New York Joins Others In Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

New York state has joined sixteen other states who have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The lawsuit raises concerns about the legality of a question that is slated to appear on the 2020 United States Census. The controversial question that seems to be causing all the stir is a simple yet powerful one, are you a citizen of the United States?

The United States Census began in 1790 and has occurred every ten years since then. As outlined in the United States Constitution, the taxes shall be divided among the states in amounts that are respective to the population. In layman’s terms, this means the government needs to know how many people reside in each state in order for them to properly divide up the resources such as funding. Population also affects the amount of electoral votes each state receives in a presidential election as well as the number of representatives states, meaning these numbers could have a widespread political effect as well.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneierman (D) joined with sixteen other states as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the District of Columbia and six separate cities to file a federal lawsuit that is intended to stop the 2020 census from including a question that requests a persons citizenship in the United States. The group filing the federal lawsuit believes that this question violates the very laws of the census, which, when outlined in the Constitution, state that the purpose of the census is to simply count the population, not determine citizenship status. This group feels that many people who are not legal citizens of the country will refuse to answer the questions which would therefore make the numbers inaccurate when it comes to the needs of the state. This group also feels as though this is a personal attack on states that have high immigrant populations that are aimed to cut the congressional representation of these states.

It is, in fact, highly likely that those that are in the country without documentation would avoid answering this type of question. The Trump administration has made it quite clear that they have every intention of removing those who do not have proper documentation and new stories arise on a regular basis of deportations happening around the United States. The Department of Justice defended the decision to include the question, which has not been on the census since 1950, stating that they require better information in order for them to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act, a law that was created in order to help secure voting rights to minorities in the country. Section 2, which the DOJ specifically noted, refers to prohibiting any voting practices that are deemed discriminatory. Schneiderman was quick to note that the DOJ has yet to bring a single case under Section 2 of the act under the Trump administration, leading everyone to believe he thinks this is a smokescreen for the real motive.

These types of cases are often slow to play out, and with nearly two years before the census even happens it might be awhile before we have answers and a long fight could take place. It is clear that the Trump administration intends to push this topic heavily and will continue to meet adversaries at every turn. For more information on this topic, click here.

New York Chefs Are Using Caramelle More, And It Looks Delicious

There is a type of pasta that is making a semi comeback in some New York restaurants. I say semi comeback because this is not a well know type of pasta to begin with. Caramelle is a variety of pasta the looks just like it’s candyish namesake. Caramelle is pinched on both ends about an inch before the pasta ends. The middle of the pasta is rounded and, of course is stuffed with whatever your heart would desire. Just like a Ravioli pillow with ties on the end. Pasta candy!

Several New York City chefs have been using this little known pasta shape in unique ways, making the pasta pertly striped or brightly colored such as the pink offering from Barano that is made from the juices of beets. The restaurants brave enough to use this quirky pasta shape (Don Angie, Faro, Legacy Records, and Osteria Morini to name a few) have been well received. New York has always been a literal melting pot for different cuisine, but Caramelle has made the rounds of several New York restaurants in the 1990’s. It is believed that this type of pasta was originally used in Northern Italian homes as a “holiday pasta” and is not even included in “Encyclopedia Of Pasta” English or Italian version.

Wherever this pasta came from, Caramelle sounds fun to make and eat. Almost like adults are allowed to play with their food. In a world where pratically everyone takes photos of their perfect plate of food before eating, these pasta would steal the show. I would love to find a recipe for this type of nooodle and give it a try myself. I could hide all sorts of small chopped vegatables in those candy shaped pillows, tricking my kids with a fun shape and great taste. If you happen to be in New York or visiting soon, here is a link to the original article with a restaurant listing, complete with colorful photos of this fun pasta shape. Happy eating!

Non-Profit Organization Seeks To Provide East Harlem Groups With More Access To Neighborhood Recreational Spaces

East Harlem is home to more space for recreation than most neighborhoods in the borough of Manhattan. The problem as some sees it is that most of the permits to use these rec spaces have not been given to local athletic groups. Information regarding the situation is available in a recently published report that studied how the city can even the playing field for young athletes in the area.

It was revealed that approximately 44% of the land area in East Harlem is recreational space or public parks in a 44-page report on the matter that was prepared by the Aspen Institute. The institute is a non-profit organization working in conjunction with Mount Sinai Health Systems as well as other charitable organizations in the area in hopes of expanding youth sports options.

The report that 80% of the available athletic spaces in East Harlem were used by athletic groups based in other neighborhoods for the 2017-2018 winter season.

