Page 1

Vol. 1, No. 6

February 21, 2012

www.cityandstateny.com

JOEY CAROLINO

After gay marriage, a transformative coalition splinters into just another interest group

PAGE 10 The average New York City restaurant inspection would earn a B —but most get an A. Page 4

What is the cost of the Indian Point nuclear plant? It depends. Page 14

Roosevelt Island welcomes—and braces for—its newest resident. Page 6

Rory Lancman explains why he’s not David Weprin. Page 19


UPFRONT

THE PRICE OF APPROVAL With a few notable exceptions, politicians like to be liked. They public authorities to transfer money without legislative approval draw district lines to insulate themselves from swings in the public and give the governor authority to move funds between agencies without the Assembly and Senate getting involved. mood—but they still crave approval. New York’s legislators have grumbled, but that’s about it. In New York, they’re finally starting to get that Sure, lawmakers like power and perks and campaign donations. approval. And they’ll do whatever they can to keep it. The Quinnipiac University poll released last They wouldn’t work so hard to stay in office if they didn’t. But behind week showed New Yorkers are slowly regaining the calculating eyes of the average politician is a man or a woman faith in their state Legislature, giving rising job trying to fill a much more human desire. They want to be liked. Cuomo knows it. He wants to be liked, too. approval ratings to lawmakers once known only He just hides it better than anyone else in Albany. for dysfunction. Granted, it’s not much: 29 percent of New Yorkers alisberg@cityandstateny.com now approve of how the Legislature is Adam Lisberg BY T H E N U M B E R S handling its job, up from 15 percent in EDITOR September 2010. At this rate, they’ll soon $4.0 $3,721 break their record high of 34 percent from April 2007. $3,516 In any other context, having the approval of just one out $3.5 of three voters would be abysmal. In New York, it’s progress. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg Which explains why New York lawmakers are lining up $3,394 NYC $3.0 both proposed balanced to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo more and more of their power: budgets for the next fiscal $3,040 voters seem to like it. After 14 months of wrangling Albany $2,974 year—but after that, the $2.5 into line and forcing his priorities through, the governor now gap between revenues and NYS expenses keeps growing has a record-high 69 percent job approval rating. $2.0 Lawmakers like to be liked. If Cuomo has figured out the formula for popularity, they’ll gladly drink a spoonful every $1.5 morning, even if parts would otherwise be hard to swallow. The governor and his surrogates have barnstormed the state, promoting his new budget as a voter-friendly $1.0 exercise in reform—no new taxes, no new borrowing, no $715 fiscal gimmicks, difficult but necessary cuts. $0.5 $0 $0 Yet those reforms include measures that legislators would have surely rejected in the past. Cuomo put 0 language in his budget that would remove outside scruFY2016 FY2015 FY2013 FY2014 FY2012 Source: New York State Division of the Budget, New York City Office of Management and Budget tiny of many administration contracts, allow nonelected Joey Carolino IN BILLIONS

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BRONX Adolfo Carrión Jr., the former Bronx borough president, may run for Congress if a new Latino-majority district is created in New York City, according to a Democratic source. “I think the redistricting exercise, if done properly, will result in a district where a Latino candidate can run a very strong and compelling campaign,” Carrión wrote in an email. “In the end, what will be important is who will be the strongest and most effective voice for a new urban district, one that represents the fastest-growing sector of the American electorate. There are several highly qualified individuals that can do that, and they’ll have to make their case to the voters in due time.” State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is already itching to run for the potential seat, which community leaders say would encompass northern Manhattan, the west Bronx, and Corona and Jackson Heights in Queens. Espaillat, who is DominicanAmerican, could have an advantage, since the district is expected to be largely Dominican. But Carrión, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is flush with cash from past campaigns and has almost $1.1 million in a campaign account.

PRODUCTION Art Director: Joey Carolino Production Manager: Ed Johnson Ad Designer: Quarn Corley MANHATTAN MEDIA President/CEO: Tom Allon CFO/COO: Joanne Harras Director of Interactive Marketing and Digital Strategy: Jay Gissen Editorial (212) 894-5417 Advertising (212) 284-9712 advertising@cityandstateny.com General (212) 268-8600 City & State is published twice monthly. Copyright © 2012, Manhattan Media, LLC

A top Assembly Democrat mocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s antiforeclosure efforts in a radio interview, arguing that a van sent by the new Department of Financial Services to distribute information about loan modifications would do little to stem the tide of home foreclosures in the state. “The governor said he was establishing a unit to deal with foreclosure, but all that I’ve seen from that unit has been a van,” Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview with The Capitol Pressroom’s Susan Arbetter. DFS Superintendent Ben Lawsky announced the Department’s “mobile command unit” would travel the state in the coming weeks in an effort to “stem mortgage foreclosures by helping homeowners at risk of losing their homes.” But Weinstein said the state’s distressed homeowners need more resources like legal services, not a van tour.

BROOKLYN

MANHATTAN While City Council Speaker Christine Quinn talked about mandatory kindergarten and child care assistance at her State of the City address in City Hall, a group of protesters across the street rallied against a luxury condo development planned on the site of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital. The Coalition for a New Village Hospital is advocating for a new hospital in place of St. Vincent’s, but the protest can also be seen as a potential opening shot in the race to replace Quinn in the 3rd Council district. One of its leaders, Yetta Kurland, a civil rights lawyer and LGBT activist, is rumored to be planning a run for the seat, after losing in a primary against Quinn in 2009. FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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ALBANY

AROUND NEW YORK

2

EDITORIAL Editor: Adam Lisberg alisberg@cityandstateny.com Managing Editor: Andrew J. Hawkins ahawkins@cityandstateny.com Reporters: Chris Bragg cbragg@cityandstateny.com Laura Nahmias lnahmias@cityandstateny.com Jon Lentz jlentz@cityandstateny.com Copy Editor: Helen Eisenbach Photography Editor: Andrew Schwartz Interns: Eliza Ronalds-Hannon, Michael Mandelkern

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Brooklyn Councilman Erik Martin Dilan said he’s “actively considering” a Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Nydia Velázquez. “I’m considering all my options for the future, in the public and private sector,” he said, though he declined to give his reasons for challenging a 19-year incumbent. “We’ll be developing and laying out a public rationale in time. But right now, I’m in the early stages.” Dilan has close ties to Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez, who is antagonistic to Velázquez and other self-styled reformers in the borough. Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, who was once Dilan’s chief of staff, said his own victory in a special election last year set the stage for Dilan to have “a 75 percent chance of winning this race.”

CITY&STATE


UPFRONT THE FOOTNOTE: Real press releases, annotated Sent between 12:40 p.m. and 3:24 p.m., Feb. 16, 2012, from the press shops of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the State Education Department, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the United Federation of Teachers.

THE SCOPE The state’s new teacher evaluation system is hailed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as “groundbreaking,” and by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as “historic.” But the United Federation of Teachers made sure to note that the deal did not include an agreement for a citywide evaluation system. Translation: The union and the city were still at an impasse. Bloomberg said that while “details remain to be worked out,” the UFT made it seem like they were much further away from a final agreement. Cuomo has said the toxic relationship between the mayor and the UFT demanded his administration get involved in scratching out a deal. All sides praised the governor’s intervention.

KING AND COMMISSIONER CHANCELLOR TISCH ENT EM RE AG N TIO UA AL PRAISE EV State Educaellor Merryl H. Tisch and Board of Regents Chanc g, Jr. said today the newly agreed n B. Kin tion Commissioner Joh was made possible cipal evaluation system cess that will help upon teacher and prin pro ness to implement a leaders praised by a collaborative willing nce. The two education ma for per t to the complition improve studen olu res a dership in driving tect more pro l Governor Cuomo’s lea wil g said the new system other educaand cated negotiations. Kin ds fun Top eral Race to the improve p hel than $2.5 billion in fed ly, ant rs, and, more import tion funds over two yea BLOOMBERG VS. MULGREW student performance. lua eva Bloomberg mentions UFT President the r ove nificant improvement work is Michael Mulgrew just once in his stateour t “This agreement is a sig “Bu d. sai ch Tis r 0,” Chancello ion cat edu ment, while the UFT press release goes jor ma tion law passed in 201 a d pte e Regents have ado out of its way to list all of the things they s are just a part by no means over. Th tion lua eva al cip prin r and be when l hate about the mayor’s education poliwil day reform plan, and teache t bes the but a good day, de ma cies. Bloomberg says all final evaluation ’ve we of that reform. Today is and s the Regents reform appeals decisions ultimately rest with succeed in to we’ve fully implemented d nee y the ion cat the edu him, while the UFT argues it has provisure all our students get sions for a third-party appeals process college and careers.”

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT ON EVALUATION GUIDELINES THAT WILL MAKE NEW YORK STATE A NATIONAL LEADER ON TEA CHER ACCOUNTABILITY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Commissioner John King, and New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today announced a groundbreaking agreement on a new statewide evaluation syste m that will make New York State a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement. The agreement gives significant guida nce to local school districts for the implementation of a teacher evalu ation system that is based on multiple measures of performan ce including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations. The agreement follows through on the state’s comm itment to put in place a real and effective teacher evaluation syste m as a condition of the $700 million granted through the fede ral Race to the Top program. “Today’s agreement puts in place a grou ndbreaking new statewide teacher evaluation system that will put students first and make New York a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement,” Governor Cuom o said. “This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state’s public education system, and I am pleased that by work ing together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement.”

for poor ratings in the agreement. These disagreements will remain a sticking point while the city and the union attempt to hammer out a deal before the next deadline, January 2013.

