Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Right Wing's False NYC "Crime Wave" Narrative A Threat To City's Economy (Opinion)

We've heard it over and over in the local and national media from nearly day one of Mayor deBlasio's administration- New York City is falling into a state of chaos and lawlessness. Just in the past week, I have seen such assertions on Meet The Press, Morning Joe, in the New York Post from the likes of Chris Christie (like he should talk, ever heard of Newark or Trenton), Rudy Guiliani, and Joe Scarborough to name a few. The talking points are the same- murders are skyrocketing, we are going back to the "bad old days", it's like the 70's all over again. This is patently false.

Let's get to the facts:

- The total number of murders in NYC is within 4.5% of an all-time low, set just last year. Year-to-date there have been 231 murders in NYC vs 221 last year.

- For the past 28 days, murder is down 21.6% vs last year, and last week murders were down 68.8% vs last year.

- Murders are down 1.7% over the past 2 years, and down 38.1% compared to 5 years ago.

- "Major Crimes" are down 3.9% this year and 6.6% over 2 years.

- For a more historic perspective, murder in NYC is down 82.8% vs 22 years ago.

- Murder peaked in NYC in 1990 when there were 2245, last year there were 328.

The effort is pretty transparent to locals. This is political. The last thing that the right wing wants or can afford is the success of a clearly left, progressive mayor. While NYC is largely liberal, our media is not. Ruppert Murdoch alone owns the Post, WSJ, Fox 5, and Channel 9. The effort has been obvious from the day deBlasio was sworn into office. Whether his police motorcade ran a red light, a snowplow missed Park Avenue on the UES, or he was late for something, again- we've heard about it. We get it! Yet, I think the media and right wing pundits are crossing the line when they push a narrative, nationally, about crime in New York City which is blatantly false and misleading. The repetitive bashing of NYC will slowly permeate into the national and international conscience. Not everyone will believe it, but it is certain many will. Do we want your average Joe from Wisconsin to reconsider his Christmas vacation to the city because he's 'heard it's getting pretty dangerous'? Is it worth the risk of tanking a $40 Billion dollar tourist industry for political gain? How about the Real Estate Industry? Banking? Tech? Or, for that matter, the circulation and advertising rates in the NY Post?

The "crime wave" narrative is vacuous, wrong, false, and both ethically and morally corrupt. More importantly, it is an assault on the economy of our city. Call New York and our Mayor what you want, but do not throw the prosperity of the entire city under the bus for political gain. Ultimately, rich and poor, liberal and conservative will all pay the price.

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Hudson Yards 7 Train Station and Park in 17 Pictures!


Entrance (A. Fine 9/2015)
The new 7 train extension to Hudson Yards (34th Street and 11th Avenue) is quite impressive. The station is modern, clean, climate controlled, and sports an extra wide platform, tons of escalators and a couple of elevators that travel at 45 degrees. Above ground is a spiffy park on the new Street, Hudson Boulevard. The park is well landscaped, has tons of benches, fountains, tables and even a lawn. The pictures say it all! 

Entry (A. Fine 9/2015)
Fountains (A. Fine, 2015)
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why the New York Giants Will Not Suck in 2015

Alright, alright, it has been a tough couple of years, TC is on the hot seat, and the conventional wisdom is that the Giants are in for an 5-11 year. Guess what? This won't happen. Big Blue has more talent then they are given credit for. Ye of little faith, let me spell out why the NY Giants are not going to suck this year.

T.C. (Courtesy Thesportsquotient.com)

Tom Coughlin

Yes, it is "win or else" for the oldest coach in the league, but we are talking about a brilliant coach with incredible will and spirit, not to mention two Super Bowl victories in the past 8 campaigns. You can dive into every nuance of his personality, changes in coaching philosophy, and so on and so on, but you have to readily acknowledge that this coach is not looking to go out on a down note. TC will also be the beneficiary of a changing of the guard at Defensive Coordinator. Perry Fewell (who was awful) is out and Steve Spagnuolo is back. In 07' and 08' with Spags at the helm the G-Men won Super Bowl XLII and followed that with a 12-4 season. Granted, our personnel is very different this time around, but the defense is going to have to get creative and Spags has far more promise that Fewell ever did.

Eli

Eli enters year two of the Bob McAdoo's West Coast offense. People seem to easily forget that in Year One of this new offense Manning ended up with one of his best years- 30 Td's (a career high) vs 14 INTs, 4410 yards, and a career high 63.1% pass completion percentage. This year he comes in with a strong comfort level and additional weapons, namely scat back Shane Vereen, and a relatively healthy Victor Cruz. And of course, let's not forget Odell Beckham Jr and Ruben Randle. Taken together, the NY Giants have the potential to have the league's most feared receiving corps. This naturally leads us to the question....can the O-Line hold up?

The O Line

The question marks are clearly here. The O line was challenged last year and did a far greater job pass blocking than run blocking. While stalwart Will Beatty is out the first 6 weeks, and despite a weak link at RT in Newhouse, the O-Line this year is stronger than last year. The difference? First round pick Erick Flowers, for one. If early indications prove true, the 6'6", 330 pounder is a beast. Sure, he is learning LT, but so far, so good. You also have a healthy Schwartz (this week at least), a steadily improving Justin Pugh, and Weston Richburg actually playing at his natural position, Center. Overall, looks like the Giants have improved the line vs last year.

