Corey B. Bearak

    Government & Public Affairs Counsel                                     Attorney-At-Law

(718) 343-6779     facsimile (888) 379-3492    Corey@CoreyBearak.com

Government & Public Affairs Counsel
Attorney-At-Law

(718) 343-6779
facsimile (888) 379-3492
Corey@CoreyBearak.com

 

Commentary by Corey

This page includes links to commentaries on public affairs and public policy and blogs on other items of interest. I call my commentary -- what others might call a blog -- The Public Ought To Know based on my public affairs and public policy column of the same name that currently runs in The Labor Press. It previously ran in the award-winning TimesLedger chain of weekly newspapers, from June 2003 through May 2005 which then included these editions: The Astoria Times, The Bayside Times, The Flushing Times, TheForest Hills Ledger, The Fresh Meadows Times, The Glen Oaks Ledger, The Howard Beach Times, The Jackson Heights Times, The Jamaica Times, The Laurelton Times, The Little Neck Ledger, The Queens Village Times, The Richmond Hill Times, The Ridgewood Ledger, The Whitestone Times, and The Woodside Times.

Corey's e-book
Learn more about purchasing this resource for understanding the way we deal with our problems today. Currently available at BarnesandNoble.com for Nook, Amazon.com for Kindle and at Apple iBooks (for Mac, iPhone and iPad). You can view very brief summaries of each column below under the heading: The Public Ought To Know Columns from the TimesLedger newspapers.

Some other published op-eds appear in this website's Publications section (found in Projects).

You can also find some of my comments, statements and testimonies on civic and related public affairs issues, transportation and transit and issues of concern to the Jewish community on several other websites. I occasionally blog for Gotham City Networking, Inc.®. View my YouTube Channel for video commentary.

Corey's The Public Ought To Know Commentaries in The Labor Press

In July 2009, I brought back The Public Ought To Know as a forum for additional on-line commentary and since January 2015, The Labor Press publishes the column:

We Can Make NYC Property Taxes Fair And Equitable
(The Labor Press, May 11, 2017)

Transit Unions To MTA: Negotiate! ATU 1179 & 1181 Rally outside Two Broadway
(The Labor Press, February 24, 2017)

LaGuardia AirTrain – a great idea to spur Good Jobs – with roots in Queens Civic movement
(The Labor Press, February 21, 2017)

New Laws Address Illegal Vans
(The Labor Press, February 15, 2017)

Community Board Membership Matters For Labor
(The Labor Press, December 23, 2016)

Progress on Recycling Makes $ense
(The Labor Press, November 23, 2016)

Buses Support Smart Development
(The Labor Press, November 16, 2016)

Election Evidenced Need to Expand Voting
(The Labor Press, November 11, 2016)

An Approach to Address the L Shutdown
(The Labor Press, October 30, 2016)

ATU's Strategic Approaches to Bus Public Transit (Part Four of Four)
(The Labor Press, October 20, 2016)

ATU recommends a strategic approach to bus public transit (Part Three of Four)
(The Labor Press, October 18, 2016)

ATU Looks At Bus Service and Examples For Improvement (Part Two of Four)
(The Labor Press, October 13, 2016)

ATU Members offer insights to better public transit via buses (Part One of Four)
(The Labor Press, October 12, 2016)

Improved Bus Service Remains Best Investment
(The Labor Press, July 27, 2016)

NYC Must Fix Our Property Tax Mess
(The Labor Press, March 17, 2016)

A screwed up NYC Real Estate Tax System
(The Labor Press, March 2, 2016)

Introduce BQX quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively via Bus Transit service
(The Labor Press, February 18, 2016)

Free bus to rail transfer makes $ense
(The Labor Press, February 8, 2016)

LaGuardia Airport Plans "Invite" New Look at Development South & East of Citifield
(The Labor Press, January 28, 2016)

Making Sense of NYC Real Estate Tax System
(The Labor Press, January 20, 2016)

Negotiate Fairer Prescription Drug Prices To Pare Health Costs
(The Labor Press, January 6, 2016)

Of Course Compensate Legislators fairly
(The Labor Press, December 21, 2015)

Connecting Buses to Commuter Rail makes sense not just for LaGuardia
(The Labor Press, December 3, 2015)

Why not accelerate and increase vision zero education? (mislabeled as "Rail Link to LaGuardia Essential")
(The Labor Press, November 10, 2015)

Invest in Buses to Address Transit
(The Labor Press, November 5, 2015)

Do UBER Operations skirt the law
(The Labor Press, October 8, 2015)

UBER Involves More than meets the eye
(The Labor Press, September 30, 2015)

MTA needs to step up and defend its bus operators
(The Labor Press, July 7, 2015)

Time To Play Annoy!
(The Labor Press, July 2, 2015)

Bus Routing To Spur Jobs
(The Labor Press, June 25, 2015)

Libraries matter
(The Labor Press, June 11, 2015)

Don't Overlook Flushing's Transit Facilities for Development Opportunities - & Good Jobs.
(The Labor Press, June 2, 2015)

Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA offers needed support for Public Transit
(The Labor Press, April 28, 2015)

Efforts to improve bus service in one corridor must not drive bad impacts off-site
(The Labor Press, April 17, 2015)

Plan that Flushing Bus Terminal before time runs out
(The Labor Press, April 2, 2015)

Funding the MTA Capital Plan
(The Labor Press, March 20, 2015; posted March 24)

Is Select Bus Service (“SBS”) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?
(The Labor Press, March 11, 2015)

Not just anyone can operate a bus
(The Labor Press, February 24, 2015)

Why Not Chance Some Real Property Tax Reform?
(The Labor Press, February 13, 2015)

New York need to plan more when it comes to bus service
(The Labor Press, February 10, 2015)

Help More New Yorkers Access Retirement Plans
(The Labor Press, February 3, 2015)

Community Board membership matters for labor; limiting members term non-sensical.
(The Labor Press, January 29, 2015)

A single payer plan for NYS might just drive what we need for our nation. Part 3
(The Labor Press, January 27, 2015)

A single payer plan for NYS might just drive what we need for our nation. Part 2
(The Labor Press, January 22, 2015)

A single payer plan for NYS might just drive what we need for our nation. (Part 1)
(The Labor Press, January 20, 2015)

Corey's (other) Commentaries

Real Property Tax Reform Commentaries A list compiled from here and other sites that host some of my work
(May 9, 2017; updated May 10, 2017)

The Almost First 100 Days
When considering my assessment of the almost first 100 days of the administration of “Real Donald Trump” (his twitter handle is @realDonaldTrump), I see an administration in crisis mode – more in reaction than thoughtful deliberation. Some argue that campaigns and governing remain distinct; and that excellence at one mode often fails to equate in the other. I never bought into that. The constituencies may differ somewhat but not as much as one thinks. The only distinction involves an incoming official and his/her team’s knowledge and experience of the processes of governing. [The First 100 days; Donald Trump; ObamaCare; President Obama]
(April 19, 2017)

Stop Pitting Neighbor Against Neighbor
Monday night (March 27, 2017), my community board meeting included a difficult discussion involving the siting of a group home. Community Board 13 covers diverse populations; most residents live in one-family homes that a myriad of agencies find attractive as “community residences” for special needs populations. Throughout my community board service or representing an elected at community meetings, I observed how Section 41.34 of the State Mental Hygiene Law governing the siting of community residences, needlessly exacerbates community tensions. While the current process included a public hearing, it denies any real opportunity for community members to get their concerns addressed. [Community Residences; Group Homes; Community Boards]
(March 31, 2017)

Corey's Top 10 2016 Concerts
(December 31, 2016)

Corey's Top 10 2015 Concerts
As 2015 ends and we look forward to 2016, I share my top ten concerts for the past year. Though I started this commentary in 2015, it remained undone a few hours before a night of festivities with some good friends. Thus it awaits the new year to find its voice. This past year, my wife was a partner at all but a handful of concerts I attended this year. That's oft times unusual and it surprised me when I started this commentary. [Poco; Richie Furay; Neil Young; Traffic; Dave Mason; Jim Capaldi; Steve Winwood; John Fogerty; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Peter Frampton, Glenn Tilbrook; Chris Difford; Squeeze; Buffalo Springfield; Young Rascals; Gene Cornish, Felix Cavaliere; Brandon FlowersThe Who; Joan Jett; Brian Wilson; Al Jardine; The Beach Boys, John Lennon; Sheryl Crow; Aloe Blacc; Eric Church; Blind Faith; Spoon; The Wrecking Crew]
(January 2, 2016)