EVALUATION APPEALS TODAY’S AGREEMENT ON PROCESS IN ALBANY

e of , we’ve only resolved the issu cher With today’s announcement tea e wid tem sys a e . We do not hav appeals for teacher ratings e for New York City. evaluation agreement in plac ause it get involved a month ago bec We asked the governor to the appeals on ent eem agr an to get er have was clear that we would nev of Education. We would not process with the Department rvention. inte or’s ern gov the for not this agreement today if ee to a yor said he would never agr Despite the fact that the ma eement. And agr this in t tha e hav we s, third-party appeals proces ee to an yor said he would never agr despite the fact that the ma gree on disa or ee the discretion to agr . independent validator with too t, tha for s vide pro ent eem principals’ decisions, this agr k to make ving that it is willing to wor Once again the UFT is pro it that get sn’t doe still yor ma The get the teaching process better. rm, it’s about helping schools to achieve real education refo e that the mayor ends his obseshop better, not closing them. We ause it is disrespecting teachers bec sion with closing schools and agreeion luat eva getting to an overall a significant barrier to our ent. eem agr nt Gra ent em rov Imp ment, much less a School

CITY&STATE

CAUTION While Cuomo says the agreement is exactly what’s needed to “transform” the state’s public education system—a major goal he outlined in his State of the State address in January—Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch made sure to note that the negotiations were far from over. Tisch is sympathetic to Bloomberg’s concerns on teacher evaluations but often displays an independent streak, which some think may signal her interest in running for mayor. She notes in her statement that the Board of Regents is still in the process of rolling out its multiplatform reform effort, which includes harder tests and a common core curriculum.

SCHOOL CLOSINGS Bloomberg has shut down dozens of schools during his term in office, reopening many of them as smaller schools or charters. The UFT and many local officials denounce these efforts, arguing that school closings lead to community strife and the warehousing of high-needs students. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an ally of teachers’ unions, says he hopes the evaluation deal will lead to abeyance of the city’s closure policies, but Bloomberg has said repeatedly that failing schools often need to be closed in order to be rehabilitated. Several of Bloomberg’s potential successors have come out strongly against school closures.

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MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND SCH WALCOTT UPDATE NEW YORKER OOLS CHANCELLOR S ON TEACHER EVALUATION AGREEMENT Below are Mayor Michael R. Bloo mberg’s remarks as delivered today at City Hall. “I do want to thank, in particular, the Governor and his staff for their leadership on this issue, as well as a special thank you to State Education Commissioner John King and Merryl Tisch, the Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, who really were very instrumental in this process. And also UFT Presiden t Michael Mulgrew.

“And second: While there are still issues that the City and UFT will be discussing in order to finaliz e an evaluation system, this resolves the lion’s share of the mos t difficult issues. And the details remain to be worked out by staffs, but keep in mind, the UFT and the City are always talking and ther e are always things that we are coming to agreements on.

SPEAKER SILV ER ST TEACHER EVAL ATEMENT ON STATEWIDE UATION COMPRO MISE Today’s announce me nt re flects a successfu all parties involved l compromise by and allows us to schools the best move forward in making our they can be. The original intent of that led to New Yo the rk’s Race to the Top award can no 2010 law I remain hopeful w be fulfilled. that we can avoid York City, which schools closures continues to be a in New bargaining issue Mayor and the Un between the ited Federation of Teachers, since is already a chro overcrowding nic problem

in our public scho

ol system.

—Andrew J. Hawkins ahawkins@cityandstateny.com FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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49 48 47

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: 46 45

The average New York City restaurant inspection would result in a B 44 43 42

A 41

year and a half into New York City’s experiment in giving 39 restaurants letter grades for their 38 inspections, the Health Department health is pleased to report that 77 percent of 37 restaurants now boast a shiny blue A in 36 their front window. 35 some of those restaurants only earned But 40

34 33

grading more strictly. Indeed, annual revenue from fines grew by almost $10 million between 2010 and 2011, as restaurants were inspected more frequently. “It’s arbitrary,” said Rob Bookman, counsel for the New York Nightlife Association. “It has been since they developed the point system years ago, and the letter grades add insult to injury.” The Health Department would not

their A’s after appealing earlier inspections that would have garnered B’s or C’s. In fact, the average restaurant inspection results in a score that would earn a solid B grade, a City & State review of half a million Health Department records shows—and the average restaurant score is getting worse. Restaurant advocates say the worsening scores indicate city inspectors are

By ELIZA RONALDS-HANNON

comment on City & State’s findings because it does not calculate average scores, said spokeswoman Chanel Caraway, but she said the department’s only focus is public health. “The overarching goal of the restaurant letter-grading system is transparency and food safety, not revenue or fines,” she said. “It is not meant to be punitive.” When Health Department inspectors visit a city restaurant, they mark points

C

AVERAGE NEW YORK CITY RESTAURANT INSPECTION SCORES

32 31 30 29 28 27

B

26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19

22.6 21.3 20 19

18.6

18.2

19.2

18.9

17.6

17

20.7

20

20.6

19.9

18.5

18.6

18

21.2

20.7

20.3

20

21.9

21.6

21.3

21.1

17.3

16.7

16 15

The average score has been solidly in the B range—from a low of 16.7 points in January 2011 to a high of 22.6 in April.

14 13

A

12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4

2010

1

2011 DEC. 19

DEC. 5

DEC. 12

NOV. 21

NOV. 28

NOV.

DEC.

Patricia Voulgaris

NOV. 7

NOV. 14

OCT.

OCT. 31

OCT. 17

OCT. 24

OCT. 3

OCT. 10

SEP. 19

SEP.

SEP. 26

SEP. 5

SEP. 12

AUG.

AUG. 29

AUG. 15

AUG. 22

AUG. 1

AUG. 8

JUL. 18

JULY

JUL. 25

JUL. 4

JUNE

JUL. 11

JUN. 27

JUN. 20

JUN. 6

JUN. 13

MAY

MAY 30

MAY 16

MAY 23

MAY 2

MAY 9

APR. 18

APR.

APR. 25

APR. 4

APR. 11

MAR. 21

MAR.

MAR. 28

MAR. 7

MAR. 14

FEB. 21

FEB.

FEB. 28

FEB. 7

FEB. 14

JAN.

JAN. 31

JAN. 17

JAN. 24

JAN. 3

JAN. 10

DEC.

DEC. 27

DEC. 20

DEC. 7

DEC. 13

NOV.

NOV. 29

NOV. 15

NOV. 22

NOV. 1

NOV. 8

OCT. 18

OCT.

OCT. 25

OCT. 4

OCT. 11

SEPT.

SEP. 27

SEP. 20

SEP. 6

SEP. 13

AUG. 23

AUG.

AUG. 30

AUG. 9

AUG. 16

0

DEC. 26

2

Joey Carolino

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4

FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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CITY&STATE


Repeat Inspections Let Most City Restaurants Earn A’s for all manner of violations—from two points for a minor problem like not properly sanitizing utensils, 5.4 Hot dogs to up to 10 points for public health hazards like raw sewage in the kitchen. 5.9 Ice Cream, Gelato, Yogurt, Ices The more points a restaurant gets, the worse its grade. Anything up to 13 points earns an A, 14 to 27 6.2 Barbecue points a B, and 28 points and above, a C—that is, unless inspectors order an immediate shutdown. 6.4 Juice, Smoothies, Fruit Salads Yet a restaurant with a score of 14 or above doesn’t have to post a B or C right away. 6.4 Tapas Instead they post a “grade pending” sign while they try to clean up their act and prepare 6.5 Donuts for an automatic reinspection—and only that reinspection is graded. 6.9 Sandwiches It’s a popular option: More than 12 percent of graded inspections generate “grade 7.1 Brazilian pending” signs, City & State found. Many restaurants remedy their violations while 7.6 English they appeal the initial grade, so when they finally do post a letter, it’s an A. 7.7 Eastern European While the Health Department does not report an average score for the 7.7 Not Listed/Not Applicable city, it posted the entire set of inspection results on the nyc.gov website. 7.8 Irish City & State downloaded the results and calculated the average for 7.9 Other every eight-day period since August 2010. 7.9 Café/Coffee/Tea In that period, the average score has been solidly in the B range— 8.2 American from a low of 16.7 points in January 2011 to a high of 22.6 in April. 8.2 Middle Eastern Yet the data show that the average score has slowly risen over the 8.2 Mediterranean past 18 months. 8.4 Hamburgers That conclusion resonates with many restaurant owners and their 8.4 French advocates, who say the letter-grade system is bilking small businesses 8.4 Sandwiches/Salads/Mixed Buffet out of thousands of dollars in fines, with little impact on health. 8.4 Pizza “The letter-grade system increased fines even for restaurants 8.5 Russian that receive A’s,” said Andrew Rigie of the New York State Restau- 8.6 Armenian rant Association. “It also increased the frequency of inspec8.6 Steak tions, so restaurants aren’t only paying more in fines but also 8.8 Continental spending more on sanitation consultants and on attorneys to 8.8 Pakistani represent them.” 8.8 Vegetarian The Health Department said it expects to see revenue from 8.9 Italian fines “plateau and decline” as restaurants improve their 9.1 Bagels/Pretzels practices. It said two-thirds of all fines are levied against the 9.3 Soul Food worst-performing 20 percent of restaurants, while the top 9.4 Chicken 60 percent of restaurants pay only 8 percent of the fines. 9.4 Japanese In response to persistent complaints about the 9.6 Bakery The Health Department classifies all Mexican process, the City Council last month solicited feedback 9.7 New York City restaurants according Seafood from restaurateurs through an online questionnaire that 9.7 to what they sell—and some of 9.8 Pizza/Italian collected over 1,000 surveys. those cuisines rack up far more Creole “Any initiative—especially 18 months after estab- 9.9 Soups & Sandwiches lishment—calls for scrutiny,” said Council Speaker 9.9 average violations than others. This 10.0 Greek Christine Quinn. graphic ranks the average number Vietnamese/Cambodian/Malaysian Many of Quinn’s colleagues agree. “It seems 10.0 of violations—not their inspection Tex-Mex like the main motivation of the city is to make 10.1 score—by type of cuisine. Asian money by fining restaurants rather than working 10.1 Delicatessen with them to ensure consumer safety,” Brooklyn 10.2 Spanish Councilman David Greenfield said at a town hall 10.3 10.3 Chinese/Japanese meeting this month. Caribbean The Health Department, however, 10.3 10.4 Korean has already dismissed the Council’s actions. Turkish “Considering that the survey has no 10.6 African method of confirming that a participant is 10.7 Chinese actually a restaurant, nor does it ensure 10.8 Indian that an entrant fills out only one submis- 11.0 Latin (Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, South & Central American) sion, the results—good or bad—will 11.3 Thai have negligible value,” Caraway said. 11.4 11.5 Jewish/Kosher editor@cityandstateny.com 11.6 11.9 12.4 12.9 14.7

Adam Lisberg

CITY&STATE

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Patricia Voulgaris

Peruvian Filipino German Polish Bangladeshi

Joey Carolino

Which Cuisine Is The Cleanest?

FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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ISLAND IN THE STREAM

Jonathan Laventhol

With flagging retail and limited transportation, Roosevelt Island has high hopes for coming tech campus

B

y the end of next year, the outlines for the city’s much-touted high-tech campus will begin to appear on Roosevelt Island, a two-milelong spit of land in the middle of the East River. But before that can happen, the two institutes building the school—Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology—will need to build a curriculum, hire faculty, begin classes in temporary locations elsewhere and, perhaps most important, attempt to establish a relationship with residents of the so-called “small town” of Roosevelt Island. Toward that end, Cornell officials are planning an April town hall meeting to present local residents their vision for the future. That vision is filled with sloped, glittery buildings, thousands of friendly geek neighbors, maybe the occasional river ferry and a less isolated community better integrated into the rest of New York. Cathy Dove, newly named vice president of the tech campus and current associate dean of Cornell’s College of Engineering, said there was no time like the present to begin that process. “You’re talking to the newest community member,” said Dove, who just moved to the Riverwalk building at the island’s southern end—though at first she mistakenly referred to her new home as “Rivergate.” Dan Huttenlocher, the tech school’s new dean, said community outreach was an essential piece of the entire $2 billion development. “Community relations is extremely important to us,” Huttenlocher said. “It’s something we view as part of our institutional DNA.” Like all development projects big and small, the tech campus will need to traverse the city’s land-use process, where community board members and local officials will vet the project and determine its environmental impact.

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FEBRUARY 21, 2012

Residents say they have many questions for Cornell and Technion, such as how much money the institutes are willing to spend to upgrade infrastructure and what they will do to help revi-

“Roosevelt Island has always been a blind spot for the city.” talize the island’s flagging retail sector. Most residents are excited to welcome their new neighbors but are wary about how the campus will affect their selfdescribed “small town” community. “When the decision was made, it caught a lot of us off guard,” said Matthew Katz, president of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association. “Some people are very enthusiastic. Some people are concerned about how it will change the texture on Roosevelt Island.” The island has one subway stop, one road and one bridge (which, strangely enough, leads to Queens, even though the island is technically part of Manhattan). Along Main Street, many stores are boarded up, and those that are still open fear going out of business. The only pizza shop just closed, as did the fish store. The island’s sole senior center may be next on the chopping block. Against this backdrop of change and excitement, a ministruggle between some residents and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, which essentially serves as the community’s local government, has added a hint of drama. RIOC’s board is appointed by leaders in Albany, based on recommendations from island residents. Katz and others are fighting for direct elections of the agency’s board of directors after one board member was dismissed by the Cuomo administration and replaced by a nonisland resident. Katz hopes the new development and the accompanying uptick in the island’s

Andrew Schwartz

By ANDREW J. HAWKINS

RIOC President Leslie Torres, standing in front of the soon-to-be-demolished Goldwater Hospital, says the island is making preparations for the new tech campus.

economy and population will pressure RIOC and the governor to allow for a more democratic system. “We’re not getting any results,” Katz said. “I’m scared to death. We’re desperate for some control.” Leslie Torres, president of RIOC, said the current law governing board appointments would need to change in order for residents to directly elect those members. “The residents are vey active politically,” Torres said. “The law right now is the governor appoints everybody.…I think the key is to have people from all walks on the island represented on the board.” Assemblyman Micah Kellner is carrying a bill that would change the law, but for him the main concern is the safe transfer of the 866 patients who still reside in the 80-year-old Goldwater Hospital, which will be torn down for the new campus. In July 2010, the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation announced plans to relocate some of its Goldwater staff and patients from Roosevelt Island to the former North General Hospital campus in Harlem. Gouverneur Healthcare Services in

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Manhattan, McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn and Sea View Hospital on Staten Island will also serve as relocation destinations for the patients and staff at Goldwater. “These are people who are Roosevelt Islanders, just like everyone else on the island,” Kellner said. “So that’s the first step.” Another concern for Kellner is infrastructure improvement. Right now, many of the island’s buildings use electrical heating, which he says is expensive and inefficient. Kellner says he hopes Cornell, Technion and the city will spend some of the promised $2 billion to upgrade the island’s power grid, as well as seek other ways to integrate the campus into the rest of the community. Fernando Martinez, RIOC’s vice president for operations, said the island’s utilities, including its telecommunication lines, will have to be upsized to accommodate the Cornell campus. Even though the first building on the tech campus is not slated to open until 2017, change is already visible on Roosevelt Island. Last August, two real estate companies, Hudson and Related, took over much of the retail on Main Street. The firms plan on building three additional buildings in addition to the six they have already constructed. David Kramer, principal at the Hudson Companies, said that the tech campus may be far off, but a new Roosevelt Island is already beginning to shine through. “Roosevelt Island has always been a blind spot for the city,” Kramer said. “To the extent that the city is now talking about the tech campus on Roosevelt Island, it has a huge impact long before the campus arrives. There’s more excitement. It makes some people view the neighborhood as more legitimate now that Cornell is coming.” ahawkins@cityandstateny.com Read more about the new engineering school at www.cityandstateny.com.

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IT’S ALL IN

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tay plugged into New York politics all day long with The Notebook, the new political blog from City & State. Led by political writer Chris Bragg with contributions from the entire City & State staff, The Notebook is City & State’s new online home for breaking news and sharp analysis of the shifting sands of campaigns and elections in New York.

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JANUARY 23, 2012

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FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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7


On Feb. 8, 2012, hundreds of guests gathered at Pace University to hear a panel discussion and celebrate City & State’s first “Above and Beyond” event for women of public and civic mind. Carolyn Ryan, Metro editor of the New York Times, was recognized with the chairman’s award for her exemplary accomplishments. Here are some images that capture the spirit of the night.

From Left to Right: Chloe Drew, Catherine Abate, Cecilia Clarke, Elsie McCabe Thompson, Carmen Wong-Ulrich and Suri Kasirer.

Honoree Jacqueline Williams poses with her award.

Honorees Chung Wha-Hong and Linda Sarsour.

Chloe Drew, E.D. of Council of Urban Professionals, moderated a lively discussion in Pace University’s Heather Beaudoin, an honoree in the category of Schimmel theatre prior to the reception. ‘Organized Labor.’

NBC New York government affairs reporter and honoree in the category of Media & Journalism, Melissa Russo.

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FEBRUARY 21, 2012

Carmen Wong-Ulrich, Former Host of MSNBC ‘On the Money’ and award winning journalist.

Above and Beyond honoree and winner of the 2011 Chairman’s award, Carolyn Ryan of the New York Times.

Suri Kasirer discussing women’s role in public and civic life.

Con Edison’s Frances Resheske graciously accepts her award for ‘Business Leadership.’

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Beth Wenstrom of the Julliard School performs during the reception.

The evening’s emcee and President of Hunter College, Jennifer Raab applauds the 25 honorees.

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Ploeger receives a standing ovation.

CITY&STATE


Lessons from Greek Mythology By Heather Briccetti

In the story of Icarus, he is warned by his father master craftsman Deadalus to not fly too close to the sun. Icarus, awestruck by the sun, ignores the warning of his father and, as a result, falls into the sea where he drowns.

Staten Island Threat Keeps Brooklyn Hospital Open Lawmakers want commissioner who ordered psychiatric hospital closure to resign By MARC GRONICH

