With rising sea levels, parts of Manhattan are at increased risk of severe flooding, like we saw with Sandy in 2013. One form of protection could be a barrier along East River Park. But the de Blasio administration has upended a last September.
“How could they cut out the community from this announcement?” said Carlina Rivera, the council member for the area. Rivera learned to ride a bike on the shores of the East River, and said City Hall’s plan was done without consulting locals.
Instead of building a wall along the FDR drive, the de Blasio administration's proposal would raise most of the park, by 8 to 10 feet, using landfill, from around 14th street down to Corlears Hook.
“Our engineers took a very good look at it and we just realized that this was a better way to go,” said Lorraine Grillo, Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction.
She conceded that the de Blasio administration should have done better outreach, but said neighbors would find lots to like in City Hall’s proposal. That new plan would bring in landfill by barge, while the earlier plan relied on trucks and highway closures.
“It had contractors every night driving piles and constructing a wall for four years, maybe more,” Grillo said.
Wednesday afternoon, City Council holds hearings on how to protect the Lower East Side from flooding. Grillo will be there. So will Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. And, with a long list of questions, Council Member Carlina Rivera will be there too.
Albany Approves Abortion Rights Bill
In another show of the Democrats' new power in Albany, the New York State legislature voted to codify the abortion rights in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into New York law on Tuesday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo promptly signed the bill.
The measure establishes the right of women in New York state to choose abortion without restriction up to the 24th week of pregnancy, and after that if the life or health of the mother is threatened or if the fetus is determined not to be viable.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who achieved her post when Democrats won several seats in last November’s elections, said the bill was a top priority because President Donald Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court threaten the landmark decision.
“That moment where they actually, on a national level, might reverse women’s rights is here,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Today, in New York, we are saying no.”
The Democratic-led State Assembly has already approved the measure in several previous sessions.
During debate on the Senate floor, several newly elected Democrats rose to explain their vote, saying the measure is long overdue. Freshman Sen. Allesandra Biaggi worked on the bill when she was a junior attorney in the governor’s office just a couple of years ago. She said she was told by others that the measure would never pass.
“I hope that all of New York is watching today, and that they recognize that elections have consequences” Biaggi said. “When you vote for people who stand up for your rights, your rights become protected.”
Several Republican senators voted no, including Sen. Daphne Jordan, who said strengthening abortion rights contributes to what she calls a “throw away” culture.
“A baby inside its mother is not an inanimate object, it’s a life,” said Jordan. “Think about what you’re allowing to be tossed away with a yes vote.”
Some GOP Senators also expressed concerns over what they say is an unintended consequence of the bill. The measure decriminalizes all forms of abortion in New York, even in domestic violence cases where an attack on a woman leads to the loss of her fetus.
Sen. Kathy Young a Republican from Olean, says because of that, the bill takes away some rights from pregnant women. She offered an amendment that would make it a class D felony for “knowingly assaulting a pregnant woman” whether or not the fetus is lost.
“Why aren’t we protecting pregnant women from having their babies taken away from them, especially in such a violent manner?” Young asked.
The amendment was voted down along party lines.
The Senate sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act, Liz Krueger, said all of the state’s major anti-domestic violence advocacy groups back the measure. And she says there are already multiple crimes that the perpetrator of assault on a pregnant woman can be charged with.
“We have very strict criminal statutes for when people attack people,” Krueger said.
Advocates were exhilarated by the vote. Robin Chappelle-Golston, with Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, the lobby group for Planned Parenthoods in New York says it is a “great day.”
“It’s huge,” Chappelle-Golston said. “People have been working on this issue for over a decade."
Opponents, including the Catholic Church and some evangelical protestant groups, said they are saddened by the vote.
Both houses of the legislature also approved a measure, known as the Comprehensive Contraceptive Care Act, that would ensure that New York’s women have access, through their health insurance policies, to affordable contraceptives.
Investigators Find No Orgy, but Plenty of Misconduct at Housing Complex
Two New York City Housing Authority employees abused their positions and mistreated their subordinates, according to the city investigators.
Last summer, . The city's Department of Investigation consequently looked into the claims and this month sent a referral for consideration of employee disciplinary action to NYCHA. In it, the department concluded there was no evidence of orgies, but the agency found numerous other problems.
Two former Throggs Neck managers, Brianne Pawson and Wallace Vereen, threatened their subordinates with physical violence and retaliated against those who reported what was happening, according to DOI. They organized drunken parties during work hours, and engaged in sexual relationships with subordinates. On one occasion, Pawson disabled refrigerators that were supposed to be placed in new tenants’ apartments, in an apparent attempt to generate complaints against a new assistant superintendent assigned to the development.
Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio, said the two employees have been suspended and that the city is seeking to dismiss them.
"This blatant misconduct is appalling and completely unbefitting of any NYCHA employee, especially those in supervisory roles,” she said.
The latest available number for Vereen was out of service; the woman who answered Pawson's phone said she was not the supervisor and would not identify herself.
Inbox Zero: A Worthwhile Resolution, Or a Waste of Energy?
As you settle into the new year, there's a relatively simple way to create some peace of mind: Organize your email inbox, or even get it down to "inbox zero."
WNYC editor Sean Bowditch says he has a steady routine, wherein he makes sure he has no unread messages before going to bed. His mantra: "Must clear mind, must clear email inbox."
Our colleague Kate Hinds, on the other hand, doesn’t like the idea of inbox zero, full stop. She prefers to archive her emails, and uses folders and flags to keep a kind of living time capsule of messages.
"For me, inbox zero is like having an empty refrigerator," she says. "Like, you’re going to eat all your food and clear everything out and stare at an empty fridge? No, it’s a buffet from which you constantly want to graze."
Alec Hamilton, who produces Morning Edition at WNYC, could graze for days. She has 9,528 unread emails in her Gmail. In Outlook, it's up to 72,895.
But for Hamilton, getting down to zero wouldn't be worth the effort.
"It would take me like three weeks of doing nothing but deleting emails to get it down to zero," she says. "I’d have to just start from scratch, change my name, get a new email address."
Salazar spoke with WNYC's Richard Hake, a true master of the tidy inbox.