Thursday, August 31, 2006

Celebrate! Holidays In The U.S.A. Labor Day (First Monday in September)

Celebrate! Holidays In The U.S.A.

Labor Day
(First Monday in September)

Eleven-year-old Peter McGuire sold papers on the street in New York City. He shined shoes and cleaned stores and later ran errands. It was 1863 and his father, a poor Irish immigrant, had just enlisted to fight in the Civil War. Peter had to help support his mother and six brothers and sisters.

Many immigrants settled in New York City in the nineteenth century. They found that living conditions were not as wonderful as they had dreamed. Often there were six families crowded into a house made for one family. Thousands of children had to go to work. Working conditions were even worse. Immigrant men, women and children worked in factories for ten to twelve hours a day, stopping only for a short time to eat. They came to work even if they were tired or sick because if they didn't, they might be fired. Thousands of people were waiting to take their places.

When Peter was 17, he began an apprenticeship in a piano shop. This job was better than his others, for he was learning a trade, but he still worked long hours with low pay. At night he went to meetings and classes in economics and social issues of the day. One of the main issues of concern pertained to labor conditions. Workers were tired of long hours, low pay and uncertain jobs. They spoke of organizing themselves into a union of laborers to improve their working conditions. In the spring of 1872, Peter McGuire and 100,000 workers went on strike and marched through the streets, demanding a decrease in the long working day.

This event convinced Peter that an organized labor movement was important for the future of workers' rights. He spent the next year speaking to crowds of workers and unemployed people, lobbying the city government for jobs and relief money. It was not an easy road for Peter McGuire. He became known as a "disturber of the public peace." The city government ignored his demands. Peter himself could not find a job in his trade. He began to travel up and down the east coast to speak to laborers about unionizing. In 1881, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and began to organize carpenters there. He organized a convention of carpenters in Chicago, and it was there that a national union of carpenters was founded. He became General Secretary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

The idea of organizing workers according to their trades spread around the country. Factory workers, dock workers and toolmakers all began to demand and get their rights to an eight-hour workday, a secure job and a future in their trades. Peter McGuire and laborers in other cities planned a holiday for workers on the first Monday in September, halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day.

On September 5, 1882 the first Labor Day parade was held in New York City. Twenty thousand workers marched in a parade up Broadway. They carried banners that read "LABOR CREATES ALL WEALTH," and "EIGHT HOURS FOR WORK, EIGHT HOURS FOR REST, EIGHT HOURS FOR RECREATION!" After the parade there were picnics all around the city. Workers and celebrants ate Irish stew, homemade bread and apple pie. At night, fireworks were set off. Within the next few years, the idea spread from coast to coast, and all states celebrated Labor Day. In 1894, Congress voted it a federal holiday.

Today we celebrate Labor Day with a little less fanfare on the first Monday of September. Some cities have parades and community picnics. Many politicians "kick off' their political campaigns by holding rallies on the holiday. Most Americans consider Labor Day the end of the summer, and the beaches and other popular resort areas are packed with people enjoying one last three-day weekend.

Embassy of the United States of AmericaDag Hammarskjölds Väg 31, SE-115 89 Stockholm

Monday, August 28, 2006

Welcome to New York - There's More to This City Than the Village-Here's What's On the Minds of Locals Outside of the Columbia Bubble

Columbia Spectator
Home > Orientation 2006

Welcome to New York
There's More to This City Than the Village-Here's What's On
the Minds of Locals Outside of the Columbia Bubble
By Tanveer Ali
Issue date: 8/29/06 Section: Orientation 2006

17 ACRES CU's expansion plans
for Manhattanville have attracted
concerns over displacement and
gentrification.[Click to enlarge]

Manhattanville Expansion
Since 2003, the big issue in the area has been Columbia's proposed 17-acre campus in Manhattanville.

Roughly bound by 12th Avenue, Broadway, and 125th and 133rd streets, the University has stated the area is underdeveloped and says rezoning the area would be a move in the right direction for West Harlem. The project would be conducted in phases and be completed within 25 to 30 years.

The University owns most of the area, though a few property owners refuse to sell. In summer 2004, Columbia officials contacted Empire State Development Corporation, a state agency, to consider the possible use of eminent domain by which the state could forcibly buy private property for public use. Columbia has said eminent domain remains only a last resort.

The expansion plan and Columbia's refusal to take eminent domain off the table has met opposition from students, community leaders, and area residents who support a plan developed by Community Board 9, the local government advisory board. In the works long before Columbia announced its proposal, the 197-a plan is a framework for development in West Harlem calling for the preservation of manufacturing in Manhattanville and the creation of more affordable housing units.

A local development corporation representing the interests of the community was formed during the summer to engage in binding negotiations with Columbia. If an agreement is reached, Columbia, as the developer, would be legally required to offer perks to the surrounding community.

Currently both the University and the 197-a plan are under review by the Department of City Planning. Once the reviews are complete, the University will enter into a process which might allow for a rezoning of the area.

Upper West Side Rezoning
Extell Development Company was met with fierce condemnation when it announced its construction plans for two high-rise luxury apartment buildings on Broadway near 100th Street last summer. Extell faced few obstacles to its plan and began building "as of right" later that year, without needing changes in zoning or approval from Community Board 7.

Just as quickly as Extell broke ground on its 31- and 37-story buildings, the group known as West Siders for Responsible Development was formed to work with CB7 and elected officials to change the neighborhood's zoning laws in an effort to keep the both the skyline and rent on the West Side low. At June's CB7 general meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution that calls for limiting new developments on Broadway below 120 feet and below 75 feet anywhere else in the neighborhood. The resolution awaits approval by the City Council.

Though the 26th Precinct-which the Morningside Heights campus is a part of-has seen an increase in major crimes since 2002, there has been a considerable decrease in criminal activity compared to data five to 10 years ago.

Affordable Housing
In this part of the city, lack of affordable housing is a continuing problem. Last year, the landlord of a large apartment complex located at 3333 Broadway opted out of a state run subsidies program and raised rents on some apartments as much as $700-from $300 to $1,000.

Additionally, the residents of Morningside Gardens, a co-op complex located between Broadway and Amsterdam on 123rd Street, voted last year to allow their units to sell for triple the previous prices. Some landlords argue that increased maintenance and heating costs in New York makes maintaining low rent prices nearly impossible.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

CB9M Manhattanville Rezoning Task Forece Meeting

To: ALL 751.1

Sun, 27 Aug 2006 23:20:40 EDT
Subject: batch 2 b Coalition to Preserve Community -TASK FORCE MEETING 8/28



Columbia's expansion plan depends on the threat of eminent domain to force out businesses and those who live in residential buildings in the immediate expansion area. It is also planning to place biotech labs on one third of the expansion area - right in a residential neighborhood. There is great resistance in the city to eminent domain abuse and to these labs. This resistance reflects national concern about both these issues.

(1) There will be a Zoning Task Force meeting at Community Board 9, tomorrow, Monday, August 28, 2006 at 6:30PM, 565 West 125th Street. Zoning changes are under consideration in West Harlem and it is important that any changes conform to the 197A plan's outline for develpment. Columiba University has its own plan. Please come out to the meeting.


"Condemnation of the ruling came from black lawmakers representing distressed urban districts, from suburbanites and from Western property-rights absolutists who rarely see eye to eye on anything. Lawmakers from Maine to California have introduced dozens of bills in reaction to the ruling, most of them saying that government should never seize private homes or businesses solely to benefit a private developer, no matter what compensation is paid."

