With eight million rides a day, city subways and buses are the lifeblood of New York. Instead of meeting growing need, subway performance has declined, with delays almost quadrupling—from 20,000 per month in May 2012 to 76,000 in January 2018. On-time performance hovers at a failing 60 percent, much lower than any other transit system in the world. Trains now move slower than they did in 1950.
The governor of New York is in charge of the subways. And for eight years, straphangers have have been neglected and ignored by the current administration. And that alone should be enough to disqualify Andrew Cuomo for a third term.
The governor has kicked this can down the road for eight years because it doesn’t affect him or his wealthy donors. He has made the deliberate choice of cutting taxes on corporations and the ultra-rich, and cutting services for everyone else. There is no greater evidence of this approach than our dilapidated subways.
New Yorkers deserve better than to be stuck in a perpetual signal delay. We need to start moving forward.
We can’t fix the subway until we have a governor who knows it’s her job to fund the MTA. Governor Cuomo has no plan to bring relief to millions of subway riders. I do.
The plan to fix the subways presented last week by Andy Byford, president of the New York City Transit Authority, is a comprehensive diagnosis and remedy to our subway crisis. But as is typical with studies he has commissioned, the Governor is often unwilling to fund the recommendations of his own appointees.
When Byford’s “Fast Forward” plan was released over a week ago, the governor initially refused to support it. It was only after I and other transit activists put pressure on the governor for refusing to support his own MTA’s plan that, today, he finally caved and recommitted to congestion pricing. The problem is the Cuomo has said he’ll use comprehensive congestion pricing to fix the subways before, and then he abandoned it. Why should we believe that Cuomo will stick with it this time? Especially when there’s no chance of it getting through the legislature before they break in June? And why is he ruling out a millionaires’ tax as part of the funding solution?
While the MTA hasn’t put out a number on the cost to repair their subway, likely due to political pressure from the governor, the billions needed will require multiple revenue streams. To meet the need, my plan includes comprehensive congestion pricing, plus a portion of the funding generated from a polluter fee and a millionaires tax.
A congestion charge on private cars and trucks will raise more than $1 billion annually and will allow New York State to issue bonds which will go a long way towards funding a large scale, accelerated plan like Fast Forward.
Last fall, Governor Cuomo convened a panel called Fix NYC to recommend policies that would fund public transit investment and reduce traffic congestion. The Fix NYC proposals on congestion pricing are not only capable of raising billions needed to fix public transportation; they are also fair and just, with the heaviest burden for payment falling on wealthier households and the greatest benefits going to public transit riders. And yet, Governor Cuomo has failed to implement these recommendations.
Private car owners in New York City earn more than double the income of households that have no car and rely exclusively on public transit—and car owners who drive into the central business district regularly for work are wealthier still.
And a recent study from the Community Service Society found that only 2 percent of working poor New Yorkers would be subject to a congestion fee applied to cars that drive into the center of Manhattan and only 4 percent of outer-borough residents commute to jobs in Manhattan by vehicle. The study estimates that 118,000 outer-borough residents rely on vehicles for their commute to work compared to 2.1 million who rely on public transit.
Governor Cuomo also missed the mark to fully implement Fix NYC’s recommendations when he decided to impose a flat fee on yellow cabs, Ubers and Lyfts, without touching private cars and trucks. This move not only goes against the intent of the panel’s recommendations, but could be disastrous for yellow cab drivers facing desperate times. Experts say that solely hitting for-hire vehicles will neither significantly decrease congestion nor generate the revenue needed to fix the subways. We need a pricing system that is fair to all drivers and riders.
To help make this plan more equitable, some of the money raised could pay to reduce tolls elsewhere in the city, giving drivers a break, for example, on Staten Island and in eastern Queens, where the subways don’t run. Low-income drivers who need to commute into Manhattan by car would also be eligible for a partial toll rebate, so they wouldn’t have to pay any more than the cost of a subway ride.