Corey's Top 10 2014 Concerts
Unlike the past year I did get one nice CD, Belly of the Beast (more on that later) and I finally got around to digitizing my Magical Mystery Tour LP into iTunes. I continue to enjoy my self-created iTunes Radio station, aptly titled, A Good Feelin' To Know. I continue to program as it plays deep cuts that I would only hear on the WNEW_FM 102.7 station that helped me finetune my musical tastes (Thank you Mr. Fornatale.). [Allman Brothers Band; Al Kooper; Cafe' Wha?; Poco; Burton Cummings; The Guess Who; Eddie Money; John Fogerty; Billy Joel; Jackson Browne; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Mieka Pauley; Rake; The Montauk Project; Peter Frampton, The Doobie Brothers; Glenn Tilbrook; Squeeze; Mary Bridget Davies; Ronnie Spector; Janis Joplin; Pete Fornatale]
(December 31, 2014; posted/updated January 5, 2015)

How my fave band saved the Knicks
I heard the Phil Jackson announcement on while I worked on some client matters. Like many other fans of the Knicks, I welcome back Action Jackson as Clyde Frazier calls him. Like many others I look forward to better days as that basketball mecca otherwise known as Madison Square Garden. What I did not know until today involved the key role of my fave band in the hiring of the savior of the Knicks. At the presser today, Knicks owner Jim Dolan credited Irving Azoff for bringing him and Jackson together this past December and in the “Q&A” it became clear that Irving negotiated the contract for Phil. [New York Knicks; Phil Jackson; James Dolan; Irving Azoff; Walt Frazier; Eagles; Glenn Frey; Don Henley; Randy Meisner; Poco; Pickin' Up The Pieces; Troubadour; George Grantham; Timothy B. Schmit]
(March 18, 2014)

Corey's Top 10 2013 Concerts
Interestingly, this past year involved no new music acquisitions. I did find a great recording of a 1975 Dave Mason show I attended at Belmont Park, some cool Free gigs and a nice Renaissance show. All got loaded on my iPhone. I also created my own station on iTunes Radio, aptly titled, A Good Feelin' to Know, and for me its regular playing of some great Derek and the Dominoes cuts including Keep On Growin', Any Day and I Looked Away, among others induce me to continue to sample a station that comes closest to what I got weened on listening to DJ's like the late great Pete Fornatale on WNEW. [Allman Brothers Band; Buffalo Springfield; Chicago; Richie Furay; Al Kooper; Poco; Lynyrd Skynyrd; Burton Cummings; The Guess Who; The GoGos; Squeeze; Jack Sundrud; Huey Lewis & The News; John Fogerty; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Derek & The Dominos; Pete Fornatale; Rusty Young]
(December 31, 2013)

Corey's Top 10 2012 Concerts
Last year, the only widely available music I acquired involved some fave artists – Al Kooper (Black Coffee and White Chocolate), Neil Young (Americana) and David Bowie (30th Anniversary edition of Ziggy Stardust). Richie Furay's “Live At The Canyon Club” remains a limited edition so not sure you can find a copy – you'll just have to hang with me (and yet it's on my iPhone). [Allman Brothers Band; The Beach Boys; Black Coffee; David Bowie; Buffalo Springfield; Peter Cetera; Chicago; Paul Cotton; The Doobie Brothers; Eagles; Foreigner; Richie Furay; The Good Rats; Alan Jardine; Joan Jett; Knights of Pythias; Al Kooper; Randy Meissner; Poco; The ReKooperators; The Romantics; Timothy B. Schmit; Bruce Springsteen; Squeeze; Styx; Glen Tilbrook; Toto; Jimmy Vivino; White Chocolate; The Who; Neil Young; Rusty Young]
(December 31, 2012; posted/updated May 7, 2013)

The Economy -- Romneyland vs. Reality - a relevant post-conventions guest commentary by Bill Dauster, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (May 2, 2012)
In Romneyland, the Great Recession — which I noted began in 2007 — is all President Obama’s fault. In reality, 2007 was during the Presidential administration of one George W. Bush...In Romneyland, the Great Recession resulted from the government impeding the free market. In reality, the Great Recession resulted from a financial crisis. And a good deal of that financial crisis can be attributed to overly lax regulation. [2012 Presidential Campaign; The Great Recession; Obama; The Recovery Act; Rommey]
(posted May 10, 2012)

Learning To Accept Rejection (or Governing in the United States) - guest commentary by Bill Dauster, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
In 1989, most Senators voted with their party between 80 and 90 percent of the time. By the last Congress, most Senators voted with their party between 90 and 100 percent of the time...In 1982, half the Republican Caucus was more liberal than the most conservative Democratic Senator. And most of the Democratic Caucus was more conservative than the most liberal Republican Senator. Between then and now, moderates from both parties have lost elections or have otherwise left the Senate. So today, no Republican Senator is more liberal than any Democratic Senator. And no Democratic Senator is more conservative than any Republican Senator. The two parties have retreated to their respective corners. Is it any wonder that they come out fighting? [Democrats; Gridlock; Republicans; partisanship; U.S. Senate]
(March 25, 2012; posted May 10, 2012)

Can Congress Do Anything? - guest commentary by Bill Dauster, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
At the beginning of the Obama Presidency, Congress sought to address the preeminent challenge of this era — the Great Recession that began in 2007. In February 2009, the Senate voted 61–37 to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. All Senate Democrats voted in favor of it, but only three Republicans voted for it. And those three Republicans bargained down the size of the package, reducing its effectiveness. [ARRA; Congress; Dodd-Frank; Great Recession; Health Care Reform; Obama; Occupy Wall Street; Tea Party; Tea Party Republicans]
(January 6, 2012; posted January 8, 2012)

Corey's Top 10 2011 Concerts
2011 offered some really great shows and included some long-time faves and blasts from the past who sounded just as fresh and exuberant. Though separate shows over two night, I offer John Fogerty's Beacon Theatre Shows, Nov. 17 and 18 as 1a and 1b. He plays the entire Cosmo's Factory with my fave Creedence Clearwater Revival tune, Up Around The Bend on the 17th. Fogerty's fave, and probably my fave, CCR LP, Green River, got the call the next eve. [Allman Brother Band; The Beach Boys; The Bottom Line; Buffalo Springfield; Cosmo's Factory; Green River; John Fogerty; Peter Frampton; Frampton Comes Alive; Richie Furay; Idlewheel; Alan Jardine; Dave Mason; The Monkees Reunion; Poco; Souther Hillman Furay Band; Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes; Squeeze; Jack Sundrud; Glen Tilbrook; Traffic; Neil Young]
(December 31, 2011)

Re-engineer the CCRB to Police the NYPD - new The Public Ought to Know commentary
More than a decade ago I developed a strategic plan that would provide the City of New York with just that kind of Independent NYPD monitor. The Mayor and City Council should embrace this sound 10-point NYPD reform initiative, crafted while I served as Legislative Counsel to then Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, to re-engineer the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) as the City's chief police oversight agency. [CCRB; Civilian Complaint Review Board; Commission to Combat Police Corruption; Independent Police Monitor; Mollen Commission; Police-Community Relations; Police Misconduct]
(November 23, 2011)

WHY NOT CHANCE REAL PROPERTY TAX REFORM? Testimony to City Council Finance Committee on NYC's Real Property Tax and Assessment system
City assessment practices – that unfairly benefit the wealthiest New Yorkers who own luxury homes and apartments – require change. The opportunity to capture some five billion dollars1 to re-invest in targeted tax relief for the middle and working class and businesses, many struggling in these tough times, must not be overlooked...Something remains really wrong when a system perpetuates inequities such as a co-ops along the perimeter of Central Park paying less – based on effective tax rates -- than a typical homeowner. [Assessments; Property Taxes; Real Property Tax; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(May 2, 2011)

