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A Brief History of Mayoral Vacations By Nick Powell Council Watch: Friendly Fire By Seth Barron


The Battle for the State Senate Shifts By Jon Lentz Playing Poli-Scrapple By Susan Arbetter Small Business Matters By Azure Gilman and Mylique Sutton High Stakes Surround New York’s $8 Billion Medicaid Waiver By Azure Gilman


Can Safety Standards Keep Pace With America’s Fossil Fuel Boom? By Wilder Fleming

SPOTLIGHT: MASS TRANSPORTATION Two State Public Authorities Face Possible Reinvention By Azure Gilman Can Technology Help New York City Subways Handle Increased Ridership? By Louis Cheslaw Pipe Dreams: A Map of Unrealized Projects By Jon Lentz Q & A’s with Pat Foye, Tom Prendergast, Polly Trottenberg, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Rep. Jerrold Nadler


Alexis Grenell on Vito Lopez and Shelly Silver...Jim Heaney on Buffalo school reform...New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams on gun control.


A Q & A with Col. Eric Hesse (Ret.), New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs Director


A Q & A with Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson


Publisher Andrew A. Holt

Editor-in-Chief Morgan Pehme

Art Director Guillaume Federighi

Vice President of Advertising Jim Katocin

Managing Editor Michael Johnson

Graphic Designer Michelle Yang

Business Manager Jasmin Freeman

Albany Bureau Chief Jon Lentz

Marketing Graphic Designer Charles Flores,

Developement Scott Augustine

City Hall Bureau Chief Nick Powell

Illustrator Danilo Agutoli


Office Administrator Kyle Renwick

Chairman Steve Farbman

Reporter Ashley Hupfl

Distribution Czar Dylan Forsberg

Columnists Alexis Grenell, Bruce Gyory, Nicole Gelinas, Michael Benjamin, Seth Barron, Jeff Smith, Jim Heaney, Gerson Borrero, Susan Arbetter

Reporter Azure Gilman

Interns Mylique Sutton, Louis Cheslaw, Paulina Tam, Peter Farag

President/CEO Tom Allon



Reinventing the Rail By Nicole Gelinas


61 Broadway, Suite 2825 New York, NY 10006 Editorial (212) 894-5417 General (646) 517-2741 Advertising (212) 894-5422



July 21, 2014

Associate Editor Helen Eisenbach

city & state — July 21, 2014



city & state — July 21, 2014


s Mayor de Blasio prepares to jet off on a getaway to Italy, I would like to recommend a book for him to read on the plane: A Tale of Two Cities. Of course, the mayor owes a debt of gratitude to Charles Dickens’ 1859 masterpiece, the title of By Morgan Pehme which he appropriated Editor-in-Chief to great effect during his campaign to encapsulate its overarching theme of taking on New York City’s plight of income inequality. What de Blasio meant by “A Tale of Two Cities” was abundantly clear, even to those who had never read the book or only skimmed the Cliff’s Notes in school. New York has become—and, it should be noted, has always been—a city of haves and have-nots, where for the privileged few it is the best of times, while for the rest of us it is the worst of times. Clearly the mayor doesn’t need to revisit the book as a reminder of the inequities between the classes. My reason for suggesting he do so is inspired by the novel’s denouement, in which Dickens movingly exemplifies one of the noblest traits vested in humanity, and one that de Blasio will have to harness if he is to succeed in his ambitious aim to narrow the city’s chasmic economic divide. At the end of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Darnay, the husband of the book’s heroine, Lucie Manette, is unjustly sentenced to death, his only crime the misfortune of having been born a 1-percenter. However, on the morning that he is to be taken to the guillotine, Sydney Carton, a vacuous lawyer who looks nearly identical to Darnay, redeems the meaninglessness of his life by orchestrating a ruse to take Darnay’s place on the scaffold—a final, profound expression of his unrequited love for Lucie. Through Carton’s grand gesture, Dickens demonstrates a mighty virtue that has essentially disappeared from our political discourse: self-sacrifice. In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy entreated the nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” What politician today dares to ask the public for anything but their vote? In New York City, as elsewhere, our elected officials are so desperate to stay on the good side of their constituents that their fundamental approach to politics and policy revolves around maintaining the charade that government can

give the people everything they want while asking nothing in return. It’s time our leaders were honest. The grave challenges Mayor de Blasio so rightly identified during his campaign are far too great for his or any administration to overcome if he does not channel the power of the people to help surmount them. No New Yorker I know expects our sole responsibility as citizens to be showing up at the polls. Yet because that’s the only end to which our politicians ever try to engage us, a staggering percentage of us now shun even this most basic form of civic engagement as a cynical, pointless enterprise. Mr. Mayor, we are a city of enormous talent, drive, ability, ingenuity and passion. We don’t need the government to coddle or infantilize us—to sell us on saccharine fantasies that shelter us from the hard reality that we all must contribute, like the fanciful notion that if only the richest New Yorkers paid a minuscule sliver more of their income in taxes, we would somehow be well on our way to a more just and equitable society. Level with us. Enlist our support. Tap into our strength. It will not be a demonstration of weakness on your part but a stirring affirmation of your belief in the people you have worked so hard to represent. In these times of great struggle, all of us have grown well accustomed to making sacrifices for the good of our loved ones. Have the courage now to ask us to make sacrifices for the good of our beloved city. We will not let you down. If you do, it will be a far, far better thing for you to do than you have ever done.

Letters to the


Reflecting upon former state Sen. Roy Goodman’s death, City & State editor Morgan Pehme bemoaned a lost breed THE of politician: the Rockefeller Republican. As a proud Rockefeller Republican, the news here is that the Bushes and the Cheneys and the assortment of clowns now “leading” the Republican Party have made me a Democrat. While this may be the outcome the crackpots wanted, I can promise you that Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon (both of whom I supported) would chase this crowd out, once they stopped laughing at the stupidity. The GOP “big tent” now finds room for every sideshow in the country with a single price of admission (as long as you have voter ID). —Michael Claes (via Spotlight:


Special Section:


June 16, 2014





In his debut column, Jim Heaney riffed off New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign slogan to make the point that Buffalo was also experiencing a “Tale of Two Cities.” I guess James Heaney expects the entire City of Buffalo to revitalize equally and instantaneously. Should a half century of decline reverse itself immediately? Should neighborhoods with historically low-quality housing stock fare as well as neighborhoods with much better stock? How about neighborhoods that have lost 70+ percent of their population—should they do as well as any other neighborhood? Of course not. Heaney’s article serves no point other than to say everything is not perfect in Buffalo. Nor is it anywhere else, Jim. —Publius V. Publicola (via

In his June 16 cover story, Matthew Hamilton wrote about the battle to keep the Bills football team in Buffalo. The Western New York fan cheer revised: No longer “Go Bills!” [but] “Stay Bills!” —Don Roth (via

To have your letter to the editor considered for publication, leave a comment at, tweet us @CityAndStateNY, email or write to 61 Broadway, Suite 2825, New York, NY 10006. Letters may be edited for clarity or length.

CORRECTION: As the result of a printing error, a map of New York’s military bases that appeared in City & State’s June 30 issue misplaced the facilities’ locations. It also mislabeled Watervliet Arsenel as Watervliet Armory.


The Must-Read in NY Politics Since 2006 See how it all started.

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On the evening of June 17 City & State hosted a reception for its 2014 Albany 40 under 40 Rising Stars awardees on the rooftop terrace of Taste Albany. This year’s class of honorees included up-and-coming elected officials, advocates, consultants, operatives, union leaders and journalists.

city & state — July 21, 2014


Eric Katz

Jessica Cherry

Andrew Ball

State Sen. John Bonacic

Kayla Lott

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Nathan Schaeffer

Steven Friedman


“A lot of times I just feel like [the Capitol] is such a slithery place. There are so many wonderful things happening in the community, you meet amazing people working really hard, and then you walk into the Capitol and the people who are there representing us are just people I don’t really want to know in my personal life.” —Rising Star Sara Niccoli, executive director, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State and Palatine Town Supervisor

Candice Giove Emily Giske

Julian Kline

Karen Scharff

Jessica Wisneski


“Keep swinging. Don’t take no for an answer. To me the answer is always yes. And if it is no, then you have to find a way to get to yes.”

Richard Thomas


Joseph Canovas

Karanja Augustine

city & state — July 21, 2014

— Rising Star Richard Thomas, director, New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance and Mount Vernon City Councilman




ew York City mayors, they’re just like us!

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he would be leaving next week on an eight-day family vacation to Italy with his wife, Chirlane, and their children, Chiara and Dante. Aside from a brief getaway as mayor-elect in Puerto Rico right after the 2013 general election, this marks the first time that Mayor de Blasio has taken extended time off, and is reportedly the longest vacation taken by a mayor in 25 years. New York City mayoral vacations are almost never simple, fun-filled excursions. Some are fraught with controversy, others are innocuous trips with media present, and some are a mix of business and leisure. Starting as far back as Fiorello La Guardia up through Michael Bloomberg, City & State compiled a brief history of how some of the Big Apple’s mayors spent their downtime.


city & state — July 21, 2014

FIORELLO LA GUARDIA (1934–45) De Blasio often cites the “Little Flower” as one of his political heroes, but while current the mayor has wasted no time in scheduling his first vacation, La Guardia was supposedly famous for taking very few days off. Shortly after La Guardia had taken office in 1934, a reporter asked whether he planned on taking a vacation, to which the diminutive Italian-American replied, “That depends on the budget—both the city’s and my own.” Interestingly, according to LaGuardia Airport, a book about the history of the airport that bears his name, Mayor La Guardia’s convoluted return flight from a vacation was the impetus for the construction of the airport. The mayor reportedly refused to deplane in Newark, claiming that since his ticket said “New York, he would only step off the plane on New York soil. The plane instead landed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, where La Guardia noted that the small field was too far from Manhattan to meet the needs of commercial airlines and their passengers. Still smarting from almost having to disembark in New Jersey, La Guardia would later purchase North Beach Airport in Queens, a small airfield at the time, with the intention of developing it into a full-scale commercial flight air terminal. Soon thereafter La Guardia became the first mayor of a major United States city to lobby the federal government to pay for the construction of a metropolitan airport, getting the FDR administration to largely pick up the tab. Fittingly, there is now a renewed call from city, state and federal legislators to renovate the outdated LaGuardia, one of the busiest airports in the entire country.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (2001-2013) Of all of the mayors on this list, no one matches Bloomberg in quality of vacations. The billionaire mayor has a compound in Bermuda where he would reportedly spend many of his weekends—though exactly how many weekends is unclear, as the mayor’s office kept most of his getaways under wraps. Upon entering office in 2001, Bloomberg told the press: “The public has a right for their employees to conduct their private lives in a way that doesn’t embarrass the city. But short of that, there’s absolutely no reason why I should not be able to have a social life, a personal life, without having the public involved in it.” Bloomberg’s desire for privacy came back to bite him when his private plane was discovered in Bermuda right before a devastating blizzard that shut down the city in 2011. Airports closed, mass transit ground to a halt and streets went days without being unplowed, in a town that normally handles snow removal with great success. While the city never confirmed that Bloomberg was indeed out of town before the weather crisis—he ended up making it back before the storm was over—the mere optics of New York City buried under a mountain of white came to symbolize Bloomberg’s sometimes detached personality. cit

CIT Y WILLIAM O’DWYER (1946-1950) O’Dwyer is best known for resigning as mayor amid a police scandal in Brooklyn—and subsequently taking a job as ambassador to Mexico under President Harry Truman—but before that O’Dwyer was a popular public figure who evidently was not shy about taking frequent vacations, for which he was often criticized, and carousing with various women. Unfortunately for him, several of those trips would be cut short or scrapped as a result of controversy back home. O’Dwyer’s Christmas trip to the West Coast in 1947 was interrupted because of an impending storm back east. O’Dwyer would cancel another California vacation in 1948 in order to fly to the city to rule on a potential subway and bus fare increase. One year later Dwyer would cut short a vacation in Mexico to deal with a three-day old bus strike in the city—the seventh time O’Dwyer had to cancel a vacation to tend to a municipal crisis.

ED KOCH (1978-1989) The quintessential New York City mayor— constantly peppering New Yorkers on the street with his trademark “How’m I doin’?”—Koch nonetheless managed to carve out considerable downtime for himself. Over the course of his three terms in office, he visited Israel, Spain, Ireland, Poland and Hungary, among other destinations. His Poland and Hungary trip was the longest vacation taken by a New York City mayor until de Blasio announced his Italy excursion. Koch, whose family is Polish, spent part of his trip visiting the Nazi death camps Auschwitz and Birkenau; his aunt and uncle had died at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

ROBERT WAGNER (1954-1965) JOHN LINDSAY (1966-1973) Despite being a Republican, Lindsay was seen as the great liberal hope of the late 1960s and was also something of a celebrity mayor, hobnobbing with Robert Redford out in Provo, jetting down to the Bahamas to play tennis with then Sen. Jacob Javits and bringing an excitement to the city during a turbulent time. One of Lindsay’s more famous political moments came after a brief vacation toward the end of his tenure as mayor in the summer of 1971. He returned home from a trip to Colorado to announce that he would be switching his registration to the Democratic Party in order to seek the 1972 Democratic nomination for president. Said Lindsay, “Whether this means I will run for president, I do not know. But it does mean that I am firmly committed to taking an active part in 1972 to bring about new national leadership.” Lindsay would eventually launch a brief, unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination.

Like O’Dwyer, Wagner cut a vacation short to deal with an escalating situation back in the city. While O’Dwyer’s crises were mostly weather- or labor-related, however, Wagner’s vacation was interrupted by the burgeoning civil rights movement. Wagner had taken a European vacation in the summer of 1964 at a time when hundreds of black New Yorkers in Harlem held a three-day demonstration over racial inequality. When the demonstration reportedly grew violent, with riots breaking out as well as fights with policemen, Wagner was forced to return to the city sooner than expected. By the time he arrived home, further riots had erupted in black neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The FBI investigated the disturbances, which some news accounts called “anti-American.” Wagner’s deputy mayor, Paul Screvane, who had been acting mayor while Wagner was away, went as far as to allege that the disturbances in the city had been incited by “fringe groups, including the Communist Party,” a claim Wagner said he would investigate.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI (1994-2000) No recent mayor took a harder line against vacations than Giuliani, a stance that fit his no-nonsense, iron-fisted style as mayor. Two years into his first term, The New York Times noted that Giuliani had not taken a single vacation day, aside from slipping away for several long weekends in the Hamptons with friends. The mayor worked painstakingly to uphold his image of dogged exertion, claiming to get only four or five hours of sleep a night and refusing to wear an overcoat at winter press conferences or to take off his suit jacket during sweltering summer events. His vacation days were so rare that reporters marveled at the fact that he took some time off during a business trip to Miami in 1998 to play several rounds of golf. Giuliani’s anti-vacation mantra was not limited to himself. He even rolled back vacation time for new city employees, giving them 10 days instead of the previously allotted 20. cit

Dinkins, a tennis buff, would often take time off during the U.S. Open to enjoy some of the action in Queens, and used most of his vacation days in the city. The few times Dinkins did travel abroad, he was hit with criticism—and in one case a national crisis. The first controversy arose when Dinkins accepted an offer to attend the Compaq Grand Slam Cup in Munich, Germany, at the behest of the German promoter at a time when the city’s crime rate was becoming problematic. Dinkins insisted the promoter had no ties to the United States Tennis Association and that the trip did not pose a conflict of interest. “I don’t expect that I should get gold stars because I’m willing to make such a trip,” Dinkins told reporters at City Hall. “But I certainly don’t expect to be condemned for doing what I think is in the best interests of our city.” During one of Dinkins’ final foreign trips in 1993, a trade mission to Japan, the World Trade Center was attacked when a bomb hidden inside a van exploded in an underground garage. NY1 was the only local television station covering the Japan trip. When news of the bombing broke, Dinkins delivered a televised address to New Yorkers before immediately flying back to the city.

city & state — July 21, 2014

DAVID DINKINS (1990-1993)





city & state — July 21, 2014


committed they are to taking on the powers that be—as if they were not among them. This spectacle has become particularly absurd since the progressive movement took control of both wings of City Hall. Now, with there being virtual ideological and political unanimity between the branches of government, Council members have to be more creative than ever to generate disputes which occasion them the opportunity to grandstand. For example, at a May 6 Education Committee hearing about charter schools, Councilman Antonio Reynoso lit into Laura Feijoo, senior superintendent in the New York City Department of Education’s Office of School Support, in regard to “overthe-counter students.” Over-thecounter students are children whose education has been interrupted for a variety of reasons—recent immigrants, for example, or kids who have just moved to New York—who as a result have not yet been assigned to a school when the academic year begins. Reynoso, angry that charter schools, which assign spaces based on oversubscribed lotteries, are generally exempt from taking over-the-counter students, vented his frustration at Feijoo, whose 25-year career in New York public education has culminated in her recent appointment to the de Blasio administration. After asking Feijoo to define “over-the-counter,” he interrupted her explanation, accusing her of “not getting to the point of my question.” Reynoso then proceeded to harangue Feijoo over the question of whether over-the-counter students are more needy than students generally. “That’s often true,” agreed Feijoo.