The Secondary

When you have lost 3 safeties in one preseason, you know the roster has to be pretty slim. However, if you are looking at the top four guys starting in the secondary they are not looking bad at all. At Corners, you have Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Any complaints there? Not-so-much! At Strong Safety you have newcomer and first round draft pick Landon Collins. This kid has speed and has shown that he covers the field extremely well. The Giants hope he can step in and start effectively. All indications point to him being the real deal. For the Giants sake, let's hope so! Finally you have Free Safety position that looks to be Cooper Taylor with a variety of back-ups including 2 time pro bowler Brandon Meriweather. While the Giants depth is certainly a concern, our current starting line-up is stronger than last year.

Special Teams

Maybe, just maybe, this is the year that the Giants Special Teams, under perennial failure, Tom Quinn, do not stink. Gone is fading (yet revered) Punter Steve Weatherford, in is big leg Brad Wing. Gone is the ineffective return team by committee, in is big money and explosive return man Dwayne Harris. Coughlin, it is clear with his roster cuts, now favors youth in addition to ability to play special teams. Nikita Whitlock, the 5'10", 250lb FB is a great example- part fire hydrant, part spark plug, 100% hustle. One thing is for sure, it is hard not to improve over the past few years.

Young Studs

There are some impact players to watch, that at the least will make games interesting this year. There are the aforementioned Collins and Flowers, but we also have a slew of young studs developing like Devon Kennard, who will get the starting nod at Strong Side LB. The second year player out of USC flashed last year and is widely regarded as one of the steals of the draft in the 5th round, 175th overall. While even whispering "LT" in the same sentence with any Giant linebacker prospect is a no-no, let's just say Kennard has "LT-like" instincts to the ball. He will be fun to watch!Another 2nd year player that could flourish is Jay Bromley, a back-up DT out of Syracuse (3rd round, 74th overall). Scouting Bromley at the Timex Center this summer, all I can tell you is that the man was throwing linemen all over the field like they were children. With other intriguing back-ups on the D Line like freakish, yet still unbridaled talent Damontre Moore and rookie camp sensation Owa Odighizuwa working for playing time at DE, our D line has promise regardless of the status or JPP.

There are plenty of wildcards yet to come. Does JPP come back and can he be effective? Are there further roster moves that will be made to shore up weaknesses at RT, the D-line, or Secondary? Is Will Beatty going to make an impact after 6 weeks on the IR? Will it even matter at that point? While these are all valid considerations, it looks like Eli should have plenty to work with and has the potential to put up career numbers. The Giants D, under Spags, has nothing but upside vs. expectations, and even the special teams are improved. Will Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants make the Super Bowl a quadrennial thing? Well, that seems like a stretch, but a 5-11 team the 2015 New York Giants are not. Do not underestimate Tom Coughlin, he's not going out like that. Given the relatively soft schedule, the Giants should be in the mix for a playoff spot, and as TC has proven anything can happen from there.


Projection: 9-7

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Doe Fund Raises Stink With Garbage Can Protest Posters

Can, 84th and Third Avenue (A. Fine 9/2015)
New to virtually every Upper East Side garbage can that The Doe Fund's "Ready, Willing, and Able" crews service are large blue posters exhorting Mayor de Blasio to "SAVE OUR JOBS." The jobs that they are referring to are those of the homeless and in many cases also previously incarcerated that work for the fund cleaning streets while participating in the fund's year long program that transitions the homeless to productive, self-sufficient, drug-free members of society. The axe that Doe has to grind is regarding the 400 bed shelter that they run in Bushwick, which the city insists should take in 50 registered sex offenders. Doe is currently in litigation with the city and refuses to take the sex offenders- who could blame them! The argument is complex, but Doe won't put the creeps into their program and the jobs they refer to are the 50 homeless that would not end up employed with Doe. To take things further, Doe insists that, essentially, they will take their ball and go home altogether rather than deal with sex offenders at their shelters. So, that would result in either 400 or 700 "Ready, Willing, and Able" being out of work and support services. So, that is the crux of the argument, for more detail check articles on Bedford and Bowery and Bushwick Daily. But, this brings us back to those garbage can posters. I'll be honest, I have a problem with them. Here are a few concerns:

- Does Doe own the garbage cans that they are using as political billboards, or are those the property of the city?

- Since so much of Doe's income comes from city contracts, grants, and income from cleaning contracts, can you really protest the city on the city's dime?

- Is it appropriate for an organization (whose founder, George McDonald ran for Mayor last election) to posterize the city with messages that could be deemed critical of the person who was actually elected Mayor?

- Are these large signs, in many cases on every corner of a block, even legal?

OK, clearly I am not a fan of turning every garbage can on the UES into a sandwich board for a political cause. That is not saying that the cause is unjust. I admire The Doe Fund and everything they have done to positively transition 22,000 homeless back to productive citizenry. I agree with their position on sex offenders. But, the posters? They belong in the trash can, not on them!

More on The Doe Fund and Ready, Willing, and Able