The Latkes side in the venerable Hamantaschen v. Latkes debate presentation to Temple Sholom congregation
have you ever seen and enjoyed a more versatile food? You can have have Latkes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a midnight snack. It goes with meat or dairy. Hamantaschen is just dessert!
(March 19, 2011)

City Hall Keeps Gouging Us on Water Use
At a meeting of the City Hall-dominated NYC Water Board, the Department of Environmental Protection which staffs the water board (legal fictions abound here), presented a “proposal” to gouge New Yorkers another 12.9%. This duplicates the 12.9% hike we endured last year following a 14.5% gouge the year before. This affects everyone – homeowners and tenants, and businesses (whether they own or rent their space) and property owners. [Environment; Finance; Water Conservation; Water Rates]
(April 9, 2010; updated 2010-04-20)

"It really is the material, stupid."
What matters most? The music played live and fresh or the original artist(s) or some combination thereof playing and singing the stuff?...Should it be about the music even more so than who sings? Broadway revivals rarely feature original performers....So maybe it is the music that matters. [Allman Brothers Band; Asia; Ian Astbury; Atzec Two Step; The Beach Boys; The Beatles; Buffalo Springfield; The Byrds; Felix Cavaliere; Creedence; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; The Cult; Derek & The Dominoes; The Doors; Flo & Eddie; John Fogerty; Peter Fornatale; Tommy James; King Crimson; Robbie Krieger; Bob Lefsetz; The Lovin' Spoonful; Ray Manzarek; Mountain; Poco; Richie Furay; John Sebastian; Simon and Garfunkel; Souther Hillman Furay Band; Bruce Springsteen; Steppenwolf; Stephen Stills; The Turtles; Vanilla Fudge; Leslie West; Brian Wilson; The Yardbirds; Yes; Neil Young]
(March 15, 2010)

IBO fiscal brief raises need for non-resident income tax
While IBO correlates a decline in filers since 9/11, a more important set of data requires examination:...not only whether the filers left the City but, whether the filers' jobs remained here. If available that data would be useful in connection with any further discussions of restoring the non-resident income tax... [Commuter Tax; Non-resident Income Tax; NYC Personal Income Tax]
(December 27, 2009)

OK, But What About Us (On the Mayor's "new" transit scheme)
It gets exciting to hear about an Express F and a V extension only to read and realize One New York (The theme from 2005's Pricey Campaign) may not include Queens...Queens' transportation infrastructure links us with jobs, services and activities both in and out of the borough. So why not some fresh ideas for Queens transit? [MTA; Transit; Queens transportation; Buses; bus service]
(August 21, 2009)

Concrete Findings
One might think that the problems on the self-certification side might induce City Hall to look at other areas in construction where it relies on non-governmental sources to approve construction processes, in this case concrete. [Building Safety; Concrete Inspections; Construction; Self-Certification]
(August 2, 2009)

Maybe Send the Management "Back to School"
Well, if these out-of-the-classroom teachers have it but chemistry with a principal or perhaps another teacher's better chemistry with a principal keeps them out of a classroom, it certainly behooves the Department of Education to view the clearly competent teachers in the group as resources who can be used to lower class sizes, provide pull- out assistance to students and whatever other additional services can be reasonably brought to bear [Class Size; Education; Rubber Rooms; Schools; Teachers]
(July 31, 2009)

The Public Ought to Know returns: Credit Not Necessary
Government administrators often talk of savings realized when they introduce technology in agency operations. Few give any attention to New York City's potential waste of millions of dollars on "closed source" (fee-based) software, including Microsoft Word, Windows and Internet Explorer, when it could be taking advantage of free and faster comparable programs. [Linux; Mozilla Firefox; Open Source Programming; Open Source Software]
(July 29, 2009)



The Public Ought To Know Columns from the TimesLedger newspapers now available as an ebook.

Columnist bids farewell for political assignment
...when elected officials and their top deputies stay their misguided course, an independent voice...might help embolden others to speak for reason...Since my first days in city government, I delved into budget and fiscal issues. Many commentaries here reflected that interest, including the need for the public to weigh in. Don't forget to keep playing "Annoy!"[Charter Revision; Clean Air; Clean Water; CONSCIENCE; Far West Side Stadium; Ferrer; Poco; Police Community Relations; Real Property Tax Assessment; Water Rates; Willets Point]
(May 26, 2005)

Political candidates field various questions
...questionnaires...can come from political parties, interest groups including those concerned about environmental, housing and parks issues, political clubs and others...Some offer challenging questions on important matters of public policy...Others also pose questions relating to people's civil rights... [Board of Standards and Appeals; City Budget; City Charter; Community Policing; Community Review; Cross Harbor Tunnel; Land Use and Planning; Major Concessions; MTA; Olympics; Police Precinct Staffing; Recycling; Safe Streets, Safe City; Solid Waste; Structural Budget Imbalance; Transit; Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure; Zoning]
(May 19, 2005)

Let the mayor know about your priorities
The city, state and federal governments need to fund MTA projects. A restored regional commuter tax could raise needed cash. [Commuter Tax; Jets; Mass Transit; MTA; NYC 2012; Olympics; Subways, Transportation; West Side Stadium; Willets Point ]
(May 12, 2005)

CCRB must be made fully independent
No agency, including the NYPD, should be immune to oversight...Civilian review remains paramount when it comes to protecting public safety and the tactics law enforcement agencies may use...Rather than a mayoral commission with no teeth and CCRB beholden to City Hall...re-engineer it as an independent NYPD monitor. [CCRB; Civilian Complaint Review Board; Commission to Combat Police Corruption; Independent Police Monitor; Mollen Commission; Police-Community Relations; Police Misconduct]
(May 5, 2005)

City Council must vote for five-boro waste plan
Stronger waste reduction and recycling helps to mitigate the adverse truck impacts while New Yorkers await implementation of the marine transfer plan. [Local Law 19; Recycling; Solid Waste Management; The New York City Recycling Law; Transfer Stations]
(April 28, 2005)

Public must protest big water rate hikes
Delaying rate-setting until after the city budget means better oversight that might shed light on the water system's rental payments to the city. [Water Rates; Environment; Finance; Water Conservation]
(April 21, 2005)

People deserve share in City Charter Review
Residents and community leaders should also share their views on charter revision with their elected representatives. [CCRB; City Charter; Charter Reform; Civilian Complaint Review Board; Government Reform; Independent Police Monitor; PILOTs; Public Input; Public Notice]
(April 14, 2005)

Unwanted flyers can't be stopped without a fight
We can block unwanted bulk mail and unwanted telephone calls, yet intrusive deliveries of circulars often in plastic wrapping that requires a scissor or knife to open can continue unabated...Why not simply ban fliers not placed inside a door, a mail slot or box? [Physical Graffiti; Unwanted Circulars]
(April 7, 2005)

Not choosing Queens a major mayoral issue
If Queens can host one of the major international grand slam tennis events and two World's Fairs, what makes it inadequate to host a superbowl and Olympic stadium,not to mention two NFL teams? [Jets; NYC 2012; National Tennis Center; Olympics; USTA; West Side Stadium; Willets Point]
(March 31, 2005)

CB 13 must demand 2nd precinct for 105th
The Council should...require NYPD to report 911 response times to crimes in progress, segmented by critical, serious, non-critical and overall responses...This core information...empowers the public to press for change and makes the police, the city and elected officials accountable. [1991 Local Law 89; NYPD Response Times to Crimes in Progress; Public Safety]
(March 24, 2005)

City must give better notice for hearings
Open government certainly ought to include early notice and early and frequent attempts to engage public comment...It really makes sense to make the average city resident feel their voice matters. [City Charter; Charter Reform; Government Reform; Public Input; Public Notice]
(March 17, 2005)

U.N. considering boro for temporary home
Imagine the possibilities: A new facility or two new facilities where Shea Stadium now stands to serve as a home field for our new Mets; as host to the 2012 Olympics and Superbowl-bound Jets; and a beautiful, appropriately developed Iron Triangle anchored for 10 years by the U.N. with a hotel and convention center. This development may also spur private efforts to deck the MTA's LIRR, subway and bus facilities along the corridor. [Convention Center; NYC 2012; U.N.; Olympics; West Side Stadium; Willets Point]
(March 10, 2005)

