Vol. 1, No. 2
December 19, 2011
Congratulations to the Class of 2011! ALL THE FIGHTS, FOLLIES, LAUGHTER AND TEARS YOU REMEMBER—AND SOME YOU DON’T!—IN YOUR NEW YORK POLITICAL YEARBOOK Page 6 Favorite holiday recipes, straight from the state Assembly. Page 4
The state’s Industrial Development Agencies are getting an overhaul. Page 22
Why construction is so expensive in New York City. Page 16
Oneida leader Ray Halbritter wants to bust New York’s casino plan. Page 27
Looking For Democracy Something strange is happening to the legislators of New York. In Albany—where party lines split the Senate and Assembly, and gridlock has long been a way of life—Gov. Andrew Cuomo shot his tax plan through the Capitol this month with Putinesque votes of 132–8 132 and 55–0. Yet the very next day in New York City, a once-supine City Council overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of a bill imposing tough scrutiny on outside contracts in a response to the CityTime payroll boondoggle. Ten years into Adam Lisberg Editor Bloomberg era, the City Council is discovering its strength. One year into the Cuomo era, the Legislature has no stomach for a fight. Perhaps the Legislature is tired of what its past fighting has accomplished. Plenty of Albany lawmakers detest their own incompetence and are happy to line up with a governor who is able to get things done; it’s a sign of progress that they let a train leave the station without derailing it for kicks. Meanwhile, the New York City charter tilts power to the mayor, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has always found it better to hash out deals with him in private than to confront him pointlessly in public. That dynamic seems to be changing,
whether Quinn will allow a vote in the first place. And Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos have spent years burrowed in the same blankets of secrecy that Cuomo now wraps himself in. There is merit in legislators doing what we elect them to do—talking, listening and amending before turning anybody’s idea into law. Yes, plenty have set a bad example by using the process for extortion, not policymaking. Yes, Albany is a worst-case example of legislating, which is why Cuomo is refreshing and effective. Yes, democracy is messy. But over the long haul, democracy is always better than dictatorship. email@example.com
however, as he quacks more lamely, she positions herself as a leader for 2013, and the costs of not keeping a closer eye on basics like snowstorms and technology contracts add up. Bloomberg’s advisors have quietly realized they need to pay more attention to the City Council for the next two years—which, however imperfectly, means paying more attention to New Yorkers. Of course, there is little risk Jeffersonian democracy will suddenly erupt in either body. Contrary to everything we learned in civics class, the fight over a living-wage bill in New York City hangs not on a vote but on
New York City and state employees Recent cutbacks have left New York state government employment almost identical to a decade ago, but New York City’s is up more than 7 percent
NEW YORK CITY
247,681 239,715 239,717
239,616 240,000 230,000
NEW YORK STATE 210,000 200,000
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
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Source: Citizens Budget Commission State fiscal years end March 31; city fiscal years end June 30.
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SENECA COUNTY Who is really the most popular member of the New York Senate on Facebook? Senate staff ranked 25 of its members based on Web analytics several weeks ago, but when most of the other 37 are added, the result is…a tie. Almost all of the members have either their own personal page or an official page to represent them on the popular social networking site. Some senators, such as Michael F. Nozzolio of Seneca Falls, couldn’t accept a friending request because he had reached 5,000—the maximum number allowed. We were hurt.
ALBANY COUNTY Whatever’s going on with the livery cab street-hail bill, don’t think Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t care. Two sources on opposite sides of the issue were equally impressed by how he handled a recent meeting about it at his Capitol office—running an almost two hour meeting with an absolute command of every nuance. “I thought he’d pop in for 15 minutes and hand it over to staff, but he really worked on it,” said one source. “People who thought this was just about politics would be surprised how much he’s involved,” said another.
ROCKLAND COUNTY Former New York City deputy mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who lost his city job after a domestic dispute led to his arrest, praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a recent conference for targeting the Tappan Zee Bridge for alternative financing, and said the project is generating “a huge amount of interest.” Goldsmith, who is now a consultant for McKenna Long & Aldridge, told attendees at the 2011 Infrastructure Investor: Americas conference that the U.S. has been slow to pick up the public-private models. “There should be enormous efficiencies to doing the Tappan Zee the way the governor plans to do it,” Goldsmith said. DECEMBER 19, 2011
AROUND NEW YORK
EDITORIAL Editor: Adam Lisberg email@example.com Managing Editor: Andrew J. Hawkins firstname.lastname@example.org Reporters: Chris Bragg email@example.com Laura Nahmias firstname.lastname@example.org Jon Lentz email@example.com Copy Editor: Helen Eisenbach Photography Editor: Andrew Schwartz
270,839 262,206 264,061
PRODUCTION Art Director: Joey Carolino Production Manager: Ed Johnson Ad Designer: Quarn Corley
CITY HALL CI
Woe to the lawmaker who speaks her mind about anything involving Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as Sen. Diane Savino just learned—the hard way. “All the Republicans in the Senate signed Ed Koch’s dopey pledge,” she told The Brooklyn Politics’ Colin Campbell. “Nobody in Albany wants to do independent redistricting, and that includes the governor—and you can write that down, Colin.” So he did, and told us. At 1:54 p.m., we asked Cuomo’s spokesman Josh Vlasto about it. “The governor’s position is absolutely clear,” he replied at 3:24. And 41 minutes later, Savino called us to retract her comments. “I’ve never had a conversation with him about redistricting,” she said. “I shouldn’t assume that he has the same motivations that the rest of us do.”
NICOLE GELINAS How the Manhattan Institute’s go-to analyst became a conservative Nicole Gelinas walks to work most days from her Hell’s Kitchen apartment, but she never stops thinking about the subway. “When I lived in Brooklyn all the way out by Coney Island, I had a long commute on the F train, like an hour both ways,” the Manhattan Institute financial analyst said. “I would just sit there and think, ‘There are ways to fix this.’ So that’s how I got interested in transit. If they ever fix the F train, I’ll move back to Brooklyn.” Gelinas, 36, is one of New York’s most prominent voices of fiscal conservatism, spending the last six years thoughtfully detailing problems she sees in the city and state budgets, pension plans, union contracts and transit infrastructure. And like many of Gelinas’ other decisions in life, her career was sparked by simple observation.
The Massachusetts native decided to attend Tulane University after riding by the campus on a streetcar during a high school trip to New Orleans. She majored in English literature, but on a summer job answering phones at a brokerage firm she began to be fascinated by the customers’ questions. Soon she was reading the business pages along with her T.S. Eliot. Another New Orleans experience left a mark on her as well: A co-worker at her part-time job at Tower Records was shot and killed. The experience made her a conservative, she said, and made her sympathetic to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s approach to bringing down crime in New York City. When Gelinas graduated in 1999, she headed to New York for a reporting job at Thomson Financial, which allowed her to combine finance and writing.
“It just so happened Thomson was right on 195 Broadway around September 11,” she said. “I saw the whole experience of the cleanup, the lack of a rebuilding process for a long time, right outside the window. So I started writing articles for the New York Post chronicling the fiscal issues of the rebuilding.” The conservative Manhattan Institute took notice, and hired her full-time in 2005—and in that time, she said, positions
that were once called fiscally conservative came to be seen as moderate. “When I got here, you could see from the numbers that pension costs, healthcare costs, all of these things were going up and up and up,” she said. “A few years ago, you were considered a conservative to even bring these things up.” At night, with her husband, Matthew Civello (“We got married the day Lehman Brothers collapsed”), Gelinas reads the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal cover to cover in print. This year she’s also read The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens and Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, both dystopic novels about morally bankrupt metropolises— perhaps not coincidentally written by writers who were once reporters. “Ever since I’ve gotten here, the problem is trying to decide what to do out of all the things there are to do,” she said. “The housing bubble burst, the credit bubble burst, there’s talk of how changing Wall Street would affect New York City, there’s always an election to follow—and then of course, there’s always the MTA.” —Laura Nahmias firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FOOTNOTE: A real press release, annotated Sent 5:09 p.m., Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office The new ethics bill enshrines permanent majorities for the Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats on JCOPE— even if they lose their legislative majorities.
Renzi, a Watertown attorney who ran for State Senate in 2008, is married to a staffer for Republican Sen. Patty Ritchie, and will have to recuse himself from any Ritchie-related matter.
DiFiore is a Republican recently turned Democrat who succeeded Jeanine Pirro as Westchester DA. Pirro ran against Cuomo for AG in 2006.
Only two of Cuomo’s three Democratic appointees would be needed to block an investigation of a statewide official or executive-branch appointee.
Horwitz was part of Bernie Madoff’s legal defense team.
EAD ERS APPO IN T MEM BER S GOV ER NOR C UOM O AN D LEGI SLAT IVE L E T H I CS TO T H E JOIN T CO MM ISSIO N ON PUB L I C nt P o we rs to nf o rcem e In d e p e n d e nt Comm issio n Has B r o a d New E B r a nc h es utive ec Ex d n a e iv at l is g e L e at g ti Inves r e t o Ch a i r JCO P E o DiFi et n Ja ey n r Westc h este r Co u nty Distri ct Atto
JCOPE’s predecessor, the Commission on Public Integrity, was seen as lacking independence. The former chairman was forced out after it was revealed he shared secret details of the Troopergate investigation with the Spitzer administration.
