NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court refused Friday to toss out court rulings finding that New York City carried out its police stop-and-frisk policy in a discriminatory manner, ending what was likely the city’s last chance to nullify the decisions before the arrival of a new mayor who has criticized the tactic.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a five-page order Friday, saying the city could make its arguments to toss out the rulings when its appeal of the decisions of U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin is heard next year.
Last month, the same appeals panel had suspended the effects of Scheindlin’s rulings and removed her from the case, saying she misapplied a related ruling that allowed her to take the stop-and-frisk case and made comments to the media during a trial that called her impartiality into question.
The city had argued that the panel’s decision to remove Scheindlin meant it should also nullify her rulings.
I thought this was an interesting take on what is, or rather might be, in store for New York City. I can’t comment on how accurate the portrayal of the people involved is because it’s been several years since I lived in NYC, but it looks like there are about to be some major changes in the way the city is run.
Tuesday, voters in America’s most prominent city are poised to elect Bill de Blasio mayor and turn over every major lever of municipal government to a new breed of politics that’s been on the rise but never close to this level of power: a mix of young progressives, reconstituted ’60s- and ’70s-era lefties, newly active minority voters and deep-pocketed unions that have transformed themselves into expert campaign organizers.
What that will mean as they try to translate that ideology into a governing philosophy is a question that even people who’ve been leading the charge are still asking. And in New York, where there are more than 8 million residents (plus close to a million more who come in daily for work), 300,000 city employees and a $70 billion-plus budget, there’s a lot riding on the answer.
These are the people who formed the labor-funded, liberal-favorite Working Families Party and sparked Occupy Wall Street. They say government shouldn’t just allow for change — it should force new change on the city and private sector. That means universal pre-K; closed tax loopholes; pensions divested from fossil fuel companies; family-friendlier work policies, including financial support for single parents; and paid sick leave requirements. And on the housing front: more market regulation, leveraging of privately owned real estate that’s in trouble and greater community power over developers’ plans.
The reaction of the city’s business, real estate, finance and high-tech industry leaders to its new governing class-in-waiting has ranged from panic to scoffing at the stuff they say pipe dreams are made of. The political establishment in the city is skeptical any of it can work, especially without igniting a budget disaster. And the progressives in charge are superstitious enough that, despite their candidates’ long and overwhelming lead in the polls, they’ve avoided doing too much planning before election night. […]
A year ago, Hurricane Sandy was churning off the East Coast and about to deliver one of the greatest left hooks anyone had ever seen. The storm was projected to make landfall within 100 miles or so of New York City, and would do so at an astronomical high tide. While it was not the strongest storm in the Atlantic Basin’s history, it was the largest storm - with a wind shield of 1,100 miles.
That combination led to fears that entire parts of the New York metro area would be flooded out.
Those fears turned out to be right on the money.
Parts of the city and Jersey Shore and Long Island were indeed flooded out and battered by Sandy. While the storm didn’t produce the kinds of flooding rains that have been visited by storms like Floyd or Irene, it was the storm surge that caused tremendous damage to New York City. Here are a bunch of before-after photos showing how far we’ve come in the cleanup and rebuilding efforts.
More than 200 people were killed by the storm in all, including dozens in both New York and New Jersey. The Jersey Shore was battered and some of the most iconic photos were taken from Seaside Heights where the famous rollercoaster and amusement park pier were swallowed up by the angry churning ocean.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were both overrun by the waters in New York Harbor, and it has only been in the last two weeks that the Statue of Liberty was reopened to the public after its piers and electrical systems were repaired. Ellis Island is reopening to the public this week, although many pieces in the museum collection are still undergoing repairs and conservation efforts.
The flood waters inundated Lower Manhattan, Hoboken, Jersey City, and hundreds of miles of shoreline throughout the region.
Communities hardest hit included Breezy Point, Long Beach, Hoboken, and other coastal and low lying areas. Breezy Point was site of one of the worst sights during the crisis - a raging fire during the height of the storm that ended up burning more than a 100 homes with firefighters powerless to do anything. Since then, there have been accusations and lawsuits against Con Ed that they didn’t turn power off to the area, which could have saved the area from the fires that started when electrical systems were inundated.
While some are still waiting for insurance to come through or have decided that rebuilding isn’t worth the effort and have sought homes on higher ground elsewhere, others have started rebuilding.
Many shore communities have made an effort to rebuild damaged boardwalks. A few were able to rebuild in time for this summer, but many others were only able to get a few sections done or otherwise cleared debris so that beach access was assured.
