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Things to do This Weekend in NYC

Bit by Bit NYC Emerges from the CoVid Pandemic Shock ...

... but it's Increasingly Looking Like It Will be a Slow Recovery

July 10, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / CoVid in NYC / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysWeather.  The temperature highs will be in the high 70’s Friday, rising to about 90 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday.  There’s a 100% chance of inches of rain throughout the day Friday, with some rain – about an inch - in the late morning / early afternoon on Saturday, and then clear on Sunday.  Humidity will be in the 90% plus range on Friday, dropping to 80% on Saturday and down to 65% on Sunday. There will be wind gusts of up to 20 – 26 mph on Friday, settling down to 5 – 10 mph on Saturday and Sunday.

We began to return to some measure of normalcy this week as NYC moved into Phase III of the reopening.  Restaurants sprung back to life with sidewalk and curbside seating which seemed to fill up pretty well in the first week of opening.  Rain will dampen that enthusiasm today and through mid afternoon tomorrow, but I expect seatings to resume later in the day Saturday.

Things to do in NYC This Weekend

The Mayor also announced the opening of 22 European piazza style dining streets in all five boroughs [scroll down to July 2nd post for a listing of them].  Some of these NYC ‘piazzas’ opened last weekend. I visited the one on Restaurant Row in Manhattan and it looked to be a success – see photo.

While things haven’t returned to normal, and likely won’t for some time, they are becoming more normal from week to week.  And there’s more to do these days, than there has been for a long while, for those who want to get out and about. 

New openings this past week include:

  • corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe 911 Memorial waterfall which reopened last Sunday, July 5th to the public between the hours of 1 and 8 pm.  The 911 Museum will remain closed.
  • NYC public park golf courses opened this week as part of the Phase III reopening.  So you can get out and shoot a few rounds at a reasonable price.  LINKS.
  • Tennis courts, basketball courts and dog walks also opened in NYC parks as part of the Phase III reopening.
  • The Highline Park opened in Chelsea last weekend.  It’s capacity limited and will be open from 12 noon to 8 pm.
  • Many of the Long Island shopping malls reopen today, Friday July 10th with social distancing and other CoVid precautions in effect. The New Jersey shopping malls reopened a week and a half ago on Monday, June 29th.

Upcoming openings include:

  • On Monday, July 13th twenty-two of the public libraries in all five boroughs will reopen.  They include:
    • Queens - Bayside Library, Bellerose Library, East Elmhurst Library,  Kew Gardens Hills Library, Laurelton Library, Long Island City Library and Peninsula Library.
    • Brooklyn - Bay Ridge Library, Bushwick Library, Kings Highway Library, Central Library, New Lots Library, Flatbush Library and the Red Hook Library.
    • Manhattan - George Bruce Library, Epiphany Library and the Mid-Manhattan Library which has been renamed to Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL).
    • Bronx - Belmont Library, Francis Martin Library and the Parkchester Library.
    • Staten Island - Richmondtown Library and the Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library.
  • Movie theaters are tentatively planning to reopen on Saturday, August 15th.
  • The Western & Southern Open [tennis] is expected to be played at the Billie Jean Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park beginning Saturday, August 15th.
  • The Met Museum is expected to reopen at the end of August.

Some of the activities that opened in prior Phases were:

  • The beaches were opened for swimming.
  • The piazza style dining mentioned above.

And major league sports will be returning beginning July 22 – 23 with the return of Major League Baseball – but it won’t be live – but rather on TV.  The NBA has also resumed practice for the end of season play planned to begin at the end of July / early August. The NHL begins practice on July 13th with 16 of its 31 franchise teams playing eight best of five series to compete for the Stanley Cup.  The season resumes August 1st.  And the NFL has shortened preseason play to two games [down from four] in August and continues to maintain its September 7th season start date.

CoVid Reminders & Update

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysIt seems the scientists are beginning to zero in on how the virus is transmitted.  Originally it was thought to be spread via surfaces and air droplets, with no weight given to either method of transmission.  It now seems that the air droplets may be the most prevalent method of transmission, which is why the mask wearing has been so heavily emphasized. The significance of the role played by asymptomatic CoVid carriers has fluctuated, but seems a real risk. The same seems true for person-to-surface-to-person transmission, which also still seems not to have been assessed with any strong level of certainty. 

So my advice would be to continue practicing the three w’s: 1) Wash [your hands], 2) Wear [your mask] and 3) Watch [your distance].  When it comes to your health – better safe than dead.

Vaccine and therapies hype or reality?  Talk is cheap.  We’ll see when the science comes in.  And then we’ll really see, after they distribute these therapies to large segments of the population.  We all wish for a workable vaccine and / or remedial therapies very soon.  But as my father used to caution me, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

The Mail In Vote – Sure Fire Recipe for Disaster in November?

So here we are – nearly three weeks after the June 23rd NYS primary election – and still no definitive results in a number of races because the mail in votes have not yet been tabulated.  This is a disgrace and what seems a sure fire recipe for chaos come November.  It’s worth noting that Politico did a study of the 2018 mail in votes which showed that 8% of them weren’t counted for various reasons.  I voted by mail in the primary in 2018 and my mailed in ballot was thrown out because I forgot to sign the envelope.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysWithin the past three weeks the Supreme Court has shot down two separate efforts by Democrats to require the state governments in Texas and Alabama to provide all voters with mail in ballots. 

In Washington State where mail in ballots are the method used, the system was implemented piece meal beginning in 1983 [and even before].  The method was authorized at the state level in 2005, allowing the counties to decide how best to manage the elections.  And in 2011 it was mandated state wide.  The Washington [state] Secretary of State said there isn’t nearly enough time nor budget money for states considering the change to properly implement it by the November 2020 election.

In the long haul, however, it does seem to have significant advantages as a pandemic wouldn’t affect voting, it has a solid paper trail, polls and poll workers become a thing of the past – but it requires skilled personnel and processing equipment to properly collect and tabulate the ballots.  It would seem that NYS didn’t tend to those ‘details’ and thus – here we are nearly three weeks after voting – without knowing definitively who won and who lost most of the contests on the ballot.

Fairway Closings / Sale and Other Retail Bankruptcies & Layoffs

The CoVid pandemic has been something of a bloodbath for traditional retailers.  This month Bed Bath and Beyond announced that it’s shuttering about 20% of its 950 stores.  This follows our previous report, that on June 25th Macy’s announced staff reductions of 3900 people to save about $630 million.  And in May retailers - JC Penney, Nieman Marcus, J. Crew and Pier 1 - all declared bankruptcy.

And at the hyper local level [even more than Macy’s] Fairway had announced on June 26th that it was closing three stores in / near NYC including its Red Hook  Brooklyn store [previously reported], its store at 125th Street in Harlem store,  and its Plainview Long Island store as well as its NYC corporate headquarters and distribution center affecting as many as 2,412 employees. The brand and five of its NYC stores were purchased by the operator of Shop Rite: Village Super Market.

Tale of Two Economies – Tech Laden NASDAQ & Dow(n) Jones ‘Industrials’

Those adept at online sales, however, have been faring far better.  Amazon is up about 66% from the beginning of the pandemic, while Best Buy is trading at about the same as it was before the pandemic.  And Apple Computer is up about 20% versus its pre-pandemic level.

The stock market indices have followed suit.  Australian born billionaire elitest Rupert Murdoch’s Dow Jones Industrial Average is down about 14% from the pre-pandemic level, while the NASDAQ is up about 9% versus its pre-pandemic level.  That’s 25% difference in returns between the aging old Dow[ager] and the Nasdaq.

More Layoffs in the Works – The Airlines & Transportation

A July 6th report on CNBC noted that air travel in early July [including the 4th holiday weekend] was up 90% vs June – but that is still down 70% vs year ago.  As such United Airlines announced plans to layoff 36,000 employees by October 1st, which is about 45% of its frontline workforce.  American Airlines announced plans to layoff as much as 30% [39,000] of its 130,000 workforce.  Delta, one of the big three, is also working on staff reductions, but I couldn’t find anything definitive.  Their staff was reported to be about 91,000.  Airline demand is expected to be down about 75% vs year ago in the third quarter 2020 and – according to one report - not expected to recover until 2023.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis affects the NYC economy as we are the destination of at least three major airports [LaGuardia, JFK and Newark], and many people who live here, work in the airline transportation industry – not to mention the airports which service airline travel.

The Donald seems to have pissed away $25 billion of America’s children’s money [loans taken out on their backs], which he gave to the airline industry in what seemed an effort to save his re-election bid, more than having anything to do with anything else.  A July 2, 2020 Motley Fool report noted that just under a third of the $25 billion is expected to be paid back. German Chancellor Angela Merkel negotiated for the government to take an equity stake in the German airline Lufthansa in exchange for the bailout.

Amtrak is planning to cut its workforce by 20% or 3,700 employees out of its 18,000 employees.  Ridership at the height of the pandemic was down about 95% and it’s not expected to come back soon, as they estimate about 50% of traffic in the coming fiscal year [versus 2019] which begins October 1, 2020.

More Layoffs in the Works – Restaurants & Hotels

National chain restaurants are also closing enmasse.  Subway, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Boston Market, Applebee’s and TGI Fridays, Perkins, Cosi, Friendlys, Taco Bell and Benihani are all planning multiple closings. Most of these chains have outlets in NYC, but that said it’s difficult to assess the potential impact.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysA June 23, 2020 Real Deal report noted that the American Hotel and Lodging Association said that at the end of March 2020 some 200,000 of the half million people working in the NYS hotel industry were [expected to be] losing their jobs. Nationally the comparable figure was four million.  They also said a CBRE report noted that April hotel employment was at 28% of pre-pandemic levels, while in June it had risen to 40%. They also said that hotels were filing notice of more layoffs.

The reason, of course, is that the resumption of the hotel business to pre-pandemic levels isn’t likely anytime soon.  In recent years NYC has generally welcomed over 60 million visitors annually.  And as I walk the streets, I can see that even many NYC natives who fled the pandemic for their second homes, have not yet returned to the city – let alone tourists. As mentioned in a prior report [June 29, 2020] the European Union kept the pandemic restrictions on U.S. travelers because of how poorly we’re faring in managing it AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL.

It seems in just three and a half years the Donald has managed to alienate our staunchest allies, while warming to those nations hostile to our democratic way of life.

More Layoffs in the Works – Banks, Financial Services & Real Estate

The next shoe to drop is in the financial services sector as Wells Fargo is eyeing layoffs, as is Deutche Bank and HSBC.  Since the pandemic slowdown began, many borrowers are using more of their credit lines, business activity has slowed for many and won’t likely bounce back soon, and the real estate sector / landowners are sitting on tons of unpaid rent. 

So this could be the beginning of a financial services adjustment, as bricks and mortar retail banking begins to go the way of a lot of other bricks and mortar businesses.  All seeming to advance a worsening outlook for commercial real estate [restaurants / hotels / retailers / retail banks / telecommuting office workers and so on].

More Layoffs in the Works – Municipal and State Government?

And lastly, there are government related layoffs which could occur at the municipal and state levels given the billions of dollars in tax revenue shortfall.  Mayor de Blasio has managed to find ways to manage through the estimated $9 billion revenue shortfall this year, including using his rainy day fund [now people may see that he was wise to do so], but we’re not out of the woods yet as up to 22,000 in NYC municipal employee layoffs could be needed by October 1st. 

Meanwhile NYS faces a $10 - $15 billion shortfall.  Governor Cuomo has already begun withholding state funds from counties and municipalities in order to make up the shortfall.  And the state also employs 80,000 people, for whom the Governor froze pay raises in anticipation of the financial crunch.

Reminder – Taxes Due July 15th

The time has run out for those who have not yet filed their taxes.  On Wednesday, July 15th taxes are due.

Have a relaxing weekend.  Stay warm? And stay dry : )


Crime & Punishment and Racism & Reparations

But First a Video of the Fireworks & From the Streets on July 4th

July 7, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Here's a video of the Fireworks, which includes some street activity and commentary & music. Click the box in the lower right corner to max it up to the full screen for best view. Hit the escape key (esc) to exit the full screen view.

More coming about the evening later this week. Enjoy.


July 4th Weekend NYC: The New Normal is About Adjustment & Simplicity

The NYC Budget, NYC Events, the Economy & CoVid Update

July 2, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

George Floyd Protests, the NYPD and other NYC Budget Cuts

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The George Floyd protests seem to have abated, over a month after his death.  The new NYC budget does cut about a billion from the NYPD budget by reducing the staff from 36,000 to 34,000 employees, cancelling the most current class of new cadets, and reallocating school security to the Department of Education and homeless engagement to social services units. About 5,000 people work in the school security program and that will be transferred over a period of time to make sure it works properly.  Another$160 million was allocated to summer youth programs [$115 million], as well as to address food insecurity [$33 million] and housing [$8 million]

The overnight Staten Island Ferry service was also cut for the time being.  That affects about 4,250 riders per night based on 2019 statistics.  Other cuts included in the NYC budget include an $800 million cut for schools, a 5% - 7% cut to all departments, some labor savings [$1 billion].  The labor savings could result in NYC layoffs in the Fall if other solutions aren’t found.  The cuts were due to a mix of actual and expected NYC revenue shortfall of about $8 – $9 billion.  City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of the Upper West Side tells us that about $4 billion of the shortfall will be made up by the Mayor’s rainy day fund, which de Blasio had prudently set aside to address unexpected events.

The Mayor also announced that NYC public schools would be reopening in the Fall.  He said he was working with the unions to implement safe plans which would include social distancing measures which would possibly take larger classes online, stagger schedules to fill the school with fewer students at any given time, implement cleaning efforts and staggered lunchtimes.  The Governor noted that ultimately it’s his call on school reopenings.  Nonetheless, the Mayor said that NYC was working to submit a plan by late July / early August.

NYC Moving to Phase III Monday but Indoor Dining on Hold

Because of the upturn in CoVid infections in other states as noted below, the Governor and Mayor have put indoor dining in NYC on hold.  Nonetheless, the rest of Phase III will continue as planned on Monday, July 6th. Phase III also includes the opening of personal care businesses such as tanning, waxing & nail salons and spas.

 

Piazza Style Dining to come to 22 Streets in all Five Boroughs

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The Mayor announced efforts to mitigate the impact of the delay of the opening of restaurants indoor areas by further opening the streets to restaurateurs over the weekends beginning Friday evenings  -  in what was described as piazza style dining.  Expanded dining areas are planned for 22 streets around all five boroughs in the city including Restaurant Row in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, Mulberry Street in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan, and streets in Chinatown at Doyers Street, the East Village at Broome and Orchard Street, Harlem at 101st Street and Lexington, Gansevoort & 13th in the West Village, Broadway and 25th in the Flatiron District.

In the outer boroughs there’s Arthur Avenue in the Little Italy / Belmont neighborhood of Bronx [7/10], New Dorp at Hylan Blvd in the New Dorp neighborhood of Staten Island, Bell Blvd in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens, and in Brooklyn a number of streets in DUMBO between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge near the water in Brooklyn, 5th Avenue in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, at Reed Street and Van Brunt near the Fairway in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.  And speaking of Fairway – they’re planning to close three stores as a result of the pandemic including the one in Red Hook, another in Harlem and one on Long Island.

In Phase II NYC had started to clear the way for restaurants to occupy the curbside parking spaces in front of their dining / drinking establishments to allow the serving patrons outdoors.  This appears to have worked well, with – thus far – no attendant substantive increase in CoVid cases.  This is even though many to most of the folks I see dining and drinking outside aren’t wearing masks.  This is understandable as it’s hard to eat and drink with a mask on, as I tried it a week ago and didn’t like it.

But for the people who are most susceptible to severe illness - and even death - due to CoVid, they are advised to continue to exercise caution, even in the outdoor dining and drinking setting, as the consequences for them are too severe to take the risk.

 

Events & Things to do During the CoVid Pandemic in NYC

As announced in an earlier post, the beaches were set to open [and opened] on July 1st for swimming.  The Mayor is working on plans to open about ten swimming pools at the NYC Parks by August 1st.  Among them are the Lyons Pool and the Tottenville Pool on Staten Island.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

Major League Baseball begins ‘Spring’ training this week / weekend with both the Mets and the Yankees on the field by the weekend at CitiField and Yankee Stadium.

Movie theaters continue to push back their reopening dates from July 15th to July 30th and it now stands at August 15th.

The Video Music Awards is still planned for August 30th at the Barclays Center, but with CoVid style adjustments.  The Highline Park in west Midtown / Chelsea will reopen in Phase III, with reduced hours 12 noon – 8 pm and social distancing / capacity limits. 

The U.S. Open will go on as scheduled – but without fans - beginning August 31 and running through September 13th.  The Western and Southern Open, usually played in Cincinnati will immediately precede the U.S. Open by playing at the Billie Jean Tennis Center from August 15th – 23rd.

U.S. travel by air still down significantly, but up versus prior months.  There are complaints that there wasn’t any federal guidelines issued for airports, so airport management has taken it upon themselves to address the pandemic as they best see fit. 

Car travel is expected to be up this July 4th weekend - possibly higher than normal - because folks aren’t flying or taking public transit like the train as much.

 

Bulging Government Debt & Deficits - Are There No Adults in the Room?  

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

These past three and a half months have been disconcerting and disorienting for most of us.  First the CoVid pandemic, then the George Floyd protests and we’re now wrestling with how to manage the economic fallout of the pandemic in parallel with managing our community health and cultural interests.  These are unsettling times, if for no other reason than we are flailing as never, or as rarely, before. Perhaps because leadership at the national level has been sloppy at best. 

The Donald, McConnell and McCarthy seem corrupt or incompetent or both, and Pelosi and Schumer seem to enable them.  For instance, by signing on to those bloated, bonus billionaire stimulus bills - which did so little to help the states, municipalities and American people.  And all of the federal government leadership criminally dumped the $2.5 trillion tab on America’s children and those Americans yet to be born. 

 

Fiscal Conservatism – It’s Phony Talk and No Action

There isn’t a Republican or Democrat in the Senate or House who voted for the $2.5 trillion of stimulus bills, who can legitimately claim they are fiscal conservatives.  This generation of Americans is royally screwing future generations of Americans by their irresponsible and reckless management of the nation’s finances. It’s as if nobody is watching the store anymore. 

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The deficits and debt dumping on future Americans started to accelerate in the Reagan years, when Reagan cut taxes and continued to increase government spending [see chart above showing government receipts and spending and the gap in between ]. By the end of Reagan’s second term the size of the deficit had nearly tripled versus the last year of the Carter Administration. Under George H.W. Bush the deficit continued to grow. There was a hiatus during the Clinton years when they actually ran a small surplus. But that quickly disappeared when George W. Bush led America into two wars in the Middle East and then deregulated America into a financial meltdown, leaving a $1.4 trillion budget deficit which Barack Obama inherited when he was sworn in.

In 2009, the first year of the  Obama Administration,    America’s deficit nearly tripled to the $1.4 trillion as mentioned above, because of the Bush financial meltdown in the Fall of 2008 .  By the end of the Obama Administration, the deficit had been brought back down to within a bit more [+20%] of what it had been the last year of the Bush Administration. 

Enter the candidate [ the Donald], who sold himself to the American people as a great businessman.  The Donald entered office with the nation running a half trillion dollar deficit.  This year the Donald's Administration  is projected to oversee a seven fold increase of the deficit to $3.7 trillion,  according to an April 24, 2020 report by the Congressional Budget Office [CBO]. 

An important part of remaining a free people is to responsibly manage your finances.  A nd that includes the government finances too, as we're collectively on the hook for all that debt. Please take note and start asking pols how they intend to fund new programs and what they're doing to close the budget gap.      

Is the U.S. Unemployment Rate 11.2%, 12.4% or Higher?

In June the economy added back some 4.8 million of the jobs lost earlier in the pandemic. This follows the May report where the economy added back 2.5 million jobs.  It is estimated that about 20 million are currently seeking work and  are unemployed.

