Category Archives: politics and government

State Senate Vote

you know, I didn’t think the State Senate could disappoint me anymore after all the f*cking around earlier in the year but you know what? I was wrong. I am BEYOND disappointed. A 24-38 defeat for the marriage equality bill. Disgraceful cowardice and bigotry all round.

a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion.” — Edmund Burke (via Dr. Lyman Hall in 1776 but Edmund Burke all the same).

Bloomberg, Brooklyn, Books, Boris

mayoral debate this evening – Bloomberg advised not to roll his eyes in annoyance or sigh in frustration. Thompson advised to wear name tag.

fleshNew York author Laura Anne Gilman has a new title out. Flesh & Fire is the first in the exciting new Vineart series. Wine, magic, history – a highly potent mix and bound to be heady fun. You can get your own copy (and get a jump on holiday shopping – books are easy to wrap too!) at any of the following:

Museums facing tough choices: I’ve been thinking about museums lately as I prepare a new installment of Gotham Girl in London.

Have you checked out the previous “episodes?” If not – go on over to Boris’ site and see what I have to say on traffic and transit in NY and in London, or the street food experience or the trip from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Wow! I’m not sure how one paints a house this size this color “by accident” – surely as soon as one opens the paint can, the color is apparent. And yet – it IS bold.

pink_house

oh yeah – I forgot

I keep forgetting we’re having a mayoral race. Not sure whether this says more about me or the candidates

The Senate is Revolting . . .

You said it – they stink on ice.

I am totally planning on posting about this in more detail later today or tomorrow (non-blogging life demands my attention at the moment) but I wanted to pop in and say, “OMGWTF State Senate???????”

Budgets Need a’Balancin’

The mayor has a message for the governor: Don’t balance the budget on New York City’s back.. Much as I hate t o get into the whole “upstate vs. downstate” thing – I have to say, I agree with mini mayor here. I wonder where I put that secession plan?

*wanders off to look for it*

metrocardWhile I root around in the mass of paper, ponder this related question (which I assume was rhetorical) Have the City and State Shortchanged the M.T.A.? They have and they will continue to do so. What’s worse? Minimum maintenance of a failing system – their modus operandi thus far – is no longer enough. The fact that they are STILL diddling around with this during a massive economic crisis is their own damned fault. If they’d faced up to it earlier, they’d be more than half way done by now. Someone better do something. Now. As the Gothamist points out, the MTA is “less than one month away from having to pass a balanced operating budget for fiscal year 2009 and more than $1.2 billion short of the mark

Let’s talk about something else. Something happier that has nothing to do with transit. I know! A bright spot in my online day was running across the news that the New York Public Library as joined Flickr Commons. If you haven’t checked out Flickr Commons, pop on over. It’s really amazing. Of course, the NYPL Digital Gallery is still a larger online collection of their assets but it is always nice to see New York institutions representing 🙂

There. Now I feel better. Don’t you?

‘Nanny’ Patterson’s Soda Tax

Hey listen, I know the economy sucks and I know difficult and – even painful decisions will have to made to ensure we don’t end up living in a new Hooverville on the Great Lawn. But an “obesity tax” on non-diet soda?

I drink Diet Coke. I drink a lot of Diet Coke. I’ve been drinking Diet Coke in mass quantities for so long that regular Coke now tastes very off to me. That said – WTF, Governor Patterson? I’m not sure I can express the necessary levels of WTF but I’ll give it a try.

Let us begin with the name. As a good friend said, “Way to make people feel great about themselves, Governor Patterson. Way to press all *kinds* of buttons.” Seriously. And if I had the energy, ranting about this alone could take up an entire day.

Let us now turn our attention to context. Soda? Really? This is the Big Bad? I gather that “milk, juice, diet soda and bottled water would be exempt from the tax.” Well, why not tax the bottled water because it sucks for the environment? All juice? ALL juice is exempt? Have you seen the levels of ‘not found in nature’ stuff in some of those juices? You can’t tell me that Hi-C fruit punch is better for me than a glass of Dr. Pepper.

