 Program for Action, details available here] for something like 40 years, with no movement post-Robert Moses. Ms. Scanlon report is just another periodic push to get it, or something, going.

Third, the reports' authors hoist a blatant falsehood on the reporter, who doesn't know any better. Namely,
"[w]e've had suburbanization in the region, as in all regions, but during the same time, the relative strength of Manhattan as an employment center and as a generator of personal income has grown," said Mr. Seeley, who retired in 1997 after a career at the Port Authority and the city government. "It's become more dominant. This is not a centrifugal region like Los Angeles."
This could not be flatly more untrue. If anything, Manhattan's role as the employment center of the area has diminished, as edge cities have taken hold, and as company after company has moved major back offices to Brooklyn and New Jersey. Granted, Manhattan's position and prestige as a job center remains, but it's far from becoming "more dominant." Would Mr. Seeley take off his Port Authority rose-colored glasses for a moment he would instantly see this.

Finally, the report ends on both a cautious and ironic note:

Because the report calls for increased rail access, and not vehicular traffic, its recommendations are unlikely to be controversial among neighborhood advocates and environmentalists concerned about preservation of public space. [ed. note - Massive construction projects underground haven't cause any controversy, cost overruns or neighborhood opposition? Hmmm. See, e.g. Boston's Big Dig] But its call for major public investment - at a time when the state faces rising education, health care and pension costs - may be unrealistic. [ed. note - The understatement of the year.]

"We have to ask ourselves what's the price if we don't do these projects," said Elliot G. Sander, the director of the Rudin Center and a former city transportation commissioner. "New York risks the possibility of having a real ceiling on the economic growth of the financial capital of the country."

"Earth to Mr. Sander. Come in, Mr. Sander!" New York not only "risks the possibility" of a ceiling on economic growth, that ceiling is already firmly in place and is made of steel-reinforced, foot-thick concrete. This is not to say that NYC couldn't somehow pull of the nose-dive it's just entering -- only that someone needs to pull up on the stick soon.

We've since found the report discussed, Rosemary Scanlon and Edward S. Seeley Jr., At Capacity: The Need for More Rail Access to the Manhattan CBD, Nov. 2004, and it's available as a PDF here.

Thursday, December 16, 2004
A Must Read...

Deroy Murdock in today's National Review Online, hits the nail on the head perfectly in his essay "President Pataki -- Cannot Be" here. Some highlights:

Hudson Institute president Herbert London notes that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's $105.3 billion fiscal year 2005 budget spends $2,967 per capita on 35.5 million citizens. New York's $101.3 billion fiscal plan, in contrast, spends $5,276 per capita on 19.2 million people. Even worse, New York's 20th consecutive delayed budget was due April 1 but was adopted August 11. While state legislators are mainly to blame, the largely unassertive, often invisible Pataki neither can inspire nor dragoon lawmakers into adult behavior.

"It's difficult to imagine that Pataki has a future as a national leader after he's brought New York to its knees," London says. "Not everyone in America knows George Pataki, but those who know Pataki don't want him to do for America what he's done for New York."

And more
New Yorkers pay $141 in combined state and local taxes per $1,000 in income. America's highest tax burden is 26 percent above the national average. Local taxes alone are 71 percent above average. These Citizens Budget Commission figures are for fiscal year 2000 and do not reflect subsequent state and local tax hikes that have uglified this picture.
Get the picture?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
The NYC Council's Way is to "Beat Them Into Submission" reports that:

"Landlords Face Higher Fines For Heat Violations

Landlords who don't turn up the heat may have to pay up. The City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings voted unanimously Tuesday to increase penalties for landlords who do not provide tenants with adequate heat and hot water during winter months. Violators could wind up paying $500 a day. The current penalty is $250. "

So with heating oil up 40% from last winter (see NYSERDA Home Heating Prices), what's the City Council's answer? Adding to smaller landlords problems. That makes little sense, but it's typical of Gifford Miller's media hounding, and the City Council's know-nothing, everyone-can-pay-anything approach to governing. Money? Don't talk to us about money. It grows on trees here, right?

