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The latest articles from WNYC News

Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:07:24 -0400


Latest Newscast From the WNYC Newsroom

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 17:07:24 -0400

Latest Newscast From the WNYC Newsroom

Media Files:

Time Has Already Run Out for New Banksy Stencil

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 12:36:08 -0400

Looks like the clock ran out on this art piece.

Less than a week after a new Banksy work appeared in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, the building's owner has completely removed it. Fans of the street artist watched as workers removed the clock dial from the facade of a former bank at 6th Avenue and 14th Street and carted it away.

With additional reporting from Karen DeWitt.

Former Aide to Gov. Cuomo Convicted in Bribery Case

Media Files:

Well Aren't You Just the Cutest Bunch of Accomplished Women Pilots!

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 05:07:44 -0400

"Do you fly in flat shoes, high heels, or silk stockings?"

That was an actual question posed to a group of women pilots at a press conference in New York in 1965. They were about to participate in the 15th Angel Derby, an international air race for all-women pilots, that year starting in New York and ending in the Bahamas. The pilots seemed accustomed to fielding a chain of misogynistic questions, and responded with sharpness and levity (and maybe with slightly gritted teeth).

The message that the pilots kept returning to: Hey commercial airlines, it's time to start hiring more women pilots!

In the present day, we're still a long way from achieving gender parity in the skies. According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, women make up less than 5 percent of pilots in the United States.

Listen above to an excerpt, and listen to the full 27-minute press event here.

WNYC's Shumita Basu spoke to Richard Hake. Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

Well Aren't You Just the Cutest Bunch of Accomplished Women Pilots!

Media Files:

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's First Legislative Address

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0400

Gov. Phil Murphy will unveil his budget in his first address to a joint session of the New Jersey State Legislature today. The speech will be watched closely — and not just because of the state's fiscal problems.

Murphy has been in office 56 days and he's already struggling to get his own Democratic Party on board with many of his proposals. For example, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) voted in favor of a millionaires tax that was vetoed by former Gov. Chris Christie. But now Sweeney says he's against it.

Also, a significant number of Democrats are opposed to legalizing marijuana and may form a voting block with state Republicans to sink its chance of passage.

New Jersey citizens will also be listening closely to hear whether Murphy is going to raise taxes to pay for increased school funding and free community college tuition.

Watch a livestream of the speech above, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's First Legislative Address

Media Files:

James Levine Fired by Met Opera for Sexual Abuse

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 19:44:04 -0400

James Levine, whose 46-year career at the Metropolitan Opera established him as a towering figure in classical music, was fired by the company on Monday after an investigation found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment. Levine made his Met debut in 1971 and became one of the signature artists in the company's 135-year history, conducting 2,552 performances and ruling over its repertoire, orchestra and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until he stepped down two years ago due to Parkinson's disease. He became music director emeritus and remained head of its young artists program but was suspended on Dec. 3 after accounts in the New York Post and The New York Times of sexual misconduct dating to the 1960s. The Met hired former U.S. Attorney Robert J. Cleary, now a partner at Proskauer Rose, to head its investigation, and the company said more than 70 people were interviewed. "The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met," the company said in a statement. "The investigation also uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority. In light of these findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met." The Met did not release specifics of the evidence. Tim Fox of Columbia Artists, who represents the 74-year-old conductor, did not respond to an email seeking comment. Levine has not been charged with any criminal offense. The Lake County state's attorney's office in Illinois said in December it investigated a sexual abuse allegation of misconduct dating to the 1980s but concluded "no criminal charges can be brought" and cited multiple factors, including "the relevant age of consent in Illinois at the time of the alleged incidents." Levine's downfall follows that of 81-year-old Charles Dutoit. After The Associated Press reported sexual assault allegations against him, the Swiss conductor resigned as artistic director and principal conductor and engagements were canceled at numerous orchestras. Dutoit has denied the allegations. The Met said in its statement "the investigation also found that any claims or rumors that members of the Met's management or its board of directors engaged in a cover-up of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated." Following the death of Leonard Bernstein in 1990, Levine was regarded as the top American conductor and was given a starring role in the film "Fantasia 2000." Many of his performances were televised by PBS, and singers rearranged their schedules to appear in his performances or even to audition for him. He was revered by the Met's orchestra, board and patrons during a reign as chief conductor (1973-76), music director (1976-86 and 2004-16) and artistic director (1986-2004). In addition, he was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Ravinia Festival from 1973-93 and the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004-11, and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic from 1999-2004. Instantly recognizable by his bushy frock of hair and towel draped over a shoulder during rehearsals, he regularly conducted at the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bayreuth Festival and Salzburg Festival. His power waned only because of health problems. Levine started conducting from a chair in late 2001 and tremors in his left arm and leg became noticeable a few years later. His health worsened in 2006, when he tripped and fell on the stage of Boston's Symphony Hall during ovations that followed a performance and he tore a rotator cuff, which required shoulder surgery. Levine had an operation in 2008 to remove a kidney and another in 2009 to repair a herniated disk in his back. He then suffered spinal stenosis, leading[...]

