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.




NYPD Inspector General Named


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David-sha, garryknight/City Limits


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.

When the four police detectives arrived at the woman's door, they had a list of names they wanted to ask about. They also had a cell phone number they wanted to identify. But they did not have a warrant.

The homeowner didn't know the names; her daughter didn't either. But the daughter did recognize the cell number as belonging to an old phone of hers. So the cops asked to search the house.




Advocates Want De Blasio Admin. to Lean on Lender


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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

At a rally at City Hall on Tuesday, advocates and tenants called on both the loan servicer and HPD to act to bring in responsible buyers.
The news on Tuesday was nothing new: Tenants were concerned about a chunk of relatively affordable housing put at risk by massive debt and deteriorating conditions.

The pattern—established at the height of the financial crisis and seen more than once since—goes like this: Real-estate investors see untapped potential profits in multi-unit buildings in moderate- and low-income neighborhoods, take out a massive loan to buy the buildings on the idea that they can ramp up the rent-roll by replacing poor tenants with richer ones and find out too late that the numbers don't work. Starved for cash and saddled by mortgages, they defer maintenance, default on debt or both.




FDNY Case: Mayor Again Shapes City By Ending Legal Fight


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Marc Fader/City Limits

In January 2013, the Vulcan Society ran a training session for FDNY applicants at Prospect Park.
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 FDNY settlement is the fifth major Bloomberg-era case that de Blasio has ended. First was the stop-and-frisk litigation, which the mayor moved to end within his first month in office. His administration also ended a Bloomberg-initiated challenge to a 2013 prevailing wage law and settled with folks who sued after being arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention. More recently, he dropped a lawsuit his predecessor had filed challenging the legality of a law passed by the City Council over Bloomberg's veto to expand the city's prohibition of profiling.




Report: NYCHA Needs to Gear Up for the Next Sandy


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Katia Savchuk/City Limits

Vanessa Vanderhorst, 50, enters the living room of an elderly woman in the Alfred E. Smith Houses in Lower Manhattan during a NYCHA mold-remediation effort in late 2012.
Jose Maldonado wasn't introduced to mold after Superstorm Sandy. But he was invaded by it.

In his apartment at NYCHA's Gravesend Houses in Coney Island, Maldonado had mold in his closet that moved to his ceiling. "[NYCHA] came out to fix the mold. But all they did was paint over it," Maldonado writes in a report out this week. "After Sandy, the mold grew faster and seemed to be the worst on days that we were without heat for a long amount of time, which was sometimes three or more days. It spread to cover the ceiling throughout the house, into my closet and all over my clothes. It was so bad that I lost all of my clothes. In my kids’ room it had worked its way down the walls and I had to remove furniture and mattresses."




Building Collapses Pose Threat to Responders


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NYC Mayor's Office/City Limits

Firefighters search through the rubble of two buildings in Harlem that exploded Wednesday morning. The death toll was expected to rise.
In 2011, City Limits published a detailed investigation of line of duty deaths among New York City firefighters across two decades. In multiple cases, the collapse of a building played a deadly role. Today's tragedy in Harlem is a reminder of the catastrophic impact a building failure can have, and the episodes described in the excerpt below reflect the unique risks problems with building integrity pose for firefighters and other rescuers:



Library Budget Hearing, Beyond the Galante Controversy


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Russavia/City Limits

The main reading room at the NYPL's main branch.
Attention at yesterday's City Council budget hearing on libraries was understandably focused on Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante, who faces multiple investigations of his spending. But documents released at the meeting described the bigger picture facing the city's three systems. As the Council's briefing document noted:



Public Advocate Sounds Call: School Lunch for All


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Marc Fader/City Limits

Last year, the DOE's SchoolFood office reacted to higher federal standards by scaling back its menu variations, while deep-sixing some classics, like white-bread pizza and French fries.
Today Public Advocate Letitia James will join the Lunch for Learning Campaign in a press conference to push a plan to provide free lunch to all public school students.

Calls for universal school lunch have come and gone over the years, but they gained volume immediately after Hurricane Sandy, when the DOE instituted an interim universal school lunch program. The approach seemed to hold promise as a way to improve the city's lunch participation numbers.

As our Ruth Ford reported in early 2013:




NBC Keeps the Heat on Brooklyn Landlord


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Ian Marsh/City Limits

Members of the Bushwick Housing Independence Project rally outside the home of landlord Joel Israel, linked to several Brooklyn buildings with high numbers of housing-code violations.
Last night Newschannel 4 ran a great story about the tenants of landlord Joel Israel, whom City Limits' Brooklyn Bureau was the first to report on, in January, and was also the focus of a Times story last week. The TV piece features a priceless moment where the camera confronts a man entering an elevator, who claims not to know Israel or anything about the apartments where, tenants say, Israel's work crews tore out floors, ripped down walls and removed plumbing—and left the un-renovated rubble behind.



City Libraries Target Jailed Readers


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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

The Brooklyn Detention Complex on Atlantic Avenue houses up to 759 people. In Sunset Park, the federal Brooklyn MDC holds nearly 2,500 detainees.
"In the second half of the sixth year the prisoner began zealously studying languages, philosophy, and history. He threw himself eagerly into these studies—so much so that the banker had enough to do to get him the books he ordered. In the course of four years some six hundred volumes were procured at his request. It was during this period that the banker received the following letter from his prisoner: 'My dear Jailer, I write you these lines in six languages. Show them to people who know the languages. Let them read them. If they find not one mistake I implore you to fire a shot in the garden. That shot will show me that my efforts have not been thrown away. The geniuses of all ages and of all lands speak different languages, but the same flame burns in them all.'"
-from "The Bet," by Anton Chekov,
a story about a man who agrees to spend 15 years in total isolation
to prove that prison is preferable to death






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