Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pedestrians Beware - Danger lurks on 4 wheels and 2

The late Mr. Gruskin

Contributing blogger and Pedestrian Saftey Advocate Jack Brown who resides in the Lower East Side of Manhattan shares this news with CCRC readers. Jack is pushing for intro 624, and he's far from being alone. Many pedestrian safety advocacy groups have signed on to The Coalition Against Rogue Riding, whose main goal is "responsible enforcement leads to responsible cycling". We applaud Jack for his remarkable energy and persistence in bringing about a City wide change.

We acknowledge the carnage of automobile related deaths that occur throughout the City and have actively sought out solutions within the Chinatown area, one of the most dangerous areas in all of the five boros due to vehicular traffic.

CCRC continues to advise, advocate, and assist in improving traffic conditions in our area. As recently as last month CCRC was acknowledged for being the catalyst to get the Parks Dept. to get its own vehicles off of Columbus Park sidewalks, and away from children's playgrounds - a formerly chronic condition, allowed to fester had it not been for CCRC's persistence, and Park's Commissioner Adrian Benepe's personal intervention.

While we work hard towards a reduction in automobile accidents, we must also acknowledge and advocate for enforcement of cycling laws. We are fortunate to have Jack Brown , an avid cyclist, former bike shop owner, and L.E.S. resident to lead the way toward responsible enforcement and responsible cycling.

C.A.R.R. will soon have its own blog, we will link it when it is live.

On Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 1:21 PM, Jack Brown wrote:

On April 28th, as he was crossing Fifth Avenue and 43rd St ,Mr.Stuart Gruskin, age 50, a popular Sr.VP of Valuation Research was struck by delivery rider Alfredo Geraldo who was riding east on the one way west bound 43rd St. Mr.Gruskin was knocked down and sufferred head injuries. Subsequently, although at first he spoke coherently at Cornell-Weill hospital, he succumbed to swelling of the brain on May 1.

Geraldo wore no helmet.The bike he was riding had no brakes and no lights.This is all the catering company who employed Geraldo has been charged with . Geraldo has vanished.
The fact that Mr.Gruskin died as a result of his injuries is relatively rare.According to the statistics published in the Daily News 11 pedestrians were killed between 1996-2005.However numerous people have been hit and close calls are too many to mentione.The number may approach the figures on the bank bailout from the financial crisis.

Mr.Gruskin grew up in New York City and graduated from NYU's Stern School of business.He was married to his wife for sixteen years and they had twins age 13.Mrs. Gruskin has filed a 20 million dollar lawsuit against the catering company that employed Geraldo. Mrs. Gruskin also is in the process of setting up a foundation that will address the issue that took her husband's life. She intends to honor him by dedicating herself to addressing the issue that took his life. Mr.Gruskin's organs were donated to help others live after his death.

CARR- Coaltion Against Rogue Riding has been in touch with Mrs. Gruskin We intend to move forward together to address our mutual goal of safer streets and sidewalks. At this point one goal is the advancement of Intro #624 also known as the" vicarious liability" bill -this would make a business owner financially liable for the infractions of a delivery agent-which is currently held up in the Transportation Committee of the City Council.This committee is chaired by Councilman John Liu. Mr.Liu and Council Speaker Christine Quinn are responsible for bring legislative matters to the floor for a Hearing and vote.
Inquires on the part of CARR in the past have resulted in either no response from the two offices or political equivocating.The death of Mr.Gruskin might have been prevented if this bill had already been passed and the approapriate enforcement on the part of the NYPD been in effect.
CARR looks forward to working with Mrs. Nancy Gruskin.She understands that sometimes a movement needs a person who has sacrificed for the cause. It may not be what her family would have chosen ,but given what fate has given ,they are taking the opportunity to render a service to the entire population of this city and all the visitors who pass through the streets and sidewalks.
One bit of irony. When Transporatation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced on July 8th that New York city could become the bike capital of the world the Gruskin family formerly entered the lawsuit.If that goal is eventually achieved New York city will likely have the Gruskin family to thank.
Jack Brown
Coalition Against Rogue Riding

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Big Real Estate Loves Mayor Mike - Doesn't that tell ya something?