Joint s today announced their appoin tment s to the new Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and legisla tive leader Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). The broad oversight o f New York State governmen t. In May, Covello issued a JCOPE is an independent enforc emen t unit with and financ ial disclo sure law f o ons violati igate invest to s redistricting ruling seen as power ent Commission has robust en forcem es. branch yees in both the execu tive and legisla tive emplo highly favorable to Nassau their and ficials f o d electe all for ments require a broader yists due to newly expanded disclo sure rules and County Republicans. JCOPE also has expanded powers to overs ee lobb definit ion o f lobbyi ngÉ is y's creation o f the Joint Commission on Public Ethics Senat e Majori t y Leader Dean G. Skelo s said, "Toda r Senat or forme that ent confid am I entÉ vernm go state in another step forward in restoring the public 's trust e and the do outstanding work alongs ide Chairwoman DiFior Rath, Justic e Co vello and George Weismann will Sampson has come under fire for ." other repres entati ves o f this commission selecting Batra, who has close his leadership and perse veran ce ties to the Brooklyn Democratic for o Cuom nor Gover salute I É " said, son Senat e Minori t y Leader John Samp bring machine—and was former law that that my appoin tment , Mr. Ra vi Batra, will help in the fight for true ethics reform s. I am confident partners with jailed exl." Capito our f o integri t y back to the halls Assemblyman Clarence Norman. 15 years o f legal experience, including serving in over With "É said, Kolb M. Brian r Leade y t Assembl y Minori e practi ce, De f ender's Of fices, and as an attorne y in privat the Je f ferson Count y Distric t Attorne y and Public tment to appoin e's ferenc Con y t Minori bly Assem our as ving Da vid Renzi is highly qualifi ed and capable of ser the Joint Commission on Public Ethics É whom must be ers appoin ted by the Governor, at least three o f The biparti san Commission consis ts o f six memb is not that of the GovernorÉ enrolled members o f the major politic al part y that For now, Commission on Public Integrity Executive Director
Governor Cuomo's appoin tment s are: law Barry Ginsberg is staying on ted in 2009, Distric t Attorney DiFiore is the chief • Ja n et DiFi o r e, Ch a i r . Elected in 2005 and reelec with JCOPE, though a dozen of enforc ement o f ficer of Westc hester Count yÉ his former commission staffers De velopment and rch Resea y Energ State York New the of • V i nc e nt A. DeI o r i o . Mr. DeIorio is the Chair have been laid off. Authorit y (N YSER DA) Board of Direct orsÉ Public on ission Comm Chairperson o f the New York State • Mitr a H o rm ozi . Ms. Hormozi has serve d as the year. this earlier tment Integrit y since her appoin r at Lanker & Carragher, LLP. Attorneys in the Legislature • Da n i e l J. Ho rw itz. Mr. Horwi tz is curren tly a partne with Green & Seifte r, Attorneys, PLLC . el couns as iated assoc is vine will now have to begin disclosLa • G a ry J. L avi n e . Mr. For firm. y equit vate International, LLC, a New York based pri Knox f o CEO the ing the names of their clients, is Knox Mr. . IV ox n K r u eymo •S Knox is a o f Corporate Relations for the Bu f falo Sabre s. Mr. but will only have to reveal new twent y years , Mr. Knox ser ved as Vice President ones retained after July 2012, or e. Colleg t Fores Lake f o te gradua old clients with new business in ts cemen enhan ethics some o f the most comprehens ive before the state. se The Public Integrit y Re form Act o f 2011 contained increa d transparenc y, require strict disclo sure, and edente unprec create that forms re ing includ y, modern histor penalties for ethics violations.
DECEMBER 19, 2011
Building Trades Employers’ Association The Alliance of Union Contractors
BTEA HOSTS ANNUAL SAFETY CONFERENCE
The BTEA held its Annual Safety Conference on November 22, 2011 with more than 300 contractor, labor and public officials in attendance. The keynote address was delivered by Caswell Holloway, New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations, and opening remarks on “Worker, Public and Fire Safety” were delivered by Robert Kulick, Regional Administrator for OSHA, Robert LiMandri, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings and Salvatore Cassano, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department. Seminar sessions covered topics such as Criminal Liability in Construction Safety and FDNY CDA Inspections and FDNY Special Operations and Emergencies. Lou Coletti, BTEA President & CEO with Robert Kulick, Regional Administator, OSHA, Robert LiMandri, Commissioner, New York City Department of Buildings and Salvatore Cassano, Commissioner, New York City Fire Department,
Caswell Holloway, New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations
A City & State Holiday Feast Holiday Recipes From the State Assembly s Assemblywoman Grace Meng’ lla Pae Asian-Inspired
recipe. We actually really love “Here is a traditional Meng family preserve traditions. We actually also paella but add an Asian twist to s to you all!” celebrate Christmas. Happy holiday frying, or as needed Ingredients: 1 green onion/scallion 2–3 eggs d, Seafood (i.e., shrimp, scallops, squi s) slice ll fish fillets/sma Salt
Preparation: Finely dice the green onion. salt in a small bowl. Lightly beat the eggs with a little add 2 tablespoons oil. and pan g fryin big or wok a up Heat like you scramble Stir . eggs the add When the oil is hot, out the pan. an egg. Remove the eggs and clean seafood. Add salt to Add a little oil and your desired again. pan the out n tast e. Fully cook. Clea green onion. After 1 Add a little oil. Stir in the diced using chopsticks or minute, add the cold rice. Stir-fry k it apar t. (Stir in a brea to a wooden spatula-t ype tool e if desired.) sauc er oyst or e sauc soy of bit little ed the scrambled egg and your cook add ugh, thro ed heat When the rice is e hot sauce if som (Add ly. ough thor Mix pan. seafood back into the frying desired.) Ready to eat!
Assemblywoman Nicole Mallio takis’ Honey Eggplant Fritters
“I make it when I have friends ove r, and it’s a great appetizer to go with any dish. I just think it’s a great side dish or appetizer for the holi days. I thought I’d share it with my constitu ents.” Ingredients: 1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds Olive oil 4 cups water 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
Back Row L to R: Jeff Hutchens, Turner Construction Co., Ken Durr, Durr Mechanical Construction, Richard Mendelson, OSHA, Caswell Holloway NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations, Pat Di Filippo, Turner Construction Co., Lou Coletti, BTEA Front Row L to R: Kay Gee, OSHA, Robert Kulick, OSHA, Laura Kenny, OSHA Robert Peckar and Thomas Curran, Peckar & Abramson
www.bteany.com DECEMBER 19, 2011
2/3 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup milk 2 large eggs 1/4 cup honey 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Preparation: Place the eggplant in a large bow l. Add 4 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. Briefly rinse in a bowl of water to eliminate the majority of seeds. Mix flour, baking powder, and rema ining 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in milk and eggs. In a pan or large skillet, heat oil. Dip eggplant rounds in batter, then fry on each side for 30 seconds until golden. Let sit on paper towels to drain the oil. In a separate saucepan, heat hone y to a light boil and drizzle warm honey over fried eggp lant. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Back Row L to R: Chief Thomas Jensen, FDNY, Peter Langanhan, Jeff Hutchens, Turner Construction Co., Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, FDNY, Mike Bielawa, Lend Lease, Battalion Chief Eugene Carty, FDNY Front Row L to R: Steve Ertrachter, FDNY, Joel Pickering, Lend Lease, Carol Karlin, New York Fire Safety Academy, Elsa Araya, FDNY, Miguel Padin, Tishman Construction Corp.
Olive oil for stirthen 3 cups rice—already cooked and t nigh over ed erat chilled/refrig er OPTIONAL: light soy sauce, oyst e sauc hot or e sauc
Lancman’s Assemblyman Rory to order Box Latkes cooked I go to the kosher
— . I don’t go homemade “I make a mean latke own applesauce. my ke ma n’t latke mix. I do t ge d an et ark rm pe su try to get is the Mott’s But the applesauce I pleWhat am I, a farmer? The unsweetened ap e. That’s good stuff. sweetened applesauc gets. Then, depending sauce is what my wife t the latke has to be thin. tha ze asi ph em to nt “I just wa make it crispier.” you have the liberty to pped red on how people like it, po tables ons finely cho Ingredients: 2 eggs 3/4 cup cold water nischewitz 1 (3 oz) package of Ma x mi potato pancake powder 1/8 teaspoon garlic pper pe ite wh 1/8 teaspoon wder 3/4 teaspoon onion po
2 pepper of these 1 tablespoon of each pped: green cho ly ne fi s, vegetable carrot, er, pp pe pepper, yellow ion on ey, parsl ing Vegetable oil for fry Large skillet
Preparation: in water. Add a medium bowl. Stir Lightly beat eggs in wder, and white po ion powder, garlic Manischewitz mix, on nutes to thicken. mi 3–4 de asi t Se nded. pepper. Stir until ble o a large skillet int oil the pour 1/3 of While batter thickens, pped vegetables cho m-high heat. Add diu me a r ove at he and ly. r and blend thorough oil in to the thickened batte r into 1/8 inch of hot tte ba of s on po les Gently drop tab brown on both sides. the large skillet and
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Congratulations to the Class of 2011! All the fights, follies, laughter and tears you remember— and some you don’t!—in your New York political yearbook As we prepared for school 12 months ago, who could have imagined a year like this one? We saw new leaders and old grudges, indictments and acquittals, serious moments and crazy times. And we hope our yearbook brings back all the memories that made this year so special! Sincerely, your yearbook editors— Chris Bragg, andrew J. hawkins, Jon Lentz, adam LisBerg and Laura nahmias
DEcEmbEr 19, 2011
Prom King Andrew Cuomo
What is there to say about our prom king that he hasn’t heard already? Well, go ahead and say it again—he won’t mind! Andrew Cuomo is our quarterback, class president, homecoming king, head of the Auto Club, valedictorian, National Honor Society president and all-around big-man-on-campus. Nobody even challenged him when he said, “I am the school”! His list of accomplishments is daunting: straight A’s, winning touchdowns in all regulation games, a star turn in the spring musical, “Man of La Mancha,” a property tax cap, same-sex marriage, an on-time budget, a revamped tax code, an ethics bill, and a successful campaign to serve real Italian lasagna in the cafeteria! But it’s not just all those things he did. Andrew excelled this year because he set a new tone for our school. He brought order and respect to our normally chaotic halls, got all the student groups to work together, and made sure everyone cheered at the pep rallies no matter what they were really thinking. That’s leadership! Sure, Andrew stepped on some toes. The kids on the school newspaper can’t stand his standoffishness and his habit of passing secret notes in class. You’ve probably heard the rumors about what happens when he and his buddies, like Howard Glaser, Larry Schwartz and Steve Cohen, are hanging around the lockers at the end of the day waiting for somebody to walk by. Is he being a bully or a leader? We don’t know—we’ve never dared to stick around to find out! But with great popularity comes great responsibility. Will he keep his promise to shake up the way the school doles out homeroom assignments? And what about his controversial plan to legalize poker as an official after-school activity? How will he keep everybody in the Environmental Club happy about his no-nukes pledge if he’s also helping the Geology Club drill for natural gas? Everybody’s watching, Andy, and there’s nowhere to go but down. Unless you go up!