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n outpouring of anger from Brooklyn lawmakers may have stopped the planned closure of a violence-plagued state psychiatric center there, but the commissioner who ordered it shut is still facing calls for his resignation. Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hogan came under attack last week at a budget hearing where legislators blamed him for poor patient care and brutal conditions at the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center—and said he needed to fix it, not shut it down. “Commissioner Hogan has failed that institution and has failed the state of New York, and I think he should do the honorable thing and resign as soon as possible,” said Sen. Kevin Parker. “We need proper leadership and, quite frankly, I don’t believe Commissioner Hogan is the right one to provide that leadership.” Hogan said after the hearing that Kingsboro wouldn’t close after all—but struggled to say exactly what would happen to it instead. “We don’t really intend to close Kingsboro,” Hogan said, two weeks after his office published a formal notice that it would do exactly that. “We intend to transform it from a primarily inpatient model to more of a community model, to expand housing options on the campus, to expand clinics,” he said. “What we haven’t figured out yet is what the exact mix of hospital care is, and community care, and how much of that will be in Brooklyn and how much of that will be on Staten Island.” Kingsboro is ineligible for Medicaid funds, after repeatedly flunking accreditation surveys. One survey found two patients may have died from paperwork mix-ups. Violence among patients and staff was routine, and the average patient stayed there twice as long as at other state hospitals. A state panel appointed to assess Brooklyn’s healthcare system recommended in November that Kingsboro

be closed as part of a greater focus on community care and behavioral health services. Yet the Office of Mental Health’s Jan. 31 announcement that it would close Kingsboro and merge its operations with the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island angered other lawmakers, who said it would be cruel to force staffers and patients’ families to pay a $13 toll or take a two-and-a-half-hour ride on mass transit to get there. “We all know that going to Staten Island is like going to another country,” said Queens Sen. Shirley Huntley. “I hate to say it that way, but Sen. [Diane] Savino knows that. I have a sister-in-law that lives there. I see her twice a year or if someone dies.” The state has not specified what will happen to the patients in the 290-bed Kingsboro center, or how they and the 670 union employees there would be split between South Beach and outpatient communitycare centers in Brooklyn. Savino, who represents parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn, said Hogan’s planned merger was really a half-baked plan to get Kingsboro out of the hospital business without a firm grasp of what it would mean for patients. “That is a very serious problem, Commissioner Hogan,” Savino scolded him at the hearing. “I’m not happy to hear that you haven’t thought out this process of where we’re going to put beds or how we’re going to complete this closure of Kingsboro and transfer to Staten Island. It’s of great concern to all of us. I believe that your agency is not serving the people of either borough particularly well right now.” Hogan’s change in plans came after he and other Cuomo administration officials met behind closed doors with Brooklyn and Staten Island lawmakers the day before the hearing. By the time he emerged, he was ready to compromise. “We’re going to have to adjust our plans, and we’ve got to meet them halfway,” Hogan said after the hearing. That didn’t impress Brooklyn Assemblywoman Inez Barron. “If you were totally wrong,” she said, “midway is not good enough.” editor@cityandstateny.com Read more about hospital closings at www.cityandstateny.com

“We all know that going to Staten Island is like going to another country. I hate to say it that way, but Senator Savino knows that. I have a sister-in-law that lives there. I see her twice a year or if someone dies.”

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Some have advocated New York State embrace an aggressive solar mandate, but they, like Icarus, are over-ambitious. History has provided us multiple examples that illustrate the folly of overly aggressive energy mandates. Just this month, The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), in consultation with the Public Service Commission (PSC), released a cost benefits study of installing 2,500 MW of photovoltaic (PV) power by 2020, and/or 5,000 MW by 2025. The NYSERDA study confirms that a significant solar mandate will cost the people of New York jobs and will increase rates. At a time when New Yorkers are paying some of the highest energy costs in the nation, the State does not need to adopt a mandate that could increase the cost to consumers by as much as $15.2 billion. New Jersey has paid a significant price to have the second most installed PV. The Center for Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy and the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service concluded that the State program will cost 3,637 jobs and $451 million in State GDP. The majority of the new solar employment is projected to go away when the “goal” has been reached. We need to remember that New York State already has an aggressive goal of obtaining 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015. New York ratepayers have committed to pay $3 billion to obtain this goal through the establishment of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). All forms of renewable generation — wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, tidal/ocean, and fuel cell generation — currently compete fairly for the RPS funds. Rather than a new solar mandate, the State should promote solar deployment in a manner that is both flexible and responsive. Our current suite of PV incentive policies has created a stable and growing PV market in New York. By developing a comprehensive and steady PV incentive funding strategy, New York has avoided the boom and bust market cycles that have created uncertainty in other places. There is little doubt that sun is a powerful energy source, drawing many to become enraptured, but we should learn from Icarus and adopt a more sensible course for the deployment of solar technology in New York. Heather Briccetti is the President & CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc., a business advocacy organization representing 3,000 employers who employ more than one million New Yorkers across the state. S P E C I A L

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New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, Business Council of New York State, Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, National Federation of Independent Business and many more. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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THE END OF THE RAINBOW After gay marriage, a transformative coalition splinters into just another interest group By Laura Nahmias

Andrew Schwartz

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www.cityandstateny.com

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s spring turned into summer last year, a battle over gay rights was brewing in New York City. This was not the years-long struggle to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, a clash being waged at the highest levels of government, with millions of dollars helping frame the issue as a civil rights battle that became a generational test of progressive values. Instead, it was a battle about whether “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” should be allowed to meet at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village. “Make no mistake, everyone is welcome at the center; but these particular organizing activities need to take place elsewhere,” center director Glenda Testone said in June, three weeks before same-sex marriage was legalized. To the unapologetically radical activists behind the group, this flew in the face of the idea that gay politics should fundamentally challenge the status quo. “If radical people can’t meet there, then it just becomes another occupied space for wealthy bigots,” group organizer Sherry Wolf told The Village Voice. To them, the fight over who can meet at the center symbolized new fissures at the heart of the gay rights movement in New York. On one side are moneyed mainstream gays and their straight allies who turned a once-inconceivable idea into a same-sex marriage law. On the other are activists ready to keep protesting for transgender rights, expanded social services and other items on their agendas. Other groups fall into the middle but are unwilling to compromise on strategy again. But the cracks seem less surprising than that these disparate groups were able to unite behind one cause in the first place. Gov. Andrew Cuomo pressured organizations famous for their rivalries and squabbling to march in lockstep, forsaking individual credit for the sake of the larger goal. It worked. And as soon as they won, the unraveling began. A year after the governor first pulled those groups into a room in the Capitol and gave them an impetus, gay rights are once again just another New York special interest.

This top-heavy strategy was pioneered in the mid2000s by a group of wealthy donors known as “the Cabinet,” who targeted antigay politicians nationwide and pledged to support candidates who supported their positions on gay rights. The group’s financiers, who included Colorado Internet entrepreneur Tim Gill, Stryker Corporation heir Jon Stryker and Henry van Ameringen, the International Flavors and Fragrances heir, also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican senators after the marriage bill passed in New York.

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iberal activists say tapping into moneyed rightleaning support for marriage equality has a price. “I hate to say it,” said longtime gay activist Andy Humm, “but Ronald Reagan, who I despised, had a sign on his desk that read, ‘There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.’ ” The strategy seems to be working nationwide, as the Human Rights Campaign pushes for the passage of same-sex marriage bills in New Jersey and Maryland following a successful vote in Washington State. Richard Socarides, former President Bill Clinton’s LGBT liaison, presided over his boss’ signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages. He says recent victories are validation of the new strategy of mixing outside activism and inside politics. “There is always a healthy debate about how mainstream the movement should be and how much change we should be pushing for,” Socarides said. “It’s always a good thing to have that, to have people who are more moderate and then people who are more aggressively pushing for full equality right away,” he said. “That tension is not only helpful within the movement, it can often be helpful in terms of getting the government to move, because I think it often takes a good cop/bad cop approach.” Humm disagrees. “Richard Socarides is a quisling, and I’ve said it to his face,” said Humm. “He’s part of that money crowd that thinks they control everything, and they treat activists like they’re dirt under their fingernails.”

“There is always a healthy debate about how mainstream the movement should be and how much change we should be pushing for.”

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ringing same-sex marriage to New York took more than 29 Democrats and 4 Republicans to voting “yes” in the State Senate. It also took a $1.8 million political campaign put together by Secretary to the Governor Steve Cohen, SKDKnickerbocker media strategist and political consultant Jennifer Cunningham and a coalition of powerful gay rights groups and legislators. “That was a big change from the last time we tried to pass the gay-marriage bill, when everyone was at loggerheads and the groups were competing a lot,” said Ethan Geto, a gay rights activist and former Empire State Pride Agenda lobbyist. The United for Marriage coalition included all the issue’s heavy hitters, such as the Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality Matters, Freedom to Marry New York, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Sen. Tom Duane, Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell and the Human Rights Campaign—which spent an extra $770,000 on its own. Yet, this key liberal priority was largely bankrolled and advanced by conservative Republican donors, who helped push the idea in the Republican-led Senate. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, conservative donor Paul Singer and financiers Steven Cohen, Clifford Asness and Daniel Loeb all poured money into the marriage campaign, and the four Republican “yes” votes are relying on them for contributions to hold onto their seats against nasty primary fights this year.

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he principled debate over untraditional alliances came to a head this fall as the Occupy Wall Street movement raged downtown. The Human Rights Campaign, which had long published a “corporate equality index,” rating companies for their respective stances on LGBT-friendly policies, gave its Corporate Equality Award to Goldman Sachs. “Progressive gays would like to see nothing more than HRC go out of business,” said veteran Democratic gay activist Allen Roskoff. “They’re not part of the progressive coalition out of which the gay rights movement was formed. In the year of Occupy, they have the nerve and the gall to honor the president of Goldman Sachs?” In fact, the coalition that came together to pass samesex marriage already disagrees on the next set of priorities. The Human Rights Campaign has already abandoned New York. Its lead lobbyist in Albany, Brian Ellner, left almost immediately after the vote for Maryland, where he is working to pass a same-sex marriage bill. Other donors and fund raisers have turned their attention—and their money—to national causes like repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, changing adoption laws to help gay parents and revamping tax policies for same-sex families. But Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director www.cityandstateny.com

