Cloudy Views On Broken-Windows Policing

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Tomas Castelazo/City Limits

Everybody knows what Immaculate Conception is. They must because they reference it all the time. Except they often get it wrong. People will jokingly allude to Immaculate Conception when describing someone being born without their parents having, you know, done it. But that's not Immaculate Conception, it's Virgin Birth, which the Bible says occurred in Jesus's case. Immaculate Conception refers to Mary—that's Jesus's mom, for the uninitiated—having been born (after being conceived the traditional way) without original sin. The confusion is enough to drive an ex-Catholic to prayer.

Some Police Agencies Revive Restraints Involving Neck

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USMC/City Limits

Troops in training demonstrate a lateral vascular neck restraint, or LVNR.
Outrage over the death last week of Eric Garner while in police custody hasn’t been echoed on listservs and bulletin boards frequented by police officers and their supporters. "Looking at this video, there is no criminal action on the part of the officer(s) in my opinion," wrote one poster at Thee Rant, where some posters disparaged the dead man and there was general concern that the cop at the center of the case might be unfairly blamed for Garner's demise.

There’s no way to tell whether the posters at sites like Thee Rant are cops, retired cops, wannabes, buffs or trolls. But one post raised a question that may resonate as the uproar over Garner’s death lives on.

What Will De Blasio's Approach to Welfare Be?

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Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio/City Limits

Mayor de Blasio announcing Steve Banks as commissioner of the Human Resources Administration back in February.
Here's a surprising stat: Fewer New Yorkers received welfare or food stamps in the first three months of the de Blasio era than over the same period last year. Over the January to March period in 2014, an average of 338,775 people received cash assistance, compared to 363,375 the year before—a 7 percent reduction. Food stamp usage was down by an average of 4 percent or 73,000 each month.

That probably is a reflection of the combination of a slightly better economy and Bloomberg-era policies more than any indication of what course benefits usage will take under de Blasio. Some have painted the mayor as an enemy of welfare reform, and worried that he would reverse the steep decrease in welfare receipt in the city that occurred under mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani.

Celebrate Earth Day: Find Pollution Near You!

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

There are better ways to celebrate Earth Day than sitting at your computer. But if you can't make it out to, say, the Twin Islands Loop near Orchard Beach, you can at least learn more about how what local pollution looks like thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory.

The TRI is nothing new. Created after the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act was passed in 1986, it's been accessible online for years. But the EPA keeps creating new and interesting ways to access its data, which cover releases of over 650 chemicals deemed harmful to human health and life or to the environment—everything from aluminum dust to zinc.

True or False: New York City Already Bans Racial Profiling

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© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons/City Limits

The sharpest jabs in this week's Democratic mayoral debate came over stop-and-frisk and one of the two City Council bills aimed at curbing the practice—measures that were passed by the city legislature in June and vetoed by Mayor Bloomberg in July. On Thursday, the Council overrode the vetoes on both pieces of legislation: Intro. 1079, which creates an inspector general to oversee the NYPD, and Intro. 1080, which is known as the End Discriminatory Profiling Act. That second bill figured prominently in two testy exchanges among the candidates.

Outside the NYPD, Inspectors General Are Everywhere

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FDNY, CIA, DIA, FBI, NRO/City Limits

The New York Post's outrage at Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support for an NYPD inspector general may have reached biblical proportions ("JUDAS!" screamed its Thursday headline), but the newspaper has found inspectors general pretty useful in the past. Over the past five years, the newspaper has mentioned "inspector general"—in contexts not involving the NYPD—some 450 times.

Recent examples of government incompetence/corruption chronicled by the Post and involving inspectors general include a probe of the city's top traffic judge for pitching a rental property at work, a Queens nursing home exec billing Medicaid for the use of a Lexus, revelations that construction workers at the World Trade Center were smoking and dealing pot on site, and failures by then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geither to restrict executive pay at corporations bailed out by federal taxpayers.

New York City Eyeing Wider Use of Biodiesel

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Kevin B./City Limits

Most of the city's fleet already uses biodiesel, but some want New York to embrace a mandate for public—and perhaps some private—vehicles.
As New York attempts to improve its environmental efficiency, biodiesel has become a key tool. Biodiesel is currently used to heat homes throughout the city and power the city’s fleet. With the first biodiesel mandates going into effect this winter, biodiesel use in New York City may continue to grow.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from agricultural oils, fats and greases. Biodiesel is normally blended with petroleum diesel. Biodiesel blends are identified with a number representing the percentage of biodiesel in them. Blends can range from B2, a blend with 2 percent biodiesel, to B100, pure biodiesel. Biodiesel can be used for anything that traditional petroleum diesel is used for.

National Reporting Project Finds Flaws in Brownfields Program

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Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism/City Limits

Ariana Preciado, 7, and her brother Aidan, 4, are the fifth generation of their family to live in the Carrollville neighborhood of Oak Creek, Wis. These children live near a brownfield site, a barren 300-acre complex of former factories where the soil and groundwater are polluted with arsenic and other chemicals.
A national program for cleaning up contaminated sites is dogged by funding shortages and a lack of oversight that puts lower-income communities at a disadvantage in obtaining federal support, an investigation coordinated by the Investigative News Network Found.

Among other findings, the investigation (which can be read in full here) found that:

15 Years On, Still No Agreement on Welfare Reform's Impact

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Neil deMause/Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

The panelists, clockwise from top left: Bich Ha Pham, Robert Doar, Frances Fox-Piven and Lawrence Mead.
Wednesday's panel on the 15th anniversary of welfare reform, held at NYU's Wagner School of Public Service, was certainly full of heavy hitters on the subject of how the 1996 law has affected American society. The lineup:

- New York City HRA Commissioner Robert Doar, chief proponent of the city's "Work First" welfare policies.


Police Conduct at Parade Unlikely to Get Board's Review

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Kiera Feldman/City Limits

A picture displayed at Tuesday's press conference of Kirsten John Foy, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's community affairs director, during his encounter with police.
When it comes to alleged abuses of police power, the official channel of recourse is to file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the independent agency formed in 1992 to investigate misconduct. But as of Tuesday, representatives for the two officials involved in this weekend's controversial incident at the West Indian Day Parade said neither had considered filing a CCRB complaint. It simply hadn't crossed their minds.

Recounting at a press conference on Tuesday the events at Monday's parade, Councilman Jumaane Williams and Kirsten John Foy, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's community affairs director, said they showed their City-issued identification, explained they had permission to skirt the barrier, and were promptly handcuffed. A video of the incident shows officers surrounding Foy and tackling him to the grass in front of the Brooklyn Library. The NYPD claimed that an officer had been punched in the face, a claim that Williams termed "bald-faced lies."


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