Budget hearings deal with projects, services
...advocate your concerns to your council member or the chairpersons or members of the relevant council committee(s). Everyone should share as a goal the shaping the best city budget when time comes to pass it this spring. [Budget; City Budget; City Services; Fiscal Policy; Government Finance; Municipal Budget; Municipal Services; New York City Budget; Preliminary Mayor's Management Report; PMMR]
(March 3, 2005)

Council to hold public hearings on budget
...the City Council holds public budget hearings. These sessions will allow council members to question city commissioners on how the preliminary budget...affects services and projects. They'll also review - working off the Preliminary Mayor's Management Report - how effectively agencies operated during the current fiscal year's first several months. ...savvy city resident might contact their council member or the chairman or members of the relevant council committees to raise issues of concern or share expertise or insights that can help shape a better budget. [Budget; City Budget; Fiscal Policy; Government Finance; Municipal Budget; New York City Budget; Preliminary Mayor's Management Report; PMMR]
(February 24, 2005)

Don't link Stadium to city Olympic bid
New York, the world's media capital, makes an attractive site for the Olympics. Unfortunately, a fixation on a site plan developed without consultation with the communities of our city might just cause New York to lose out on 2012...the focus on the stadium site and the promotion of the 2012 bid with that stadium demonstrates a gross mismanagement by City Hall of a significant project. [NYC 2012; Olympics; West Side Stadium]
(February 17, 2005)

Mayor's budget spares the ax in city election year
With the mayor and most City Council members seeking re-election and the term-limited seeking higher office - the participants in the budget process want to take credit for shaping the budget, saving or expanding popular programs and services, and reducing taxes. [Budget; City Budget; Fiscal Policy; Government Finance; Municipal Budget; New York City Budget]
(February 10, 2005)

Stadium referendum may stay off ballot
No need exists to rush to address "fiscal stability," "administrative law reform," and "administrative reform and operations efficiency" to block a stadium initiative. If the real intention remains to block a referendum City Hall opposes, why not place some more modest items on the ballot. [City Charter; West Side Stadium]
(February 3, 2005)

West Side Stadium plan could strain city budget
In especially scarce fiscal times, it makes no sense to expend taxpayer dollars to support a private billionaire's dream and development nearby that benefit real estate interests. [Contract Budget; West Side Stadium]
(January 27, 2005)

Property tax inequities unfair to modest owners
Apparently, some folks own homes worth a million or more and pay less taxes than folks like most of my neighbors...Wouldn't it be nice (so now my readers know my affection for the Beach Boys - though not the cover band Mike Love leads these days) if City Hall looked a bit more at the property tax system and fixed this? The city's Finance Department failed to keep up on larger residential and commercial properties. After reports some years ago found some homeowner neighborhoods over-assessed in comparison to others, the fix involved lowering the assessment ratio to reduce the higher assessments. [Assessments; Property Taxes; Real Property Tax; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(January 20, 2005)

City still bears burden of heavy expenses, deficit
...it makes sense to look at some of the bigger expenses New York City continues to bear. This makes sense when placed in the context of funding for libraries, senior centers, youth programs and schools in Queens and the rest of the city. [Budget; City Budget; Fiscal Policy; Government Finance; Municipal Budget; New York City Budget]
(January 13, 2005)

Medicare drug card needs more discussion
When a program picks their pockets for almost 80 percent of the first $5,100 in costs, questions abound and it demands reform. [Federal Drug Card; Health Care; Low-Income Assistance Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card; Medicaid; Medicare]
(January 6, 2005)

City plans will also have environmental impact
the Empire State Development Corporation held hearings on the general project plan for the New York Sports and Convention Civic and Land Use Improvement Project, essentially the stadium for the Jets and the Olympics...When we seek to rebuild Lower Manhattan and develop business hubs in Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, using taxpayer money to subsidize City Hall's grand development scheme stinks. [Community Planning; Community Review; Land Use and Zoning; West Side Stadium]
(December 30, 2004)

City charter revisions must have public input
The commission would serve good government by proposing a change in how mayors can appoint such bodies. The political use of these commissions - proposing measures a mayor can get by convincing the City Council to pass a local law - to block ballot initiatives over two administrations demonstrates a need to reform that process. [City Charter; Charter Reform; Government Reform]
(December 23, 2004)

Property undervaluation affects homeowners' tax
Flaws in the property tax system trigger adjustments that state law mandates. These make homeowners bear the burden of a higher tax rate. This system requires repair; it's absurdly managed; its managers remain irresponsible. [Assessments; Property Taxes; Real Property Tax; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(December 16, 2004)

Land-use-review process can help stadium issue
Community input and review in planning and projects gives voice to neighborhood concerns that could or should be addressed - it depends on one's point of view. The review process serves a much greater purpose: It injects sunlight into the process that just might expose a raw or rotten deal. [City Charter; Community Facilities; Community Planning; Community Review; Land Use and Zoning; R2A; Section 197-c; ULURP; Uniform Land Use Review Procedure; West Side Stadium]
(December 9, 2004)

Is juvenile curfew really necessary for youth?
Evidently, there exists some problem in a western portion of my borough. Why else look at such strict limit on one's ability to move about and "hang out?"...While many young people have student or other non-driver identification, they do not always carry it. Some young folk may feel safer on the streets than at home. [Crime; Juvenile Curfew; Public Safety; Youth]
(December 2, 2004)

No thanks to the MTA this Thanksgiving Day
The whole idea of public mass transit is that government subsidizes its operation. Otherwise we can sell it to private operators. The fare box was never intended to pay more than a fraction of the cost of a ride. More importantly, the fare box was never meant to cover the cost of projects or borrowing to pay for projects like the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access, a new bus garage or new buses and subway cars. [Commuter Tax; Fare Hike; Mass Transit; MTA; Subways, Transportation]
(November 25, 2004)

Queens Civic Congress platform a useful tool
The Queens Civic Congress 2004-2005 platform, available on the web at www.queensciviccongress.org, contains programmatic and legislative ideas that would probably work well as positions advanced by the people we vote into office and those who seek our vote. [Aviation; City Budget; City Governance; Community Facilities; Contracting; Culture; Economic Development; Education; Environment; Fiscal Policy; Government Contracting; Government Procurement; Government Reform; Health and Hospitals; Illegal Building and Illegal Conversion; Land Use and Zoning; Mass Transit; Parks and Recreation; Procurement; Professional Services Contracts; Public Safety; QBS; Qualified Based Selection; Transportation]
(November 18, 2004)

City must explore trash options
A report by Comptroller Thompson issued the same day the mayor announced the Solid Waste Management Plan noted how "New York City 's public and private sectors generate approximately 15 million tons of trash each year, with more than 10 million tons exported." The report also raised the risks of dependence on out of state landfills when the Pennsylvania sites expect to last only through 2007. [Local Law 19; Recycling; Solid Waste Management; The New York City Recycling Law; Transfer Stations; Yard Waste; Environment]
(November 11, 2004)

Why we should pay more attention to city budgets
Laws often require resources for an agency or several agencies to carry out their mandates. The budget, its adoption and any subsequent changes, remain our municipal elected officials' most significant responsibility...If a corporate CEO approved a financial statement that included items not at all real to balance a budget, they just might face an indictment if found out (see the Sarbanes-Oxley Act). Why not apply strict corporate accountability to public budgeting? [Budget; City Budget; Fiscal Policy; Government Finance; Municipal Budget]
(November 4, 2004)

Boro domestic violence victims have helping hand
October is Domestic Violence month. Some think the focus should be abuse by one partner in a relationship, married or otherwise, against the other. That detracts from the overwhelming problem - violence towards women. Domestic violence initiatives must focus on preventing this disturbing violence. [Abuse; Domestic Violence; Family Violence; Women's Rights]
(October 28, 2004)

Fall heralds city hearings on issues for the aging
My main concern is enabling seniors to remain living with dignity in their homes and in their communities. A New York phenomenon of sorts is the number of seniors without their children living in the area. [Aging Programs; Elderly; Frail Elderly; Meals On Wheels; SCHE; SCRIE; Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption; Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption; Senior Services]
(October 21, 2004)