FROM AN ARTICLE ABOUT: "Security measures at U.S. labs are failing to keep pace with the fast-growing number of biodefense research projects..." (see entire article pasted in below)

"Ebright said there have been incidents across the country in which researchers have improperly handled agents and animals used in testing.Federal safety rules are not designed to prevent accidental releases of bioweapons agents, and security measures are fragmented, gap-ridden and poorly coordinated among agencies, Ebright said."

February 21, 2006
States Curbing Right to Seize Private Homes

In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government's power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes.

The measures are in direct response to the United States Supreme Court's 5-to-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the City of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for. The reaction from the states was swift and heated. Within weeks of the court's decision, Texas, Alabama and Delaware passed bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins limiting the right of local governments to seize property and turn it over to private developers. Since then, lawmakers in three dozen other states have proposed similar restrictions and more are on the way, according to experts who track the issue.

The National League of Cities, which supports the use of eminent domain as what it calls a necessary tool of urban development, has identified the issue as the most critical facing local governments this year. The league has called upon mayors and other local officials to lobby Congress and state legislators to try to stop the avalanche of bills to limit the power of government to take private property for presumed public good.

The issue is not whether governments can condemn private property to build a public amenity like a road, a school or a sewage treatment plant. That power is explicit in the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, provided that "just compensation" is paid. The conflict arises over government actions to seize private homes or businesses as part of a redevelopment project that at least partly benefits a private party like a retail store, an apartment complex or a football stadium. "It's open season on eminent domain," said Larry Morandi, a land-use specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Bills are being pushed by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and they're passing by huge margins."

Seldom has a Supreme Court decision sparked such an immediate legislative reaction, and one that scrambles the usual partisan lines. Condemnation of the ruling came from black lawmakers representing distressed urban districts, from suburbanites and from Western property-rights absolutists who rarely see eye to eye on anything. Lawmakers from Maine to California have introduced dozens of bills in reaction to the ruling, most of them saying that government should never seize private homes or businesses solely to benefit a private developer, no matter what compensation is paid. The Supreme Court seemed to invite such a response in its narrowly written ruling in the case, Kelo v. City of New London. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, expressed sympathy for the displaced homeowners and said that the "necessity and wisdom" of the use of eminent domain were issues of legitimate debate. And, he added, "We emphasize that nothing in our opinion precludes any state from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power."

Two months after the ruling, addressing a bar association meeting, Justice Stevens called it "unwise" and said he would have opposed it had he been a legislator and not a federal judge bound by precedent.

Plenty of legislators took the hint.

The issue was one of the first raised when Connecticut lawmakers
returned to session early this month. There are bills pending in the Legislature to
impose new restrictions on the use of eminent domain by local governments and
to assure that displaced businesses and homeowners receive fair

(The New London project is essentially delayed, even after the Supreme
Court go-ahead, because of contractual disputes and an unwillingness to
forcibly remove the homeowners who sued to save their properties.)
In the New Jersey Legislature, Senator Nia H. Gill, a Democrat from
Montclair who is chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, proposed a bill to outlaw
the use of eminent domain to condemn residential property that is not
completely run down to make room for a redevelopment project. The bill, which is
pending, would require public hearings before any taking of private property to
benefit a private development project.

State Senator John A. DeFrancisco of New York has proposed a measure
similar to one in several other states that would remove the right to exercise
condemnation power from unelected bodies like an urban redevelopment
authority or an industrial development agency. Mr. DeFrancisco, a Republican from
Syracuse, cited the case of a development agency in his hometown that has used
its power to take valuable leases from existing mall tenants to allow a private
developer to expand.

Texas was one of the first states to act after the Kelo ruling, taking
up the issue in a special legislative session that was supposed to focus
solely on education. Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, signed a bill on Sept. 1 that
prohibits use of eminent domain to benefit a private party, with certain exceptions.
Among those exceptions is the condemnation of homes to make way for a
new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys.

The sponsor of the Texas measure, Senator Kyle Janek, Republican of
Houston, said the state was weighing a constitutional amendment to cement the
eminent domain restrictions, but that process can take years. He sponsored his
bill, he said, because "We wanted something in place quickly that the governor
could sign and would take immediate effect."

The bill could affect a huge highway project now in the planning stages
known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, a public-private toll road and rail
project that would require the taking of large swaths of privately owned land.
There are six proposed laws and five constitutional amendments before
the California Legislature, as well as several proposed citizen initiatives
to curb the eminent domain power. The bills are supported by, among others, the
California Farm Bureau Federation, which fears that the Kelo ruling
will empower cities to gobble up more farmland to build subdivisions and strip

The lobbyist for California's local economic development agencies said
the ruling and the resultant legislation had been a nightmare.

"My life hasn't been the same since June 23, 2005," said the lobbyist,
John F. Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment
Association, referring to the date the Supreme Court handed down the ruling. The
group represents 350 local redevelopment authorities around California and
believes such agencies need the eminent domain power to rebuild distressed cities.
"I've had to spend practically full time dealing with this issue and
trying to get people to understand the Supreme Court decision didn't change
anything in California law," Mr. Shirey said.

Ohio's legislature, acting swiftly and unanimously after the Kelo
decision, declared a moratorium on all government takings until the end of 2006.
The state has created a 25-member bipartisan panel to study the issue and
make recommendations for changes, if necessary, in Ohio's eminent domain
statutes. The sponsor of the moratorium measure, Senator Timothy J. Grendell, a
Republican lawyer who specializes in property rights cases, noted that the Ohio
Supreme Court was now weighing a potentially critical eminent domain case involving
the city of Norwood, a suburb of Cincinnati.

In that case, city officials have approved a plan to condemn about 60
private homes to make way for an upscale office and retail complex. The
homeowners are represented by lawyers from the Institute of Justice, a public
interest law firm that litigates against what it calls eminent domain abuse and that
represented the plaintiffs in the New London case.

Scott G. Bullock of the Institute for Justice described the Norwood
case as an important test of property rights law in the post-Kelo era, but
would not predict how the Ohio court would rule. He said he hoped to take another
case before the Supreme Court in the next few years to determine whether the
courts can curb eminent domain power further, even as state legislatures act
on their own.

Mr. Bullock said he expected municipal officials and redevelopment
authorities to try to fight the wave of eminent domain legislation by
offering cosmetic changes to existing law, for example by requiring an extra hearing or
an economic impact statement. But he said that major changes were coming
in how the takings power of government is used.

"Our opposition to eminent domain is not across the board," he said.
"It has an important but limited role in government planning and the building
of roads, parks and public buildings. What we oppose is eminent domain
abuse for private development, and we are encouraging legislators to curtail it."
More neutral observers expressed concern that state officials, in their
zeal to protect homeowners and small businesses, would handcuff local
governments that are trying to revitalize dying cities and fill in blighted areas
with projects that produce tax revenues and jobs.

"It's fair to say that many states are on the verge of seriously
overreacting to the Kelo decision," said John D. Echeverria, executive director of
the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute and an authority on
land-use policy. "The danger is that some legislators are going to attempt to
destroy what is a significant and sometimes painful but essential government
power. The extremist position is a prescription for economic decline for many
metropolitan areas around the county."

Article's URL:

PRINCETON BOROUGH, N.J. - Security measures at U.S. labs are failing to
keep pace with the fast-growing number of biodefense research projects,
according to a Rutgers University microbiologist.