New York City Councilman Antonio Reynoso

“Often, if not always true,” snapped Reynoso, who went on to deliver an attack on state education policy, casting Feijoo as its embodiment. “You can explain what the law is, what the procedure is, what policy is, but if your policy is not assisting these schools to succeed and the students to succeed, then you need to change them,” proclaimed Reynoso to applause from the audience. The absurdity of this interchange is that Reynoso’s posturing was directed at an official who had nothing to do with the policy he was talking about, who probably agrees with him, and who represents an administration that Reynoso is utterly allied with in every respect. Can anyone who knows anything about Reynoso, who served his predecessor Diana Reyna as her chief of staff, honestly envision him staking out a meaningful position independent of the progressive political machine of which he is a grateful cog? Of course not. The sole purpose of Reynoso’s performance was to elicit some tepid approbation and allow him to strike a noble pose against injustice. Of course, Reynoso wasn’t the only elected generating a head of rhetorical cit



ew York City Council hearings tend to be placid, almost soporific affairs. But from time to time individual Council members decide to stage a bit of theater, especially when confronting an administration official. In these cases, Council members pontificate, speechify, bully and generally chew up the scenery in order to prove to the cameras and the assembled crowd how

steam at the charter school hearing. Public Advocate Letitia James spoke at length about the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, drawing an explicit comparison between Topeka’s practice of racial segregation and the privileged funding and operation of charter schools, which serve an almost exclusively minority population. Councilman Daniel Dromm, the Education Committee chair, went further, comparing charter school enrollment practices (by law lottery-driven) to “apartheid.” The officials who sit through these rants typically maintain a posture of grin-and-bear-it, knowing that they have to eat their fair share from the plate and do so smilingly. Indeed, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A senior mayoral aide from a prior administration notes, “It is debatable in New York City whether the City Council is constitutionally an effective counterweight to the power of the mayor. Structurally, the mayor has most of the balance of power, and it is in these kinds of hearings where the Council members have the opportunity to bring some heat and light to

bear. It isn’t fun to sit through a browbeating, but ultimately you’d rather be playing with the mayor’s hand than the Council’s.” So while it may be

embarrassing to watch Council members playact Daniel Webster, one supposes that it would be worse if administration officials faced only anodyne questioning.



ecently Councilwoman Margaret Chin, explaining her vote for the creation of a municipal identification card, said a few things that make, if such a thing exists, the opposite of sense. Arguing against the idea that the municipal ID is primarily intended for undocumented immigrants, Chin said, “There are a lot of people with green cards that don’t have ID.” Is Margaret Chin somehow unaware that the “green card” is actually and literally a form of federally issued picture ID, and that legal resident aliens thus definitely already possess ID? Then, disputing the idea that it is somehow a normal thing to get a picture ID from the state Department of Motor

Vehicles, Chin said, “Many of us don’t drive! So for us to get a nondriver’s ID, we have to have so many forms and documents. And where do you go to get a nondriver’s ID? It is very difficult to find. I had a very hard time finding a motor vehicle place to do it.” It couldn’t have been that difficult: There is a DMV office on Greenwich Street, in Chin’s district, a mile from her district office and a 15-minute walk from City Hall.

Seth Barron (@NYCCouncilWatch on Twitter) runs City Council Watch, an investigative website focusing on local New York City politics.


Prudent Planning, Energy Policies Can Keep Transit on Track By Lenore Janis

The Metropolitan Transit Authority operates one of the most extensive and expensive transportation systems in the world. It is a vital part of New York’s infrastructure; according to the American Public Transportation Association, the MTA was responsible for 3.5 billion trips in 2013. In its recent annual report, the Authority highlighted record ridership numbers with growth averaging above 2.0 percent annually. These days, travel in the New York region no longer conforms to a 9 to 5 construct nor is it restricted to travel between the “burbs” and Manhattan. The workforce includes reverse commuters to Westchester and Long Island and to tech centers in Queens and Brooklyn. Workers traveling 24/7 results in daily ridership eclipsing 8.5 million people, up 58 percent since 1992. The forecast of more volatile weather conditions looms on the horizon, placing greater demands on the MTA. Superstorm Sandy paralyzed transit with unprecedented flooding amounting to $5 billion in damage. The MTA will need a more resilient system. This includes hardening subways to water intrusion and other measures to absorb systemic shocks caused by Mother Nature and unplanned challenges. Protecting passengers with strengthened security, replacing obsolete signals, redesigning stations to better accommodate the elderly and disabled will contribute toward enhanced safety. Utilizing alternative fuel and electric buses should also be a top MTA priority to reduce its carbon footprint. Furthermore, the most recent $15 billion capital plan along with the MTA’s commitment to diversity contracting offers promising opportunities to accomplish these goals in collaboration with small, woman, and minorityowned businesses.


Bringing these concepts to construction is going to take strategic planning, and fiscally prudent energy policies to ensure projects don’t get off track. Power supply problems plagued Metro-North commuters in September 2013; however, after a close review of the MTA’s balance sheet we learn that commuters system wide are being crushed by out-of-control electric costs. Since the state stopped purchasing power from Indian Point in 2012, the MTA’s “traction and propulsion power costs” have skyrocketed by $190 million. This is an average of $63 million per year of diverted monies that could have been reinvested into infrastructure repairs following Superstorm Sandy, or simply funding debt service or workforce needs. Given that 19 million sq. ft. of new offices and the jobs to fill that space will be here by 2018, expanding the capacity and reliability of our transportation systems is a priority. Proper planning and energy management will help New Yorkers continue to roll. Lenore Janis is president and a co-founder of Professional Women in Construction,, a nonprofit organization established in 1980. A member of New York AREA, PWC is committed to advancing entrepreneurial, professional and managerial opportunities for women and other "non-traditional" populations in construction and related industries.

Councilman Daniel Dromm compared charter school enrollment practices to “apartheid.” cit



New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, Business Council of New York State, Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, National Federation of Independent Business and many more.

W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G

city & state — July 21, 2014





he electoral landscape in the state Senate has shifted. The decision by the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) to break with the Senate Republicans poses a grave threat to the GOP, which now has an uphill battle to maintain its last statewide bastion of power. The new IDC-Democrat coalition, whose aim is to hold a majority in 2015, is looking to capitalize on pledges of support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and key unions, as well as a growing campaign war chest. Making the situation even worse for the Republicans is a string of recent resignations by popular senators whose seats the GOP did not necessarily anticipate being in play, as well as the specter of an unknown number of federal investigations looming over members of the conference. Still, Senate Republicans, citing Democratic voter apathy and disillusionment with President Obama across the political spectrum, insist that they are poised to not only maintain their current number of seats but also pick up the one or two additional seats they need to win an outright majority. To sort through both parties’ spin, City & State updated its rundown of the state Senate elections. Some of the math is simple. Assuming the reconciliation holds, all five IDC seats are now safely part of the new coalition. Even if an IDC incumbent loses—a distinct possibility in the contest between state Sen. Tony Avella and his primary challenger, former New York City comptroller John Liu—the winner is expected to join the Democrat-IDC coalition. The same goes for primary challenges to Democratic state Sens. Timothy Kennedy, Gustavo Rivera and Adriano Espaillat. The landscape has also shifted as election season swings into gear and parties coalesce around their chosen candidates. Several additional seats are now considered “safe,” up from 42 in April to 46 today. At the same time, nine races are now “toss-ups,” up from six in April, including three Democratic seats and five Republican seats. Who will win in November? That is anyone guess. But here is how the races look today—and what the balance of power could look like after Election Day.


city & state — July 21, 2014

Current Landscape

Election Landscape

Republicans: 28

Safe Republicans: 18

Open Seats (formerly Republican): 2

Likely Republican: 4

Democrat caucusing with Republicans: 1

Lean Republican: 3

Independent Democratic Conference (IDC): 5

Toss-up: 9

Nonaligned Democrats: 2

Lean Democrat: 1

Open seats (Democrat): 1

Likely Democrat: 1

Democrats: 24

Solid Democrat: 27* * Although a formal coalition would not be formed until January 2015, the Independent Democratic Conference is grouped together with the Senate Democrats following the announcement in June that they would share power.





Golden, one of few New York City Republicans in elected office, dodged a bullet when City Councilman Vincent Gentile decided not to challenge him for his old seat. Golden, who was re-elected in 2012 with 57.7 percent of the vote, is in a strong position with $422,000 in campaign funds, while his opponent, Bay Ridge Democrats Executive Director James Kemmerer, has a paltry $7,507.

Larkin’s district has more active Democratic voters than Republican and Conservative voters combined, but the longtime incumbent was re-elected again in 2012 with 52.3 percent of the vote. This cycle his Democratic opponent is Newburgh City Councilwoman Gay Lee, who had yet to submit her campaign filing at the time this article went to press.

Libous’ seat was considered safe until the No. 2 Senate Republican was indicted on federal charges of lying to the F.B.I. about allegedly helping his son, Matthew, who was also indicted, land a lucrative law firm job. Libous, who denies any wrongdoing, faces a primary challenge from businessman Denver Jones and a general election battle against Anndrea Starzak, a former Vestal town supervisor. However, the district is solidly Republican, and the longtime incumbent has been popular with his Binghamton area constituents.

By Arthur “Jerry” Kremer

Yogi Berra use to say, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it;” New York State is at those crossroads but has yet to make a binding commitment. The process of hydro fracking in New York appears dead, taking with it opportunities for jobs, economic development and building out an energy industry in areas that are starved for growth. Pipelines aimed at expanding capacity to deliver fuel sources over land or under sea are under attack, despite clear supply needs following the unforgettable polar vortex price spikes. Scientifically speaking, we cannot count on solar or wind to reliably meet large scale demand. After hundreds of millions of energy taxes and fees poured into New York’s renewable programs, the technologies remain in a steady state of uncertainty. New York’s electric grid is in need of $25 billion in maintenance and upgrades just to keep the system the same. When accounting for population growth, record ridership on NYC mass transit, and electricity costs hovering 68 percent above the national average, New York needs to establish clear energy priorities to improve energy infrastructure and maintain access to affordable, reliable sources of in-state energy and not import foreign power. Overall New York State is frozen in time. The campaign to close Indian Point, a 2,000 plus megawatt nuclear plant that provides over 25 percent of New York City’s power and 11 percent statewide with virtually zero emissions is not only shortsighted but it will take New York further backwards.




Marcellino, one of a handful of Long Island Republicans targeted by Democrats, could face a tougher challenge than usual this year. Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, a Republican, had filed to run against Democratic Assemblyman Charles Lavine. But after the local Conservative Party declined to endorse Kennedy, citing his role in officiating two same-sex marriages, he blasted Marcellino for a lack of support and switched races to run against him as a Democrat. Marcellino was re-elected with nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2012, and he has $282,484 in campaign funds compared with about $21,000 in Kennedy’s Assembly account.

Hannon, a longtime incumbent who won with 52 percent of the vote in 2012, is among the Long Island lawmakers in recent cycles to be consistently targeted by Democrats, who see an opportunity to capitalize on the changing demographics of his district. The decision by the healthcare workers’ union, 1199 SEIU, to back only Democratic candidates for the state Senate this year could hurt Hannon, the chair of the Senate Health Committee. But Hannon is sitting on more than half a million dollars, while his Democratic foe, lawyer and former Marine Ethan Irwin, has just under $70,000 in the bank.

State Sen. George Maziarz’s seat became competitive when the No. 3 Republican announced that he would not seek re-election amid a federal probe into his campaign spending (Maziarz denies any connection between his decision not to run and the investigation). North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt, a military veteran, will take Maziarz’s place on the ballot, but will face gun rights activist Gia Arnold in a GOP primary and a November battle against Niagara Falls School Board Member Johnny Destino, a Republican turned Democrat who was trounced by Maziarz in 2012. The district has a slight Democratic edge among active voters, but Ortt could overcome that disadvantage with the Conservative and Independence party lines.

PHIL BOYLE (R) Boyle, who represents part of Suffolk County, won re-election with 52.6 percent of the vote in 2012 but will likely have one of the safer Republican seats on Long Island this year. Petitions were filed for someone named John Alberts to run on the Democratic line against Boyle, although no campaign contribution filing was made under that name as of press time. Boyle has $90,000 in campaign funds.

Leaders and policymakers need to step up to the plate and make positive things happen, without just heaping more costs onto ratepayers. It is a dire time for energy and electricity supply in New York. The opposition to any type of fossil fuel energy is stronger than ever and the not in my backyard groups also object to hurricane proof utility poles or windmills in the ocean.


Today, demand for energy is 24/7, 365 days a year is enormous. We need power to run smartphones, flat screen televisions, computers, tablets, refrigerators, air conditioners, and electric cars. Balancing our dependence on electricity with efforts to address climate change concerns will become more complicated as in-state resources dwindle. In looking ahead, New York needs to reverse this trend and double down on supporting in-state projects like Caithness II, Constitution Pipeline, Port Ambrose, and keeping Indian Point open for business. These facilities will ensure that “when we hit the switch,” the lights come on so our homes can be air conditioned in summer and warm in winter and affordably and reliably for years to come. Arthur “Jerry” Kremer is the former chairman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and a principal author of the state's power plant siting law. He now is the chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance. S P E C I A L



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

city & state — July 21, 2014





New York: Frozen in Time on Energy





State Sen. Greg Ball’s decision earlier this year not to run for re-election makes this Hudson Valley contest a toss-up. In 2012 Ball beat Democrat Justin Wagner with just 51 percent of the vote, and Wagner, who now has nearly $220,000 on hand, has been working hard to win this time around. The Democrat will face either Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy (Ball’s preferred successor) or former assemblyman Bob Castelli, who will square off in a GOP primary.

Grisanti was narrowly re-elected in 2012 with 50.2 percent of the vote in a three-way race against a Democrat and a Conservative Party candidate. This year the general election field could prove strikingly similar. Grisanti faces attorney Kevin Stocker in a Republican primary rematch. Attorney Marc Panepinto, likely the most formidable challenger, is the Democratic establishment candidate, but he must also beat former state Sen. Alfred Coppola. Complicating matters further is the Conservative Party candidacy of attorney Timothy Gallagher. Grisanti, who will have the Independence Party line, has nearly $150,000 in the bank, in addition to the $150,000 he spent over the past year. Panepinto has about $164,000 on hand.

When Republican state Sen. Charles Fuschillo resigned at the end of 2013, he created an open seat in a district straddling Nassau and Suffolk counties that will be a fiercely contested battleground. While he was in office, the popular Fuschillo—he won with 59 percent of the vote in 2012— had made holding the seat easy for Republicans despite a registration disadvantage, but now Nassau County Legislator Michael Venditto will have his hands full fending off the Democratic nominee, whether it is fellow Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg or Freeport Deputy Mayor Carmen Piñeyro. Venditto, 32, enjoys strong name recognition as the son of longtime Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto. Both Denenberg and Venditto have raised well over $200,000.



Martins will face businessman Adam Haber, who last fall lost the Democratic primary for Nassau County executive. Four in ten active voters in the district are Democrats, while Republicans number just 31 percent. But Martins, who won re-election in 2012 with 51.8 percent of the vote, had $285,000 in campaign funds in January, and Republicans say he is a strong campaigner. Haber, who loaned himself $1 million for his county executive run, has already donated nearly $80,000 to his campaign and has more than $209,000 on hand.

State Sen. Terry Gipson came into office by winning a three-way race in 2012 with just 43.8 percent of the vote. The Republican incumbent, Stephen Saland, was hurt by his vote for same-sex marriage and by the Conservative Party candidacy of Neil DiCarlo in the general election. Now Republicans are eager to win back the seat, and the exits of several candidates have paved the way for Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino, who will also have the Conservative and Independence lines. Gipson has amassed an impressive $345,000, while Serino has close to $100,000.