His court: Mike Bloomberg used to rule the school, but after bungling that epic snow day and getting caught up in a pretty pointless fight with the teachers over layoffs, he’s been knocked down a peg. But he’s got two more years until he graduates—if he starts hitting the books and working hard again, there’s plenty of time to stir things up! Eric Schneiderman had some big shoes to fill, stepping into the role once held by the prom king himself, but even though his rivals said he was too much of a hippie to be an effective hall monitor (we hear he does yoga!), Eric surprised us all by going after the rich kids—and even some of his fellow students. Not a bad start. Preet Bharara has had a roller coaster of a year: dizzying highs, like catching other students trying to cheat on their homework; and disappointing lows, like watching some of those same students avoid punishment. We don’t know how he stays popular, because every time he wants to say hi to a student or two, they panic and ask for a lawyer. But maybe that’s what it takes to make sure nobody says anything bad about you! Bob Turner went from being a nobody to one of the most popular kids in school. Suffice to say, he picked the right friends, like Ed Koch. We thought Bob was going to get kicked out of school anyway, but now it looks like the faculty wants to keep him around. Lucky kid!
Prom Queen Christine Quinn Everybody knows our Prom Queen Christine Quinn is the one to watch—because so much has gone well for her this year, and next year could be even better! She’s planning to get married to the lucky Kim Catullo this year, after working really hard with her Prom King, Andrew Cuomo, to make it possible. She’s BFF with Mike Bloomberg even though she’s starting to stand up to him a little bit. Maybe that makes him respect her more? Lots of kids like her, and the ones who don’t like her still respect her. Even Ed Koch can’t shut up about her! Getting to be such a popular girl isn’t easy. We all remember how we first got to know Chris—she was loud and kind of an outsider, always protesting about something or other. And now? Well, she’s still loud! Just kidding! But she’s so much different from when she first came to school as a freshman, and she’s made so many new friends. Who knew that someday she’d get all palsy-walsy with the rich kids and shut down that idea to give everybody free time in the nurse’s office? But she still likes to stand on the front steps with every student and every club and every cause that ever gets put down, no matter how small. She cares. That’s one of the nice things about Chris—she tries hard not to rock the boat. She doesn’t like to take really harsh stands on some of those tough questions that a prom queen faces, like whether the kids whose after-school jobs are sponsored by the school should make more than minimum wage. And if she doesn’t say anything, nobody will
know what she thinks, right? But if confrontation isn’t her style in the hallways, don’t underestimate her. Chris would rather talk to students quietly and try to make everybody happy, but that doesn’t mean a sit-down with her is easy. Of course, it helps that she controls the activity fee budgets for all the other clubs. Just kidding, Chris! All of us at Yearbook Club love you and really need our budget! So what comes next for our Chris? Sure, we all know what she wants to do next, even if she has to pretend like she doesn’t know what Mike and Ed are telling everybody about her. Could she be like them? She’s polishing her résumé for the admissions office, but it has to be superfrustrating to her that some of it is out of her hands. Between Josh Isay and Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio, who knows?
Her Court: Don’t call her the new kid anymore! Kirsten Gillibrand got svelte, got trendy and got tight with the Gay-Straight Alliance kids this year. Remember when she used to wear farm-girl flannel and talk about her guns? Now she’s one of the most stylish girls in school. The haters like to whisper that she’s not serious, but she has a simple message for them: Put up or shut up! Kathy Wylde remains the go-to gal for everyone at school who needs to talk to the rich kids. That’s why it’s nice Kathy can speak for them, because they’re not always so nice to talk to, themselves. Just kidding! She knows everybody and she knows what she wants, but she doesn’t carry a grudge—she’d rather get something done. Janette Sadik-Kahn makes the court, even though she’s more popular outside the school than in it! She made special paths for our bikes, set up more bike racks and closed off whole sections of the parking lot to make places for people to sit at lunchtime. Not everybody likes it—the kids who drive to school think she’s hell on wheels—but she might get more popular once she starts sharing bikes with the whole school next year. Kathy Hochul came out of nowhere and impressed everyone when she beat Jane Corwin to become head of their homeroom in the west corridor. Everybody loves the new girl! And who knows—after homeroom assignments get shuffled next year, maybe they’ll get to go through it all again!
DECEMBER 19, 2011
T N E D U T S L I C N U O C
It was supposed to be a quiet year on the Student Council, but that was before that big fight between David Weprin and Bob Turner! Turner All those signs went up in the cafeteria and got everyone all excited about their election. Everyone was sure David would get elected— his brother is a big shot on the Student Council, just like their dad was—but boy, were they wrong! Maybe David should have gone to the debate that night, even though it was raining. Or maybe David should have checked his math before making that $10 trillion mistake. Oops! But Bob worked hard— between his knowledge of trashy TV shows and his time spent hanging around with the Jewish students, he impressed many and won the race. That was really the most exciting contest, but let’s give a big cheer for everyone else who tried this year. There was Mark Poloncarz’s smackdown of Chris Poloncarz Collins (one less rival for the prom king, Andrew Cuomo!) and Steve Bellone’s victory over Angie Bellone Carpenter. Kathy Hochul Carpenter surprised a lot of students by winning as a Democrat in a pretty Republican classroom. But the most exciting races will be next semester—after everyone’s homeroom assignments are switched around. We’ll see who’s running and who’s taking the bus home!
It wasn’t easy for the school-newspaper classes to cover all the news that kept happening in New York this year—who knew that Political Reporting 101 would mean figuring out who Anthony Weiner was chatting with on Twitter? (Figures that Andrew Breitbart was the best student at it this year—he’s not in a newspaper class at all!) But even with everybody excited about computers, Mr. Seifman sure showed his class how to dig through old paper records, by putting John Haggerty in jail, while Mr. Dicker’s class learned all about anonymous quotes. Student Danny Hakim was definitely a proud graduate of the Seifman class, and while we all thought it was a little funny the way he buried himself in his books, he impressed the whole school with his stories about the developmentally disabled. He may have skipped those CPR classes, but he saved some lives anyway! Josh Vlasto and Stu Loeser taught our journalism students how to fight like reporters. And we all learned a valuable lesson about the usefulness of an NYPDissued press pass—they ain’t worth the plastic they’re printed on. Free-for-all!
Everybody loves a parade—except the NYPD! That’s what Jumaane Williams and Kirsten John Foy from the Parade Committee said after that whole thing happened in Brooklyn over Labor Day weekend. Even Gale Brewer said she had trouble being let into a parade in her neighborhood, and Ydanis Rodriguez got arrested when he tried doing the same thing. Hey, guys, it’s not called the First Amendment parade! Did you really think anybody is allowed to peaceably assemble in a public place? Just kidding! It was kind of a tough year for the Parade Committee, actually. Mike Bloomberg even got kicked off the committee for making fun of all the Irish students, until they let him back into their clubhouse. Up in Albany, David Soares and Jerry Jennings decided to let anybody who wanted to assemble in the park, but that made You-Know-Who all upset. So we’ll see what the Parade Committee has in store for next semester. Maybe more of all that backand-forth shouting? The kids who were hanging around Zuccotti Park last fall promised a bunch more parades and rallies—we can’t wait to see how they plan to top this year!
SUPERLATIVES CUTEST COUPLE
Jeff Klein and Diane Savino Klavino may come from different sides of the tracks, but a love for stirring up trouble keeps them together.
DECEMBER 19, 2011
Kevin Parker He asked for money by saying, “I help you. You help me.” Refreshing!
MOST DRASTICALLY REDUCED PHONE BILL
Richard Lipsky We feel sorry for the people who had to listen to his wiretaps.
THE GEORGE ORWELL AWARD FOR DOUBLESPEAK
Josh Vlasto If he says “baseless speculation,” you know it’s true.
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Membership of the Computer Club exploded this year! It’s always had stalwarts like Gale Brewer and Bill Mahoney playing with keyboards and spreadsheets, but this was finally the year when everybody else got into the Internet. A lot of it is because of that rich kid Mike Bloomberg.. He was waving his checkbook at every pocket protector and every pair of suspenders in the hallways. (Let’s hope it turns out better than when he did that with those bad kids in the CityTime club. Just kidding!) Mike wants to be the nerds’ best friend, and even got the school to build a new annex for the Computer Club on the empty lot behind the gym. He says it was Bob Steel’s idea—unless it was really Seth Pinksy’s—but all of a sudden all the nerds want to come here. We’ll all click the “Like” button for that! Watch out, jocks! Another big Computer Club star was Zach Hutchins,, who became the year’s Twitter king by sending all those even handed tweets about the big argument between the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Bible Club. And we thought Shelly Silver was a big man on Twitter too, until we realized that his account is really a fake! Too bad, because all those jokes about taking away parking permits from students are really funny. But some of our students should steer clear of the social networks, because they may turn out to be more like a social trap! Like William Boyland Jr. All he did was keep plugging away at his phone and his computer, but maybe he didn’t know that if you’re skipping class, you shouldn’t post on Facebook about it. Oh, Bill, what are we going to do with you? Just kidding!