Cuomo Threatens 'State of Emergency' to Fix NYC Public Housing

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 15:35:27 -0400

The city must come up with a plan to fix the struggling public housing authority by April 1 or risk intervention by the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference Monday.

He added that he may declare a "state of emergency."

Meanwhile, Cuomo said, he'll withhold $200 million in funds for NYCHA until the city comes up with an independent mechanism to fund repairs.

He floated the idea of a new independent arm of government tasked with making repairs to NYCHA buildings, similar to the city's School Construction Authority, which fixes city schools, and could be overseen by a state independent monitor. The governor said the state's Health Department will begin an investigation into hazards like roaches, mold and lead paint.

City officials fired back quickly, saying that  the state already owes the city $200 million that was set aside in last year's budget for repairs to NYCHA.

"I don't see how that's an emergency declaration," said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glenn. "That's doing your job, if you want to actually help us with the issues we're confronting at NYCHA."

Touring a roach-infested apartment in Andrew Jackson Houses, the governor seemed incredulous at the conditions he encountered there.

"Look at these cockroach eggs," he said. "This is unbelievable...The ceiling is collapsing and it's infested with cockroaches everywhere. It's much worse than anyone would imagine."

Jahari Blyther, 19, who is raising a 14-month-old son in the apartment Cuomo called "unbelievable," said she hopes the governor's visit would amount to more than a photo op.

"I just want him to actually keep his promises that he made and make sure that not only myself but other residents in Jackson get the help that they need," she said.


Cuomo Threatens 'State of Emergency' to Fix NYC Public Housing

Media Files:

How Movie Stars and Moviegoers Can Demand More Diversity in Hollywood

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 07:35:10 -0400

Recent box office hits like Get Out, Coco and Black Panther have underscored the message that diversity pays off. Yet, despite these successes, the entertainment industry still has a long way to go in terms of representation.

At the Academy Awards this month, actor Frances McDormand highlighted the issue with two words: "inclusion rider." An inclusion rider is a contract clause that requires a certain amount of diversity in a movie production. 

Now the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, April Reign, has developed a new resource to help hold the industry accountable.

Akuarel is a database of actors, writers, producers and others looking for work in entertainment or media. It lists qualifications, but also sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity and age.

Reign says she was tired of hearing the same excuse for a lack representation: "There's just no talent. No women, no people of color." She hopes the database will help prove that claim wrong.


How Movie Stars and Moviegoers Can Demand More Diversity in Hollywood

Media Files:

