Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ASSORTED: Animals getting sicker in city shelters; Verizon fails; BX Small Biz Forum; Fair Housing Act

More extinct NYC as seen on Seinfeld re-runs: H and H bagels on the UWS; Bolo restaurant....

Just in case anyone thought the mass closings of the city's small businesses had somehow been resolved--what with all the very recent attention and some proposed action by certain legislators--it hasn't. Just read this post on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Using this anecdote, apply it against every neighborhood in the city. Because it isn't exaggeration or hyperbole to state the obvious: mom and pops are being pushed out in every community in every borough, and it's been happening for decades. 

EAP readers know I've been covering this issue for a very long time, and not only on this blog. I was reporting about this before it became a pseudo-cause celebre. And, you'll also know that what makes this situation particularly tragic is the fact that our city government has been doing all it could and can to perpetuate this problem, which makes absolutely no sense given the city's small businesses are NYC's main employer, especially critical in immigrant communities.

So, TakeBackNYC will be holding another forum, this time in the Bronx. For the most part, TakeBack has eschewed having elected officials involved in these town halls because, they perceive, so many are compromised by the power and money of the real estate industry--and too often they would be right. I think it's safe to declare few of our city's electeds are familiar with Profiles in Courage--either the book or the concept.

However, they are making an exception at this week's meeting because the current prime sponsor of 'The Small Business Jobs Survival Act'--what many consider to be the best solution, albeit about fifteen years too late--represents the Bronx.  Here are the details:

Bronx Small Biz Forum
Wednesday, September 30, 7-9pm
Hellenic Orthodox Community Church, 3573 Bruckner Blvd., parking in rear or take IRT to Pelham Bay Park Station;
Sponsors include Bronx Times, Bronx Merchants Coalition and Townsquared-NYC.

Also, here are several more WBAI Morning Show segments I produced. These are a bit more diverse than the ones listed in my last post, ranging from having the state divest from fossil fuel holdings, to the miserable failing of Verizon after receiving an exclusive city contract to bring broadband to every portion of the city, to the overlooked SCOTUS decision upholding the 1968 Fair Housing Act. 

Finally, because this is also one of those issues I've covered (almost exclusively) for years, an update on what's going on at the city's "independent" animal shelter system. The latest concern stems from sometimes preventable diseases spreading like wildfire among animals in ACC 'care.' Because of the still-unsanitary conditions and overcrowding, these diseases are deadlier and spread faster. Even worse, not only is the organization in denial about the extent of the problem, they're adopting out sick animals without disclosing the extent of illness to rescue groups, who often then have to spend their very limited resources to care for the animal.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause-NY, discusses the abject failure of telecom company Verizon to bring fiber optic services called FIOS to all of NYC by 2014, as codified in a 2008 city contract. Yet, a recent city audit found up to 75% of NYC still doesn't have access to Fios. Why again is the general consensus that Mike Bloomberg is such a great businessman?

NY State Senator Liz Krueger talks about sponsoring the "Fossil Fuel Divestment Act," which if passed, will direct the state comptroller to withdraw state pension funds from fossil fuel holdings. She also explains why she signed on to a lawsuit against the state Board of Elections for not closing the notorious LLC loophole, a way the real estate industry in particular has circumvented campaign finance limits.

Esther Koslow, pres. and chair of Shelter Reform Action Committee, gives an update on what's going on at the city's animal shelters.  Most alarming is the rampant and virulent strains of diseases putting animals in their care at great risk, diseases that could be curable and preventable, but are often caused by poor conditions and overcrowding. The city and DOH still refuse to build shelters in every borough, despite a 2000 law passed by the City Council, but overrun by former Speaker Christine Quinn while she continued her mission to do the bidding of former Mayor Bloomberg. And, Koslow discusses the inherent problems and contradiction in continuing to allow DOH to oversee issues relating to animals while claiming ACC is "independent" though all funding and key decisions are made by DOH.

The NAACP-LDF discusses the importance of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Fair Housing Act,  Although somewhat overshadowed  in the mainstream press, this decision based on the 'disparate impact' standard is as critical to civil rights in America as is more well known legislation like the Voting Rights Act (already gutted by SCOTUS).

Monday, September 14, 2015

THE POWER OF BIG REAL ESTATE IN NYC: Permeating throughout all levels of government--case studies

Another very recent extinct (at least at its 40 year location) NYC site as seen on Seinfeld reruns: Trash & Vaudeville, the last remnant of NYC's original punk neighborhood and my now-extinguished longtime spiritual home.
Because of other projects and family commitments, I haven't found much time to write over the summer, into the fall even. However, I have continued producing segments for WBAI radio's Morning Show. Here are several dealing with land-use, development and real estate in New York City.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, discusses the anti-landmarking moves in the "progressive" NYC Council, widely seen by preservationists as a massive land-grab by the real estate industry. Noting more than half of the city's current landmarked sites and districts would not have met the proposed deadlines including the Empire State building, Berman said the bill removes any discretion from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  Since the hearing, the source for REBNY'S anti-landmarking report has refuted the powerful real estate organization's findings, and in fact, said rent-regulated apartments are "better preserved in landmarked areas."

Michael Kramer from 'Save Our Seaport' on the National Trust for Historic Preservation naming the Seaport Historic District as one of the nation's top endangered sites, on the backroom deal between the NYCEDC and a private developer rife with conflicts-of-interest, and the effect of mega development on the historic district and the anti-flood plan for Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn.

Alicia Boyd, founder of the Movement to Protect the People discusses the rigged process and widespread corruption amongst local elected officials and the community board evident in the city's plans to upzone the minuscule commercial district for mixed use. That means, according to Boyd, "affordable housing" that's not really affordable in the only African American area abutting Prospect Park which will cause massive commercial and residential displacement, and those valuable park views.

Louis Flores, publisher of the online news site Progress Queens, has consistently covered NYCHA issues in an in-depth way often ignored or avoided by the mainstream media.  His interview includes discussion of the lack of governmental NYCHA oversight by those officials and offices tasked with such responsibilities; insider deals the city has made to sell Section 8 buildings with well-connected developers who have track records of shoddy work; selling city assets ie land at NYCHA complexes with no ULURP as mandated by the city charter. This interview was conducted before the city announced plans to develop market rate housing on NYCHA property.