 

Fake Unemployment Numbers or Fake News?

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

But something is not right here, because at one point there were reports that 40 million had filed first time unemployment claims. So the unemployment numbers don't add up.  There's a minium difference of 10 million employees between the first time claims reported [40] less the current 20 million unemployed [see BLS report below] and the 2.5 million and 4.8 million [7.4]  jobs added back in May and June respectively. I've made an allowance of 2.5 million for the 1.1 million dead people they sent checks to [see prior report] and some measure of fraud by a foreign enterprise [as noted below]. 

 

This begs the question, what's going on ? One answer may be that the 40 million first time unemployment claims number was inflated or incorrectly computed - as at the outset of the pandemic, the states unemployment insurance systems were overloaded. So there could have been double or  triplicate overcounting [or more] .

 

Another answer is fraud.  And in fact there was a large fraud scam detected, whereby an international ring used people's information to claim their checks.  And, as previously reported, the Trump Administration distributed over a billion dollars to dead people. Trump also famously fired the at least three Inspectors General since the beginning of this year, so I haven't by any means excluded corruption as a possible reason.

 

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

Another answer to the question may lie in how these statistics are compiled and reported, as employment stats come from states counting unemployment claims, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics, conducts a survey.  It seems to me the numbers coming from people who are going through the state unemployment insurance process would provide a more accurate count.

 

Why haven't the major news organizations updated / reconciled these figures? We need to know if the 40 million first time unemployment filers was erroneous reporting / fake news, or if we're being fed fake unemployment numbers, or if something else is at play.

 

BLS Unemployment Rate is  11.2% or 12.4%

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], for the fourth straight month, categorized a large number of people as employed, who were not at work. In their July 2nd report they state,

“ … there were 2.8million workers with a job but not at work who were included in the “other reasons” category in June 2020, about 2.0million higher than the average for June 2016–2019. If we assume that this roughly 2.0million increase was entirely due to misclassification and that all of these misclassified workers expected to be recalled and were available for work, the number of unemployed people in June (on a not seasonally adjusted basis) would increase from 18.1 million to 20.0 million ... the labor force would remain at 160.9 million in June (not seasonally adjusted) as people move from employed to unemployed but stay in the labor force. The resulting unemployment rate for June would be 12.4 percent (not seasonally adjusted), compared with the official estimate of 11.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted) ... ”

Future Employment Likely to be Impacted by Surging CoVid

The U.S. has been breaking records in the number of people testing positive for CoVid this past week.  The recent upsurge is causing some states to halt or even roll back their openings, which is likely to have implications for the national economy and unemployment.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

Texas Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, reversed his efforts to undermine municipalities trying to mandate the wearing of masks, and  issued a directive requiring that masks be worn in public spaces in the municipalities most impacted by CoVid in Texas. 

A July 2nd report in the LA Times informs us,

“… The Republican governor, who had pushed Texas’ aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.”

Prior to Abbott's directive late this week, a  a number of Mayors throughout Texas had been asking the Governor for help by slowing the economic reopening ,and allowing them to mandate the wearing of masks.

A June 26, 2020 report in Politico quoted Texas Governor Greg Abbott saying,

“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,”

As mentioned above, this led the NYS Governor and NYC Mayor to put indoor dining on hold here.  

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, was also one of the Governors pushing for a quick economic reopening, and like Texas Republican Governor Abbott, fought the mandating of wearing masks.  But a week ago, he too turned tail and had the Florida Secretary of Business issue the following statement,

“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,”

Why are so many slow learners occupying the important governmental positions in our society? Perhaps because so many of the folks who voted for them got their disinformation from the propaganda outlets controlled by Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch.  Murdoch’s Fox News seems to be America’s CoVid Disinformation News source, as often enough they seem to leave out important context regarding the pandemic , in a manner not unlike how they appear to distort reports about public policy,  pols and candidates by omission of key facts, hyping allegations and innuendo, rumor mongering and there's a whole bag of other Murdoch tricks which we've previously reported.

Best Wishes for a Calm & Enjoyable July 4th Weekend 

While we live in a disturbing and confusing time, we will get through this.  And while our ancestors faced worse, with fewer resources and less technology, that’s not much consolation at the moment. I find it helps to go for a walk, take a short bike ride, visit the park to put things in perspective.  You can also now go to the beach or meet with friends for a meal or drinks at a local bar or restaurant by using their outdoor seating.  These aren’t the big communal things we had done over the July 4th weekend in years past, but this is a very different year and we need to make adjustments as we trek on.

My father used to say, “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” So  stay safe so you can become stronger. And best wishes for a good 4th of July weekend.


July 4th Week - NYC Events & Happenings

City Restaurants Turned Inside Out, NYC NYPD Protests Continue, Broadway Cancels Fall Season, Major League Sports Update, Elections Results Still Unknown with Lessons for the Fall &  July 4th Fireworks Begin

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

June 29, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

NYC entered Phase II of its economic reopening a week ago.  As part of that phase, restaurants were allowed to serve customers on the sidewalks in front of their establishments.  Over the past week or so, more and more people have returned to enjoying a restaurant meal in a social milieu.  Now when I’m returning home around or after dinner time I feel as if I’m walking right through the center of several restaurants.

 

Restaurants Turned Inside Out

It’s kind of interesting, because I get to see the entire clientele without having to enter the restaurant and I can also see what the food looks like.  I reckon the downside is that while it seems generally the customers have masks which I see lying on the tables, they take them off or pull them down while there.  This makes sense as eating and drinking with the mask on is not feasible.  The downside is that while I used to walk around the neighborhood without wearing the mask [it’s ok out of doors when distancing  six feet ], I’ve started wearing my mask out of doors while I’m walking through these restaurant seating areas ... just to be safe.  The photo above was taken in Sunnyside Queens this week.

Phase III is expected to begin next week, and on Wednesday the Governor and Mayor will announce whether or not restaurants will be allowed to serve customers inside.  There's reluctance to do so, as it is believed that the in house social interactions are one of the leading contributors to others states now seeing a surge in CoVid cases. 

 

NYS Takeout Cocktail Law Extended for Third Time

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

On Friday Governor Cuomo extended the NYS Takeout Cocktail Law for another month. The law was set to expire Saturday 6/27.  Restaurateurs have been hurting since the CoVid Pandemic hit, closing them except for pick up, for about three months.

 

On June 22nd NYC entered into Phase II whereby restaurateurs were permitted to serve people outside.  In Phase III – assuming all goes well [which as noted above is not a given]         – restaurants will be able to serve people inside at 50% capacity. 

 

The photo at right was taken in the St. George neighborhood on Staten Island Saturday evening 6/27.  

 

Broadway & Carnegie Hall Cancel Fall Seasons

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The Broadway League announced that the Fall Broadway season has been cancelled until January 2021.  The Broadway League is comprised of theater owners and theatrical production producers / creators and affiliated contributors. Carnegie Hall also announced it was cancelling its Fall season.  This is in line with what we previously reported vis a vis Lincoln Center and we understand that most – if not all – musical venues will not be coming back until 2021. The photo at right was taken along 42nd Street looking west toward Times Square and Broadway. 

This has significant economic implications as cultural centers attract people to NYC from around the nation and around the world and helps drive retail shopping and the restaurant business in NYC.  Over 60 million tourists visit NYC each year and their attraction to the Big Apple is driven - in part - by cultural performances, the parades and festivals and major sporting events - most of which won't be made accessible by the public this year. Many also come for the food, the diversity and non-performance cultural institutions - like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is planning to reopen at the end of August and MoMA is expecting to open before September.  This is all dependent on how NYC and NYS are doing with respect to containing the spread of CoVid. 

 

CoVid Pandemic Still Raging in U.S.

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All but two states showed increase in CoVid cases the last couple days.  And many state   are reaching record highs, such as Florida, Arizona, Texas and California.  It is believed that these states – at the Donald’s pressuring - reopened too soon and that too many in the population don’t wear masks – also like the Donald.

I hope it will be different in New York City & NY State, as I wish it were different in the rest of the nation.  America is First in Corona Virus infections and in Corona Virus deaths. On a national level we’re doing so poorly,  that even our European Allies, who are opening for international travel effective July 1st, are expected to  extend travel restrictions on the U.S. until we get our act together on the Corona Virus.

I found the chart shown at right on the CNN website with the data provided by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

City Hall Police Budget Protests

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I visited City Hall over the weekend, to see what was happening at the NYPD Budget protests.  I arrived early Saturday evening when there were several hundred people congregated on a warm but dry and pleasant evening.  A few speakers were keeping the crowd engaged, but generally it was pretty mellow – almost like a park, afternoon sunning event. The photo at right was taken at City Hall on Saturday evening 6/27.

The Mayor and City Council are setting the next budget as we speak, which seeks to cut the NYPD budget and reallocate some of the money to alternative approaches to reducing crime.  The protesters have asked for reduced funding for the NYPD, in order to reallocate funding to social services and to expand the repertoire of government responses to various 911 calls such as crises related to physical health, mental health, family troubles and so forth.  They would also like to see more funding allocated to youth social programs in order to steer kids toward a productive life, rather than a criminal one.  It appears that's exactly what is happening.

 

Murdoch Media Distortion: Is the City on Fire or is Rupert Murdoch Out of Control?

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But you might have trouble learning anything about the real policy issues of the police debate if you trust the U.S. news outlets acquired and controlled by elitest Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch.  The elitest billionaire controls the NY Post, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal - all age old American brands which he appears to use as a propaganda machine. When the George Floyd protest began, his Fox News outlet kept running and re-running the same video of one car on fire to hype the protests, increase the fear and amplify his ratings and profits. 

Murdoch's latest effort seems to be to distort short and immediate sharp rise in shootings in NYC [see NY Post front page at right which I edited / corrected].  While crime is up the past couple of weeks, it’s because of a gang war, which one or more of his media outlets fail to disclose / include in their reporting.  Murdoch media amped this same type of fearmongering a number of years ago, when de Blasio became Mayor and ended Stop N' Frisk, by highlighting and blazing fear mongering headlines about a short uptick in crime. By the end of the year crime was at or near record lows 

Oftentimes Murdoch  seems to partner with NYPBA Union Boss Patrick Lynch in trying to bring down City Hall. They both pushed aggressively to keep Daniel Pantaleo on the NYPD after Eric Garner's death. See our report on this in the Murdoch Media Madness section of Gotham Buzz - or click Pat Lynch NYPBA Union Boss and Rupert Murdoch's NY Post advocate to keep Pantaleo on NYPD in wake of Eric Garner's death.   

Murdoch media appear to manipulate what their audiences see - and thus believe - in other English speaking nations like Australia where Murdoch reportedly controls about 70% of newspapers [2011], as well as in Britain where he controls an overwhelming share of newspapers [he controls over 40% including two of the largest papers such as The Sun & The London Times].  Murdoch also controls the largest share of privately owned television outlets  in both nations, and his media too often seem to omit key facts and amp allegations and innuendo as a means of creating impressions in their audiences that don't align with the facts - as his NY Post did by urging the retention of Daniel Pantaleo on the NYPD in the wake of Eric Garner's death - see above link .

 

Murdoch's Propaganda Machine is a Fascist Threat to U.S. Democracy

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Murdoch famously used tax payer funded police power in London in 1984 - 1985, to bust the printing and related unions at his media companies in that nation.  Murdoch seemed to propagandistically promote Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in multiple elections, which she won. 

And Thatcher seemed to return Murdoch’s propagandistic media favors, by green lighting Murdoch’s acquisition of the London Times. This enabled Murdoch to consolidate his grip on the media market in Britain, as he already controlled the News of the World, which was the nation’s largest paper.

This appears to parallel what Murdoch has done here.  After providing seeminglly limitless infommercials and unrelenting propaganda support for the Trump presidency, the Donald's FCC and Department of Justice appeared to greenlight the Disney / ABC merger with Murdoch's Fox - which now puts Murdoch in a commanding position in the U.S. TV market as he now controls or is the largest shareholder in two of the nations four TV networks. This enables him near control of the news the majority of Americans see.

 

Murdoch Appears to use Government & Police Power to Crush Unions

UK Prime Minister Thatcher also gave Murdoch unwavering government / police support to bust the printing and related unions serving his company.  The strike and the beat down of its struggle lasted nearly a year at Wapping [outside of London], where numerous people were injured and far more arrested. In 1987, years after the strike, in an anniversary protest of the strike, 300 people were injured in what some believed was use of excessive force by the police.  During the strike 400 police were injured and 1262 people were arrested. The breaking of the unions greatly enriched Murdoch, yielding dividends for many years to come.  About 5,500 jobs were at risk and most were lost.

This one of many reasons I believe the man who controls more media in America than anyone else - by a terrible long shot – is a fascist.  Merriam Webster defines fascism as,

"... a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy ..."

 

Murdoch Controls a Near Monopoly Share of U.S. TV Market

This is one of the main reasons why the current political and cultural situation in America, has become so dangerous to our nation's democracy.  Especially in light of the Donald’s green lighting Murdoch’s inverted takeover of Disney / ABC.  In that March 2019 merger, Murdoch sold some Fox assets to Disney / ABC for $71 billion, which enabled him to become that corporation’s largest shareholder. 

Thus Murdoch is now the largest shareholder at Disney / ABC which is one of America’s four TV networks.  Murdoch also controls Fox TV, giving him control and / or significant influence in half of the nation’s four national networks.  He also controls the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post – two of this nation’s largest newspapers.  Hulu streaming is also controlled by Disney / ABC.

 

Murdoch Appears to be Insidiously Gaining Control of Disney / ABC

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The February 25, 2020 appointment of former Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Executive Bob Chapek - to replace Bob Iger as the new Disney / ABC CEO - came as a surprise to most analysts. 

But I suspect it came as no surprise to Murdoch.  And it would come as no surprise to me if Murdoch pulled strings to obtain that appointment.  If Murdoch’s past machinations are any guide, he’s already well on his way to quietly and insidiously putting Murdoch people in key positions of that organization, as he works to transform a couple credible and venerable brands of that American corporation [Disney  & ABC] into outlets of his propaganda machine.

I tell you this so you’re aware of the real threat to American democracy - the media Trojan Horse.  Russian 'President' Vladimir Putin could only dream of having the power and influence in American government that Murdoch has.  Murdoch’s mendacious media seem to spin the news into what Murdoch appears to want the audience to believe.  And what he wants them to believe seems to have everything to do with who he wants elected.  And who he wants elected appears to be related to what he thinks whoever is elected can and must do to further enrich and empower Murdoch.  It's simple logic.

NYC is NOT on Fire: But Violent Crime is up & Other Crimes are Down

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This is an unusual year in many respects.  Burglaries are up, but robberies are down.  Rapes are down and violent crime is up.  As mentioned previously, a good share of the killings and violence  seems related to gang related turf wars.

In thinking about police funding, consider listening to whatever side you’re not on.  Not always, but generally, both sides have valid points and something to say.  We need law enforcement and law enforcement needs us. 

There’s no good reason we can’t work together – except that some people [like Murdoch perhaps?] will exploit the situation to eke out personal gains.  Pay attention to those who seek to do this, including the police union boss(es), who appear for too long to have protected a few ‘bad apples’ in the NYPD. These few 'bad apples' really make it hard for all of the other good policemen and women to do their jobs, and their retention on the NY Police force increases the risk for  all of the police officers  working at the NYPD .

Negotiation and compromise are good.  It’s how this nation has been able to move forward. It’s how the nation was founded. It’s respectful and recognition that perhaps the other side has a point – no matter how wrong it may be.  Inevitably there's some measure of logic driving the position of each side. But sometimes you have to look hard, and then even when you find it, you may totally disagree with it. But at least then you are informed and on the road to a deeper understanding.

 

Major League Sports 2020 Seasons – To Be or Not To Be?

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Major League Baseball teams are expected to begin practice on July 1st and the season begins on July 23rd or 24th for a 60 game season. One of the MLB players has already opted out.

The NBA is expected to have 22 teams begin practice on July 7th to play 22 games prior to the playoffs, which are currently expected to begin July 30th.  The 22 teams included in this round robin were those who had secured berths or were within six games of a berth.  NBA players are not required to play and one significant player from the Brooklyn Nets, Wilson Chandler, has already opted out.  All the games will be played at the Disney in Orlando.  Florida recently became the new epicenter of the Corona Virus. 

The National Hockey League announced plans to go straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  As such NHL practice begins July 10th.  The playoffs are expected to begin two to three weeks later in late July or early August at locations in two separate to be chosen cities.  There’s a wrinkle in that 26 players out of 250, tested positive for CoVid 19. Stay tuned.

And the NFL so far is continuing with its season opening / plans for September 7th.  All 32 teams are expected to begin practice in late July which is normal.  But the 32 teams are located in 23 states and what’s going on in those states CoVid-wise, may impact the NFL plans, as it is both a contact sport [increases chances of CoVid infections] and an outdoor sport [reduces chances of CoVid infections].

 

NYS & NYC Election Results – Still Waiting for Mail In Votes

It’s estimated that the mail in votes for the 2020 NYS primary represent about two thirds of the vote.  At an estimated 700,000 votes, that puts the turnout at lows equal to the 2014 interim election.  So CoVid isn’t good for democracy.

The unfortunate thing is that I could find no data indicating to voters in which districts those mail votes were sent.  And many mail in votes get disqualified, making it a very imperfect process – see below.

Losing Electoral Strategy: Vote by Mail

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Democrats and Republicans need pay heed as voting by mail is no panacea.  In spite of Democrats and TV News pundits denials there is no voter fraud via mail.  There  appears there was some in Paterson, New Jersey.  

But that’s really the least of it Way too many mailed votes are disqualified.  About 8% of the mail in votes were disqualified in the most recent national election [2018] according to an April 7, 2020 report in Politico.  And I know from personal experience that they disqualify ,mail-in votes on what seem stupid technicalities.    I forgot to sign the outside of the ballot envelope, and so my ballot was disqualified in one of the 2018 elections.

Hence I would not bet the farm in the upcoming election on the mail in vote, as it seems likely to provide enough chaos to provide the chaos makers and managers enough room to spin, distort and obtain whatever election result they want - like Murdoch's Fox News seemed to do late at night in the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

July 4th Fireworks NYC: Monday thru Friday & Saturday

The plan is to make the Macy's fireworks visible to all. Historically the fireworks go off around 9.20 or 9.30 pm [dusk / dark] and last 20 - 30 minutes emanating from one location. This year the fireworks will be launched from multiple locations on each week night so that collectively all New Yorkers will have an opportunity to see them.  And on July 4th there will be some sort of celebration which will include a video of the weekday nights plus something from the Empire State Building.

Enjoy. There’s more coming later in the week.



Week & Weekend Update of Events in NYC

Planned Openings & Fireworks, Phase II & III Economic Reopening,  Life in the City & Primary Election Results Remain Open Due to Large Mail in Vote

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June 26, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

On Monday NYC entered Phase II of the economic reopening, which among other things included curbside restaurant service, limited office openings and limited capacity retail.  That put a lot of people back to work and seemed to give the city more of a normal feel.  The Mayor quipped that it was the first time in a while that he got caught in a traffic jam.

 

NYC Plans Move to Phase III on 7/6/20

Assuming New Yorkers maintain their CoVid protocol vigilance, we’ll be moving to Phase III on Monday, July 6th.  This includes the reopening of Personal Care services such as nail salons, gyms, as well as limited capacity in restaurant dining.

A Word of Caution - CoVid Resurgences in Reopened States

But it’s worth making a note of caution, as other states – such as Texas, Florida, California and Arizona which beat us to the punch in reopening their economies – have sparked a huge resurgence of new CoVid infections.  Texas, Florida and Arizona have put their economic re-openings on hold. Florida beat its previous high rate of CoVid infections on Thursday, nearly reaching 9,000 new infections in a single day. And an increasing share [about half] of these infections have been found in people between the ages of 25 – 45.