Racial Justice Drives Fight for, and Against, Legal Pot in New Jersey

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0400

During his campaign for governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, telling Democrats at a party conference last year in Atlantic City that creating a new tax revenue was not what was motivating him. “People ask me all the time, ‘Hey, are you sure you can generate $300 million from the legalization of marijuana?” Murphy said, citing a figure that his campaign had touted. “I say, ‘You know what, I’m not sure, but that’s not the question. We’re not doing it for the dollars. We’re doing it for social justice.’” Murphy argues that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are jailed on marijuana charges is a main reason to legalize the drug, and he has the support of civil rights groups, cannabis business lobbyists, lawyers, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and out-of-state cannabis growers. But now that Murphy occupies the governor’s office, a major legislative obstacle is emerging: Ronald L. Rice, the state’s longest-serving black senator and the leader of its Black Caucus. “It’s always been said the issue is not money, the issue is social justice,” said Rice, a Democrat and a former Newark police officer. “But, it’s being sold on the backs of black folk and brown people. It’s clear there is big, big money pushing special interests to sell this to our communities.” Medical marijuana became legal in New Jersey under former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, but his successor, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, rejected proposals to make recreational cannabis use legal. The growing and selling of marijuana has already generated billions of dollars in the nine states where it is legal — but it is an industry that is overwhelmingly white.  Rice fears the consequences would be dire in cities like Newark, which is already wrestling with a variety of problems, including widespread heroin addiction and an ongoing foreclosure crisis. Cannabis stores, he believes, would proliferate in black communities, much like liquor stores, and would produce a new generation of drug abusers. Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, and in Denver, most merchants are based in low-income neighborhoods where residents have complained about lingering and strong odors, according to local news media accounts and testimony at a recent Legislative Black Caucus hearing in Jersey City. It is not the first time a social justice issue has clashed with Rice’s strong stance on drugs. More than a decade ago he helped block the passage of a statewide needle-exchange program aimed at curbing the spread of H.I.V. from contaminated hypodermic needles, pitting himself against his own party. His position on cannabis legalization is not just at odds with the governor and members of his party, but also with many African-Americans. In New Jersey, African-Americans are three times more likely to be charged with marijuana possession than whites, even though both populations use the drug at similar rates. That has galvanized civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P. and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey to support legalization. “All the collateral consequences that come with an arrest — jail time, losing your job, losing your housing are disproportionately falling on communities of color,” said Dianna Houenou, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of New Jersey. “Through legalization we can begin to address the harms that have been inflicted.” A statewide coalition of black pastors, the N.A.A.C.P. and the New Jersey chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance is pushing for legalization as a social justice issue, but only if it is linked to some type of compensation for the harm they say was done to black and brown families whose sons were incarcerated. The pastors said they wanted to make sure members of their communities w[...]

Media Files:

Passenger's Bag May Have Hit Fuel Switch Before Copter Crash in East River

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 22:00:00 -0400

Updated: 6:30 p.m. Monday The pilot who survived a helicopter crash that killed his five passengers told authorities he believed a passenger's bag might have hit an emergency fuel shutoff switch in the moments before the chopper went down, a federal official told The Associated Press on Monday. The official was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly about it and spoke on condition of anonymity. The National Transportation Safety Board later said it would look at the switch, the chopper's flotation devices and even the photos on passengers' cameras to figure out what caused the crash in the East River last Sunday. NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said the agency hasn't spoken yet to the pilot but hopes to do so. "Mayday, mayday, mayday," pilot Richard Vance said in an emergency radio call as the Eurocopter AS350 tour helicopter foundered Sunday night. "East River - engine failure." The chopper flipped over and quickly sank, killing a Texas firefighter, an Argentine woman, a young video journalist, a former basketball team assistant and another person on what authorities said was a charter flight to take photos. The copter's six emergency floats did inflate, but Dinh-Zarr said investigators would look at whether there were any problems with the devices. The NTSB and other agencies involved in the probe also hope to recover the passengers' cameras and electronics "to capture a digital portrait of the last moments of this flight," she said. No one answered an email Monday to Vance, 33, a licensed commercial pilot for seven years who's also licensed as a flight instructor. A possible phone number for him in Danbury, Connecticut, wasn't working. A floating crane slowly raised the submerged helicopter to the surface Monday and towed it off to be examined, as Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said federal regulators should suspend flights by the helicopter's owner until the facts of the crash are known. The owner, Liberty Helicopters, referred all inquiries to federal authorities. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating whether the company had been complying with regulations. A tour and charter helicopter company, Liberty has been involved in at least five accidents or other incidents in the last 10 years, according to FAA data. "Incidents" can include events that end in safe landings, but an August 2009 collision over the Hudson River between a Liberty chopper and a small, private plane killed nine people, including a group of Italian tourists. The company paid $23,576 in fines in 2010 and 2011 for violating maintenance, record-keeping and flight operations rules, according to the FAA. Three subsequent maintenance violations in 2011 and 2012 didn't result in any fines. Witnesses to Sunday's crash said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped and quickly submerged. A bystander's video showed the helicopter land hard and then capsize in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep. Emergency divers had to get the passengers out of tight safety harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Vance was able to free himself. The passengers who died included Dallas Fire-Rescue Officer Brian McDaniel, 26, and his high school friend Trevor Cadigan, 26, a journalist who hailed from Dallas but had recently moved to New York. McDaniel had been with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department since May 2016. "He decided he wanted to help people" and set out to do it, said Cole Collins, a childhood friend from Dallas. "He didn't care about being a flashy person or making a lot of money. He loved his family and friends and this city." McDaniel was visiting Cadigan, who had recently finished an internship at the Business Insider news site. "He was a smart, talented, and ambitious young journalist and producer who was well-liked and made a big contr[...]