Monday, December 13, 2004

And the MTA wonders why no one believes its books... submitted for your disapproval, this following tale of triteness from today's New York Times:
December 11, 2004

Facing Deficit, M.T.A. Gave a 22% Raise to Its Director


The chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is seeking a fare increase and new state taxes to stanch a growing budget deficit, approved a 22 percent pay raise for the authority's executive director last year; the raise took effect last January.

The action by the chairman, Peter S. Kalikow, raised the annual salary of the authority's highest-paid officer, Katherine N. Lapp, to $235,000 from $192,500.

* * *

The salary of Ms. Lapp, a lawyer who was appointed in 2002, is in line with that of heads at other major urban transit systems.

The top official of the metropolitan transit agency in Boston is paid $225,000; in Chicago, $197,750; in Los Angeles, $302,375; in the San Francisco Bay area, $269,717; and in Washington, $259,088, officials with the five transit agencies said this week.

Direct comparisons with other urban transit systems are difficult, however, because of the New York system's size and because it is an amalgamation of two commuter railroads, a bus system on Long Island and New York City Transit, the largest component. Each of the four transit agencies has its own history, organizational culture and administrative staff and operates with relative autonomy.

* * *

In April 2002, the president of New York City Transit, Lawrence G. Reuter, negotiated a new contract with the authority. His salary rose by 23 percent, to $225,000 from $182,500.

A year later, in April 2003, the president of Metro-North Railroad, Peter Cannito, renegotiated his contract and received a 25 percent pay increase, to $215,000 from $172,500.

In October 2003, the senior vice president for operations at the Long Island Rail Road, James J. Dermody, was named its president. He is paid $215,000, the same as Mr. Cannito. He previously made $172,010.

Two other agency heads also received substantial salary increases last year.

Michael C. Ascher, the president of M.T.A. Bridges and Tunnels - also known as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority - received a new contract, raising his salary to $182,500 from $157,500.

Read the entire article here.


From Gotham Gazette... [ed. note - does this surprise anyone?]

New York State is the Least Economically Free State in the Nation

A new report by the California-based Pacific Research Institute (PRI) and Forbes magazine has concluded that New York State is the least economically free state in the nation. The 2004 U.S. Economic Freedom Index ranked New York at or near the bottom of the list in four of five measures considered in the study: government size (50), welfare spending (50), regulatory (42), fiscal (47), and judicial (8).

The report can be found here.

Friday, December 10, 2004
We May Be Angry, but the British Are Out of Their Minds...

As a kid I thought the British were both cool and tough. Beatles and British Empire -- guys with big mustaches in Pith helmets enduring it all. You didn't mess with a people who'd successfully resisted every invasion of the British isle, kept a stiff upper lip and had the sheer gall to fight in day-glow RED uniforms [obviously they no longer wear redcoats, but still...].

So it's with no small dismay that the Brits, as a society not individually, today appear to be a majority of ultra pacifists and pensive hand-wringers (personified perhaps a bit too Monty Pythonish by the current crop of BBC's correspondents). The Belmont Club (here) launches a scathing exegesis on the U.K.'s practice of criminally charging homeowners who've killed robbers. It's now finally, stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy in Britain. (E.g. >Dr. Ian Stephen, What To Do When Your Home is Burgled, The Scotsman, Dec. 1, 2004, here (recommending "[w]hen individuals are confronted by intruders . . . Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. . . . . be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle.")

The reason this is even noteworthy here in the U.S. is no one thinks twice (well, almost no one) as to whether you have the right to use deadly force should some miscreant burst into your home during the night while your daughter's asleep in the next room and your wife is under the covers. After all, that's what pump action 12-guage shotguns are for; and why racking one is perhaps the single most distinctive sound in the gun world. It's ironic that the bedrock precept that a man's home is his inviolative castle came to us from the British when they've apparently since lost grasp of the concept, and, adding insult to injury, haven't implemented the power of the broken windows theory. (See Theodore Dalrymple, The Frivolity of Evil, available here; and more here).

