NYC Council Is Thinking of Banning Plastic Bottles from Parks

Following the environmental example of the City of San Francisco, the New York City Council is deciding whether they should ban disposable plastic bottles from city parks, beaches, and golf courses.
A person can bring plastic bottles into the parks. They just can’t buy or sell them in the borders of parks, beaches and golf courses.
Plastic bottles have been overflowing from trash cans and landfills. They are choking the oceans. The plastic bottle ban is hoped to stop at least some of the damage that these bottles are causing.
Councilman Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., a Brooklyn Democrat, who is the one that created the plastic bottle ban bill, thinks that New Yorkers do like convenience as they are going from one place to another. But they should realize there is an environment cost to that convenience.
Espinal is partnering with Councilman Ben Kallos, an Upper East Side Democrat.
The municipalities of San Francisco and Concord, Massachusetts have already banned the sales of plastic bottles. New York City (NYC) would be the third municipality in the US to get rid of plastic bottles.
NYC would be the first in American to plastic bottles that contain soda and juices, according to environmental advocates.
In New York, there are many colleges, businesses and government agencies are trying to encourage people to refill bottles by having plastic bottle-free policies.
Lauren DeRusha Flores, Corporate Accountability director, a non-government advocacy group, believes that it would send a strong message to the people and to the bottled water industry that they should not rely on this unneeded product.
The International Bottled Water Association, an American lobby group, does not like this ban. It feels that a plastic bottle ban would keep people from using s safe, convenient way to drink water and other liquids. This ban is not fair as it does not go after other foods that use plastic containers This group believes that banning plastic bottle water is not in the interest of the American people and reduces the choices that Americans have in getting adequate hydration.
It is wait-and-see if this bill passes.

Proposed Historic District For Central Harlem Gains Support

The Landmarks Preservation Commission listened to public testimony on Tuesday pertaining to a proposed historic district to be designated in Central Harlem. The sentiments expressed to the commission was in unanimous support for the designation that has constantly picked up steam since first being proposed.

The commission noted in their public presentation that the historic district would consist of 164 buildings mostly built in the 19th century. The district would consist of an area from West 130th and West 132nd Streets and will also run between Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and Lenox Avenue. Only 12 of the buildings in the proposed district have been built after the year 2000.

Despite the majority of buildings in the district being over a century old, the majority of the buildings are fully intact and have undergone very few alterations. The commission also points out that the buildings exhibit a high level of cohesiveness despite the variety of architectural designs that exist.

There is a rich history of culture in the area also. Scott Joplin, the composer that was once known as the “King of Ragtime,” made his home at 163 West 133rd Street. There was also an assortment of actors and actresses that have lived in the area and performed at the Lafayette Theater which was torn down five years ago with an apartment building being constructed in its place. The proposed district is also where the March On Washington maintained its national headquarters.

Many of the residents and public officials that attending the public meeting were not only supportive of the proposed historic district but were also adamant about the commission taking the steps to make the district a reality in an expeditious manner.

Gale Brewer, a spokesperson for Manhattan Borough President, says that the proposed district can do much to provide protection for the heritage of Harlem.

Save Harlem Now is an advocacy group concerned with protecting Harlem against the effects of gentrification. The president of the group, Valerie Bradley, says that a fast decision is needed from the commission to safeguard the neighborhood from those who would wish to further their desire to gentrify the area.

Bradley says that the brownstones in the area are filled with the heritage and history of Harlem.

The designation is scheduled for a May 29 vote by the Landmarks Commission.

NYC playground pose danger to kids, audit finds

The safety of New York City’s children is at risk at the 788 playgrounds overseen by the New York City Housing Authority, according to a new report released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

The Housing Authority, which is responsible for providing public housing for New York City’s poorest residents, also manages playground for the children living at the city’s 238 public housing developments. Stringer’s audit found that 70 percent of the playgrounds managed by the Housing Authority have dangerous conditions, including missing and broken equipment and unsatisfactory safety surfaces.

Even worse, the audit turned up evidence that the Housing Authority was reporting incorrect information in required safety reports or failing to file those reports entirely. Many of the safety reports that were filed did not mention pressing safety issues, even at sites where the Comptroller’s office found damage that imminently endangered children.

Perhaps most shockingly, the audit indicated that professional managers at the Housing Authority were unaware how many playgrounds they managed. When initially asked, the Housing Authority submitted a list of just seven playgrounds to the Comptroller’s office. Only after the auditors conducted site inspections did it become clearly that the Housing Authority manages nearly 800 playgrounds.