State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk and former assemblyman George Amedore are squaring off in a rematch two years after she defeated Amedore by just 18 votes in a surprise come-from-behind victory in the Capital Region–Hudson Valley district, which was added in the last round of redistricting and widely purported to have been custom-made for an Amedore candidacy. As of the most recent filing Tkaczyk had $236,000 in campaign funds, while Amedore reported $142,000.

The Brooklyn Democrat defected to the GOP shortly after getting elected in 2012. He is in a strong position to win re-election this year, although some observers speculate that he will join whichever conference gives him more power—and he himself has said that he will do whatever is best for his constituents. With the Senate Democrats appearing increasingly likely to retake the majority, look for Felder to follow the IDC’s lead after Election Day.

In 2012 Ted O’Brien came from behind to beat former Republican assemblyman Sean Hanna with 52 percent of the vote. The Republican nominee this time around is Richard Funke, a retired television newscaster in Rochester with high name recognition. Still, Funke’s campaign got off to a rough start when he fired a communications aide who was exposed for having been convicted of soliciting a prostitute. O’Brien has slightly more than $200,000, while Funke has nearly $82,000.


city & state — July 21, 2014


Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin’s decision to challenge Democrat Rep. Tim Bishop created one of two open GOP seats on Long Island. Zeldin’s Suffolk County seat may be slightly less vulnerable for Republicans than the one vacated by Charles Fuschillo, but it is still a toss-up. Anthony Senft, a councilman on the Islip Town Board and a registered member of the Conservative Party, was the Suffolk Republicans’ designated candidate for the seat, but he stepped aside at the last minute and was replaced by Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, an accomplished Navy veteran. He will likely face Democrat Adrienne Esposito, an environmentalist and the executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, but she must first beat attorney and Democratic activist Joseph Fritz. Esposito has $130,000 on hand, while Croci has a little over $100,000 in his supervisor campaign account.

LEAN DEMOCRAT GEORGE LATIMER (D) Latimer gave up his Assembly seat to run for the state Senate in 2012 and beat Republican businessman Bob Cohen in a closely watched race with a comfortable 54.1 percent of the vote. Cohen declined to run again this year, and former Yonkers mayor John Spencer also was recruited by the GOP but ultimately took a pass. At the time this article went to press, local Republicans were still scrambling to find a last-minute taker for their line. Whomever that ends up being, the candidate will instantly have to play catch-up to match the fundraising of Latimer, who has $115,000 in the bank.

LIKELY DEMOCRAT JOSEPH ADDABBO JR. (D) Addabbo held on to his Queens district with a surprisingly large 57.6 percent share of the vote in 2012 after a spirited challenge from Republican Eric Ulrich, who has since been re-elected to the New York City Council. Petitions were circulated for the GOP’s Tom Ognibene, a former councilman and lieutenant governor candidate, but he stepped aside for little-known attorney Ken Sullivan. Addabbo has $53,000 in campaign funds.



Arbetter (@sarbetter on Twitter) is the Emmy award-winning news director for WCNY Syracuse PBS/NPR, and producer/host of the Capitol Pressroom syndicated radio program.


crapple, a delicacy I grew up with in western Pennsylvania, is an acquired taste. Throw leftover scraps of pork butt and ham hocks into a hot pan with onion, celery, sage, cornmeal, a lot of butter and—voilà—you get a cheap, filling dinner (especially when chased with a slice of red velvet cake, another Keystone State specialty). It’s not a dish for people who like playing it safe; sometimes the ingredients aren’t what you’d call haute cuisine (e.g., pig snouts instead of ham hocks). I remember my mother, plate in hand, carefully eyeing the CorningWare at potluck dinners and turning up her Bronx-born nose at anything resembling scrapple. I was more adventurous. Yes, its component parts were sometimes unappetizing, but in the end, most of the time, it was a rewarding culinary experience. Like most regional dishes, scrapple was born out of a need for thrift—a recipe created from scraps of the previous week’s leftovers. When it comes to the economy, upstate New York should follow the logic behind this Pennsylvania Dutch dish: Select a few politically palatable ideas for job growth, discard the politically unpalatable ones, let them simmer and see what happens. Tim Wu, a Columbia professor cit

and candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, recently said, “The recovery hasn’t worked for upstate New York.” What will work? I asked 12 people from a variety of backgrounds and political perspectives the following question: “What could state government do, or undo, in order to spur sustainable job growth in upstate New York?” The following is what I heard. When you toss out what isn’t in the cards right now, what’s left may have the makings of an economic recovery made from scraps of public policy from both the right and the left. In other words, poli-scrapple.


began with the Business Council’s vice president of government affairs, Ken Pokalsky, asking him to name off the top of his head five desirable regulatory reforms to improve the upstate economy. Pokalsky’s list included the approval of hydrofracking; reform of the State Environmental Quality Review process (“How many bites at the apple do various opponents of a project have?”); elimination of energy assessments (“There is $950 million in annual assessments imposed by the PSC”); and promoting natural gas infrastructure (“The trend line for gas prices has come down … but we don’t have the regulatory apparatus to go forward”). “All these things are things the administration can do,” he explained. “They don’t have to ask the Legislature.” Many of these suggestions were repeated by others, but it was Pokalsky’s last reform that goes into the pot first: an update of the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Back in 2007, under Gov. Eliot Spitzer, several workers’ compensation reforms were passed by the Legislature, but full implementation of important cost-saving provisions

were delayed for years. In addition to full implementation of these reforms, Pokalsky said the Business Council had urged the current administration to take other steps, including updating the Scheduled Loss of Use medical guideline, which determines the payouts associated with full or partial loss of specified body parts. According to Pokalsky, the guidelines haven’t been updated since 1996. Brian Sampson, the executive director of Unshackle Upstate, a group devoted to improving the business climate north of Westchester County, agrees with most of Pokalsky’s ideas. Sampson’s additional contribution is one he makes along with former gubernatorial candidate John Faso: Eliminate the 18-a tax on energy. Senate Democrats were also willing to eliminate this assessment this year, so it’s politically viable. Stephen Acquario, the executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, agrees in principle. “All eyes in the long-term need to be focused on the cost of energy,” he said. “Energy costs in New York are well above the national average.” Faso came up with a few additional ingredients too. He wants to end what he calls “corporate welfare”— programs like Start-Up NY and film tax credits. People who are not necessarily on the same side of the political spectrum agree with Faso. David Liebschutz, a public service professor at SUNY Albany, and former director of strategic planning with the Center for Governmental Research, said of these economic development initiatives, “I think what shouldn’t happen is that the state should not be in the business of picking winning and losers. So the whole regime … to entice economic growth in certain areas, it becomes a zero-sum game. That is not long-term sustainable.” His addition to this scrapple stone soup is mandate relief. “If there was a single thing that

I think would result in long-term sustainable job growth, it would be a reduction in state mandates,” said Liebschutz. For a specific mandate, let’s turn to Mike Elmendorf. The president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State, Elmendorf recommended Scaffold Law reform. “It will reduce costs on local governments and school districts, and thus ease the property tax burden,” he said. “And as probably the most glaring and offensive remaining vestige of the ‘old New York,’ it would send a powerful signal that this really is a ‘new’ New York.” I agree that its value as a symbol of change makes it a great addition to our dish. Others will disagree, but this is an exercise in compromise. Fracking will not be added to our dish because there is no consensus around the issue. Poll after poll shows that, by a slight margin, more people in the state oppose fracking than want to open up the state to drilling. Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton represents that view. “Say no to fracking. Fracking actually hurts an economy,” she said. “Instead, invest in renewables. Not only is it good for our economy and the environment, it would be good for jobs. For every million dollars spent on fossil fuel we create 3.7 jobs. For every million dollars spent on renewable energy in wind, we create 9.5 jobs; in solar, we create 9.7 jobs.” Lifton urges continued investment in programs like NY-Sun and the Green Bank. Mayor Stephanie Miner’s contribution is unusual, but critical to our recipe for creating jobs: highspeed broadband. “Broadband is the foundation of a modern economy,” said Miner. “I’ve come to think of it as a modern-day Erie Canal, where the Erie Canal, 100 years ago or so, revolutionized the marketplace and opened up the West. The modern-day Erie Canal is



city & state — July 21, 2014


By Michael Mulgrew and State Sen. Simcha Felder New York City - ignoring important studies and nationwide trends - continues to rely on a single multiple-choice test to determine who gets into the city’s specialized high schools. Even more troubling, the process discriminates against thousands of motivated and capable black and Hispanic students who could be successful in these highly charged and competitive academic environments, but whose share of enrollment is not only small, but falling. Single tests, particularly multiple-choice exams, have little credibility as a measure of student learning. Many of the country’s most rigorous high schools, from Boston Latin to the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas, use multiple criteria to choose their incoming freshman classes. These schools reason that a single test on a single day is not the best gauge of a 13-year-old’s academic ability.


The nation’s most select colleges and universities - from Harvard and Princeton to Columbia and New York University - employ multiple measures to evaluate applicants. And studies have repeatedly shown that the best predictor for college success is a student’s overall high school performance, which captures a range of academic accomplishments as well as intangibles such as motivation and perseverance. Nearly 70 percent of the city’s school population is black or Hispanic, but the average percentage of blacks and Hispanics in the city’s three leading specialized high schools - Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech - is only about 11 percent, down from an already low 14 per cent in 2007. These school registers are dominated by Asian and white students.

city & state — July 21, 2014

More than 27,000 students - nearly half of them black or Hispanic -- took the test used to rank applicants for the 2013-2014 school year for eight specialized New York City high schools. Only 28 black and Hispanic students who took that test were admitted to Stuyvesant High School, which this year had only 110 black and Hispanics among its nearly 3,300 students; the other specialized schools showed somewhat larger but still relatively small numbers of such minority students. No one with real experience in New York City schools believes that out of roughly 52,000 black and Hispanic eighth graders, only 28 are worthy of a Stuyvesant education. The decades-old state law that mandates the single test for admission must be changed to make the admission process to the city’s eight specialized high schools both more inclusive and more fair.

there to help someone succeed, or are we going to use regulations and departments … to prohibit growth?” John Vero, who is also one of the leadership council members of the New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, illustrated that point with a story. “I was speaking with a business owner yesterday,” Vero explained. “He said, ‘John, I feel like I’m the bad guy. Meanwhile, I’m employing six people. I’m the one that’s up at night worried about if I can make payroll.’ ” Vero continued, “This guy is dealing with a tax audit, a workers’ comp audit, an unemployment insurance audit. He said to me, ‘I feel like I’m under siege from government. ’ ”

Use a better definition of academic success: the Department of Education should create an admission “power score” that would factor in a student’s grade point average, school attendance and state exam results, along with a writing test. These factors, combined with his or her score on the current admission exam, would better capture a student’s entire academic career. Expand the pool of applicants: An aggressive campaign to make all eighth-grade students aware of the exam would help capture a larger student group, with extra attention paid to the many middle schools whose students are unaware of the test or even of an opportunity to apply to the specialized high schools. Provide free exam prep materials for students who cannot afford the expensive private test prep courses that have sprung up around the admission process. These private courses focus on test-taking strategies as much as actual content. Researchers note students prepped on the test’s specific idiosyncrasies have a clear leg-up. Restore summer program: Each of the selective high schools should re-start a Discovery program, which would provide an intensive summer instruction program for students just shy of admission, with the possibility of a seat in the fall class on successful completion of the program. The specialized high schools are among the jewels of the city’s education system. The abysmally low participation of black and Hispanic students in them has many causes, but an outdated and discredited admissions process plays a large role - a role that is in our power to change. Michael Mulgrew is president of the New York City teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers. Senator Felder is Chair of the New York City Education Subcommittee of the New York State Senate.

POLI-SCRAPPLE 1 tbsp 1 cup 2 tbsp 10 oz 4 g

Update workers’ comp Eliminate the 18-a Assessment Ease up on economic development initiatives Reform the Scaffold Law Invest in green energy

2 tbsp

Invest in high-speed universal broadband


Do not permit Comcast to merge with Time Warner Cable


Remind regulators to work with, not against, business Let simmer. Serves 8 million.

Cook’s note:

This is just one possible recipe for job growth in upstate New York. You can come up with your own recipe by mixing and matching scraps of public policy. There are only two rules: First, the recipe needs to include bits and piece of policies that both sides of the political spectrum will be able to choke down. The second rule is: Do something. Cook up nothing, and you don’t get to eat.




Fairer Admissions for City’s Leading High Schools

broadband. Every modern business needs access to high-speed, affordable Internet, and because the way the telecommunications companies and the regulators have done it, we see less competition, which has resulted in poorer service and higher costs.” Miner is not a fan of the Comcast/ Time Warner merger, and hopes the PSC doesn’t approve it. Our final ingredient is a change in approach. State Sen. Joe Griffo, John Vero, a partner at the law firm Couch White, and Mark Eagan of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce all argue the state needs an attitude adjustment when it comes to small business. Griffo asked rhetorically, “Are we

SMALL BUSINESS MATTERS In New York City’s increasingly competitive business environment, small businesses owners often feel that they are forced to endure one headache after another, regardless of the administration in City Hall. Under former mayor Michael Bloomberg, a widespread complaint was that the city was looking to generate revenue on the backs of small business owners, inundating them with fines for seemingly mundane, minor violations. Over its first six months in office, the de Blasio administration has already taken steps to reform this practice and improve communication and outreach with the small business community, but it has also left some of its members apprehensive about new hurdles, such as whether they can adapt

to the recently enacted Paid Sick Leave Law, spearheaded by Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. City & State’s recent On Small Business event, which was co-sponsored by CAN Capital, provided a forum for small business owners to air some of their concerns, share growth strategies and solicit advice from peers, policy makers, and experts in city and state government, as well as the private sector. Topics of discussion included how small businesses can best access capital, integrate technology and social media into their operation as a strategy for growth, and grapple with major legislative changes such as the minimum wage increase, the Affordable Care Act and paid sick leave. The following is a recap of the two panel discussions held during the event.



city & state — July 21, 2014

New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy (left), Julie Menin, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner (center left), Andrew Rigie, New York City Hospitality Alliance Exec. Dir. (center right), and Steve Cohen, Empire State Development Exec. Vice President (right)


he first panel of experts at City & State’s On Small Business forum weighed in on the concerns of small business owners fighting to stay relevant in a competitive climate, focusing specifically on raising awareness abouty various growth strategies and

how to navigate potentially onerous new regulations. The panel was comprised of a mix of representatives from the city and state government, as well as the private sector: Steve Cohen, the executive vice president and deputy commissioner of Empire

State Development; City Councilman Robert Cornegy, chair of the Council’s Small Business Committee; Julie Menin, commissioner of the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs; and Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. Maria Torres-Springer, the

commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, kicked off the event with brief remarks, pointing out that small businesses represent nearly 95 percent of all businesses in the city and employ nearly half of the private sector workforce. TorresSpringer also ran through a list of new initiatives from the de Blasio administration that included a new tech talent pipeline, the creation of the Jobs for New Yorkers task force, a business mentorship program and a craft entrepreneur program in Spanish, as well as more aggressive outreach to immigrant communities. The subject of outreach to small business owners came up again during the panel discussion, with Cornegy explaining that despite the renewed engagement efforts from the city, he has found that some small businesses are still left in the dark. “There are great services, including access to capital, that businesses don’t know about because they don’t have the capacity to attend all the workshops,” Cornegy said. Menin, perhaps trying to create distance from the policies of the Bloomberg administration, which small business owners often criticized as burdensome, touted the de Blasio administration’s announcement last week of 24 reforms aimed at reducing cit