Yet risks remain from Sandy damage. A devastating fire destroyed more than 50 businesses in Seaside Park just two weeks ago. The fire apparently started in wiring underneath a portion of the town’s boardwalk that survived Sandy but was damaged by the flood waters. The damage went undetected until after it caused the fire destroying businesses and buildings that had survived Sandy.
The New York City subways, which famously run 24-7-365, were shut down ahead of the storm. Efforts were made to try and protect key assets - the tunnels and entrances in low lying areas, but those efforts failed in Lower Manhattan as the temporary measures were no match for the historic storm surge that flooded Lower Manhattan and crippled the MTA’s subway system.
In all 9 subway tunnels were flooded, and repairs to those tunnels will continue for the foreseeable future. One, the Montague Tube, will be out of service for more than a year as the entire tunnel needs to be rebuild and reinforced against future storm damage. Every piece of electronic gear, every switch, every signal, and even the rails and ties, have to be replaced because they sat in the salt water that flooded the tunnels. The MTA’s ability to get the system largely up and running, including a bus bridge while the subway service was being restored will be a case-study in how to deal with disaster management for decades to come. It also once again showed how and why the subway system is so critical to a functioning and growing metropolis like New York City. It’s why the City and State must come up with the money to invest in growing the system and reinforcing and modernizing the system. The subways are integral to the city’s very survival and nothing can replace a functioning subway system or else the city will grind to a halt under the strain of too many people trying to get to their places of employment.
While the MTA heroically managed to get service restored quickly, including to the A line to the Rockaways that was washed out by the storm surge in Jamaica Bay, the system continues to be plagued by delays and signal failures throughout the affected subway tunnels and flooded areas due to salt water corrosion. All of those issues will have to be addressed to keep the system functioning. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a point of touting the MTA restoration efforts, but he’s refused thus far to commit to increasing the state aid to the MTA to rebuild and reinforce the system further adding to the agency’s debt load as it needs to borrow to make the necessary improvements. That’s a substantial failure on his part.
Across the Hudson, NJ Transit is still dealing with all the damage to its system, and the fact that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie refuses to take action against James Weinstein for not implementing and overseeing the protection of the rail fleet that ended up being purposefully stored in flood zones in Kearny’s Meadows Yard and Hoboken’s terminal yard. It’s understandable that damage to fixed equipment - the switches and repair facilities - couldn’t be reduced due to their location, but the rail fleet suffered damage that continued to hamper commuters for months after. That was completely avoidable. NJ Transit ignored flooding risks and allowed hundreds of railcars and locomotives to be flooded out. The damage has yet to be completely repaired.
The Port Authority’s bridges and tunnels weathered the storm mostly intact, but there was significant damage at LaGuardia Airport, where flooding swept through the terminals and into the parking lots, and PATH was completely overwhelmed between Hoboken and World Trade Center. It took months before service was restored.
The rebuilding around the region continues to be uneven as insurance companies, FEMA, and state and localities are dealing with all kinds of issues. Some areas have been bought out by the government so as to return those areas to marsh lands instead of development.
Other parts are building new and improved reinforced dune networks - steel sheet piles buried underneath sand dunes planted with sea grass. Some of those efforts have been hampered by landowners who protest the eminent domain easements necessary to allow their construction. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the added value of sand dune protection must be weighed against any potential lost views. Frankly, the fact that the person lost views ignores the fact that the sand dunes act to protect those homes and the homes of their neighbors from the devastating storm surge.
The Hurricane also provided yet another clarifying moment when Congressional Republicans basically thwarted any action to fund rebuilding aid, re-funding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and delayed action for 91 days. Many of these same Republicans have their hands out with no strings attached and no conditions when disaster aid is requested for their own districts, but they demanded that any disaster aid include offsets from other parts of the budget, and otherwise imposed conditions on disaster aid that had not been done in any prior instance.
The delay had real ramifications - delaying the time for which people could be reimbursed from the NFIP, including for floods occurring elsewhere in the country as well as in the New York metro area.