The report further detailed the situation at Thomas Jefferson Park, which contains a large area used for recreation. It was observed by the Aspen Institute that 57% of the track and field reservations for the park in November went to leagues that are not based in East Harlem.

The Department of Parks and Recreation for New York City did not provide a careful review of the report but countered the findings by saying that a full-year review of reservations at Thomas Jefferson Park would show more usage by local leagues. The reinforce their point, the department explained that the East Harlem Little League is the entity that uses the field more than any other.

Sam Biederman, a spokesman for the Parks Department said that the ballfields are available to any group in the city and that all have equal access to them.

Ranya Bautista, working with the Aspen Institute, explains that sports groups in East Harlem find it more difficult to manage the issues with bureaucracy that is necessary to reserve the athletic spaces.

The institute suggested that to remedy the problem the city could give priority to athletic groups from East Harlem when issuing permits for usage of the neighborhood recreational spaces.

The city has not yet provided a response to the suggestions made by the Aspen Institute.

Democrats Are Taking Back New York

For many it may be surprising to learn that a left leaning state like New York had any sort of Republican control, but until recently, they did. For many years there was a small breakaway group of Democrats known as Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) who helped Republicans control the Senate in New York.

Many people, especially in the state of New York, were unaware of a secret deal between the IDC and Felder’s coalition with the Republicans that dated all the way back to 2012. There are eight members of the IDC who have a power sharing agreement with the Republicans in the Senate. This power sharing deal allows them to hold leadership posts in committees as well as have financial stipends. Even though Democrats held a one-seat numerical majority in the state Senate, with this agreement Republicans were able to control the chamber.

Following the 2016 election, the people of New York were angered over the election of President Donald Trump and this anger spurred a new enthusiasm in the New York Democrats that has placed high scrutiny on the IDC. The members of IDC were quick to blame Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who they stated had created the arrangement. Progressive party members have placed the blame on the GOP controlled Senate for the prevention of single-payer health care bills and other progressive action that passed the state Assembly but never came up to vote. Critics have also point out that due to the current system, budget negotiations are done between four men, Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and IDC Leader Klien. This prevents the current Democratic Senate leader fro playing a proper role in these negotiations.

2018 is shaping up to be a much different year as the IDC is facing stiff competition in the primary where Biaggi is one of seven different Democrats who is challenging IDC members. Gov. Cuomo faces his own competition in Cynthia Nixon, a progressive education activist, and she stands a good chance as Cuomo has been accused in being complacent by not leveraging his power against the IDC and Felder. A recent meeting at a steakhouse between Cuomo, the Democratic Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins and IDC leader Klein might alter the course of events. Cuomo played peacemaker and requested Klein come back into the Democratic fold. The request was tentatively accepted with a handshake and the Democrats seem to be welcoming.

Weather the challengers or the sitting members hold their seats is yet to be known, but it looks like no matter what the future holds, Democrats are back in full control of New York. For more information on this, click here.

When A Highly Acclaimed Restaurant Receives A Zero-Star New York Times Review, The News Can Be Shocking

When a restaurant is reviewed by a New York Times food critic, the review can greatly affect peoples’ perceptions of the establishment. A recent Eater article tells of how one highly acclaimed restaurant just received zero stars in a review by critic Pete Wells.

The Chinese restaurant chain DaDong is known for its roasted Peking duck and opened its first U.S. location in New York City in December 2018. The 17,500-square foot restaurant features the renowned duck, and a large menu that offers a diverse selection of choices.

According to the Eater article, the food critic recently dined at DaDong but was less-than impressed with the highly hyped duck dish that drew him there. The Peking duck served at DaDong has received lots of publicity and is widely considered to be among the best versions of the dish available in Beijing, China.

In his review, Mr. Wells acknowledged that some of the dishes at DaDong are nicely presented, but did not measure-up overall. As for the restaurant’s famous Peking duck dish, the critic thought it was dry and made a minimal impression on him.

While the New York Times review of DaDong gave kudos to the desserts and the wine list at DaDong, the reviewer said that it took him a while to realize that he spent almost $100 on a duck dinner that offered very little flavor.

Restaurant patrons are generally a fickle lot, and an eatery’s popularity can largely be shaped by reviews on various media outlets. When it was first announced that DaDong’s New York City spot was opening, 2,500 meal reservations were booked within just a couple of hours.

Although DaDong’s New York City location has received positive reviews elsewhere, reviews from the New York Times usually attract more attention. As qualified as a food critic may be, it is really only one person’s view of an establishment that is being presented.