Aaron Adler




Eric Campione, PAC Plumbing Staten Island Project Manager


lanting the seed of an idea for a company and watching it grow into a thriving small business is no minor feat in New York City. Making this task even more daunting is the way technology has rooted itself into people’s everyday lives, forcing companies to either adapt to the shift or wither away. In the second panel discussion at City & State’s On Small Business event at New York University, three successful small business owners shared how they have been able to make their respective companies flourish in the city’s current business environment. Gil Cygler, CEO of AllCar Renta-Car, touted the benefits of utilizing social media to expand his business’

consumer base, characterizing it as an increasingly important tool, but one that needs to be wielded efficiently to have the greatest possible impact. “We definitely find it helps communication from our customers,” Cygler said. “We find very often that customers, in the past, may not have expressed some positive or negative feedback and [now] they’ll either post it on their Facebook page or tweet a message directly to us. … So it enables us to have much more real-time information and communication with our customers.” As important as the tool may be, the customer brandishing it is equally vital, and Dr. Anderson Torres, the CEO of Regional Aid for Interim Needs, Inc. (RAIN), noted from his

own experience that there are plenty of people who are not well versed in social media. RAIN is now grappling with the challenge of creating a digital presence that aligns harmoniously with its operations and organizational goals; no small task considering that up until now in its 50-year history of serving senior citizens, tabulating “likes” and “follows” was not part of its business plan. Nonetheless, the company believes that bridging the social media generational gap is critical to realizing its profit goals. Eric Campione, a project manager at P.A.C. Plumbing in Staten Island, explained that he uses social media to engage consumers in creative ways, holding contests on social media platforms as a way to expand his company’s reach. Data shows that many small business owners are not sold on social media as a tool for growing their companies, however. The results of a Small Business Intelligencer Index compiled by the On Small Business event’s co-sponsor, CAN Capital (a company that helps small businesses obtain capital), revealed that roughly 29 percent of the 727 small business owners surveyed for the index felt that social media marketing was “not at all important” to their growth strategy. Additionally, many small businesses have not taken such basic steps as optimizing their websites for mobile devices, or even creating websites at all. The CAN Capital survey revealed that 41 percent of businesses do not have mobileoptimized websites despite 44 percent judging mobile and online reviews the consumer trend that will have the biggest impact on their business. Campione stressed the importance of businesses overcoming this disconnect. “Fifty to 60 percent of the people calling me, reaching out to us from the Internet, are from mobile devices. It’s very crucial that we have a mobile website and mobile-friendly way of connecting,” Campione said. Still, despite the obstacles small businesses have to navigate, with technological advancements and rising costs posing the biggest threats, the CAN Capital survey reflected optimism from business owners that they can adapt to an ever-changing landscape. Sixty-one percent of the owners surveyed believed their company would see growth in the subsequent 12 months.


city & state — July 21, 2014

Aaron Adler

fines for business violations, and lauded the administration’s move to put 41 inspector checklists online so businesses can clearly see what is expected of them. Fines are not the only concern small businesses have to worry about, however. The panel was asked whether major legislative initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act and the city’s recently passed Paid Sick Leave Law, while well-intentioned, might negatively impact the health of small businesses. Cornegy, who voted in favor of paid sick leave in the Council, was careful to qualify his enthusiastic support for the bill by communicating the concerns that he has heard from businesses owners. “In and of itself [Paid Sick Leave] is a great opportunity to support workers,” Cornegy said. “But also coupled with the Affordable Care Act, [it] can potentially put a constraint on businesses’ growth and development. We want to make sure there is not an unintended consequence for these great programs.” Cornegy added that the particular concerns he heard from business owners were regarding accounting and record keeping for sick days. Addressing that apprehension, Menin said that mediation would be the first resort for any sick leave disputes between business owners and employees. The prospect of an additional increase to the city’s minimum wage, potentially to as high as $13 an hour, is another legislative change that unnerves some small business owners. While Menin stood steadfastly behind the de Blasio administration’s call for higher wages to tackle a widening income equality gap, her co-panelists said that such a sudden, major change could be harmful to businesses. “There’s only so much that business can afford,” Rigie said, before adding that the Hospitality Alliance did not oppose the previous increase to the minimum wage. Rigie cited the restaurant business as an example of an industry where wage scales are applied differently because of tips. Cornegy supported the idea of an increase in minimum wage but only if it were done responsibly and incrementally over a period of time. He cited a fact that reflected a sobering reality in a city that is becoming more costly for the ordinary consumer: “Even $13 an hour, if someone told you that allowed them to survive in this city, that would not be true,” he said.


city & state — March 24, 2014

ACrOss New YOrK,


Long before the Affordable Care Act and state healthcare reform efforts, New York’s hospitals have been implementing innovative new approaches to caring for their communities. Our providers continue their commitment to excellence, and are constantly looking for new ways to deliver the best care possible by: • dramatically improving the quality of care through participating in statewide initiatives, educational programming, and sharing best practices across the care continuum; • improving the health of communities through collaborative efforts with multidisciplinary stakeholders in healthcare environments and nontraditional settings; and • focusing on true patient-centered care models and ways to engage and empower patients and their caregivers.

ALL whiLe reduCiNg COsts. cit

hanys_full page_city and state_photo.indd 1

7/11/2014 4:02:27 PM

SINK OR SWIM? Experts discuss high stakes surrounding New York’s $8 million Medicaid waiver from federal government By AZURE GILMAN



ealthcare issues dominated the end of the legislative session in Albany, headlined by the legalization of medical marijuana and new efforts to combat heroin abuse—but potentially the most farreaching development so far this year was the $8 billion Medicaid waiver granted by the federal government and announced in April by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On June 24, City & State held a panel discussion co-sponsored by the New York State Nurses Association, the Healthcare Association of New cit

York State, Maimonides Medical Center and Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in lower Manhattan that focused on the waiver’s potential to overhaul healthcare in the state and potentially save a hospital system that sometimes appears to be in free fall. The panel featured Jason Helgerson, state Medicaid director, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, state Sen. Kemp Hannon, Dennis Whalen, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, Marlene Zurack, the chief financial officer of New York City’s

Health and Hospitals Corporation, and Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association. Fresh off his big legislative victory as the sponsor of the medical marijuana bill in Albany, Gottfried began the conversation by saying the question that should be asked was not why marijuana legislation had passed now but why it had not passed several years ago. “There were numerous points in time in the last several years when it easily could have come to closure, and invariably something fell apart,”

Gottfried said, “like the [demise of the] Spitzer administration, [which] caused things that were about to come to closure to not.” The bill that finally passed this session and was enacted into law by the governor had several provisions he hoped would eventually be revised, he said, such as limiting to five the number of companies that will be eligible for licenses to produce medical marijuana, and requiring that the dispensing be done by those same companies. New York “is about the only place in the American economy that

city & state — July 21, 2014

A standing room crowd at PACE Downtown Conference Center listened to experts and lawmakers discuss the future of healthcare in New York State.


1. 1.Jill Furrillo, New York State Nurses Association Executive Director 2. Jason Helgerson, New York State Medicaid Director (left) and Marlene Zurack, New York City Hospitals Corporation Sr. Vice President (right) 3.Pamela Brier, Maimonides Medical Center Chief Executive Officer 4.State Sen. Kemp Hannon, Senate Health Committee Chairman

city & state — July 21, 2014



I can think of where we not only tolerate vertical integration … but are mandating it,” Gottfried said. Moving on from the topic of medical marijuana, the discussion centered on the $8 billion Medicaid waiver and the difference it could make for healthcare statewide. “The Medicare waiver is not funding projects,” said Pamela Brier, president and CEO of Maimonides Medical Center, in her opening remarks. “It’s underwriting, I hope, a fundamental change in the healthcare system.” Some $6.9 billion of the Medicaid waiver will be devoted to the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, or DSRIP, which will try over the next five years to reduce avoidable hospital use by 25 percent. Helgerson, the state’s Medicaid director, made no secret of what was at stake. “We must come out of the waiver period with a stable healthcare delivery system,” he said. “We cannot go from crisis to crisis to crisis. The Health Department is running out of vehicles to keep struggling hospitals and other providers open.”


Proof of progress and a state report card distinguish New York’s version of DSRIP from other programs that have come before it, Helgerson said. Money will be distributed based on how providers transform their care, how many Medicaid members they serve and the quality of the application they submit. Another key difference is that the allocation of money is attached to performance targets that measure a decline in avoidable hospital use. “There’s real serious accountability,” Helgerson said. Prospective Payment Systems in the DSRIP program will also be tied to each other statewide, so that if one PPS performs badly, everyone will feel those consequences. In short, the systems will sink or swim together. HHC CFO Zurack emphasized her enthusiasm for this one-for-all approach, which seemed especially relevant considering that the HHC has been plagued with cash flow problems. “Even within HHC, our hospitals have a hard time influencing each other … and really functioning as a system,” she said. “Even though we have a lot invested in being a system.”

1-877-727-5373 cit





Energy company Global Partners LP’s storage facilities at the Port of Albany, where trains deliver crude oil from North Dakota to be loaded onto barges and floated down the Hudson.

city & state — July 21, 2014


arlier this month, citizens in Albany’s South End held a vigil to mark the anniversary of a disaster that had upended a small lakeside community in Quebec, Canada, the previous year. It was on a warm July night in 2013 that an unattended runaway train loaded with some two million gallons of crude oil careened downhill into the center of the town of Lac-Mégantic and derailed, igniting an explosive conflagration that killed 47 people and leveled nearly 40 buildings. In Albany the observance took place at the Ezra Prentice Homes, a public housing complex located by the tracks along which trains bound from North Dakota’s Bakken region regularly rumble, carrying the same volatile form of crude that upended Lac-Mégantic. More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail accidents in 2013—1.15 million gallons—than in the nearly four decades

combined since the federal government began collecting data in this area. And with there having been at least six fiery accidents in North America since last July, and no fewer than five derailments involving oil-laden trains in New York State since last December—all of which were, thankfully, unaccompanied by explosions or spills— residents, emergency responders, environmentalists and public officials are worried that a similar catastrophe to the one in Lac-Mégantic could befall New York. “If that happened in the city of Albany, you could see even more lives lost,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, who represents a large swath of the Capital Region. “The number of communities impacted in just the 20th Congressional District and beyond—upstate New York, other states—there’s a trail here that traverses many, many communities.”


orth America is in the midst of an oil boom of such an immense magnitude that the United States recently overtook Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s leading oil producer, according to July figures released by Bank of America. Technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have fueled unprecedented extraction rates in previously uneconomical oil formations. The Association of American Railroads tabulated that more crude was delivered on the U.S. rail network during the first quarter of 2014 than in any other quarter in history—110,164 carloads. By contrast, in 2008 there were just 9,500 carloads transported over the entire year. By 2013 the number had rocketed to 407,642, according to a study commissioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, an increase of over 4,000 percent in just five years. New York’s geographical position

has made it a nexus for the transport of crude by rail: As much as a quarter of the output from North Dakota— which surpassed California in 2012 to become the nation’s second largest oil producing state after Texas—comes through the Port of Albany via Buffalo and Canada, where it is then hauled down the Hudson River in ships and barges to refineries in places like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At the port, two energy companies— Buckeye Partners of Texas and Global Partners of Massachusetts—operate terminals authorized to handle a total of 2.8 billion gallons of oil per year. In April, 30,034 barrels (over 1.2 million gallons) of crude were pulled from the state’s Bakken region, up from 23,816 barrels during the same period last year and 8,556 in April 2010. A report from Oil Change International, a clean-energy advocacy group, found existing loading terminals



the information public. According to documents released by the state in mid-July, as many as 44 trains, each carrying at least one million gallons of Bakken crude, move through upstate New York each week. Rails operated and owned by CSX, along which 20 to 35 trainloads move weekly through the state, enter New York in Chautauqua County, head north through Erie County and then continue east to Albany. Canadian Pacific, which accounts for five to nine oil trains per week, comes down from Canada through Clinton County and keeps going all the way to the state capital.


he cost of the disaster at LacMégantic is now estimated to be around $2 billion (U.S.), with the cleanup alone projected to come out to around $200 million. However, the railroad company responsible for the crash—Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway—was only carrying $25 million in liability insurance at the time. The company filed for bankruptcy in August of 2013, and soon thereafter the Canadian Transportation Agency, citing MM&A’s inadequate coverage to pay for the cleanup, suspended the company’s Certificate of Fitness and shut down the line. Although the Canadian government ordered the American companies that were shipping the oil—Miami-based World Fuel Services and its subsidiary, Western Petroleum Company—to pay for the cleanup, those companies have so far refused to comply, arguing that they were not liable for the load at the

time. So far, Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill. While most major railways have greater liability insurance—as high as $1.5 billion—than the $25 million MM&A possessed, there is not, as The Wall Street Journal has reported, an insurance plan on the commercial market large enough to cover the worst-case-scenario: a massive explosion in a dense urban area. At the same time, in spite of the recent uptick in derailments, 99.9 percent of the 150 million tons of hazardous materials hauled each year by railroad reaches its destination safely. New York State’s oil spill fund currently totals just over $20 million, according to the state comptroller’s office. State Assemblyman Phil Steck of Colonie has called for increasing the fund to $2 billion, and plans on introducing a bill to do so in time for the next legislative session. “There is already a charge on the transport of oil in tanks, but it was developed many, many years ago, and the current charge is woefully inadequate to pay the cost of the cleanup if there were an accident,” Steck said. “And we feel that with the Bakken crude, the likelihood of an accident is, unfortunately, much, much greater.” Steck thinks the measure will garner enough support in the Assembly. And while the power dynamics in the Senate are in constant flux, especially with the upcoming election, Steck believes the upper chamber will be hard-pressed not to get on board with it as well. “There are reasonable people on

Global’s Port of Albany terminal has state permission to handle 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil per year.


In a July 1 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, four congressional representatives from California called for the agency to require oil companies to remove the volatile elements from the crude before it is loaded for transport to refineries: “Stabilizers are common in other parts of the country,” they wrote. “Because your agency has explicitly stated all options are on the table, we believe that requiring the petroleum industry to make lighter crude shipments by rail less volatile must be a part of the solution.” Transport by rail also gives rise to a question of trade secrecy versus the public’s right to know: In early May the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order requiring railroads to inform state emergency management officials of the routes and number of crude oil shipments of one million gallons or more passing through each county. Railroads like CSX Transportation and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company have been wary of the information going public— perhaps not surprisingly, given the industry’s long-held concern about both protestors and terrorist threats. These and other rails companies have been asking states to sign nondisclosure agreements before they reveal their routes. In Pennsylvania, officials have agreed to keep the information private. But New York recently joined at least six other states—Washington, North Dakota, California, Montana, Florida and Virginia—in agreeing to make


city & state — July 21, 2014

can currently handle three-and-ahalf times the capacity being shipped around the country. The transportation infrastructure, however, has not been upgraded or expanded fast enough to adequately handle the burgeoning supply, and safety regulations—which are made at the federal level—have yet to catch up with the needs of an industry that sometimes appears to be biting off more than it can chew. It is the inadequacy of pipelines running to the East Coast and elsewhere that has impelled the industry to turn to the rails. According to the blog Roll Call, Global Partners’ CEO Eric Slifka, speaking at a recent U.S. Energy Department conference, said the nation’s pipeline system is not extensive enough, nor does it have the flexibility to handle today’s rapidly changing energy markets. Railroads, he said, “will provide the foundation necessary to access a multitude of markets, from a multitude of locations, with a multitude of products … all the while requiring low levels of capital.” In comparison, Slifka noted, new oil pipelines require “massive” amounts of capital and cannot bend to meet shifting patterns of supply and demand. The controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline will not directly affect the Northeast. If and when it is built, it would run from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb., and connect with existing pipelines running from Texas and Illinois. One drawback of rail transport, however, is that many of the tank cars used to ship the crude are decades-old DOT 111s—the same cars involved in the Lac-Mégantic disaster— which have a tendency to rupture in accidents. The Canadian government recently mandated the use of newer model cars with thicker shells within three years, but the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has yet to issue a similar order, even though the U.S. Department of Transporation has repeatedly warned of the older cars’ high failure rates in accidents. To compound the problem, the crude coming out of the Bakken is more explosive than most, because the oil is not stabilized at the drilling site. (Some reports say this oil’s volatility also prohibits it from transport by pipeline.) In South Texas, energy companies have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in stabilization facilities that eviscerate the lighter, volatile hydrocarbon compounds from the oil prior to shipping. In the Bakken, only one such facility is under construction and has yet to be put to use.