Under Cuomo’s leadership, inequality has skyrocketed and the wealthy have not paid their fair share. Our plan would generate additional revenue through a millionaires tax and a polluter fee. A polluter fee will generate billions of dollars to be used to fund New York’s transition to green energy. As carbon emissions are greatly reduced by high-functioning public transit systems, a portion of the polluter fee can and should be dedicated towards fixing our subways.
At present, New York also has one of the least accessible mass transit systems in the entire world. A small percentage of stations have elevators and even those elevators break down too frequently. A modern subway should be open to all—riders in wheelchairs, with walkers, with strollers, with suitcases, and with bad knees and bad backs. Moving toward a transit system that is 100 percent accessible is essential to enabling all New Yorkers to access everything the city has to offer.
Our dilapidated subways have become a symbol of Cuomo’s disastrous austerity budgets that were balanced on the backs of millions of working New Yorkers in order to pay for enormous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. His negligence and reluctance to make the wealthy pay their fair share has created a crisis that could take decades to fix.
New Yorkers can’t afford to wait that long. The subway is the lifeblood of our city. If the subway dies, so does the city of New York. We need bold leadership and immediate action from our next governor.
Cynthia Nixon is a Democratic candidate for governor and the gubernatorial nominee of the Working Families Party.
Source says more than 300 immigrant kids separated from family are in New York; Gov. Cuomo says he’ll sue the feds over ‘illegal’ Trump policy
By ERIN DURKIN, JILLIAN JORGENSEN and KERRY BURKE | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday he will sue the federal government over its policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.’ southern border, as more than 70 of those children have wound up in facilities in New York State — with a federal source telling the Daily News the number of separated children here is even higher, 311.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the morality of this practice, but we also believe that this practice is illegal, and we are intending to bring suit against the federal government, ” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Cuomo said the children are being held in private facilities, including three in the Bronx, that are contracted by the federal government to provide services to unaccompanied alien children — minors who cross the border alone and whom the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement temporarily houses while seeking family sponsors.
“But these are not unaccompanied alien children. These are children who were separated from their parents,” Cuomo said.
A federal source told The News that the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s population of unaccompanied minors in New York State’s lower 14 counties was 1,321 as of Monday — but of those, 311 are actually in shelters as a result of separation from family held in detention centers. All of the facilities in the area house boys and girls, except one that houses boys 14 to 17, the source said.
Cuomo said that while the state has oversight of the facilities, it has been told it cannot provide services to the children in them without approval from the federal Health and Human Services Department, which he said told the state it would take weeks.
As for the suit, Cuomo said he intends to bring it in the next two weeks and that it would be based on three legal theories.
“First, that it’s a violation of the constitutional rights of the parent to the care, custody and control of their children,” he said, and a violation of their due process as the children were removed without any hearings.
The second theory, he said, is the policy violates the terms of the 1997 Flores settlement that set national standards on the detention, release and treatment of children in immigration detention “and underscores the principle of family unity.”
And third, he said, “it is outrageous government conduct.”
Cuomo said the state has the legal right to bring such a suit.
“New York has standing, these agencies have standing, because there are children in New York who are, who have been taken from their parents without due process,” Cuomo said.
His counsel, Alphonso David, said, “The state is vindicating due process, familial association rights, of the children who are located in New York State. In addition New York State is protecting the health and welfare of children within its jurisdiction.”
Some of those children are being held at MercyFirst in Syosset, L.I., as reported Monday. Gerard McCaffrey, president and CEO of MercyFirst, brushed past a reporter seeking confirmation that nearly 60 kids are being housed there.
“It’s late at night. You can call me at work tomorrow,” said McCaffrey as he rushed into his Upper East Side apartment building.
Cuomo did not have a breakdown of how many children have been shipped to sites in New York.
“We have about 10 facilities in the state. We haven’t spoken with all of them,” Cuomo said. “We know there are over 70 children, just by the ones that we have talked about, but they are in Dobbs Ferry, Lincolndale, Yonkers, Irvington, three in the Bronx, one in Syosett and one in Kingston.”
In a followup interview with The News, David declined to characterize these facilities, saying they offer varying degrees of security and services. They are co-located in facilities that provide state-certified foster care programs, David said, but the migrant children are not part of the state’s foster care network. Instead, the agencies contract directly with the Health and Human Services Department and its Office of Refugee Resettlement.