It looks like hungry diners in New York City will have to decide for themselves if the Peking duck at DaDong is as good as it’s hyped to be.

Two Years After Dropping Out Of College, One Former Student Won’t Give Up Her Dorm Room

A recent article on the Buzz Feed website tells the story of a woman who dropped out of a New York City college and continues to live there without paying rent.

Evidently, a 32-year old woman who dropped out of Hunter College in Manhattan two years ago is refusing to leave her dorm room, even though she is no longer a student at the school.

The college, which is part of the City University of New York system, claims that the former student owes the school more than $94,000 in unpaid residence fees. The school is now suing the woman, stating that she has been illegally squatting in the dorm room since 2016.

According to the Buzz Feed article, the former student was a geography major who stopped paying her residence fees shortly after she began living at the dorm. When the woman was denied housing during the summer months in 2016, she dropped out of the school.

Hunter College says that it has sent the woman numerous notices of the fees that are owed, and eviction notices have even been sent. The former student has ignored these efforts, and says that she should not have to pay the fees.

In the lawsuit filed against the former student, it is alleged that an agreement between the former student and a college would allow her to stay in the dorm if she enrolled in classes again and paid off outstanding course fees.

As it turns out, the woman has not reenrolled in courses and has not paid off her outstanding fees. She claims to be working two jobs, but says that it is unrealistic to think that she could pay off the money that she owes. It is the woman’s contention that because she can’t pay the debt, she should not have to. She also thinks that she should be allowed to remain in the dorm room.

In the real world of privately-owned apartment buildings, not paying the rent for two years and ignoring eviction notices would usually lead to the tenant and his or her belongings being removed from the premises. In this case, the woman says she is going to stay in the dorm room and fight the case.

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission Is Being Called Out On Their Ban Regarding Commercial Speech

The limousines, black cars, livery and taxicabs in New York may be owned by the businesses but in truth they are controlled by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The city highly regulates all passenger transportation but the businesses are still entitled to their constitutional rights. Prior to May of 2005 pre-authorization was required by the TLC for all interior advertising in regulated vehicles. In 2004 the installation of passenger monitors was required by the TLC. The next year the ad ban for taxicabs was lifted by the TLC to enable them to offset the costs.

Vugo is a media distribution company. In 2015 they attempted a partnership with New York City rideshare companies including Lift and Uber. The software from Vugo was downloaded onto tablets the riders could view. Sixty percent of the revenue generated from the ads would be paid to the drivers. The TLC stated interior advertising would not be approved for ridesharing. Vugo had to cancel their plans for expansion. Vugo then challenged TLC under the first amendment in New York’s United States District Court. Ronnie Abrams was the judge for the Southern District of New York. She declared Vugo’s commercial rights to speech had been violated due to the ban of TLC.

Judge Abrams determined TLC was promoting the interests of the state. She additionally determined the comfort of the customers was substantial. Due to the exemption of liveries and taxis the ban was deemed under inclusive. This ban was not connected to the comfort of the customers. The judge noted there were no limits on the size or placements of the ads. The final result was TLC was prevented from discrimination pertaining to rideshare vehicles. These vehicles were given the same commercial opportunities as the taxis. For additional details please visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/wlf/2018/03/06/haling-the-first-amendment-nyc-taxi-authoritys-ad-ban-struck-down-as-unconstitutional/2/#143892195cd5.

The advertising rule was justified by TLC with a study conducted seven years previously. The study showed Taxi TV was annoying to 33 percent of all passengers. This was not enough evidence to support the ban imposed on speech. The rules of TLC disfavored marketing and were considered to be invalid. Numerous courts for federal appeals were urged by the Washington Legal Foundation to assess the content of restrictions regarding commercial speech restrictions. It is possible the ruling of Judge Abrams will be appealed by the TLC.

New Study Finds Airbnb Driving Up Rent in NYC

For those of you who may not know what Airbnb is, it is a website that is used by many people to find a short-term rental property. Using this site, any homeowner can rent out a room or a house for extra income. Usually, renters are charged by the day. This means that any property owner can effectively use their property as a small hotel. Needless to say, this has had a negative effect upon the hotel industry, and upon the rental market.

A new study conducted by McGill Urban Planning professor David Wachsmuth attempts to show the impact of Airbnb upon these markets. It should be noted that this study was commissioned by the Hotel Trades Council and the AFL-CIO. They estimate that average long-term rental prices in New York have increased about 1.4% as a result of Airbnb’s increased popularity, which equals about $384 a year.