 

CoVid Deaths Affect All Age Groups – But Especially those with Underlying Health Conditions

People older than 65, males and African Americans are the demographics of the people most likely to be hospitalized according to a CDC report published today.  But people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, or chronic respiratory disease – are also at greater risk of being hospitalized.

While the CoVid related deaths in this country have levelled off, they have not stopped.  It’s important to remember that CoVid related deaths are a lagging indicator of new CoVid infections - so as infections go up, the number of deaths is likely to follow.  It’s also worth noting that the flu generally abates in the summer, while the spread of CoVid has continued, even as we have entered into the longest and hottest days of the year.

 

Wearing Masks – Try to be Patient with the Slow Learners

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Unfortunately Desperate Donald, whose re-election prospects continue to dim as the CoVid pandemic rages on and the economic comeback falters, has set a bad example for the rest of the nation by not wearing a mask.  In one study, the wearing of masks reduced the spread of the virus by as much as 66% from carriers and by another 30% when worn by non-carriers [defensively].  The combination adds up to nearly 100%, which is how New York managed to crush the curve.

As of this post, only the Donald and Vladimir Putin of Russia – of all of the leaders of the world’s largest nations – have resisted wearing a mask.  I begin to wonder how much more time it will take these two slow learners to understand that it’s not only in their own best interest [health] to wear a mask, but also – as role models – it's also in the best health interest of the nation as well.  I think I now understand why the Donald has threatened to sue anyone who discloses his academic transcripts.

So to New Yorkers I say congratulations, please keep on doing what you’ve been doing, and perhaps we collectively can help fill in the leadership void at the national level by staying disciplined and avoiding a fall into the mask politicization trap and an accompanying CoVid resurgence.  That would truly be sad.

 

Phase III includes Park Recreational Space, Personal Care & Indoors at Bars & Restaurants

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So Phase III is the reopening of park recreational space like basketball, tennis and other courts.  It also includes enabling restaurants to open to about 25% - 50% of capacity [I imagine depending on how the restaurant space was previously configured] indoors.  And it includes the reopening of personal care establishments like nail salons and gyms.  Hair salons were included in Phase II.

Planned Openings - Beaches, Libraries, Swimming Pools Update

NYC Parks beaches will open for swimming effective Wednesday, July 1st. Social distancing rules will remain in effect.  And there may be limits on capacity for the beaches – as is true for any given public access space these days.

Some 22 libraries in the city are planning to reopen effective Monday, July 13 for ‘grab and go’ book lending and returns. Libraries in each borough will be open, although days and times will vary from each other and from the old normal schedule.  Use the following links for the Brooklyn Library https://www.bklynlibrary.org/ the Queens Library https://www.queenslibrary.org/ and the New York Public Library which includes Staten Island and the Bronx https://www.nypl.org/ .

 

NYC July 4th Fireworks Early Next Week

Mayor de Blasio announced that there will be fireworks in NYC for July 4th – but it won’t be the same as in prior years.  On Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of next week [6/29 – 7/1] there will be five minute fireworks displays at - as of yet undisclosed locations [to avoid attracting crowds].  The locations are being selected based on a combination of fireworks safety and to make them as visible as possible within each of the five boroughs.  Then on July 4th there will be a display from the Empire State Building and an online video of the prior events. The use of illegal fireworks has been significantly up this year, and the Mayor and NYPD have initiated efforts to identify the suppliers and users and bring them in compliance with the law.

Metropolitan Museum of Art to Open, NYC Marathon & Lincoln Center Fall Season Cancelled, While Comic Con, Halloween & Thanksgiving Parades Holding on

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning to reopen on Saturday, August 29th.  That’s the first good news we’ve heard on the cultural front.

The NYC Marathon has been cancelled for the 2020 year. And, as mentioned in a prior post, the fall season for Lincoln Center was also cancelled.

At present there aren’t any plans to cancel Comic Con 2020 at the Javits Center from October 8 – 11.  Ditto for the NYC Halloween Parade in the Village on October 31st and for the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Midtown on November 26th .  But - as you know – things could change. The Marathon and Lincoln Center were the first to announce cancellations for the Fall, but more may follow.

The Economy – Transit Usage Up, Macys Layoffs, Amazon Buys NYC Commercial Real Estate & $1.3 Billion of Stimulus Payments go to Deceased

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Transit usage was up again this week to about one million subway rides.  That’s about 20% of normal – but bear in mind that the 60 plus million visitors to New York annually [five million per month] make up some of that and they’re not likely to return for a while.  The MTA buses did better, rising to nearly 50% of pre-pandemic levels.

U.S. companies have taken on a fair amount of debt due to the low interest rates.  This could bode ill for them as interest rates rise.

Macy’s announced staff reductions of 3,900 people to save an estimated $630 million. 

The General Accounting Office estimated that the Trump Administration sent about $1.4 billion to an estimated one million dead people.  Mnuchin’s Treasury Department said they would try to recoup the funds.

Commercial real estate has slowed significantly and remains slow, as everyone awaits the dust settling on the pandemic impact on retail, restaurants, and telecommuting .  But that didn’t stop Amazon from purchasing a one million square foot space it intends to use as a warehouse at 55-15 Grand Avenue in Maspeth, Queens.  Also, according to a June 23, 2020 Daily News report, Amazon is signing a lease for a combination 620,000 square foot office / warehouse space in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn as well as a 200,000 square foot facility in the South Bronx. Amazon already has a significant office / warehouse presence in Staten Island in two adjacent facilities of 450,000 and 855,000 square feet.

It’s going to be warm this weekend, with highs in the high 80’s and lows in the high 70’s.  Scattered rain showers are  predicted on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon with 80% humidity on both days and a fair breeze [12 mph Saturday dropping to 5 mph Sunday].  Is it beach weather or  quarantine weather?  Enjoy : )



NYS Primary Elections Today

The Presidential  and Congressional Primaries are Today

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June 23, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC. 

The long delayed NYS primary election is today.  On the ballot is the presidential primary featuring Joe Biden and I believe others - but the others have suspended their campaigns and Joe Biden has already won enough electoral votes to secure the nomination.  So in the presidential primary you can strengthen Biden's hand by casting your vote for him, or strenghten someone else's hand in influencing the Democratic platform that Joe will run on.

Political Calculus 11th District Congressional Race 

The 11th Congressional District in Staten Islandis comprised mostly of Staten Island and a sliver of southern Manhattan.   In the past this was the only congressional seat held by a Republican in the five boroughs of NYC, but that ended with the Trump led thrashing at the polls in November 2018, where Democrat Max Rose won. But it's a new year and this year Republican NYS Assemlywoman, Nicole Malliotakis, who lost to Mayor de Blasio in a landslide in 2017, has taken up the quest to challenge Rose.  She's challenged in the Republican primary by a few other candidates, but she's raised ten times as much in contributions, and has name recognition, so it's likely a foregone conclusion that she'll be carrying the red Trump flag into the contest against Rose in November.     

Click the link for the poll finder website, so you can easily find where to vote in your neighborhood.  Remember this is the land of the free and the home of the brave and many of our ancestors died for our right to vote.  So try to be brave, but also be careful.

The New York City election is Tuesday June 23rd and polls are open from 6 am - 9 pm.



NYC Life: Juneteenth, Summer Begins, Fathers Day, NYC Phase II, Atlanta Shooting & Election

The NYC Boroughs Showing Increasing Signs of Economic Life, but …

June 19, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

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The Mayor announced we’re moving to Phase II of the economic reopening beginning Monday. According to a missive by Councilmember Van Bramer, Phase II means that restaurants can resume serving people on sidewalks, at curbside, in opens streets and plazas and in backyard seating – but they need permits which may be obtained at nyc.gov and he notes that restaurateurs do not need to apply separately for the liquor permit.

Retailers can now serve people in their shops by limiting capacity, while following mask, [barrier?] and cleaning protocols.  The same is true for hair salons and barber shops. And realtors and auto dealers can resume working with clients, as can commercial building operations and offices on a case by case basis.

The photo at right was taken near Borough Hall in Brooklyn earlier this month.

 

On June 19, 1865 the Last Texas Slaves Were Freed

Juneteenth Celebrates the End of Slavery in the U.S.

Juneteenth is the date when the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas and informed all of the slaves there, that they were freeAbraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1, 1863 – but rumor has it that word didn’t reach Texas slaves until two and a half years later.

On Wednesday, June 17th, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order making today a holiday for NYS employees.  There are also a number of marches and rallies to celebrate Juneteenth in all five boroughs, most beginning between 12 noon and 4 pm, which you can find by doing a search for ‘juneteenth nyc’.

 

First the CoVid Pandemic, then George Floyd Protests & Soon an Economic Housing Crisis

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In May 2020 the Governor extended an eviction moratorium through August 20th, but from June  20 through August 20, the moratorium only applied to those who could prove they had been financially impacted by the CoVid pandemic or qualified for unemployment.   According to a June 15, 2020 report in the  Patch,

“… About 50,000 new eviction cases are predicted to be filed after the moratorium lifts on June 20 and, according to The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition's annual list of New York City's worst evictors, those evictions are most likely to occur in communities of color.

"I have not seen anyone else except Black and brown people being evicted," said Randy Dillard of CASA. "Most evictions happen in Black and brown neighborhoods. Half are in The Bronx…"”

The photo at right shows a woman at a George Floyd protest in Union Square Park in Manhattan. 

 

First Day of Summer & Fathers Day NYC 2020

The first day of Summer is Saturday, June 20th, which is also the longest day of the year.  The day begins with sunrise at 5.24 am and ends at sunset at 8.30 pm.  The temperature highs are in the 80’s and the lows in the 60’s this weekend.  There’s a small chance (24%) of a tiny amount of rain Saturday and the humidity will be between 80% - 90%, so warm.

And Fathers Day is Sunday, June 21st.  Thank the old man for all he’s done for you in the best way you can.  Rearing children is a satisfying but challenging job, as any parent can tell you.  Good parents make all the difference in life and make the world better.

Neglectful parents, and those who are not so good at parenting, are likely in part responsible for what’s wrong in the world. But part of what contributes to good and bad parenting - like everything - is circumstances.  Social status, economic and health conditions, education and community are all ingredients to a favorable or unfavorable outcome.  And what we reap is what we sow.

CoVid Casualties, Summer & Fall Season Cancellations

There were a couple of CoVid economic casualties that caught my attention recently – the Secret Theatre in LIC Queens is said to have closed its doors, as did Gotham Bar & Grill in Midtown Manhattan. 

Also Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall announced there won’t be a Fall season.  What got the most attention was that there wouldn’t be a Nutcracker during the holidays. The NY Auto Show, which had originally rescheduled for August at the Javits Center but has since cancelled the NY Auto Show for this year and will return in April 2021.

 

Resumption of National Sports League Play Still Up in the Air

The professional sports world is still grappling with its near term future.  The National Basketball Association suspended play in March 2020, and is now hoping to finish the regular season beginning on July 31st.  But this arrangement must be approved by the players. 

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The National Hockey League agreed to go directly to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, ending regular season play.  Training sessions may begin as early as July 10th, and the competitions will be held in two hub cities [not yet selected] – one for the eastern conference and one for the western conference.  No date for the playoffs has been set.

The Major League Baseball season for 2020 was delayed, originally until July 4th, but that’s not going to happen.  There’s been a lot of wrangling between the Owners and Players union, and whether there’s going to be a season at all, still remains open.

The photo at right shows Yankee Stadium in the Concourse section of the Bronx earlier this month.

The National Football League has been seen as the best shot for the resumption of a full schedule season by a major sports league – but as we near the beginning of the 2020 – 2021 season which begins September 10th – one has to wonder what to expect.

 

Unemployment Estimated to be About 13% with Net Job Add Backs Slowing

About 45 million people filed unemployment claims since the CoVid pandemic began.  As of the last unemployment report, about 20 million of the unemployed were still idle.  Given the American workforce is estimated to be about 155 – 160 million, this translates into about a 13% unemployment rate.

There were 1.5 million new unemployment claims, which was a reduction of 58,000 versus the prior week, which shows the economy isn’t rehiring workers that quickly.  Based on what I see and hear – anecdotally – the forecasters who predict a gradual recovery likely have it right. California and Florida, both recently hit their highest daily totals for new CoVid infections, and CoVid has also been reportedly rising in Texas, and 18 other states.  This is 40% of the nation, and several of these states – like those mentioned above – are huge contributors to the overall U.S. economy.

 

Another African American Shooting by Police in Atlanta

On top of all the existing racial tension, there was yet another police shooting of an African American – this time in Atlanta on Saturday, June 13th.  The cop shot the man in the back twice, as he was running away. The police reportedly had the victim’s identification and his car, as he allegedly was ‘caught’ sleeping off some booze in a Wendy’s parking lot, before a scuffle ensued wherein the victim took off with the policeman’s taser.

Murdoch’s Fox: Is Carlson a Racist Tucker?

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Tucker Carlson, on the Fascist leaning Fox Network, failed to report that the African American killed in Atlanta was shot twice in the back while running away. And Carlson conveniently didn’t show the video documenting the victim being shot in the back by the Atlanta policeman, as the victim fled.

Fascism is defined as,

"... a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy ..."

The Fox Network is controlled by the elite Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who also controls the Wall St Journal and the NY Post.  Murdoch’s media seem to leave out important key points like this, and in doing so they leave their audience more disinformed than informed – with the bonus for Murdoch being that these people are convinced they know what’s going on because they saw it on Fox News.

When I see things on Fox News that I've not seen reported elsewhere - I fact check them.  I oftentimes find that Fox seems to have distorted the news to serve its Master Murdoch's seemingly insatiable appetite for even more money and even more political power vis a vis his propaganda promoted puppet pols.         

 

The Chinese Curse – May You Live in Interesting Times

According to Quora this isn’t really an ancient Chinese saying, but rather attributable to a British speaker in 1939.  Robert Kennedy popularized the phrase in a speech in Cape Town, South Africa in 1966 when he said,

“ … There is a Chinese curse which says 'May he live in interesting times.' Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history … “

I have long found silver linings in almost every ‘misfortune’ I have endured.  I hope you can do the same.  Have a nice weekend and Happy Fathers Day.

Some election info coming later this weekend for Queens and Monday for everyone else. 



Where We At?

These Certainly are Crazy Times & this is a Brief Update

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

June 15, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / Gotham Buzz NYC.

In mid March we slammed up against a CoVid pandemic and NYS Paused in order to thwart the rapid spread of the sometimes deadly disease.  Then, after we appeared to slow the virus spread, and we were slowly re-opening economic activity - a new crisis of conscience and societal awakening - was layered atop the pandemic. 

The social outrage, at what appears to be the murder of a man at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman, sparked protests across the nation and around New York City at what appears to be unnecessary municipal police violence and brutality targeting racial minorities, acted upon by a few members of the police forces around the nation.

We have covered both of these stories in prior reports and what follows is a bit of a catch up of the past couple of weeks and look forward into the next couple of weeks.

CoVid Science Update

A number of reports have provided updates into the nature of the Corona Virus.  These include what impact wearing the masks has, how the disease spreads via air and via surfaces, and the contagiousness of asymptomatic CoVid carriers on the general population.  I think it’s important to remind folks that we’re not even a year into the spread of the sometimes deadly disease, so look at all of what follows as still being somewhat preliminary.

CoVid Science Update – Wearing Masks

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The wearing of the masks does appear to help, but it is most helpful in containing the spread by limiting the airborne virus by infected carriers.  Defensively it also appears to help, but substantially less so, if you’re in close quarters with an infected person.  According to a May 17, 2020 report in the South China Morning Post a study using hampsters,

“… found the rate of non-contact transmission – in which the virus was transmitted via respiratory droplets or airborne particles – dropped by as much as 75 per cent when masks were present.”

The study was done in a room, which is important to note because out of doors, this same study has not been replicated.  So wearing masks appears generally good.  But it’s important to point out that the reason it’s good goes back to the original WHO [World Health Organization] and CDC [Center for Disease Control] guidance, which is that it is most effective in containing the spread by an infected carrier.  Wearing masks has been found to be less effective in preventing the spread if the carrier is not wearing a mask even if the potentially infected is.

CoVid Science Update – Asymptomatic Carriers are Lower Risk than Previously Thought

Originally there was a lot of concern about the spread of the Corona Virus by asymptomatic carriers.  But a June 8, 2020 report by CNBC informs us,


“… From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters. “It’s very rare.”


“The virus is primarily spread via respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes or if they touch a contaminated surface, scientists say.”

This is helpful, as it points to the fact that the primary cause of contagion is sick people moving about in society.  And coupling that with the information above, specifically sick people moving about who are not wearing masks.

Dishonest Donald’s CoVid Therapy Recommendations Removed from FDA Emergency Authorization Register

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were not found to have a measurable impact in the treatment of CoVid 19.  Hence as of June 15, 2020, the FDA revoked what seemed its politically motivated Emergency Use Authorization for the two drugs in the treatment of CoVid 19.  The Donald, seeming to play a pretend doctor in his own reality TV show, had promoted the anti-malarial drugs as treatment for the virus.

Unemployment Falls – but not Really

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe official unemployment rate fell from 14.7% in April to 13.3%  in May according to the Trump Administration Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], BUT this single statistic seems to obfuscate the truth.

For example the labor force participation rate dropped 0.6% or by nearly a million people.

Then there was the two months running BLS ‘error’ where they counted millions of furloughed workers as employed.  According to aJune 8, 2020 report in Forbes,  

“ … Unfortunately, after delving into the footnotes of the numbers, it now looks like the jobs report has been inaccurate for the last two months. BLS has admitted that government household survey takers mistakenly counted about 4.9 million people as employed, although they were unemployed.   Had the mistake been corrected, the unemployment rate would have risen to 16.1% in May. The corrected April figure would have been more than 19.5%—rather than 14.7%..."


" ... The official response was that the government doesn't correct its survey results for fear of the appearance of political manipulation.   The Labor Department acknowledged that for the last two months, it was aware of this issue, but didn’t widely report it or make the necessary adjustments. The big question is whether or not this was purposely done … “

Dishonest Donald Promoting Fake News? 

Is the dishonest Donald selling erroneous U.S. government information like he used to hype the questionable valuations of his luxury condominiums, stock in his casinos, debt for his airline,  the value of attending  Trump University and doing work for the Trump Organization?  Not to mention hyping ineffective drugs, as noted above, for patients trying to recover from CoVid 19.

So we may have been close to 20% unemployment.  And the University of Chicago, one of the premier financial universities in the nation and world, estimates that about 40% of the furloughed jobs may not come back.

Catching Up: The Curfew on Monday – Saturday June 1 – 6, 2020

On June 1, 2020 Mayor de Blasio implemented a curfew running from 11 pm to 5 am.  On Tuesday, June 2nd the curfew was extended to begin at 8 pm except for essential workers.  The curfew remained in effect through Saturday, June 6th. 

The Mayor implemented the curfew to calm the NYC streets vis a vis the George Floyd protests, which looters appeared to use as ‘cover’ and a distraction, in order to commit crimes.  The curfew appears to have worked in calming things down.

On June 8th Mayor de Blasio & Governor Cuomo Reopen NYC

Phase I of NYC Economic Recovery

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

The good news, and it’s honest, is that NYC entered phase I of its economic reopening.  Phase I allows construction, manufacturing, wholesale and agriculture to resume as well as curbside retail and restaurants.

To that end the traffic on the subways rose between 20% - 35% versus prior weeks.  The bad news is that the subway traffic is still down about 80% versus normal, but that’s a helluva lot better than being down 90% - 95% like it was during the CoVid peak.

Fathers Day is Sunday.  It’s an opportunity to help small businesses by shopping for your dad.

More coming later this week. 



George Floyd Protest Cinematography, Music & Narrative

June 12, 2020 / Gotham Buzz NYC.

The video below is an interpretive depiction of a protest event in McCarren Park early last week. The piece is meant to be savored - like food, music and cinematography.

Have a good weekend.