Our Carefree Governor and Legislature At It Again - Spending Like There's No Tomorrow (with Bloomberg's Full Support)

As Steve Malanga notes (here) in today's Daily News, the Javitts Center, and indeed the whole idea of urban-renovation-by-convention-center, is a white elephant destined to be a sinkhole of taxpayer money.
Bigger Javits big waste of $
Thursday, December 9th, 2004

Despite New York State's huge budget deficits and high debt, our fiscally carefree political leaders in Albany just approved a $1.4 billion expansion of the Javits Convention Center, including a $500 million hotel next door. With the debate over a Jets stadium soaking up most of the attention about the future of the far West Side, New Yorkers have not focused on what a boondoggle the expansion of the convention center is.

Too bad. While opponents of the stadium cite examples from around the country that show sports facilities do not generate much economic payback, they ignore similar hard data on convention centers, which independent experts consider lousy generators of new economic activity, consistently failing to achieve the results that supporters predict for them.

Convention centers flop because cities have been building them at an astounding rate, piling up inventory faster than the industry can use it. In the 1980s, 104 cities and counties constructed convention centers. In the 1990s, 100 cities built or expanded centers, and so far this decade, about 40 more projects are underway, adding about 8 million square feet of space in an industry where demand is not growing very much.

Thursday, December 09, 2004
Proof That 4 out of 5 Dentists Prefer Quinnipiac University?

More "proof" that polls should be abandoned. runs with a poll that concludes, according to, that "New Yorkers across the state overwhelmingly agree with a court-appointed panel’s recommendation to give the city’s public schools billions in extra funding, according to a new survey." The press release and poll results from Quinnipiac are available here and it's chock-full of non-sequiter goodness, though my favorite is a quote from Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, who wry observes:
"It might look different when they get the bill, but for now, New Yorkers from Montauk to Jamestown agree with the court-appointed panel's finding that New York City school children should get billions in extra help"
Gee, ya think? If it isn't costing you anything in the here and now, nearly everyone's for more spending from some nebulous "other" -- everyone except fiscal conservatives that is, which is a rare breed in this state indeed.

One point not noted by NY1, because it doesn't fit in with the ra-ra NYC-boosterism mantra, is that the same poll indicates that 24% of the respondents answers "very dissatisifed" to the question of "[i]n general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in New York State today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?"

18. A court appointed panel has found that an additional 5.6 billion dollars must be spent on New York City's public school students every year to give them a sound basic education. Do you agree or disagree with the panel's finding?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom

Agree 61% 42% 76% 58% 57% 64%
Disagree 31 49 17 34 35 28
DK/NA 8 9 7 8 8 8

UpState..... UpState
Urban Othr Total NYC Sub Wht Blk

Agree 46% 47% 47% 76% 62% 55% 81%
Disagree 44 42 43 19 28 36 16
DK/NA 10 10 10 4 10 10 3

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Crime and Real Estate

Had the classic work of literature been flipped around and written in NYC, it's title would have been more appropriately Crime and Real Estate, rather than Crime and Punishment, because nothing drives people crazier, or to greater desperation than real estate in New York City.

The following unfortunate news story was expected for ages by those who live here... the only surprise is the scenario hasn't happened sooner, or more often: namely, a landlord driven to the financial and psychological edge by a rent control tenant paying a laughable pittance in rent finally takes matters into his own hands. But there are some very suspicious, and patently incorrect items in the story.

For starters, the reporter Mr./Ms.? Kilgannon, states "[the father of the tenants attacked] said he and his wife, May, moved into the Ithaca Street building in 1964 and had always paid $400 a month in rent." I don't think so. $400 a month rent in 1964, at a time when a good yearly salary was, perhaps, $5000. I'd double-check that at The New York Times.

Second, if the rent was $400 in 1964 -- which it clearly wasn't -- there's no way it would remain $400 forty years later. Two major problems with rent control in NYC (not to be confused with rent stabilization) is that rents for rent control units can only rise a small set amount based on the original pre-1971 rent amount AND that people, like these sons, can "inherit" a rent control apartment when they clearly should not and are then subsidized by the landlord and other tenants.
Queens Landlord Convicted in Plot to Kill Two Tenants

December 8, 2004

A Queens landlord was found guilty yesterday of trying to plot the murder of two tenants paying $400 a month for an apartment in his building, so that he could rent out their apartment to new tenants for at least $1,500 a month.