A Blueprint for New York Jobs By Vincent Alvarez

Union workers are the backbone of our society and the middle class. Our group – the New York City Central Labor Council – brings together more than 300 local unions from the private and public sector and we represent 1.3 million working New Yorkers and their families. We are construction workers, electricians, teachers, nurses, engineers, retail workers and more. For many of these New Yorkers job security is paramount to their existence and a lot of them are already suffering economic hardships. If there were a hot button issue this election year it would have to be the stability, future and survival of New York's middle class. Energy Factor: Protecting and ensuring an ample supply of affordable, reliable energy is one way to help working New Yorkers make it through these challenging economic times. It’s also vital that New York keep its existing energy industry jobs, and create new ones – either by upgrading our aging infrastructure, or following through with economic development plans for upstate communities, which will in turn increase the demand for affordable electricity. A recent study commissioned by the City of New York found that energy availability and affordability may be one of the raw nerves of our economy and the job creation we need. The loss of locally-produced power would result in $2 billion to $3 billion increase in electricity costs for city consumers and employers, the study said. What's more, costs state-wide could balloon by $10 billion to $12 billion. Nobody wants that. New Yorkers already pay the third-highest electricity rates in the nation, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. New York City is projected to grow by one million new people by 2030. New commercial and residential developments – including a proposed $4 billion convention center in Queens – need affordable and reliable electricity. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, new employment projections suggest impressive construction job growth through 2020, with the New York metropolitan area in the top 5. We can't be haphazard with powering jobs. We can't allow electricity rates to put New York's economy in the poorhouse. New York State must remain open for jobs and the middle class because the livelihood of working families depends on it. Vincent Alvarez is President of the New York City Central Labor Council, a nonprofit umbrella organization that represents over 300 unions citywide. S P E C I A L

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The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) is a diverse group of business, labor, environmental, and community leaders working together for clean, low-cost and reliable electricity solutions that foster prosperity and jobs for the Empire State. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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Ross Levi said the group’s work on marriage in New York is not done. “We can’t just pop the champagne on marriage and go home,” Levi said. “The entire state Legislature, obviously, is up for election in 2012, and so it will be important that our community flexes our political muscle by standing by those who stood by us,” he said. “This is important not only in a principled way, it’s also important in terms of us continuing our political strength.” In New York, that means pledging funds, fealty and phone banks to support Republican senators who voted for marriage but may balk at other gay priorities, such as AIDS housing, transgender rights and keeping President Barack Obama in office.

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ome left-leaning Democratic activists think supporting those Republicans is a myopic strategy that will backfire on other gay priorities. “We can’t be single-issue,” said Roskoff, who noted that the last Senate Democrats to support the bill, Joseph Addabbo and Shirley Huntley, did not get the same influx of donations in thanks for doing so. By contrast, the financial spigots opened for the four Republican senators who passed same-sex marriage. Roy McDonald and Steve Saland each received close to half a million dollars, and Jim Alesi and Mark Grisanti reported raising between $325,000 and $400,000. “Giving $300,000 to promote state Republicans because the party delivers four votes means we’ll have more difficulty getting any other gay rights legislation through,” Roskoff said. “The Republican party votes against us.” Empire State Pride Agenda is now trying to pass a nondiscrimination bill called GENDA that includes transgender protections and increased funding for gay and lesbian counseling and health care. Levi said the group will endorse lawmakers not just on same-sex marriage but on a range of issues and their support for bills like GENDA. “We certainly don’t stop the inquiry at whether they were supportive of marriage,” Levi said. “One can take

Paul Singer, a major donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign, helped bankroll the state’s same-sex marriage crusade.

traditionally conservative positions on some things and still believe that it’s not okay to have LGBT homeless youth.” A larger question is whether gay rights groups’ alliances with moneyed corporate interests indirectly hurt gay rights on the national level, where Republican leaders campaign against same-sex marriage. Goldman Sachs employees have been some of the largest donors to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, giving him more than half a million dollars. Singer gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supports Romney’s campaign. And Romney supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. “It’s hard to understand,” Socarides said with a nervous laugh. “Paul Singer and others have been… very supportive of our marriage effort here in New York, so we appreciate that, but it’s hard to understand how they can reconcile that with their support for Mr. Romney. I wouldn’t try to explain it for them.”

“We can’t just pop the champagne on marriage and go home.”

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og Cabin Republicans this ain’t. Former ESPA lobbyist Ethan Geto calls it “real-world politics.” “If you observe there’s been an increased effort to reach out, you’re absolutely right,” Geto said. “That’s a smart evolution of this movement, that we should not reflexively reject help and support from Republicans or people who otherwise would be considered as conservative, except they’re not conservative on this issue,” he said. “That’s the way we’re going to make progress.” In the 1990s, he recalled, liberal activists were appalled that then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican who made his name being as tough on welfare as he was on crime, decided he wanted to march in the gay pride parade. “To have this guy march [in] the gay rights parade and identify with our community and our agenda—that’s worth a billion dollars to us!” Geto said. “You might not like a lot of other things Paul Richard Socarides, a former Clinton administration official, says recent Singer does, but if he’s going to put significant victories validate the new strategy of mixing outside activism with inside politics. resources in the fight to win gay marriage rights in

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New York, are you going to say to him, ‘Oh, screw you, we don’t want your money’?” he said. “That would be a very stupid litmus test in real-world politics.” That’s one perspective. Others believe that with same-sex marriage now mainstream, gay politics needs

“Giving $300,000 to promote state Republicans because the party delivers four votes means we’ll have more difficulty getting any other gay rights legislation through.” new litmus tests to figure out which politicians are committed to gay rights. At the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village, members of the center identify themselves with at least 10 sexual orientations—few of which are protected from discrimination under state law. The New York City Police Department has been accused of discriminating against transgender people in a string of recent arrests. It is being sued for allegedly framing dozens of innocent gay men in prostitution stings aimed at shutting down sex shops in the West Village. Gay activists want to hold politicians’ feet to the fire over those issues, but those causes hardly have the same broad-based appeal as letting stable gay couples marry—and they are being ignored by the financially powerful but culturally conservative organizations that made same-sex marriage possible. And outside one corner of Greenwich Village, no one seems to care about Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. “It’s comparable to the trajectory of many other movements that have gone through institutional phases and then become less vital,” Humm said. “I wouldn’t know what the hell to tell an activist to do these days.” lnahmias@cityandstateny.com Read more about the battle for same-sex marriage at www.cityandstateny.com

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PERSPECTIVES

READY FOR THE FAST BREAK As Jeremy Lin hits the court, Asian-Americans find power in politics

LATFOR draft plan is far from perfect, but called it a “significant improvement in Asian American representation” and a “step forward in recognizing the rapid growth of this community.” Sounds like a description of Jeremy Lin, too. eremy Lin could not have arrived at a Just days before Lin caught fire on the more propitious time for the New York Knicks—and for Asian-Americans’ court, Rev. Al Sharpton and several black civil rights leaders denounced LATFOR’s growing role in New York politics. draft plan as harmful to Lin, an Asian-American Ivy African-American voting League graduate, is the talk of interests, pointing to a district New York as he lights up the in Buffalo tailored to keep NBA. He outscored future Hall white Republican Sen. Mark of Famer Kobe Bryant, led the Grisanti in office. Knicks to an upset victory over But when Sharpton juxtathe Los Angeles Lakers and posed the loss of “a black seat clinched a three-point shot to beat Toronto that reverberated Michael Benjamin in Buffalo to have an Asian seat” in Queens, he was wildly all the way to Taiwan. There was another Asian milestone off-base. It was as if he accused Knicks during Lin’s breakout week: LATFOR, the coach Mike D’Antoni of costing a black state task force drawing new lines for the fall player a starting spot by putting Lin in the elections, held a public hearing in Queens on lineup. Basketball might be a zero-sum game, a draft plan that creates four Asian-majority but political empowerment is not. districts in the state Legislature. The Buffalo district, in fact, was never Both represent a coming-of-age for Asians in New York. Opportunity breeds a “minority district” per se. When Byron Brown won the seat from a white incumsuccess. The Knicks’ depleted roster gave Lin the bent in 2000, he became the first Africanopportunity to crack the starting lineup. American state senator in New York to New census figures and once-a-decade represent a majority-white district— redistricting gives Asian New Yorkers the exactly the kind of color-blind outcome the opportunity to participate more broadly in Voting Rights Act was enacted to secure. Conversely, the proposed Queens the electoral arena—and to excel there. Common Cause New York said the Senate district draws together Asian neigh-

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borhoods split across districts presently represented by white Democrats. With a little tweaking, a good district becomes a better district. I hope qualified Asian and non-Asian candidates run for the seat. Therein lies an important lesson from Lin’s arrival: He has electrified New York not just because of his own performance but because he has elevated his teammates’ game as well. Where black and white Knicks kept failing, Lin succeeded. That’s the exciting parallel for New York politics. When I served in the Assembly, my colleagues Jimmy Meng (the first Asian-American to serve in that chamber), Ellen Young and, now, Jimmy’s daughter, Grace Meng, brought a new energy to Albany and a perspective that had been missing. They brought diversity and new issues to a minority caucus that had previously been composed purely of black and Latino legislators. City Comptroller John Liu was a dynamo in the City Council, and though the federal investigation into his campaign fund-raising has wounded his chances of becoming mayor, he has proven himself as a vigorous overseer of city funds. Nathan Shingawa, a Tompkins County Legislator, has announced he will run for Congress upstate. New York City Council

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Members Margaret Chin and Peter Koo, Liu advisor Chung Seto and countless others are prepared to bring their “A” game onto the political court. Call it the Lin effect. His timely appearance reaffirms what is great about America’s opportunity society, where everyone is afforded the chance to make their mark and “represent.” Retired Assemblyman Michael Benjamin represented the Bronx for eight years.

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE VOTERS Which party will be hobbled more by the contraception debate?