Media Files:

NJ Residents Clean Up From Winter Storm, Just in Time For Next One

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 20:00:00 -0400

Joanne Baker surveyed the hulking tree that was stretched across her front yard on Bridge Street in Metuchen on Sunday, days after Storm Quinn hopscotched across the Garden State, splitting trees and leaving thousands of homes without electricity.

“The weight of the snow took down two very large branches,” Baker said with amazement. “Half of it went into the street, and half of it came into the house.”

The branch clipped the very edge of her roof, but Baker considered herself among the lucky ones: She never lost power.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were still thousands of residents and businesses without electricity across New Jersey. A PSE&G spokesman said there were just under 4,000 customers without power on Sunday. And Ticia Ingraham, a spokeswoman for Jersey Central Power & Light, said there were making progress: on Saturday more than 40,000 of their customers did not have electricity but by Sunday that number was down to about 11,500.

She said the heavy snow and high winds created greater than normal challenges for crews. It didn't help that there were two nor'easter storms within five days of each other.

The town administrator for Springfield, Zaid Shehady, said Storm Riley in early March knocked out power to about 30 percent of the town before Storm Quinn struck five days later, leaving 70 percent without lights in the Union County community of 16,000 people.

“It crippled the town,” Shehady said, adding that things were getting back on track this weekend. About 5,000 JCP&L customers had no power at the start of the weekendbut by Sunday afternoon, it was down to about 100 homes. 

Despite the progress, Shehady said the utility company failed to respond effectively to the two storms: “The restoration times they give us are unreliable, completely." 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also lashed out at JCP&L. On Saturday he called the utility's storm response "embarrassing," and called for a probe by the Board of Public Utilities. 

“People are mad as heck and so am I,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, there are forecasts for more heavy snow and gusty winds to hit the tri-state region early this week.

Review: 'The Low Road' Is a Sharp Satire of the American Financial System

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

In Bruce Norris's satire of human frailty and American finance "The Low Road," there are no redeeming figures. All types of people are skewered by his pen: capitalists, aristocrats, philanthropists, liberal theater goers. The result could be a bleak work. But instead, it's raucous, raunchy, inventive and constantly surprising.

The first act is a morality tale similar to, say, Thackeray's Vanity Fair. A greedy young man of the 1770s, Jim Trewitt, pulls himself up from his adoptive home in a brothel to become a financial investor. He believes in nothing but himself and the markets. In fact, his hero is Adam Smith — the economist and free market evangelist, and the play's wry narrator.

Trewitt is surrounded by a large, motley cast of double-cast eccentrics who buzz through the story in tricorn hats and petticoats, vibrating with passion and self-interest. None of them are heroes, most especially Trewitt (Chris Perfetti). He cheats and steals, maneuvers to keep a black man enslaved and abuses a woman, all the while whining about how hard his lot has been. His mixture of clueless and cruelty seems almost comic until the second act, which jumps forward in time. When his arguments are repeated by a different, more contemporary capitalist, we start to see Trewitt (who we meet again) as less of a buffoon and more a dangerous bully.