No matter what else happens in school, the Mock Trial Club is always superpopular. Who knew so many people would want to line up to see the inside of a courtroom? Five of our students have already—and the year’s not even over yet! William Boyland Jr. stands head and shoulders above his classmates for landing in hot water not once but twice, facing off with two different students! Just when he beat Preet Bharara’s case about how he raised money, along came Loretta Lynch with another case—this time with wiretaps. This Brooklyn kid might end up in detention for up to 30 years, or he might walk free. Follow the latest updates on Bill’s surprisingly revealing Facebook page. Larry Seabrook managed to “pull a Boyland” too after he wiggled out of Preet’s case for a bunch of money things. All anybody remembered was the $177 bagel, but after a jury of 12 peers couldn’t agree on what he did, Larry walked free. Great track record, Preet! Just kidding! Good luck trying again! Other students managed to lose their cases, though. Remember when John Haggerty said all of Mike Bloomberg’s money that ended up in his house was really a present? Yeah, not so much! The jury agreed with Cy Vance Jr., who really needed a win, even if Mike wanted nothing to do with Mock Trial. Let’s not forget Ruben Wills, who ’fessed up and settled his 15-year-old larceny case, or alumnus Joe Bruno from the class of 2009, who thought he was in the clear until he got threatened with another indictment. It won’t be easy for Mock Trial to make next year even more interesting than this one. But we can’t wait to see Carl Kruger and Pedro Espada Jr. try when they walk into courtrooms next month!
Future Farmers Of America
Our young farmers got the respect of the whole school this year with their exciting debate about picking an official vegetable. New member David Carlucci jumped right in by suggesting the onion, but upperclassman Michael Nozzolio quickly shot back with a nomination of sweet corn instead. The debate was on! The back-and-forth riveted the student body and even the school newspaper, and in the end the final vote came down in favor of sweet corn. But Carlucci didn’t cry over his beloved onion—even he was swayed to vote for the succulent yellow field crop too! The club also overcame this summer’s freak storm, which flooded the club’s community vegetable garden and flattened its student-run farms. Thankfully, Prom King Andrew Cuomo stepped in and again saved the day, leading an effort to raise funds for the club and personally helping rebuild the club’s pigpens and chicken coops.
Greg Meeks, Vincent Leibell,John Haggerty and Carl Kruger It’s a tie—but let’s see if they all keep them.
DECEMBER 19, 2011
MOST AFRAID OF PREET BHARARA
Our Model U.N. tries to give us a taste of diplomacy from all over the globe, and nobody does that better than club president Marty Markowitz! In the past few years he’s represented the People’s Republic of Brooklyn from Turkey to the Netherlands to China, meeting dignitaries and learning about other cultures. Too bad he got detention for bringing along his sweetheart, Jamie Markowitz, but he did it for love! Greg Meeks may also face trouble in the principal’s office with all the details that keep spilling out about his trips to the Caribbean for fund-raising. Remember what happened to Charlie Rangel, Greg? But there’s no better way to expand your horizons far beyond school! Maybe they should take a lesson from the Model U.N. club’s finance chairman Mike Bloomberg, who knows how to stay out of trouble— he travels with his own money and his own planes. That’s the right way to go to Bermuda! Next year the club hopes to get Andrew Cuomo involved. He started the year vowing to keep his feet firmly printed on school property, but by November he was jetting down to Puerto Rico and then out to California. Who knows where he’ll go next? Just kidding!
MOST UNLIKELY GAY ICON
John Liu He has plenty of company, but the target on his back is biggest.
Dean Skelos He played an even bigger role in gay rights than anyone on Glee.
Bill O’Reilly The flack behind Bob Turner made it all look natural.
Say ? t a Wh Remembering the very best things our classmates said all year:
“I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh-largest army in the world.” —Michael Bloomberg
“At this point, I am voting from the heart.”
—Jim Alesi on his vote for same-sex marriage
“A small-caliber weapon could be hidden inside a jewelry box.” —Eric Adams on illegal handguns
“I am the government.” —Andrew Cuomo
“I’ve been a big pushy broad my whole life.” —Christine Quinn
“I want to put a shot across Obama’s bow.” —Ed Koch on Bob Turner
“She was not incapacitated. She said she was not inebriated. She is not familiar with the driveway.” —Cathie Black’s spokesman
“The governor does not have a proposal that has been discussed with anyone.” —Josh Vlasto, five days before the governor unveiled his tax proposal
“Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next?” —Anthony Weiner on Twitter
“Apparently what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
I really enjoy helping people! “It’s in my blood to get out there and help my community. We’re up, we’re there, and we all are very dedicated to what we do — or we wouldn’t be doing it! “Whether it’s garbage pick up or the streets being plowed, road maintenance, drainage maintenance — people really benefit from it. “Knowing that someone needs something done in the community, and I’m there to help them, it makes me feel really good!”
Meet Brian Cummins
—Preet Bharara, announcing charges against William Boyland, Carl Kruger and Richard Lipsky
“In the past 30 days, as I have prepared the state’s budget, I was shocked to learn that the state’s budget process is a sham.” —Andrew Cuomo
On the line every day. People working together to make a better New York for all. LOCAL 1000 AFSCME, AFL-CIO DA N N Y D O N O H U E , P R E S I D E N T
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smart | DYNamIC | CarING | DEDICatED www.cityandstateny.com
AM DECEMBER 19,11/28/11 201111:0411
M A DR
B U L C A
It was a great year for drama at our school, with plenty of political theater and a few big actors looking for their breakout roles. Remember watching Ruben Diaz Sr. in the spotlight before the same-sex marriage vote? Remember Kevin Parker’s tantrum when he didn’t get the spotlight? But the State Senate chamber wasn’t the only stage. There was also the City Council, where the cameras loved Tish James’ dance with a tire chain. And in Preet Bharara’s conference room, where he put that slow-burning charm on display—he’s one to watch. So was every podium that Bob Duffy touched, where he almost worked himself to tears praising the prom king, Andrew Cuomo. And what a play Ed Koch put on this year! We thought he’d stick to his TV show on NY1—and occasionally putting on that same old song-and-dance about independent redistricting. But boy, were we surprised when he started that production about the Ninth Congressional District. He showed why he’s such a master at creating drama—giving David Weprin the tragic flaw we learned about in literature class and casting Bob Turner as the unlikely winner. But when he went all Hamlet-like on Barack Obama by opposing and then supporting him on Israel, it became pretty clear who the biggest star of a Koch production is—Koch!
The Environmental Club worked hard this year to make the school a greener place, and to teach their classmates how to fight pollution. Bill de Blasio learned how wasteful it is to post campaign signs all over school for the student council elections, which makes a big mess for the school’s janitors. Good job, Bill, for cleaning up your act! We hope Bill Thompson and John Liu will learn from his example and pay their fines for campaign signs too. And club member Jim Tedisco really tried to stop wasting paper too, asking the school to put more of its homework assignments online and fewer on paper. It got plenty of support, but old habits die hard. Let’s hope the student council gives it a better shot next year. Banning paper is the easy part, though. Some of the most popular kids in school got a mixed reaction for their environmental efforts. Andrew Cuomo’s big no-nukes campaign to shut down Indian Point won him a lot of friends in the Environmental Club, but then they changed their minds when he insisted on getting power from hydrofracking instead. And Mike Bloomberg’s big PlaNYC ideas sounded great, but we sure wish he could have found the money to put up those solar panels on the roof after all.
Okay, so it’s not much of a club yet if it can’t play for real money. But poker is so popular, and everybody at the other schools is doing it, and if they can rent out the gym for bingo games, why can’t the poker club do it too? John Bonacic has been way ahead of the pack saying the poker club could set up tournaments as fund-raisers for the school. If the school board can’t afford to pay for teachers and books and nurses and uniforms, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to raise money that way? It was a big help when Andrew Cuomo came out in favor of it, along with Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos, but it won’t be easy. The whole student body has to vote for it—twice!—and some of them aren’t so sure it’s a good idea for everyone to gamble at cards with their lunch money. And just wait till the Bible Club gets involved! Other students, including Robert Odawi Porter from the Seneca Indian Club and Ray Halbritter from the Oneidas, are upset the poker club would make their own card games outside of school less popular. Let the chips fall where they may!
Daniel S. Burnstein
BEST BIKE LANE SPOKESPERSON
Howard Wolfson He practiced what he preached—and lost 25 pounds.
DECEMBER 19, 2011
WORST BIKE LANE SPOKESPERSON
BEST JOB SWITCH
Janette Sadik-Khan Keeping her under wraps helped her cause.
Matt Wing It’s a big leap from Bill de Blasio to Andrew Cuomo.
WORST JOB SWITCH
Joel Klein Bet he’s getting another kind of education.
Stu d dru entS nk d AgA rivi inSt ng
Let’s be serious for a minute. Drunk driving is really, really bad. So we’re glad our school got a couple of important new members of Students Against Drunk Driving this year to help drive that message home. Our friend Darryl Towns had to take the bus after he had a little drunken-driving thing happen to him when he crashed his car July 3. He sure learned a lesson, though! His license was revoked for six months, and he had to pay $895, and Andrew Cuomo forced him to…well…actually, that was about it. But he’s really, really sorry, and it will never happen again! In fact, we’ve heard Darryl helped another student learn how to always drive carefully. Cathie Black says she wasn’t drunk when she hit a tree in the Hamptons in July, but it sure sounds like she’d been drinking, so she can sure use lessons from Darryl. We’re not sure how much of a role she’ll take in our meetings, though—remember when she was in charge of the younger students and started yelling at their parents? We don’t think she was drunk then, either. But we’re glad nobody got hurt, and now that students see the examples of what happened to Darryl and Cathie, nobody will ever drive drunk again. Just like they didn’t after Vito Fossella got arrested. And John Sweeney. And John Sabini. And Randy Kuhl. And Adam Clayton Powell IV. Did we forget anyone?
gay-Straight Alliance Remember when the Gay-Straight Alliance was a popular club that threw fun parties but wasn’t really taken seriously? Not any more! A lot of it happened because Andrew Cuomo joined—and of course became the president. Any club he’s in, everybody else pretty much wants to join. If Ross Levi and Brian Ellner and Tim Gill minded being pushed down to vice presidents, they kept quiet about it. (Isn’t that always the best way to be around Andrew? Just kidding!) With new sergeants at arms Steve Cohen and Jennifer Cunningham keeping the peace, and supporters like prom queen Christine Quinn working hard, the club was ready to make a difference. But they couldn’t do anything without a majority of the students on their side. So it was a big deal when Shirley Huntley, Joseph Addabbo and Carl Kruger joined in. How hard did Andrew twist their arms? Who knows, but they’re not complaining! Then came James Alesi. He’d been thinking of joining the Gay-Straight Alliance for a while, but it was like crossing to the other side of the cafeteria at lunchtime alone. So hard! But when he did, he was the happiest kid in school. And then came Roy McDonald and Steve Saland and Mark Grisanti behind him. So what do they do now? Well, some of those new members may have to fight hard to stay in school. Let’s see if the rest of the club is there to help them stay!