Finally – why stop there? If you are gonna do it, go all the way. Levy a tax the “large” size fries vs. the small. Tax the extra cripsy fried chicken more than the original recipe. Add a ‘dessert tax’ on the check at restaurants. All ice cream products? Tax! Oh wait – they have milk? Never mind. Donuts! Tax Dunkin Donuts. And to ensure an appearance of fairness – tax all thos specialty bakeries as well. That new Crumbs that just opened? Tax!

Look – I know we have to do something about the budget gap but piddly crap like this is NOT the way. I’m sure that this item was pulled out because it’s so silly sounding and perhaps it actually lives in a broader context but even if it does – it smacks of nanny state nit picking and grasping at very very small straws.

Really, Mini-Mayor? Really?

Oh, mini-mayor!

I’m so torn about this. I mean – it’s a complete about face for him and it would be easy to assign all sorts of ego and hubris to it. On the other hand – he rule hasn’t been in place THAT long and NYC is about the be SLAMMED by the economic crisis in a direct and immediate way. I’m not sure Mini-Mayor isn’t the right person to oversee it. I know it’s a while before the mayoral election but of the people who have declared thus far? Um. They don’t fill me with comfort.

But Mayor McLittle – you called an effort to revise the law “disgusting.” How is doing it via legislation in the City Council as opposed to the ballot box any less so.

*gnaws lip*

Boris and Bloomberg: Buddy Movie in the Making

And as I predicted, the New York/London bond takes center stage with the Telegraph reporting: “Boris Johnson to learn from Michael Bloomberg.”

Really? I’d love to be a fly on that wall.

Boris: “So, Mr. Mayor – ha! Might be referring to myself, what? Rather like the sound of it – ‘Mr. Mayor.’ I mean, still getting used to it, don’t you know. I shall have to get used to it, shan’t I? 4 years to go. Hell of a long time, 4 years. But, never mind, never mind. Jolly good to see you. What wisdom do you have to impart to those of us just starting out on our Glorious reign – uh, mayoralties – indeed, in this noble line of work?”

Mini-Mayor: “Bring your own box.”

Boris: “My what? Box? Did you say box?”

Mini-Mayor: “Yes, for standing on. At podiums. See, I prefer to bring my own rather than use the official mayoral box. It was pretty scruffy by then. Hadn’t been used since Abe Beame’s days. So I had one of my own done up. At my own expense of course. That’s another thing. Use your own plane if you can and refuse a salary. People eat that stuff up.”

Boris: “Ah! I see. Hmmm. Yes, quite. Tea?”

And on both sides of the Atlantic, the Mayoral Buddy Movie in the Making is getting it’s share of coverage.

Tomorrow, we will return to our regularly scheduled Gotham-centric coverage but I am still wrapping my head around the new Mayoral realities of my second favorite city.

Boris Johnson – New York’s UK Son

Bear with me. This is Gotham related, honest.

cheers1.jpg You see Boris Johnson has just won the mayoral election in London.

“And?” I hear you ask.

Well, It might surprise many to know that Boris was born here in Gotham. Yes, it is, indeed, so. And Boris, New York born if not raised, reportedly admires many of mini-Mayor’s policies. There – that’s two Gotham connections and that should be enough to rationalize my indulging in a little Boris blather.

boris_bikes1.jpg Boris ran the effective and rather off beat “Back Boris” campaign and was initially not taken very seriously. As Boris does a solid imitiation of someone who doesn’t take himself seriously, you can see why people didn’t it seriously at first. It was a clever and canny move in his part. The competition was lulled (or weak from laughter). And then, the lights went on and they realized, “Good gads! He’s actually serious!” It was a scramble from that point on.