Uncleaned catch basins contribute to flooding
The city needs to more frequently clean catch basins which collect water that flows into seepage basins or storm water systems...DEP must clean basins more frequently; until that happens, every six months call 311; ask Mayor Bloomberg to get your local catch basins cleaned. [Catch Basins; Flooding; Seepage Basins; Sewers; Storm Water Collection ]
(October 14, 2004)

Jets stadium plan inappropriate for far West Side
City Hall remains fixated on a so-called New York Sports and Convention Center on Manhattan's far West Side. This proposal threatens to torpedo our city's Olympic bid. It also diverts the attention of many high-level city officials from other needs as they scheme for a site that makes no sense. [Far West Side Stadium; NYC2012; Olympics]
(October 7, 2004)

Schools, libraries would benefit from free software
Government administrators often talk of savings realized when they introduce technology in agency operations. Few give any attention to New York City's potential waste of millions of dollars on "closed source" (fee-based) software, including Microsoft Word, Windows and Internet Explorer, when it could be taking advantage of free and faster comparable programs. [Linux; Mozilla Firefox; Open Source Software]
(September 30, 2004)

City must bolster enforcement of sign-posting laws
Anyone defacing property with graffiti commits a crime; deface the same property by posting a sign and you only face a civil penalty. Graffiti left unaddressed signals disorder, but the civic community increasingly sees this happen with the proliferation of illegal signs. [Illegal Posting; No-Posting Law; Sanitation]
(September 23, 2004)

Peaceful protesters should not have to fear arrest
Since the Civilian Complaint Review Board investigates instances of police misconduct and systemic issues, it should look at those demonstrations that "threatened" to disrupt the Republican National Convention. Remember the gimmick buttons - probably collectors' items - City Hall offered, welcoming protesters and urging they avail themselves of discounts if they respected the law. [Civil Rights Protest; Free Speech; Freedom of Speech; Right to Assembly; Street Demonstrations]
(September 16, 2004)

School is back again. Chancellor Joel Klein remains, as does the Panel on Educational Policy he controls via the mayor...Panel should shed sunlight on ed policy decisions
Under the current school structure paradigm, policy pronouncement and reports about summer school come from the chancellor. One news story involved the school's approval with little debate by the panel. [Education; NYC Department of Education; NYC Public Schools]
(September 9, 2004)

Singers raise their voices for presidential change
Celebrities, including musicians, should not fear using their renown for the causes they support; they must be equally aware of whom they align themselves with. Celebrities are no different than common folk when it comes to the trappings of power. The sense or belief that you have access can dupe you into not seeing things that may be unattractive about those who offer you the access. [Bruce Springsteen; Dixie Chicks; John Fogerty; Linda Ronstadt; Michael Moore; Neil Young; No Nukes; Poco; Ron Silver]
(September 2, 2004)

Residents deserve affordable, quality health care
About two decades ago I researched national health insurance for a law school seminar. I found that medical tax deductions and other federal health spending could fund universal health care. That basic premise still holds, but politics, concerns about quality of care and ideology all work to delay progress toward a system that guarantees everyone adequate health care. [ObamaCare; Single Payer System]
(August 26, 2004)

Poor NYC transit equals unhealthy U.S. economy
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs most of our buses and wants to run them all, runs our subways and light rail from the suburbs other than New Jersey and tolls our intra-city bridges and tunnels, offers a decent capital plan in terms of projects and priorities...The current fiscal climate excuses neither the city nor the state from resuming their responsibilities for the MTA capital program and extracting a greater financial contribution from the folks in D.C. [Buses; Mass Transit; Subways; Transit Funding]
(August 19, 2004)

City needs to improve freight access to Kennedy
The city's two airports help drive its economy, especially here in Queens. As important as Kennedy and LaGuardia are as terminals for tourists, the air cargo and freight uses, particularly at Kennedy, also provide meaningful jobs, including many for less-educated local residents...Airport access for shipping poses a problem that government needs to address, or sooner or later an important industry that provides good paying jobs may face diminished long-term growth. [Airport Access; Port Authority; Rail Freight]
(August 12, 2004)

GOP protesters take alternate route to free speech
Today people appear more willing to accept certain inconveniences in exchange for safety. When demonstrators gather, just like when parades or visits by presidents and important foreign dignitaries cause delays, it means traffic tie-ups and plain inconvenience for the rest of us. Where folks do not join a protest or at least support the issue, they may not sympathize with the demonstration. In those cases, we must maintain greater vigilance to assert these protections -- meant for us. [Civil Rights Protest; Free Speech; Freedom of Speech; Right to Assembly; Street Demonstrations]
(August 5, 2004)

Commission must check board appointments
Prospective and existing community board members should certify involvement in a community group to gain appointment or reappointment. This change will ensure community boards include not just people with knowledge and expertise but ongoing communal involvement that ensures each community in the district a seat at the table. [City Charter; City Charter Revision;Community Boards; Government Reform]
(July 29, 2004)

Public should "annoy" to get ed projects in motion
Last fall The Public Ought to Know reviewed this “game” devised with late Newsday political columnist Joe Queens to encourage the public to request a slice or slices of the budget pie for their neighborhood...State and city legislators deserve kudos for the results when members of the public play “annoy,” but special thank yous must also go to school, parent and civic leaders and community members who play “annoy” and request these projects. You may want a park repair, repairs to a school, a resurfaced road or flood relief. Play “annoy” and see results. Get in the game.[Annoy; Budget Pie; City Budget; Community programs; Community Projects; Local Programs; Local Projects]
(July 22, 2004)

Queens' cultural groups get budget relief
Despite clear economic and fiscal benefits of public investment in culturals, their dollars remain among the first government cuts, and restorations in better fiscal times never restore all the funding our culturals lost... Every $1 investment in culturals returns the city $2 in taxes. Supporters note how neighborhood-based culturals drive economic activity, attracting visitors who also shop and eat out locally. [Cultural Institutions; Cultural Programs; Neighborhood Economic Development; Tourism]
(July 15, 2004)

Adequate funding enables vital school programs
The top-performing city school district covering much of northeast Queens represents an example of how a school system succeeds....KIPP involves an extended school day program where “students, parents, teachers and staff create and reinforce a culture of achievement and support using formal and informal rewards and consequences for academic performance and behavior,” according to the academy’s Web site. Resources matter. They help make a difference [Campaign for Fiscal Equity; Public Education; School Governance; Special Needs]
(July 8, 2004)

City Hall must take steps to help the homeless
The initiatives that help avert homelessness, including anti-eviction legal services, counseling, community housing preservation programs and more affordable housing cost taxpayers less. [Affordable Housing; Supportive Housing]
(July 1, 2004)

Willets Pt. stadium supporters must rev up voices
The consensus for differential treatment of those who own and live in their homes vs. those who seek to profit by the lower assessment rates of homes should keep the debate focused on this column’s recommendation to reform the property tax, restore fairness to the system that produces inequitable assessments and rescind the across-the-board hike City Hall foisted upon all taxpayers (without gutting the city treasury)...And in April this column threw its weight behind a bill to prohibit racial profiling by city law enforcement agencies. A bit self-interested because this columnist wrote the original bill? [Far West Side Stadium; Noise; NYC2012; Olympics; Racial Profiling; Racial Profiling Ban; Real Property Tax; Property Taxes; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(June 24, 2004)

Queens tourism efforts deserve officials' attention
If Queens were not within the larger city of New York, many of these attractions, including the New York Hall of Science, would receive the attention they deserve as cultural icons and tourist attractions. Queens and the other boroughs get short shrift when it comes to resources to promote visits by residents and nonresidents. [Flushing Town Hall; NYC and Company; Queens Botanical Gardens; Queens Economic Development Corp.; Queens Farm Museum; Queens Museum; Queens Theatre; Queens Tourism Council; Queens Zoo]
(June 17, 2004)

Community sees fruits of its efforts in Glen Oaks
When public and education officials held a ribbon-cutting May 21 for the Glen Oaks Campus, home to the Queens High School of Teaching, PS/IS 208 and PS/MS 266, some folks received no recognition for their key role...Absent the Queens Civic Congress and a galvanized local community, the dedication would have involved a retail/office park or luxury housing. The community’s success in mobilizing the public and elected officials to save the site to serve the community rather than serve it up to a developer for a big payday represents a model for other groups [Civic Involvement; Civic Master Plan; Civics; Creedmoor; Creedmoor Task Force; Special Committee on Creedmoor]
(June 10, 2004)