Their numbers were obtained using a complex comparative research model that is meant to rule out any other factors that could have caused price increases. As for the cause of these price increases, it seems to mostly be the prevalence of “ghost hotels”.

A ghost hotel works like this: Let’s say you’re a property owner, and you want to rent out a bunch of Apartments. If you rent them out in the normal way, you have to deal with a lot of regulations and fees. Renting your properties out individually on Airbnb gives you a way to avoid many of these regulations and fees. While Airbnb was intended to provide private homeowners with a means of extra income, this study suggests that many listings come from professional operators who are simply looking for a loophole.

The study found about 4,700 listings that were obvious “ghost hotels”. In addition, the study found that between 7,000 and 13,500 rental properties have been removed from the market using this method. The end result is an increase in prices across the board. Techcrunch’s article on the subject can be found here: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/31/nyc-new-york-airbnb-study-mcgill/

Even more disturbing, the study finds that about 45 percent of all Airbnb listings in the last year are in violation of New York law. New York City has a law against renting out property for less than 30 days if the property has more than 3 units, unless the owner also lives on the property.

The study also found that the top 10% of Airbnb hosts generated about 48 percent of all Airbnb revenue, giving additional credence to their theory that unscrupulous property managers are abusing a service intended to benefit the average homeowner.

Giants Make Big Move to Improve Defense

The 2017 NFL season was not a very good one for the New York Giants. While the Giants looked as if they could compete for a spot in the NFL playoffs, the season quickly went the wrong way and the team struggled throughout the year. After a promising 2016 season, the Giants ended up winning only two games while losing 14, which was good for the second worst record in the league. To make matters worse, the Giants had to see their bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, win the Super Bowl.

Much of the 2017 season disappointment had to do with injuries. All three of the teams starting wide receivers missed a lot of time during the year. This made it nearly impossible for quarterback Eli Manning to find rhythm. Ultimately, he was benched for the first time in his career towards the end of the season. Now that the offseason is officially underway, the Giants are looking for ways to be better next year. This past week the team made a big move by trading for a standout defensive player (http://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/la-sp-rams-trade-ogletree-20180307-story.html).

During the first week of the official offseason, the Giants traded for Alec Ogletree, who is 26-year old former first round draft pick. The Los Angeles Rams to the Giants in exchange for a few draft picks traded Ogletree. Ogletree, who now plays inside linebacker, has made a very positive impact on the Rams defense over the past few years. In 2016 he was named 2nd-team All Pro and continues to look like one of the more dominant linebacker in the league.

This will likely not be the last move that the Giants make during the offseason. The team is very heavily focused on improving through the draft. During the upcoming draft, they will have the number 2 overall pick. There are many different rumors out there about which direction the team will go, but at this point it is unclear. Many believe that the Giants would like to get a new quarterback to replace Manning, but it is not clear whether they would like to use the number 2 pick on any of the players coming out this year. Another option would be to trade down the pick and build more depth.

Protest Erupts in New York City After Local Man Arrested

Some New York City residents are outraged at the behavior of ICE agents, the federal government’s deportation police, because they seem to be arresting people randomly and with no reasonable cause.

On Thursday, February 9th, over 100 Bronx residents lined up outside the courthouse to stand up for a man, Aboubacar Dembele Lanier, who was brought to the United States due to no choice of his own at the age of 3. Lanier was arrested upon walking out of the courthouse by ICE agents waiting just outside its doors.

The people protesting outside The Bronx Courthouse are not just random citizens. Every protester is a public defender, knowledgeable of the subject, some of which probably have a better understanding of the immigration laws than the ICE agents who made the arrest. If the protesters were random citizens, this protest may not resonate as loudly as it is. Some of the public defenders who lined up outside the courthouse have clients who have been arrested by ICE agents, for reasons not greater than the fact that they can.

Zaquera Lanier, wife of Aboubacar, told reporters that the agents were waiting outside, with the knowledge that her husband was already inside conducting business that was not associated with any immigration process. Zaquera is a US citizen, her husband only recently signed up for deportation protection under DACA.

The Legal Aid Society, who organized the protest stated to reporters: “The presence of ICE officers in our courthouse and perception that no immigrant is safe to seek their day in court, is threatening to upend our entire legal process and the principles upon which it stands.” Could immigrants be less likely to attend their mandatory court visits if they believe they will be arrested for unrelated issues upon exiting the building? This could be the case, and it could lead to higher deportation rate(due to the fact that if you miss a court date an arrest warrant is often issued) which could be precisely the goal of ICE agents.