Big Real Estate Would Love Bloomberg

The story was reported by Max Abelson, Eliot Brown and Dana Rubinstein; and written by Ms. Rubinstein.
New York's real estate community doesn't just love Mayor Bloomberg. It lurves him. And it's greeting the news of his third-term bid accordingly.

A sampling:

"Love him," said developer and landlord Alex Sapir. "Let's keep him forever."

"It's the best news I've heard in years," said residential superbroker Michelle Kleier, president and chairman of Gumley Haft Kleier.

"I can't think of anyone who's done more for New York ... in my lifetime," said Howard Lorber, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman owner.

"I think he's the greatest mayor we've ever had," said Douglas Durst, of the Durst Organization. Mr. Durst even thinks the new president should call Mr. Bloomberg down to Washington to "straighten out the financial mess."

"I think the country needs him more than the city does," he said.

Thirty-something Dumbo developer Jed Walentas called Mr. Bloomberg, "the best mayor New York has had--certainly in my lifetime."

And Donald Trump said he begs the mayor ("Michael," to him) to run whenever they meet.

"Any time I see Michael I say, please run," Mr. Trump said. "I don't want to get into the details, but any time I see him. I think it's very important."

So what gives? Why all the love for Massachusetts' own, Michael Bloomberg?

First off, he's been a very pro-business, pro-real estate mayor. The expansion of 421a development tax abatement exclusionary zones aside--(Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal and another mayoral fan, pointed out no one is perfect)--the powerful Real Estate Board of New York has long held Mayor Bloomberg in a favorable light.

And, given recent events on Wall Street, real estate types would prefer a businessman like themselves take care of New York City. (Far easier to trust a businessman, after all, than an activist or, even worse, a lifelong politician.)

"Somebody who can run a multibillion dollar company certainly is capable of running the city--we need more of his type running the country, running the world," Ms. Kleier said.

Mr. Knakal agreed, asserting that "now more than ever, we're going to have to run municipalities like businesses, and I think that his business acumen will serve the city well in being able to deal with the tremendous deficits we're looking at."

"Without a doubt there will be reductions in tax revenue and there will have to be spending cuts and how those cuts are implemented in maintaining a balance between providing service and cutting spending is very much like running a very large company," Mr. Knakal added, "and he is very experienced in that area and has proven he can do an effective job."

All of the mayor's attributes aside, there is something to be said for continuity in leadership during these difficult economic times, said Stephen Siegel, chairman of CB Richard Ellis' Global Brokerage.

"The city will have many challenges over the next few years," agreed Jones Lang LaSalle's regional president, Peter Riguardi. "The great leadership we have had for the past 16 years with Giuliani and Bloomberg must continue as the real estate community is dependent upon New York having a tremendous labor market which will only thrive in New York if the quality of life is justifiable to the cost of living."

Questions of due process--whether or not it's O.K. for Mayor Bloomberg to push for overturning a term-limits law that voters twice passed--were generally pushed aside, with real estate heavies arguing that elections were the ultimate term limit. Except, that is, for Mr. Durst, who told The Observer that he would prefer the voters, not the City Council, overturn the term limits law.

Such piddling concerns aside, New York real estate overwhelmingly and profoundly hearts Mike.

Mr. Trump summed it up nicely: "Fourth term? Absolutely! I think it would be great."

The case for Fast Fleet government car sharing is made greater every day.

Michael Bloomberg in his first term as Mayor removed the partitions from office walls within City Hall and replaced them with glass to symbolically represent the "transparency" he would have in HIS City Hall. As we have learned from numerous reports about abuse of government owned cars, and more recently the Mayor's own S.U.V.s which until days ago would sit idling for hours, transparency is not this administration's concern, it's more about squeezing every penny from hard working NY'ers.

CCRC proposes the adoption of "Fast Fleet" car sharing for government vehicles as a solution to the abuse of public parking spaces. Had Fast Fleet , which is now used and enjoyed by Washington D.C., been in place the Seaport Report shown below may have been very different.