Utilities are still dealing with the disaster too - having to ramp up their efforts to disaster-proof their systems. Sandy revealed that far too many key assets are in flood zones and that the utilities are ill prepared to deal with the scope of damage. New Jersey’s PSE&G fared far better than other New Jersey utilities, but power-restoration efforts were far slower than anyone wants. PSE&G has proposed a multi-year multi-billion dollar improvement project, which includes taller power poles that are more resistant to wind and tree damage, and new gear that reduces the chances that downed lines and poles take out power adjacent power lines. Despite those improvements, there are communities that are balking at the taller poles, complaining that it changes the character of their towns. It’s NIMBYism at its core, but these will be some of the same people who will complain loudest when the power goes out.
The power outages also caused significant shortages of gasoline - and while New York State is building a gas reserve to deal with future disasters, efforts to require gas stations to have generators on hand to power the pumps when the power goes out have faltered. That’s a mistake.
A gas reserve doesn’t matter much if the gas stations lack the power to operate the pumps. An effort should be made to require gas stations that are renovating or replacing their gas tanks to upgrade to include generator backups - whether portable generators or fixed generators on site to provide backup. The gas shortages meant long lines and the governors in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were forced to impose odd-even rationing to make sure that lines weren’t out of control.
Cross Posted at A Blog For All
This map, created by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, is the most comprehensive representation of racial distribution in America ever made. Here: New York City. Image: Dustin Cable
White: blue dots; African American: green dots; Asian: red; Latino: orange; all others: brown
Last year, a pair of researchers from Duke University published a report with a bold title: “The End of the Segregated Century.” U.S. cities, the authors concluded, were less segregated in 2012 than they had been at any point since 1910. But less segregated does not necessarily mean integrated-something this incredible map makes clear in vivd color.
The map, created by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, is stunningly comprehensive. Drawing on data from the 2010 U.S. Census, it shows one dot per person, color-coded by race. That’s 308,745,538 dots in all-around 7 GB of visual data. It isn’t the first map to show the country’s ethnic distribution, nor is it the first to show every single citizen, but it is the first to do both, making it the most comprehensive map of race in America ever created.
This is the most comprehensive map of race in America ever created.
White people are shown with blue dots; African-Americans with green; Asians with red; and Latinos with orange, with all other race categories from the Census represented by brown. Since the dots are smaller than pixels at most zoom levels, Cable assigned shades of color based on the multiple dots therein. From a distance, for example, certain neighborhoods will look purple, but zooming-in reveals a finer-grained breakdown of red and blue-or, really, black and white.
ndividuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, state officials are to announce on Wednesday.
State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.
Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.
“Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president for health initiatives with the Community Service Society of New York. “It’s not bargain-basement prices, but we’re going from Bergdorf’s to Filene’s here.”
Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s (WMT.N) board approved a $15 billion stock repurchase plan, its first in two years, the world’s largest retailer announced at its annual meeting on Friday.
The event at the Bud Walton arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is traditionally more of a pep rally for thousands of employees than a typical annual meeting. Shareholders attend, including members of the Walton family, who collectively own just over half of Wal-Mart’s shares. But the largest and loudest contingent is 14,000 workers from around the world, including store workers and truck drivers.
Wal-Mart continues to face pressure from some shareholders over issues including the alleged bribery of officials in Mexico and a supposed cover-up reported by the New York Times in 2012, as well as factory safety after industry building catastrophes in Bangladesh. Executives emphasized integrity in their speeches on Friday, echoing comments made at last year’s event.
“You operate with integrity, our company was founded on integrity,” Chief Executive Mike Duke told the crowd. “For Wal-Mart, compliance is an absolute. Make no mistake about it, we will do the right thing.”
This year there were protests by OUR Walmart, a union-backed group that hopes to gain the attention of the Walton family and other shareholders. OUR Walmart wants Wal-Mart to publicly commit to providing full-time work with a minimum wage of $25,000 a year.
Despite the protests, Wal-Mart has continued to increase sales and profit, and its shares have risen.
Still, a 15.4 percent gain in Wal-Mart shares since last year’s annual meeting was smaller than a 24.1 percent gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI, of which Wal-Mart is a component.
As of Thursday, Wal-Mart had about $712 million remaining under a $15 billion share repurchase program announced in June 2011.
Shares of Wal-Mart were up 1.2 percent at $76.55 on Friday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
Thousands of associates, as Wal-Mart calls its workers, were picked by their peers and managers to attend Friday’s meeting and other events throughout the week, including concerts featuring Elton John and country singer Luke Bryan. Friday’s meeting was hosted by actor Hugh Jackman and featured performers including John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson. Actor Tom Cruise was also on hand, to praise the company’s efforts in areas such as the environment and women’s empowerment.
