Scientology-Sponsored Anti-Drug Program Responds

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Adi Talwar/City Limits

The following letter was submitted in response to our story "Questionable Claims by Anti-Drug Program":

Dear Editor,

The article that was written against the Foundation for a Drug Free World is utterly biased, an attempt to undermine a positive non-profit and an attempt to gain publicity by creating false controversy.

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free. Through a worldwide network of volunteers and working with more than 800 police, government, and community partners and alliances, 62 million educational booklets have been distributed, tens of thousands of drug awareness events have been held, and public service announcements have reached more than 260 million viewers in 123 countries. These materials and activities have helped people around the world learn about the destructive side effects of drugs and thereby make the decision for themselves to not use them.

Beep Wants More Arts Ed

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Anthony Lanzilote/City Limits

Students at Ron Brown Academy practiced in 2013 for a performance of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Both national and state standards mandate that art be a core academic subject for students across our nation. Yet, an analysis by the Manhattan Borough President Office’s of the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) Annual Arts Education Survey shows that while some New York City schools have sufficient programs, others display much room for improvement.

Manhattan BP Gale Brewer's report, called "ArtsForward," aims to improve methods for assessing school compliance and ensure that schools have equal access to the resources needed to enhance arts education.

Libraries Fall Short in Push for Budget Windfall

The city's libraries were hoping for $65 million in additional funding in the city budget over and above what Mayor de Blasio promised in his executive budget. In budget documents released this week, it appears they got about $10 million toward that goal.

The libraries were already grateful for de Blasio's budget which ended the “budget dance" tactic of slashing library spending just to force the City Council to spend its time and political capital getting that money restored, rather than seeking new support.

Rent Guideline Board Rejects Freeze, Approves Modest Hikes

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Office of Mayor d Blasio/City Limits

As a candidate and again as mayor, de Blasio called for a rent freeze. But two of his six appointments to the board voted instead for a modest increase.
The Rent Guidelines Board rejected a rent freeze on Monday night, instead approving historically low hikes for tenants of rent-stabilized housing.

On a 5-4 vote, the board approved increases of 1 percent on one-year leases and 2.75 percent on two-year deals.

Until tonight, the lowest-ever increase approved by the RGB was 2 percent for a year and 4 percent for two.

But the result was a disappointment to tenant advocates who were hoping for a freeze, after years of rising rents, stable owner profits and stagnating tenant incomes--and after Mayor de Blasio called for a freeze and appointed six members of the board.

City Limits Board Member Takes Leave to Campaign

Just a housekeeping note: City Limits board member Mark Lieberman has taken a leave of absence as he campaigns for a state Assembly seat. We don't plan to cover that race but, should that change, we'll be sure to disclose our relationship with Mark in any articles that emerge.

State Nudges Banks to Monitor Building Conditions

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Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo/City Limits

Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of the state's Division of Financial Services.
Earlier this year City Limits published an investigation that explored at an often overlooked part of the housing crisis in New York: the role banks do—or don't but should—play in monitoring conditions in the multifamily buildings on which they hold the note.

After all, if lousy landlords didn't get the loans that let them purchase buildings where other people live, they wouldn't be landlords in the first place.

We reported then that the state's Division of Financial Services was considering updating its bank examination process to incorporate concerns about housing conditions. Specifically, DFS was looking at adding loan soundness and housing-code compliance as criteria in its Community Reinvestment Act evaluations, which grade banks on whether they are adequately serving the communities from which they draw deposits.

Study: Green Carts—Those It Could Find—Are Working

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Marc Shavitz/City Limits

Nearly three in four customers of Green Carts said they were eating more fresh fruits and vegetables because of the program.
A signature Bloomberg-era public health initiative—the city's roll-out of dozens of Green Carts to sell fresh produce in low-income food deserts—is a success, according to a new study that finds the carts are serving needy New Yorkers and boosting small business owners.

However, the study located only a third of the carts for which permits were issued.

Help Wanted: 10,000 More Summer Youth Job Slots

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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

The author was the co-teacher of an SYEP class in his hometown of New Britain in the summer of 1996. Prior to this blog post, it was the most useful thing he'd ever done.
It's the season of solicitation at City Hall—the period during New York City's annual budget process when advocacy groups takes turns on the building's steps making their case for more funding. Today will feature a rally for the Summer Youth Employment Program, an initiative whose value is exceeded only by the absurdity of the annual fight to keep it alive.

SYEP provides two months of 25-hour-a-week work at $8 an hour to 14- to 24-year-olds. It provides real work experience, real money and something to do to working-class, low-income kids. Last year, there were 36,000 SYEP slots in New York City.

Clashing Claims at Heart of '90 Murder Case Under Review

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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

Lawyers for an incarcerated man hope a state judge will permit a hearing on the dueling recollections of several witnesses to what happened in this subway stations nearly 24 years ago.
Many of the players in the case of the man who says he was wrongly convicted of a 1990 murder have changed their story over the years. The question at the heart of the latest filing by attorneys for Johnny Hincapie is which versions ought to be accepted, and which should be dismissed.

Hincapie, 41, is one of seven men convicted in the killing of Brian Watkins, a young Utah tourist who died defending his family from a pack of teenaged muggers in a killing that came to epitomize the fear and disorder of early 1990s New York. Currently serving a sentence of 25-years-to-life, Hincapie claims he was not part of the mugging but made a false confession to the crime after mistreatment by NYPD detectives. He hopes to vacate his conviction.

CL Honored for Story on How Parents' Arrests Affect Kids

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Klaus with K/City Limits

Twenty-five years ago, one out of every 125 children in the United States had an incarcerated parent. Today, that number is one out of every 28. It's easy to imagine the effects on a child of having a parent behind bars for years. But what about the moment when it begins, when mom or dad is in handcuffs?

Such was the focus of Rachel Blustain's April 2013 article, "Pushing Cops to Consider Kids When Arresting Parents," which won first place in the "best article on a social issue" category at last night's Ippie Awards, run by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

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