"The Low Road" sees generosity as naive and selfishness as humanity's natural condition. Its biggest flaw is that it occasionally lapses into unnecessary pedantry about how the American financial system enslaves and abuses the underclasses. For the most part, however, this is audacious storytelling, remarkable both for its freshness and the brisk way it takes all of us to task. 


"The Low Road"

By Bruce Norris, directed by Michael Greif

At the Public Theater through April 1

Review: 'The Low Road' Is a Sharp Satire of the American Financial System

Media Files:

The Winning Idea for the MTA Genius Award? Longer Trains

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 17:30:52 -0500

The MTA has chosen six winners in its $3 million, so-called "genius" competition. Applicants submitted suggestions of ways to modernize the system quickly and cheaply.

The only winner who didn't come from a transit background was Craig Avedisian, a lawyer from the Upper East Side and a 6 train rider. 

His simple idea for moving more people is to add more cars to every train.

"Take a 10-car train or any length train and you add two, three or four cars to it, and then the train stops at alternating stations with the front of the train at the front of the platform and at the next station with the back of the train at the back of the platform," Avedisian told WNYC. "So that the cars at the front stop at every other station, and the cars at the back stop at every other station, and the cars in the middle stop at every station. What's different about it is it avoids having to lengthen the platforms at every station. That's the big money saver."

For his idea he was awarded $330,000, which for now he said he'll put into his children's college fund.

He says his idea would require investing in open gangway cars, so riders can walk through the train to get off on the right car. The MTA would also need to find places to store all these new train cars, and it would have to install new technology on the trains. He estimates it might cost between $10 to $20 billion.

The MTA hasn't decided which winning idea it will pursue.


The Winning Idea for the MTA Genius Award? Longer Trains

Media Files:

In Campus Rape Case, a Tale of Two Justice Systems

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 17:15:02 -0500

A campus rape case that played out in New Haven criminal court this week exhibited the stark difference between internal investigations and the reasoning of a jury. The 25-year-old defendant, Saifullah Khan, had been suspended from Yale University a week after another student said he raped her on Halloween 2015. The complainant remains anonymous. On Wednesday, the jury in New Haven found Khan not guilty after deliberating for less than three hours.

Yale's internal investigation process uses a lower standard of evidence than criminal trials, and is largely influenced by its campus culture of affirmative consent, said New York Times reporter Vivian Wang.

"Something that may not be permissible on campus, either according to actual campus policies or just according to campus culture, is not necessarily illegal," Wang told WNYC's Jami Floyd.

Lawyers for the defense told Wang that Yale had postposed its disciplinary hearing for Khan until after the verdict was rendered, although she said the university declined to comment.

In Campus Rape Case, a Tale of Two Justice Systems

Media Files:

De Blasio Says New Schools Chief Admitted to Lawsuit Before He Was Hired

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 17:05:05 -0500

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he was fully aware that incoming Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza had been the subject of an unfavorable lawsuit before the mayor hired him in New York.

The comment,. made on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, indicates that the lawsuit emerged during the screening process, and there was not an oversight. 

“He also explained that he was not the subject of the lawsuit and no allegations, no legal action was taken, no disciplinary action — nothing related to him,” de Blasio said.

The 2015 lawsuit alleges that Richard Carranza, who was then the deputy schools superintendent in San Francisco,  allegedly quashed the career of a female educator after she told him that she saw him flirting with a colleague.

According to the complaint, the educator, Veronica Chavez, saw Carranza “engaging in inappropriate flirtatious conduct with a female colleague from another school in the district who was not his wife,” at a conference they both attended in June 2012. Chavez did not report what she saw to any other leaders of the San Francisco district, but she did mention it to Carranza. She alleged that he created a “hostile work environment,” and, a year after the incident, ominously told her she should come up with a “Plan B” ahead of an interview for a job she was already performing.