Fast Fleet, you see, would have allowed full transparency with regard to the time each government car had been parked, the purpose of the visit, the person who signed out the car, the agency who signed out the car, and most importantly, whether the car is being used on official business or not. After all THOSE ARE OUR CARS, our tax dollars paid for them, we maintain them, we should know how and why they are being used, and when they are abused we should have answers and solutions immediately.
This information would have been helpful in quickly identifying the precise offense and swift action would be taken against the abuser.

On the flip side, Lisa Kunst's information was obtained by a traffic agent immediately and efficiently and as a result swift action was taken against her. Shouldn't we have that "service" available to quickly and efficiently punish the government employees who routinely abuse their parking privileges?

Will Mayor Mike ever remove himself from the self imposed haze of carbon monoxide to GREEN THE FLEET? Or will he, as Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler explained, continue to provide this parking perk to government employees because he feels they are underpaid?

See Lisa's story in the Downtown Express, something tells us her story is familiar to all NY'ers. Fast Fleet can and will stop this phenomenon.

Volume 22, Number 10 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 17 - 23, 2009

Seaport Report

By Janel Bladow

Mad As Hell, Mayor…
And we’re not going to take it anymore! That’s what many S3 residents are saying these days about the uncontrolled and outrageous takeover of our streets by city vehicles. On Friday night, one of the busiest for local restaurants and retail, Seaport Report counted more than 40 city cars in public parking spots (alternate side; metered — with placards in windows so that they did not pay parking fees) on Dover, Pearl, Water, Front, Fulton and John Sts. Most of these same cars had been in the same spots since 11 a.m. and were there when we checked throughout the weekend.

This has residents and people like Lisa Kunst, daytime manager of the Bridge CafĂ©, fuming. She drives to work daily because there is no public transportation near her house in Queens and she can’t afford the pricey parking in Downtown lots.

On Thursday, July 9, at 10:24 a.m., she walked with a handful of quarters over to Pearl St. between Peck Slip and Beekman where her car was legally parked to buy another two-hour Muni-Meter ticket. Looking up the block, Lisa was stunned. The space where she left her car was empty.

“I thought the car was stolen,” she told S.R. “Two men were hanging by the spot and told me that the car was towed five minutes earlier.”

Lisa, who has only two tickets, both scheduled for hearings, immediately called 311, which couldn’t locate her car for more than two hours. “What’s the point? I’m not even sure.” When she finally found it, she had to go to the tow pound at 38th St. and 12th Ave where 30 other people waited for their cars. While there, two people were given the wrong cars and Lisa finally got hers after 10 p.m.

“I’m really ticked off because none of the official cars parked in the spaces around me were towed. The sign clearly says ‘No parking 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.’ and ‘Two hour metered parking 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.’ I’m fighting it. My ticket reads ‘For non-parking M-F 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.’ which is totally wrong. I had to pay $185 to get the car, that’s without the ticket! Parking around here is horrendous. Every day it’s a chore for me.”

Lisa cites two other examples of parking laws gone wild in S3. One is on Dover between Water and Front Sts., a span that is basically unmarked between arrowed signs pointing in opposite directions. “Every day people park there. Every day people get tickets,” she says. “The traffic agent told us that it’s a sidewalk crossing. Ridiculous! There’s no sign! And where are they crossing to? A fence?”

Plus, numerous parking spaces have been lost over the last three years because of “Construction Site No Parking” signs on Dover and Front Sts., even though construction never began.

Meanwhile on Monday, S.R. spoke with resident Tracy Spinney, who has been fighting for his right to free street parking in the Seaport for more than three years. He’s attended Community Board 1 meetings, written/talked with the First Precinct, and lobbed complaints through 311.

“I’m doing the dance now,” he said, as he waited near Pearl St. for a space to clear. “Right now there are one, two… six, seven, Toyota Prius city cars parked around me. Wait… ten, eleven, twelve. All are in public or metered spots, not special city vehicle parking. It’s just maddening. You confront them and ask why they aren’t parking in their designated lot under the F.D.R. Drive along South St. and they look at you like you’re a moron. They aren’t treating the public with courtesy, respect or even acting professionally. Mayor Bloomberg says he’s working on the problem but it’s the classic waiting game and nothing is getting done.”