New York, those numbers, respectively, are 40–40–20 percent. Invariably, the party that carries the Catholic vote wins New York governorships and national elections. Yet Catholic voters are not monolithic in terms of religious observance, will leave the substantive analysis party registration or political philosof President Barack Obama’s decision ophy. What binds Catholic voters today is a common culture. And on insurance coverage for when Vice President Joe contraception to the policy Biden warned the Obama experts. But when it comes administration its original to the politics of it, I think of policy would clash with that Casey Stengel’s lament: Can’t culture, he was ignored. anyone here play this game? The administration incorThe Obama administrarectly assumed Catholics tion’s original policy requiring would ignore church protests Catholic institutions to provide Bruce Gyory because they practice contracontraception coverage was political folly. Catholics are the core of the ception. Catholic voters are used to disagreeing with their church on politnation’s swing voters. Catholic voters are a full quarter of the ical issues, but they want their church national electorate, but cast much higher respected. And they want contraception percentages of the vote in swing Elec- covered without forcing the church to toral College states from the Mid-Atlantic pay for it. The administration’s original policy and the Midwest. In general elections, Catholics are over 40 percent of the New exposed a chronic blind spot in Democratic politics, whose leaders all too often see York electorate. Nationally, 45 percent of Catholics lean Catholic voters through the narrow prism Republican, 35 percent lean Democratic of their battles with church hierarchy. Obama’s eventual policy revision, which and 20 percent are truly up for grabs. In

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required insurers to cover contraception without requiring Catholic institutions to pay for it, did not end the bishops’ opposition. But it changed the political fulcrum from religious liberty to whether women should be entitled to contraception. As the national debate took shape, two Republican front-runners for the vicepresidential nomination found their own ways to bungle the issue. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio cosponsored a bill backed by Catholic bishops that would allow any insured entity to deny their workers coverage for contraception. How is the female majority in November likely to react to that? Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost reelection in large part because of his extremism in the Terri Schiavo case, actually compared coverage for contraception to the guillotine in the French Revolution. The Republican blind spot for female voters is their greatest political threat this year. Republicans lost the female vote by double digits in 2006 and 2008, but in 2010 they narrowly carried women 51–49 percent. Is a broad assault on contraception coverage really in Republicans’ best interest? Of the two political blunders,

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this is the one that will prove more damaging if it lingers and settles. If Republicans choose Rubio or Santorum as a vice-presidential candidate, Obama will be tempted to put Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on his ticket—transforming the gender gap into a prohibitive Democratic advantage. There could also be ramifications in New York congressional races. On Long Island, Republican Randy Altschuler immediately attacked Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in their rematch. At first the issue cut for Altschuler, but if he becomes irrevocably aligned with opposing contraception, Catholic women will likely reelect Bishop. The same factor could trip up Republican Representatives Michael Grimm, Nan Hayworth, Ann Marie Buerkle and perhaps even Bob Turner. Casey Stengel was talking about baseball, not politics, but he knew a bad play when he saw it. That’s more than Democratic and Republican leaders can say. Bruce Gyory is a political consultant at Corning Place Communications in Albany, and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany. FEBRUARY 21, 2012

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S P OT L I G H T : E N E R GY

THE INDIAN POINT REPLACEMENT MENU

d. All options on this menu will not necessarily be offere and who price, the , option each Please inquire about availability of will be paying for it.

APPETIZERS WIND POWER Offshore wind turbines near New York City and Long Island 244 megawatts SOLAR POWER Installation of photovoltaic panels in the downstate area 32 megawatts

PLATTERS

THE STATUS QUO Relicensing of the Indian Point Energy Center, Units 2 and 3 2,060 megawatts

SECOND COURSES

THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL MENU

HUDSON TRANSMISSION PROJECT An underground, underwater link under way between New Jersey and New York City ENERGY EFFICIENCY 660 megawatts cient effi more gs, Retrofitted buildin $850 million appliances, and incentives to use power CHAMPLAIN HUDSON POWER less EXPRESS Up to 1,570 megawatts The Transmission Developers line REPOWERING from Canada to New York City Retrofitting power plants with more 1,000 megawatts efficient, combined-cycle technology $1.9 billion 230 megawatts WEST POINT TRANSMISSION PROJECT FIRST COURSE An 80- to 100-mile line along the Hudson from upstate to the Indian NEW POWER PLANTS Point area Development of new generation in 2,000 megawatts and around the New York City area $900 million Up to 2,000 megawatts

Sources: Charles River Associates, Synapse Energy

EFFICIENCY PLATTER Replace Indian Point entirely through efficiency initiatives across the state INDIAN POINT AREA PLAN New or repowered natural-gas combined-cycle facilities 470 megawatts Energy efficiency: 1,570 megawatts THE NRDC SPECIAL Efficiency initiatives near Indian Point and upstate 1,344 megawatts Upstate wind power, with transmission upgrades 674 megawatts

Economics, Inc., New York Independent System Operato

THE BLOOMBERG/CHARLES RIVER ASSOCIATES MENU *All options raise costs approximately $1.5 billion per year TRADITIONAL POWER PLANTS* New generation 1,000 megawatts Optional: New gas-fired combined-cycle capacity only 500 megawatts ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY* Transmission line to New York City 1,000 megawatts Offshore wind farm connected to Brooklyn 500 megawatts ONE-FOR-ONE * Gas-fired combined-cycle capacity near Indian Point 2,000 megawatts

costs and could Note: Some menu options increase air pollution, raise es 1,200 megawatts includ diet y health A ut. blacko a of s increase the chance Operator. System ndent Indepe by 2016, according to the New York r

Joey Carolino

WANTED: 2,000 MEGAWATTS What is the cost of Indian Point? It depends. By JON LENTZ

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he debate over the future of the Indian Point nuclear power plant can seem like a huge lose-lose proposition. Keep the plant open, and an earthquaketriggered meltdown could unleash a wave of toxic radiation upon millions of New Yorkers. Shut down the plant’s two units, and the region could face rolling blackouts, double-digit rate hikes and new pollutionbelching power plants to replace the 2,000 megawatts lost from the grid. But open or closed, Indian Point is unlikely to fall into either worst-case scenario, presenting policymakers instead with a calculation of each option’s actual risks and benefits and the most acceptable trade-offs. “Most discussions of Indian Point are strongly in one direction or the other,” said Michael Gerrard, an environmental law professor at Columbia University who will moderate a panel about the plant next month. “There’s a lot of polarization on the issue.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the final say over renewing the two reactors’ licenses, which expire in 2013 and 2015, respectively, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing to shut them down and is demanding that their owner, Entergy, install cooling towers that could be prohibitively expensive. The arguments in favor of shutting it down center on safety, an issue that flared

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up after the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant a year ago. Environmentalists say low-level radiation leaks, the plant’s location near underground fault lines, countless safety-inspection exemptions and the lack of a viable evacuation plan provide further reasons to shutter the plant. But the plant has had the highest safety ratings the past six years, Entergy points out, and passed key safety assessments performed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its license renewal application. If the plant is shut down, however, the critical questions would then be about reliability, cost and environmental impact. Indian Point electricity meets about 30 percent of New York City’s demand; the plant is a reliable source of low-greenhouse-gas electricity and generates almost no air pollution of any kind. It’s also fairly inexpensive to run, since the capital costs were amortized long ago. The New York Independent System Operator, or ISO, which operates the state’s transmission lines and conducts studies of the reliability of the entire system, has said new energy sources would have to be in place to provide 1,200 new megawatts by 2016. “Failure to do so would have serious reliability consequences, including the possibility of rolling customer blackouts,” Rick Gonzalez, CEO of the ISO, said at an Assembly hearing last month. Gonzalez said that new power plants and efforts to curtail demand would likely be the potential solutions in the

next three to five years, as well as limited transmission upgrades. The governor this year called for the creation of a transmission highway to bring ample upstate energy to the downstate area, but stringing hundreds of miles of new power lines would likely take longer than building new power plants. Other options exist, but each has drawbacks: Renewable power sources such as wind and solar are expensive, natural gas requires new supply and generators, and nobody wants more coal. But Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who chairs the Energy Committee, said testimony at his hearing last month convinced him that Indian Point is not essential to New York’s energy future, from both environmental and reliability perspectives. “The new generation could be the retrofitting of an existing facility, the repowering of an existing facility to be larger and using a cleaner fuel than is currently used,” Cahill said. A study commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed sufficient savings from energy conservation and efficiency to replace Indian Point, though some dismissed the findings as overly optimistic. A separate study conducted for the Bloomberg administration last year raised more red flags, predicting customer rate increases of 5 to 10 percent and greater levels of pollution from new power plants. “Any power plant can be retired, but there’s trade-offs,” said Sergej Mahnovski, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s director of

www.cityandstateny.com

energy policy. “And really, the key here is, you know, there’s no free lunch. We can disagree on the exact numbers and assumptions, and I think it should be part of a vibrant policy discussion over what we want the future of our energy system to look like.” The other big environmental fight in the state, a controversial natural-gas drilling technique called hydrofracking, gives the debate another twist, since gas drilling could boost supply and make it more feasible to shut down Indian Point. “I think there’s a fair point for debate,” Gerrard said. “The principal source of natural gas in the region is hydrofracking. I don’t think they can be separated.” Cahill acknowledged that closing Indian Point would have other disadvantages. The plant employs 1,100 people, many of them well paid and highly skilled. “The second major question is, ‘What happens to the local property tax base for the municipalities and the school district, if Indian Power were to shutter?’ ” Cahill said. David Bomke, executive director of the New York Energy Consumers Council, said his large-scale energy buyers appreciate Indian Point’s contribution to reliability, lower costs and zero carbon emissions. “But as far as everybody else, I want to cover my bets,” Bomke added. “I don’t want either one of those mistakes to go wrong. I don’t support nuclear disaster in Buchanan, nor do I support blackouts in any place in the area.” Jlentz@cityandstateny.com Read more about Indian Point at www.cityandstateny.com

CITY&STATE


We care, too.