Speaking at a biodefense seminar series at Princeton University,
Richard Ebright said Friday that expanding research into such deadly pathogens
as anthrax, plague and tularemia isn't being regulated as strictly as other

"The easiest way for al-Qaida to obtain bioweapons agents would be to
place someone in a U.S. bioweapons institution," Ebright said.
"This is something that needs to be prevented," he added, saying
potential terrorists need only one well-placed doctoral student to advance their

A professor at Rutgers' Wakeman Institute of Microbiology, Ebright has
been a strong critic of government biodefense efforts. He said the number of
institutions and people handling bioweapons agents has jumped at least
20-fold, even as research funding declines for work on safer agents that could help

Ebright said there have been incidents across the country in which
researchers have improperly handled agents and animals used in testing.
Federal safety rules are not designed to prevent accidental releases of
bioweapons agents, and security measures are fragmented, gap-ridden and
poorly coordinated among agencies, Ebright said.

Von Roebuck, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, disputed Ebright's statements. Roebuck said that biodefense
licensing procedures established in 2002 are working, with about 300 research
entities covered.

"The safety measures are in place," Roebuck told The Star-Ledger of
Newark for Saturday's editions. "These programs go through a review. To be
registered, a lot of questions are asked, a lot of measures are looked at ... This
is taken very seriously."

Lynn Enquist, a Princeton molecular biologist who edits the Journal of
Virology, told the newspaper that Ebright gave "a fairly accurate assessment"
of biodefense research risks.

Seminar coordinator Laura Kahn, a medical doctor who has studied
laboratory infections, said the "macho kind of culture" surrounding biodefense
research needs to change.

"They view accidents with a real laissez-faire attitude," she said.
Article's URL:

Grey Wolf-6

Friday, August 25, 2006

Scaffolds Spur Cottage Industry in Corporate Advertising

Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 05:40:23 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Scaffolds Spur Cottage Industry in Corporate Advertising

So here's something that C. Scott Stringer is doing right.


August 21, 2006 Edition > Section: New York >

Record Numbers of Scaffolds Spur Cottage Industry in Corporate
BY RUSSELL BERMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
August 21, 2006

Record high numbers of scaffolds across the city may be an eyesore
for pedestrians and a headache for shops under their shadow, but the
rise in sidewalk sheds underneath the scaffolds has also spurred a
cottage industry in corporate advertising.

From a plug for iPods in Greenwich Village to a Helio display in
SoHo to the Citibank sign snaking around the Flatiron building,
billboard-style ads have cropped up increasingly on protective sheds
in Manhattan and elsewhere, much to the dismay of civic groups and
elected officials.

The ads are all apparently illegal under city rules, and the
president of Manhattan, Scott Stringer, is launching a campaign to
crack down on the practice.

"We've had enough of illegal black market advertising in our city,"
Mr. Stringer said at a news conference outside the Flatiron building

Businesses underneath a sidewalk shed may put up a sign for their
store on the facing of the shed, but Section 27-03 of the rules
governing city agencies appears to prohibit any other advertising on
the sheds. Defining a sidewalk shed as a protective structure, the
clause states that other than the business signs, "there shall be no
information, pictorial representations, or any business or
advertising messages posted on such protective structures at
demolition or construction sites." Almost all sheds are stenciled
with the words "Post no bills" on the facing.

Citing data gathered by the Municipal Art Society in a survey of 42
illegal building and scaffold ads in the city, Mr. Stringer said 79%
of the buildings had never been issued a violation for the signage.

"There is no oversight, there is no control, and no enforcement," Mr.
Stringer said, calling the ads a "blight" that the city should treat
as a form of corporate graffiti.

The advertising ban has long been flouted, owing largely to a lack of
enforcement and the fact that the revenue generated by the ads
greatly exceeds the fines for violations. While Buildings Department
fines for illegal advertising can range from $2,500 for an ignored
first citation to $10,000 for ignored subsequent violations, one
building industry executive said a billboard-style ad on a sidewalk
shed can bring in up to $50,000 a month.

Since permits for sidewalk sheds typically run for a year, building
owners often keep them up long after repairs are completed in order
to collect revenue from the ads, officials said.

Mr. Stringer placed the blame squarely on the Department of
Buildings, but to a certain extent, the agency's hands are tied. City
officials said that under current law, the department cannot
unilaterally raise the fines for violations, and it cannot remove
most signs outright without demonstrating that they pose a threat to
public safety.

A spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, Jennifer Givner, said the
agency was considering new enforcement strategies and was open to
working with lawmakers and other officials to stiffen the penalties
for illegal advertising and to give the department more power to
remove the signs.

Ms. Givner also pointed to a new department initiative aimed at
cracking down on illegal advertising near highways and parks. Under
regulations announced last month and set to take effect this week,
the city is creating a registry for outdoor advertising companies,
which must provide a list of ads within 900 feet of a highway or 200
feet of a public park. Companies that violate the rules or that do
not register their signs within 60 days face fines of up to $25,000 a
day, which are designed to trump the likely revenue of the ads. The
city will also have the power to remove those signs and can prohibit
violators from bidding on city contracts for up to five years.

Still, the new program is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the
proliferation of apparently illegal ads in dense neighborhoods of
Manhattan and Brooklyn, where a construction boom and tighter
building-code regulations have led to record levels of scaffolding
and sidewalk sheds.

Robert Julavits, a spokesman for Citibank, which bought the ad
wrapped around the Flatiron building, said yesterday the company
would look into the matter and was committed to complying with any

The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dual Track Affordable-Housing Empire Fuels Developer's Upscale Aims Master of Tax-Credit Deals, Stephen Ross Sets Sights On Pennsylvania Station

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 04:33:40 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Poverty Pimping on Steroids: Steve Ross

Dual Track
Affordable-Housing Empire Fuels Developer's Upscale AimsMaster of Tax-Credit Deals, Stephen Ross Sets Sights On Pennsylvania Station
Buying Apartments in Queens
August 22, 2006; Page A1
Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK -- Stephen M. Ross erected the $1.7 billion Time Warner Center, twin 80-story towers stuffed with offices, shops, a hotel and expensive apartments overlooking Central Park. He is planning to transform downtown Los Angeles with a more-than-$2.5 billion retail and residential complex, and with a partner, to rebuild a chunk of central Manhattan, replacing both Pennsylvania Station and Madison Square Garden.

Behind his soaring ambitions and colossal budgets is something unusual in the world of commercial real estate: a financial engine based on government-subsidized housing that funds these risky endeavors.

The Ocean Park apartment complex in working-class Far Rockaway, Queens, is one cog in his machine. The twin brick-and-concrete towers, perched atop a parking garage overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, are typically drab affordable housing from the 1970s. Mr. Ross's real-estate firm, closely-held Related Cos., owns the buildings and collects just $848 a month for each two-bedroom apartment -- below-market rates that are set by the New York State Housing Finance Agency. Mr. Ross turns a profit because he has mastered the complex business of tax credits that help finance the nation's low-income housing.

Ninety percent of the 37,700 apartments Related owns in 16 states are government-subsidized units. And Mr. Ross's involvement in low- and moderate-income housing extends far beyond that. He founded and is the chairman of CharterMac, a publicly traded finance company that sells tax credits to investors and invests in tax-exempt bonds that also help to finance low-income housing. CharterMac has financed more than 400,000 apartments.

This massive low-income housing operation throws off a river of cash for Related that runs fairly steadily through real-estate boom and bust. It helps Mr. Ross bankroll some of the nation's ritziest -- and riskiest -- commercial developments.

"The consistent stream of fee income from the affordable side enables us to take on larger scale market-oriented projects," explains William Witte, president of Related's California operation. For the planned Los Angeles project, for example, Related beat out competing developers in part by plunking down a nonrefundable $50 million deposit.

Mixing high-end and low has turned Mr. Ross, 66 years old, into a wealthy man. Through Related, he controls $11.5 billion worth of property, although Related does not disclose how much debt those properties carry. He lives in a Time Warner Center penthouse and is a major philanthropist. In 2003, he gave $100 million to the University of Michigan Business School, which bears his name.