S P OT L I G H T: M A S S T R A N S P O R TAT I O N city & state — July 21, 2014


both sides of the aisle on this,” he said. Remarkably, as Capital New York has reported, the two companies that ship the most oil through the state—Buckeye Partners and Global Partners—pay less into the fund than other energy companies in the state, because of a technicality. Since they are not selling the crude within New York, they pay about 12 times less than other companies that do. (Global does sell other fuels, such as ethanol, in New York, for which it pays the higher rate.) So while Global and Buckeye paid $3.6 million and $3.7 million, respectively, into the state’s oil fund in fiscal year 2013–14, they were only paying 1.5 cents per barrel of crude, while other companies that sold fuel in the state paid 4.5 cents a barrel. Additionally, these other companies pay an 8 cents per barrel licence fee to the government, which Global and Buckeye do not, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. (Global’s legal representative, Scott Solomon of the Massachusetts law firm Sharon Merrill, said in an email that Global pays 1.2 cents per barrel into the fund. A DEC representative claimed the figure was, to the best of his knowledge, 1.5 cents.) U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that in 2013 Global turned a profit of $405.8 million, while Buckeye projected profits of $478 million. “This oil is just passing through

New York,” said Kate Hudson, a program director at the environmental organization Riverkeeper, who previously worked for the DEC and the state Attorney General’s Office. “It is not being bought and sold in New York, it is not being refined in New York, and so New York is not really making any money off this crude oil transport. And yet it is being put at huge risk.”


ver the past six months, public anxiety in Albany County has centered on Global Partners. The company has been pushing a proposal to build seven industrial boilers at its terminal storage facilities at the Port of Albany, which would allow it to handle a different form of crude there: highly viscous Canadian tar sands oil. Oil extracted from tar sands—its scientific name is bitumen— is not currently shipped through Albany, in part because it will not pour at cooler temperatures, which makes it challenging to transfer this type of oil from a train car to a barge or truck. Tar sands oil poses far less of a threat of explosion than the Bakken crude does, but it carries with it a risk of a different sort of catastrophe: While lighter crudes float atop fresh water, bitumen can sink, making it much harder to remove in the event of a spill. (Heavier oils float more readily in the ocean because saltwater is denser than fresh water.) In written testimony before the

Albany County Supreme Court, former senior Coast Guard officer James Elliott, who has led multiple oil spill response efforts across the United States over 25 years, noted that “the heavy crude oil Global Companies LLC would gain the capacity to receive, handle and transport at its Albany Terminal if its Permit Application is approved … can include the type of crude oil that could potentially sink or be suspended in the water column rather than float on the surface.” Elliot also stipulated that the downstream flow of rivers—complicated in this case by the Hudson’s tidal nature—and the fact that vegetation often merges with the water’s edge further frustrates cleanup efforts. “Based on this discussion of the complexities of oil spills in riverine environments,” Elliot continued, “and given the current state of oil spill recovery technology at about a 10-to-25 percent recovery rate, it is likely that oil spill responders in the Hudson River could potentially achieve a lower than average spill recovery rate.” According to Elliot, the Area Contingency Plan for New York and New Jersey, which includes oil spill response strategies, currently references “pre-2000 technologies and inventories.” In April the DEC announced a partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency to revise and update the plan. That has not stopped

As many as 44 trains, each carrying upwards of 1 million gallons of oil, move through upstate New York each week.

a national environmental group—the Center for Biological Diversity—from filing a federal lawsuit charging that increased oil shipments on the Hudson River threaten 17 endangered species and demanding that the agencies update their oil spill response plans. “There’s a lot of hand waving going on right now about getting everybody ready to respond to the spill,” Hudson said. “But particularly in a river like the Hudson, there’s not going to be an effective response. A spill of any size is going to be an environmental disaster, and in a river where there has been decades of money and time spent on cleaning it up, to be putting it at risk again is just tragic.” Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, sees the potential shipping of tar sands through Albany as facilitating climate change. “It’s a fuel that has been widely recognized as being the most carbon-intense form of crude oil, meaning the energy it takes to extract the fuel, and ship it, and et cetera, is 17 times worse for the climate than regular crude oil is, which is bad in and of itself,” Iwanowicz said. “If we open up our port, and we open up the Hudson River to this fuel, then we’re basically sitting there as a party to a dramatic increase in carbon pollution.” Back in 2007 Global Partners bought a tank farm from ExxonMobil at the Port of Albany and began handling fuels like oil and ethanol there. When the company obtained a permit from the DEC to expand its capacity from 450 million gallons per year of combined fuels to 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil in November of 2012, there was little public opposition. However, the slew of accidents in Canada and around the United States in 2013 set off alarm among environmentalists, elected officials and Albany residents living near the port. When Global proposed the construction of the seven boilers in the fall of last year, the DEC initially determined they would have no environmental impact. But in March Albany County Executive Dan McCoy used his authority at the local level to place a moratorium on the boilers’ construction, pending an investigation by the Albany County Health Department. “I want to be proactive, not reactive,” said McCoy. “And I can’t see the benefit for Albany County. Yeah, the port would be increasing its business a bit and the City of Albany would get some more in taxes, but does that benefit offset the health and safety risks cit



t Albany’s Ezra Prentice Homes—the public housing project located next to the tracks leading to the port—the predominantly minority residents have been depicted as the victims of environmental injustice. The argument goes that disenfranchised populations are rarely consulted about decisions that will ultimately affect their lives. Several environmental groups have joined the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association in filing a lawsuit, alleging that DEC failed to fully consider the implications of the boilers’ construction before declaring they would not result in any adverse environmental impact. The coalition of plaintiffs, which includes Riverkeeper, asserted in a press release that “a reversal of that decision is clearly required now, because of new information about the significant hazards of crude oil transport that has come to light in the last few months. In particular, an April 30, 2014, report to Gov. Cuomo concluded that the public safety and environmental risks from rail transport of crude oil are significant.” The DEC issued a statement in response, saying it would “work with Riverkeeper and other parties to develop a joint motion asking the court to maintain the status quo without ruling on the merits of either party’s position until the public participation and comment period closes, DEC completes its review of public comments and additional information submitted by Global, and DEC announces its decision regarding the negative declaration, or until September 3, 2014, whichever occurs first.” While New York has jurisdiction to regulate the terminals in the rail yards, the federal government oversees the railways themselves, and in late April Gov. Cuomo sent a letter to the White House urging immediate action to strengthen national regulation of crude oil transport. Cuomo’s entreaty included a report compiled by five state agencies, which found that while the “boom is helping to realign the global energy market” it has “also raised serious public safety and environmental concerns due to the inherent volatility of Bakken crude, the sheer volume being transported, and the poor safety record of the type of tank cars used to carry the majority of crude oil.” Railway companies are legally required under the so-called “common

carrier obligation” to haul any hazardous freight assigned by shippers like Global and Buckeye, so long as the product is legally allowed under federal regulations. (Truck and barge companies are not bound by this regulation.) And although companies like CSX and Canadian Pacific are just the purveyors of the product, they assume responsibility for the risks involved while the cargo is out on the rails away from port. The state’s report outlines 10 recommendations for improving safety and environmental standards, the first being that the federal government should move immediately to upgrade the standards by which a tank car is deemed fit to carry oil in the first place. Nearly 82 percent of the cars now used to haul Bakken crude around the U.S. are older DOT 111’s, the model involved in the Lac-Mégantic disaster. The Railway Supply Institute, an industry advocate, has been urging the federal government to support its recommendations for stronger oil car standards. The Association of American Railroads, which represents the nation’s major railway companies, is recommending an even thicker car. Peter Goelz, the former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, says this is one of the rare situations where an industry is actually putting pressure on the federal government to upgrade safety standards. “The industry—the railroads— has been trying for three years to get DOT and the Office of Management and Budget to agree on strengthened and improved tank cars,” Goelz said. “There’s misplaced pressure on the railroads, and it really is misplaced. They say, ‘Listen, we have to take it. We’re obligated to do that. And it’s the obligation of the shippers to tell us what we’re shipping.’ It’s one of these odd situations where the industry has been waiting on the Feds to act.” Although the federal government has urged railways to use more modern, better-protected tank cars, it has yet to require that they do so. “I’ve met twice with Secretary Anthony Foxx of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and he assures me they’re moving along in as expeditious a fashion as possible,” said Rep. Tonko, adding that Foxx did not provide him with a timeline. Although a majority of the cars in an April 30 crash in Lynchburg, Va., were built in the last several years and to a higher standard, at least one of them still ruptured, and nearly 30,000

gallons of oil spilled in the James River.


tate Sen. George Maziarz, who will soon step down as chair the Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee, says the increased oil shipments are a net positive in the grand scheme of things. “The discovery of Bakken crude and oil from Canadian tar sands is a good thing for our state and our country, since it increases the North American supply and will lead to lower prices and more energy independence,” Maziarz said. “Unfortunately, this issue is already falling victim to the usual demagoguery from opponents who seem to always believe that the risk of doing anything in the energy field outweighs the reward, particularly if it involves a fossil fuel. … Our goal should be to use more localized sources of fuel safely and keep consumer prices down, whether that fuel source is a fossil fuel or a renewable one. Activists take the opposite opinion, of course, but I think that this kind of opposition is another reason people do not want to do business in our state.” According in his latest campaign filings, Maziarz received numerous donations from the energy sector. At the aforementioned U.S. Energy Department conference Eric Slifka, Global Partners’ CEO, noted that despite the recent derailments and explosions, far less oil is spilled in train accidents than from burst pipelines. While train spills are measured in gallons, he said, pipeline spills are measured in barrels. “This is big enough that all the parties involved are going to want to make sure that products, crude, [natural gas liquids], other liquids, can be moved safely throughout the system,” Slifka said. “There’s just way too many interested parties here for a deal not to come together.” Dan McCoy, who was a firefighter for the City of Albany before he was elected county executive, and is also a current member of the New York National Guard, concedes that oil is a bare necessity that is not going away any time soon. “We currently need oil to move this country forward, I get it,” McCoy said. “But there have to be better safety standards. This population living right by the train station in the South End—they can almost touch the trains in their backyard … And at the end of the day, protecting the people of Albany County is my job.”


paying very good wages at both of these facilities. They’re not minimum wage jobs. They’re capable of putting food on the table for families.”


city & state — July 21, 2014

and the risks to the environment?” McCoy has set up an independent panel to be chaired by Iwanowicz, who formerly served as acting DEC commissioner under Gov. Eliot Spitzer, to investigate the safety and environmental issues surrounding Global’s proposed expansion at the port. Also in March, the DEC sent a letter to Global Partners with 29 questions about the company’s intentions and its ability to contain or address any risks posed to the environment. Additionally, the agency announced it was extending the public comment period on construction of the boilers until August 1, citing “broad public and community interest.” In a May response to the DEC, the company stated that “with respect to crude oil for which Global has otherwise taken title to prior to transport, Global maintains insurance of various types with varying levels of coverage that it considers adequate under the circumstances to cover its operations and properties. The insurance policies are subject to deductibles that Global considers reasonable and not excessive.” Asked to describe the “scope and extent of any liability insurance” the company maintains, Global reiterated its initial response, adding only that it “also must maintain the insurance/ financial assurance required by the State Navigation Law.” “Global has acknowledged having such coverage, but has not yet provided additional details regarding this insurance coverage,” wrote DEC spokesman Peter Constantakes in an email to City & State. “DEC is preparing a follow-up letter to Global and will request additional information.” A bill introduced last session by Assemblywoman Pat Fahy would require the operators of oil storage facilities at the Port of Albany and elsewhere around the state to carry financial insurance to offset the cost of a potential accident. Global did not respond to questions from City & State about the scope of its insurance coverage. Richard Hendrick, the general manager of the Port of Albany, said the oil boom has spurred job creation at the port, and enabled the longshoremen and women who work the tugboats and barges to accrue more hours. “The two terminals have more than tripled their employment force,” Hendrick said, noting that Global now has over 30 employees at the port, up from eight in 2007. “And they’re

S P OT L I G H T: T R A N S P O R TAT I O N city & state — July 21, 2014




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Transportation Systems

Two of New York’s public authorities face examination and possible reinvention By AZURE GILMAN


wo of the New York City region’s public authorities are up for inspection. With the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey enmeshed in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has joined forces with Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York to create an oversight committee to investigate the bi-state authority over which the governors exercise so much control. The resulting Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority issued a preliminary report on July 3, but it was little more than a description of the agency’s problems and a promise to focus in the coming months on the question of whether the authority should be drastically restructured or even split in two. “The leadership structure often encourages the split of the organization into competing regional interests and the creation of fractured lines of authority within the agency,” the report read. Some experts have their doubts as to whether the panel will be effective. “Are the governors going to try to take control and block reforms?” asked Jameson Doig, a professor emeritus at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs and author of Empire on the Hudson, an exhaustive history of the Port Authority. “The July 3 report does not offer any guidance on that question. Nor does it go into the reforms that critics had identified earlier—such as eliminating patronage hires and permitting the board to select the executive director after a wide search, rather than allowing the New York governor to make that choice.” The oversight panel is made up of Christie’s former chief of staff, Richard Bagger, his current chief counsel, Christopher Porrino, and John Degnan, one of Christie’s freshly confirmed picks for the authority board, along with Cuomo’s chief counsel, Mylan Denerstein, and Scott Rechler of RXR Realty, who is also vice chairman of the Port Authority board of commissioners, and who

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg answered questions after an MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission hearing this month. has served as an advisor to Cuomo in the past. While Christie’s main problem with the Port Authority stems from accusations of corruption against his administration, Doig thinks Cuomo’s issue with the agency is a lack of interest. “Over the last several years, Cuomo has paid little attention to the Port Authority,” Doig said. “He allowed Christie to go forward with the patronage hires and with some other activities, such as removing the funds from the ARC tunnels so they could be used for the Pulaski Skyway, and giving Port Authority money for local improvements to New Jersey mayors if they would endorse his re-election.” Gov. Cuomo has not yet chosen a third pick for the oversight committee. Asked when he would make the appointment, a spokesperson from the governor’s office said only that “The panel is working productively to develop recommendations on reform at the Port Authority.” The oversight committee has promised to release a comprehensive review by the end of the year.


n May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority calling for a new commission to “fundamentally re-examine” its mass transit system. Citing Superstorm Sandy, climate change, centuryold infrastructure and increasing ridership, the governor recommended the agency select a panel of international transportation experts to formulate a plan for its future. As a result, in June the MTA appointed a 24-member Transportation Reinvention Commission charged with studying and improving the agency. Unlike the Committee on Oversight, the commission, which will help inform the agency’s next capital plan, is packed with comparatively independent policy stars and power brokers. Co-chaired by previous U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and former head of the Federal Aviation Administration Jane Garvey, the panel includes such big names as Rohit Aggarwala, a Columbia professor who served as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s

director of long-term planning and sustainability, Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathy Wylde, London’s deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring and Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia. All are working pro bono. “The use of the word reinvention points to the broad, open nature of their deliberations,” said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. The commission is split into five working groups, focusing on future maintenance of the system, meeting consumer demands, spurring economic growth in New York City, streamlining the delivery of capital projects and figuring out how to finance them. Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and a member of the MTA commission, emphasized the need to reform decision-making processes. “The funding resources that are available to the MTA are really inadequate to meet the growing infrastructure needs for the system,” Vanterpool said. “The purpose … is to examine a new paradigm of how projects are decided and prioritized, and maybe even funded. So this is really just overhauling the entire thinking that goes into the selection of capital projects.” In its first public meeting, held on July 15, committee members discussed the federal government’s lack of interest in funding New York transit projects, overhauling the agency’s governing structure and expanding transportation infrastructure in concert with the city’s land use and affordable housing plans. New York City’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg mentioned the need for communication between the MTA and DOT, and the possibility of expanding the city’s rapid transit bus services. Whether the commission’s ideas will change the trajectory of the MTA is something New Yorkers won’t have to wait too long to find out: The agency’s 2015–19 Capital Plan is slated to be finalized by Oct.1. cit


S P OT L I G H T: M A S S T R A N S P O R TAT I O N city & state — Ju l y 2 1, 2014



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S P OT L I G H T: M A S S T R A N S P O R TAT I O N city & state — Ju l y 2 1, 2014