Diana Musiyenko Indian Point Electrical Engineer

Theresa Motko Indian Point Electrical Engineer

We care about our clean air. Indian Point generates about 25 percent of the electricity in New York City and Westchester, with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions. Without the plants, there would be a substantial increase in air pollution.1 We care about affordable and reliable electricity. Indian Point’s power is lower cost. Without it, New Yorkers’ electric bills would increase. Rolling blackouts could also hit the city and local areas.2 We care about safety. And on this, we never compromise. We’ve spent over a billion dollars to enhance safety and security. Even though Indian Point is not susceptible to tsunamis, it can withstand twice the level of flooding the area has ever seen. It has multiple and various back-up

power systems and equipment located in areas designed to keep power flowing to the plants. Fukushima had no such safety margin. We care about accountability. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors are on site full-time with full access to any information, any employee and any part of the facility — without prior notice. That’s accountability all the time. We care about our families and neighbors. The 1,200 people who work here also live here. We care about the same issues that you do. We encourage you to take a close look at any plans to replace the plants at Indian Point. Be sure to visit www.RightForNewYork.com or Facebook for more information.

Indian Point Energy Center

WE’RE RIGHT FOR NEW YORK 1 2

Artie Bortz Indian Point Mechanical Engineer

A report prepared by the independent experts at Charles River Associates for the City of New York Department of Environmental Protection New York Independent System Operator (NYISO)


S P OT L I G H T : E N E R GY GEORGE MAZIARZ Senate Energy Committee Chairman

CAS HOLLOWAY New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations

Q: What are your thoughts on the new NYSERDA solar study, which called for a “continued investment in the steady and measured growth and deployment” of solar photovoltaic panels? GM: After a cursory review of it, I was a little bit surprised. They weren’t commenting on the positives or negatives of it, but clearly they’re saying that it could have a very negative impact on rates. I think we need to be careful going forward, but I sort of like the governor’s approach within the state budget, which is to offer tax credits for solar development.

Q: What progress has the city made in cutting energy consumption and using cleaner energy? CH: We have made tremendous progress on both. The mayor committed 10 percent annually of the city’s energy budget to retrofit projects, or about $80 million a year. We have implemented or are in process of implementing about 150 projects. While they’re still in the implementation stage, in December of fiscal year ’11 versus December of fiscal year ’12, overall energy use was down 25 percent. Year-to-date between ’11 and ’12, overall use is down 8 percent. We’re seeing some significant success, but we’re not there yet.

Q: The state’s review of hydrofracking has been slowed by a deluge of public comments. Is the state moving too fast or too slow on this? GM: I think the Department of Environmental Conservation has to go through these comments and continue their due diligence. If 60,000 people took the opportunity to comment on it, I think that their comments should be considered. That probably will extend it out some more. That’s why we have that process.

Q: What concerns does the city have about hydrofracking, and are you confident the state will address them? CH: The state has already shown itself to being a great partner on this issue, and that is due to the governor and also DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, who came around quickly to the city’s view that hydrofracking should not be permitted within New York City’s unfiltered watershed. There’s also a question of what’s the right buffer from our infrastructure, and we submitted comments on this. That’s our primary issue: protection of New York City’s pristine drinking water and the protection of our infrastructure.

Q: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made significant progress with the passage of Article X and other measures, and he’s pushing for more this year. However, some still think the state needs a more comprehensive energy plan. GM: I’ll tell you, I’m excited about working with the governor on it. Last year was the most successful year on energy policy, maybe in the history of the state. When you look at Article X, on-bill financing, net metering, Recharge New York, almost all of those pieces of policy legislation had been around for years. And this governor really drove it. I feel in some respects it all got overshadowed by other issues. But last year was hugely successful on energy policy. And you know what? A lot of it would not have happened without the governor driving consensus between the Senate and the Assembly. Q: What else needs to be done? GM: Clearly, this energy highway that the governor outlined is a major economicdevelopment tool for upstate New York. The transmission system in some areas is over 50 years old. So, clearly, the technology’s changed, and we have not kept up with it. That, and I think we have to do something with solar generation.

16

FEBRUARY 21, 2012

KEVIN CAHILL

Q: Where is the city at on exploring waste-to-energy? CH: In the context of the city’s overall waste plan—and the mayor announced in the State of the City that we are going to try to double the diversion rate, which is basically diverting waste from landfills. We have an RFP that’s just about ready to go that’s going to seek from the marketplace ideas about what are the newest conversion technologies that are out there. The city produces about 11,000 tons of waste a day. It’s not going to be anything close to that, probably in the 100-ton range. Our diversion rate right now is about 15 percent. To get from 15 percent to 30 percent, in our plan, 10 of those percentage points come from increased reuse and recycling. Where the city is focusing its energies—pun intended—is recycling. But waste-toenergy is important, because there’s always going to be some irreducible amount that can’t be reused or recycled, and technology is getting better and better. New York has been leading the way on a lot of sustainability things, and we’re going to be leading the way on this.

Assembly Energy Committee Chairman

Q: What’s your view on the state’s hydrofracking review? KC: [Environmental] Commissioner [Joe] Martens offered testimony this month essentially saying that New York State is not ready to issue regulations for fracking. And he does not see us being ready any time in the immediate future, that the review process for the many, many comments received— and he described as learned and valuable comments—will be consuming the DEC’s time for the foreseeable future. He has not identified a place in New York where fracking fluid could be disposed of. He also pointed out that the governor has not asked for any additional staff in the 2012–2013 budget to monitor or license fracking. The disturbing part of Martens’ testimony is: If fracking were to go forward this fiscal year, he would look to existing DEC staff to police that process. Particularly after the decimation of that department over the last several years, there’s no evidence that the DEC is adequately staffed to monitor any fracking. Q: A new NYSERDA solar study called for a “continued investment in the steady and measured growth and deployment” of solar photovoltaic panels. KC: The report understates savings from air-quality mitigation avoidance in New York City. It understates the potential for manufacturing in the solar field and the economic multiplier that results from that. The folks who wrote the report seem fairly satisfied with what NYSERDA is doing; yet those policies, together with the tax incentives proposed for this year’s budget, have really failed to cause the solar industry to take off in New York. We believe that the Solar Jobs Act that would create a solar renewable-energy credit system is the way to really advance solar energy to the next plateau. Q: Does New York need a more comprehensive plan? KC: We absolutely do, and two years ago I passed legislation that created a permanent and dynamic energy-planning process. New York now has a permanent energy-planning board that convenes on a regular basis and is in the process of building the first legislatively endorsed energy plan, due out later this year. We’re premising the report on the existing administrative plan that we have in New York. Clearly, our energy future will be much better if we work in the context of an energy plan rather than in isolation. The comprehensive energy plan is the only way to ensure a secure, affordable energy future.

www.cityandstateny.com

GIL QUINIONES New York Power Authority President and CEO

Q: What are your goals for NYPA? GQ: One is really back to basics and fundamentals—it’s to provide safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy to our customers and to New Yorkers. The second is to have a laser focus in helping to advance Gov. Cuomo’s energy and economic-development policies and goals. Q: How will you do that? GQ: We need to invest in our people. Thirty to forty percent of our employees are retirement-eligible over the next five years, so succession planning and workforce training and development are very important. We need qualified people to operate and maintain our generation and transmission assets. We need to invest in our aging transmission and generation infrastructure. Many of our systems were built in the late ’50s, early ’60s, all the way to the ’70s. We need to address and make sure that they are brought up to a state of good repair. Lastly, with all the changes in the industry and technology, we need to be very, very smart in the deployment of clean-energy technology. Q: What needs to be done to get private companies to invest in new transmission lines? GQ: As the governor announced in the State of the State, he intends to have requests for proposals from the private sector, and really cast a wide net and get all the best ideas out there on what we need to do with our energy infrastructure, both production supply as well as the transmission of that power. I think because of deregulation, the rules of the road are not very clear, because of the evolution of deregulation in the energy industry. I think what the governor is embarking on right now with us is to provide a path so that those investments can occur. Q: Do you see a renaissance in New York’s energy policy? GQ: I believe the governor has really been a catalyst. Article X, the power-plantsiting law, had been languishing for years. With his leadership, that was enacted last year. Now we have Recharge New York, which is in the implementation stage. We have the energy highway and this NY-Sun initiative. Then it’s really leading by example. Let’s invest and operate state facilities and show to the private sector that these investments make good business sense, that these technologies are tried-and-true.

CITY&STATE


PHOTO: NASA

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CITY&STATE

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www.powerbridge.us FEBRUARY 21, 2012

17


S P OT L I G H T : E N E R GY THE ISSUES INDIAN POINT The nuclear power plant, located on the Hudson River within 30 miles of New York City, has become a flashpoint over the past year, particularly after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan nearly a year ago. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been calling for Indian Point’s closure for over a decade, though supporters insist there are not enough replacement options in place or even in development to safely shutter the two reactors.

HYDROFRACKING

Andrew Schwartz

THE PLAYERS THE INDUSTRY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo jump-started the state’s energy policy with last year’s renewal of the Article X law for siting new power plants, and now he’s pushing for a transmission superhighway that could make it easier to meet his longtime goal of shutting down Indian Point. The governor’s behind-the-scenes energy brain trust includes Tom Congdon, an assistant energy secretary, policy adviser Jim Malatras and Bob Hallman, a newly hired deputy secretary for the environment. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens is the administration’s public face on hydrofracking, which is under review in the state.

New York’s deregulated market separated energy distributors from generators. The state’s major power generators are Constellation Energy, USPowerGen and Entergy, which owns the nuclear facilities at Indian Point. Its largest energy utilities are Con Edison and National Grid, which distribute the energy to customers.

THE CITY Cas Holloway, New York City’s deputy mayor for operations, has led the administration’s efforts to invest in and use cleaner energy. Other key officials include Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland, who has raised concerns about the local effects of hydrofracking, and David Bragdon, the director of the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, who oversees the city’s long-term plan to reduce pollution and adopt greener energy technology.