Chavez says she complained to Carranza about a man who had been promoted to a role in which he would supervise her and other women who had been his superiors. She claimed she was demoted to the man's old job as a consequence and asked to reapply for it. Ultimately, Chavez was rejected from the job in favor of someone she claimed had less experience. Although she had risen quickly through a number of roles at the district level, Chavez eventually accepted a lower paying teaching job.

The lawsuit named the school district, and not Carranza, as the defendant. First reported by the Daily News earlier this week, it was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2016.

De Blasio said on WNYC that Carranza has “absolutely” brought up the case during the hiring process. “We researched it carefully and that’s what it is.”  

De Blasio named Carranza to the top education job in the city just a few days after his first pick for the position — Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho — declined the job at the end of an hours-long school board meeting in which Miami residents pleaded with him not to go. Carvalho’s televised about-face after the Mayor’s office formally announced him to be the new chancellor was a public embarrassment for de Blasio, who is widely believed to have national political ambitions.


De Blasio Says New Schools Chief Admitted to Lawsuit Before He Was Hired

Media Files:

Here are the Rules If Your Student Wants to Join School Walk Out

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 15:00:00 -0500

Students around the country are planning to walk out of class for 17 minutes on Wednesday to honor the 17 people killed during the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

New York City's school chancellor Carmen Farina released guidelines and protocols for the walkout:

  • Middle and high school students need parental consent if they want to walkout of class — and guardians should follow their school's regular attendance protocols
  • Middle and high school students who walk out will get a notation on their attendance record that says they cut class, but won't face any other consequences as long as their guardians give consent
  • If any students stay out longer than 17 minutes, it'll be considered an excused absence
  • Those with special needs will need a guardian or qualified staff member to accompany them during the walkout
  • Elementary school students who want to participate need to be signed out by their parents or guardians
  • And staff members from each school will be outdoors to help ensure order and student safety

The walkout which is being called the “#ENOUGH National School Walkout” will be held around 10 am at various schools, one month after the Parkland shooting. 

Governor Cuomo Promotes Energy Policies While Winking at Presidential Ambitions

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 13:31:24 -0500

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's event at NYU Friday was billed as being about energy policy. But as the event went on, it sounded more and more like a campaign speech.

The governor, who is running for re-election, did weigh in on the Trump Administration's decision to open up coastlines to oil companies, calling offshore drilling "a really, really dumb idea." He also announced that the state will invest $1.4 billion in 26 large-scale renewable energy projects around New York.

But Cuomo spent most of his speech laying into Trump Administration decisions on topics like immigration, North Korean relations and Russian election interference. And then there were the signs handed out to the audience that said, "Thank You, Governor Cuomo." 

Finally, there was the last speaker: Vice President Al Gore. He made a joke about Cuomo becoming the first Italian-American president of the United States.

Governor Cuomo Promotes Energy Policies While Winking at Presidential Ambitions

Media Files:

Downed Power Lines: Bad Management, or Just Bad Weather?

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 07:08:01 -0500

You know the drill: A big storm comes through, knocks down trees, which knock down utility lines, and homes are ultimately left without power. Over the past seven days, it's happened twice—and some of the homes that lost power from the first storm hadn't even gotten it back by the time the second one hit. Now, some 136,000 people in New York and New Jersey can't turn on their lights. 

Is this just inevitable with bad weather? Or did the utility companies drop the ball?

"Storms like this are always a problem, no matter what preparation you go through to avoid their impact," Matthew Cordaro, a former utility CEO and board member for the Long Island Power Authority, told WNYC. "Especially when you have two in a row, one right after the other, it makes for a double-barrel attack that's hard to deal with."

Nonetheless, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has railed against Con Edison and NYSEG, calling for an investigation, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is attacking Jersey Central Light and Power. Cordaro sees that as little more than political posturing.

"Politicians express public outrage, I guess to demonstrate to their constituents that they're doing something," Cordaro said, "but the first priority for a utility at this stage—and even for public officials—is to restore [power] to as many people as possible, and not point fingers this early in the game."