George Floyd Protests Continued

June 9, 2020 / Gotham Buzz NYC.

It’s worth taking a little time today, the day of George Floyd’s funeral, to talk about who George Floyd was.  According to Wikipedia, George Floyd was a 46 year old man and father of five.  While he was born in North Carolina, he grew up in Houston, Texas, where he was an accomplished high school basketball and football player.  He attended college for a couple of years, where he also played basketball, before dropping out.  In the mid 1990’s he was also a rapper performing with a group on the Houston music scene.

His life took a turn for the worse as Wikipedia reports,

“ … After several arrests for theft and drug possession, Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion which he committed with five other men; he agreed to a plea deal in 2009 and was sentenced to five years in prison.  He was paroled in 2013 after spending four years at the Diboll Unit [a working unit]. After his release, he became involved with Resurrection Houston, a local ministry … “

Floyd moved to Minneapolis following serving his time and recently lost his job due to the CoVid pandemic.  He was caught trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill while buying cigarettes in Minneapolis when he was arrested by police officer Derek Chauvin. 

Police Officer Chauvin was a 19 year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department.  According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune,

“ … [Chauvin] was involved with several police shootings, includes both commendations and more than 15 conduct complaints. Almost all the complaints were closed without discipline, records show, suggesting the allegations weren’t sustained. The nature of the complaints wasn’t made public … “

Since George Floyd’s death, the influential role of police unions, on municipal police department operations, has entered into the discussion as a possible factor enabling police brutality and violence. We'll have more as the week progresses.




Untangling the Web: Floyd Protests, CoVid Pandemic, Unemployment & Crime

June 5, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys Thursday afternoon I ventured out again to cover the ongoing George Floyd protests.  This time I headed down to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn first, where George Floyd's brother went to speak.  I missed the speech and the crowds too, as they had just departed across the Brooklyn Bridge, heading into Manhattan.

I took a subway into Manhattan and caught up with them as they came across the bridge, arriving just across the street from City Hall.  After spending some time there, shooting video and photographs, I took another subway up into the Bronx where the looting had taken place on Monday night - as I wanted to see things for myself - as I no longer trust billioniare and corporate owned Tabloid TV news to report things in context.

Around 7.30 pm I headed back home, hoping like Cinderella, to make it home before the curfew took effect, even though as a journalist, I'm allowed to be out as an essential worker.

I'll have more on all of this posting as the weekend progresses, including photos and video for this story and the one below.

In the meantime, best wishes for a pleasant weekend.   



George Floyd & Pink Floyd

Trying to Make Sense in a Senseless World

May 28, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / CoVid in NYC Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysI watched the George Floyd protests unfold on the nightly TV newscasts for a couple of days before venturing out myself to see what I might learn. The protests began on Friday, May 29th in NYC, following the death of George Floyd, an African American who was asphyxiated, apparently due to a Minneapolis policeman holding a knee over George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes which was caught on video.

TV News Appears to Sensationalize More than Inform 

On Saturday night Fox News ran and reran the same footage multiple times of a car burning, seeming to hype and sensationalize the footage into a full blown ‘riot’. The a lot of the Fox footage was taken from the air, in a helicopter which they lease (reportedly) for millions annually, which again repeatedly showed video of the crowd below, which appeared to be mostly our men in blue. So given little good video, they talked about groups dallying into the police and back again – but really didn’t seem to have any video to support their claims. The next day Mayor de Blasio reported that there were no deaths and no serious injuries to members of the NYPD or the crowd. But there was some looting.

An NBC news account made the situation seem far more chaotic than it was by shaking the camera, providing the appearance of chaos. And so on.

More Photos & Video Coming Wednesday

Covering the George Floyd Protests in NYC from the Ground - Not from a Cushy Corporate Media Chopper   

The ‘crisis’ seemed to be more manufactured by the TV news, than by what was actually happening on the streets, which is why I decided I needed to cover this myself. Second hand TV news seems increasingly like garbage news, but before I could make such a claim, I had to see for myself.

Having grown up in a newspaper family, I’ve been watching the news and presentation of it all of my life, beginning with the Kennedy assassination, which my father made all of us watch as he said it was history in the making. Back then the news was owned by dozens, if not hundreds of independent newspapermen and broadcasters, so like social media, there was a variety of news presentations and you could pick from them.

Today large multi-billion dollar corporations control most of the news we see, and it seems their focus is largely centered around profit driven ratings instead of a fair and balanced presentation of the news. This is why they seem to hype, sensationalize and distort Americans’ perceived reality in order to keep them glued to the tube. And the hyping and sensationalizing is not getting better – it’s getting worse.

No longer can you turn on the TV to be informed, but rather to be scared, angered and far too often – to become disinformed.

View from the Ground in Search of the Truth in Manhattan NYC  

But thankfully, there is the internet, which is where you can find the truth – but you have to look for it.

So I ventured out Sunday night into Midtown Manhattan between the hours of 8 pm and 10 pm. I traveled to Times Square via subway. It was largely vacant and quiet, populated by groups of the NYPD, and isolated people walking to and fro.

So I then walked over to Bryant Park, which is where there was a scene the night before, and I had heard earlier in the day that there was to be some activity that night. Nothing. It was quiet and the park was closed.

So I ventured over to Grand Central Station, where I found the same. I asked one of the policemen there if anything was going on that night and he said yes, but in other parts of the city. I headed home to watch the nightly TV news presentation of what was going on.

So what did I see? I saw TV news at Times Square, from where I had just come. Again they had little footage, but said there were groups moving through the plaza. I began to wonder if these groups were doing it to get on the nightly TV news?

My Second Night Covering the George Floyd Protests  Manhattan

The next day I did a bit more homework and ventured out at 6 pm. I started my reconnaissance at Union Square Park where, again some of the looting the night before had taken place.

When I came up from the subway I noticed a group of nearly a dozen youths, dressed in hoods, with masks cloistered together. They warned me not to photograph them but I did anyhow. The photo will be shown after I rub out their faces, but they looked kind of tough, they carried no signs and if I were a policeman I would have shadowed them until they went home as I suspect they weren’t there to demonstrate.

In the park there were a few protesters chanting Black Lives Matter. The scene had some of the usual theatrics of Bryant Park, but with an edge or a purpose. I continued down 14th Street, heading west, where I photographed a few borded up businesses which were likely vandalized the night before.

The NYPD had a large presence with groups of police keeping a watchful eye, but like the drug policing prior to the methodical scientific policing of the 1990’s, it didn’t seem focused on weeding out the bad apples, like those I suspected when I came above ground.

Something that occurred to me is that a few bad apples can ruin things for everyone. Not just for the peaceful protesters, but also for police forces around the nation. It seems the good apples need to do more to keep the bad apples in check. A 17th century Irish English political philosopher, Edmund Burke said that, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for [enough] good [wo]men to do nothing.”

 My Second Night Covering the George Floyd Protests Brooklyn

I then headed back underground into the subway and headed to McCarren Park in Brooklyn. As I neared the park, there were literally hundreds of people coverging on the park, where a George Floyd event was to take place.

When I arrived at the park it was populated with literally thousands of people. I arrived right about 7.30 pm and as I walked through the crowd, there was a pleasant applause … and then quiet.

All of the people descended to their knees, in what I could only describe as a Colin Kaepernick moment. But it wasn’t for a moment. The silence and the kneeling lasted a full half hour. I don’t think I have ever, in my decades long lifetime, recall seeing such a large crowd, stay so silent for so long.

It felt like a religious ceremony, but without any organized religion. It was a spiritual event, of people coming together, to register their dismay and disappointment and perhaps silent outrage at the state of affairs we find ourselves in today.

I looked around for the cameras, as this was a huge event. But there were none except those held by individuals. I looked up in the sky to see the Fox Fake News helicopter zooming in on us. But they were nowhere to be seen. No fires, no looting, nothing here to sensationalize, to distort, to corrupt to feed their angry, fearful masses.

A long, disciplined, powerful half hour of silence, a powerful statement made by literally thousands of people, didn’t make the fear-mongering nightly TV news that night.

If You Want Your Voice to be Heard it will Take More Than Showing up at a Protest     

We live in a democracy. We need to root out the bad apples from positions of power in government through voting, and halt the ratings at any cost reporting by the greedy corporate media by finding better - not bigger - news sources. And we, The People,   need to collectively weed out the bad apples abusing the police powers entrusted to them, while simultaneously holding those accountable who seek to exploit and desecrate the well-intentioned statements of millions, by breaking the law.

You and I both know that none of this will happen just by showing up at a protest. It can only happen if those outraged or dismayed, work with and through communal organizations, and by showing up at the ballot box fully informed – not disinformed. The good news is that the information is out there. The bad news is that much of it is not disseminated by those with the largest audiences.

I operate a small group of websites, so while this will be seen by many, but it will be seen by too few. To those who showed at McCarren Park last night, I want to thank you for your very powerful, Gandhi and Martin Luther King like statement.

They would be proud.

This report didn’t end as I intended when I started it. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is a 1973 album I still enjoy, that musically weaves themes of race, greed, life purpose and death into a poetically written and acoustically pleasurable experience.   


Unemployment Rises to 40 Million, Trump Fires FIVE Inspectors General Overseeing his Handling of the Largest Stimulus Bill in History & Life on the Ground in NYC

May 28, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / CoVid in NYC Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.


corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

If things appear to be chaotic these days, that’s because they are.

America First - #1 in CoVid & Record Breaking Unemployment

Since the CoVid Pandemic began, new unemployment claims have risen by 40 million in the nation.  That’s out of an estimated American workforce of 158 million – meaning that 25% of Americans have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. 

The April unemployment was reported at nearly 15%, while the May unemployment report is expected to rise to in the neighborhood of 20% - 23%.  And according to the Federal Reserve, the  June numbers could come in a bit worse than May.  As a point of reference, during the worst days of the Depression, unemployment came in just under 25% before the American people fired Herbert Hoover.

 

Trump’s Litany of Distractions, Enabled by Network TV Boobcasts

But the Donald isn’t talking about the pain Americans are suffering from the pandemic, where over 1.7 million have been infected and over 100,000 have died.  Nor is he talking about the pain and anxiety that is being felt by the 40 million Americans who have lost their jobs.

Nor is he willing to talk about the firings of five Inspector Generals who had been charged with overseeing the integrity of the largest stimulus package in American history – funded by America’s babies and unborn children.  It’s like taking candy from a baby, only this time it’s money – and lots of it. 

The five Inspector Generals include one from  Health & Human Services, Department of Defense, State Department, Intelligence Community and the Department of Transportation.  Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Goebbels-like  propaganda machine - including his Fox News, Wall St Journal and NY Post appeared to support the firings. I wonder what Rupert's share of the predatory propaganda plunder is?         

So what is the Donald talking about, repeated nightly on the TV News broadcasts, who I’ve come to view as the great enablers, and now think of as the nightly news boobcasts ?  Anything else. 

This week the list of TV News amplified Trump outrages included: 1) Twitter exercising its freedom of speech by putting suggestions that Trump Twitter followers get off their lazy bums to click into fair and balanced information checks of the Donald’s disinformational tweets.  2) Prior to that Trump attacked the Governor of North Carolinafor following the CDC guidelines vis a vis reopening the economy.  The reason?  The Donald appears to want a jam packed media extravaganza at the Republican National Convention that was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina in August.  3) Another of the shock jock president's distractions was his insinuation  that mail ballots are fraudulent – WHICH MIGHT COME TRUE IN November as Trump is replacing the outgoing Postmaster General with a Trump donor / businessman from North Carolina.    4) And the most incredulous of the distractions was Trump’s allegations having to do with MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough and a decade(s) old death of someone who worked for him.

 

Break Your Dependency on TV News – It's Time to Start Surfing

While the TV news broadcasts continue to endlessly repeat Trump's nonsense [it must be good for ratings], they distract themselves and the American public from the real stories of the day.  What are the real stories of the day?  Good question.  They are 1) the ongoing CoVid pandemic, 2) the incredible unemployment numbers and what is sure to be forthcoming economic fallout [it's official - we’re now in a Trump economy] and 3) Trump’s firing of FIVE INSPECTOR GENERALS who were charged with overseeing his Administration's management of the largest stimulus package in American history [$2.5 trillion], none of which was paid for by the current generation with either budget cuts or tax increases.   

If you want to know what’s going on, you have to get on the internet and inform yourself, because the nightly TV boobcast news is ratings driven - not driven by journalistic excellence.    Social media seems as reliable as the boobcast news - if only because you will get a range of opinions - unless of course, your surround yourself with ideologues on only one side of the information spectrum. 

Newspaper and magazine websites also generally seem to do a better job of reporting the facts than do most of the TV networks, as these outlets are staffed by journalists - not with ratings driven teleprompter readers who appear to hype gossip and endlessly repeat politicizations and sensationalist accounts as news, instead of providing their audiences with fact finding, contextualized reports that inform - not distort or distract.

 

Life on the Ground in NYC

I. Masks, Grocery Stores Hours & Lines & Heightened Interest in Biking

So I recently received a graphic about masks.  As you may know, the guidance surrounding masks changed from advising only those who may feel ill to wear them, to advising the general population to wear them. And now it seems the Donald has politicized, what is in essence, prudent health advice.  I will provide a graphic in the next post which visually shows why the early guidance was only for those feeling ill to wear them, but why it makes sense to wear them given that many people who are infected don't show symptoms for days . 

Another report I came upon discussed how a large group of singers caught the virus from a few hours of choir practice with an infected person.  It is believed that that transmission was largely airborne – coming out of the singer’s lungs,  sent into the air and infecting a large number of the people presen . 

Wapo.

And then there’s the guidance on surface transmissions.  Originally it was thought to that surface to person transmission was one of the primary means of transmission.  But that’s changing as they learn more.  Amidst all the uncertainty about changing guidance a few things are sure – 1) CoVid 19 spreads easily and quickly, 2) it’s a nasty disease and a killer to many and 3) caution is the better part of valor – meaning don’t take unnecessary risks for your own safety and for the safety of those with whom you interact. End of today’s science discussion.

And then there’s the periodic trips to the grocery store, wine store, laundromat, bank, post office, home improvement and other stores / chores. Everything still seems a bit of a hassle, although a lot less so than at the beginning of the month.

At the beginning of May, in my neighborhood there were probably somewhere between one in ten to less than a quarter of storefronts open.  And then even those stores that were open, had reduced their operating hours by significant amounts. 

By the end of this month, the number of storefronts open had grown to about half – although many of those open were only providing curbside deli / grocery pickup.  Many businesses had closed - not because of the government order – but rather because there just wasn’t enough / any foot traffic to make it worth the effort. 

As anyone who’s stepped outside lately knows, the foot traffic has picked up significantly, although it’s still not anywhere near what it was prior to the pandemic. And since Memorial Day, a number of businesses have again lengthened their hours – although most have not yet extended hours to their full operating capacity [meaning they’re not yet back to their pre-CoVid store hours]. But it is far better.  It has the feeling of a return to normal, even though it still falls far short of it.

In the early days of the pandemic [March] there was a run on toilet paper and canned goods and other essentials.  By mid April I noticed a run on things like beer and chips.  And today it seems most of the grocery store shelves are once again pretty fairly stocked.  I had to do some brand switching to fill my needs in March and April, and while I’m still using other brands or non-branded products, in most categories I use, I’m able to select the brands I favor.

I understand there’s been a significant increase in demand for bicycles as folks are likely planning to skirt the use of mass transit while the weather cooperates – not to mention get a bit of exercise.

 

II. Real Estate Sales Plummet, but Prices Hold & Stock Exchange Reopens Floor Trading

The real estate market took a gut punch in April, with the National Association of Realtors reporting that the sales in the Northeast region fell 52% year over year.  In May, things didn't look a whole lot better – at least not in NYC – as Property Shark reports that May to date sales are also trending down 53%.  But that compares to a drop of 62% year over year in NYC for April.  So things appear to be improving in the real estate market – albeit from a lightning quick crash. I suppose the good news for owners is that the prices remained fairly firm, as sellers held their ground and interest rates bounced along record lows at 3.15% for a 30 year mortgage.

 

On Tuesday, May 26th the New York Stock Exchange reopened on the floor trading by social distancing and temperature checking.

 

 III. Subway Zappings, Food Lines & the Census

The MTA has found what seems a more comprehensive way to sanitize the subways using devices which emit ultra violet light to kill the virus and other living organisms inhabiting the crevices of the subway infrastructure.  I haven’t ridden the rails myself since April, but one friend reports that while they’re not fully packed yet, they have gone from pretty empty, to fairly full [but not packed].

A May 19, 2020 report in Streets Blog said that on May 15th over 600,000 people rode the subway, which is the highest the ridership has been since the 676,000 on March 27th as the reality of the pandemic set in. As a point of reference, the MTA reports that on weekdays in 2019 about 5.4 million people rode the rails , while on the weekend, over 2.7 million people [on average] rode the subways . So that’s still only 12% of normal ridership, but up significantly versus the prior two months.

Given that fully 25% of people are out of work nationally, many around the nation and in NYC have taken to waiting in food lines to feed themselves and their families.  A number of charitable groups including the Catholic Charities of New York [www.catholiccharitiesny.org] have stepped up to help meet the challenge.  If you have a bit of extra cash, they accept donations, which they deploy to help fellow New Yorkers.

Lastly, the Census is underway in spite of most unusual circumstances.  On Wednesday, May 20th the Mayor informed us that the U.S. as a whole had achieved an estimated 59% participation rate, while NYC had only achieved an estimated 49% participation rate

This affects how much of our tax dollars we get back to help offset some of the education, healthcare, infrastructure, first responder and other expenditures associated with operating a large community such as ours.  There’s reportedly about $1 trillion at stake for the entire nation and it also affects how much representation we get in Congress.

So if you haven’t filled out the Census, take – literally – a few minutes to fill it out by clicking the ad below.  They say that this information is not shared on an individual level with any other agency in the nation.  So even if you’re not here legally and you don’t trust the government – at least try to make sure that everyone you know who was born in this country, or who has their papers in order, registers for the census. 

And don’t wait.  Do it now. Because these ads will be gone by June 1st.  And thanks.



CoVid Vaccine Update, Gauging Timeline for Return to the New Normal,   Economic Snapshot  & ...  

May 25, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / CoVid in NYC Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

Memorial Day was a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures into the 70’s, and dry. Given the month of May is nearly over, I thought I’d do a recap of what has transpired during the month to gauge how far we’ve come and how far we have to go to return to the new normal.

Let’s start with a quick update on the CoVid virus itself. As we entered the month of May, new CoVid hospitalizations were running about 800 per day. As of Governor Cuomo’s last few reports, the number of new hospitalizations is running at between 200 – 300 per day. The net daily intubations have been running negative [meaning more people coming off than going on] for most of the last couple of months ranging from close to zero [meaning folks coming off intubations were about equal to those going on] to nearly 150 more coming off than going on.

As we exited April, NYC and NYS were closing the popup hospitals located primarily around the city, as the existing facilities were moving into a position where they were able to handle the sick patients entering the healthcare system. Overall both NYC and NYS have freed up a considerable amount of hospital and respirator capacity, so that most parts of the state will be economically open in the Phase I stage by this coming week – with the exception being NYC. NYC has met six of the seven metrics required to enter Phase I of the reopening of the economy.  The seventh metric is to free up enough hospital capacity [30% available capacity is the target] in order to reopen safely, according to the guidelines outlined by NYS Governor Cuomo.       

It’s important to remind folks that NYC, with a population of about 8.5 million, represents nearly half of the approximately 19.5 million population of NYS – and that we’re far more densely packed into a far smaller space than likely anywhere else in the nation. I mention this to help folks understand that we, in NYC, have the highest hurdle to transcend to move toward the new normal. But that said both the Mayor and the Governor believe that if the trends continue, NYC should be in a position to move into Phase I sometime within the first two weeks of June.

Phase I allows for construction, manufacturing and curbside retail to resume.