Some 100 OUR Walmart members who work for Wal-Mart came to Arkansas to protest what they say are Wal-Mart’s illegal attempts to silence critics who want to see changes.
Wal-Mart employs about 2.2 million people, including 1.4 million in the United States, where it is the largest private employer. It says that its national average wage for full-time hourly workers is $12.67 an hour and has not released other figures. The majority of its hourly associates are full-time workers.
Wages vary in the retail industry, depending on tenure, the type of work done and other factors. According to data from the National Retail Federation, retail wages averaged $13.24 an hour in 2010. At that rate, an employee working 40 hours a week every week would earn $27,539.20 annually.
OUR Walmart, part of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, cites IBISWorld data from several years back that showed Wal-Mart associates, on average, earn $8.81 an hour. Its members also complain that they are not scheduled for enough hours, sometimes getting as few as 19 or 22 hours per week. Some Wal-Mart workers use taxpayer-funded programs to support their families.
Members of the family of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton rank among the richest people in the world. They collectively own roughly 1.67 billion shares of Wal-Mart, or 50.76 percent of the company’s outstanding stock.
OUR Walmart does not define itself as a union, although its members do pay $5 monthly dues.
Kalpona Akter, a former garment worker from Bangladesh who presented a defeated shareholder proposal at the company’s 2011 annual meeting, joined the OUR Walmart workers to push the company for changes throughout the week. She presented a proposal at Friday’s meeting seeking power for owners of 10 percent of outstanding shares to call special meetings. That proposal and three other shareholder proposals were all defeated.
“We have a supply chain out of control, and a failed safety inspection system, in a country (Bangladesh) where apparel workers are dying by the hundreds. Could there be any more pressing case for a special meeting of shareholders?”
The New York City Pension Funds said it would vote its more than 5.1 million shares against nine of Wal-Mart’s 14 board nominees - including Chairman Rob Walton and CEO Duke.
It is concerned about what it says has been the board’s poor oversight of compliance as well as a lack of overall independence. Last year, the New York City funds opposed the election of five directors.
Caleb “Kai” McGillivary waived extradition Monday in a brief hearing in Philadelphia, where he was arrested earlier this month after being spotted in a Starbucks.
The 24-year-old McGillivary is charged with killing 73-year-old Joseph Galfy Jr. after the pair met in New York City. Authorities say Galfy was found beaten to death in his bedroom in Clark, N.J.
McGillivary became a minor Internet celebrity in February after intervening in attack on utility worker in Fresno, Calif. He gave an interview to a local television station describing how he used a hatchet to fend off the attacker. The clip has been viewed millions of times on YouTube and led to an appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” for McGillivary.
Authorities allege McGillivary and Galfy met in Times Square the weekend of May 11. They then drove to Galfy’s home where McGillivary spent at least one night and beat Galfy to death, according to authorities.
Live Action has falsely claimed that their video, currently being trumpeted by the conservative media, reveals “illegal and inhuman practices” at an abortion clinic in New York City.
The Live Action video depicts a woman at Dr. Emily Woman’s Health Center in the Bronx inquiring after an abortion in the 23rd week of her pregnancy — a procedure that is legal in New York State. The woman asks detailed questions about that procedure to both a clinician and a counselor at the facility.
Henneberger writes that given those questions, the woman should have been asked if she was sure she wanted to have an abortion:
You’d think that a patient with so many apparent qualms about a late-stage abortion would at some point get her questions answered with a question: Are you sure you want to go through with this?
But if the tape is as undoctored as this clinic seems to be, you’d be wrong. (A message left on the center’s 24-hour line wasn’t returned on Sunday.)
In fact, in a portion of the woman’s visit to the clinic not included in Live Action’s supposedly “undoctored” video, a counselor at the facility asked the woman that very question in response to her repeated inquiries. From the full transcript of the woman’s visit, posted by Live Action [emphasis added]:
COUNSELOR: Now are you sure this is what you’re comfortable doing? Are you sure you want to do a termination? Because you knew you were pregnant at two months, in some way or another you were thinking about continuing this pregnancy.
COUNSELOR: So what changed your mind from then to now?
WOMAN: Well, I don’t really feel like talking about it.
COUNSELOR: Ok. You don’t have to go into detail, but I mean is there, there has to be something that can be rectified? I mean do you want to continue this pregnancy because I don’t want you to go home after doing your dilation and everything and say “You know what, I think I want to keep the pregnancy”. Because that’s when we run into problems