Poverty Stats Set Mark for De Blasio's Effort vs. Inequality

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Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office/City Limits

Mayor Bill de Blasio has lunch with students at P.S. 69 in the Bronx during the first-day-of-school five-borough tour. His UPK program, which debuted that day, and affordable housing plan are aimed at reducing the income gap in the city.
In the final year of Michael Bloomberg's mayoralty, as Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign critiqued rising economic inequality in the city, New York's poverty rate barely budged. The citywide rate wavered slightly, from 21.2 percent to 20.9 percent, according to figures released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The 2013 figures—which could serve as the yardstick against which de Blasio's efforts to reduce income polarization are measured—showed little change when broken down by race, educational attainment, or wok experience, though there was a 1.6 point drop in the child poverty rate, which stood at 29.8 percent last year.

Paid Investigative Internships Available

Thanks to a generous grant from the Simon Bolivar Foundation, City Limits' Bronx Bureau is launching a paid investigative internship program that will combine training and real reporting experience over a 10-week period this fall and a 14-week session in early 2015.

We're currently recruiting five students for the fall session.

Students will learn basic reporting and investigative skills as they collaborate with staff and professional freelancers on investigations to appear on our site.

We'll pay $10 an hour. Students must commit to 10 hours per week between 3 and 7 p.m.; some time will be spent in group training and some doing individual reporting. They must be available from the week of October 5 through the week of December 7.

Analyzing the 2014 Primaries

This morning WBAI's very gracious Mario Murillo had me on to talk about the recently concluded primaries, the general election ahead and more. Give a listen:

Advocates: NYS Must Simplify Laws Barring Felons from Voting

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NYSBOE/City Limits

All a person released from prison and parole needs to do to restore their right to vote in New York State is complete and sign a voter registration form.
Tomorrow, when New York State sorts through the vote counts from today's primary, there will likely be consternation over low voter turnout—the small number of people eligible to vote who actually cast ballots—as a symptom of civic disengagement.

But that turnout calculation omits one category of New Yorker altogether: people who could vote if they weren't in prison or on parole. Civil rights advocates believe that section of the state's population merits new attention once the elections are over and legislators return to Albany.

Gowanus Developer Agrees to Superfund Cleanup Role

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Jim Henderson/City Limits

The canal has been known as a health hazard for more than a century. It also supports wildlife, recreation, industry and--increasingly--residential development.
When the Environmental Protection Agency was mulling declaring the long-polluted Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, opposition from the Bloomberg administration revolved around whether the move would stymie new housing development in the area.

For a time it looked like the then-mayor was right: One major site on the west bank of the beautiful but extremely toxic waterway was abandoned by builders.

Report Sees Crisis in NYCHA Conditions, Hope in Density

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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

NYCHA's vast empire includes 2,500 individual buildings.
It is not news that New York's public housing stock is suffering from a two-headed crisis of underfunding and aging buildings. But it's possible that NYCHA's maintenance problems aren't merely growing steadily worse over time, but getting worse faster as time goes on, a situation that housing advocates refer to as “accelerating deterioration.”

The report on citywide housing conditions by Comptroller Scott Stringer released on Monday suggests this is the case with at least some building conditions in NYCHA.

Primary Day Reading List: What's Your Favorite Campaign '14 Storyline?

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NYC BOE/City Limits

In a scene from a Board of Elections instructional video, a voter uses the "privacy booth" that's now part of New York City's electoral machinery.
If you were searching for storylines, the 2014 elections offer a few.

A governor considered possible presidential material trying to nail down an impressive re-election victory against a challenge from his party's activist wing.

A fluid battle for control of the state senate involving three caucuses and a host of races.

The aftermath of corruption scandals that have led to convictions and vacancies in some districts, and indictments against candidates seeking re-election from others.

Some of our stories have touched on these themes and others have staked out other territory. Check them out before you head to the polls:

NYCHA Points to Progress on Maintenance Issues

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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

A view of the Castle Hill Houses in the Bronx.
The city's housing authority noted progress on Monday in addressing many of the maintenance issues highlighted by a report issued earlier in the day by Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer's report was on housing conditions citywide—in NYCHA, rent-stabilized, private rental and owner-occupied units.

To identify trends across that broad marketplace, it relied on the Census Bureau's Housing and Vacancy Survey, which comes out only every three years. The latest HVS covered 2011.

Cuomo's Right (Sort Of): Debates Can Be Bad for Democracy

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CSCS/City Limits

Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Catsimatidis, John Liu and Anthony Weiner debate senior policy last summer. The 2013 mayoral race may have overdone debates, but the 2014 governor's contest faces no risk of that.
Gov. Cuomo this week rationalized his refusal to debate challenger Zephyr Teachout by claiming, "I’ve been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy," adding, So anyone who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn’t watched all the debates that I’ve been in."

Narrowly speaking, he's right: Sometimes debates can leave the voters wanting more.

As the Times deadpanned this week, "When he was running for governor in 2010, Mr. Cuomo took part in only one debate: a seven-candidate free-for-all whose participants included a former madam."

Striking Disparities in Neighborhood Violence

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Izaakb/City Limits

Last week Mayor de Blasio attended the NYPD's weekly crime statistics session, a response to the uptick in violence this summer. That uptick has to be seen in context—the number of shootings, murders and other crimes is still way, way lower than it was not just in The Bad Old Days but even just a few years.

What is striking though, when one digs a little deeper into the shooting statistics is how uneven they are across the city. No, it's not surprising that some areas have more crime than others. What is a little shocking is that, even in a bloodier summer, so many areas have absolutely no reported gun violence.

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