Queens residents need fairer property tax system
A key component to reform is accurate assessments of real property. As winter ended, I surveyed some eastern Queens properties that look like homes but upon closer inspection serve as offices for doctors and others who do not appear to occupy the houses as their homes. This gross form of absentee ownership — a commercial use of a home — takes away housing and also contributes to economic instability when nearby shopping strips remain underused or get rented to smaller, less stable flea-market-like concerns. [Real Property Tax; Property Taxes; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(June 3, 2004)

Queens residents must look closely at bus takeover
In essence, the MTA agreed to assume responsibility for the city’s private lines as part of a scheme to get the state Legislature to hurriedly pass a regional bus structure that it failed to make a case for. [Bus Service; Local 100; Local 1056; Private Bus Lines; Regional Bus]
(May 27, 2004)

Monserrate's bill offers promising graffiti solutions
As a graffiti-prevention strategy, think the three E’s: education, enforcement and eradication...Civics classes in our schools should emphasize respect for public and private spaces...Enforcement means more than going after those who perpetrate the crime; it also entails keeping graffiti tools — broad-tipped markers and spray cans — out of the hands of minors...Eradication is key. [Ant-graffiti Task Force; Graffiti Vandalism]
(May 20, 2004)

City's Snapple deal shows need for contract reform
The Council needs to look at its powers to adopt the contract budget as a basis to reign in deals. If this proves inadequate, we need to look at Charter reform. [City Charter; Contracting; Government Contracting; Government Procurement; Procurement]
(May 13, 2004)

Federal, local tax cuts hurt Queens' services
Budgets represent choices and priorities and opportunities to advocate...In 2001's mayoral race, a commercial asked whether New Yorkers would continue paying 4 cents a day in income taxes rather than lose after-school programs...At his budget briefing, Bloomberg stated, "Budgets are not about numbers but about people, their lives and the quality of their lives." This view requires our policy makers to go beyond reporting budget numbers to translate numbers into impacts that make the case for change, particularly when we need help from Washington and Albany that they appear unready to provide. [City Budget; Federal Aid; Federal Deficit; Tax Cuts; Taxes; Tax Policy]
(May 6, 2004)

Willets Pt. is more sensible choice for Jets stadium
Sometimes, otherwise caring and competent officials go down — lose office or stature or both — when they stay too long with a folly...Development in Queens will spur private investment east and west along Roosevelt Avenue in Corona and the Flushing Bay and River waterfronts. [Far West Side Stadium; NYC2012; Olympics]
(April 29, 2004)

Queens delegation to hear residents' budget worries
...public hearings on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed executive budget released a few days before....provides an opportunity for community groups, advocates and residents to express their concerns on the budget and its priorities, as well as their preferences and programs and projects not funded in the mayor’s draft that they hope Council members will take up the cause for. [Aging Programs; City Budget; Fire Staffing; Libraries; Meals On Wheels; Parks Staffing; Police Staffing]
(April 22, 2004)

Queens parks starving for bigger slice of budget pie
Unless the city budget allocates sufficient resources for our parks, we face wasting taxpayer dollars that renovated many of our community and regional parks...Investing in parks certainly makes sense. New Yorkers for Parks says well-maintained parks help decrease crime, increase health and foster higher real estate value, which means greater tax revenues...Parks and recreation are a vital service, not a stepchild. [Budget; Parks; Parks Projects; Parks and Recreation; Public-Private Partnership]
(April 15, 2004)

LIC firehouse closure shows need to reveal data
The City Charter intended the Mayor’s Management Report and the Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report, both prepared by the Mayor’s Office of Operations, to be useful tools for agency hearings, the mayor, the Council, other officials, the press and the public to review city government and municipal agency performance...Reassigning the preparation of the management and preliminary management reports to the Independent Budget Office injects needed independence — and certainly maintains professionalism — in the collection, presentation and analysis of data on city services. [FDNY; FOIL; IBO; Independent Budget Office; Mayor's Management Report; MMR; Open Government; Preliminary Mayor's Management Report; PMMR; Public Disclosure]
(April 8, 2004)

Queens councilmen support racial-profiling bill
When race or ethnicity is the determining factor to question or arrest an individual, our society sends the wrong message. The practice should be illegal...Racial profiling runs counter to basic doctrines of free passage under state and federal law. An individual can exercise her or his constitutional right to refuse to respond to questions posed by a police officer, may remain silent and may even walk away without fearing an arrest or detention by the officer. [CCRB; NYPD; Racial Profiling; Racial Profiling Ban; Stop and Frisk]
(April 1, 2004)

Council should heed Ferrer-Vallone anti-terror bill
...the city can leverage its resources to fight terrorism and those who support it...The use of the city’s pension funds to press companies and even nations to become better actors is not novel...Why not make it municipal policy to restrict city government business with banks and companies doing business in nations harboring foreign terrorist organizations? [City Comptroller; Corporate Responsibility; Foreign Terrorist Organizations; FTOs; Hamas; Hezbollah; Hevesi; Iran; Islamic Jihad; McCall; Pension Funds; State Comptroller; Syria; Terrorist-linked Countries]
(March 25, 2004)

Boro Jewish residents focus on Middle East divide
From my Jewish heritage and its focus on the Promised Land to an early fascination with T.E. Lawrence after watching the epic film “Lawrence of Arabia” — still my favorite — I followed the wars, the efforts at peace and the terrorism that found its way here when hijacked jetliners toppled the Twin Towers. [Gaza; Israel; Middle East; Peace Process; Settlements; Suicide Bombings; Two-state Solution; West Bank]
(March 18, 2004)

Boro residents need easy access to government info
...providing the public full disclosure prevents abuses of power and bares incompetence...We already know how the Internet and cable provide opportunities to open government and allow the greater citizenry access to information and programs. The key is making government provide the information. [COPIC; FOIL; Freedom of Information Law; NYC Commission on Public Information and Communication; Open Government; Public Disclosure]
(March 11, 2004)

Boro residents need better police complaint system
Rather than create a new agency, empower the existing police oversight agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, to be a fully independent board with each appointment subject to council confirmation and a budget a percent of the NYPD’s. This re-engineered board would study and recommend practices of the NYPD that affect members of the public, including tracking systemic patterns of abuse and oversight and, most importantly, periodic reviews to ensure that the NYPD appropriately trains and supervises its police officers. [CCRB; Civilian Complaint Review Board; NYPD; Independent Police Monitor; Mollen commission]
(March 4, 2004)

Weprin bill would promote water conservation
Empowering the Council to influence water-rate-setting would create a greater incentive to economize and expand water conservation efforts. It should also encourage more New Yorkers to express concerns about the city’s water and sewer programs. [Water Rates; Environment; Finance; Water Conservation]
(February 26, 2004)

Nolan, Carrozza bills would keep seniors afloat
With both parents in many families working and dedicating what little volunteer time they can scratch out for their own kids, we rely on our senior citizens to take on leadership roles and stabilize our communities. That’s why a modest investment in our elderly residents pays back many times over as our communities gain from the spirit, engagement and commitment of seniors who stay in the community longer. [SCHE; SCRIE; Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption; Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exception; Water Rate Relief;Water Rates]
(February 19, 2004)

Queens fire services must not get burned in budget
The Bloomberg FDNY consolidated fire marshals to one site in Brooklyn; the Manhattan site now only investigates auto fires. The FDNY did not cut the overall number of fire marshals but shifted many to work as firefighters in firehouses; thus, the number of fire marshals performing as fire marshals dropped significantly. [Arson; FDNY; Fire Investigations; Fire Marshals]
(February 12, 2004)

Boro old, young should be left out of budget dance
When mayors cut services for seniors, children, schools and libraries as well as cultural programs and housing and neighborhood preservation initiatives, they know exactly what they are doing. They divert the City Council from looking throughout city government and mayoral agencies to identify less worthy programs or services that cry out for more efficient delivery. The focus becomes restoring these programs; most times nearly all the programs get saved. [Budgeting; Cultural Programs; Education; Libraries; New York City Budget; Schools; Senior Services; Youth Services]
(February 5, 2004)