In prior reports we’ve identified the people most at risk of dying from the disease should they contract it. These folks still need to tread cautiously, as well as the folks who surround them, as no cure is in sight – regardless of what you may hear on the ratings-driven TV news or from a flailing president who oftentimes seems more concerned about the impact of the virus on his re-election chances, than on Americans’ health.

Scientists and pharmaceutical organizations around the world on working on numerous different therapies which may help speed recoveries. There are eight new vaccines that are in some stage of clinical trials, and a reported 110 vaccines in the works. The eight in clinical trials are only in the early stages of clinical trials, which are used to determine the efficacy and safety profile of a drug.

 

Is the ‘Real’ Donald 'Faking' News About a CoVid Vaccine?

If you listen to the blather of the bellowing Donald who constantly berates the ‘fake news’, you’d think a CoVid 19 cure is just around the corner. But hark back to a couple of months ago, to listen to what the Donald was telling Americans as the Corona Virus was getting underway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfGUpS5s7yA

As of this writing, over 1.6 million Americans have contracted CoVid 19 and nearly 100,000 Americans have died from it. Americans account for about 5% of the population of the world and account for about 30% of the reported CoVid cases and deaths. America is certainly first .

 

What do People with Vaccine Education & Experience Say?

The people who have been educated in the field of infectious diseases, and have experience in the field, say that a vaccine is AT LEAST A YEAR OR MORE AWAY. As I’ve published before, THE SHORTEST TIME IT EVER TOOK TO PRODUCE A VACCINE was in the 1950’s for polio, and that took four years. So that’s one pretty solid benchmark to keep in mind going forward.

If a vaccine killed just one in 500 people, that would amount to 660,000 deaths in a fully vaccinated populace in this nation alone. In a March 8, 2020 report in the New Yorker, John Shiver, the SVP of Global Vaccine Research & Development of Sanofi, a multi-national pharmaceutical company, said, "You certainly don’t want a vaccine that can make it worse”.

The public policy thinking is that we don’t want to give a vaccine to the nation’s population without properly testing it for both efficacy and safety. This is why the FDA has a rigorous set of rules surrounding the testing of drugs before they are released to the general public.

 

Expectations / Timelines for Obtaining a Trustworthy Vaccine

The New York Times posted a graphical Op Ed piece on April 20, 2020 that graphically depicted the data for new drugs that looked at various scenarios for shortening the timeline for drug testing, regulatory review and approvals and manufacturing. After reviewing the piece I came away with the conclusion that – based on historical records – we’re years away.

A March 8, 2020 piece in the New Yorker looked at some of the earliest vaccines out of the starting block for CoVid 19. One of the first steps in the process is reading the genetic map of the virus which the Chinese had done by January of 2020, and which they subsequently distributed. Relative to history, this was very fast. The New Yorker piece stated that,

"a covid-19 vaccine developed, licensed, and manufactured at a global scale in twelve months would be an unprecedented, remarkable, even revolutionary achievement.”

I suppose anything is possible, but for those of us on the ground, living amidst CoVid 19 on a daily basis, we need to stay focused on what is pragmatic and what is probable. So a vaccine isn’t likely or probable within the next year or so – and by most accounts - likely quite a bit longer. If a vaccine is found that is both efficacious and safe in less time – it will be akin to winning the lottery … great. But most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to live our lives banking on winning the lottery. An April 20, 2020 report in National Geographic starts with the second headline stating,

“Considering the history and science behind making these drugs, “a year to 18 months would be absolutely unprecedented ...”.

 

Reality Check: Why Getting a Vaccine Takes so Long

The bottom line is that you have to test vaccines / drugs to see how well they work in the general population. That requires recruiting numerous people willing to take the risk of being treated with an unproven vaccine or the risk of being treated with a placebo – meaning no protection. Then you have to put them in an environment where they are exposed to the virus so you can see how well they fare [immunity]. That may prove efficacy. Then you have to test the drug / vaccine in large enough numbers of the population to be able to measure the impact [its safety] on people with various health conditions and whether there are adverse interactions with other drugs.

A good example of what this testing can find is a recent study conducted on hydroxychloroquine – the drug ‘Doctor’ Donald has been promoting to treat CoVid 19, which is commonly used to treat malaria and lupus. According to an April 17, 2020 report by Reuters, a clinical trial in Brazil involving 81 patients was halted after eleven of the participants died. Of those who died, four were receiving low doses and seven were on high doses.

Assuming the same results for the U.S. population, if all Americans followed ‘Doctor’ Donald’s advice to take hydroxychloroquine to treat themselves for CoVid 19 - up to 44 million of them could die. You should know that this is a simplistic analysis - but the point remains valid - drugs need to be tested before releasing them to the general public or the ‘cure’ could be far more devastating than the cause or ‘condition’.

That’s the end of the science part of this report. The goal here is not to reduce any optimism of a revolutionary break through – but to temper that optimism with realism - so that you can properly prepare or steel yourself for the coming year(s).

 

When Do We Return to Normal? Gauging the Timeline Based on Institutional Announcements

A few institutions have provided what I consider benchmarks for our expectations of a return to the new normal.

Broadway Shows announced that they won’t be opening again until at least September. Various large universities have given mixed guidance for the Fall semester with NYU and Columbia University declaring their intent to re-open for in person classes as early as the Fall according to a May 19th report in the Gothamist. Governor Cuomo has not yet taken a position on schools reopening for SUNY and CUNY, but both Binghamton and Syracuse announced last Wednesday that they intend to open for in-person classes this Fall – although Governor Cuomo went public saying that it’s too early to know for sure.

Professional sports are expected to resume / begin practice and training at their facilities this week or next as the Governor just gave the green light within the past couple of days. Some professional sports teams may resume professional league play without in-person audiences as early as July.

And both the Mayor and the Governor agree that, assuming trends and progress continue, NYC should enter phase one of opening the economy in the first or second week of June.

 

A Slower Economy & The New Normal

Then there’s the economy. As our attention shifted from containing the virus and its impact on the healthcare system, we began to shift focus to earning a living again. This is our next great challenge, and it is complicated by the lingering threat of CoVid 19 and the limitations of what science can do for us as described above.

In early May, the Governor and the Mayor began collaborating to disinfect the subway on a daily basis, while transitioning the homeless to other quarters as the homeless had made the subway their home during the pandemic outbreak. This effort will help minimize the spread of the virus via mass transit, by which millions travel daily in normal times.

By mid-May the Governor had given the green light to several regions of NYS to re-open, yet said NY Pause was still in effect, even though by the end of the month, likely only NYC will remain closed [for reasons mentioned above as we’re half the state and we’re the most densely populated and trafficked NYS / USA region].

 

NYC Unemployment Losses Spike as does NYS & USA

By the end of April, the number of new unemployment claims nationally since the CoVid outbreak began in mid-March, had risen to 30 million. As of this post, that number now stands at 38 million. A May 24th report on CNN stated that Senior White House Economic Advisor Kevin Hassett told CNN that,

“… he thinks the unemployment rate, which hit 14.7% in April, may rise to 22% to 23% by May and edge up a bit in June before heading lower ...”

Given how badly New York City and New York State were hit - surprisingly - the economies of both were performing in line with the rest of the nation [unemployment-wise]. The unemployment rates for both NYC and NYS were in the neighborhood of 14.2% and 14.5% respectively. But these may statistics are believed to have undercounted the real picture, which as noted in the quote above, is expected to significantly worsen in May.

 

NYC Leisure & Hospitality Hardest Hit in NYS

According to the NY Department of Labor April 2020 report, the Leisure and Hospitality category was the hardest hit, losing 335,000 jobs - down nearly 72% from the prior year. This should come as no surprise, as NYC attracts some 60 to 65 million tourists per year. Tourism represents an average influx of 5.5 million people each month, who NYC can normally count on to spend some of their cash. But since mid-March tourists have not been a factor in our economy. In total NYC lost 885,000 jobs in April, down nearly 22% to about 3.2 million jobs in the private sector.

Airlines report that their traffic is down in the neighborhood of 90% +/- since the pandemic began in mid-March. I found it interesting that those figures are in line with the subway usage declines. These passenger losses affect NYC’s busy airports, many of the people they employed by both the airlines and the terminals, and related services. Our airports are also economic engines.

 

NYC Tenants, Landlords & Real Estate Mortgage Payments

In April and again in May, many people in NYC have missed their rent payments. Governor Cuomo put in place an eviction moratorium, which was extended through August 20th, and allowed tenants to use security deposits as payments until they can ante up the money at a later unspecified date. And many people have had to rely on food pantries to help them make ends meet. Long lines are reported at many of the pantries spread throughout NYC.

And to add to our economic woes, on a national level 3.8 million people missed their mortgage payments in April and another 1.6 million people missed their payments in May.

So, like the Corona Virus itself, the economic fallout will, in some measure, linger on indefinitely. The $2.5 trillion stimulus was meant to offset some of the losses, but as reported previously, the largest stimulus bill ever seemed crafted by a corrupt administration, as very wealthy people were given tax breaks which seemed not to have any real connection to the pandemic fallout. Trump also has since FIRED THREE INSPECTOR GENERALS, who would normally provide some transparency for what seems a lot of wasteful spending by the Republican president and his party, led by Senate Mouse Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But then the Democrats, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer and Californian Nancy Pelosi, went on to ask for trillions more, because they did such a poor job of negotiating the first couple of stimulus bills, where it appeared the special interest gorged themselves at the public trough [to be paid for by America’s babies and unborn children], while the state and municipal governments – those most impacted by the virus - seemed to be left with scraps.

As an example of what happened while we were all watching the pandemic unfold, the richest 1% reportedly increased their wealth by nearly a half trillion dollars, while most of the rest of the population lost ground.

The same is true for industry sectors. Retail, restaurants, hoteliers and gaming industries were hit pretty hard. A number of large retailers declared bankruptcy including Neiman Marcus, Pier 1 Imports, J Crew, and J.C. Penney is reportedly in talks to be sold to Amazon, which is trading near an all-time high.

The airlines received a $25 billion dollar bailout in the form of grants [66%] and loans [33%]. So the American taxpayer anted up for the airlines and we, the public, seemed to get nothing back. The Donald had relentlessly claimed he was a great negotiator while running in 2016, and yet it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who seemed to be the toughest negotiator. She is working on a $9.7 billion bailout for German airline Lufthansa, but in exchange the public gets 20% of the airline stock and a poison pill to avert a takeover by a foreign / private entity trying to cash in on the public largesse. Hertz car rental also filed for bankruptcy.

Newspaper companies, which were already on the rocks, are also suffering. In 2019 about 3,400 journalists lost their jobs. Since the CoVid pandemic, 36,000 people working for newspapers [not just journalists so this is not an apples to apples comparison] lost their jobs or were laid off. Meanwhile the valuations on companies like Google and Facebook [who are eating newspapers lunch] are trading at [Facebook] or just below [-13%] their all time highs.

In several industry categories, the bricks and mortar players lost ground at an accelerating pace to the technology companies.  The same is true for many small businesses, which were already challenged by rising rents, limited pricing power.  And now CoVid may have delivered a death blow to many of them . According to the Small Business Administration small businesses make up 64% of new jobs, 49% of employment and 43% of payroll.  And they  are also an important factor in the lifeblood of most communities.

It’s going to be a changed and evolving landscape, so stay tuned.

Blog / Lifestyle & Miscellaneous More coming later this week.



Staten Island Things To Do Memorial Day Weekend - Staten Island Memorial Day Weekend SI NYC | staten island memorial day weekend things to do staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, free summer theater things to do manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island things to do memorial day weekend staten island nyc
Staten Island Things To Do Memorial Day Weekend - Staten Island Memorial Day Weekend SI NYC

Memorial Day Weekend Things To Do on Staten Island NYC

Things To Do on Staten Island over the Memorial Day Weekend

May 12, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods NYC / Things To Do on Staten Island NYC / Staten Island Buzz NYC.

I know Memorial Day Weekend is fully a week away, but given it's such a changed landscape due to the CoVid pandemic, I thought you might want more time to think about how you're going to spend the weekend.

Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the low to mid 70's and the temperature lows will be around 60 all three days of the long weekend. There's a 20% chance of rain all weekend. Winds will range between 5 - 10 mph all weekend. The Humidity will be around 50% throughout the weekend. Click for Staten Island Weather.

 

Brief History of the Memorial Day Holiday on Staten Island

Memorial Day first started out as Decoration Day in Waterloo, New York on May 30, 1866 - a year after the Civil War - to honor those who fought in it. In the 1880's the day came to be known as Memorial Day.

According to a May 25, 2012 report in Time Magazine, ten states - Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee also officially observe some version of a Confederate Memorial Day, sometime between late April and early June [in Texas it's in January]. It's been reported that unofficially most of the former Confederate states still commemorate it, but not without some controversy as to the former Confederate diaspora it's to honor their ancestors, while to the former diaspora of the slaves it seems a remnant of these states racist past.

About ten percent of the nation travels more than 50 miles over the weekend. Memorial Day differs from Veterans Day which is held on November 11th of each year. Veterans Day began by honoring those who fought in World War I which ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Both honor those who served in the U.S. Military. Veterans Day coincides with a similar holiday in Europe for the same reason, which is called Remembrance Day and Armistice Day.

 

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend Special Events on Staten Island NYC

According to a March 27, 2020 report in Military News the U.S. Navy cancelled Fleet Week due to the CoVid pandemic. The annual celebratory week in NYC was originally scheduled to run from Wednesday, May 20 to Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Normally there's a Memorial Day Parade on Staten Island, kicking off at 11.30 am at Forest Avenue and Hart Blvd ending on Decker Avenue. But unfortunately this year attending the parade and Staten Island street fairs, don't appear to options due to the CoVid pandemic. That's not the only activity that will not be available to us, as visiting Staten Island theaters, performing arts & art museums, and eating out at one of the Staten Island restaurants also won't be available come Memorial Day Weekend.

But things are slowly moving in the right direction. For example you can obtain restaurant food via delivery or carry out - we posted some of the restaurants performing this service as of Mother's Day in our Mother's Day Restaurants on Staten Island report.

You can also go bicycling around Staten Island so be mindful to observe the rules of the road [click link]. The 5 Boro Bike Ride 2020 was cancelled and unfortunately could not be re-scheduled, so we'll all have to wait until 2021 [hopefully].

Unfortunately shopping on Staten Island, will also be limited to groceries, pharmacies and home improvement stores [aka essential services], but local Staten Island farmers markets are classified as an essential service, so that provides another outing option.

So there are some things happening right here in our favorite borough - Staten Island. Take your time to sort through what's available and start planning your weekend.

 

Memorial Day Weekend Events on Staten Island

Click here to obtain information about things to do Labor Day Weekend on Staten Island. And our things to do / Staten Island events calendar is updated monthly with between 50 - 100 different Staten Island fun / cultural events.

things to do Staten Island memorial day weekend SI memorial Day Weekend things to do staten island nyc

Staten Island Public & Private Parks

Staten Island has a number of New York City Parks, they are open, including the restrooms which will be cleaned daily with disinfectants.

But the normal park service options aren't available during the CoVid pandemic. These include no barbeques, no team sports and both the public swimming pools and the playgrounds will remain closed. But the beaches will be open, although no swimming will be allowed and the beaches will only be open for limited periods - generally from 10 am - 6 pm. NYS public marinas are open for non-commercial activities.

I spoke to the National Park Service which informed me that the National Parks on Staten Island will be open, although no special services would be provided - but you can walk, bike, skate board and visit the beach. The National Parks on Staten Island include Fort Wadsworth which is alongside the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the Great Kills Park along the Lower Bay in Great Kills, and Miller Field Park which is located between Midland and New Dorp neighborhoods and adjacent to the Lower Bay.

Click here for a listing of the Staten Island Parks including maps showing their locations along with a bit of park history - Coming sometime in the not-too-distant future.

 

NYC Golfing on Staten Island - Currently Closed due to CoVid 19

Staten Island has three main golf courses which includes the Silver Lake near West Brighton, LaTourette near New Springville / Heartland Village [SI Shopping Mall] and the South Shore golf course near Rossville.

Unfortunately, as of this post none of them are expected to be open by Memorial Day weekend 2020. Click here for details about Queens Golf Courses including maps and links to the operators' websites.

Click here for Staten Island things to do on Memorial Day weekend.




Governor Cuomo to End NY Pause on 5/15 but ...

NYS Regions Must Meet Guidelines to Re-Open & While Some NYS Regions Qualify - We in NYC are Not Yet There

May 11, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs of May 15th the NY Pause program put in place by Governor Cuomo in mid March will come to an end. NY Pause was essentially a state-wide lockdown of residents and businesses deemed ‘non-essential’. We’ll have been in lockdown for two months.

 

NYS Regions Must Meet the Following Guidelines Prior to Re-Opening

But once the statewide lockdown ends on Friday, regional / municipal lockdowns will continue until such time as each region meets seven guidelines outlined by the Governor. The seven metrics that a region must meet are a two week decline in: 1) total hospitalizations, 2) new hospitalizations, 3) hospitalized deaths, and must have a 30% available share of 4) hospitalized beds and 5) Intensive Care Unit beds, and must have testing capacity / implementation of 6) 30 people per thousand monthly, and 7) 30 contact tracers per thousand in alignment with being able to follow up on potentially infected people.

 

Mayor Seems to Think Early June is Possible for NYC & Other Fun Facts about NYS Primary, Alternate Side Parking, Plastic Grocery Bags & Open Streets

Mayor de Blasio said he doesn’t think NYC will meet the NYS required metrics until June. In the meantime know that …

The NYS presidential primary [& state elections] is back on for June 23rd per a ruling by a Federal Court Judge Analisa Torres. The presidential primary election had been pushed back from it’s original April 23rd date by Governor Cuomo. Following the postponement the NYS Board of Elections cancelled the presidential primary portion of the election when Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign. Former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang contested the NYS Board of Election decision, saying it deprived delegates / voters of their Constitutional right. The judge noted that the rest of the election was slated to continue, and Cuomo signed an Executive Order enabling anyone who wants to vote by mail may do so.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe plastic grocery bag ban enforcement by the Department of Environmental Conservation has been moved back to June 15th. It was originally scheduled to take effect March 1st but enforcement has been pushed back a couple of times in recognition of the challenges posed by the Corona Virus.

Governor Cuomo announced that any and all eviction proceedings have been delayed until August 20th, 2020.

The Governor announced on April 26th that the L train repairs had been completed six months ahead of schedule.

Alternate Side Parking is suspended through Sunday, May 17th BUT THEN RETURNS for the week of May 18 – 24, 2020 to enable a CLEAN SWEEP of the city. The Alternate Side Parking suspension then resumes from May 25th to June 7th at which time things may possibly start returning to the ‘new’ normal.

NYC Open Streets began this past weekend [May 9 – 10, 2020]. The plan opens up 40 miles of streets from 8 am – 8 pm for people to use for biking, walking and practicing recreational activities in a socially distanced manner. These streets are usually used by motorized vehicles. They plan to possibly do this for a full 100 miles of streets sometime in the future. Click this link to view the listing of the open streets in each borough.

https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/openstreets.shtml

Best wishes for a good start to your second week of May.



Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants - Moms Day Restaurants Staten Island NYC | staten island mothers day restaurants staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, mom's day restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island mothers day restaurants staten island nyc
Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants - Moms Day Restaurants Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants

Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants in or near Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

 May 9, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Restaurants / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Mother's Day Sunday, May 10, 2020. It's a good time to let your loved one know you care. Flowers, gifts and brunch or dinner are always welcome, as is any thoughtful gesture that provides some measure showing your appreciation of your mother or the mother of your children. After all, without mothers, we would all cease to be.

Normally it's best to book a restaurant reservation for Mother's Day brunch, as on Mother's Day on Staten Island, many restaurants are full. So if you're thinking about eating out at a restaurant this Mother's Day in or near Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach neighborhoods; it's best to do your research early, and call ahead to book Mother's Day restaurant reservations - BUT this year reservations, per se, are not an option. But delivery and take out are.