Nothing plus nothing equals something, right? Just kidding! But that’s the kind of arithmetic magic that our Mathletes were able to pull off all year long, even if we still don’t understand how they did it. The biggest winner was of course the “Bearded One,” Bob Megna. How did he get rid of $10 billion? Well, apparently most of that budget deficit wasn’t really a budget deficit, just some numbers stuff. So he did something on his calculator and made $8 billion or $9 billion just go away. Of course, something had to get cut to make the rest of the deficit vanish, and Mark Page said it came out of his budget instead! We don’t know who’s right, because when those two wonks start arguing, we just smile and try to figure out whose boss is more popular at the moment. Page had his own magic moment this year, when he turned his pockets inside out to show they were empty— then suddenly found the cash so he didn’t have to lay off a whole bunch of teachers. We would have been so sad. Maybe he did it by finding all the money that got siphoned off in CityTime when he wasn’t paying attention? Just kidding! Tom DiNapoli is growing into a Mathlete contender too, and who’s going to argue with him when he’s sitting on a $133 billion pile of money? But he ought to offer a few free comptrolling lessons to John Liu, who clearly can use the help— he’s not actually sure if all the kids giving him money even go to our school!
december 19, 2011
O T O PH B U L C
Y H P GRA
Say cheese! What is it about the Photography Club that turns smart kids dumb? Two club members got in hot water this year after they turned their lenses on themselves—and ended up expelled! The founding member was Chris Lee, who figured his camera phone would be a good way to share pictures of his pecs and meet interesting people down at the satellite campus in Washington. Who knows if he met those people, but he has plenty more time on his hands to do it now! Well, we figured everybody learned from what happened to Chris, but apparently not Anthony Weiner! Do you need to hear again all about what happened with him and his Twitter pictures and those girls from all those other schools? Let’s just say NSFW! He loved his Twitter more than he loved his place in school…and now he doesn’t have either. Careful with those cameras, guys. Objects in the viewfinder are not always larger than they appear.
Nobody loves God more than Bible Club President Ruben Diaz Sr. Well, maybe that’s debatable, but he really is a reverend and lets the whole school know it! Ruben was sure fired up this year, and he brought a lot of friends to flood the hallways in May, when the Gay-Straight Alliance went on the offensive to legalize same-sex marriage. But it wasn’t just about Jesus—they were joined by lots of their Jewish and Catholic friends, though we never figured out where Timothy Dolan was. Maybe he was busy turning the other cheek? Just kidding! The Bible Club lost in the end, but they sure got their message heard. Michael Long also played a helpful role for the Bible Club this year, since his Conservative Party sticks up for all the same things they like—and they open their meetings with prayer, to boot. We always thought Dan Halloran wouldn’t quite fit in with the Bible Club kids. But maybe that’s changing after The Village Voice wrote that his old pagan friends think he’s given up heathenism to push his Catholic roots with voters. Bible Club is open to everybody, Dan! And let’s not forget all the presentations the club heard from students who belong to different religions and wanted to explain their beliefs. Remember when Bob Turner came and told us all about Judaism and Israel? Sure, maybe he’s Irish Catholic, but he sure taught us all a thing or two. Live and learn!
Jim Alesi Slipped on a ladder, then slipped by suing the homeowner.
DECEMBER 19, 2011
The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps had a big year in 2011, teaching their classmates all about patriotism and American citizenship—but there sure was a lot of fuss about it. Newly elected club president Peter King held high-profile meetings to discuss what to do about some of the school’s less Americanized Muslim students. He really really thinks it’s a brewing problem, but not everyone agrees. Plenty of other students didn’t even want to take sides! Another club member, Ray Kelly, also had his eye on his Muslim classmates, eavesdropping on them and following them around after school. He said everybody else ought to thank him for it—and Peter Vallone Jr. was always there to stick up for him. And remember when rich kid Mike Bloomberg bragged about having his own army? That was funny, until Ray and his boys in blue started knocking the journalism kids around, stopping them from doing their jobs. So not cool!
David Paterson He should have been on the radio all along. www.cityandstateny.com
Eliot Spitzer He’s still talking, and just needs someone to listen!
Our year was not without sadness. We lost 10 of our fellows, who left us with indelible memories of their accomplishments and their personalities. We lost a little of ourselves with their passing, but we are proud to remember them here.
Hugh Carey, 92 Richard Daines, Pat Dolan, 72 Died Aug. 7 Died Nov. 15 60 The 51st governor of New York famously warned, “The days of wine and roses are over” in 1975, and led the effort that saved New York City from financial collapse.
Sisa Moyo, 47 Died July 10
The director of media services for the Assembly and spokeswoman for Speaker Sheldon Silver was known for her pleasant demeanor and graciousness, and was beloved by everyone who worked with her.
Geraldine Ferraro, 75
Tom Kirwan, 78 Died Nov. 28
The longtime Queens civic activist The former state was struck and killed health commissioner while crossing Hillside fought unabashedly for Avenue on her way to a science over politics, becoming a YouTube star meeting of her community board’s transportain his crusade for a tax tion committee. on soda to encourage kids to drink milk.
The straight-shooting Newburgh assemThe Queens congressblyman lost his seat in woman made national 2010 and won it right history in 1984 as the first woman nominated back two years later, shaking off his health by a major party to be problems to return to vice president. the Legislature.
Hope Reichbach, 22
Matthew Sapolin, 41
Anthony Seminerio, 75
Died April 28
Died Nov. 29
The daughter of a judge and aide to Councilman Steve Levin was a rising star in Brooklyn politics whose ambitions stretched far beyond the borough.
The head of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office for People With Disabilities was blind since childhood, but inspired everyone with his high-energy life as an accomplished wrestler, musician, chess player and skier.
Died Feb. 26
Died March 26
Guy Velella, 66 Died Jan. 27
The Bronx state senator and former The long-serving head of the county’s Queens assemblyman Republican Party spent his last days in was jailed for several prison after pleading guilty in 2009 to taking months in 2002 on bribery and corrupbribes from hospitals, tion charges, but was the repercussions of which are still being felt remembered for the state funds he delivered in Albany today. to his district. Died Jan. 6
DECEMBER 19, 2011
S P OT L I G H T : CO N ST R U C T I O N & D E V E LO P M E N T
SKY-HIGH COSTS New York City’s construction costs are among the country’s highest—but does it matter? By JON LENTZ
n the new Mission: Impossible film, Tom Cruise’s secret-agent character leaps out of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the planet, and scrambles along its glassy exterior—a stunt that is apparently critical to saving the world. Yet as far-fetched as the scene is, the paltry $1.5 billion spent to build the 162-story Dubai skyscraper may seem just as fantastical—at least compared with the sky-high cost of construction in New York City. To put that $1.5 billion price tag into perspective, it’s less than half the cost of One World Trade Center, which is nearing completion, and wouldn’t be enough to construct a mile of the Second Avenue Subway inching along below Manhattan. Just retrofitting the Empire State Building took more than a third of the money spent to build the sleek Dubai skyscraper. Of course, the comparison is not exactly one of apples and oranges. Unlike Dubai, New York City has one of the oldest, most densely developed urban environments in the world, where almost every inch is already spoken for. Construction companies dig foundations and build skyscrapers while navigating around subway and utility lines, being sure not to crush the older buildings at the edge of their lot lines, and coordinating every truckload of material through some of the nation’s worst traffic. “The logistics are more complicated, and it has a greater impact on the public,” said Lou Coletti, the president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. “That costs money, but it’s absolutely necessary to do to protect worker and public safety. I doubt very seriously that in a place like Dubai they’re under the same stringent safety requirements that contractors are in New York City.”
Yet some worry that New York City’s concrete, which has started rising again, construction costs, which are among the is determined on a global scale, and little highest in the nation, could discourage can be done to offset that expense other investment and push developers to build than setting up suppliers closer to the city or reducing delivery costs. elsewhere. One of the largest costs is often land, “That’s the big fear: Have we reached the threshold, or when will we reach the which in the long-term can be addressed threshold, that people will chose not to build by rezoning, cleaning up brownfields or here and build somewhere else instead?” even extending the city’s landmass by filling in areas along said Hope Cohen, the “That’s the big fear: the waterfront. associate director of Have we reached the But the long-term the Regional Plan Association’s Center for threshold, or when will nature and infeasibility Urban Innovation. “And we reach the threshold, of many of those soluthat goes directly to a that people will chose tions has prompted many to focus instead question of New York’s not to build here and on easing labor and competitiveness, within build somewhere regulatory costs. the nation and also else instead?” Developers and globally.” The cost of construction in New York designers complain about the multitude City, recently pegged at $505 per square of city agencies, often with different stanfoot for Class A office space, is higher than dards and priorities, that have to sign off many other major U.S. cities, including on their plans, a bureaucratic assembly Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, line that can add costs by significantly according to a recent New York Building delaying a project’s ground-breaking. “From a design point of view…time Congress report. A few cities, including San Francisco and Honolulu, have higher costs, is money,” said Rick Bell, president of the New York chapter of the American largely due to their unique geography. “The reasons are many,” said Richard Institute of Architects, who said he is Anderson, president of the Building heartened by recent moves the city has Congress. “We generally pay union skilled taken to use digital technology to accept tradespeople more. We have some ineffi- architectural plans. Still, he argued, “it cient work rules. The cost of government takes a longer time for projects to get and review and regulation is much higher in approved in New York than in any other New York City. And then the general logis- city in the U.S.” Efforts have also been made in a tics of building in a dense urban environround of labor negotiations earlier ment are more complicated.” Besides labor and regulatory costs, this year to cut costs by making work other factors include traffic congestion rules for unionized labor more efficient, that slows down deliveries, high land though it is still unclear how much costs and more expensive designs, espe- impact they will have. “I think there’s a coordinated effort cially for high-profile projects. Many of the factors can be addressed, between labor and contractors and develbut some are harder to change than opers to become more productive, and to others. The cost of supplies like steel and do it through work-rule changes where
you don’t hurt people’s paychecks to try to become more effective,” Coletti said. “Was progress made? I would say yes. Do we need to do more? Yes. That’s the economic reality of it.” What’s unclear is whether high costs are driving construction business elsewhere, and that’s a question that will be hard to answer while the industry is still struggling to recover from the recession. Some argue New York City still has the advantage of being an attractive and lucrative destination for many people and companies. “It’s a place where it costs a little more to build, but you also make a lot more money when you build here,” said City Councilman Mark Weprin, who chairs the zoning subcommittee. “It’s still the greatest city in the world, a draw for businesses and people who want to live here. That comes with the territory.” On a global scale, New York City still is not completely off the charts. London, Tokyo and Sydney currently are more expensive places to build, while Beijing, Hong Kong and Dubai are cheaper, according to data from the Building Congress. And for now, the city doesn’t appear to be losing its competitive edge, Cohen acknowledged, noting that new Class A office-space development is being planned here on a scale that isn’t being done elsewhere in the country. But she warned that simply expecting New York to stay competitive just because it’s New York would be a dangerous mistake. “We don’t want to let Houston overtake us or Chicago overtake us and, globally, London overtake us, or Shanghai overtake us,” Cohen said. “We’re not going to always be able to rest on the laurels of ‘We’re New York and everybody wants to be here.’ ”
The Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai for $1.5 billion. What would the money spent on the world’s tallest building get you in New York City?