Non-absentee boro property owners need tax relief
Under the current complicated state formula, any reduction in property tax revenues raised from homeowners must reduce revenues for large residential and commercial properties as well...Is there anything wrong with tax reform that introduces fairness and restores — at no cost — housing? [Real Property Tax; Property Taxes; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(January 29, 2004)

Boro residents must not take pure water for granted
When it comes to our drinking water, New Yorkers proudly boast safe and tasty water...Perhaps we should feel “just a little guilty” for not paying attention to this resource. [Clean Water; Croton Filtration Plant; Filtration; Water Conservation; Watershed Protection; Water Supply]
(January 22, 2004)

Sears' bill deserves more attention in City Council
Qualified Based Selection, or QBS, benefits include quality plans and specifications that result in quality documents with more accurate estimates and reliable bids. This would mean better designs and more accurate and reliable bids that lower construction, operating and ownership costs...When it comes to professional design work, it makes sense to allow agencies to determine the reasonableness of price against the quality of the proposed scope of work. The federal government and the state recognize that selections for professional design services should be made based on who is best qualified. [Contracting; Government Contracting; Government Procurement; Procurement; Professional Services Contracts; QBS; Qualified Based Selection]
(January 15, 2004)

Glen Oaks Library project must become a priority
You would think getting money in the city budget would mean a program or project would happen. Not so!...You need to be as much a nudge after a project gets funded as you did to get it funded...Agency plans in a representative democracy ought not to take precedence to an adopted budget. It shows arrogance to ignore community needs and legislative initiatives. Legislators and the public need to pay as much attention after budgets get adopted as they do during the budget adoption process. [Capital Budget; Capital Projects; Glen Oaks Library; Libraries; Queens Borough Public Library]
(January 8, 2004)

Boro senior services must be saved from budget ax
Cuts to senior programs hurt our frail elderly the most; this makes planned changes to Meals on Wheels, or MOW, very penny-wise and dollar-foolish...Meals on Wheels often represents the only connection for frail elderly to senior programs; fewer meal deliveries means less contacts between programs — and services — and the elderly who do not get to senior centers but need help the most. [Aging Programs; Elderly; Frail Elderly; Senior Services; Meals On Wheels]
(January 1, 2004)

Boro residents deserve improved noise-control laws
Behavior and actions that might be reasonable in some parts of New York needlessly upset people in our residential communities and keep them from enjoying their desired quality of life. ...If the city that never sleeps further amends its noise code, it will allow more folks to get some shuteye. [Excessive Noise; Environment; Noise; Noise Pollution; Noise Control; Quiet Enjoyment]
(December 25, 2003)

Property tax system in Queens must be reformed
Would you not welcome a revenue measure that means we pay less property tax? [Real Property Tax; Property Taxes; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(December 18, 2003)

Sanitation lacks tools to clean Queens traffic malls
The city continues to not maintain traffic islands and malls on a regular basis and only does so after much prodding by elected officials or community boards... I always found it curious that Sanitation, which lacked the proper tools, was charged with cleaning traffic islands. Why not the Parks or Transportation departments? At least their workers have the right hand tools. [Sanitation; Traffic Islands; Traffic Malls; Mall Cleaning]
(December 11, 2003)

DOE must intervene in teacher disciplinary issues
Where horror stories we read about occur, it goes back to a lack of central support for good practices by professional district and school-based supervisors. If the old central board and the new Department of Education provide assistance, no staff disciplinary matter will go on incessantly. It remains a matter of resources and commitment by the central education power, the chancellor and his staff. [Education; NYC Department of Education; NYC Public Schools; Professional Development; Teacher Discipline; Teacher Training; Teaching]
(December 4, 2003)

DOT must take steps to make Queens streets safer
City traffic engineers follow a criteria based on preventable accidents and traffic volumes within a 12-month period, usually a calendar year. The standards, called “warrants,” provide objective criteria so a signal does not get installed without justification. It also allows the city to use federal monies for the signals...Requests for traffic signals take much time and often result after numerous studies and restudies...Traffic controls alter driver and pedestrian behavior; that can only mean enhanced safety. [Accidents; Traffic Controls; Traffic Planning; Traffic Safety; Traffic Signals; Traffic Studies]
(November 27, 2003)

"Stinkers" can clear air via city budget modification
Grandpa Charlie Bearak used the word “stinker” for it...It certainly applies to a lot of acts we see, hear about and experience in business, in life and in how our government serves us...The debate need not start and end with taxes; the “stinkers” get a chance to clean up their mistakes in service delivery. [City Budget; Mid_year Budget Modification; Municipal Services; Sanitation Collection; Trash Collection]
(November 20, 2003)

Cuts to Queens libraries not an educated decision
The Queens Borough Public Library may serve only one county in New York, but it continues to gain renown as the largest-circulating system in the world...Queens libraries offer much more than books and periodicals. Each serves as a multimedia center and a place of community gathering and activity...Our libraries operate insufficient hours of operation; this results from persistent underfunding. [Libraries; Library Funding; Queens Borough Public Library ]
(November 13, 2003)

Public must be included in land use decisions
You might notice the bubble over some tennis courts in our parks. But what you may not realize is that the city does not operate these courts, nor does it operate its golf courses or driving ranges, either. Many amenities on public land, particularly in city parks, exist as a for-profit enterprise. These private uses often serve a public purpose, but the process governing their award lacks the community input necessary to ensure businesses operating in parks act as more than cash cows for the city’s general fund. [city Charter; Concessions; Major Concessions; National Tennis Center; ULURP; Yankee Stadium]
(November 6, 2003)

Port Authority deal contains sweeteners for Queens
An act of Congress created the Port Authority in 1921 to construct a rail freight tunnel between New Jersey and Brooklyn...The PA drives and supports the economy of New York City and the region. PA projects and operations provide jobs and support economic development, and its initiatives are fueled by bridge and tunnel tolls, airport and port revenues and World Trade Center income. [Economic Development; NYC Economy; Port Authority; Rail Freight Tunnel]
(October 30, 2003)

Willets Point meets criteria for Olympic stadium
I visited cities that built new stadiums. When I visited Baltimore, I worked for a borough president who developed an entire Yankee Village plan. I saw two stadia almost side by side. Bus routes. An interstate highway and light rail. More than a year ago, we visited Cleveland. Two stadia also were off the interstate, near the subway and buses. Yankee Stadium, in contrast, is near buses, the Major Deegan Expressway and the subway. [Convention Center; Javits Center; Sports Stadia; West Side Stadium; Willets Point]
(October 23, 2003)

Public should request a piece of city budget pie
Anyone can play “Annoy!” and winning often benefits those who never play, including your neighbors and the general public. How to play? Look around your community. Talk to neighbors. Does your community need a program? A project? Call or write your..your legislator. Ask your legislator about the program or project you advocate at community meetings. Enlist others in your cause...Don’t get upset if you don’t win at “Annoy!” A new game starts — immediately — as a game ends. The more you play, the better you get. [Annoy; Budget Pie; City Budget; Community programs; Community Projects; Local Programs; Local Projects]
(October 16, 2003)

Lack of Buildings inspectors puts safety at risk
These fires in illegal conversions and deaths and injuries that result make clear the need to assure the public safety of those who reside in or visit homes that we expect to be safe. If followed, the city’s stringent building and fire codes assure safety. Inadequate inspection and enforcement leave many unsafe sites as tragedies in waiting. [Building Safety; Building Violations; Code Enforcement; Illegal Construction; Illegal Conversions; Illegal Housing; Illegal Threes; ]
(October 9, 2003)

Non-partisan elections damage democratic process
Non-partisan elections, if passed, do the most damage and certainly merit our scrutiny and rejection by the voters...It represents no reform but a subversion of the Democratic process by elites. It tends to benefit wealthy folks. It allows would-be elected officials to obscure their party affiliation, and party labels do matter, a lot...Party labels help voters, especially working folk, to identify candidates they wish to support. [Campaigns; Electoral Reform; Non-Partisan Elections]
(October 2, 2003)