Mother's Day History - Restaurants on Staten Island

The origins of Mother's Day in the United States began with the efforts by Anna Jarvis in honor of her own mother. According to Wikipedia, Anna began the campaign in 1905 - the year her mother died - and in 1910 West Virginia was the first state to adopt it as a holiday. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson made the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Click this link to view a brief guide of Mother's Day restaurants on Staten Island where you will find links to Staten Island restaurants we've researched, visited in the past or have reviewed. The restaurants we've reviewed include a mix of high, medium and budget priced restaurants that are spread throughout the borough and offer a large variety of ethnic cuisines. Enjoy.

We've identified only a few Staten Island restaurants that are doing take out / delivery on Mother's Day on Staten Island. Enjoy.




CoVid Back to Work NYC – Part III

Mayor & Governor Attempt a Balancing Act Worthy of the Flying Wallendas

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMay 3, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Well, at least we had a pleasant weather weekend. People were out and about again in greater droves than they have been in about a month and a half. It was just nice to stretch one’s legs, soak in a bit of sunshine and see people again … albeit at a social distance.

Looking ahead the Mayor and Governor are in a tight spot, as people’s economic needs begin to weigh heavily upon them, given a second month of rent and other payments have come due. Thus these two intrepid leaders need to work out a path to economic recovery, while not letting up on keeping the evil CoVid virus in check. My intent here is to add my two cents in hopes of stimulating dialogue and actions in that direction.

 

Putting Things In Perspective

Let’s start with what has happened this past week. NYS CoVid Hospitalizations had skyrocketed to about 19,000 the week of April 13th, 2020. By this past weekend they had fallen to about 10,000 – nearly half of the peak.

At the time the Governor and Mayor, with federal government assistance, had put in place plans to accommodate the skyrocketing infected numbers, which as of April 13th had hit 195,000 people in New York State and about 107,000 in New York City. Today the cumulative totals for New York State are 318,000 and for New York City 177,000.

 

Brief History Of How Covid 19 Started In NYC & NYS

The first person identified with the CoVid virus, was a Manhattan healthcare worker who had picked it up overseas. She tested positive or it became publicly known on March 1st, 2020. A week and a half later, on March 10, 2020, Governor Cuomo set up a containment area in New Rochelle where there was a significant outbreak. The Governor’s NY Pause – essentially shutting down non-essential business – began evolving shortly thereafter.

 

NY PAUSE - Mid March 2020

Within about a week – by mid March - New York City and New York State were on pause. At first all major events were cancelled, then any large gathering of 500 people or more, then gatherings of 50 people or more, and then even restaurants and bars were required to close. This tightening happened at breakneck speed. And of course the NYS and NYC public school systems and all private schools shut down at that time. Only essential businesses and services were allowed to continue operating.

Shortly after we all went on Pause in mid March, Governor Cuomo began daily press briefings, to keep the public aware of what was happening. I started tuning in daily by March 21st and by that time – only three weeks after the first tested positive - there were 46,000 cases in NYS and nearly 21,000 in NYC. By that time it was dawning on us all, that we were in real trouble.

 

Adding Healthcare / ICU / Hospital Capacity

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysIn the last half of March, the Governor and Mayor set to work to increase the city and state hospital capacity, as at the time the forecasts were daunting. Thus the Jacob Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan was outfitted to become a pop up hospital with capacity that began at 1,000, moved up to 2,000 and by the time they realized that the NY Pause was working, they had made plans to enable the Javits Center to accommodate 2,500 beds. As it was, just over 1,000 patients were treated there, as today hospital capacity is again available. This was staffed by the National Guard and federally employees. The last patient exited the Javits Center on Saturday, May 2nd, 2020.

Both the Governor and the Mayor called upon the federal branches of government to assist with managing the crisis, which is part was caused by their ignorance and slow and error-laden response. That’s another story for another time. Anyhow, a floating hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, was sent to aid New York City. The ship had about a 1,000 bed capacity, or about a 750 CoVid patient capacity [social distancing]. By the time the USNS Comfort departed, on Thursday, April 30th, they had treated less than 200 patients, as the NY Pause initiative had effectively contained the outbreak.

There were other facilities put in place which we covered as they were springing up. Click here to read our report of over a month ago about NYC and NYS increase hospital capacity in preparation for the growth of CoVid 19 cases.

 

Late March - Flattening The Curve

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs we entered April things looked pretty bleak, except to me, as I was watching the growth in tested positives vis a vis the growth in testing. The two went up together, so I factored that into my growth expectations, while I imagine the experts were likely not discounting the growth rate for the growth in testing.

Click here to see our coverage of the flattening of the curve beginning March 31st.

By the end of that same week – the last week of March / first week of April – the Governor and Mayor were beginning to believe that the flattening had worked. This staved off some of the medium to worse case scenarios because the people of New York City and New York State took the threat of the CoVid crisis seriously and stayed home. Whew.

 

Managing PPE, Ventilators & Hospital Beds As Capacity Peaked

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThroughout the month of April we all watched as the city and state healthcare workers and institutions grappled with a full capacity load of patients who had an infectious, potentially life-threatening illness, and generally speaking the city, state and worst of all – the federal government was unprepared and flat footed in their response.

Thus we all learned about PPE or personal protective equipment and its lack of availability. We learned about the ICU or intensive care units and key equipment like respirators / ventilators. And we learned about how stressed the healthcare system was in managing through all of this.

The Governor and Mayor asked and received some federal help in the form of the docking of the USNS Comfort, which is a navy hospital ship and the staffing of a pop up hospital at the Javits Center. But the preparations to add hospital bed capacity didn't end there, as the Governor and Mayor ramped up a facility in Central Park in Manhattan and another at the USTA Center in Queens.

Meanwhile, back in the stay at home / self quarantines, the rest of us were dealing with social distancing, being caged in our homes, a few out of stocks in things like toilet paper, or we had to switch from our usual selection of branded products to whatever was in stock. But those annoyances were mild compared to what was to come.

 

Unemployment, Food Lines, Financial & Psychological Stress

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMany were and are facing food shortages and are financially strapped as they have no income and no savings. The rent and loan payments keep coming due, everyone still needs to keep the power on, and put food on the table – let alone deal with anything unexpected.

As of this past week, over 30 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance – and this is AFTER the government spent trillions keeping people on the payroll. Herbert Hoover, who presided over the beginning of the Great Depression, entered office with a 3.2% unemployment rate and left office four years later with unemployment at nearly 25%. The Donald entered office with an historically low unemployment rate of about 4%, and in the last report, the unemployment rate was about 19%.

I’ve noticed when I’m out reporting that a number of people are really on edge. So I advise folks proceed a bit more cautiously and patiently when out in public. The masks mandate really doesn’t help in this regard, as some folks have turned into uninformed mask enforcer vigilantes.

 

Stimulus Package - Robbing America’s Children’s Future

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo the federal government passed several whopping fiscal stimulus bills, where they borrowed trillions from the piggy bank of America’s children, to finance what seemed, in part, to be Donald Trump’s re-election plan. The Trump Administration doled out trillions in cash and sadly a good portion of it went to selfish interests, including some of Trump's own.

 

In another Trump first for bad behavior by an American President - the dispassionate Donald made desperate Americans wait a couple of extra days for the federal stimulus checks - so he could have his Treasury Secretary Mnuchin put the Trump name on the stimulus checks.

 

Meanwhile both the Mayor and the Governor are confronted with tough fiscal choices, as the city and state revenue has declined precipitously, as state and municipal expenses climbed due to efforts made to deal with the CoVid crisis.

 

Late April Things Improve

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo in the latter half of April we started watching the CoVid crisis slow down, as more people came off respirators than went on them [although enough of them also died on the respirators and continue to contribute to that declining number], and while people continued dying from CoVid, it was at lower and lower numbers. Both of these metrics are the lagging indicators.

But the leading indicators also began falling in the second half of April. The number of people who tested positive fell from a high on April 15th at less than 12,000, to a weekly rolling average of about 5,000 per day this past week [ending May 2nd]. And the hospitalization rate fell from about 19,000 on April 13th to about 10,000 today.

So all indicators are generally pointing in the right direction, and have been doing so for about two weeks. So why not get back to work right away? Because we have to open the city and state smartly or we’ll not just be back where we were – but possibly even worse - because the healthcare system and professionals have been working under duress non-stop for a month or more.

 

Getting Back To Work – Starting With Infrastructure

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysBoth the Mayor and Governor are working assiduously to get us back to work, but safely. How are they doing that? One of the first big steps is that effective May 6th, 2020 the MTA subway system is going to be closed down from 1 am – 5 am so that the subway cars can be sanitized.

If you think about the city [and state for that matter] as if it were a human, there’s no quicker way to spread a disease than by using the transportation infrastructure - most notably the subway. Conversely, it seems one of the quickest ways to contain a disease is to stop its spread via the transportation system / subway. Thus the collaborative and concerted actions of the Governor and the Mayor appear headed in that direction. Bravo.

Click here to see our report identifying the MTA subway system as a CoVid hazard.

Anyhow, by the beginning of May, the Governor confirmed that the public school system academic year would end online – not in the schools. Long lines continued forming at stores where masks are now required to enter. Banking and financial institutions have been overwhelmed with calls related to the fiscal stimulus checks as well as all sorts of people needing financial help. And this had to be done, while the banks shortened hours – some due in part to the many snafus by the Trump Administration in the handling of the stimulus bill execution because at least one computer system crashed and there were reportedly a myriad of a number of smaller snafus.

 

Many TV News Reports Seem about as Vetted as Social Media

People are staying up later as they don’t have to get up to shower and commute to work the next day, unless they’re an essential worker. So while free TV hasn’t been interesting in a long time - now, when it’s most needed - it seems to suck on an extraordinary level. And while many people have been able to collect their regular paycheck by telecommuting / teleworking, others must be feeling about as anxious as one possibly can – having no money, no work, behind in rent by one or two months, not sure if they have a job or will have a job, and to top it off no haircut in a couple months time.

So, not unexpectedly, with empty streets and people really hurting, some crimes have risen, but that’s not really unexpected ... is it?

 

The Future - Possible Therapies & Gauging the Economy

Start by Recognizing Covid is Likely Here To Stay for a While

So what does the future look like? Predicting things is at best a precarious science, but I’ve made a few observations, which I’d like to share.

 

I. The Tenuous Promise of a Warm Weather Cure

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysLet’s start with the first one - which quite honestly I’m not sure we can very accurately judge at this time – and that’s whether the Corona Virus will be with us for a long time to come.

Some folks thought that it would behave like the flu and disappear during the warmer weather. If that were the case, then why are Brazil and India, both WARM WEATHER NATIONS, ramping UP THE CURVE, rather than flattening or coming off the curve?

This should cause one to proceed slowly.

 

II. No Fairytales & No Magic Pill or Spray

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe other aspect of this are the proposed cures, therapies and vaccines. Sometimes watching the TV news it seems like the Wild West, where we hear from a plethora of TV news teleprompter readers, who don't seem to understand what it is they’re saying, seeming to repeat things without providing context and without verifying source facts.

I’ve reported on some of the proposed vaccines and therapies in a prior report – click here for CoVid therapies and vaccines. The gist of it is that while we are very technologically advanced, it takes a while not just to discover a molecular combination therapy, but quite a while longer to understand whether it works, why it works and whether it is safe for use on the general population. To ensure efficacy and safety, clinical trials are done to measure the potential impact on various vaccine recipients or patients, depending on their baseline health, as well as what other drugs they are taking.

Ironically in late April, an over the counter medicine, Pepcid, was reported as potentially helpful to treating the Corona Virus. A friend of mine reported that it had sold out online before I had even heard the news. That's how crazy things have gotten.

Science is not as easy as the Donald portrays it to be. You can’t just spray Lysol into your lungs to cure yourself [you'll poison yourself], and one of the drugs he’s promoted, Hydroxychloroquine, was tested in a Brazil clinical trial. In that trial the anti-malarial drug is believed to have triggered heart problems where patients died. Because of the deaths, they ended the Brazilian clinical trial.

 

Science isn't for Simpletons – Vaccines Take Time & So Do Therapies

So what are the real therapy options? One is a vaccine. But the fastest vaccine ever developed was for polio in the 1950’s and that took four years. Now drug development has come a long way – but it was over a half century ago that a vaccine was developed in such a ‘short’ period of time. So when people estimate it will take 12 – 18 months to gain access to a workable CoVid 19 vaccine, know that this is an optimistic scenario. Not that it can’t be done or someone won’t beat it – but the facts are four years for the fastest developed vaccine and that was 50 years ago.

And then there’s Remdesivir by Gilead Sciences. I’ve read conflicting reports. The Chinese were said to have conducted a clinical trial and it wasn’t successful. But the pronouncements and announcements by the Chinese government seem to be as unreliable as the Donald and Fox News. So maybe it doesn’t work, but Gilead is moving ahead with an FDA fast tracked clinical trial. Anecdotally one of the first patients in Washington state recovered using it. But a sample size of one doesn’t mean much per se, because we don’t know if that patient would have recovered anyhow. Clinical trials have control patients so one can determine the difference between treatment / no treatment.

 

Underlying Health Conditions – Vulnerable Populations In America

I did a quick analysis, to see how many Americans may have one of the UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS that makes them vulnerable to getting severely ill or dying from CoVid 19. I did this to get a sense of the complexity that has to be managed in finding an effective therapy or vaccine to combat the virus, AND also to gauge how many people are going to be at risk in the ‘new normal’ as we collectively resume our livelihoods. If large numbers of people are vulnerable to contracting the disease and dying from it, they're going to be a whole lot more cautious until some remedy is found.

Needless to say, the following statistics on the health of America are daunting. It’s easy to see why national opinion polls show that a large majority of Americans are interested in putting in place a public health program like Obamacare. The Donald failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. But he did work hard on the repeal end of it, as he made efforts to dismantle various aspects of Obamacare over the past four years.

Please note that in what follows, there is overlap among these groups, as the same person may have more than one of these conditions.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThere are 328 million Americans.

Of those, 127 million Americans [40% of the population] have some form of Cardiovascular Disease, of which 103 million have high blood pressure [2018 Heart.org] and of which another 24 million who have some other form of heart disease besides high blood pressure [2016 American Heart Association].

As for Respiratory Diseases, 25 million Americans have asthma [aafa.org which is the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America - circa 2016]. There are 34 million American adults [14% of adults] who are cigarette smokers, of which 16 million have a smoking related disease [2018 CDC.gov]. And these may be many of the same people, but there are 17 million Americans who are cancer survivors [2019 cancer.gov].

As for underlying health issues, there are another 70 million Americans who are obese, which includes 40% of U.S. adults [2016 Wikipedia]. Another 34 million Americans have diabetes - of which 7 million have not yet been diagnosed [diabetesresearch.org].

And lastly, as for compromised immune systems not related to what’s noted above, there are 1.1 million Americans who have AIDS [2016 HIV.gov] and there are 49 million Americans who are over the age of 65 [2016 ACI.gov - Administration for Community Living].

It’s probable that almost EVERY AMERICAN has family members, friends or business associates who has one or more of the underlying conditions. And for Americans with these underlying conditions, catching CoVid 19 could potentially be a death sentence.

So this has implications for the development of an effective vaccine and / or therapy - as clinical trials are designed to evaluate how things work in the general population to ensure that the ‘cure’ isn’t worse than the condition. But these underlying health conditions also have implications for how people will, and possibly should, move forward economically if they don't want to lose a loved one.


The Implications – Living With Risk & Managing It

The Flying Wallendas Tight Rope Act

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo, while what I've reported above is bad news, it’s better to be aware of it and deal with it, than to ignore it and suffer the consequences. The implications are that we can’t wait to defeat the Corona Virus before we return to work and play – so we have to manage it. That’s where the Governor and the Mayor have to do what the flying Wallendas were so well known – walking along a tight rope – where the consequences of failure are tragic.

Karl Wallenda was an acrobat / tightrope walker. He began his notoriety in Madison Square Garden in 1928 when he walked the tightrope without a net underneath to catch him, as the net had been lost in transit. For fifty years he walked the rope until he took a misstep in 1978 and fell to his death. Let us hope we’re so lucky, as he was 73 at the time and that was 50 years of walking that rope.

Anyhow, back to Cheyenne.

So CoVid 19 is probably here to stay for a while, and it's likely we’re not going to have access to a therapy for a while [although it’s always possible]. So we can’t afford to wait for CoVid 19 to go away before we get back to work. Thus, we have to manage the health risks of returning to work - prior to the virus eradication and prior to having access to a workable therapy - as we all need to feed and shelter ourselves.


CDC Workplace Guidelines

So the CDC guidelines include things like stay at home if you’re sick, cover your mouth when you cough, social distancing, wash your hands, and keep the surfaces you touch regularly clean. The CDC has issued some workplace guidelines which you can review using this link - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html

I scanned about half or more of the articles – some of which were industry specific like for food processing plants and grocery stores, while others were a bit more generic. I didn’t see anything specific for restaurants, bars and other retail outlets.

 

Local Businesses Improvise

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMany local employers have taken the initiative to proactively protect their workers. A few weeks ago my local grocer set up plastic see through barriers at check outs, provided their employees with masks, and within the past couple weeks started requiring all customers to start wearing masks about a week ago and limited the number of people in the store at one time. I also saw this at my local pharmacy. A friend of mine told me that his temperature is checked with a no touch device before he is let into shop.

Governor of New Jersey has started outlining guidelines for restaurants, mandating social distancing by limiting restaurant capacity to 25% of the old normal. Given we're heading into the warmer weather he is also working to enable restaurants to serve outdoors in order to expand restaurant capacity [CHECK].

 

Law - Define Workplace Safety Guidelines so Employers & Employees Know What is a NEED to Have vs a NICE to Have

I think they should consolidate the learning into easier to understand / implement key points. And they might want to figure out what is required by law, versus what are recommended guidelines, so the lawsuits don’t start flying after this settles down.

 

Testing Issues & Limitations

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThere’s been much debate about testing. Quite simply it ‘s a mess. There are over a hundred tests on the market at present, but only eight of which have received some sort of FDA approval. Hence many tests are reportedly showing both false positives [you have it] and false negatives [you have it but the test says you don’t].

Testing was one of the many early failures by the Trump Administration as they shunned using the World Health Organization test, so they could make America First. They were successful in some measure as America is #1 worldwide in CoVid infections and deaths.

After that delay, the Trump Administration CDC made their own test and sent it out, but it was flawed, so they had to recall it and try again. Now they continue to tell Americans that anyone who wants a test can have it [still not completely true but it's not the lie it was a few weeks ago]. What they don’t tell you is that while you can get a test, they don’t have enough reagents to actually process the test, so you can't get your results back ... least not quickly.

The reagents situation is likely to be fixed in the very near future, as they should be able to ramp test reagents production to full scale. But for many of the tests, the accuracy of them is still an unknown, as only eight of over 100 tests on the market were approved by the FDA.

I think more testing will help, but I don’t see it as the pancea that others seem to think it is. I think you have to go at the CoVid 19 virus on a number of fronts, which also includes public education, and an added effort vis a vis human-to-human and human-to-surface interactions.


Managing Expectations - At Risk Populations Vis A Vis Covid 19

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysGiven the above guidelines, which are likely to be in place for a while, we need to recalibrate our economic expectations. This affects most everything.

Let’s start by reviewing the number of people in the at risk populations – meaning people who could actually lose their lives if they catch CoVid 19. As I pointed out above, it’s not a short list.

Given these vulnerable people could actually lose their lives if they contracted CoVid 19, how likely do you think they are going to resume their normal activity / spending? My guess is that these folks aren’t as likely to get together for dinner or drinks, or go on trips or vacations, or big weddings or funerals, or many cultural events until things settle down.