MAX CAPACITY Can technology help New York City’s subways handle increasing ridership? By LOUIS CHESLAW


iven New York City’s reputation as a magnet for the world’s top innovators, its subway system can seem woefully behind the times. At gates in London, riders brush a contactless smart card against a yellow pad that can communicate directly with their debit or credit card. In New York, flimsy magnetic strips are sometimes swiped multiple times without even unlocking the turnstile. In Paris and Washington, D.C., ubiquitous countdown clocks on platforms announce the arrival times of incoming trains. At most stations in New York, straphangers are often left to guess how long their waits will be. Wireless and Wi-Fi service, while available in a little over 15 percent of the five borough’s 278 underground stations, is nothing to boast about compared with its availability in Boston or Buenos Aires. And in an age when young people expect the latest technology to be available to them, they are also increasingly ditching cars for mass transit. In part, as a result the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is experiencing historically high ridership, meaning the pressure on an already burdened system is only becoming greater. In 2013 ridership reached a 65-year high with 1.7 billion passengers, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year. “We’re seeing a shift in how people commute, partially based on smartphones ... on demographics ... [and] on preference,’’ said Richard Barone, director of transportation research at the nonprofit Regional Plan Association, which is involved in forecasting the mass transit needs of New York City’s 22-plus millionperson metropolitan region. “The younger generation is not gravitating toward driving as much, and there are a number of reasons why.” Smartphone applications have

already simplified mass transit navigation. An app like HopStop, which gives step-by-step directions from origin to destination in most major U.S. cities, and in 10 other countries as well, has long been indispensable to riders. The MTA has also developed its fair share of apps, featuring real-time schedules for bus, subway and commuter rail, as well as one billed as “a pocket reference for discovering commissioned artworks within the subway system.” But Robert Paaswell, a professor of civil engineering at the City College of New York, believes smartphones have the potential to revolutionize the

entire system. “We’re moving into a big shift in how we use and supply transportation,” Paaswell said. “To an informationbased culture in which both the user and the provider have an incredible array of real-time information … the provider can make operational choices which they were never able to do before: They can locate their whole fleet, and they can integrate for hired vehicles with transit, with on-call cars and other things.” If we can better plan our journeys, can the MTA up its efficiency as well? The technology is already available: so-called communication-based train

control, commonly referred to as CBTC. CBTC uses telecommunications between train cars and track equipment to map train positions more accurately than traditional signaling equipment can. This additional information provides for the possibility of greater efficiency and safety—dispatchers can safely pack trains closer together, and automated braking systems ensure against human error. If the MetroNorth commuter train that derailed near the Spuyten Duyvil station last December had been subject to CBTC control, for instance, it would have automatically slowed well before the curve that caused the deadly


the possibilities afforded by one-man train operation. With innovations such as CBTC and other technological advances making travel more convenient, one might expect the need for some of the New York City Transit Authority’s 40,000-plus workers to decline. But is this really the case? “The MTA lost the arbitration, and they were forced to have a conductor and an operator,” Barone said. “But the thing is, when you do that, it’s not like you fire these folks … What you do is you use them in the stations instead.” Barone points out that in Paris an expanding métro system has led the city to shift drivers to other lines rather than doing away with them and train some drivers to monitor the system in new operations centers precipitated by the CBTC technology. Bill Conis, director of business development at Siemens, a company that works with the New York City Transit Authority to pick the most cost-effective technologies for the subway system, also thinks the new technology will bring about the

shifting of workers to other jobs rather than layoffs. “In the end, I think the number of people that the system is employing is right,” Conis said. “I don’t think the technology is going to drive it up or down significantly.” From an infrastructure perspective, Conis thinks CBTC is the most critical technology available. “The current technology … is 150 years old,” he said. “It’s as old as railroads themselves, and this is the first real effort to improve on that technology.” However, because of the immensity of the subway system and the intricacies of the MTA’s structure, upgrading to CBTC is sure to be a long and costly process. “The MTA was created to be one integrated organization, but that’s not really how it is,” Barone said. “From New York City Transit to both the railroads, even within New York City Transit there are a bunch of systems— buses, subways—and that’s the issue. It never truly integrated. And when you have to make the decision on something complex, you have multiple

parties that get involved, and they can counter each other. It can slow everything down and make everything complex.” Barone says procurement is one area that needs reforming. “Yes, there are cost issues and procurement reform should probably be part of overall reforms,” Barone said, “just based upon what we’re paying compared to what everyone else in the country is paying to build things. You could always say that there is a premium in this city that is over the top, but it seems to be too much of a premium. Especially when you compare us to somewhere global.” But with the New York City subway nearing capacity—only the 1, G, J/M/Z and L lines are not maxed out at rush hour—the MTA’s plan is to expand CBTC. The next line to benefit from the technology will be the Flushing Line—commonly known as the 7 Train—which currently cannot handle any more trains at rush hour. By 2027, the city hopes most lines will run on the technology.


accident. In its most advanced form, CBTC eliminates the need for in-train operators altogether. In Paris, the trains running along the city’s oldest subway line—Métro Line 1—are now completely driverless. But while the MTA has installed CBTC along its L line, the trains still have a conductor and an operator— one to drive the train and one to operate the doors. “One-person train operation has to be collectively bargained,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz in an email. “It is currently in place on shuttles and the G line during certain off-peak periods … On the L, roles for the conductor and train operator have not changed. Both are charged with the safe operation of their train.” According to Barone, when CBTC was first installed on the L train back in the early to mid aughts, the idea was to rid the trains of their conductors and only keep a driver to operate the doors. (Manually operated trains carry both a driver and a conductor.) But labor unions have been opposed to

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tate lawmakers killed then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to reduce traffic congestion in Manhattan in 2008, but like many stalled transportation proposals, the idea of congestion pricing is still very much alive. For example, traffic engineer Sam Schwartz’s alternative Move NY plan, which like Bloomberg’s plan would add tolls to the city’s East River bridges, has been slowly gaining support. Congestion pricing is just one of many potential New York City transportation projects in the works, under discussion or killed off and then revived over the years. Some, like a subway tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island, are long shots. Others, such as a replacement for the scrapped ARC commuter rail tunnel connecting Manhattan and New Jersey, are more promising. This map features several of the most significant proposals that might one day become part of New York City’s transportation system. —Jon Lentz





New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2010 killed the Access to the Region’s Core Tunnel, a longplanned $8.7 billion commuter rail project, in a controversial move he attributed to expected cost overruns. One potential successor is Amtrak’s Gateway Project, which would add two new train tunnels under the Hudson River connecting New Jersey to a new Penn Station South and, adjacent to it, the planned Moynihan Station. Unveiled in February 2011, the proposal would increase NJ Transit capacity but fall short of the extra trips created with the ARC project. The entire Gateway Project, which includes bridge replacement and added tracks in New Jersey, was estimated in 2011 to cost $13.5 billion with a 2020 completion date. “Getting that built and realized is still very much in the planning stages once again,” Rich Barone, the Regional Plan Association’s director of transportation programs, said. “It’s not under construction. The funding isn’t there yet. That obviously is a very critical piece of infrastructure that would have been nice to have under construction now, and completed in 2017 or 2018.”


city & state — July 21, 2014

NO. 7 TRAIN EXTENSION Another alternative to the canceled ARC tunnel is a proposed extension of the No. 7 subway line under the Hudson River to Secaucus, N.J. An extension of the No. 7 line from Times Square to 34th Street and 11th Avenue is already expected to open this year, and after the ARC Tunnel was canceled the Bloomberg administration began studying an even longer extension to New Jersey. The project, which has been estimated to cost $5.3 billion, would include a new Hudson River tunnel and a larger station in Secaucus, according to a 2013 study by the city. While a No. 7 train extension to New Jersey was dismissed as unworkable by the MTA in 2012, some experts think it is still viable—even if the Gateway Project moves forward as well. “They can be complementary. They don’t have to be in competition,” Barone said. “The growth in the last decade or so has come from New Jersey, but there’s very little transport connections, especially for public transit. If the 7 line was extended in a way that opened up access to parts of inner Jersey … you can further the connectivity. There’s also the possibility of connecting the L train to New Jersey as well.”


PENN STATION State officials are moving forward with plans to expand Pennsylvania Station into the adjacent Farley post office building, to be renamed Moynihan Station. But apart from the expansion and potential rebuilding of Penn Station, another potential change at the city’s busy rail hub is to simply have some trains pass through without stopping. Since Penn is a station and not a terminal like Grand Central Terminal, commuter trains could travel from New Jersey directly to points east, an operational shift that experts say would increase capacity without a major investment in new infrastructure. “You could see some opportunities where you could run a train from Trenton to Ronkonkoma,” Barone said. “I’m not sure there’s a market for that, but the idea of actually running the trains through will open up and create new opportunities for access, for a link, for example, from New Jersey to Jamaica with a one-seat ride and get to the airport that way. It’s an operational change that would allow—and it’s been proven—for improved capacity.” And eventually, Penn and Grand Central will no longer offer enough capacity, Barone added, and new hubs will have to be developed. “We really only have two terminals, Penn and Grand Central,” he said. “We need to be thinking about the next rail facility in the city.”





This proposal would use existing freight rail lines to connect commuters between Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx without going through Manhattan. Transportation experts say that a weakness of New York City’s subway system is that it is almost entirely made up of lines connecting to the city’s center. “We have this scheme that we propose a few years ago which looks at running—right now it’s freight on that line with some passenger from Amtrak—running a transit service that’s compatible with the freight that’s on there today to provide a circumferential service that we basically don’t have in New York, except for the G train, which is somewhat circumferential,” Barone said. “Everything else is radial in the city and it creates a system that is not that redundant. Everything kind of runs through lower Manhattan. So this would provide that kind of service, and it’s an existing right-of-way that’s underused.” The Regional Plan Association first suggested the idea in its third regional plan in 1996, and it has been revived occasionally over the years, promoted by then Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in 2012 and, in a modified form, by then Council Speaker Christine Quinn during her run for mayor. However, the MTA has never officially backed the idea, especially as work continues on the expensive East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway projects.




The three major airports in the New York City metropolitan area, LaGuardia, JFK and Newark, are relatively difficult to get to, and several ideas to ease access via mass transit have been proposed only to wither away. One was an extension of the N line to LaGuardia, which was in the MTA’s long-term capital plan in the early 2000s at a cost of $645 million but killed when community opposition to new elevated tracks proved too strong. Another proposal was a “one-seat ride” to JFK, starting from the Fulton Street station, running through a new tunnel under the East River and traveling along existing Long Island Rail Road tracks. A top priority of Gov. George Pataki, the JFK proposal fell by the wayside when Gov. Eliot Spitzer took office.


city & state — July 21, 2014



SPOTLIGHT: TRANSPORTATION city & state — July 21, 2014




Chairman, New York City Council Committee on Transportation

Chairman, Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Q: How would you like to see transportation expanded to help New York City’s underserved areas? Are there realistic timelines on any of these projects? YR: My top priority is to expand subway service to LaGuardia Airport. This is past due. With the $3.6 billion renovations set to begin on the central terminal, we must bring the transportation to and from the airport into the 21st century as well. We must also capitalize on our waterways as a medium for transit. The East River ferry has been a welcome option for many commuters, and with high ridership on our subways and buses, we should look to ease crowding and connect disparate neighborhoods [that have] few public transit services available. These are larger projects with indefinite timelines, but I hope to get the ball rolling soon on both. In the interim, I wholeheartedly support Mayor de Blasio’s plan to expand select bus service— an efficient option that speeds up travel times on buses immensely. Q: Now that New York City has the go to lower its speed limit, what else needs to be done to achieve the mayor’s Vision Zero goal? YR: The city has already begun a productive ad campaign around Vision Zero, letting drivers know the dangers of high speeds and reckless driving. Once the limit is officially lowered, which we plan to accomplish in the coming months, I am confident this informational campaign will account for the change. Enforcement will be key in changing driver behavior, both with additional officers on our streets and with increased numbers of speed cameras granted by Albany this past session. We all have more work to do, however. I soon hope to pass legislation creating civil penalties for hit-and-run drivers, and will keep a focus on education and enforcement going forward.

Q: How far along is the MTA’s recovery from Sandy, and how will the transit system be shielded against future storms and climate change? TP: It will take years to finish recovery work and restore the system to how it was the day before Sandy struck, and we have billions of dollars’ worth of work ahead to make our subways, trains and structures resilient against the rising threat of future storms. The most visible sign of the MTA’s recovery effort has been the closure of the Montague Tube under the East River, which is being completely rebuilt to recover from inundation by millions of gallons of salt water. Other subway and vehicular tunnels also suffered severe damage to signal systems, power supplies, finishes and other vital elements. The MTA is designing solutions to fully prevent water incursion at more than 600 entry points like manholes and staircases in lower Manhattan, as well as at floodprone yards, entrances and fan plants in low-lying areas across the network. Q: What other plans are in the works to modernize MTA services? TP: The biggest improvements subway customers have seen in recent years are the addition of countdown clocks in stations on the numbered lines and the L line, as well as the installation of cell-phone and Wi-Fi service in dozens of stations. As we continue to expand those initiatives through the entire subway system, we are looking for more ways to use technology to help our customers better understand and navigate the MTA network. Every bus in the city is now equipped with MTA Bus Time, which tracks their location on their route. Customers can use computers, smartphones or text messages to know how far away their next bus is—so they can meet the bus instead of waiting for it. Travel information kiosks have been installed in busy subway and commuter rail stations, offering maps, trip information and other services on large digital touchscreens. More than 150 Help Points have been installed in subway stations, which feature large blue lights atop buttons that can be pressed to immediately summon navigational help or police assistance. The MTA’s Transportation Reinvention Commission, established at the suggestion of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, is studying other ideas for improving the mass transit network for the decades to come, and will make recommendations before the MTA submits its next five-year capital plan by the end of September. cit

Working With: • NY City Department of Transportation • NY City Metropolitan Transit Authority • Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority

• NY State Department of Transportation • The Port Authority of NY/NJ • NY State Bridge Authority

Kieran Ahern • President • Dan O’Connell • General Counsel

SPOTLIGHT: TRANSPORTATION city & state — July 21, 2014





Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

U.S. Representative for New York’s 10th Congressional Distric; Highest-ranking member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation

Q: What is the latest in the plan to overhaul LaGuardia Airport? PF: All three finalists for the $3.6 billion public-private partnership to build a new Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport recently submitted their final proposals through a competitive procurement process. The Port Authority expects to select a winner later this year and begin construction in early 2015. Each of the finalists is made up of renowned airport terminal operators and top-notch construction companies. Gov. Cuomo has made it clear that the Port Authority must focus its efforts on building 21st century airports, including modernizing LGA and JFK. Under his leadership, the Port Authority will open a new, spacious Central Terminal Building with enhanced passenger amenities later this decade, providing New York State with a world-class gateway. We are also determined to bolster air cargo business at JFK through development with the private sector in order to grow the many jobs associated with the air cargo industry in New York. Q: What else should the public know about? PF: The Port Authority recently approved an historic $27.6 billion capital plan that makes significant investment in the region’s transportation infrastructure. As part of that plan, the Port Authority is building two new bridges for the first time in 80 years. The agency is in the midst of raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge in Staten Island to allow larger, more efficient and environmentally friendly post-Panamax container ships to call on our ports. The benefits of this innovative project to New York and the region are immense; we will keep our ports competitive and continue to grow the 296,000 regional jobs the port industry supports, as well as providing motorists, pedestrians and cyclists with a state of the art mixed use roadway. As Gov. Cuomo announced in May, the Port Authority has also begun construction on a $1.5 billion public-private partnership to replace the Goethals Bridge with a modern cable-stayed bridge. The replacement bridge will connect Staten Island with Elizabeth, N.J., and serve as a key thoroughfare for the transport of billions of dollars of goods and millions of travelers throughout the region. The new bridge will include additional wide travel lanes and 12-foot shoulders that will ease congestion and accommodate anticipated future traffic volumes. It will also enhance the efficiency of the New York Container Terminal, while making accommodations for future growth at the site.

Q: What must be done at the federal level to address the state of New York’s transportation infrastructure, and what is your role in addressing this? JN: I believe that Congress must pass a long-term transportation reauthorization bill at higher funding levels than are currently being provided. As the highest-ranking northeastern member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have been fighting for a better transportation bill, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect New York’s interests. We must work toward robust and guaranteed funding for highways and transit, and a greater investment in both freight and passenger rail. In my work on the committee, I am proud that we were able to successfully issue a bipartisan report from the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, which I co-chaired. In this report we focused on how best to strengthen the freight network across all modes of transportation in order to meet the current and future demands of the movement of goods—whether it be the transportation of lumber or the shipment of two-day deliveries into New York. Q: Has Congress played a role in hindering investment in our aging transportation infrastructure? JN: Draconian Congressional budget cuts have put New York and many other cities throughout the country in a very difficult position. Limits on federal spending and sequestration have had a devastating impact on the lives of New Yorkers and greatly weakened our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Considering that investment in transportation infrastructure is one of the most important steps Congress can take to support our economy and create jobs, drastic cuts to the transportation budget are taking us in exactly the wrong direction.