THE AUTHORITIES A few key state entities oversee various aspects of the energy market. The New York Power Authority, tasked with providing cheap, clean energy, maintains 17 hydropower and other power plants and over 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. The Long Island Power Authority carries out a similar task on a smaller scale. The Public Service Commission sets rates and service standards for the state’s regulated utilities. The New York Independent System Operator runs the state’s energy grid and ensures its reliability. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, conducts research and runs programs to reduce energy use and promote efficiency. FEBRUARY 21, 2012

THE ADVOCATES The New York Affordable Reliable Energy Alliance and the Independent Power Producers of New York advocate for the energy industry on a range of issues, while the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York defends the controversial practice of hydrofracking. Environmental groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the New York League of Conservation Voters, also weigh in regularly on energy policy.

The big energy goal the governor laid out this year is a new transmission highway to connect power resources upstate and in Canada with the downstate region, which could see shortages in coming years— especially if Indian Point closes. Such projects generally take longer than building new power plants, but some proposals are mostly or entirely underground or underwater, or would simply upgrade existing lines, which could limit community opposition that torpedoed past efforts.

RENEWABLES Another proposal raised this year was a program to boost solar power. However, Cuomo’s plans to encourage procurement of larger solar projects, and to expand rebates for midsize projects, are less ambitious than some Democratic lawmakers were hoping for. Potential transmission upgrades could also spur more investment upstate in wind power, a small but growing part of the state’s energy portfolio.

NEW YORK’S POWER SOURCES New York has far more gas- and oil-fueled electric generating plants than nuclear ones. But nuclear generates power more often and more consistently than other sources, making it by far the largest element in the energy mix, producing 27 percent of the power used across the state. WIND (less than) OTHER 1% OTHER HYDRO-PUMPED 2% WIND RENEWABLES STORAGE PETROLEUM 1% 1%

4%

2%

COAL OIL

6%

COAL

9%

8%

NUCLEAR

NUCLEAR

14%

NEW IMPORTED ELECTRICITY

HYDRO

11%

NEW YORK GENERATING CAPACITY

16%

*

27%

NEW YORK POWER PRODUCTION

**

NATURAL GAS

17%

GAS & OIL

38%

*Megawatts Source: New York Independent System Operator, Power Trends 2011

www.cityandstateny.com

HYDRO

18%

NATURAL GAS

26%

**Gigawatt-hours Source: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, 2009 New York State Energy Fast Facts

Joey Carolino

Sen. George Maziarz, the Republican chair of the Senate Energy Committee, was a key partner with Cuomo on energy legislation last year. He is also more industry-friendly than his Assembly counterpart, Democratic lawmaker Kevin Cahill, on issues like solar-power investment and the closure of Indian Point. Queens Sen. Michael Gianaris, whose district borders many of the city’s power plants, has played a key role on energy policy.

18

TRANSMISSION

THE STATE

THE LEGISLATURE

Opponents of the controversial natural-gas drilling procedure have made their mark, submitting tens of thousands of comments that the state’s Department of Conservation will be sifting through for months. Industry backers grumble that the review has gone on long enough, delaying a critical economic boost to communities in the Southern Tier. Cuomo maintains he’ll take a careful, scientific approach to the regulatory review and only allow it to go forward if it is safe.

CITY&STATE


B AC K & F O R T H

Roaring Lancman

T

here’s no guarantee that Assemblyman Rory Lancman will have a congressional seat to run for this fall, but the Queens lawmaker is nonetheless exploring a challenge against Republican Congressman Bob Turner. Lancman is confident that he will not only be able to run but that he’ll win. In an interview, the Queens Democrat discussed how this race will be different from Assemblyman David Weprin’s losing campaign, his relationship with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and how he plans to counter Republican attacks that he is a “clubhouse politician.” What follows is an edited transcript. City & State: How is life as a congressional candidate? Rory Lancman: The life of a congressional exploratory candidate is exceedingly busy, but like with anything else in life, preparation is key. We’ve been preparing for a while now for what we think will be an eventuality. C&S: Two of the big issues for David Weprin were gay marriage and Israel. Do you think those will be big issues again this time? RL: I don’t know if they’ll be big issues, but in terms of Israel, I have an unimpeachable record as a terrific advocate for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. I’ve been an advocate from before I was elected. But certainly since I’ve been elected I’ve had a slew of homeland-security, antiterrorism bills that I’ve offered into law. I’ve been very vocal about supporting Israel and, where appropriate, criticizing the Obama administration. I mean, last fall I did a forum with the government of Israel at St. John’s University that I sponsored and put together on the delegitimization and its root in anti-Semitism. I’m also on the board of something called the Lawfare Project, which is very involved in helping Israel and the United States defend against the use of civil legal proceedings to try to hamstring Israel and the United States from fighting against terrorism. So my issue advocacy is both broad and deep. So I’m going to do very well with people who care about that issue. C&S: But David Weprin had a very strong record as well, yet because of Ed Koch the issue turned into a negative for him. RL: Ed Koch and I wrote an op-ed in 2007 when [then] Sen. [Barack] Obama was running for president, urging the Democratic Party to take a stronger stance on Iran. So, again, not comparing or contrasting me to David or anybody else, but my advocacy on Israel is rooted in legislation, real measurable support and activity. People in the district where I’ve lived my whole life know and appreciate that. C&S: Koch seems to have made up with Obama since then. RL: Koch has now made up with Obama. Even more importantly for me, in terms of the election, anyone who is upset about Barack Obama’s policies on Israel, health care—well, you name it—can vote against Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. They

CITY&STATE

don’t need to send a message vicariously through me or any other Democrat. Also, for me, in September, many of the people who went to the polls in the special election were going to send a message. That message was sent. In November of 2012, people will be going to the polls to send a congressman to Washington.

think the speaker was just really stating the obvious when he said this isn’t a Republican seat to give up. Implied within what he said is that New York City shouldn’t have to sacrifice a congressional district at the same time that the Republicans in the State Senate are trying to unfairly hurt New York City and downstate in the State Senate redistricting. And I’ll just make the observation that even Brian Kolb, the Republican minority leader in the Assembly from upstate, has recognized that leaving all these seats in western New York that it has now is unsustainable, as a matter of just population maps. C&S: But don’t some Democratic members of Congress want to eliminate this district to save their own seats? RL: I don’t think my Democratic colleagues would prefer to lose a seat that has been Democratic for decades, except for this one relatively fluky circumstance where Republicans won it in a special election.

C&S: During that special election, there was also a lot of anger in the Orthodox Jewish community over the gay-marriage bill passing. Has that died down? RL: The issue with marriage equality is a very simple civil rights issue, which people understand, and I’ve never had a political problem with. It’s that every benefit, right, obligation, responsibility that the government confers, it has to confer on everyone. And when I discuss it in those terms, I’ve never had a problem with it. I really don’t think it’s going to be an issue for me. C&S: In the last election, Democrats spent a lot of time talking about Social Security and Medicaid. Do you expect that to be a big issue again? RL: The issue in this campaign is going to be that working people are struggling to provide a decent life for their families, and that we are playing on an unlevel playing field. That’s the issue. It’s providing economic fairness and opportunity. You look at wages in this country that have been stagnant since 2002. Most Americans don’t have a pension. A kid goes to college, and they leave with crushing debt. It’s like having a mortgage, but no house to show for it. And we have tax system that honors wealth, not work. Gov. Mitt Romney is paying a lower tax rate than either his or Warren Buffett’s secretary. These are the meat-and-potato economic issues which are going to dominate this race. That’s what people care about. That’s what we’re going to talk about. C&S: Are there particular votes that Turner has taken you plan to highlight? RL: Bob Turner’s record starts with him

C&S: It seems that Republicans are already trying to paint you as a clubhouse politician, something that worked pretty well when David Weprin ran. How do you avoid getting portrayed that way? RL: I don’t want to compare and contrast with David Weprin, but my constituents, the people of New York, know that I’m a serious and effective legislator. That I’ve passed 19 laws in my first five years in office. In the first six months of my being in the state Legislature, I passed five laws. I think I have a well-deserved reputation for being a serious and Facebook effective state legislator and not saying that John Boehner is a guy he agrees part of any clubhouse and with very good with more than anybody else. And from progressive reform credentials. If that’s the there you take his first vote, which was to Republicans’ line of attack, I don’t think it’s make it easier for companies to ship good going to resonate with anyone. union jobs overseas, to his irresponsible vote on the debt ceiling, which would take C&S: Republicans also charge that us back to the debacle of last summer, you’ve been running for this ever when the country almost defaulted on its since David Weprin lost, which sigdebt and so its credit rating lowered. So in nals that you’re overly ambitious. a very short period of time, Mr. Turner has RL: It’s not my fault that Bob Turner’s very found ways to distinguish himself in ways first vote in Congress, as my congressman, that are not really appreciated by people was to make it easier for companies to outsource jobs overseas. I’m going to who live in Brooklyn and Queens. comment on what my congressman is doing. And if he’s not representing the C&S: What makes you believe there district that I live in, and not advocating for will actually be a district to run in, the things I want him to advocate for as my other than Assembly Speaker Sheldon congressman, I’m not going to be shy about Silver saying he would like to keep it? RL: The district exists now. It makes no it. If Bob Turner’s honeymoon was briefer sense, based on where population loss in than he had hoped, he has no one to blame the state of New York occurred, to elimi- for that but himself and his professed allenate the Ninth District. And the Republicans giance to John Boehner. —Chris Bragg are not going to be allowed to gerrymander cbragg@cityandstateny.com their way to hold onto districts elsewhere Read more about Rory Lancman’s in the state that really cannot be sustained campaign at www.cityandstateny.com based on where the population loss is. So I

www.cityandstateny.com

FEBRUARY 21, 2012

19


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City and State - February 21, 2012  

The February 21, 2012 issue of City and State . Targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and issues which shape New York City...

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