Big parties and events are likely going to be socially distanced / managed affairs, and vulnerable CoVid populations [people with underlying health conditions outlined above] are less likely to attend, and rightfully so. They’re going to have to proceed cautiously, as they risk their own mortality ... and people around them, who love and care for them, should proceed with caution as well.

 

Simple Chores have Become a Big Pain in the Ass

Then there’s the social distancing. Everything has become a big pain in the ass. Going to the grocery or liquor store requires wearing a mask and waiting in line to get in, going to the bank where hours have been shortened and personnel aren’t available has become frustrating, going out of the house where every time you leave you have to don a mask and everytime you return you have to wash your hands, and possibly wash whatever you picked up, and so forth, has made life a lot less pleasant.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo the CoVid pandemic is going to put a damper on things for a while, possibly a long while. Thus, we must adjust our economic expectations. Right now a whopping 30 million plus Americans are out of work. Even Herbert Hoover didn’t hit these high numbers before he lost his job as U.S. President when the Great Depression swooped in.

Many of the unemployed may be out of a job for a long while. Restaurants, hotels and travel will do less business because of social distancing, and cautious vulnerable populations staying close to home for a while. Autos and gas are likely to suffer as people will likely move around less. Many tenants have not been able to keep up with rent, and many home owners are having trouble keeping up with mortgage payments. Many incomes have been reduced as businesspeople adjust their cost structure to line up with with reduced business revenue.

Because for the past couple of months we've been preoccupied with the CoVid 19 virus itself, I'm not sure the full effect of the economic impact of CoVid 19 has set in. The $2.5 trillion in stimulus should buffer things, as it represents a proportionate share of economic loss during the time we've been and are likely to be locked down, but there was plenty of pork in those bills that wasn't necessary - like the tax break for real estate people like the Donald.

 

Financial Fallout - The $2.5 Trillion Stimulus Seemed Corrupt

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe economic implications of the CoVid 19 pandemic will begin to creep into the financial industry calculus, as expectations are recalibrated. Many categories of business like hotels, restaurants and bricks and mortar retailers, strapped consumers credit card debt, small businesses, tenants and possibly even some over leveraged landlords are going to have trouble climbing out of this hole. It's possible, and maybe even likely that many simply won’t make it, which has further implications. In economics it's called the multiplier effect, which is essentially a ripple effect.

Real estate may even take a hit as tenants can’t afford to pay rent, while mortgage and business defaults refocus banking efforts on managing / limiting exposure. Hence, in spite of low rates, folks may not want to make a huge investment or take on risk in these uncertain times, while all levels of government will be contending with their gaping deficits, which has implications for cutting government spending and the possibility of raising some taxes. Again, there will be a ripple effect through other segments of the economy.

 

And while the rank and file folks suffer, the Donald gave the airlines a big bailout, and he is reportedly considering a bailout for the fossil fuel industry.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysI'm so sorry that I’m notcheery here. But thinking through these things helps one prepare for the future. Forewarned is forearmed. I don’t think the new normal – which is that we’re living in uncertain times – has yet to sink in as we’re only now beginning to look at grappling with the economic fallout.

Even if the virus subsides, which it seems to be doing, the grey clouds surrounding it will keep things dampened for a while. This is in spite of the trillions of dollars in stimulus, as well as the trillions of dollars in liquidity that the Federal Reserve has reportedly pumped into the financial system. Many health professionals are concerned that next fall could be chaotic as the flu season returns ... possibly in tandem with CoVid 19 ... and again straining the capacity of the healthcare system.

While the trillions of dollars helped, it seemed loaded with pork and corruptly managed. The Donald fired one of the watchdogs overseeing the federal stimulus package spending. Hence, because of that, I am not sure that all this money will solve our problems this time.

Absent effective leadership at the top, state and municipal government officials must balance the risks of good economic health with public health, while simultaneously balancing our civil liberties with our safety. This is no simple balancing act, as the flying Wallendas well know.

Good leadership helps, and that is what both NYC and NYS seem to have right now. Unfortunately on the national level we seem to have come up really short.

 

FYI – Schools Remain Closed, Evictions Suspended thru 7/1, MTA Cleaning Effective Mid Week, Slowly Opening Economies

Governor Cuomo confirmed / announced that NYC and NYS Public school systems are officially closed through the academic year. He also said that any eviction proceedings would be suspended through June.

Mayor de Blasio announced that Alternate Side Parking has been suspended / extended through May 14th. And that City Streets II would go into effect by Monday, if not before, to provide added open space for folks. Few took advantage of it last time, but perhaps things have changed.

Sanitizing the MTA subway was a good start toward preparing us for a return to work and play. The CDC guidelines for workplace safety help too, but it seems they're not done as they need to simplify the guidelines for public consumption and add categories like restaurants and bars.

Some of the small business efforts like taking no touch temperatures and socially distancing store cutomers seem intelligent and likely will become a part of the new normal. The NJ Governor’s plan to start re-opening with parks seems a cautious way to gauge how well people are going to fall in line on the social distancing guidelines, while monitoring the CoVid 19 testing numbers, before opening up other categories of activities.

The NJ Governor’s plan to limit restaurants to 25% of capacity, while providing expanded outdoor space seems like a good managed work / play resumption move. Airlines have started requiring passengers to wear masks. Both of these strategies are already in place at my local grocery store, where we wait in a line outside to be let in and must wear a mask.

I think the government needs to do a better job of focusing people’s attention to stepped up cleaning efforts [not included in many CoVid ads by Drs. Oxiris Barbot (NYC) and Howard Zucker (NYS)]. But that said, the last time I visited the pharmacy, the cleaning products section had been pretty well emptied, so many folks have already figured this out on their own.

A Final Word for this Monday, May 4th, 2020

Life is full of risk. People get sick and die every day. Sickness and death are a part of life.

And while I worry greatly about those I love who are at greater risk, the whole of society can’t wait until this threat goes away, or shut down again if another one arrives. So we all have to do what we can to protect those at risk by being mindful of the virus / germs, and doing our best to mitigate the spread of them, and manage our interactions with vulnerable people. And on the other hand, we also have to begin moving forward, albeit carefully, cautiously while monitoring the health implications our economic progress.

Best wishes for a good start to the first week in May.


Many Staten Island Farmers Markets are Open

Farmers Markets are Essential Businesses, Provide Fresh Food & a Nice Outing

staten island farmers markets staten island green markets staten island si nycMay 1, 2020 / Staten Island Shopping / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Buzz NYC.

Last weekend, on Saturday, I ventured out to enjoy the beautiful weather. I was not alone, as for the first time in a month and a half there were a number of people moving about the neighborhood.

I headed down to the farmers market to see what that looked like under the new normal. The food looked fresh, and there was plenty of it - although this was in mid morning.

The experience wasn't much different than what you'd expect. People wore face masks and there were lines created by social distancing. I was glad to see that farmers markets are essential businesses, as it augments a strained food supply chain, and provides folks with an opportunity to get out of the house in about as safe an environment as you can get. Here's a link to the dates, times, locations and selection of the 2020 Staten Island farmers markets.

I can't say people were smiling, not just because their faces were covered by masks, but there's been a gradual mood deterioration as we pass the second rent due date of the CoVid pandemic. Many people aren't standing in the farmers market social distancing line, but rather standing in food pantry lines. And for many, their economic fates are up for grabs, as we collectively try to navigate our way back to work. Many believe that economic activity is likely to be dampened by the CoVid pandemic for some time to come.

On the bright side, the Governor and the Mayor announced plans to begin daily sanitization of the MTA subway system beginning Wednesday, May 6th. The plan is to close the terminal stations of the subway lines from 1 am to 5 am, daily - providing shuttle buses to and from the last stop for passengers. And then, in those four wee hours of the morning, the NYPD and NYC social services will swoop into clear out the homeless population that has started making the subway their new home. It seems a good and humane plan.

Sanitizing the subway lines should go a long way toward preparing us to get back to the new normal by helping to dampen - if not eradicate - the transmission of the CoVid virus. This collaborative effort by both the Mayor and the Governor will help all of us to get back to work and play. So things are moving in the right direction, albeit not at a viral pace.

Have a nice weekend. The weather is going to be in the 70's during the day and 50's at night. And no rain, but some clouds.



Through Wind, Snow, Rain, Sleet & CoVid - Education Goes On

Or … the Wild and Whacky World of Online Learning in the Age of CoVid

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 27, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

 

As we anxiously await the return to the new normal, being bombarded by repetitious daily TV newscasts, the Donald’s Daily Disinformation Show, and what seems Rupert Murdoch’s unending propaganda in the Wall Street Journal and on Fox News, there are a few bright spots, but you have to look for them.

I thought the migration from school classrooms might be one of them, so I set out to find out what that experience felt like to both educators and students at the elementary, high school and college levels. As I interviewed only two students and two teachers, this is an anecdotal report about the migration from classroom to computer.

The mass migration began the week beginning March 9th, 2020. College students around the nation, including the CUNY and SUNY systems, were told their classes were being discontinued and they were instructed to pack their things and return home. By the start of the next week, beginning March 16th, NYC public elementary and high schools were also closed. Private schools more or less closed their doors in tandem with the public schools.

During that week of disbandment, the world of education began a mad scramble to figure out how to continue the education process – without classrooms, schools and interpersonal contact. This was not a mean feat.

Nonetheless, educators scrambled, ramped up to speed using interactive platforms like Zoom and Google Hang Out, which includes Google Meet & Chat, and Google Docs. The educators also started figuring out how replace lectures and moderated classroom discussions by using videos and presentations / documents.

Based on the four interviews I conducted, it seems there wasn’t any one formula used, but rather a whole slew of different approaches. Teachers used more different approaches to online learning – depending on not just the subject matter, but also the audience - the class.

 

College Professor’s Experience Migrating Online

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThomas Bolin is a religious studies professor at a small liberal arts college. He teaches three classes – one is about American Evangelicalism, which examines the changing face of religion in America. He teaches two classes of Ancient Wisdom, which examines Biblical, Roman and Egyptian philosophies. This course ends with each student creating their own personal philosophy.

Professor Bolin said he started by taking a technology inventory of his students including computer and internet access. The real technological issue wasn’t access to devices as nearly everyone has a smart phone and computer but rather access to internet with enough bandwidth at the times needed.

After he’d completed the technology inventory, he set out devising a teaching game plan. To that end he began developing videos, which he posted so that the students could access asynchronously – meaning on their timeframe. His reasoning was that as some of his students lived in different time zones, and some had issues accessing high speed internet at home because of shared bandwidth and devices, this would enable all to keep pace with their classroom peers.

He said he receives a slew of student emails after each video post, which he answers personally. He said he also checks in with each of his students at least once per week.

Professor Bolin also said that he began creating reading guides for many of the assigned readings to initiate interaction, circular discussions and he paired student to interact.

I asked him if he was working more or less these days. He said more … that the five day week had become a continuous stream of seven day weeks … that work filling his days has become like gas filling a room.

He noted that it’s far more difficult to tell how plugged in each student is to the subject matter. He said that it was likely for that reason that Princeton went to Pass / Fail when they initiated the migration from in class to online. He opined that in spite of the additional work he’s had to do, the students were likely getting a reduced educational experience. And hence, he reasoned, the pass / fail is a means of acknowledging the reduced expectations.

I’m paraphrasing but he said something like, “Education is learning about and through community, interpersonal interactions, which ultimately lead to growth. That’s not something that can be well replicated online.”


Manhattan College Student’s Experience Migrating to Online Learning

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysI then checked in with Lily, a college sophomore at a northeastern liberal arts college, to get a sense of the online learning experience from the student perspective. Lily was taking a wide variety of humanities and social science classes including Philosophy, Political Science, International Relations, French Narratives and one focused on the Linguistics of the Silk Road.

Lily’s school made the decision to send students home the week beginning March 9th and it sounded like they knew the semester was over for the school year. The students had a week to move out and get ready to continue classes online about a week later.

Some of her classes were given via Zoom at the pre-scheduled times, continuing online the program they’d planned for the classrooms. But others were done as described by Professor Bolin, where materials and lectures were delivered asynchronously so the students could access the content on their schedules.

The Zoom classes are lectures with student / teacher interactive capability. The teacher can call on students to participate while online and students can raise their hands in Zoom to be recognized for comments and questions. For a couple of her classes, she’s had to give presentations online.

Assignments given as per usual and most are reading based. The students turn in their assignments online and she also took an exam online. It was done live over the course of one and a half hours. The exam was not multiple choice, but rather an open book using short answers and two essays.

Lily said she was struggling to get her work done and oftentimes leaves things for the last minute – something she had not while in attendance in person at school.

She noted that there’s no separation between relaxation and studying. So there’s a loss of motivation and it’s easy to get distracted. She told me that, the “Perceived amount of infinite time makes you want to do less”. This seemed to echo Professor Bolin's sentiment about gas expanding to fill a room.

And she misses her peer group interactions, as she would be talking about her studies with her friends at school. But now, with social distancing, there’s less to talk about events wise with friends.

Lily told me that her school had moved to pass / fail grading. She said that not being graded diminishes the incentive to perform, because even if you do perform, you’ll never know how well you did. She said, “Pass / Fail is an option for tuning out”.

She told me that if this continues into the Fall, many of her friends say they will consider skipping a semester or two until the teaching comes back to the classroom.

 

NYC High School Sophmore’s Experience Migrating to Online Learning

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysEthan is a sophomore at an NYC high school. He’s taking Algebra II, Conceptual Physics, British Literature, Spanish and World History II. It’s amazing to me how sophisticated the high school curriculum is, which I hear a lot of parents saying too, as they’re being asked to assist in educating their children.

His school ended during the middle of that fateful week beginning March 9th. His school had a spring break coming, so they kept the break and classes resumed on schedule, online, in the same time period they would have if CoVid 19 had not swept the city.

Ethan’s class schedule was reduced to Mondays and Wednesdays. The other three days the teachers are available for one on one interactions. I asked him if he’d taken advantage of the increased one on one teacher access and he said not really.

Ethan’s school uses Google Hang Out as the electronic teaching platform, but they supplement the platform with others as well. The classroom days are filled with live lectures as well as chalkboard type presentations.

One of the websites they use is called Kahoot, which is a game based learning platform where the users can create pop quizzes with social interaction via multiple user chalkboards. Another website Ethan mentioned was QuizLet which uses a flash card method for various subjects that are created by the users to aid students learning in a manner not unlike the paper flashcards of way-back-when. I was told that this website is a very useful aid in preparing for tests.

Ethan said he was not quizzed in class like prior to the CoVid classroom to online migration, but that his homework load had increased. He said he’s working harder, but less efficiently which seemed to echo Professor Bolin’s remark on the teaching side. They’re both putting in more effort, but getting less productivity out of it.

As a high school student, one of the things Ethan misses most is the social interaction with his peers. He said before the CoVid outbreak he would get up in the morning and get moving along with the rest of the city. He would use mass transit, walk, enter the school where the student body was milling about and then enter a classroom for face to face with the teacher and his fellow students.

Now he gets up, sometimes he doesn’t even get dressed and takes his first class in his pajamas. Then he sits in front of the computer pretty much all day watching his classes online. There’s little variation and little stimulus and he misses the social interaction. He told me that he goes to class, watches Netflix, and does his homework all in same spot. And that he doesn’t like it.

He said he doesn’t interact with his friends as much since the CoVid shutdown, because there’s less to talk about that’s not the same, and you don’t have the shared everyday experiences of being in the same place at the same time.

The homework is largely the same. Except for Math and Physics the homework is done on the Khan Academy website. The Khan Academy is full of videos and short learning tools that help educators teach and students learn.

Ethan said that he wishes he was still in school. He said the online experience was dissatisfying. He noted that the lack of social interaction was hard to live with, and that it was also hard to learn when you’re attending just two classes per week. It’s also frustrating because Ethan said he and his fellow students will have to catch up on what they missing now, after this pandemic is all over.

 

Elementary School Teacher’s Experience Migrating to Online Learning

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMegan Bolin is an elementary school reading specialist in a small private school in the Midwest. Her job is to work with kids who have trouble reading and writing English through what she calls interventions. Most of the work she does is one on one and it’s with kids who are not at the top of the socio-economic ladder.

While the school ensured all kids had computers, many of them don’t have access to internet hookups. Some have parents who are working in essential services and take their internet with them, leaving the kids without internet access during the day. So while they could possibly find a place near a local library or Starbucks to do their homework, in pragmatic terms it’s not realistically feasible.

Hence, as a result of the CoVid shutdown, Megan informed me that many of these kids have sort of fallen off the grid, as they’re struggling to keep up with their regular classes – let alone trying to keep up with an interventionist / extra course.

But for those who are in a position to keep their learning progress moving, Megan uses Google Meet. She works with the kids mostly one on one and using a combination of video and text documents, works with the kids in real time on developing their language skills.

She said that while she was working with a smaller student population, she found herself putting in the same hours. Her school has continued teacher meetings too, as they have found it beneficial to share their experiences and the different approaches they’ve been using to keep the kids engaged. The efforts are a mix of videos, games, quizzes and challenges.

She said the uncertainty of the first announcements, with an indefinite return to school date, lead to an approach of keeping things fresh, so that pending their return to school, they could pick things up again. But once it became clear that there wasn’t to be a return to school this year, she began focusing on moving the kids ahead to where they need to be by year end.

Given the mostly one on one interactions by Megan with kids, of the four folks I interviewed, she seemed most optimistic about what could be achieved via online learning - with a big asterisk for those who in essence drop out because of technological and online schooling limitations / complications.

Regardless of the grading system the schools of the other interviewees changed to, grades likely play less a role in what Megan teaches – reading / language fluency [seem to be more a concern at the college level]. And since the classes are live one-on-one sessions [or two to five at most] – it’s hard for the students to wrangle out of the work. But because of the technology limitations, only about half as many students will benefit.

So what does it all mean? It means that teachers are doing the best they can, but they acknowledge that it’s far from optimal. The students also seem to appreciate what they once had via attending class with in person teachers.

All of them - both teachers and students - said they missed school and were looking forward to a return to normal.

 

Pink Floyd’s ‘We Don’t Need No Education’ & 'The Wall'

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysIn 1979 the British rock group Pink Floyd came out with a new album entitled The Wall. The album was in part, the personal expression of two of the bandmembers' experience growing up. The Wall is described in Wikipedia as,

"... a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rockstar whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolized by a wall ..."

We Don't Need No Education is one of the tunes on the album. It wasn't a protest song against education, per se, but rather the rocker's issues with an individual strict teacher. He describes his negative experience with his teacher as another brick in the psychological wall he had built around himself.

I mention this because during the CoVid crisis we're all sort of building walls around our lives, as we wait for this pandemic to end, in relative walled isolation.

Building walls instead of bridges isn't good for most of us. The world was built on bridges - the exchange of ideas, the trade of goods and services, and the transference of art and culture. We do need education, but We Don't Need No Education does have a good rhythm and a message obscured by its language. I suppose one might say that's because the rocker's learning experience failed him ... but it takes two to learn ... an educated and thoughtful teacher and a receptive and intelligent student. And one of the things we're learning from the CoVid pandemic is that it seems generally to help when there's a real human connection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAe_w9a_IN8



CoVid Crisis – Back to Work Part II

Jury Rigging / Do It Yourself Methods to Get Back to Work

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 24, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

NY Pause Continues Through May 15th Pending an Update

First a couple of announcements were made the past couple of weeks which hint at when we will begin returning to the new normal. With hospitalizations declining / stabilizing and intubations and new positives declining, Governor Cuomo extended NY Pause to May 15th, which keeps open essential businesses, but closes the non-essential businesses until such time as there’s enough slack in the healthcare system / hospitals to accommodate any sort of resurgence in Corona Virus patients that may occur as a result of the re-opening.

Governor Cuomo told the Donald NYC and NYS wouldn't need the USNS Comfort any longer, as the emergency crisis has subsided. As noted in an earlier report, the build out at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was put on hold, pending a more definitive direction in the CoVid hospitalization numbers. The photo above shows a retailer temperature screening customers before they enter the store [photo credit Dantanyan].