Q: Now that New York City has the go-ahead to lower its speed limit, what else must be done to get New York City closer to the Vision Zero goal? PT: It has been exciting to join NYC DOT as its commissioner in the de Blasio Administration. I know we have a lot more to do, but I am already so proud of what this agency—and this administration—has accomplished on roadway safety. More speed cameras, increased education and enforcement, the launch of Arterial Slow Zones and now a new, lower citywide speed limit. These are all part of an expanding tool kit focused on achieving Mayor de Blasio’s goal of zero traffic fatalities. While we await the governor’s signature on the 25 mph legislation, we are committed to taking a careful look at our streets and implementing this in a very thoughtful way. There are more than 100 gateway signs for motorists entering the city. These will change to reflect the lower limit. We also will work closely with community stakeholders to re-engineer individual streets so speeds are appropriate and serious crashes are eliminated, and also step up education and enforcement citywide. Q: Are there plans to continue expand biking amenities in New York City? PT: With nearly 930 miles of bike lanes on streets, greenways and parks, 10 million-plus Citi Bike trips and steady bike ridership numbers, biking is an established part of this city’s transportation mix, and Mayor de Blasio has tasked DOT with continuing to expand bike usage throughout the five boroughs. As our network grew, we saw a 72 percent decrease in serious bike injuries between 2000–12. Under Vision Zero, DOT will work harder than ever to collaborate with communities on areas for protected bike paths and shared lanes. These make streets safer for all users. We will also continue educating bicyclists on the rules of the road, and invest in supporting infrastructure like Citi Bike racks and corrals. Q: In light of a recent Quinnipiac poll showing New Yorkers could be more open to tolls on the East River bridges if tolls were reduced elsewhere, are there any plans to formally reintroduce the idea of congestion pricing? PT: It isn’t on the administration’s agenda right now.



n May Gov. Andrew Cuomo gently suggested to Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Tom Prendergast that the MTA convene a “transportation reinvention commission” to “make our subways and our entire transit system ready for the challenges of the next century.” The MTA’s biggest “challenge” is having no money for capital investment—not next century but right now. The commission can offer useful suggestions. But it will take political courage from the governor to fix this problem. The authority, rather than treating this task as busywork, has put together a credible group. For example: • NYU prof Dall Forsythe, working as an arbitrator five years ago, argued for an austere contract with the MTA’s largest labor union, the transport workers, calling “the wage increases” awarded by the arbitration panel’s majority “simply too high in this environment of economic decline.” • Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Veronica Vanterpool has been far from shy in criticizing Gov. Cuomo’s Tappan Zee Bridge project. • American Isabel Dedring, deputy

The commission should prod the MTA into a policy of borrowing for new projects (phase two of the Second Avenue Subway) or for projects that substantially increase capacity, such as better signals. But the MTA should avoid borrowing for projects that are the equivalent not of buying a house but painting it: rehabilitating stations, for example, or replacing tracks. As E. J. McMahon of the Empire Center has noted, the MTA could use some of the state’s $3.3 billion windfall from the BNP Paribas bank settlement to ease its dependence on debt. Third, the commission can suggest corporate-governance fixes—similar to what other folk are recommending the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey do to maintain their independence from elected officials. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and suburban elected officials should direct the MTA’s broad strategies—whether to build a new subway and where— but they should not interfere in tasks like labor negotiations or toll and fare increases. To ensure a little political independence, the commission could suggest that governors appoint each MTA chair to full six-year terms—not the two-year term Prendergast got. Finally (for now), the commission can point out that better management

of the streets can alleviate and delay (although not eliminate) the need for mega projects. Reliable bus service and safe bike lanes can ease subway crowding. However, though the reinvention commission can generate a lively report, it can’t do much without gubernatorial support. It’s the governor who must determine not to give in to vote-rich unions. (And the mayor controls the city streets.) It wasn’t a good sign that just as the reinvention “experts” were finishing their three days’ worth of testimony last week, the governor was brokering an agreement between the MTA and Long Island Rail Road unions that will leave even less money for capital. And the next biggest test to come up may be what the governor does if the reinvention commission—just in time for election day—revives the idea of charging people to drive in Manhattan to help pay for capital investments. Remember what happened to the corruption and tax commissions. Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal and a CFA charter holder.


Innovative Solutions for Transforming and Funding New York’s Transportation Network




mayor for transport in the London mayor’s office, and David Waboso, of the London Underground, bear witness to London’s biggest transportation change in the past decade: charging motorists $18 a day to drive into or within the city’s core. The money goes to transit. •Enrique Peñalosa, when he was mayor of Bogota, Columbia, carved out space for bus and bike riders at the expense of car drivers. His philosophy: An “advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars but rather one where even the rich use public transport.” So what can they come up with? First, they can make clear that any separation between the day-to-day operating budget ($13.6 billion a year) and the longer-term capital budget ($23.9 billion over five years, not including post-Sandy repairs) is a fiction. The MTA must make room for $2.3 billion in debt payments in this year’s budget—payments for past capital budgets. The more the MTA must spend each year in labor costs (particularly pension and health benefits), the less it has for capital investments. Every $100 million “saved” in the operating budget can support more than $1.5 billion in new long-term debt. It says a lot about New York’s status quo that the dozens of “expert” witnesses that gave testimony before the commission last week pretty much ignored labor costs—but the commission is still free to present its own ideas independent of expert suggestions. Second, the commission can suggest the MTA reduce its reliance on borrowing for capital spending anyway. The MTA surely can’t avoid new borrowing. But the fact that it borrowed for more than half of the current capital budget is worrisome. (The rest came from federal and state sources.) Debt has already doubled over the past decade, to $33.9 billion.

city & state — July 21, 2014


SPOTLIGHT: TRANSPORTATION city & state — July 21, 2014


SCORECARD THE PLAYERS THE STATE Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made the building of a new Tappan Zee Bridge a top priority of his administration, and now he appears focused on a major reinvention of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as well. State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald launched the governor’s NY Works program, which was created to help with transportation infrastructure improvements around the state; she also chairs the MTA’s Capital Program Review Board and serves on the leadership team for the Tappan Zee project. Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, oversees an agency with a vast and hugely important portfolio that has been plagued in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal by the criticism that it has allowed politics to get in the way of its management. MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast has been settling in over the past year as head of the nation’s largest transit authority. State Sen. Charles Robach and Assemblyman David Gantt chair the transportation committees in their respective chambers. THE CITY Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed 11 bills into law aimed at cracking down on dangerous drivers, improving pedestrian safety and collecting traffic data—all part of his so-called Vision Zero plan. The mayor’s transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, has said that the city plans to purchase more Staten Island ferries to ease bottlenecks when other transit goes down, and expand bike lanes and select bus service. Her agency is also working on a plan to finance the troubled Citi Bike program. City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Committee on Transportation, has been a key supporter of Vision Zero and has said he would like to see options for ferry transit expanded.

THE ADVOCATES Richard Barone and Jeff Zupan, transportation experts at the Regional Plan Association, are joined by former Port Authority executive director Christopher Ward in co-chairing the Regional Plan Association’s transportation working group for the Fourth Regional Plan—a recently commenced multiyear study looking at the needs of the New York City region over the next 30 years. Elliot “Lee” Sander, chairman of RPA’s board, is the former executive director and CEO of the MTA. RPA’s president, Bob Yaro, and Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, both sit on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Reinvention Commission, which is chaired by former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and former Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Jane Garvey. The Global Gateway Alliance, a group advocating for the improvement of New York City’s airports, was founded by real estate mogul Joseph Sitt, and its executive director is Stephen Sigmund.

THE ISSUES BRIDGES & ROADS Construction of the new $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge is underway, even if funding sources for the project are still murky, as is construction of the $1.5 billion replacement for Goethals Bridge, which connects Staten Island and New Jersey. The bridges, both of which will have a 100-year service life and are being built to allow for future mass transit expansion, are expected to open for service in 2016–17, with completion slated for 2018. While these projects are indispensable, they only address a small part of New York State’s significant transit infrastructure needs: in New York City 165 bridges

are over a century old. Around the state 14 percent of rural bridges are “structurally deficient” and 7 percent of rural roads are in “poor” condition, according to a recent study from the Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group TRIP, which is backed by the construction industry. And if Congress fails to act soon, the U.S. Department of Transportation could significantly cut back its reimbursements to states as early as August and run out of funding for the first time ever in September, affecting planned work on multiple New York City bridges. THE FUTURE OF MASS TRANSIT Gov. Cuomo’s Reinvention Commission for the Metropolitan Transit Authority is comprised of a panel of 24 internationally renowned experts who have been brought together to weigh the challenges of the next century and devise a way to finance the solutions to them. Climate change is of great concern, as is population growth and a shift in cultural preference away from private vehicles and toward mass transit. The panel includes worldrenowned experts in transportation, planning and real estate, as well as top business and financial analysts. Whether their recommendations will be implemented remains to be seen, but if the governor’s unveiling this past spring of a $4.9 billion transportation program, which includes significant resiliency measures, is indicative of his future

priorities, Cuomo appears to be taking this challenge very seriously. AIRPORTS New York City’s airports, notorious for delays and shabbiness, are underwhelming portals for a metropolis of such scale and importance. The sheer volume of passengers places great strain on the airports’ aging infrastructure: Newark, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia collectively handle more passengers than any other regional airport system in the country—109 million in 2012—and a 2011 Regional Plan Association study projected that number would rise to 150 million passengers by 2030. By some estimates, one-third of all delays in the nation are ultimately attributable to delays originating at New York City airports. The sorry state of LaGuardia and JFK in particular inspired the formation of the Global Gateway Alliance, a businessbacked organization that has taken up the cause of lobbying all levels of government for the billions needed to overhaul the airports. And slowly but surely improvements are on the way. The Port Authority recently announced the introduction of free Wi-Fi, but just for 30 minutes. And a much-needed renovation of LaGuardia, which Vice President Joe Biden likened in February to the kind of airport one might expect to find in a “Third World country,” is moving forward, with completion slated for 2021.

BY THE NUMBERS The New York City metropolitan region, as defined by the Regional Plan Association, has around 22.6 million residents, an increase of around 3.5 million people since 1980. Public transit ridership is higher than it has been in decades and continues to increase. In 1980 3.5 million passengers rode the subways daily. Today that number is well over 5 million. Every year more than 4 billion trips are taken on the region’s commuter rails, subways, buses and ferries. SOURCE: REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION




ver since former Assemblyman Vito Lopez oozed into oblivion after a slew of accusations surfaced about him sexually harassing his female staff, Speaker Sheldon Silver has been wriggling out of responsibility for what happened under his watch. The scathing revelations of Lopez’s abject, repeated misconduct laid bare the Assembly’s unofficial policy of protecting sexual predators. Yet the Joint Commission on Public Ethics barely touched on the Speaker’s negligence in its 2013 report, because Silver’s appointees refused to authorize a full investigation. The Speaker’s unchecked habit of




he real action in Buffalo’s City Hall for the foreseeable future won’t be driven by Mayor Byron Brown or the Common Council. The Board of Education is where it’s at. A new majority took power at the start of this month, and it is pushing a reform agenda it has already backed with action. Pamela Brown, the district’s long embattled superintendent, was shown the door and promptly replaced by a well regarded administrator, who has been given a two-year contract to clean cit

An outrage second only to Silver’s hypocrisy and incompetence is the ballooning expense the people of New York are now incurring to address his mess. First there is the $360,000 contract registered with the Office of the State Comptroller for Merrick Rossein. A highly regarded employment discrimination lawyer, Rossein has been retained to oversee all sexual harassment investigations. This outsourcing of the Speaker’s responsibilities was originally reported to cost $205,000. Perhaps it increased after Rossein realized the extent of the problem. Mr. Rossein ignored numerous requests for comment, although this seems understandable considering his workload. Then there is the $200,000 in the state budget for Gov. Cuomo’s confidential sexual harassment hotline (and anticorruption website): an important resource for employees who do not trust the Assembly leadership. Compared with those outlays, the $103,000 settlement to Lopez’s original victims seems like pocket change. Expect that number to grow if Burhans and Rivera are victorious in court. The attorney general had determined that Silver is entitled to indemnification under the Public Officers Law, which means the state will be responsible for reimbursing the plaintiffs’ legal fees and any

financial judgments awarded to them. Unfortunately, the state can’t use the $330,000 in fines it levied against Lopez to cover the bill because he has yet to pay up, pleading both poverty and the cost of dealing with his cancer’s recurrence. Add to the bill the Assembly’s taxpayer-subsidized lawyers at Hogan Lovells. According to the state comptroller’s records, the lawyers are already halfway through their $500,000 contract. If Silver is unhappy with their recent performance in court, he can confer with his personal counsel at Proskauer Rose, who is costing the state roughly $500/hour, according to the Daily News. To be clear: It is a valid use of public dollars for the Legislature to investigate misconduct, provide resources for employees and make restitution to those it failed. But these expensive Band-Aids would not have been necessary if Silver had simply prioritized employee safety over the Assembly’s reputation. Instead, he compromised both, and taxpayers are stuck spending what is already upwards of a million dollars to clean up his mess.

up the place. The majority also released a vision statement that, if turned into reality, will vault Buffalo to the vanguard of urban school reform. The six-page statement immediately prompted grumbling from the Buffalo Teachers Federation and holdover members of the board’s deposed majority. That’s to be expected, because it represents the most aggressive blueprint to recast the city’s public schools since they were desegregated in the 1980s. One can argue the merits of the board’s vision tatement, but few in this town dispute the dire need for reform. The on-time graduation rate hovers around 50 percent in any given year, proficiency levels in elementary school reading and math are in the neighborhood of 10 percent, and the state has declared 44 of 56 schools as failing. To pay for the system that produces these sorry results, taxpayers will pony up $807 million this fiscal year. In simple terms, the majority’s vision statement advocates: expanding choice, especially for parents whose children attend failing schools; turning control of the district’s most troubled schools over to the state Education Department; and changing labor contracts to control healthcare costs and restore management rights. Probably the key

objective is putting more teaching talent in troubled schools that need it the most. “We need to get effective teaching in front of every child,” said Larry Quinn, perhaps the key player in the new board majority. “That means getting the best teachers in the most difficult schools.” In Buffalo, as in many districts, that’s a challenge, because of seniority clauses in labor contracts. As a result, veteran teachers gravitate to the better schools, while greener teachers end up in struggling ones. Another major challenge involves the district’s unusual (although not unheard of) provision of lifetime health insurance to retired teachers and administrators. The district this year will pay more to provide health insurance to retirees than to current employees, and the $73 million tab will chew up nearly 10 percent of the district’s entire budget. Teachers have been working under an expired contract for 10 years. The status quo has kept a rich healthcare plan in place and provided steady pay raises through a step system that rewards years of service with extra pay. Thus the union has little incentive to bargain, and the district has been inept in trying to strike a better deal. It’s not just the contract that has to

change; it’s the district’s culture, which puts the needs of its employees first. I covered the district in the mid- to late1990s and came to view it as not a board of education but rather a board of adult employment. Much of the press coverage of the reform battle to date has focused on Carl Paladino, but Quinn, a friend of the former gubernatorial candidate, is the key player. He has demonstrated an ability to get things done, first as the city’s development commissioner and later as managing partner of the Buffalo Sabres. He is smart and savvy. The same is true of Donald Ogilvie, who was hired as interim superintendent. He recently retired as district superintendent of one of the suburban BOCES districts, but has been part of an effort to study the district’s troubled schools and develop recommendations. He knows what he is stepping into. I have dealt with him on and off for years and he is a good fit for the task at hand. A great fit, actually.

Alexis Grenell (@agrenell) is a Democratic communications strategist based in New York.