These days, with the luxury-condominium market cooling, Mr. Ross's high-low strategy may be put to the test. In June, a much-hyped, $3 billion Related condo project in Las Vegas in which actor George Clooney planned to invest was scrapped before it got off ground. Related blamed rising construction costs.

Nevertheless, Mr. Ross is forging ahead with preparations for his two most ambitious and expensive projects ever. In its Los Angeles project, Related is leading the planned redevelopment of a dilapidated stretch of Grand Avenue in the downtown area into a mixed-use neighborhood of condominiums, hotels, stores and parks.

And in New York, Related is working with Vornado Realty Trust, a real-estate investment trust, on plans to rebuild Madison Square Garden one block to the west, then raze the current home of the sports and entertainment arena. In the process, Pennsylvania Station, Manhattan's underground railroad hub, would become two connected stations, one of them within the historic building that now serves as the city central post office. In addition, there would be tall office buildings, condominiums and retail space. All told, it could cost more than $7 billion. "I've never been involved with anything that would have that much impact," says Mr. Ross.

Trained as a tax lawyer, Mr. Ross realized years ago there was money to be made though tax incentives created by the federal government to produce affordable housing. Although the details of government programs have changed over the years, their premise has stayed the same: private developers will build and preserve affordable rental housing if they are given adequate tax breaks.

Currently, the federal government distributes $5 billion in affordable-housing tax credits each year to private developers who agree to keep rents artificially low for periods ranging from 15 to 40 years. The housing is reserved for tenants earning no more than 60% of an area's median income. State housing agencies administer the credits.

The developers, however, typically don't use the credits to offset their own taxes. They sell them to syndicators, who bundle them and sell them to investors looking to offset their own tax bills. Syndicators charge fees to these investors, who are mostly large financial institutions. Developers use the money from selling the credits to build or renovate the low-income housing.

The tax-credit business is sufficiently complex that few real-estate developers handle it themselves, and few syndicators, for their part, build apartments. "Most syndicators don't want to get their feet muddied tromping around on bare dirt," notes John McIlwain, senior resident fellow at the real-estate trade group Urban Land Institute, who spent 20 years as a lawyer in the tax-credit world. "By the time you figure out the tax-syndication business you deserve free psychiatric care."

Mr. Ross, however, does both. Related builds affordable housing, buys and renovates existing buildings, and manages the properties. CharterMac, which is 14%-owned by Related, invests in such housing to secure tax credits, generates fees by syndicating the credits to investors, and invests in tax-exempt bonds sold to finance such housing. CharterMac also provides mortgages on both affordable and market-rate apartment projects. In 2005, it reported net income of $59 million on $295 million in revenue.

Mr. Ross grew up middle-class in Detroit and Florida. His uncle, the late Max M. Fisher, a billionaire oil and real-estate investor, paid his college tuition. After completing law school, Mr. Ross went to work on Wall Street as a finance executive. While working at Bear Stearns Cos., he says, he put together a business plan for what he envisioned as an affordable-housing company that would both build apartments and handle tax-credit financing. The finance side would generate steady income, he explains, but "the big picture was in development."

Bear Stearns declined to fund his plan, so in 1972, Mr. Ross started Related Housing Co. By the early 1980s, he had built 15,000 apartments and was a leading syndicator of tax credits. He spun his profits into more-lucrative commercial developments. In suburban New York, he built offices for CA Inc., International Paper Co. and Nestlé SA.He expanded his affordable-housing business to Florida, starting Related Group of Florida with housing entrepreneur Jorge Pérez. Today, that company, which is majority-owned by Mr. Pérez, is the largest developer of apartments in the state. Messrs. Ross and Pérez are also partners in Related investments in Las Vegas and California.

Mr. Ross pushed employees hard. After a 1982 skiing accident left his leg in a cast for nine months, he barked at underlings from a couch in his office. One evening a few years later, he emerged from a meeting to find the office apparently empty. "If anyone is still here, I'll give you $500," he shouted, according to both Mr. Ross and an employee. Dozens of heads popped up from the cubicles. "It cost me," he recalls.

In the 1980s, Mr. Ross began to combine affordable and luxury units in the same buildings, utilizing a new federal program known as 80/20. In exchange for reserving 20% of apartments for low-income tenants, Related was allowed to sell tax-exempt bonds. Mr. Ross's first such building, on the fringe of New York's Upper East Side, rented quickly and remains nearly 100% occupied.

He discovered that luxury projects were considerably riskier and more difficult. He spent the 1980s trying unsuccessfully to build an apartment complex called Riverwalk on piers in Manhattan's East River. Eventually, the city canceled his permit.

When commercial real-estate markets collapsed in the early 1990s, Mr. Ross had $120 million in loans outstanding on speculative projects. Banks began calling for repayment, and Mr. Ross canceled several condominium projects. If the loan problems had become public, investors might have steered clear of Related's tax-exempt deals, threatening its otherwise stable affordable-housing operations, according to two people familiar with the matter.

"How did we survive?" says Mr. Ross. "I had the other sources of income coming in from my financial-services business, the syndication doing all these tax-credit deals." It paid Related's overhead while he looked for additional money to keep the banks at bay. Eventually, he got a large cash infusion from several investors, including his wealthy uncle, Mr. Fisher, and he restructured the loans.

"My whole philosophy is totally different since then," says Mr. Ross. "We generate enough cash flow to put in to the projects internally from our profits...I control my destiny." He says Related now carries no debt other than short-term construction loans and nonrecourse mortgages, secured only by specific properties and not by Related's other assets or by Mr. Ross personally.

In order to obtain such financing, developers must put up significant equity. For the mammoth Time Warner Center, Related relied on more than the profits of its affordable-housing operations and other businesses. Mr. Ross tapped Apollo Real Estate Partners as an equity partner.

Income from the subsidized-housing business plays a vital role in the large-scale developments. "We've been working on large projects in and around L.A. for three years," says Mr. Witte, who heads Related's California unit. "We've had to carry the staff that are working on those. We have the financial capacity to do that in large part because of the success we have on the affordable side...All this comes into play when negotiating with lenders."

Following Related's near collapse, the commercial real-estate market once again boomed. Much of Related's projects since then have been high-end, including CityPlace in West Palm Beach, a massive mixed-use complex; Time Warner Center, and dozens of luxury condominium towers around the country. In recent years, these luxury projects have contributed a significant portion of Related's profits.

On the affordable-housing side, Mr. Ross was confronted with a separate set of problems. Related had begun selling tax-exempt bonds to investors through Prudential Securities. In a class-action suit filed in Manhattan federal court, investors accused Prudential, Related, and several other companies that sold limited partnerships of improperly characterizing bonds as more liquid than they in fact were. To settle the suit in 1997, Related paid $2 million and agreed to take its bond funds public so that investors could sell their investments more easily.

But that didn't end the problems. Related began collecting fees as outside manager of the newly public company, which became CharterMac. Investors didn't like that either. They were wary of having a private company manage a public one, which they saw as a conflict of interest, according to a 2002 CharterMac filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A second restructuring ensued, which shifted the management of CharterMac from Related to CharterMac itself. In exchange for the lost revenues, Mr. Ross received $50 million and CharterMac stock then valued at $181 million. Four other Related executives received $83 million of stock.

Before the deal was put to a shareholder vote, some shareholders sued in New York state court, claiming the deal amounted to Mr. Ross -- as both the principal owner of Related and the chairman of CharterMac -- negotiating with himself. CharterMac's independent directors had handled the negotiations for that company. One of those directors, Arthur Fisch, says the deal resulted from a "brutal negotiation." He insists that Mr. Ross "did not have any undo sway, certainly not over me." To settle the suit, Mr. Ross and his four Related partners agreed to vote the same way as the majority of outside shareholders. Those shareholders voted in favor of the deal.