Spinney suggests all S3 residents go to and post photos of parking abusive city workers and their vehicles. Maybe then the mayor will really do something about this problem.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Mayor Bloomberg Shell Game with Lower Manhattan

From the Downtown Express Letters to the editor:

Mayor’s ‘shell game’

To The Editor:
Re “Mad as Hell, Mayor...” (Seaport Report, July 17-23):

As we have long predicted, the temporary alleviation of placard parking problems in Chinatown would result in the problem moving into surrounding neighborhoods. The Bloomberg administration is playing a sort of “automobile shell game” with the residents of Lower Manhattan. And the problem will move from neighborhood to neighborhood unless and until the root of the problem is addressed: the uncontrolled awarding of parking privileges as a “perk” to city employees and affiliates.

Lower Manhattan residents must make government-issued parking reform one of the top issues for mayoral candidates in this election year. We must demand the elimination of the archaic and corrupt system of awarding paper parking placards and replace it with a modern, paperless, traceable parking-reservation system that we have presented in the Downtown Express previously. We must insist on the use of car-sharing programs using Zipcar-like technology, similar to that being used in Washington, D.C, to reduce the number of government cars on our streets.

Most important, we must ask ourselves if we want to give a mayor who has ignored these problems for eight years, and who has given himself an exemption from the voter-mandated two-term limit, another opportunity to wreak havoc on our quality of life and economic vitality in Lower Manhattan. The best thing to do when confronted with someone offering you a “shell game” is to walk away. Let’s walk away from any mayor who would play such games with us.
Jeanie Chin
Jan Lee
John Ost
Chin, Lee and Ost are members, Civic Center Residents Coalition

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Downtown Express coverage of the CCRC endorsement of Bill Thompson

Chinatown residents group backs Thompson for mayor

By Julie Shapiro Downtown Express

Comptroller Bill Thompson got a boost in his campaign for mayor this week when the Civic Center Residents Coalition endorsed him.

Thompson joined about 20 members of the C.C.R.C. in Chatham Square Tuesday afternoon for the announcement. The location was no accident — one reason the coalition of Chinatown residents and businesses supports Thompson is because he opposes Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Chatham Square reconfiguration plan.

Thompson has also promised that if elected he will reopen Park Row. The street was closed after 9/11 for security reasons and Bloomberg has said repeatedly that it should remain closed.

“I haven’t received that from anyone in eight years,” Jan Lee, a Chinatown business owner and C.C.R.C. leader, said of Thompson’s commitment. “Everything we as activists in Chinatown are fighting for is embodied in [Thompson’s] campaign. He’s not afraid to say these things.”

Lee also appreciates Thompson’s opposition of congestion pricing and East River bridge tolls.

City Council candidates Margaret Chin and Pete Gleason also attended the announcement and endorsed Thompson. C.C.R.C. has not yet endorsed in the First District Council race, but is interviewing candidates now, Lee said.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Park" no more! - Commissioner responds to Parks Department vehicles on sidewalks surrounding Columbus Park in Chinatown

Columbus Park is a safer place thanks to the attention of NYC Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Over a month ago, the Civic Center Residents Coalition reported objections to the Parks Department using the sidewalks surrounding Columbus Park as their parking area. This unsafe condition sent the wrong message to the community.

Commissioner Adrian Benepe has sent a letter acknowledging the problem of unsafe parking. He informs us that the condition has been rectified and that his staff has been instructed not to park on the sidewalks any longer.

The Chinatown community is grateful for this acknowledgment and improvement. The removal of vehicles from the sidewalks around Columbus Park could not have been achieved without traffic enforcement by the NYPD. For days, the NYPD patrolled the area to ensure there was sufficient curbside parking for the Parks Department garbage truck and towed away persistent violators of parking rules.

We are hoping the Park's staff will be able to plant trees in the vacant tree pits at Worth and Baxter Streets, as well as Worth and Mulberry.

The Civic Center Residents Coalition remains committed to pedestrian safety issues in and around Chinatown. And through the efforts and cooperation of the NYC Parks Department Commissioner we have achieved a safer park experience.

Thank you Commissioner Adrian Benepe.