“This is a very disturbing audit that shows the dangers children face within Nycha developments,” Stringer, the comptroller, told The New York Times. “The dangerous conditions that permeate these developments are simply horrifying.”

In response to the critical audit, the Housing Authority said that it was working to implement the advice of the Comptroller’s office. However, as of Wednesday, it seemed unlikely that much progress had been made because the Housing Authority considered corrective action to be filing a work order, as opposed to actually repairing or replacing damaged equipment.

The Housing Authority, which has been plagued by complaints about horrific housing conditions, is the center of an ongoing dispute between Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who oversees the Housing Authority, and Democratic New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who has lamented the conditions in its facilities and declared a “state of emergency” in the agency.

New Taco Option Coming To Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a highly diverse place. People here have a highly sophisticated sense of taste. Those who love tacos will soon have other options in the borough. Famous restaurant developer and wildly successful chef Danny Meyer has announced his new plans. He’s going to open up a new place devoted to tacos in Brooklyn. Like so many other chefs and food professionals, Meyer has realized that this part of the area has a great deal of potential. He’s also realized that Brooklyn also has about a million people as well as many national and international visitors. Understanding this growing market has helped him come to the conclusion that any new business venture in this part of the area is likely to have an immediate customer base. Meyer knows that people today are also more likely to be willing to take public transportation or even walk across a bridge to enjoy the diverse delights of this part of the region. Given this base, industry observers are not surprised that he, like many of his fellow chefs, has decided to start a new venture here.

Tacocina During The Summer

Danny Meyer let his many fans know of his new plans in a recent announcement. The Union Square Hospitality group, his company, has confirmed the new plans for an expansion. The new taco stand will be opening at some point over this coming summer in an area that is known as Domino Park. This area is located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Williamsburg is a section of Brooklyn adjacent to much of downtown Manhattan via subways and buses. In the last few years alone, many companies have found a haven here. The area has cheaper rents than much of Manhattan, making it a highly attractive place to locate a new venture while still attracting a great deal of pedestrian traffic. Meyers has been vague about the details of his new restaurant. Industry insiders expect that he will be forthcoming with more details as he heads into the summer season. Domino Park is a new development in the area that is also expected to attract even more attention and other business ventures. The new space should be highly successful attracting those who really love good food.

Kushner Real Estate Company In Center Of Investigation

The New York City Council has began an investigation into documentation that was filed by the real estate company that belongs to the Kushner family, Kushner Cos., under the belief that the company avoided certain rent laws in order to widen their profit margin.

After meeting with tenants of Kushner Cos. properties, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman discovered that while hundreds of the buildings that belonged to the company fell under the protection of a New York City law that prevented them from having to push major rent hikes on their tenants or forcing out tenants under new ownership, it appears that the real estate company often filed falsified documentation stating that the buildings had no tenants under rent regulations from 2013 through 2016. During the years stated, Jared Kushner was serving as the CEO of Kushner Cos., Jared Kushner is also married to first daughter Ivanka Trump.

Per information that was received from Housing Rights Initiative, a watchdog group, there were at least 80 applications filed for construction permits on 34 separate buildings during that time period that included false information. Each application stated that the buildings had no rent-regulated tenants living in them, but in reality, they had about 300 rent-regulated tenants. The false information led to a lack of city supervision at the construction sites which in turn left vulnerable tenants who were harassed to leave or forced to endure the constant upheaval that came with the construction.

The move was one that allowed the real estate company to force certain tenants out of the building in order to renovate then bring in tenants who were able to pay new and higher rents. This type of accusation goes beyond just falsifying certain information in documentation, according to some city council members, it threatens the very existence of affordable rents and the safety of tenants who are living in construction zones.

While it is clear that New York is not fond of the President and his family, city council members made it clear that fault also lies with the city for failing to properly vet the paperwork which clearly disagreed with city tax documents. For his part, Kushner was quick to point out that a third party was hired to file the paperwork, he and his family had no knowledge of what was actually happening. Since the 2016 election when President Trump took office, Jared Kushner stepped down as CEO of his company but still has major holdings in the company as well as Westminster Management, a real estate company located in Maryland that carries residential properties that were recently hit with their own lawsuit by tenants who claimed they had been charge strange fees which occurred simply to force them from the properties. For more detailed information on this topic, click here.

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.