These days, Related receives about $24 million a year in dividends -- most of it tax-free -- from its CharterMac stock holdings. But that is only part of the income it squeezes out of its investments in glamourless buildings such as the Ocean Park apartment complex.

In June 2005, Related agreed to buy Ocean Park for $34.5 million from Cord Meyer LLC, a small Queens real-estate company. In exchange for its promise to keep the apartments affordable for 40 years, Related received $11 million in federal tax credits, which it then sold to CharterMac. To raise the rest of the money needed to buy and renovate the building, Related received authorization from the New York State Housing Authority to sell $38 million in tax-exempt bonds.

Related and CharterMac earned money from the deal in several ways. Related took $2.2 million of the money it raised as a fee to manage the renovation of the property.

A CharterMac spokeswoman declines to say what the company's fee was for selling the Ocean Park tax credits to investors, but says it typically takes around 4% to 5% on such deals. CharterMac charges investors a separate fee to guarantee the tax credits if something bad happens to the property.

During the past year, Ocean Park tenants got new windows, stoves and refrigerators. Mark Carbone, president of Related's affordable-housing unit, says the property "will just purr along" for the 40 years Related has pledged to keep it affordable. And when that commitment runs out, the two buildings overlooking the Atlantic may turn into even more lucrative beachfront property.

Write to Alex Frangos at
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant activists and is not considered legal advice.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Jazz 4 Jazz @the Gatehouse

Event Detail

Jazz 4 Jazz @the Gatehouse
Sunday, August 27
Presented by Aaron Davis Hall / Harlem Stage

Sunday, August 27, 2006
2:00-5:00 PM
at The Gatehouse
Admission Free
A block party at Harlem's newest destination for arts and culture, The Gatehouse.

Featuring Johnny Almendra and his Latin-jazz Jamming Allstars, Emme Kemp, and other jazz artists Mistress of Ceremonies: Flo Wiley, host of WHCR-FM's Black Beat New York
Gather on the blocks surrounding The Gatehouse for an afternoon of hot fun in the summertime. Enjoy delicious food, wares from local vendors and keep cool with great music played by some of the many gifted musicians who live in Harlem. Come and get a preview of The Gatehouse.

Co-presented by Harlem Stage Guild and Jazzmobile, this event is a thank-you to the community and a show of support for its jazz artists. Proceeds will support the Jazz Musicians Foundation.

Feel free to bring a chair and relax on the streets surrounding The Gatehouse.

Dates: Sunday, August 27, 2006 @ 2:00 pm
> More Music> More Community> More Music : Jazz / Blues> More Free

Venue Information
Aaron Davis Hall / Harlem Stage
138 Convent Avenue (West 135th Street and Convent Avenue)
New York, NY 10031 212-650-7100 phone
> visit website
> map it

Nearby Restaurants
Cafe Bonjour
Cotton Club

Home About Harlem One Stop Submit an Event Community Partnerships Advertise Contact Us Privacy Policy

Harlem One Stop is funded by The Cultural Tourism Initiative, a project of The Arts & Business Council Inc., and The New York State Council on the Arts. Website developed and made possible by a gift from Zero Defect Design About Culture Portals

Uptown Highlights for August 11-17

From: "Harlem One Stop"
Subject: Uptown Highlights for August 11-17
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 12:18:20 -0500

Welcome to the Uptown newsletter.

Here is a sample of what's going on in Harlem and Upper Manhattan this weekend and in days to come. - at last you can hear about stuff before it happens!

There are MANY MORE CHOICES listed by date, neighborhood or interest, please visit

Have an event to submit?
Use our Submit an Event Form.

Also, if Harlem One Stop is missing your favorite event, organization, restaurant or retail shop, let us know by e-mail to
Thank you!

''D'Elia Deal'': Shopping Discounts and Dining Offers!
Through Tuesday, October 31
A special “D'Elia Deal” offer from Harlem One Stop and Travel with Val, NY1!E-mail with the message, ''Val sent me'', and we will send you a list of great offers from Harlem and Upper Manhattan's cool and hip clothing stores and restaurants!

Harlem Renaissance Jazz, Film, & Art in the Park
Presented by Harlem Renaissance EDC
Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13Malcolm Shabazz PlazaW. 110th Street at the confluence of Malcolm X Blvd.and St. Nicholas AvenueNew York, NY

A three day outdoor Art Expo that celebrates the cultural and creative spirit of Harlem by showcasing emerging and established visual, craft and performing artists.

NYRP Harlem River Row
Presented by New York Restoration Project
Sunday, August 13 @ 12:30 pmSwindler Cove ParkHarlem River Drive & Dyckman Street @ 10th AvenueNew York, NY

Come and row the Harlem River in boats built through NYRP's boatbuilding program.
12:30 - 2:30pm. Swindler Cove Park, at the east end of Dyckman Street, just south of PS 5.

Shakespeare at Riverbank: Romeo & Juliet
Presented by Pulse Ensemble Theatre
Thursday, August 10 @ 8 pmFriday, August 11 @ 8 pmSaturday, August 12 @ 8 pmFREERiverbank State Park679 Riverside DriveNew York, NY 10031

Pulse Ensemble Theatre once again brings free Shakespeare to the open air Riverbank State Park this summer with a multi-racial production of Romeo & Juliet, directed by the company's Artistic Director, Alexa Kelly. Set in New York City today, the production reflects the urban environment in which it is seen while emphasizing Shakespeare's universal appeal.

Dance Theatre of Harlem's Annual Street Fair
Saturday, August 12 @ 12 pm
Dance Theatre of Harlem
466 West 152nd StreetBetween Amsterdam and St. Nicholas Avenue

Location: West 152nd Street(between Amsterdam and St. Nicholas Avenues). Noon - 7:00pm.
Arts, Crafts, Food, Vendors, Entertainment!

Featuring performances by Breaking Through Barriers Ensemble with Special Guests, Los Hermanos Morenos and much more!

Also check out W. 155th Street Block Party, bet. St Nicholas and Amsterdam Avenue.
Jazzmobile, Winard Harper (3:00 pm); followed by St Luke's AME Gospel Choir and more..

Harlem: Discover the Old, Experience the New
Presented by Harlem One Stop Tours
- Saturday, August 12, 11:30 am$15 - RSVP 917-583-4109
Meet at 116th and Lenox Avenue, NW corner (next to Conway). #2 ad #6 subway to 116th.

Against a backdrop of historic landmarks and districts, experience the second Harlem Renaissance as this tour guides you through neighborhood museums, galleries, restaurants and shops offering unique made in Harlem products.

This week through October, A SPECIAL “D'Elia Deal” OFFER from Harlem One Stop and Travel with Val, NY1: E-mail and say Val sent you, and we will send you a list of great offers from Harlem and Upper Manhattan's cool and hip clothing stores and restaurants!

Harlem One Stop Salutes: Ginger Expressfor its healthy & creative menu optionsCheck it out!
1400 Fifth Avenue, bet. 115th & 116thNew York, NY 10026
Ginger is a quick service concept restaurant that focuses on healthy, full-flavored, fast affordable Chinese food, delivered though a modern and comfortable dining environment.

Our Philosophy:
''To provide healthy, fresh, low-fat and calories full-flavored Chinese food in a comfortable modern setting.''

Sunday Brunch with musical vocalist. No cover charge. 1PM - 3PM. Call to confirm artist.