Burj Khalifa Cost: $1.5 billion
One World Trade Center Cost: $3.1 billion
8 Spruce Street (a.k.a. Beekman Tower) Cost: $876 million
15 Penn Plaza Cost: $2 billion
New York Times Building Cost: $850 million
DECEMBER 19, 2011
REINFORCING STEEL MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
STRONG SAFE SUSTAINABLE •
46 THE METALLIC LATHERS UNION & REINFORCING IRON WORKERS
A SAFER NEW YORK FOR ALL OF US
Local 46’s skilled craftsmen perform a major role in protecting the safety of its members and…your job site. “On my projects, I need a workforce that is well trained, safety-oriented, and productive. I am proud to have the Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Iron Workers as my partners on the World Trade Center and many other projects. Together, we are building the future of New York City.” Larry Silverstein President & CEO, Silverstein Properties, Inc.
1322 Third Avenue @ East 76th Street New York, NY 10021 Tel: 212-737-0500 Fax: 212-249-1226 Email: LMCTONE@verizon.net www.ML46.org
A MEMBER OF THE
Concrete Alliance, Inc.
S P OT L I G H T :
BUILDING A STRONGER NEW YORK, ONE JOB AT A TIME
Building Trades Employers’ Association www.bteany.com
A Message from Louis J. Coletti President & CEO, Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA) The skyline of New York City can take your breath away. The buildings, tall and strong, scraping the sky, are magnificent to behold. So too are the miles of roads, bridges and mass transit that span across our metropolis and function as the veins for city’s heart of commerce. Those buildings, roads and mass transit projects were built by BTEA contractors and with the hands of building trade union workers. It is a testament to BTEA construction companies, their exceptional project management staff and building trade union workers they supervise. The New York City union construction industry – both the BTEA contractors and building trade unions – are the most sophisticated builders in the world. The only organization that represents union contractors, the BTEA is confident that we produce a superior product, in terms of project management skill, quality, safety and reliability. Our track record speaks for itself. Just look at the incredible projects we have worked on in the last several years that have brought pride and acclaim to our city: Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Madison Square Garden and the World Trade Center, just to name a few. In addition to the quality of construction, our importance to the economic fabric of New York is unparalleled. The good jobs that we create provide the financial support that allows a middle class to flourish in New York City. The middle class serves as an engine that drives the economy as a whole and makes this city a more prosperous place to live and work. Moreover, our industry has always embraced new immigrant communities – bringing them into that middle class – and continues to do so. BTEA contractors keep encouraging minorities and women to enter the construction business to keep that tradition alive. With that said, as times change we must continue to be productive and cost effective to maintain the jobs that will sustain New York as a 21st Century world-class City. The only way to do that is for contractors and labor to adjust to marketplace realities in order to generate the projects that will provide for the next generation of workers. Taken together, BTEA contractors and their building trade unions can be seen as building both the physical and human infrastructure that make this town what it is. So the next time you look at the skyline, keep in mind not only the physical infrastructure, but the construction managers, general contractors, specialty trade contractors and building trade men and women who put them there.
DEcEmbEr 19, 2011
Commissioner, New York Division of Homes
Chair, Senate Committee on Housing,
and Community Renewal
Construction and Community Development
Q: What is the Cuomo administra-
Q: How is the construction
tion doing to boost construction? DT: I think that Governor Cuomo has a sense of the tough economic times that we’re in, and has come up with this concept of regional councils to really help deliver economic development, even during difficult times, by connecting resources with transformative projects and regional priorities, and this concept is allowing us to get the most value out of these projects. These projects are tied in to other activities, so it’s the region’s priorities. These are projects that can be transformative, and that of course puts people to work.
industry doing? Cy: I think there may be pockets around the state where construction is going on, but my concern is to get the economy moving again, and I think we need to do everything we can on a state level to encourage construction projects.
Q: How is the construction industry doing in the state? DT: There are absolutely signs of recovery. We have assured ourselves of having another tremendous building season by going through the [consolidated funding application] process. The whole New York Works package will also be a game changer in regards to putting together a billion dollars’ worth of funds focused on short-term improvements, which will help us in the long run in regard to attracting business investments back to New York’s various regions.
Q: Has HCR had to scale back? DT: I think the same way the state is doing—and certainly because of the leadership of the governor, that we are all being smarter. We have to be efficient. We have to make sure that the projects that we’re selecting are of a high caliber, that they’re passing this regional test. So even during tough times, it gives an opportunity to broaden our partnerships to make sure we’re continuing to be successful in all of our missions, whether it’s creating additional affordable housing or preserving the housing that we have. But we have been able to weather some difficult times and are excited about New York Works’ opportunity to continue this mission, not only in regard to other public works but also in regard to affordable housing.
Q: What can the state do to boost construction? Cy: We’re in the process of holding a series of roundtables to garner academic and industry ideas about how to best target affordable housing, especially in this era of shrinking governmental revenues. We’re very concerned about what’s happening on the federal level, because that will trickle down to the state, and it could impede our ability to be able to build more affordable housing. I hope to take those ideas and translate them into legislation that we can pass in 2012.
Q: What has been done already? Cy: We got the 421a property tax exemption renewed, and that will provide tax incentives for people to invest in new construction. And I was able to get a similar bill for upstate, called 421m, and it could go far in helping to revitalize downtowns. The low-income-housing tax credits right now are coupled together for investors, and a way to really stimulate and open up the market to new investors is to bifurcate the state from the federal low-income-housing tax credits, which would make them more appealing, and hopefully get more people interested.
Q: Could a decline in public spending dampen the recovery in private construction in coming years? Cy: It’s tough to say, because we’re so impacted by the national economy. For example, in my district we have people who are wood manufacturers, who have been seriously affected by the fall in the housing market. So you see it all over the state. That’s why we have to be innovative about ideas, and that’s why I’m having these roundtables and I’m trying to get into the minds of the people who think about these issues every single day.
CO N ST R U C T I O N & D E V E LO P M E N T EXPERT ROUNDTABLE
For over 100 years, long before Occupy Wall Street pointed out the problems of income inequality and the disastrous results of a “race-to-the-bottom” economy, NY State’s Prevailing Rate Law (currently, NY Labor Law, Article 8, Section 220) has existed as bi-partisan, progressive, public policy that addresses the unique dangers posed when employers in the construction industry are left entirely to their own devices. Prevailing rate requires that construction workers on public projects are paid at a wage and benefit rate for their trade that usually matches the local union’s collectively bargained rates. However, bit-by-bit the Courts have emasculated prevailing rate requirements with a series of gaping loopholes. Currently, the construction work associated with items such as affordable housing, charter schools and industrial development escapes prevailing rate coverage while allowing owners, builders and contractors to reap the benefits of significant government subsidies. These loopholes need to be closed before the exceptions entirely subsume the rule.
Land Use Committee
Q: How is the construction
Q: What can the city do to boost
industry doing in New York City? RL: Things are looking up. Permits are up 6.7 percent year over year. New buildings are up almost 3.5 percent. Significant alterations are up almost 6 percent. Demolitions are a precursor to large development or new development, and those are up by almost 10 percent. Those are all good signs. The other is stalled sites. Month over month we continue to see that number fall, and that number falling indicates to me that lenders and developers and foreclosures are getting worked out, and people are taking those jobs back on.
construction? LC: Right now in this negative economy, the main thing that could happen that would be helpful is to streamline the process so that developers and contractors and builders can get their projects ready to ground-breaking as quickly as possible. The more we can do as a city to streamline the process, and expedite the layers of the process, and create more opportunity for building would be better. I’ve had developers tell me that projects, even with complete community support, still take six or seven years to get through the precertification process. That just takes entirely too long.
Q: How many people are using it? RL: We’ve had over 100 different
On the other hand, the loopholes in prevailing rate have enriched many non-union shops working on government subsidized construction while their construction workforce earns poverty wages with no benefits and no formal training. Government subsidies help insulate builders, developers and their trade contractors from market risk. Regardless of the merits of the government program (housing, schools, etc.), the leverage created by the government subsidies shouldn’t be used to drag down the entire construction market and turn decent, middle class construction careers into dead-end jobs. Gradually, these exceptions to the prevailing rate law are consuming the rule in an industry with almost no market-driven backstops that can help protect both workers and the public. If we want to address the justifiable concerns expressed by Occupy Wall Street over the economic disparity created by unbridled capitalism, we need look no further than simply closing the loopholes and putting some teeth back in New York’s prevailing rate statute in 2012.