Jim Heaney is the editor of Investigative Post, a nonprofit investigative reporting center. Don Ogilvie donated $600 to IP between 2012–13.


sweeping complaints under the rug allowed lowlifes like Micah Kellner and Dennis Gabryszak to allegedly verbally harass and make lewd advances to their employees under the reasonable assumption that the staffers had no recourse. But now a court is going to have the final say. In the civil case brought by Lopez’s second set of alleged victims, Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera, a federal judge affirmed that “Silver created a culture ‘in which Lopez believed he could sexually harass the women on his staff with impunity.’ ” Denying his motion to dismiss, Judge Analisa Torres made clear that by allowing Lopez’s behavior to go unchecked, “plaintiffs have a plausible claim that Silver participated in and caused the deprivation of their rights.” Torres rejected Silver’s defense that he was not responsible for protecting Assembly staff, writing, “Silver could not have believed that his actions were reasonable under state or city law.” In fact, when the standard applies to people other than himself, Silver agreed with the judge that “inaction is actionable.” Under the Assembly’s new policy, any supervisor or member who receives a complaint of sexual harassment is required to report it. “Failure to report will be subject to immediate sanction,” read the grammatically incorrect rules.


city & state — July 21, 2014







istorically, as temperatures rise, gun violence follows. Although we don’t have to accept this as inevitable, that claim remains true in many areas of our city this year. So far, gun violence is up 8 percent, with 611 people shot within the five boroughs. Cities across the nation struggle with this pandemic— Chicago has lost dozens of residents to gun violence this month alone. But these shootings aren’t simply statistics. Some of these gun violence victims are my constituents; all of them are our neighbors and friends. 6/26/14 2:26 PM Veterans ad 2013_City&State

Like me, City Council members from across the nation are the most local point of government contact residents have when these tragedies occur. We are often among the first to arrive on the scene, to comfort grieving families, to ensure the family and those affected have what they need to survive. We assist law enforcement when needed and speak out against these senseless acts. I have long advocated for real, concerted efforts to end gun violence in our city. As the co-chair of the three-year-old Council Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, I have worked with many others to find ways to help end this pandemic by using a multilayered approach, which includes the collaboration of city agencies, the administration and violence-interrupter groups. Without an equal push to create policy changes, law enforcement adjustments and community change (from addressing mental health to employment), the fight against gun violence will be a lost battle. The Task Force has received strong support because it utilizes proven strategies beyond increasing the number of law enforcement officers, including placing violence-interrupter groups such as Man UP!, SOS and I Love My Life on the ground to prevent Pagethe 1 spread of shootings among those

most at risk, often our young people. These efforts are supplemented by wraparound services, from mental health services to employment assistance. So far the Task Force has worked in five neighborhoods that have experienced some of the highest shootings incidents. We will expand the Task Force’s reach now that the Council has allocated additional funds for antiviolence initiatives. Additionally, I’ve concentrated on improving police-community relations through passage of the Community Safety Act. The CSA established the first enforceable ban on bias-based profiling by the NYPD, and established the Department’s first Inspector General. During the two-year fight to pass the CSA, I consulted with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Washington D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and others about ending the abuse of Stop, Question and Frisk or similar polices in their cities, and discussed best practices to ending gun violence. I realized these best practice conversations were not happening between local legislators across the country in a substantial way, which is why I launched the National Network to Combat Gun Violence, a network of local elected officials—Council members, aldermen, municipal supervisors, selectmen and other

local legislative officials—dedicated to ending gun violence in their communities. Going forward, my hope is that the Network will be a forum to 1) consult with members across the nation on existing best practices and challenges; 2) develop reports elaborating on findings from member cities; 3) hold information-sharing conference calls; and 4) convene annual summits in host cities. Currently the Network is comprised of more than 50 local elected officials from across the country, and membership grows by the day. We know that innovative, successful strategies to combat gun violence are being pioneered, implemented and replicated at the local level in cities both large and small, and I look forward to sharing program models that have been effective in New York, like those employed by on-the-ground organizations with the resources needed to stop these incidents before they occur. It is time we work together to solve this pervasive national problem, and develop ways every city in our country can effectively combat gun violence. New York City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams is the Council’s deputy leader and co-chair of its Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.



city & state — July 21, 2014

• Counseling, benefits, career advice, disability services • Veterans events, peer mentors • Over 1,400 academic programs; 24 colleges, graduate and professional schools; world-renowned faculty • More than 3,000 student veterans

Learn more at Or call 646 664-8839 cit

In March 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed retired U.S. Army Colonel Eric J. Hesse as the new director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, which helps provide housing, healthcare, education and employment assistance to returning veterans. City & State asked the colonel some questions about the state of today’s veterans. The following is an edited version of that Q&A. City & State: The federal government has dealt with questions about funding levels for the military in recent years. Now there is a major scandal unfolding within the V.A. What is the general state of military and veterans’ affairs? Col. Eric Hesse: Our Military and Veterans Affairs Divisions are both very strong, dynamic organizations, and I have complete trust in the men and women leading our armed forces today. Despite recent events, there is more good going on at the federal Department of Veterans Affairs overall than there then there is bad. While what happened in Phoenix and at other V.A. facilities is unfortunate and inexcusable, that has not been my experience in this state. I cannot speak highly enough in regard to the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) across New York State. They continue to provide the best service possible to our veterans. Additionally, the Veterans Administration Regional Offices (VARO) in Buffalo and New York City are both great partners with the Division of Veterans Affairs and we work with them daily to do all we can to get the claims of New York State Veterans processed. Again, my experience working with the federal V.A., the VAMCs and the VAROs in New York State has been a productive partnership, one whose highest priority is exploring how we can help each other get the job done. C&S: On a state-specific level, what’s your assessment of how well the state handles military and veterans’ affairs? cit

EH: New York State is fully committed to supporting all men and women in uniform, and to helping veterans and their family members the rest of the way. A cadre of veterans counselors employed by the Division of Veterans’ Affairs works every day to ensure that veterans and their families throughout the state are connected with the full complement of benefits for which they are eligible. Institutionally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made veterans, military members and their families a priority in his agenda and has encouraged staff across various parts of state government to work together to ensure that veterans who come in contact with their agencies know what benefits to which they are entitled. Part of that commitment includes an interagency body: the Council on Veterans, Military Members and their Families. Formed this past

March, the Council aims to facilitate collaboration and innovation between every state agency, department, office, division and public authority as they help identify ways the state can better provide services, benefits and opportunities to those individuals and families that have served. The Council and events like this past March’s New York State Veterans and Military Families Summit are just some of the ways that the state is looking to working with local leaders and stakeholders to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to improving services, especially in the areas of affordable housing, employment, education, benefits and mental health. C&S: Do you believe the state is doing enough to address problems faced by veterans and current military members?

EH: The mission of working with veterans, service members and their families is always an ongoing effort, one that we have made great strides in but have more to do. Ideally we would like New York to be the first state in America where 100 percent of its veterans and their families are connected to the full range of benefits that their service has earned. That is our long-term vision, and we are committed to doing all that is needed to bring that vision to reality. Part of that requires recognizing the unique challenges that different groups of veterans face. The post-9/11 generation has some very immediate needs, but we cannot forget that the greatest population of veterans in the New York State are actually those from the Vietnam and Korean War era. Gov. Cuomo knows that they too require programs focused on their current needs and those that are on the

V E T E R A N S ’ A F FA I R S

A Q&A with Col. Eric Hesse (Ret.), Director, New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs


city & state — July 21, 2014


V E T E R A N S ’ A F FA I R S

horizon. He’s recognized that spouses who move bases like West Point and Fort Drum may have licenses from other states, which is why he signed a law to either reciprocate or expedite their licensing. He also signed into law the military compact for military children, which ensures that children of military families won’t be disadvantaged if they have to move during the school year or come to New York as a senior in high school. This spring’s summit highlighted the portfolio of both new and existing services and benefits that New York State provides for veterans, service members and their families. A number of Hiring Our Heroes job fairs facilitated by the New York State Department of Labor not only connect veterans to job opportunities but also connect them to programs that provide résumé assistance and other job search resources. Troops to Energy, a program runs by the Division of Veteran Affairs, the New York Power Authority and the Department of Public Service, connects veterans to careers in the energy industry. The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), through the State of New York Mortgage Agency

(SONYMA), is championing an effort to improve access for veterans and service members to home ownership. Lifetime free access passes to New York State parks are provided to eligible service-disabled veterans through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In addition to offering nearly 74 million in tax credits for businesses looking to hire currently unemployed post 9/11 veterans, the state also is providing up to a six percent set aside in state contracts for service-connected-disabled-veteranowned businesses, the largest set aside of its kind in the country. C&S: With a new wave of veterans facing not only issues that veterans of all ages have faced but new issues related to the changes in combat, the military and other outside factors, has the state changed its way of thinking to become better equipped to handle the problems of today’s veterans, and does the state need to continue to adapt? EH: Military training often teaches men and women to be resilient and

tackle situations with a healthy consideration of both past patterns and current conditions. So I don’t think the state has had to change its way of thinking to become better equipped to handle the problems of today’s veterans. However, addressing many current issues involves staff working in different ways across agency lines and forging new partnerships in and out of state government to improve the life for all veterans. For example, we know that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day. To address this issue, the state now requires every employee of the Division of Veterans’ Affairs and every employee of the state’s Consolidated Call Center Anchor Agencies to take a highly regarded gatekeeper training from certified trainers with the Office of Suicide Prevention. This training will help Division of Veterans’ Affairs and Call Center employees better recognize warning signs of potential suicide risk, engage the person in a meaningful conversation and, if warranted, refer him or her to appropriate professional assistance. The state is always looking for creative ways to reach out to veterans and leverage the support not just of public agencies but also the not-for-

profit and private sectors. In addition to supporting public and private initiatives, the state also continues to fund smaller peer-to-peer programs that help create self-sustaining environments where they can talk to other veterans. The state is also leading the way to make the state more attractive to those returning home from active duty, including pending legislation that would allow veterans to buy back honorable military service and go to SUNY and CUNY colleges at the in-state tuition rate if attending on the post 9/11 GI Bill. Keep in mind that these new efforts come in addition to, not at the expense of, the past generations of veterans and their families in New York. While New York has certainly added programs that specifically focus on the most recent generation of veterans, the state continues to focus on providing services that benefit all men and women who ever wore the uniform of the United States, and their family members at home. There are approximately 900,000 veterans in New York today, and we take great care to treat each as an individual, focusing our assistance on their own unique needs, regardless of age or period of service.

44 Thank you to our advertisers for supporting our first-ever special issue

Thanks You AARP Building & Construction Trades Council City University of New York Coach USA Con Edison

on New York’s veterans and military. 20% of all proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Council of School Supervisors & Administrators Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers NY AREA NY Mets

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering State of New York Mortgage Agency Time Warner Cable

city & state — July 21, 2014

City & State is also proud to announce the winners of our promotional ticket giveaway to New York Mets Military Monday’s at Citifield. Veterans and active service members below will received two tickets to the July 28th game between the Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Vietnam War Army veteran Chip Fay Col. Trevor Jackson, New York National Guard Joint Forces World War II Army veteran Tech Sgt. Donald A. Ruffner Gulf War Army veteran Nelson Torres Navy veteran James H. Westmoreland Steve Savarese William McDonald, Navy USS Guadalcanal LPH 7 Matthew Brennan, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jorge A. Ducos, Air Force Master Sgt. William Lonergan, Air Force Joint Base McGuire Corporal Earl L. Forde Jr., Marine Corps Reserve Wendy Linden, Navy USS Prairie AD-15 Matthew Neuringer, Judge Advocate General’s Corps Vietnam Navy veteran Duane Robbins

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Joe Bello, Navy Lt. James Lloyd, Navy Reserve Vietnam Army veteran Chief Warrant Officer Paul Silverman Vietnam Army veteran Daniel Roskoff Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Orley Pacheco Eileen Villanueva, Air Force Technical Sgt., Todd Kabalan, Air Force Dwayne Gathers, Army Vietnam Army veteran Lt. Col. Guy B. Palumbo Vietnam Army veteran William J. Tritt Jr. WWII Army veteran David Burg Special Agent Carlos Morillo, Air Force stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Operation Iraqi Freedom Army veteran, Joshua Gaccione Col. John Friedlander, Army MP cit

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) Honors Veterans Everywhere and From All Generations. CSA recently honored its own veterans during a special recognition ceremony held on June 5, 2014. More than 100 people saluted our veterans for their service to our nation.

From left: Don Juliano, Dr. Vincent Maligno, Mike Marotta, Lou Tagliani and Al Nilsen.


ew York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is well known for his long and distinguished career in Major League Baseball, from running the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres to working for MLB’s front office. During his time with the A’s, he helped pioneer the “Moneyball” approach to building a baseball team—utilizing analytics and statistics to field a competitive team instead of relying on spending millions on free agents. A less familiar part of Alderson’s biography, though, is his tenure in the U.S. armed forces as a Marine during the Vietnam War. City & State’s Nick Powell caught up with Alderson at a barbecue the Mets were hosting at the St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens to meet and greet army veterans. The following is an edited transcript.

city & state — July 21, 2014


City & State: Tell us a little about the event here today at the St. Albans Community Living Center. Sandy Alderson: We were reaching out to primarily thank [veterans] for the service that they’ve given to the country and provided to all of us. We’re happy to be the focus of a barbecue, which got them downstairs into a social setting. [It’s] really a pleasure to be here and see the number of residents who are here, many of whom were in World War II and Korea and are older. My father would have been 91, he was a WWII veteran, and I can envision him staying in one of these facilities as well. It was [out of] a real appreciation for the patients as well as the staff that cares for them. C&S: Coming out of the armed services, you took a somewhat unorthodox route into Major League Baseball, so I’m curious if anything that you learned in the military prepared you for your future jobs in baseball. SA: After I got out of the military I went to law school and practiced law for about five years, and then, really coincidentally, got involved with the Oakland A’s. I didn’t have any baseball experience other than having played in high school and a little bit in college, so I wasn’t a professional player; I hadn’t been a coach or a scout. But having been in the Marine Corps gave me a certain amount of credibility with the athletes and the coaches. I didn’t play off of that, but I think it contributed to my demeanor and my approach to things and how I tried to handle and deal with people on a professional basis. So I think it had a big impact. C&S: The United States is obviously still involved in several ongoing international conflicts. As a veteran yourself, do you feel that our country’s veterans have the

resources they need to help them when they come back home? SA: That’s a hard question, because for the most part, while I’m able to visit institutions of this sort, I get most of my information from the media. It appears to me that it’s very uneven, that the resources that were available to certain veterans with particular injuries or of a certain era may be very different than what’s available to veterans with other maladies from a different era, so whether it’s hospitalization or other benefits, it seems to be a very uneven environment. One thing I will say is I do believe today, as opposed to 30 years ago, there is a greater appreciation from the public for what

our veterans have gone through. From my standpoint, looking at what I did in the Vietnam era to what they’re doing today, there’s just no comparison. The number of deployments that these men and women have gone on to Iraq and Afghanistan is just mind-boggling, the amount of time they’ve had to spend overseas in harm’s way, away from their families. We really owe a lot to them. C&S: Shifting gears to baseball, you’re renowned for playing Moneyball. I’m curious how you apply the principles of Moneyball to a big market like this one. Mets fans are used to the franchise

Sandy Alderson (right) poses with Mets great Rusty Staub, the teams’ radio announcer Josh Lewin and a veteran.

C&S: To use a very poor military analogy, it seems Mets fans are clamoring for “reinforcements” as the trade deadline approaches. Is there anything you can say to Mets fans to give them hope as these weeks roll by? SA: Well, first of all, I think that while our record doesn’t necessarily demonstrate it, I think the team is very much heading in the right direction. We have some very good young players on the team now who need to develop further at the major league level. You don’t just arrive and perform. There aren’t that many Matt Harveys around. Most players need to continue to develop at the major league level, and we’re starting to see some of that. We’ve got some other good players at the minor league level. When the time is right, we’ll add— and at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re not giving away our own talent hastily in order to fill what may just be a temporary need.



To watch a video of this interview in its entirety, go to


Michael Gareth Johnson


spending a lot of money on free agents and building a team that way, as opposed to the ground-up approach you’ve taken. Is it a difficult shift when you go from a small market to dealing with a media market and fan base as intense as New York’s? SA: It hasn’t been a difficult shift. I certainly have experienced the differences. But most big market teams that are successful, they do two things: They have some money to spend, but they also do well in player development. The teams that are able to sustain it over a period of time have to develop their own players, and also have some money to spend. In our case, we need to develop the prospects in order to be in a position to not only utilize them but also add dollars to the equation. The tough part, frankly, is developing the prospects, because there are two currencies in baseball— dollars and players—and if you don’t have the players, there are some deals you just can’t make. If you don’t have money there are some deals you just can’t make. The ideal is to have a little bit of both, and I think we’re getting to the point where that’s the case.

City & State Magazine, July 21, 2014  

This issue of City & State features a cover story on the safety of America’s fossil fuel boom; perspectives with Alexis Grenell, Jim Heaney...

City & State Magazine, July 21, 2014  

This issue of City & State features a cover story on the safety of America’s fossil fuel boom; perspectives with Alexis Grenell, Jim Heaney...