A jury in State Supreme Court in Queens found the landlord, Juan Basagoitia, 50, guilty of hiring two other tenants in the building to kill William Lavery, 35, and his brother, David Lavery, 40, who had lived in the three-bedroom apartment on the third floor since childhood.

The brothers, who were badly injured in the attack but survived, legally assumed the lease in recent years from their father, George Lavery, who first took the apartment in 1964 at the same rent.

* * *

After their arrests, they told the police that Mr. Basagoitia had agreed to pay them $2,500 to kill the brothers. Mr. Basagoitia, 50, a Bolivian immigrant who bought the building in 1997, was then arrested also.

* * *

He said he and his wife, May, moved into the Ithaca Street building in 1964 and had always paid $400 a month in rent. Mr. Basagoitia bought the building, a brownstone, in 1996, he said, and immediately began having a lawyer send eviction letters to the Laverys.

Mr. Lavery said his sons legally assumed the lease in 1997, but were harassed repeatedly by Mr. Basagoitia, at one point being taken to housing court. The apartment was ransacked and burglarized several times, he said, and they suspected Mr. Basagoitia each time, he said.

Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
A Day That Continues to Live in Infamy

Although much of the press has allowed the day to past unrecognized, today's anniversary of the day that will live in infamy has renewed meaning in a time of war. Below are some bonafide websites to support our troops, and here's the inspiring and noble story of Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who gave his life for his men in Fallaja with:
"an act living up to the heroes of the Marine Corps’ past, such as Medal of Honor recipients Pfc. James LaBelle and Lance Cpl. Richard A. Anderson, Peralta – in his last fleeting moments of consciousness- reached out and pulled the grenade into his body. LaBelle fought on Iwo Jima and Anderson in Vietnam, both died saving their fellow Marines by smothering the blast of enemy grenades." (Read the entire story of Sgt. Peralta here.)
To support the troops consider:
Angry New Yorker does not support actions like that of this deserter. Canada can have him; we certainly don't want him. But I'd much rather see him extradited, court-martialed, and if found guilty (is there any doubt?), tossed into military prison where he can ponder the error of his ways.
Soldier looks to Canada
TORONTO — An Army private seeking refugee status in Canada after refusing to
serve in Iraq told immigration officials on Monday that the war is illegal and would
have forced him to commit war crimes.
Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman, 26, fled from Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 2 and lives in Toronto with his 31-year-oldwife, Nga Nguyen, and 2-year-old son, Liam. Hinzman told the Immigration andRefugee Board the war in Iraq was illegal and fighting in it would have made him a war criminal. He also said he would be persecuted if forced to return to the United States.
A member of the 82nd Airborne Division, Hinzman could face charges as a deserter
if sent home and face up to five years in prison. He left his unit about two weeks after learning his outfit would be sent to Iraq.
- Stars and Stripes, Mideast Ed., Dec. 8, 2004, at 6, available at

An Insult to Nannies

A week ago I wondered when New York State would take the next step in its ongoing march to the all-encompassing nanny state (see "NY Passes Law Requiring Young Skateboarders To Wear Helmets" here). Little did I know, however, that Canada was determined to surpass its neighbor to the south. This in via Tim Blair, via the incomparable Mark Steyn:

"For years, Mark Steyn has been using "federal bicycling-helmet regulations" as a mocking nanny-state gag. Little did he know that helmet regulators were so insanely serious:

I should have known better. The other day, a private member's bill was introduced in the Ontario legislature requiring every grown-up, before mounting a bicycle anywhere in the province, from Niagara Falls to Hudson's Bay, to strap him or herself into a helmet. Needless to say, the bill was approved on its second reading unanimously ...