Brought to you by:
Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 1, New York City and Long Island Labor-Management Committee.
Q: What are the risks if the city doesn’t do enough? LC: We have to do everything we can to encourage the development and redevelopment of the city. It’s an economic engine that creates jobs, and everything we can do to keep that moving helps. We can’t be a stagnant city. We’re competing with major cities all over the world: Dubai, London, Hong Kong, China—even Australia is trying to develop a financial sector. We have to do everything we can to stay a world-class city and compete with other cities.
Prevailing Rate is the Industry Backstop
By setting local wage and benefit floors in the public sector at the collectively bargained rates, prevailing rate helps stabilize the entire construction workforce and ensures that the public receives quality and value for their investment. Prevailing rate makes contractors compete on creativity, efficiency, quality and safety – and not on how little they can pay their workers. Conversely, contractors competing in the public sector are thus incentivized to invest in a highly skilled, safe and efficient workforce. Prevailing rate even rewards those contractors who train their workforce through formal apprenticeship programs. These programs instill the value of hard work and have provided an indispensible pathway out of poverty for generations of workers.
projects come into the Hub. We have another 50 that are perched to show up at our door with their digital plans. The other piece is working on letting people digitally get a permit without ever showing up. We launched limited alteration permits for things like plumbing or fixing a bathroom. You can now go online as a plumber, log in, answer, like, 10 questions, put in your credit card, and get your permit, and never show up at the department. Things being filed digitally can lead to lots of efficiencies on our side, but also efficiencies with other city agencies. For example, there will come a time when you can submit it in one place and I can share with the two other agencies that need to see it. And you don’t need to go there and talk to them. This is a precursor of what I expect to see happening.
Q: Have you seen any improvement by the city? LC: I’ve been asking both the Buildings Department and the mayor’s office of city planning to do more to streamline their process so we can get more economic development done, which would generate revenue from construction work. The mayor came out with an announcement recently about expediting thing with the Buildings Department. City Planning is computerizing more applications, and in the zoning process they’re looking at the precertification process a little better, to come up with some clearer standards to make things faster for people, and more transparent. There are other communities that have full online processing for their applications. The city has adopted some of it. They haven’t adopted all of it.
The Construction Industry’s Race-to-the-Bottom
Construction is a uniquely risky business for several reasons. First, many construction businesses are merely empty shells designed to shield owners from liability but with little or no capital at risk. With respect to workers, the industry can be less than kind: a hyper-competitive, lowest bid, mentality creates a constant downward pressure on wages, benefits, training, safety, and, ultimately, quality. In addition, the casual labor pool is almost always filled to overflowing with hungry workers who possess uneven skill sets and education levels. Because individual workers lack any meaningful bargaining power, non-union employers hold ALL the cards. Even in the unionized sector, employers have extensive control over shaping their workforce since nearly all construction workers are employed “at-will.” These circumstances combine to fuel the industry’s race-to-the-bottom and are especially detrimental to workers and the public -- many of the tasks and tools associated with construction are inherently dangerous and cutting corners can be deadly.
Department of Buildings
ONAL UNIO ATI N
Chair, New York City Council
Commissioner, New York City
Q: What progress has your department made to reduce the bureaucracy? RL: We launched the Hub: No more lines, virtual reviews—and it is the first time in the city’s history where we are accepting digital plans, which allows for lots of really great things to happen.
Building a Better Prevailing Rate for Construction Workers
DECEMBER 19, 2011
S P OT L I G H T : CO N ST R U C T I O N & D E V E LO P M E N T
The MTA and the Port Authority have kept much of the New York City region’s construction industry moving since the recession slammed private development. The MTA has $24 billion worth of projects in its five-year capital plan, including the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access, while the Port Authority has employed thousands of workers in rebuilding the World Trade Center site and its $3.1 billion main tower. In the Bloomberg administration, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky are major players in shaping the construction landscape, spurring development with projects like Hunter’s Point South and the competition for a new tech campus in the city. Other influential figures include Amanda Burden, chair of the New York City Planning Commission, and Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson.
The biggest question going forward is public spending on construction and development. Public work on major projects like the World Trade Center and the Second Avenue Subway has helped prop up the industry, making up more than 60 percent of the market in recent years, according to the New York Building Congress. But the level of spending may fall due to pressure on state and city capital budgets. In particular, funding for the MTA capital plan is in doubt, and any reductions in transit investment would be painful for the construction industry.
PRIVATE SPENDING If public spending declines, private work will become even more critical. Private construction work has been on the rise, but not as fast as the industry had hoped. The forecast for the next few years is manageable, but the outlook for 2013 is a sharp decline, which could result in as few as 90,000 construction jobs in New York City, down from a high of 138,000, according to the New York Building Congress. Other spending by nonprofit institutions like hospitals and universities has been fairly steady and could help buoy the industry.
UNIONS Louis Coletti, the president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association of New York, represents 26 union trade contractors and is the go-to guy for negotiating contracts for contractors and the developers. Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, represents more than 100,000 union workers. Other key figures include Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, and the AFL-CIO, the largest regional federation of public, private and building trade unions. The powerful union 32BJ is frequently involved in large development contracts.
LABOR COSTS One of the myriad factors behind New York City’s high cost of construction is labor. Union leaders say higher wages for their skilled tradespeople are justified by their higher productivity and robust safety record. Developers say those costs are inflated by outdated and inefficient work rules. Project labor agreements, which standardize rules across a large development in exchange for moving forward without strikes, have cut costs somewhat, but unions and their employers disagree on how important they have been. The two sides were able to prevent a threatened strike by many trades this summer with last-minute concessions, but the tensions remain.
HOURLY UNION PAY SCALES FOR SELECTED TRADES (SEPTEMBER 2010)
ASSOCIATIONS The New York Building Congress and its president, Richard Anderson, play a visible role in advocating for the construction industry at the city level. The General Contractors Association of New York, headed by Denise Richardson, works to promote infrastructure investment statewide. The Real Estate Board of New York, the city-based group representing the real estate industry, also works closely with the construction industry.
Carpenter Crane Operator Electrician Elevator Constructor Laborer Plumber Steamfitter Structural Ironworker
TOP STATE CONTRACTORS
1 2 3 4 5
$1.96 BILLION 2010 regional revenue
Los San Washington, Angeles Philadelphia Francisco D.C. $49.47 $61.45 $60.83 $33.38
$66.43 $59.81 $73.45 $77.32
$68.47 $49.60 $68.20 $69.96
$66.40 $53.37 $64.25 $67.23
$69.00 $41.42 $57.18 $57.18
$66.94 $46.40 $67.29 $71.06
$79.34 $41.95 $83.44 $53.12
$60.58 $25.47 $52.49 $52.38
New York $74.81
Source: 2010 3rd Quarterly Cost Report, Engineering News-Record, September 27, 2010 (Note: Includes base rate plus unspecified fringe benefits.)
Turner Construction Co.
via Regional Plan Association
STATE CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT
$1.35 BILLION 2010 regional revenue Lend Lease
$813 MILLION 2010 regional revenue
Hunter Roberts Construction Group
$536 MILLION 2010 regional revenue
Source: ENR New York
DECEMBER 19, 2011
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Structure Tone Organization
All employees, in thousands
2010 regional revenue
Thank You Governor Cuomo and The new York STaTe LeGiSLaTure for Your Public/Private Infrastructure Repair Fund and Your Continued Recognition of the Value that Infrastructure Development Projects Provide for New Yorkers.
District Council 9, IUPAT 45 West 14th Street • New York, NY 10011 Phone: 212.255.2950 • Fax: 212.255.1151 www.dc9.net
Association of Master Painters and Decorators of New York, Inc. 370 7th Avenue, Suite 418 • New York, NY 10001 Phone: 212.697.4790 • Fax: 212.687.4401 www.masterpaintersny.com
S P OT L I G H T : CO N ST R U C T I O N & D E V E LO P M E N T
A proposal to renew IDA financing for nonprofits could boost construction statewide By Jon Lentz
stalled effort to let industrial development agencies provide cheap financing for nonprofits may soon be back on track, paving the way for them to provide a much-needed boost for construction across the state. Legislation in the works in Albany aims to avoid the hurdles that stymied similar measures in recent years, freeing the IDAs
Governments, said his legislation would reauthorize IDAs to provide tax-exempt financing for nonprofits, and also require them to be more transparent. But a set of controversial prevailingwage requirements for IDA-financed projects is likely to be discarded or scaled back. Unions have pushed to expand prevailing wages to some workers, such as janitors and cleaners, at employers located in those projects. The business
“Getting these projects unwound and online would certainly create a lot of construction jobs.” to help large nonprofits like hospitals and universities across New York—something they haven’t been able to do since 2008. “Getting these projects unwound and online would certainly create a lot of construction jobs,” said Brian McMahon, executive director of the New York State Economic Development Council, which represents IDAs. “Many of those would be union construction jobs, and it would generate significant capital investment.” Assemblyman William Magnarelli, who chairs the Standing Committee on Local
community has said that would raise costs and stall projects—and so far they have stalled broader reform efforts as well. Those requirements, backed by organized labor, were included in earlier legislation and were blamed for bogging down broader efforts at reform. “What I’d like to do is at least get the ball rolling, and to take care of not-forprofits and allow them to use the IDAs as well, but also get into things about transparency and openness,” Magnarelli said. New York has an estimated 114 IDAs,
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DEcEmbEr 19, 2011
which provide tax incentives to businesses to spur local economic development. Counties or municipalities set them up as public benefit corporations, many with only a few staffers. Some have overlap in staffing with the local government, but each IDA has its own board of directors and is intended to be independent. Over the years IDAs have come under scrutiny for incomplete reporting, lack of transparency and questionable effectiveness. But efforts to reform the system and renew nonprofit financing have been tied up with the wage question. “What we’re looking for is a system that’s more transparent—and that companies are held accountable for creating good jobs,” said Matthew Nerzig, a spokesman for the building workers union 32BJ, which pushed for prevailing wages in past legislation. “Implicit with the notion that they shouldn’t be creating poverty jobs is some kind of wage higher than minimum wage.” IDAs counter that wage requirements would drive up the cost of projects beyond the value of their incentives. Yet even without wage rules, IDAs may balk at further legislation to increase oversight, especially after the Public Authorities
Accountability Act of 2005 and the Public Authorities Reform Act of 2009 already instituted some stricter standards. For McMahon, the main goal is renewing financing for nonprofits. When IDAs lost that authority in 2008, nearly $2.5 billion in nonprofit construction and expansion projects were put on hold, he said. Some of those projects have since found other financing, many through local development corporations created to fill the gap, but other projects have been unable to break ground. Last week New York City took matters into its own hands and launched Build NYC, a new entity to offer tax-exempt financing for nonprofits. Earlier this year, the city said about 20 nonprofit capital projects totaling more than $400 million were on hold because they failed to secure financing. But Magnarelli said his legislation would offer the best way forward. “I would rather see it done through organizations that have a track record, that know what they’re doing, and that will be able to be monitored with proper legislation,” he said. email@example.com
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S P OT L I G H T : CO N ST R U C T I O N & D E V E LO P M E N T
DESIgNINg AND BUILDINg
New legislation could spark more infrastructure construction across New York By Jon Lentz
hanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, contractors in New York are now allowed to both design and build state construction projects, which supporters say could spur more construction and help fix up the state’s aging infrastructure. The design-build clause was approved as part of Cuomo’s grand tax-reform bargain, but was lost in the shadows of larger reform of the state’s tax code. Unlike the current bidding process, in which a state agency designs a project and bids it out to contractors, the new design-build procurement authority will allow the state to bid out the Tappan Zee Bridge restoration and other megaprojects with only the general outlines, and award both the design and building to a single contractor. Supporters say the new legislation will finally bring the state up to speed with modern procurement practices across the country, and cut costs by having a single entity carry out both roles more efficiently while avoiding costly design changes once projects have already broken ground.