Dutchman by Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka)
Presented by Harlem Repertory Theatre
Saturday, August 12 @ 9:30 pm
Aaron Davis Hall / Harlem Stage138 Convent Avenue
(West 135th Street and Convent Avenue)
New York, NY 10031

A hard hitting political drama about race, class and bigotry--set in the steaming bowels of the New York City subway in the early 1960s. The drama charts the collision course of the Black middle class conformist, Clay, and his white female tormentor, Lula. This production is intended for mature audiences.

Performances are held at Aaron Davis Hall - Theatre B.
Pay what you can.

Jazzmobile Vocal Competition - $1,000
Presented by JazzmobileMonday, August 14 @ 3 pm
Harlem School of the Arts
645 St. Nicholas AvenueNew York, NY 10030

This talent search for the best of the best jazz vocalists kicks off on August 14, 2006 with a round of auditions held at the Harlem School of the Arts between the hours of 3 pm and 9 pm.

This year's Grand Prize will be $1,000.00 and a guest appearance at a NYC Night Club, the 2nd Prize is $500.00.

Jazz @Marjorie Eliot's
Presented by Parlor Entertainment
Sunday, August 13 @ 4 pm
FREE but Donations Deserved!
Parlor Jazz at Marjorie Eliot's
555 Edgecombe Avenue(at 160th Street),
''The Triple Nickel'', Studio 3F
New York, NY 100

When you enter the parlor of Apartment 3F at 555 Edgecombe Avenue, you are walking on to hallowed ground. It's not just that Count Basie, Paul Robeson, and Charles Buchanan, who owned the Savoy Ballroom, all lived in this building. It's that the building is home to one of New York City's living treasures. Every Sunday for the past eleven years, rain or shine, with no vacations, a jazz concert with some of the City's best musicians takes place in this parlor, the living room of Marjorie Eliot's home in Sugar Hill.

Aug 13: Willie Gee, soprano saxophone vocals. Rudel Drears, pianist-in-residence and Musical Director; Sedric Choukroun, saxophone-in-residence; Bob Cunningham, guest bassist

This message is sent to subscribers of the Uptown mailing list at

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Black Colleges Recruiting More Hispanics

08/11: AOL News: Black Colleges Recruiting More Hispanics

Black Colleges Recruiting More Hispanics

c The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - Faced with stiff competition for their traditional students, historically black colleges are now making a push to recruit Hispanics.

Black colleges that want to shore up enrollment numbers are revising recruitment strategies to include more members of the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority. The campuses are hiring Hispanic recruiters, distributing brochures that feature Hispanic students and establishing special scholarships for Hispanics.

``I tell them 'There's a place for you and a need for Latinos to be present on (historically black) campuses,'' said Nelson Santiago, a Puerto Rico native and recruiter for the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., which has about 170 Hispanics out of 11,500 students.

Santiago and recruiters from other schools, including the all-male Morehouse College in Atlanta, are visiting predominantly Hispanic high schools and setting up booths at college fairs to recruit Hispanics. Morehouse sends recruiters to high schools in southern Florida, New York, eastern Texas and Los Angeles - areas with large Hispanic populations.

``Considering Latinos and African-Americans share a lot of history together that they don't realize, I think it's a good idea,'' said John Miranda, the 21-year-old son of Brazilian immigrants who is one of 15 Hispanics enrolled at the 2,800-student Morehouse.

Miranda, of Silver Spring, Md., said he picked Morehouse because he was offered a full scholarship funded by an Atlanta foundation that promotes the education of Hispanics.

Morehouse's goal is for at least 5 percent of its student body to consist of Hispanics within five years. If its current overall enrollment holds steady, the school will need 125 more Hispanic students by 2011 to reach that goal.

In the 1990s, Hispanics surpassed blacks as the nation's largest minority. The number of Hispanics in the United States grew by nearly 60 percent that decade, while the number of blacks only grew by about 15 percent.At the same time, the competition for black students has increased as public colleges nationwide try to improve diversity by recruiting more minorities.

Federal courts have forced some state higher education systems, especially in the South, to meet specific black recruitment goals under desegregation lawsuits from the 1960s.

The number of Hispanic students attending historically black colleges increased more than 60 percent from 1994 to 2004, while the number of black students grew by 35 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Some students and alumni worried about the new recruitment strategy.``I do have concerns,'' said Earl Nero, a retired Atlanta businessman and 1974 Morehouse graduate. ``Since the college has determined they want to stay the same size they are, that would take away space from qualified African-American students.

"But having other minorities attending a historically black college will help them get ``a real life view about what black people are all about,'' Nero added.

Student James Travis, 21, who is black, said having students of other races on a historically black campus bothers him ``a little bit'' because it challenges the college's mission.``It's supposed to maintain the historically black tradition,'' said Travis, who is from Atlanta's College Park suburb. ``I'll have to see how it goes before I see if I want to change the situation or not.''

Educators said the nation's two largest minority groups are a natural fit on a college campus.``They are both underserved communities when it comes to higher education,'' said Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. ``We have got to educate them so that we can have a competitive workforce in the 21st century.''

Miranda, one of 15 Hispanics at Morehouse, said it has not bothered him being on a majority black campus.``Since I've been at Morehouse, I've gotten a different perspective on a lot of things,'' Miranda said, referring to black history. ``I learned a lot that was left out of the schooling I got.''

On the Net:
Morehouse College:
Texas Southern University:
Howard University:
United Negro College Fund:

08/11/06 03:50 EDT

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

CUNY Seeing Fewer Blacks at Top Schools

New York Times


CUNY Seeing Fewer Blacks at Top Schools

Published: August 10, 2006

The enrollment of black students at three of the most prestigious colleges of the City University of New York has dropped significantly in the six years since the university imposed tougher admissions policies.

Skip to next paragraph

Graphic: Examining Enrollment

One of the sharp declines has come at the City College of New York, CUNY’s flagship campus, in Harlem, which was at the center of bitter open admissions battles in the late 1960’s. Black students, who accounted for 40 percent of City College’s undergraduates as recently as 1999, now make up about 30 percent of the student body there, figures provided by the university show.

At Hunter, a competitive liberal arts campus on the East Side of Manhattan, the share of black students fell to 15 percent last year from 20 percent in 1999. And at Baruch, a campus that specializes in business, the proportion of black students slipped to 14 percent from 24 percent. Over all, the number of black undergraduates at CUNY, including those in associate’s degree programs, grew to 57,791 last year from 52,937 in 1999, the figures show.

University officials attributed the declines to several factors, from their admissions policies to greater competition for top minority students from other colleges to students’ own preferences about where they want to study. But Robert Bruce Slater, the managing editor of The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, which noted the trend at CUNY in its Weekly Bulletin last week, said, “The tougher admissions policy seems to have had a major impact.”

CUNY is not the only public university experiencing such changes. In California, which voted to end affirmative action at its public universities a decade ago, U.C.L.A. and Berkeley have both seen steep declines in the number of black students, even as the numbers at other campuses fell less and have recovered more over time.
CUNY put its tougher admissions policies in place in 2000 and 2001.

Critics like former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said CUNY had low standards and was accepting far too many students who were not prepared for college work. Opponents of the change pointed to a tradition of open admissions and predicted that there would be a sharp decline in total enrollment and in the enrollment of minority students.

The tightened standards required that students who wanted to enter CUNY’s baccalaureate programs attain certain scores on the SAT exam, the New York State Regents tests or CUNY’s own entrance exams.

“At one point, they basically had an open admissions policy and all these kids got in,” Mr. Slater said. “Then they changed their policy, and this is what happened.”

Mr. Slater said that CUNY, which has 17 undergraduate campuses, has been an important institution for black students, and that nearly 3 percent of all American black college students are at the university.