To call this a "nanny state" is an insult to nannies. When Baron von Trapp hired Maria to look after all the little von Trapps, he didn't object to her and the kids riding their bicycles down the lane while singing "Do-Re-Mi" unhelmeted. Forty years on, the gal who was 16 going on 17 and the telegraph boy who was 17 going on 18 are 56 going on 57 and 57 going on 58, but in Ontario they're still not old enough to ride a bicycle without government supervision ...

Chris Gilham, who runs the website, has analyzed the impact of similar laws in Australia. One consequence is that fewer people bicycle and thus what was meant to be a public health benefit is, in fact, a public health disaster--"mass discouragement of society's most popular exercise at a time of soaring obesity."

New York's Senate Says Who Cares if New York Can Compete With Other States?

That's essentially the message from the New York State Senate as it voted 51-7 Monday to override Governor George Pataki's veto of a minimum wage bill previously passed by the Senate in August to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour by 2007. January 1 will see the wage pop up to $6, followed by a rise on New Year’s Day each of the following two years, to $6.75 in 2006, and $7.15 in 2007. But why should the Senate care? Their jobs are virtually lifetime sinecures.

Monday, December 06, 2004
Required Reading

Commentary Magazine is required reading around here, and the Dec. 2004 issue contains a frightening and prophetic article, by David Pryce-Jones, called The Islamization of Europe?.

Europe is facing big trouble from the growing number of unassimilated Islamofascists in its midst, and it's high time Europe and the West got off its relativistic, secular butt and started acting... otherwise say goodbye to Europe and hello to Eurabia. We're certainly not looking forward to Iran getting the atomic bomb shortly-- thanks to EU appeasement and cowardice.

Read the entire article here, or as an Acrobat PDF here.

This is considered progress in New York City

The U.S. Mail dropped off an unwelcome envelope today; namely, my quarterly NYC Real Estate tax bill, which as always is up again [indeed, since 2001 the real estate tax for my house is up nearly 40% in total.] The NYC Dept. of Finance Commissioner, Martha E. Stark, a long-time civil servant dating back to the Dinkins administration, pats herself on the back in the accompanying letter "Introducing the Dept. of Finance's New Statement of Account" saying "I am pleased to introduce . . . [a] new Statement of Account. * * * designed to give you a comprehensive simple summary of charges on your account."

Well, hi-di-ho, aren't you NYC civil servants just grand. It took until 2004 to actually put the info together so someone other than the minions at the Finance Dept. could make heads or tails of a property statement without a blue ribbon panel of tax experts. BUT, the "new" statement leaves OFF several crucial bits of info (and it remains to be seen whether a yearly statement will now provide the missing bits). First, the assessment calculations are nowhere to be found, though in its credit the DOF, for the first time, lists the Combined Tax Rate, now 15.0940% with its constitute parts. Second, the assessed amount is NOWHERE to be found, and this is the real crucial item because the period within which to challenge an assessment runs out, I believe, in four months. I'll have to log on to the DOF site at and see if any corresponding changes have occurred there, but I bet dollars to donuts there haven't been any.

UPDATE: The Dept. of Finance site actually now offers a great deal of background info, albeit, it's hardly intuitive. I can't see my mother or grandmother EVER being able to find anything there, but that doesn't change the fact that my market value assessment has popped by nearly $200k, according to the city, since 2001. It's the stealth tax increase they don't tell you about.

HEY, BBC! Stay out of U.S. Immigration Issues!

A report by the BBC World Service' "Outlook" program last Friday left me, true to my title, pretty angry. The segment was described thus:

Families Separated by Deportation
The tough enforcement of US immigration laws has brought the number of people deported to record levels. The effect has been the break-up of more and more families as the law catches up with one parent while children born in the States are left behind. We hear from a mother now back in Honduras about the heart-breaking separation from her child in New York.

The BBC correspondent interviewed this mother summarily deported from the U.S. in 2004 -- AFTER COMING TO NEW YORK CITY ILLEGALLY IN 1994! What the report doesn't mention, but an astute listener discerns immediately, is that, despite being here for 10 years, she apparently doesn't speak English (or, alternatively, the BBC didn't want to be guilty of violating her "language rights" and so the interview was held completely in Spanish, with the interpreter giving us the gist in English of her tearful situation.) What the report also doesn't note is that while deportations may be at record levels, so is illegal immigration. And a tough approach like this, could persuade others like this "mother" to, perhaps, think twice before wading across the Rio Grande, or disappearing into the underground after landing at J.F.K.