DEcEmbEr 19, 2011
Daniel S. Burnstein
“It’s a tool that they need to have that will help to advance the Tappan Zee Bridge, and there are lots of other places that it can be used,” said Felice Farber, director of external affairs for the General Contractors Association of New York. “With the cutback in state revenues and state in-house staff and state consulting work, there’s virtually no design work happening. So when we finally have the
money to build something, we’ll have nothing designed, and nothing sitting on the shelf.” Public-employee unions have been leery of the change, since design-build procurement could take away construction design jobs within state government. But Farber argued that the new legislation would only create more private jobs. “There should be a strong and healthy
state workforce that has design skills and the ability to do work in-house and to oversee design-build programs,” Farber said. “So it should not be something that takes away from in-house work.” The procurement method is not ideal for every project, experts said, though it could boost construction across the state in some circumstances. But others said the advantages of using design-build procurement are more mixed. Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said Albany will continue to be responsible for scoping projects, or setting out the initial framework for a project and finding a location. He warned that any efficiencies gained by having a state entity do both the scoping and design work would be lost, offsetting the gains from having a private party do both the design and the construction. “Whatever efficiencies might exist by separating those two out, you lose the connection between the scoping people and the designing people,” he said. “On balance there’s no reason in the world not to try it. But it is by no means a magic bullet.” firstname.lastname@example.org
A Culture of
Corruption HPD’s assistant commissioner for new construction was indicted and that’s only the beginning… Workers are still being asked to kick back wages and HPD contractors have again been caught red-handed! Just look at the list…how much longer can New Yorkers allow HPD to operate with corruption and cheating as a mission statement?
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B AC K & F O R T H
ay Halbritter has spent decades investing in the Oneida Indian Nation, whose most prominent business is the Turning Stone, the first legal casino in the state. Halbritter has been a representative of the Oneida Nation since 1975 and, since 1990, chief executive officer of Nation Enterprises, which employs nearly 5,000 people, running the casino and its 285-room luxury hotel, a convention center and a championship-level golf course. But the casino’s profits could be threatened in coming years as Gov. Andrew Cuomo builds support for fullscale gaming across New York. Halbritter argues that Native American establishments should continue to be the only option for Vegas-style gambling, since their profits are spent and reinvested in the state. And in keeping with the Oneida’s tradition of looking forward to the seventh generation in making decisions today, Halbritter tells City & State that Indians living on their own land will stay and keep their casinos open even in hard times, whereas other casinos would have no obligation to stay. What follows is an edited transcript.
City & State: The governor is exploring legalization of full-scale casino gambling. Is that a good idea? Ray Halbritter: I think that New Yorkers are wise not to look any further than Atlantic City to remember what happens to cities that pin their hopes on the commercialized gambling industry, which is different than Indian gaming. It’s fundamentally different because we are governments that are obligated to invest our revenues and resources into our ancestral homelands and our surrounding communities right here in New York, and that’s the real story about Indian gaming economically. Other commercialized gambling companies will be siphoning their profits to far-flung shareholders, whereas Indian nations have a commitment and loyalty to our land, our people and our communities. We’re not going to outsource our jobs, nor will we relocate anywhere else. So that’s a fundamentally important difference. CS: But the state’s nine racetrack casinos, which want expanded gaming, say half of their profits already go to funding public education, whereas Native American casinos do not contribute any money directly to the state. RH: These commercialized gambling interests have shareholders all around the world, and their money goes all over. Indian communities, their profits are 100 percent into the local business opportunity. For example, we have a payroll that exceeds $125 million a year; we spend more than $285 million in goods and services, and we’re not going to leave. We’re here for the long-term. This state has seen many companies leave when the economic climate changes, and these companies go wherever they can make the most profit. Indian governments are different than that. All of those revenues are spent in the local communities with our nation. Certainly we contract with companies that are outside the state, but that is our commitment. CS: Can you summarize the Oneidas’ compact with the state that allows for gaming? RH: The compact, as it was negotiated and
agreed to, allows us to do gaming here. We pay millions of dollars toward the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to come and be on site 24 hours a day, as well as the state police to be on site 24 hours a day, as well. There’s an allocation to investigate and license vendors and employees, and those obligations are something we agreed to and contracted for in our agreement. I’m sure some of the other agreements are very similar.
depleted revenues from the city, leaving it crime-ridden, blighted and with an uncertain future. That industry is not obligated to care about the long-term future of communities where they locate. Their only operational concern is to exploit opportunities that promise the greatest immediate returns wherever they find them. CS: Is nearby Vernon Downs a strong competitor to your casino? RH: It’s a harness racetrack, and they have VLT machines there. I think there’s enough base here for the guests here to work. We’re positioned differently. They’re a racetrack. We’re a destination resort with a spa and hotel, and we have a golf destination, we have championship courses, so we’re a destination resort. They’re basically a harness track with some VLTs. We’re positioned, really, as a property quite a bit differently. CS: The state’s racinos, which want expanded gaming, have also criticized Atlantic City, but their argument is that the problem is the cluster of casinos in one location. RH: I don’t think that’s the issue. The issue isn’t that; it’s that commercialized gambling simply exploits the revenues wherever they can find them. They don’t invest in those communities the way other businesses do. They don’t have that long-term commitment. That’s the false choice that New Yorkers are being asked to consider.
CS: Is there an exclusivity clause that prevents other casinos in the region? RH: We don’t have an exclusivity clause in our compact. CS: How profitable is the Turning Stone casino? RH: I report our information to my people and my council, but it’s proprietary. We use our money as a government, so all of the money doesn’t go to individuals as they do in commercialized gambling. They go to our nation as a whole, and we pay for services for our members, for housing, health care, legal services for those that need it. We pay for our own court system, law enforcement, a police force. We take care of our own roads and our members and our children and elders, and just numerous responsibilities that governments do, as well as the fact that it alleviates that burden from local community organizations that need to take care of services like that for people that need. But we’re able to now fund those ourselves. CS: How have you improved the economic status of the Oneidas? RH: We’ve been able to establish an educational fund that has helped our people, and a great [number] go back to college, go back to school and get degrees and advanced degrees. We’ve been able to provide housing for our members and for jobs for our members, and we’ve built a children’s and elders’ center that are housed in the same building so they’re
CS: Is there any possibility of a compromise? RH: Was there any middle ground reached in Atlantic City? There’s no middle ground. That’s how the industry works. Certainly the economy causes Photo courtesy of the Oneida Indian Nation us to consider making a number of able to live and be with one another. We choices, but New Yorkers don’t want to have existed here since time immemo- make a choice. If you’re going to make rial, and we are taught by our culture a choice, understand what exactly it is since time immemorial that when we are you’re getting into, and the realities—and making decisions, to think in terms of the I think when they understand that, I think seventh generation in the future. That’s they will make a different choice. why our commitment here is that we will always be here. We won’t leave when the CS: How is your investment in film grass gets greener economically some- production going? place else. All of our revenues are spent RH: Some years ago we started a filmproduction company, and we’ve produced to look forward to future generations. two animated features based on legends of CS: Have you been in communication our people that teach lessons to our children. So we animated these on film. We with the state or done any lobbying have now been involved in a film that is on this issue? RH: We haven’t. The commercialized based on a book written about our Oneida gambling industry doesn’t have those Nation’s contributions in the Revolutionary commitments to our state. It’s a short War. Some of our people saved Marquis de vision to think about pinning your solutions Lafayette’s life during that campaign—and on commercialized gambling. We don’t many other stories that have heretofore have to look any farther than Atlantic City been unknown to the general public—but to see what happens when we look to the we are hoping to bring that feature to the commercial gambling industry as a solu- general public some time in the future. tion to economic problems. The commu—Jon Lentz nity in Atlantic City has been victimized email@example.com for decades by the gambling industry, that
december 19, 2011
Some footprints are bigger than others
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Recover Energy-from-Waste. Each year, Americans recycle approximately 110 million tons of waste, but still landfill 250 million tons more. Take that landfilled waste and turn it into energy and you could power more than 11 million homes and offset 250 million tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of pulling 41 million cars off the road.
The December 19, 2011 issue of City and State . Targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and issues which shape New York City...
Published on Dec 19, 2011
The December 19, 2011 issue of City and State . Targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and issues which shape New York City...