News that goes boom!!

March 10, 2008

The New York Times just reported that Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been linked to a prostitution ring. I’d send you the link but for the past five minutes the site has been down. Incidently, the guv’s website also crashed. 

Now it is up.


NYC Off-Track Betting Fans Weigh Odds of Closing

March 4, 2008

At the Chinatown Off-Track Betting facility on Lafayette Street in Manhattan gamblers crowd the center of an upstairs betting room and stare up at a T.V.

George, a middle-aged immigrant from Jamaica, is looking down at a crumpled NY Post horse racing column. “I should have trusted myself,” he says. “I would have picked a trifecta.” Sure enough, he had circled on his newspaper which horses would come in first, second and third. But he had not followed his gut when betting.

An hour later, George found me to say he had won over $700 after correctly predicting the outcome of two other races. “You brought me good luck,” he said.

Down the street at City Hall, OTB employee Mike Murphy was searching for some good luck on Sunday too. He and 1,500 other workers are set to be laid off in June.


{Click here for photo slideshow}

Service Union Protests Senior Care Company

February 28, 2008

By: Mellissa Seecharan

A small group of union-backed protesters railed against labor and living conditions at one of the nation’s largest senior care providers’ facilities Wednesday on the Upper West Side. The company, in turn, accused protest organizers of a publicity stunt to collect more union dues.


{Click here for a photo slide show}

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Live blogging Christine Quinn’s State of the City

February 12, 2008

11:42| Pre-game

Pols mingle inside council chambers as Dave Matthews plays softly in the background. Speech is supposed to start at noon.

I can’t verify how cold it is outside because the Wi-Fi here is locked. It felt like freezing temperatures as I walked up the steps at City Hall. At least it’s warm now.

And aren’t I lucky — press is sequestered pretty close to the stage. Staff provided a power strip to power this live blog too. chairs.jpg

The Daily News reported yesterday that Quinn, a likely mayoral contender in 2009, shelled out $12,000 to political consultant David Gerstein to pen today’s speech. Let’s see how it compares to last year’s.

12:18 | Zero Hour

Quinn has not walked up to the podium yet, but one of her press aides just passed out a copy of her remarks. One reporter close by says, “this isn’t worth $12,000.”

Hey, at least this year she injects a little humor. From the 5th graf:

“Now, as most of you know, New Yorkers have a lot to say in some cases – even more than my father. Some might consider that a pain in the tuchus. But we on the Council consider it a blessing.”

12:27 | The beginning

Standing ovation for Quinn. Ex-Mayor Ed Koch is in the audience, a bunch of DAs, and some current deputy mayors too. Where’s Bloomberg? He was here last time.



The speech is very conversational. A lot of “you knows” and “wells.” Here’s a good line.
“Crime is so low that New York Magazine even ran a story wondering if it was possible to reduce the murder rate to zero.”

12:44 | Mayor’s dogs

Quinn tries out a joke on the city’s worsening economic situation.

1:05 | Quinn’s economic priorities

The bulk of her speech is a laundry list of new programs or “innovations,” as Quinn says.

1. Make bus contracts competitive.
2. No sales tax for one week to coincide with Bush’s economic stimulus. Basically, an 8 percent discount on retail and entertainment.
3. Oppose expansion of Javits Center. But Quinn gets applause for saying she “will fight any shortsighted attempt to see those two adjacent properties” until the city officially decides to give up on expansion. Umm – what’s the reasoning?
4. Expand a Brooklyn-based health care pilot program to Manhattan. Says $4.9 million can lead to coverage for 4,500 New Yorkers.
5. Housing:
-Try to pass a renter’s tax credit.
-Announced creation of a housing task force.
-Pledged that council members will take stories of predatory lending to the Attorney General.
-Organize summit with lenders for plan to renegotiate loans.

1:07| Education

Quinn confirms new hiring incentives for middle-school teachers.

1:13 | Food Stamps

Quinn announces a new program to increase the number of people who sign up for food stamps. She said only 1.1 million signed up for food stamps when 2.5 million were eligible.

1:17 | Speechisms

Here’s another $12K snippet that earned applause:

“We came back from the brink of bankruptcy in the 70s – together. We got through 9/11 and showed the world our resilience – together. So we will no doubt weather the economic turbulence of this year together as well. It’s an all heads and hearts on deck moment and we’re already responding the way we always do.”

1:41 | A new ferry system?

Toward the end of her speech, Quinn called for a five-borough Ferry system, though, the speaker did not outline how much such a project would cost.

“Imagine getting on a ferry in Hunts Point for a daytrip to Coney Island, or traveling from Brooklyn to Queens without waiting for the G train,” Quinn said.

I asked Peter Vallone Jr., a councilman from Astoria, whether he believed that this could be achieved in the adverse economic climate that Quinn had laid out minutes earlier.

“Nothing that she mentioned will be easy to do because of the deficit,” Vallone said. “I’m hopeful some of it will be done.”

1:59 | wrap-up

At times today it seemed that Quinn was playing for a wider audience. Her diction was clear and her pacing smooth. Content-wise she injected more humor than last year, and mostly steered clear of jargon. But did she seem mayoral?

One local activist who attended the speech seemed to indicate as much. Janet Weinberg, who works on gay issues, said she could only speak for herself, not her organization.

“She has grown and grown and is getting more polished,” Weinberg said. “This is a woman who has a great future.”

It will be interesting to see how the media will report Quinn’s speech today.

Was I looking at our next mayor?

3:33 | Back to Wi-fi

Quinn did not receive anything near an icy reception after her speech. I, on the otherhand, was met with a flurry of snow upon leaving City Hall. Here is a worker spreading out salt:


Colbert the contender

October 17, 2007

Stephen Colbert for president!

The Associated Press reported that Stephen Colbert announced on his show last night he would run for president — only in South Carolina — as both a Republican and a Democrat.

From the AP:

In a guest column for Maureen Dowd in Sunday’s New York Times, Colbert wrote: “I am not ready to announce yet — even though it’s clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.”

More here.