In denser areas like Manhattan, downed power lines aren't much of an issue, since most power lines are buried underground. So, why don't utility companies do the same in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley?

"It's just too expensive," said Cordaro. "And given the choice, I'm sure customers wouldn't elect for that, because when you look at the overall reliability numbers, you're talking about spending huge amounts of money to save minutes of time in restoration."

Cordaro spoke with WNYC's Richard Hake.

Downed Power Lines: Bad Management, or Just Bad Weather?

Media Files:

Go Do This: 'Black Light,' a Visit to the "Zoo" and Remembering History

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

With so much to see and do in New York City, here are three suggestions to get you off the couch this weekend. “What if I told you it's going to be alright?” Those are the first words you hear Jomama Jones say in her new show, “Black Light” now playing at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. Is she talking about the Trump administration? Well, maybe, but maybe not. It’s a brilliant start to what is an enthralling evening, created by and starring Daniel Alexander Jones, whose alter ego is Jomama Jones. So what is the “it” she is referring to? It is whatever is troubling you, and over the course of this 90-minute show, Jones isn’t going to solve your issue, but she does show you how make “it” better. It may sound like a heavy show, filled with discussions about grass roots activism or how to fight for social justice. Hardly. It’s an evening of song and stories told by a towering diva, and from the moment she climbs the stage in her dangerously high heels, wearing a dazzling, sequined dress (just one of many outfits she wears during the show) you can’t take your eyes off of her. Jones is a raconteur who tells stories — some funny, some sad — that capture your imagination, though at first, they don’t appear to be connected to one another. There’s the fight she had with her high school rival and best friend Tamika in 1979 over a centerfold image of Prince from “Right On” magazine (look it up). In another story, she reminisces about visiting her fearsome Aunt Cleotha who had a limp arm, slept in until noon and went to church a lot. Her stories, which focus on being black in America lead into songs — from ballads to pop-infused numbers — where Jones demonstrates an enormous singing talent. If there is one weakness to the show, it is the lyrics, which at times are repetitive, a bit abstract, and don’t move the story forward as much as when Jones is simply walking around the audience, talking. As the evening progresses, her disparate stories all come together and reveal what is the “Black Light:” if you keep looking — no matter how dark it is — and stay vigilant, you’ll start to see what’s out there and can shine a light on it to keep us all safe. “We Should Talk” If Jones assures you that “everything is going to be all right,” hearing your spouse start a conversation with “we should talk” can’t be a good sign.. That is the first line in “Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo: Homelife & The Zoo Story” at Signature Theatre. Like “Black Light,” it sets the tone for the evening that follows. Ann (Kate Finneran) makes the suggestion to her husband Peter (Robert Sean Leonard) while he is reading, and when he doesn’t respond, she turns around and returns to the kitchen off stage. When he does look up, she’s gone. He’s confused and he asks “We should what?” What follows in Act One is a conversation between Ann and Peter about the happy life they’ve created for themselves and their children in their nice home on the Upper East Side. It’s so nice and calm that Ann has come to feel that something is missing in her life and she wants more. What exactly is that? “A little madness.” At one point while they’re talking, without warning, she slaps Peter, if only to astonish them both. “That must be what I wanted — a little disorder around here, a little chaos,” she explains. Thinking about creating a little chaos and actually experiencing it is at the center of the Act Two. After his talk with Ann, Peter decides to go to his favorite park bench and read, but is interrupted by a stranger n[...]Go Do This: 'Black Light,' a Visit to the "Zoo" and Remembering History

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Concerned Students Tell de Blasio They Don't Trust School Safety Agents

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

In the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray hosted a town hall with more than 150 teenagers Thursday to talk about the city's approach to school security.

The students came from all five boroughs, but one issue came up again and again: school safety agents and why students feel they can't trust them.

School safety agents have several responsibilities: escorting visitors, using scanning equipment and generally ensuring the security of students.

But city students say that sometimes the agents make them feel less safe, because of how they relate to their charges.