Congress, Council must act to stem gun violence
The National Rifle Association says guns don’t kill, people do. Despite the machismo statement I make to folks about being able to duck a figurative shot at my back, I know a gun shot at close range offers little chance of seeing another day...During the 1990s, I sat through hearings on legislation to regulate and restrict firearms. As counsel to the Council’s Public Safety Committee chairman, I worked on the laws that banned assault weapons in our city and required trigger safety locks on handguns (1998 Local Law 21). Efforts to strengthen the latter — called Christopher’s law after Staten Island youngster Christopher Murphy, a child of two NYC police officers and victim of an accidental shooting — followed but got enacted after I moved on to the Bronx. During that time, I testified at council hearings on a nine-point plan to address gun violence... [Gun Control; Gun Safety; Gun Violence; NRA; Restricting Sales of Firearms]
(September 25, 2003)

Schools could help increase voter participation
A larger potential electorate makes it much more difficult for appeals to the “dark side” that so permeates our elections...Federal, state and city laws require voter registration forms at government offices, and you can get a voter registration form online. It makes sense to allow people to register where they may seek public services. Voting represents one of the ways we participate in civic life and public affairs. If we expand access to voter registration, it stands that we expand public access and participation in government...How many times have you voted and watched a disappointed would-be voter leave the polls? Same-day registration on Election Day would cure that. [Campaign Reform; Election Reform; Elections; Registering to Vote; Same Day Registration; Voter Registration; Voting]
(September 18, 2003)

Tax-free week provides little relief for New Yorkers
...look at the sales tax. Can you think of a more regressive tax that impacts disproportionately on those with middle, moderate and lower incomes? One might call its impact extraordinarily oppressive...Don’t you agree we ought not to get taxed when we wash our clothes, clean our dishes, brush our teeth or wipe our nose? I...argue against the sales tax on clothing up to $500 and support exempting more items. Does it not make sense to reduce taxes that return money to working families and lower-, moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers? Contrast that with the tax policies emanating out of our nation’s capital. [Clothing Sales Tax Exemption; Middle Class Tax Cut; Sales Tax; Tax Fairness; Tax Reform ]
(September 11, 2003)

School changes must not shift focus from learning
With the great focus on discussions in the media, at City Hall and in general over the new system structure, less attention gets focused on the classroom and the school. The debate over structure removed the focus and our energies from how to strengthen our schools to how to govern and administer them...to improve our schools, including keeping our best schools ones where students achieve their best, we need to refocus the debate to teaching and learning and how to support that. [Decentralization; Community School Boards; Education; Educational Accountability; Education Reform; Public Education; NYC Department of Education; NYC Public Schools; School Governance; Teaching]
(September 4, 2003)

City contracting system should be overhauled
Contracts may not excite or grab attention. Do you recall the mid-1980s major scandals or the 1960s? City contracts were involved. We get told to follow the money; in our city, that means follow the contracts. [Charter Revision; Contracts; Government Contracts; Government Reform; Procurement]
(August 28, 2003)

Bus travel in Queens poses ultimate challenge
Our bus transportation can be problematic. When it works, it proves only a bit less convenient than a car. Other times, the ride makes you wish you drove yourself...MTA NYC Transit must be part of the solution; so does the City Transportation Department... [Buses; Bus Service; Mass Transit; MTA; NYC Transit; Q1; Q36; Q76; Q77; Q79; Transportation]
(August 21, 2003)

Closing of unused city jails would save millions
The city saves money when it closes jail spaces. Some would rather limit the jail population on Riker’s Island and disperse some detainees to the houses of detention in the borough. Either way, less jail space to operate reduces costs and increases the safety of prison guards, other prison workers and inmates....The city can take steps to reduce its jail population and its reliance on jails by alternative-to-incarceration programs, also known as “ATIs,” which not only cost taxpayers less than jails but score higher than jails in keeping their “graduates” from returning to a life of crime. [Alternatives to Detention; Alternatives to Incarceration; Correction; Jails; Recidivism]
(August 14, 2003)

Cost - effective recycling is within NYC's reach
When the City Council finally passed The New York City Recycling Law in 1989, I thought trash would soon cease to be a problem and a burden. Yet rather than witness recycling’s promise, we observed one city administration limp forward, the next pay lip service for eight years and the current administration preside over the gutting of this law. [Local Law 19; Recycling; Solid Waste Management; The New York City Recycling Law; Transfer Stations; Yard Waste]
(August 7, 2003)

City must redirect funds to address housing issues
Homelessness became very real for me when then-Mayor Ed Koch decided to use an empty building at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center to house homeless adults during the winter of 1983 to 1984...Homelessness did not just rise during an economic downturn...While the need exists for more affordable housing, it also gives policymakers a more cost-effective alternative to the shelter-system money pit. [Affordable Housing; Homeless; Homelessness; Housing]
(July 31, 2003)

Clean fuel a breath of fresh air for choking masses
30 years after the Clean Air Act became law, many New Yorkers still breathe some of the foulest air in the nation. New Yorkers suffer respiratory ailments, including asthma, that worsen and can result from air pollution, most of it from heavy trucks and buses. Massive noxious emissions from diesel buses, trucks or cars (and power plants — the subject of a future column) not only contribute to smog but trigger asthma attacks and cause cancer. [Air Pollution; Alternative Fuels; Asthma; Clean Air; Clean Air Act; Clean Cities; Clean Fuels; Local Law 6; Strategic Clean Air Plan]
(July 24, 2003)

Positive change to City Charter must be instituted
Making changes in our city constitution, or Charter, its legal name, can make sense. Two concerns come to mind: What needs change that we cannot achieve by other means? And what processes are so broken that they need repair?,,,Look at the weighty matters the current commission failed to consider, and determine if the commission ought to place any proposal on the ballot. [Borough Presidents; City Budget Oversight; City Charter; City Charter Revision;Community Boards; Government Reform]
(July 17, 2003)

Beeps must strategically tackle city spending plans
The City Charter invests in borough presidents’ power to specifically and strategically influence events, programs and projects. The City Charter requires borough presidents to monitor service delivery, review all borough capital projects, advise the mayor on the formulation of the preliminary and executive budgets, provide technical assistance to community boards and identify the borough’s strategic needs...The exercise of these charter-derived powers could demonstrate the need, usefulness, relevancy and benefits to the city and the public at large of maintaining the borough presidents. [Borough Presidents; City Budget Oversight; City Charter; Community Boards; Government Reform]
(July 10, 2003)

City can take certain steps to ease fiscal woes
State law, following the 1970s fiscal crisis, requires a budget in balance; it requires no balanced practices just that expenses and income zero out. Make the income tax progressive again. ...restore the commuter tax by seeking to tax anyone who worked or lives here the same. Restore the commuter tax at double the old level using progressive rates, which realizes more than $1 billion, and split the revenue dedicated to transportation projects, program and services with suburban counties. [Balanced Budget; Budget Reform; Commuter Tax; Fiscal Reform; New York City Budget; Personal Income Tax Reform; PIT Reform; Tax Reform]
(July 3, 2003)

CCRB needs resources to increase its effectiveness
Recent events suggest that a fresh face and the return of a respected professional would allow no one who cares about our city and police-community relations to neglect real change to prevent police errors. Some of these errors, at their worst, as with Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and Gideon Busch, resulted in innocent deaths and the city’s paying $106 million in claims from fiscal years 1998 to 2000 (according to the comptroller’s office)...a simple one-sentence solution: Strengthen the Civilian Complaint Review Board and re-engineer it as an independent NYPD monitor with its budget set as a percent of the NYPD budget [CCRB; Civilian Complaint Review Board; Independent Police Monitor; Police-Community Relations; Police Misconduct]
(June 26, 2003)

Renters soon to feel sting of property tax increase
...the plan targets so-called absentee owners. It would raise $1 billion.... [Real Property Tax; Property Taxes; Real Estate Taxes; Real Property Tax Reform]
(June 19, 2003)

Cash goes down the drain as water fees rise
While we pay for this water, and rightfully so, the process takes dollars right out of our pockets. Ask your elected officials what they plan to do to right this problem. [Water Rates; Environment; Finance; Water Conservation]
(June 12, 2003)