Take a Video Visit to the Superfund Site Near You!

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Adi Talwar/City Limits

Along the Gowanus, which has been recognized as a health nuisance since the 1800s.
In the past five years, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has designated three sites in New York City to be part of the Superfund program, which pursues polluters for financial penalties to offset the massive cost of cleaning up decades-old industrial toxins.

One site is on the northern border of Brooklyn with Queens at Newtown Creek, tainted largely by oil.

Another is the Gowanus Canal, whose bottom is coated with a sludge referred to as "black mayonnaise."

The newest is the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company on the Ridgewood-Bushwick border, a quiet spot adjacent to a cemetery where former owners had a habit of flushing radioactive material into the sewer.

Cautionary Tales on Charter Schools from Outside NYC

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Office of the Mayor/City Limits

Photographers embed among schoolkids at a visit by then-Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the Kings Collegiate Charter School in 2010. While NYC charter schools are often funded--and lobbied for--with corporate support, direct for-profit ownership is not permitted.
The debate over charter schools in New York City is not an amicable discussion, laced as it is with accusations that one side is protecting unionized teachers at the expense of kids' education, and counter-charges that charter champions are trying to destroy traditional public schools.

Elsewhere, the conversation revolves more around questions of profit and corruption.

The Progressive yesterday reported a litany of corruption allegations against charters elsewhere in the country, like Michael Sharpe, "the disgraced CEO of the FUSE charter school in Hartford [who] admitted in court to faking his academic credentials and hiding the fact that he was a two-time felon who had been convicted of embezzlement and served five years in prison as a result," or Scott Glasrud, "the CEO of Southwest Learning Centers in Albuquerque, a group of four schools including an elementary school and a flight academy, was earning $210,000 a year, as well as additional compensation for a contract he made with his own aviation company to lease planes to the flight school he administered."

The Death and Life of Stop-and-Frisk

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Fxp42/City Limits

Back in 2007 or so when the uproar over stop-and-frisk was just picking up, the NYPD made a point of referring to it as the "stop, question and frisk" program—to emphasize that the strategy was not focused on patting people down, but rather allowing police officers to ask questions of people who came under suspicion.

A new report by the New York Civil Liberties Union looks back on the whole history of stop-and-frisk (or stop-and-question-and-frisk) and reveals that among the more than 5 million stops the NYPD made from 2003 through 2013, 52 percent involved a frisk.

Willets Point Mall Clears Legal Hurdle

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Office of the Mayor/City Limits

A state judge has ruled that a plan to use parkland for the planned Willets Point redevelopment does not violate state law.

Among other procedural findings, the ruling held that since the development would facilitate trade and commerce, it still served a public purpose.

Tree Pruning Problems: Some Species Are Special Risks

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Adi Talwar/City Limits

Damage from Hurricane Irene in the Bronx. Very few new trees were affected by the storm, but older trees suffered and caused damaged.
In an audit released over the weekend, Comptroller Scott Stringer exposed a number of problems in the city's tree pruning program—mainly in how well the city keeps lists of trees needing work and tracks the performance of contractors hired to service the trees.

City Limits first wrote about this issue in early 2012, right after a summer and autumn that was incredibly tough on city trees. First there was Hurricane Irene. Then came that freak October snowstorm hit when trees that still had plenty of leaves stretching out to capture all that heavy, slushy snow.

Resisting Arrest: Is There a Trend?

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Michael Fleischhacker/City Limits

Police commissioner William Bratton told the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC yesterday that there's a trend of people resisting arrest.

"What we’re seeing … over the last several months [is] a number of individuals just failing to understand that you must submit to an arrest, that you cannot resist it," Bratton said.

Is there such a trend?

According to data provided to CityLimits.org by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, there was a spike is arrests for NY Penal Code section 205.30, resisting arrest, between February and March, a drop in April, and another jump in May before a decline in June.

Report Finds 'Epidemic' of Aging in Prison

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Peter Greenberg/City Limits

The guard tower at Sing Sing Correctional Facility on the banks of the Hudson in Ossining.
The aging of people behind bars is "a national human-made epidemic decades in the making" associated with a swelling fiscal impact and a spreading moral stain, according to a report released Thursday by the Osborne Association.

The prison population aged 55 or older quadrupled from 1995 to 2010 and is expected to represent a third of the entire prison census by 2030, "amounting to a staggering 4,400 percent increase over a 50-year span," the report found. "Even as crime has drastically declined and the U.S. prison population has begun to shrink, the aging prison population continues to rise at a disproportionate rate."

What Was the Bloomberg Admin. Saying About Jail Violence?

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Jarrett Murphy/City Limits

The devastating Times investigation of violence at Rikers Island and yesterday's chilling U.S. Attorney's report on the same might make one wonder why the deteriorating conditions in the city's jails didn't send up red flags or set off alarm bells during, say, the 2011-2013 period covered by Preet Bharara's probe.

Clinic Protests Continue as Abortion in NYC Plummets

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J. Murphy/City Limits

Source: DOHMH
When I was a sophomore in college, I helped try to start a campus pro-choice organization, which wouldn't have been a big deal if the campus in question weren't steeped in Catholic tradition. Unable to gain traction on school grounds, we looked beyond the gates, and three of us became regular volunteer escorts at a women's clinic down around 149th Street in the Bronx. Every Saturday morning, we'd don orange vests and head to nearby street corners to watch for clients and offer them an escort if our counterparts, the anti-abortion rights protesters, seemed to distress them.

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.

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