A second federal source said the Health and Human Services Department-funded facilities in New York for unaccompanied minors are not comparable to conditions at the facilities along the border, which include chain-link cages.
“Based off our conversations with providers contracted by the federal government, we believe there are dozens, and possibly many more, of separated children in New York City,” Seth Stein, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, said. “We have every indication that they are being cared for by qualified facilities and foster families. But that doesn’t make these family separations any less unconscionable and immoral in the mayor’s eyes.”
Typically, unaccompanied minors arrive in New York because they have family nearby, and they are held in such facilities while the government looks for relative sponsors to place them with.
Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County, — which has a contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide such services — describes its program as a “family-like and nurturing environment,” that offers education, recreation, medical care and family reunification. It declined to comment on its unaccompanied minors program or whether it had children who were separated from their parents at the border.
In the Bronx, both Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Guardian Services have federal contracts to provide services and shelter to unaccompanied minors. The communications office at Lutheran Social Services said it could not answer questions about whether it housed children separated at the border; Catholic Guardian Services did not return a message left Tuesday afternoon.
At an unrelated press conference, de Blasio said it’s horrible to begin with for a child to be taken from his or her parent even if they’re held in separate facilities in the same town.
“But it’s much much worse if they’re separated by 1,000 miles, and you have no idea when that family’s going to get reunified,” he said. “And that’s what we fear we’re seeing, and we just have to do everything we can to stop it.”
De Blasio, who said he is considering a trip to the border, said that if visiting a facility here would help, he’d also consider that.
“I want to do whatever I can to stop this broken, inhumane policy,” he said, calling the border the immediate issue. “I also want to see anything we can do to stop New York City from being used as a place to send children separated from their parents.”
Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — who just returned from a trip to the border — said it was as if the children had been “disappeared.”
“It tells you the enormity of this issue,” she said of having to house children separated at the border all the way in New York. “That’s what that tells you.”
City Public Advocate Letitia James also ripped the policy, as she held a baby following an unrelated press conference on child care.
“It is unconscionable in this country that we are basically snatching babies from the arms of their families, their mothers,” she said. “We should not be cooperating in this policy that separates families.”
Trump, House GOP meet as tensions boil over child-detention crisis: ‘Politically, this is bad’
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday told House Republicans he is “1,000 percent” behind their rival immigration bills, providing little clear direction for party leaders searching for a way to defuse the escalating controversy over family separations at the southern border.
And it’s uncertain if Trump’s support will be enough to push any legislation through the divided GOP majority.
GOP lawmakers, increasingly fearful of a voter backlash in November, met with Trump for about an hour at the Capitol to try to find a solution that both holds to Trump’s hard-line immigration policy and ends the practice of taking migrant children from parents charged with entering the country illegally. Many lawmakers say Trump could simply reverse the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and keep families together.
While Trump held firm to his tough immigration stance in an earlier appearance Tuesday, he acknowledged during the closed-door meeting that the coverage of family separations is taking a toll. Trump said his daughter, Ivanka, had told him the situation with the families looks bad, one lawmaker said.
“He said, ’Politically, this is bad,’” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “It’s not about the politics, this is the right thing to do.”
But Trump touched on many topics during the meeting, including his historic meeting with the North Korean Kim Jong Un. He praised a few GOP lawmakers by name for defending him on TV, according to one Republican in the room. And he took a jab at Rep. Mark Sanford, congratulating the South Carolina Republican on his recent campaign, according to others granted anonymity to discuss the private meeting. Sanford, a frequent Trump critic, lost after his GOP primary opponent highlighted his criticism of the president.
As Trump walked out of the session in the Capitol basement, he was confronted by about a half-dozen House Democrats, who yelled, “Stop separating our families!”
Leaders in both the House and Senate are struggling to shield the party’s lawmakers from the public outcry over images of children taken from migrant parents and held in cages at the border. But they are running up against Trump’s shifting views on specifics and his determination, according to advisers, not to look soft on his signature immigration issue, the border wall.