Sagar Sharma, 17, a student at John Bowne High School in Queens, told the mayor that his school is now one of 51 in the city with daily metal detector scanning. The detectors were installed after after a student was stabbed last year. At first, the city placed temporary agents at the door.

"During that week, every morning we were greeted by the school safety agents with the phrase, ‘Good morning John Bowne stabbers,'" said Sharma. Those agents were eventually replaced, but Sharma said the damage was done.

Other students, like Olukemi Jemilugba, 16, from Scholars Academy in Rockaway Beach, said they felt agents target students of color, watching them as if they are criminals.

Officials seemed conflicted about how to respond. Mark Rampersant, who runs security for the Department of Education, tried putting some of the responsibility for fixing the system back on the students, encouraging them to take the initiative to introduce themselves to school safety agents.

Some students seemed to think meeting agents was a good idea, but that it should be the adults who reached out first. Stuyvesant High School sophomore Morgan Hesse, 16, said she didn't know the officers at her school — or feel comfortable with them — and suggested the agents try to meet in small groups with students.

"So you'd like the opportunity to get to know them better and…have conversation and dialogue with them," McCray responded.

"Definitely," said Hesse.

De Blasio approved.

"As is the spirit of the town hall meetings we have, sometimes we make decisions right on the spot. So I think we should be doing this in every school," said de Blasio. Turning to his staff from the Department of Education and NYPD he added, "Let's find a way to do it."

Concerned Students Tell de Blasio They Don't Trust School Safety Agents

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'Drag Queen Story Hour' Brings Some Sparkle to Preschoolers

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

Angel Elektra stood before her audience, statuesque in a floral-print dress and mile-long eyelashes. "How's everyone doing today?"

It was time for Drag Queen Story Hour and the reading room of the Jackson Heights Library was packed with the under-5 set. Angel cued some music and the crowd started dancing. Then came a round of "Wheels on the Bus," which segued into a book reading: Llama Llama Rojo Pajama, or Llama Llama Red Pajamas.

"So the reality of it is, the llama was really tired," she explained in a pensive moment. "But at the same time he wanted — or she wanted — or she-he, doesn't matter — wanted her mom's attention." 


Drag Queen Story Hour began in San Francisco a little over two years ago and has been sweeping across the five boroughs. Council Member Danny Dromm helped bring it to Jackson Heights. He flung a feather boa over his shoulders, as the kids watched.

"They just love that type of showmanship and I think people forget that," he said. "[Adults are] all worried, and they're thinking sexual things! This has nothing to do with that."

Rather, it has to do with flamboyance and a love of self, he said. 

To some in America, this kind of gender bending may appear transgressive or dangerous. But Dromm, who is openly gay, says it's important to normalize the LGBTQ community for kids.

Angel agreed.

"I wish this type of event was around when I was born," she told the audience. "That way myself and my parents would've been taught differently. But I'm here now and I'm here to embrace that to your children. So thank you for allowing me to do that."

'Drag Queen Story Hour' Brings Some Sparkle to Preschoolers

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Dominican Protesters Call Attention to Femicide, Urge New Yorkers to Take Action

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 20:09:13 -0500

Ex-pats from the Dominican Republic marched the streets of Washington Heights Thursday evening, denouncing a rash of gender-based killings in their home country.

"I want you alive, I want you free," and "Femicide, Enough Already," demonstrators chanted in Spanish. 

The Dominican Republic's government cited 83 femicides in 2016, according to local media reports, the highest number since 2012. Other media tallied an average of 200 a year. 

"We're afraid," said Belgica Gonzalez, 49, in Spanish. "We have friends, we have sisters, we have aunts, we have cousins, we're afraid for those who are there, because no one is safe."

One of the protesters, Rossy Garcia, 50, said in New York City, men are kept in check because of stricter laws. But not so in the DR.

"Men know very well that here there's law," said Garcia in Spanish. "There, the laws are a mess, everyone does what they want."

Latin American and Caribbean countries have some of the highest rates of gender-based killing in the world, according to UN Women.

Dominican Protesters Call Attention to Femicide, Urge New Yorkers to Take Action

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