CUNY officials acknowledged the dip in the number of black students at three of their top schools, but argued that they had more black undergraduates last year than in 1999.

“Not only are we recruiting more black students onto our campuses, but we are graduating more, too,” said Selma Botman, CUNY’s top academic officer.

In 2004-05, an official said, 7,496 black students graduated from CUNY’s bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs, up from 7,151 five years earlier.

CUNY also has a black male initiative that it adopted last year, when it recognized how few black men were enrolled compared with the number of black women.

The declines in black enrollment appeared unrelated to the pipeline of students from New York City’s high schools. The number of black students graduating from public high schools in New York City grew to 11,754 in 2005 from 10,594 in 1999, according to the city’s education department.

When CUNY’s trustees approved the stricter admissions policies, the state Board of Regents questioned how much they would change the university’s racial balance.

Saul B. Cohen, a Regent and former president of Queens College, said yesterday that the declines for some of the individual campuses were “a bit surprising” and warranted another look.

But others said the decline in black enrollment at Hunter, Baruch and City College should not cause the university to shy away from strengthening its standards.

Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute who served on Mr. Giuliani’s task force that evaluated CUNY, said yesterday that she believed CUNY was “absolutely on the right track.”

“I don’t believe that a college is in the business of engineering academic standards to achieve a particular racial outcome,” Ms. Mac Donald said. “It should set its standards in a colorblind fashion, based on the skills necessary to perform college-level work.

“These tests are hardly draconian,” she said, referring to the tests that CUNY examines to determine eligibility for its bachelor’s degree programs. “They are measuring very, very basic skills in reading and writing. It is not placing undue expectations on someone to show a very modest level of literacy.”

But Bill Crain, a psychology professor at City College, called the CUNY admissions process “deeply flawed” because black students do not do as well on standardized tests as other groups. Mr. Crain said the university “should really take another look at the admissions process, and put more weight on factors that really do predict success, like grades and motivation.”

While Baruch, Hunter and City College all had declines in their enrollments of black students, the proportion of black students at Brooklyn and Queens Colleges remained steady, representing about 30 percent of the undergraduates at Brooklyn and about 10 percent at Queens.

And even though black students were a smaller share of some CUNY campuses, those shares were still larger than at most other colleges in New York City and in the state, federal data show.

Officials at Baruch, Hunter and City College said that despite the declines in the number of black students, they were among the most diverse campuses in America.

“We are proud of our diversity,” said Mary Lou Edmondson, a spokeswoman at City College.

Laura M. Schachter, the dean for diversity and compliance at Hunter, said that many qualified black and Hispanic students did not know much about Hunter and did not apply. “It is our job to make them aware,” she said.

Officials at Baruch said they were trying to improve their recruiting. They also said that while the number of black students had fallen, they were doing better academically. Baruch now has 51 percent of its black students graduating within six years, up from 28 percent a decade ago.

James F. Murphy, assistant vice president for enrollment management, said Baruch had admitted about 2 percent more black students this year than in 2005, and was waiting to see how many enrolled. “We have our fingers crossed that we will see an improvement,” he said.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

500 African American Men Graduating! Where's the media???

Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 11:36:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Subject: Fwd: FW: Fw: 500 African American Men Graduating! Where's the media???

Renee Prince wrote:
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 09:42:17 -0700 (PDT)
From: Renee Prince
Subject: 500 African American Men Graduating! Where's the media???

Note: forwarded message attached.

This is absolutely beautiful but where was ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX,CNN,MSNBC,UPN,BET, and every other news media.

Was it not news worthy?

If this had been 500 Blacks rioting, every network would have provided coverage.This is the largest class ever!I don't know about you guys, but this sure made me feel proud of our young Black men. In spite of what the news media paint of young Blacks,not all of them are illiterate, gangbangers, rappers or in jail.This is Morehouse's graduation. Did anyone besides Atlantans see these pictures in their newspapers?

If you check out the second set of stills, you may even see proud papa Denzel taking pictures of his son.Click the link & enjoy!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Assembly Hearing on Bldg Code/Zoning Reso

Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2006 16:30:58 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: Assembly Hearing on Bldg Code/Zoning Reso



SUBJECT: The Effectiveness of the Regulation of
Construction and Development in New York City and
the Enforcement of the Building Code and Compliance with the Zoning

PURPOSE: The purpose of this hearing is to
explore the powers, duties, obligations, and
accountability of New York City’s regulatory
system for construction, development, and zoning enforcement.

New York City
Thursday, September 7, 2006
10:00 AM
Assembly Hearing Room
250 Broadway, Room 1923
19th Floor

There has long been public concern about the
effectiveness of New York City’s regulatory
system for assuring construction and building
safety and for preserving the integrity of the
Building Code and the Zoning Resolution.

Low interest rates have created a construction
boom in New York City in the past few years, and
development pressures have never been greater.

Construction accidents and building collapses are
reported regularly, and local communities express
frustration with developers and contractors who
flout building and zoning rules. The practice of
self-certification of building plans by
architects and engineers without a DOB plan
examiner’s approval has led to abuses of the
Building Code and Zoning Resolution that may go
unchallenged. While the New York City Department
of Buildings has been attempting to strengthen
its performance through the new 311 system, its
BIS website, physical layout improvements to its
offices and emphasis on staff integrity,
questions remain about the City’s capacity to
enforce its building and zoning laws.

In 2001, a Task Force appointed by former Mayor
Giuliani recommended major overhaul of the
enforcement system of the New York City
Department of Buildings, the primary City agency
responsible for construction, building, and
zoning enforcement. More recently, the New York
City Construction Industry Partnership and the
New York State Trial Lawyers Institute have
documented the existence of a “scofflaw”
construction industry operating in parallel with
law-abiding construction and development firms.

In addition, the New York City Council has been
holding hearings about the effectiveness of the
Department of Buildings and related enforcement agencies.
The health and safety of the public in New York
City is a matter of State concern.

Notwithstanding some improvements in
the performance of the Department of Buildings,
there remains intense public concern about
construction and zoning-related law enforcement
as development pressures in the City continue to
surge. This public hearing will explore the
powers, duties, obligations, and accountability
of New York City’s regulatory system for
construction, development, and zoning enforcement.
Please see the reverse side for a list of
subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to
the Committee at the above hearing should
complete and return the enclosed reply form as
soon as possible. It is important that the reply
form be fully completed and returned so that
persons may be notified in the event of emergency
postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes'
duration. In preparing the order of witnesses,
the Committee will attempt to accommodate
individual requests to speak at particular times
in view of special circumstances. These requests
should be made on the attached reply form or
communicated to Committee staff as early as
possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses
will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms
are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be
submitted at the hearing registration desk. Two
copies of the prepared testimony should be sent
to the committees a week in advance of the hearings.

In order to further publicize these hearings,
please inform interested parties and
organizations of the Committee's interest in
hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have
a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with
its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of
disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities
and services available to all individuals with
disabilities. For individuals with disabilities,
accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable
request, to afford such individuals access and
admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

James Brennan Joseph Lentol Vito Lopez
Member of Assembly Member of Assembly Member of Assembly
Chair Chair Chair
Committee on Cities Committee on Codes Committee on Housing

1. What is the current backlog of
complaints and violations? How are complaints,
violations and enforcement actions prioritized,
categorized and imposed? How many hazardous
violations of the building code are outstanding and what is their

2. How often and in what circumstances
does New York City enforce the Building Code and
the Zoning Resolution through more aggressive
tools, i.e., criminal court actions, padlocking,
tax liens, and what are the dispositions of such
actions? Is staff at the DOB and related agencies
sufficiently trained to prepare court-worthy
evidence to support such enforcement measures?