The report is available here:

Hey 9/11 Families, Please Do Everyone a Favor. Stay Silent

Since when do we give the victims of tragedies a veto over national policy? Did the victims' families in Pearl Harbor get to decide policy in prosecuting WWII? Were they gathered on the Mall in Washington to demand Congress act to safeguard the Pacific? I ask because a handful of the 9/11 families gathered at the site of the former World Trade Center for the cameras over the weekend to pressure Congress into passing the current intelligence legislation (see 9/11 Families Push Congress To Overhaul Intelligence, available at here). Even the ever detestable City Council Speaker Gifford Miller launched his usual mindless pandering, stating "[w]e want the speaker of the House to start listening to his conscience and stop listening to those few colleagues who don’t want to give up a certain amount of turf and are frustrating these necessary reforms." Hey, Miller! Listen to this: shut up, and focus on NYC.

I wager neither the families, nor Miller, has actually read the proposed legislation, and don't have a clue as to what the disputes are actually about at bottom. Why can I say this confident in its accuracy? Because it's nearly impossible to find the text of the proposed bills at either the House or Senate websites. Go try it. The nearest I've come is this:

Intelligence, reform of U.S. operations S.190, S.2774, S.2811, S.2840, S.2845* H.R.10*, H.R.4104, H.R.4584, H.R.5024, H.R.5040, H.R.5050, H.R.5223

UPDATE: Apparently agreement has been reached on the legislation. More details to come.

Thursday, December 02, 2004
One question: why only "Communities of Color"?

"Mayor Bloomberg Announces $5 Million Increase in Health Department HIV Prevention Budget for Communities of Color

Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Frieden today announced a permanent addition of $5 million to DOHMH's budget to fight HIV/AIDS in communities of color. The Mayor also announced that significant progress has been made in the City's fight against HIV/AIDS in the past year, including increased availability of rapid HIV testing at Department of Homeless Services intake sites, STD clinics, and Rikers Island and the establishment of syringe exchange programs in Queens.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
ArrowRead the press release
ArrowWatch the video in dial-up or broadband "

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Work for the city, but live outside it?

We've always found NYC's various residency requirements, which require people who work in certain jobs for the city to live within the five boros, absolutely insane, and have wondered how they've passed constitutional scrutiny (see U.S. Const. art. iv, sec. 2, cl.1 (detailing privileges and immunities clause).
Yet, the NYS Court of Appeals (our highest state court) just decided that NYC employees who live outside New York City, can be summarily fired without an administrative hearing. We'll have more to say about this when we have a chance to digest the full decisions - In the Matter of Francisco Felix v. New York City Department of Citywide Adminstrative Services, available here as a PDF.

Update: Having now read the decision, the Court of Appeals was absolutely right in this case -- at least with its application of the residency requirement. I also remembered that the P&I clause applies to states, and not municipalities, though there is a gray line. Still, given the price of real estate in NYC and it's rise since 1986, when Mayor Koch slapped the residency requirement on, the idea of requiring NYC employees to live in NYC (yes, I know when you phrase it that way it sounds like a no-brainer) is a long-term prescription for disaster.

The end is in sight ...

For any hope of tax relief in New York State given yesterday's report recommendation of an extra $14 billion over five years for the NYC school system comes to pass. [The full "Report and Recommendations of the Judicial Referees" document is available here as a PDF.]

So, where the hell is this extra money going to come from, when both NYS and NYC are teetering on the brink of fiscal implosion? The report doesn't say. And let's not forget that this initial largesse is then followed by an extra $5.8 billion a year after the fifth year. To put this obscene amount of money into a bit of perspective, remember that Congress authorized $87 billion for the Iraq war to pay for troop needs, and andhelp get an entire country of 25 million people on their feet. Granted that was an amount for one fiscal year, but according to the Referee's R&R, "in New York City, [there are] 1.1 million children, in more than 1,300 schools across five counties." (R&R of Judicial Referees, at 2). I rather doubt that figure, given there at most 8.5 to 9 million people in NYC -- not counting illegal aliens, who put a large strain on public services in the city.

