Widespread Fixes Needed to Protect Disaster Workers


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Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0/City Limits

Ground Zero. A report finds that the urge to return to an appearance of normalcy after September 11 was one of the reasons important health precautions weren't taken.
The federal government must take charge of public health practices at disaster scenes, where there must be stricter enforcement of rules on respiratory equipment and shift duration if the illnesses that struck tens of thousands of September 11 responders are to be avoided the next time a major disaster strikes.

So concludes a report released today by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, a consortium of workers, unions, health professionals and advocacy groups.

The report makes a lengthy list of recommendations on everything from training to workers' compensation—and notes that the responses to more recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the BP Gulf oil spill and Superstorm Sandy all showed their own flaws.




Breaking Down De Blasio's First Act


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Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio/City Limits

Mayor de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver visit PS1 in Chinatown.
Four months ago The Nation and City Limits launched a blog to track Bill de Blasio's transition and his first 100 days in office—the sprinting start of an administration critically important to the progressive movement and to a city we love that has seen an alarming increase in social inequality.

In a wrap-up article in The Nation, I look at de Blasio's many successes so far—UPK, paid-sick leave, the legal settlements—and why his administration has struggled at times to get its message across. I also analyze the considerable challenges that now face de Blasio, from implementing UPK to delivering on a huge affordable housing promise.




Advocates Have Wary Praise For End of NYPD Surveillance Unit


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Aaron McElroy/City Limits

The Islamic Center of Bay Ridge is one of a handful of mosques that the NYPD is known to have infiltrated at one time
The de Blasio administration is shutting down the "zone assessment unit," also known as the "demographic unit" that—thanks to a superb Associated Press investigation—became synonymous with the NYPD's snooping on Muslim New Yorkers under Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.



Optimism on Massive Portfolio of Working-Class Housing


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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

Advocates and tenants rally around the "three-borough pool" in March.
A few weeks back, City Limits reported on the Three Borough Pool, a 42-building portfolio bought by a partnership during the real-estate boom that had slipped into foreclosure. Many of the buildings in the portfolio—which spanned three boroughs—have racked up high numbers of housing-code violations.

Last month, housing advocates rallied outside City Hall calling for de Blasio administration housing officials to pressure the mortgage lender to rebuff an effort by the pool's owners to refinance their debt, and instead sell the parcels to a "preservation owner"--an entity skilled at rehabilitating crisis properties with a mandate to serve, rather than force out, low- and moderate-income tenants.




Is NYC's '1 Percent' Overtaxed?


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M. Fader, P. Gabel, A. Talwar, K.A. Cote, J. Murphy, N. de Mause, O. Morrison, G. Flynn/City Limits


On Monday came news that the top 1 percent of city earners were paying "almost half" of city taxes—46 percent, in fact, according to an analysis by the Independent Budget Office. This revelation prompted Mayor de Blasio to say, ""We appreciate those who have done well and contribute to our tax base."



NYC's Housing Crunch is Part of National Crisis


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M. Fader, P. Gabel, A. Talwar, K.A. Cote, J. Murphy, N. de Mause, O. Morrison, G. Flynn/City Limits


Policity is a new feature on the CityWire blog highlighting reports, proposals, debates and other news about critical policy issues.

Before he was sworn in as mayor, Bill de Blasio claimed a role as a national leader for progressive urban policy. Now, as the city awaits the formal unveiling of his affordable housing plan on May 1, there's new evidence of a policy void the mayor can fill.

More and more tenants around the United States are getting squeezed by unaffordable rents—not just (as The New York Times points out) in the traditional high-rent cities like ours, but also in smaller towns.




De Blasio Defines Governing Philosophy in 100th Day Speech


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City Hall/City Limits

Mayor de Blasio marks his 100th day with a speech at Cooper Union.
City Limits teamed up with The Nation to cover the first 100 days of the de Blasio administration. Click here for more on the series.

He's spoken often about inequality, of course, but that's an issue, not an ideal. He talked much about universal pre-kindergarten, but that's a policy, not a way of thinking. Today, in a speech to a friendly audience of pols and advocates at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, Bill de Blasio talked about what it really means to run a progressive government.




Testing and Other Reforms Squeeze Schools Arts


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Anthony Lanzilote/City Limits

In spring 2013, students at Ron Brown Academy practiced for a performance of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
One in five New York City schools has no certified art teacher—part time or full tim—and schools lacking arts education resources are clustered in low-income areas of central Brooklyn and the south Bronx, according to a report released today by the office of Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer's report recommends including arts education on school report cards, protecting arts classrooms from being lost to co-locations and using partnerships with outside groups and the sharing of staff among small schools to increase access to the arts.




Needed: A New Deal for City Housing Policy


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Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio/City Limits

The mayor addressed a crowd at the Ford Foundation on Friday.
City Limits has teamed up with The Nation to cover the first 100 days of the de Blasio administration. Click here to read the series.

The 100th day of Mayor de Blasio's term—which comes Thursday—is, of course, an arbitrary milestone. Yet after the conclusion of the state budget last week, with winter snowstorms and nasty charter-school battles out of the way, it does feel like the de Blasio narrative is entering a new phase. The first three months of the year revolved largely around the effort to get universal pre-kindergarten funded. That effort largely succeeded. Now what?




What Does the State Budget Mean for De Blasio?


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Rob Bennett for the Office of the Mayor/City Limits

May de Blasio chucks the first pitch at Opening Day at CitiField.
City Limits has teamed up with The Nation to cover the first 100 days of the de Blasio administration. Click here to read the series.

Bill de Blasio got what he needed out of the state budget that was unveiled over the weekend: $300 million a year over five years to run a universal prekindergarten program that was the centerpiece of his mayoral campaign and that many skeptics said would never be funded. He also got the state to back off a petty fight over a costless change to budget language that will allow the city to operate a housing subsidy program to begin reducing its record-high homeless shelter numbers.






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