3. What reporting systems exist for
construction activities, building safety, and
zoning compliance, and how can they be improved?
What information is required of the NYC DOB and
related agencies in the Mayor’s Management Report
and is that information helpful to the public in
evaluating the performance of these agencies?

4. Is there a central reporting and
investigations system for accidents and injuries
to persons and property related to building,
construction and demolition safety?

5. What external notice, review, and
monitoring systems exist for construction and
development activity, and when are they
triggered? When and under what circumstances are
adjacent property owners, community boards, and
elected officials notified of construction
activity and zoning issues, and when are they
authorized to review, comment upon or approve
such activity? Should review and approval powers
of entities outside DOB be changed or expanded?

6. What is the current system of
protections and remedies for adjacent property
owners and the public regarding construction,
safety, and zoning complaints? When and how are
the NYC DOB and related agencies required to
respond to such complaints? Does current law
adequately protect adjacent properties?

7. What is the current law and practice
regarding the availability of construction plans
to the public? Are there differences in the
availability of plans during different phases of
construction, i.e., applications, permits, plan
amendments, etc.? How can this system be
improved? Does current practice protect the
public interest and the public’s right to appeal?

8. How does the current DOB system ensure
document integrity?

9. Are DOB policy and procedure notices applied consistently?

10. When are DOB objections and audits
available to the public and under what
circumstances? When and within what timeframe
must the DOB respond to public questions and
objections to applications, plans, and
amendments? How often are public objections to
plans filed? How many result in audits? How many result in

11. How are meetings between
architects/engineers/expediters/developers and
DOB staff logged and documented? What record of
these meetings is available for public review?

12. How frequently are completed buildings
denied certificates of occupancy? What are the
remedies for Zoning and Building Code
noncompliance upon completion of construction,
e.g., when buildings are overbuilt? How much
time are owners given to correct noncompliance?

13. What is the current status of the New
York City self-certification program by
architects and engineers? Does
self-certification allow excessive noncompliance
with the Building Code and Zoning Resolution?
What is the status of disciplinary reviews for
abuse of self-certification privileges by the New
York City DOB and the New York State Department
of Education? What are DOB’s guidelines and
threshold for distinguishing between jobs that
needed revocation and jobs that were permitted to
continue? When plans fail audit review, does this trigger
disciplinary review?

14. Should self-certification be abolished
and/or restricted? If so, what additional
resources would NYC DOB need to review
construction plans? Should DOB and/or the New
York State Education Department or other
government bodies be given additional licensing
authority over various participants in the
construction industry, including architects,
engineers, expediters, contractors, developers, and others?

15. How frequently are Zoning and Building
Code issues implicated in Attorney General’s
reviews and acceptances of co-op and condo plans?
How frequently are issues involving certificates
of occupancy litigated by the Attorney General’s office?

16. How frequently are DOB decisions brought
to the Board of Standards and Appeals? How often
are DOB decisions overturned by the BSA?

Persons wishing to present testimony at the
public hearing on are requested to complete this
reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Deborah Stevens
Legislative Associate
Assembly Committee on Cities
Room 520- Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-4363
(518) 455-5182 Fax

I plan to attend the following public hearing on
The Effectiveness of New York City’s Regulation
of Construction and Development and Preservation
of the Integrity of the Building Code and Zoning
Resolution to be conducted by the Assembly
Committee on Cities, the Committee on Codes and
the Committee on Housing on September 7, 2006.

I plan to make a public statement at the hearing.
My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I
will answer any questions which may arise.

I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.

I will address my remarks to the following subjects:




I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

I would like to be added to the
Committee mailing list for notices and reports.
I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.

I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility infor­ma­­tion.
Please specify the type of assistance required:


ADDRESS: _________________________________________________
TELEPHONE: _______________________________________________

The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants

Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Cubans have changed Florida

The Cubans have changed Florida
Maya Bell Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted August 6, 2006

MIAMI -- It is a supreme irony: The most-hated man in Miami is arguablythe city's greatest benefactor and among Florida 's greatest agents of change.

In the 47 years since Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba , unleashing an exodus
that continues today, Miami has become the world city dreamed about
since Henry Flagler brought his railroad to the wilderness settlement in 1896.

"I always say the arrival of the train and the arrival of the Cuban refugeesare the most defining moments of our history," said Miami historian ArvaMoore Parks.

"The greatest change [brought by the Cubans] has been inMiami, but their influence can be felt everywhere."

Few other groups have as profoundly changed Florida as the 700,000-plus
refugees who have fled Castro's oppressive regime by plane, boat and homemade
rafts since the now-ailing dictator marched into Havana the firstday of 1959.

Today, a million Floridians identify themselves as Cuban.

Paving the way for other Spanish-speakers to follow, they helped transform nearly every facet of life in Florida, from the economy to the culture, from politics to foreign policy, from entertainment to sports.

"They created an outpost for Latin America in Miami , which attracted
millions of other Latin Americans, which decidedly changed Florida," said
Sergio Bendixen, the nation's leading pollster on Hispanic opinion. "It's made
it bilingual, bicultural and the economic hub for Latin America."

Largely from Cuba 's professional class, the first wave of refugees who landed in Miami brought their business acumen, a knowledge of LatinAmerica and the Caribbean, and, of course, Spanish. Coming from bustling, cosmopolitan Havana, many were stunned by what was then a winter playground."

Miami was a seasonal, sleepy town," said Tony Villamil, who arrived in1960 at age 13. "I remember going down Calle Ocho and crying, 'What am I doing here?'
It was almost like a country road." The Cubans would, of course, turn Eighth Street into the vibrant heart of Little Havana.

Initially, taking menial jobs, such as janitors and seamstresses, they became
teachers and bankers and opened gas stations, restaurants, hardware stores,
pharmacies, law firms and doctor offices.

By the early 1970s, they had created a prosperous enclave where English wasn't
essential, but passionate political conservatism and virulent anti-Castroism was.

Many old-time Miamians, resentful of feeling like strangers in their own town,
moved north. But the ability to conduct business in a familiar culture and language
was inviting to successive waves of Latin American entrepreneurs and immigrants,
many who were escaping economic or political turmoil in their own homelands.

A mixture of South American flight capital and Cuban management skills would become a recipe for the creation of banks and construction companies.

By1979, Cubans owned about half of the major construction companies inMiami-Dade,
according to City on the Edge, a book by Alejandro Portes andAlex Stepick."

Cuba basically exported its professional class to Miami , to Tampa and throughout the state. What you saw was an infusion of human resources with international skills," said Villamil, now an economist who served as undersecretary of commerce in the administration of the first President Bush. "That was the catalyst that sparked the globalization of Florida that has been going on for 46 years."

Today, the results are everywhere. Known as Wall Street South , Miami 's Brickell Avenue is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the
United States outside of New York.

Scores of multinational corporations have planted their Latin American
headquarters on Brickell orin nearby Coral Gables or Miami Beach.

Ditto for the Latin entertainment and music industry.
MTV's Latin Americanheadquarters is, for example, on Miami Beach.

Miami International Airport is the No. 1 airport in the United States for international cargo because of its trade with Latin America .

It also hasthe most international flights to Latin America of any airport in the world.And last year alone, 70 percent of the $95 billion
worth of goods thatmoved in and out of the state's seaports, primarily in Miami and Tampa , was from the same region.

"Of course, you can't say the $95 billion is attributable to the Cubans,but their presence was the building block," Villamil said.

"Given our location,we were poised to be a global state, but without the Cubans,
it would have been different or slower. Definitely slower."

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