Bottomline: there's only one place to get this money, namely, your pocket in the form of new taxes, "fees", tolls, tariffs, convenience charges, surcharges, etc., etc.. Mayor Bloomberg has been a major disappoint in the past year regarding education. He took office with the mantra that more money wasn't the solution to NYC's school woes. Now he's knuckled under to the teacher's union, who at this very moment is asking for a 14% salary increase (since they've been without a contract since last year), leaving it to Pataki to grow a spine and fight this nonsense.
For a comprehensive look at this situation, E.J. McMahon's article in today's NY Post Online, available here, notes:

Under one scenario, the state and city would agree to evenly divide the
cost of a court ruling modeled on the referees' report. Including the debt
service on new capital borrowing, that would require Albany and City Hall to
each somehow come up with an extra $3.2 billion a year (in 2004-05 dollars) by
In truth, the referees' recommendation in the CFE case is a fiscal fantasy. And like all fantasies, it is based on myth.
The first myth: More money is all that's needed to fix New York City's schools.
The second myth: Billions of dollars in new state aid can somehow be raised without ultimately raising taxes on New York City residents.
The next two months — before the judge issues a ruling based on the referees' report — represent a shrinking window of opportunity for Pataki to hammer out a more fiscally sane settlement."

And provides a good overview...

Court Panel Recommends NYC Receive $14 Billion In School Funding

A court-appointed panel on Tuesday recommended New York City’s public schools receive an additional $14 billion in funding over the next five years in response to a landmark lawsuit. [Ed. note - the full referee panel report is available here as a PDF].

Under the proposal issued by the three special masters, the city’s Department of Education would get an extra $1.4 billion more a year every year for the next four years from the state for school operations. Ultimately, the new school funding would hit $5.6 billion a year starting in the summer of 2008.

In addition, the panel went even further, saying the city should also get an additional $9.2 billion for school construction and repairs.

The report from the special masters will now go to Justice Leland DeGrasse, who will likely issue a final decision in January on how much funding Albany lawmakers will have to allocate for the city.

“Enough is enough. [Governor George] Pataki, [state Senate Majority Leader Joe] Bruno, [Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver – get your troops in line, [because] it’s time to do business on behalf of the children of New York City,” said Manhattan City Councilman Robert Jackson.

The court appointed the three-member panel in the summer after the state Legislature and Pataki failed to agree on education funding reform. Last year, the state’s highest court ruled that the state’s funding formula shortchanges the city’s public school students.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit that was filed over a decade ago by a coalition of activists and parents called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. Councilman Jackson, then just a parent in Manhattan, first sued in 1991, charging Albany was shortchanging New York City students.

“What it reflects is that when anybody takes a careful look at the magnitude of the needs for additional resources in this city, even the most conservative numbers get surpassed,” said Michael Rebell of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

“It’s time to implement this court's decision,” said Speaker Silver. “Nine years of appeals by the governor have to end.”

Representatives from both the city and state presented their arguments at hearings held by the panel. The city asked the state to provide an additional $5.3 billion in education funding over the next five years, as well as $6.6 billion for school repairs and construction.

The state only wanted to contribute $2 billion more, and also requested control of how the money is spent. Mayor Michael Bloomberg rejected that idea, since the state Legislature gave him control over city schools in 2002.

Bloomberg praised Tuesday's report, saying it affirmed what he has been arguing all along.

However, Pataki says he's not convinced the panel's recommendations are sound. The governor's office released a statement saying: “We are particularly concerned that the recommendations appear to reject any type of real reform and fail to overhaul the current accountability system, while recommending a substantial infusion of new spending."

While the state can appeal the judge's final ruling, the governor on Tuesday repeated his stance that he’d like to negotiate an agreement outside of the courtroom.

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