Now, I admit to being bias. I am major fan of Boris’s writing (both fiction and non), his TV appearances (documentaries, quiz shows, political debates – you name it), the gaffes, the world wide apology tour, the tilting at windmills, the cycling, the befuddlement- even his womanizing is befuddled – it’s all gold to me (not unlike his hair, which normally looks like he’s taken garden shears to it).

Now, all I need for my world to be complete is for Boris to come to New York (place of his birth as it happens) to meet mini-Mayor (last seen up a tree, by the way) and wheedle my way in. How hard could that be?

And before anyone comes here and tries to harsh on my squee – No, he won’t be perfect. No one would. Nor will he be a perfect disaster, no matter what anyone thinks. Like New York, London is a massive administrative entity encompassing more layers, scope and financial considerations than most countries – not simply a city. Show me someone who can run it perfectly and I will eat my hat.

If I had a hat.

So cheers to you, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (try saying that 3 times fast)! I can’t wait to see what happens next

Terminal Blues

cruise shipI’ve still got the cruise on my brain today, readers. I am told this is normal – pining for the ship, wasting umpteen hours gazing at itineraries of other cruises, wondering if Doris in the Sports Bar has told the same jokes to new passengers.

I also began to wonder about the fact that Holland America plans to cease its New York embarkations in the near future. They say it’s because they can’t fill up the ships at a workable price point and they toss in the cost of fuel for good measure. I’m sure both of those factors come into play – but other lines seem to do OK out of New York and Brooklyn. And yet, other lines are rumbling similar rumbles. Why? I’m just guessing but I think the state of the New York Passenger Ship Terminal might have something to do with it.  Now  (as stated previously), as bad as it is, it’s still 200% better and easier than any airport so I’m not saying the Terminal is a lost cause or a waste of time. I am saying it’s an obstacle and needs to be fixed.

Why is the New York Passenger Ship Terminal still in such a state?

According an April 2006 press release on the NYC.gov site, the Bloomberg Administration has (or rather had) plans “to facilitate the growth of New York City’s cruise industry.” Part of that plan included reaching agreements with Carnival and Norwegian Cruise in April of 2004 whereby the cruise lines would bring at least 13 million passengers to New York City through 2017 and would pay the City at least $200 million in port charges to support the City’s investment in improving its cruise facilities. Well, if THAT’S an improved facilities, I’m Charley’s Aunt.

I wasn’t surprised to see Bloomberg had a plan for that but I am surprised that apart from the massive amount of work done to bring the Brooklyn Terminal into being (and seriously – bravo to all), nothing seems to have been done to even spruce up the Manhattan Terminal. Seriously, even a lick of paint would help. And that “at least $200 million in port charges” the cruise lines were to pay into the terminal improvements? Has anyone asked what’s been spent so far? I’d ask.

Why aren’t the hotel and other tourism related New York groups chiming in to find ways to keep the cruisers here. After all, I take a cab to the ship but tens of thousands of people every month come from out of town, stay overnight – sometimes more than one, making it very much part of their trip and they spend money here. According to a 2004 article from the AP, “the cruise industry contributed $800 million to the economy last year as more than 887,000 passengers embarked from the West Side, up from 425,000 a decade ago.” Imagine how much more money that would be AFTER the Bloomberg agreements with Carnival and Norwegian and then imagine all that money fading away because no one bothered to DO anything about the terminal, the cruise line support infrastructure and/or incentives (and don’t whine about the word incentives. They offer them to almost every other industry that threatens to leave the city. Why not the cruise industry?). Despite the fact that the article was written 4 years ago, the description of the West Side terminal, the issues surrounding it and the concerns of the lines on how it may hamper growth are still spot on today. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

You’re probably wondering why all the bitching? Sure, I could go to Fort Lauderdale and catch a ship but – quite apart from my personal preference to avoid flying when I can just take a cab – it’s should be a point of pride for New York to be one of the leading cruise hubs in the country. I mean COME ON! We are a destination in and of ourselves – not to mention a more sensible starting and ending point for transatlantic and Northeast coastal trips. Why are we not DOING something about this?