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Trump told lawmakers he “would continue to support the legislation, and that people shouldn’t be worried that he would change his mind.” She said it was a light moment. “Everybody laughed.”
Even if Republicans manage to pass an immigration bill through the House, which is a tall order, the fight is all but certain to fizzle in the Senate.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York, is adamant that Trump can end the family separations on his own and that legislation is not needed.
Without Democratic support, Republicans cannot muster the 60 votes needed to move forward on legislation.
Schumer said with most Americans against family separations, it’s Republicans “feeling the heat on this issue, and that’s why they’re squirming.”
In the House, GOP leaders scrambled Tuesday to produce a revised version of the broader immigration bill that would keep children in detention longer than now permitted — but with their parents.
The major change unveiled Tuesday would loosen rules that now limit the amount of time minors can be held to 20 days, according to a GOP source familiar with the measure. Instead, the children could be detained indefinitely with their parents.
The revision would also give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use $7 billion in border technology funding to pay for family detention centers, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.
In the Senate, meanwhile, Republicans are rallying behind a different approach. Theirs is narrow legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow detained families to stay together in custody while expediting their hearings and possible deportation proceedings.
Cruz’s bill would double the number of federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families and limit the processing of asylum cases to no more than 14 days — a goal immigrant advocates say would be difficult to meet.
“While cases are pending, families should stay together,” tweeted Cruz, who is in an unexpectedly tough re-election battle.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters he’s reaching out to Democrats for bipartisan backing.
The family separation issue boiled over Tuesday at a House hearing on an unrelated subject, when protesters with babies briefly shut down proceedings.
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, pleaded with Republicans on the panel to “stand up” to Trump.
Under the administration’s current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution — a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.
More than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The national outcry has roiled midterm election campaigns, emboldening Democrats while putting Republicans on the defensive.
Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said he has introduced a measure that “becomes a backup proposal” if others fail.
The House is to vote later this week on two bills that address broader immigration issues to protect young immigrant “Dreamers,” who have been living in the U.S. illegally since childhood, from deportation and fund Trump’s border wall.
But outlook for passage is dim. One conservative measure is expected to fail. And it’s unclear if Trump’s backing will help the compromise legislation that GOP leaders negotiated with moderate Republicans. Rep. Steve Scalise of Lousiana, the GOP whip, told reporters he thought it had enough support to pass. Votes are expected Thursday.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.,a member of the House Freedom Caucus, says he doesn’t like compromise bill “because it’s all compromising in one direction.”
Perry was not at the meeting with Trump, but said he doubts the president’s words will affect his position.
“Well, good for him, but he’s not running for Congress.”
New York is planning to change policy regarding marijuana
Today, the mayor will discuss new amendments to the legislation regarding marijuana. As expected, these changes will lead to a reduction in the number of arrests.
All these actions are caused by previous severe policy in respect to minorities, which caused an ominous wave of criticism.
The sources say that soon instead of arrests the police will issue subpoenas to people who smoke or have less than 25 grams of marijuana. All this is done in order to get rid of “unnecessary arrests”, i.e. the police will change the entire cycle of handling low-level crimes related to marijuana. But again, if the person who was caught has been conditionally released early, or has been caught while driving or in relations to some other factors that will be announced later, then the arrest of that person will be at the discretion of the officer.
Commissioner Howard Zucker refers to neighboring states that have already legalized marijuana, and calls for looking at such things differently because the world is changing and legislation cannot stand still. Zucker says that the report on the analysis of any social consequences of the legalization of marijuana is not yet ready.
Zucker was also supported by Corey Jones, the chairman of the city council, who believes that the policy regarding marijuana in New York is irrational and unfair. This statement is referred to the previous concern about racism in the arrests of New York. Previously, de Blasio said that when taxing on marijuana, the collected money will go to the development of the New York City MTA, and even tried to persuade others to legalize marijuana in order to sort the problems of the subway. But now Jones says that with the possibility of legalization of this type of light drugs, the money which the state will receive should be invested into treating drug-addicted citizens.
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