 

Large Public NYC Events Cancelled thru May

Biggest Events in June Aren’t Likely to Occur & NYC Public Pools will Likely Remain Closed Through the Summer

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs mentioned previously, Mayor de Blasio seemed to think that the NYC public school system will remain closed through the end of this school year. The Mayor also said that large public gatherings won’t resume until at least June 1st, and even after, that the three largest public events in NYC in June [the Israel Parade, the Puerto Rican Parade and the Gay Pride Parade in both Manhattan and Queens] aren’t likely to take place this year - but no final decision has yet been made. Other large public events including street fairs and other parades will not take place through May and there will be an update before then about what happens beginning in June.

The Mayor also said that NYC public pools will likely not open this summer because of the challenges of keeping people socially distanced / safe from the spread of the Corona Virus. Also, the Plastic Bag ban enforcement was pushed back to May 15th some time ago. As of this report, that enforcement date still stands, but like so much related to the CoVid 19 crisis, the date could be extended further. And the special election for Queens Borough President was cancelled and will be held in tandem with the NYS primary and general election. Lastly, the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks are still planned, but like everything this Spring, is still subject to change.

 

Proms, Moms, Grads & Dads Days Likely to be Personal - Not Public - Events

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysUnfortunately for this years prom class of juniors and seniors in high school, and elementary, high school and college graduates around the nation – the celebrations are likely to be online or very, very small. It doesn’t have to be any less meaningful, and maybe made even more so, because of this unique moment in time. The same is true for Moms and Dads, whose special days arrive in May and June respectively. Mothers Days were oftentimes a time to venture out to eat, but this year is more likely a time to order in, while Dad’s Day was a unique men’s shops opportunity, which could still happen – albeit under the pall of a strained economy and finances.

And the 50th Earth Day passed us by without much fanfare owing to the distraction of the Corona Virus.

The rest of this report focuses on what we can do to begin the journey back to the new normal, recognizing that the Corona Virus is likely with us for some time to come.

 

Origination of the Virus Spread – Sick People & Coughing

People can become infected with the Corona Virus without knowing for days. The incubation period is estimated to be between one and fourteen days, before someone realizes they may be sick. During this time they could potentially infect other people or leave droplets, the agent carrying the virus, on surfaces or in the air where the virus can remain active for up to a day [air] or three days [smooth hard surfaces] assuming the right temperature [cooler].

So there are three elements to the origination and spread. One element is the fountain of infection, which is the dry cough. Hold your arm to your face to stop spreading droplets, and if you feel ill, stay home.

 

Testing is Ideal, but Temperature Taking Might be a Good Jury Rig

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis is the second element is to identify and isolate those who are ill as quickly as possible. The government wants to be able to test everyone so they can identify and isolate infected people. But the catch is that tests won’t be available in the bulk required, to reactivate the economy in some sort of timely manner.

 

So what to do? Jury rig. Some retail outlets are taking people’s temperatures before letting customers in the stores. One of the signs of illness, besides the dry cough, which is one of the primary means of transmission, is a fever. If you identify people with fevers and separate them from the herd, you’re going to reduce the infection rate by separating the ill folks from the rest of the herd as early as possible.

Various states and other government entities have developed an online quiz to use to self screen any symptoms you may have to help you determine whether it's possibly CoVid. Here's the link to the NYS online screening page which you can copy and paste into your browser bar - https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.

 

To Mitigate the Spread, We Need to Raise the Bar on Hygiene & Cleaning Regimens

And the third element is the means of transmission, meaning through the air and through droplets on surfaces, which are touched by other people. The key here is the use of masks when in close quarters – but this has a downside as people fiddle with their masks and thus are touching their faces more than they would without them.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAnd the other piece of this is cleanliness and sanitation of surfaces – especially in highly trafficked public areas like the subway, doorknobs of office and residential buildings and so forth.

When I was younger, our family maintained a far more aggressive cleaning program than I have practiced ever since. Before every meal we had to wash our hands, and after every meal we washed the counter tops, the table and the dishes. Every week we scrubbed the floors, cleaned all of the sinks, toilets and tubs / showers. Every week we vacuumed, swept the areas around the entrance to our home, shook the rugs where people cleaned their feet prior to entering our home. And I recall one time after quickly washing my hands and wiping some of the dirt on the towel – my Father correcting me – telling me to WASH my hands and then use the towel to dry them, not use the towel to clean them. And I still recall some of the housewives at a town social gathering talking about washing the walls. I reckon [but don’t know] that procedure might have originated in influenza times.

I think we all need to return to these higher cleaning standards, if not indefinitely, at least for a while.


Mitigate the Critical Mass of Virus Required to Become Infected

To become infected and sick, one needs to be exposed to a ‘critical mass’ of the virus. This will differ from person to person and is dependent on the means of transmission. Healthcare professionals, if they didn’t wear protective equipment, could potentially be exposed to significant amounts of the virus while treating sick people. But for the rest of us, the exposure, while seemingly ubiquitous, is far less available in critical mass.

To avoid any sort of Corona Virus build up / exposure, one can mitigate the amount they are exposed to by maintaining an active cleaning regimen that clears away virus and bacteria from those surfaces most often touched.

Let’s say you pick up some Corona Virus on a routine basis on the subway, or off a counter top at an active institution, at an ATM machine or a doorknob at your place of work or elsewhere. Let’s assume with each encounter it’s a critical mass which you then distribute to your cell phone, your keys, your doorknobs, your light switches, your TV clickers, your computer keyboards and mice, and so on.

Once distributed you wash your hands and then pick it back up the next time you touch the surface. And you keep touching these surfaces until you get sick. Or you could routinely wash / sanitize these surfaces thus reducing the likelihood you’ll pick up a critical mass and fall ill.


Isolate the Known Vulnerable Populations

Since this Corona Virus is relatively new, there is likely still a lot we do not know about it. But conversely, the world has gone to work to quickly ramp up the learning curve to better understand what we’re up against.

What we know is that it appears primarily to be a respiratory illness – but that’s not all. Recently physicians have noticed that it also wreaks havoc with the cardio / pulmonary system [your blood vessels and heart], causing blood clots in the brain [strokes]. At least one physician who identified this problem said that he has begun to provide patients with blood thinners even before such symptoms start manifesting themselves.

Other health conditions of the patients having the greatest difficulty beating the virus include hypertension, diabetes, obesity and compromised immune systems from other health conditions like cancer and AIDS, as well as from age.

One report I saw noted that there’s been a significant reduction in heart attack [-25%] and stroke [-20%] patients. The theory is that they don’t want to go to the hospital for fear of catching CoVid 19. The healthcare professional interviewed opined that they thought it riskier to stay home with one of these two conditions than the risk of catching CoVid in a hospital.

 

Death Rates, Serology & Testing

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysScientists and governments are trying to figure out the death rate of CoVid 19. If you look at the reported numbers by Google / Wikipedia for the Corona Virus, it shows 904,000 people infected and 51,100 deaths, leading one to compute a 5.6% death rate, which is very, very high.

Government officials and scientists believe that the death rate may be overstated, as those with light symptoms may not have been tested and hence not included in the tested positive count, which would significantly reduce that death rate. Governor Cuomo had a study done whereby the group his folks tested showed a death rate 10 times lower than what is shown above.

A Democracy Now report noted that these studies have not undergone a rigorous peer review and that there may be issues with the serology of the tests which yield false positives – thus possibly inflating the number of people the tests indicate already had the virus. So it seems it’s still too early to really know what the death rate is.

 

Ongoing Dialogue Regarding Vulnerable Populations

The early demographic information indicates that ethnic minorities and men are most vulnerable to catching and dying from the disease than their numbers in the general population would suggest. The reasons for this remain unclear [like most things about this new threat].

There are a number of possible explanations for this. One seems to be that minorities are far more clustered in the urban areas, and hence represent a higher percentage of urban populations and far lower percentages of whole state populations – and the cities have been hardest hit because that’s where people are in closer contact / exposure.

Another explanation is that minorities and men [?] represent larger numbers of essential workers who are out on the line every day. And another explanation is that there is more limited healthcare access and education to members of the ethnic communities.

Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo took steps to set up more testing facilities in minority communities.


Looking to the Summer – Will Warmer Temperatures Halt the Spread?

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis is a difficult question to answer because the Corona Virus is new. But if we look around the world, there are other warm temperature nations – like India and Brazil – which are on an upward trajectory and both of these nations have significantly warmer temperatures than the U.S.

So the answer to this one is that we really don’t yet know, which should be disturbing.

So that’s the Corona Virus update, with a few suggestions on how we can get back to work. Continue educating people to stay home if ill and to cover their mouths while coughing. Take temperatures of folks entering more closed spaces. Continue with the hands washing, but step up the messaging on cleaning homes and offices. Definitely step up the cleaning of the subway which now – on the improved plan – is still only cleaned every three days and quite honestly, given the ridership is down 90% plus – it doesn’t look like it. Isolate vulnerable populations.

And keep researching the death rates, the demographics and what impact seasonality may or may not have. Lastly there are a number of drugs being worked on, with Remsedivir looking the most promising, while the one Trump is touting – Hydroxychloroquine – looking dangerous due to heart complications.

Have a good weekend. We’ll have more soon.



Back to Work Part I: Understanding the CoVid 19 Enemy

Review SARS-CoV-2 Characteristics – Function & Contagion

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 17, 2020 / / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

As noted in my last report, we’ve moved from emergency management to crisis management. That is simultaneously the good news and the bad news. I expect the crisis in one form or another will be with us for some time to come. But forecasting what the future looks like is at best a precarious endeavor.

Everyone is now trying to figure out a way back to the new normal, which means living with a incurable virus in our midst, until such time as therapies, cures or vaccines are found and proven to be successful.

So what does the path forward look like?

The image at right was created by Brooklyn artist Craig Ward of bacteria he collected on the subway and made into artistic renditions.

 

Governor Cuomo Begins Sketching a Back to Work Plan

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysFor starters Governor Cuomo extended NY Pause through May 15th. NY Pause is the directive to close social gathering places and venues, schools and non-essential businesses. Within the past week Mayor de Blasio said the NYC Public School system would not reopen this school year.

Governor Cuomo laid out a sketch of a conceptual plan, which likely came from one of the consultant groups, as it looked a lot like the growth share matrix devised by Boston Consulting Group. The growth share matrix was designed for companies to use to evaluate the businesses they are in, to determine whether to continue investing in them or to begin cashing out of them. The divisions in high growth businesses that are profitable are the ones to keep backing, while the companies in the low growth low profitability businesses are the ones to sell, close or grind out every last dollar.

Governor Cuomo’s matrix axes [plural for axis] has high and low infection rates along the y axis and more essential / less essential along the x axis. The more essential and less potential infection the quicker you’re back to work. The less essential and the higher the potential infection, the longer before you’re back to work.

 

Trump’s ‘Plan’ to get America Back to Work

Meanwhile, back at the White House, the Donald outlined what he called a plan to get America back to work. This is a summary of an ABC News report of the plan. They reported that the Donald’s three step plan includes:

  1. Doing mostly of what we’re already doing: social distancing, telework and shelter in place for vulnerable populations. Additionally pave way for an opening of smaller venues with sanitation and social distancing in place, and allow elective surgeries as hospital capacity becomes available. This step assumes a downward trajectory of infections and testing for those infected and healthcare workers.
  2. Opening non-essential services like bars, gyms and larger venues can open with moderate social distancing and sanitation in place.
  3. Returning back to the new normal.

 

Getting Back to Work – Start with the Science

The first place to start in getting folks back to work is with a review of the science of viruses in general, and the Corona Virus in particular. This should provide clues to how to keep this beast in check until the bright scientific minds of the world come up with a cure and / or vaccine.

 

Short Course on Viruses from Wikipedia

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysViruses are organisms, which have many properties similar to life like genes, but since they do not have some of the key life components – such as cell structure, their own metabolism or the ability to replicate without a host. Thus they are not considered living entities, but rather agents “… living at the edge of life …”. Wikipedia also says that there are 5,000 known species of viruses, which live in any and all ecosystems, and that there are millions of viruses on the planet.

Wikipedia also describes what a virus is when not replicating itself inside a host cell. They state,

“… viruses exist in the form of independent particles, or virions, consisting of: (i) the genetic material, i.e. long molecules of DNA or RNA that encode the structure of the proteins by which the virus acts; (ii) a protein coat, the capsid, which surrounds and protects the genetic material; and in some cases (iii) an outside envelope of lipids…”

 

Viral Agent Transmission - On Surfaces, in the Air & Older People

Thus virions are the vehicle for viral transmissions and as current studies of the Corona Virus indicate, the virions of CoVid 19 can remain operational for up to three days on some surfaces. Keep this factoid in mind, as its implications for ridding the nation of the virus is key, as it implies we all need to step up our cleaning regimens.

Also note that the reason older people are more prone to dying from viral infections, is that older people’s cell walls diminish in size and strength as people age. Thus the cells of older people are more susceptible to viral infections as the virion can more easily penetrate and replicate within an older person – and like a computer virus – bring the whole system crashing down. Keep this in mind as it has implications as to who should be quarantined / protected.

There are six phases to a viral infection. They are: 1) attachment to a host, 2) penetration of a cell, 3) uncoating which releases the virus, 4) replication, 5) assembly [which can be mutations] and 6) release [explode the cell wall or replicate with the cells].

 

Virus Category – SARS, MERS & CoVid 19

SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, CoVid 19 – Corona Virus 19 and the common cold all come from the same family of viruses. This viral family, Corona Viruses, is believed to date back thousands of years and is carried by birds and bats. The Corona Viruses were named as such for their ‘crown’ like appearance, which has some connection to the fact that they’re RNA viruses.

 

Two 21st Century Viral Originations From China, the First Since Xi Jinping Became Dictator

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSince the turn of the millennium, two of the major viruses named above appeared to have originated in China. According to a Wikipedia chart on the 2003 SARS virus, China had the lowest mortality rate. This leads one to ask the conspiracy question of whether Xi Jinping’s China is developing selectively targeted bio warfare agents that have gotten out of control. It seems a fair and important question – but it’s a question not a statement.

The other options are that China managed containing and mitigating the virus better than the other nations that caught it. Or that the Chinese government did a Rupert Murdoch style Fox Fake News, and published only what they seem to want folks to know, possibly omitting key facts to aid their narrative.


CoVid 19 is Now Called SARS-CoV-2 – A Flu Variant

The Corona Virus or CoVid 19 has been renamed to SARS-CoV-2 and it's described as an influenza variant. Thus it seems logical to look to the flu for guidance regarding SARS-CoV-2 transmission, which must be mitigated in order for us to safely return to work.

The flu can be transmitted in three ways: 1) direct contact with an infected source, 2) indirect transmission by touching a surface that has the organism and 3) aerosol transmission.

The Atlantic did a good early story on this vis a vis whether to wear masks on April 1, 2020 entitled “The Corona Virus Airborne. Should We All Wear Masks?”. But the New England Journal of Medicine just completed a study which they published on April 16, 2020 [yesterday] which compared / tested for the Corona Virus which is now being called SARS-CoV-2. You can look both of these up and read them for free.

 

Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission

A March 23, 2020 Washington Post report says respiratory viral agents infect and replicate in three areas – the nose, throat and lungs. A virus like CoVid 19 can replicate itself 10,000’s of times and within days by millions. A person may become symptomatic after a day or two, but can also become contagious at that time or before.

The spread of a respiratory virus like CoVid 19 comes from droplets from within the lungs, which can be transmitted directly onto someone, or become airborne, or left on a surface. On smooth surfaces CoVid 19 can last up to three days, while on cardboard it lasts an estimated day. If it is frozen, it can reactivate when it thaws since it’s not an organism per se [see above].

The April 16, 2020 New England Journal of Medicine report pretty much confirms the what was published in the Washington Post story above.

The Aerosol Debate & Masks / See the Atlantic report. See NE Journal of Medicine report. Coming later Monday.

 

SARS-CoV-2 - Therapies & Cures

Vaccines aren’t likely for 12 – 18 months, assuming things go well. It’s important to put a caveat here as the virus mutates as it’s replication process co-opts / intertwines with the host cell. That’s how scientists were able to trace the origin of the Corona Virus into the U.S. through Europe.

There are other potential palliative techniques.

One is using the blood plasma of people who have had the virus, in order to make use of the antibodies their immune response system created. The theory is that this would jump start or aid someone's immune system in combatting the virus.

Another is antibody testing, which is used to determine whether someone has contracted the virus, and their immune system defeated it. When this is the case, one presumably has an immunity to the virus, at least for a while, and can safely return to work. This technique has been used for over a century but with "varying results and limitations" says Scott Koepsell of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

And Hydroxychloroquine which has been promoted by Trump who reportedly has or is rumored to have a small interest in the company that makes it. A clinical trial of this in Brazil was stopped due to its potential negative impact on people’s hearts / conditions, after eleven people died of heart complications. A man in Arizona reportedly self medicated using chloroquine phosphate in a CoVid related case and then died. His wife did too, and was reported in critical condition.

One of the most promising drugs appears to be Remdesivir created by Gilead Sciences. The drug was originally targeted to combat the Ebola virus which quickly faded away. While it has not been approved for use, the Chinese apparently used it with some success to combat CoVid 19. A Febuary 5th, 2020 Time Magazine report states,

"...While Gilead’s experimental drug isn’t licensed or approved anywhere in the world, it is being rushed into human trials in China on coronavirus patients after showing early signs of being highly effective."

Remdesivir was used to treat the first Washington State CoVid 19 case, and succeeded. Stay tuned while many of the world's leading biotech firms pursue a therapy / cure.

 

Containment & Mitigation of SARS-CoV-2

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAt present therapies and cures elude us, so we have to fight the virus with containment & mitigation efforts. Containment is done by quarantining people either known or suspected to have the virus - or conversely – by quarantining people with high risk profiles in order to protect them from a potentially fatal illness.

For example, a number of members of the NYPD and MTA were unable to report to work while the crisis was raging, not necessarily because they had the virus – although some did and some died of it – but most because they had come into contact with someone who did have it, and thus they were quarantined in order to prevent any further spread of it.

People are also encouraged to self-quarantine in their homes, or within certain rooms in their homes if living with others - if they have it or believe they have it, in order to stop the spread of it, as it’s easily transmitted. Governor Cuomo showed a chart showing the range of rates of transmission [0.9 - 1.2] in his April 16th press briefing. Those numbers are centered around one - which means every infected person infects either more than one [1.2] which accelerates the spread, or less than one [.9] which corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysmeans the spread of the virus is being dampened. We were at 1.2 around or shortly after the NY Pause program began and now we're at .9 which means we're back on top of it. But it's not over because it's still being spread.

Another tool in the kit when you don’t have a therapy, cure or vaccine is to employ mitigation efforts. These include things like social distancing – keeping six feet away from people, washing your hands, wearing a face mask, upping your cleaning regimen and testing and isolating people as quickly as you can after they've become infected.

The Trump Administration, for the past month or so, has laid false claim to asserting that anyone who wants a test can get it. But, even a month after the outbreak, this is still not true.

 

Getting Back to Work Using Science

Follow social distancing, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and rinse, STEP UP YOUR CLEANING REGIMEN [this is not emphasized enough], and don’t touch your face before washing your hands. Quarantine the elderly and people with impaired immune systems and / or health issues. Wearing a face mask is now required when in close contact with others – but pay heed to where your hands have been since last washed while putting on, taking off or fiddling with the mask [it is for this reason that I think urging folks to wear face masks is bad advice].

 

Getting Back to Work - SARS-CoV-2 – Test & Isolate

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe key to getting back to work is to quickly identify [testing] and isolate those with the virus. Governor Cuomo has highlighted testing as one of the key ingredients of a return to the new normal. But in spite of what President Trump says, there aren’t enough tests available to do full population testing in New York State – let alone the nation.

New York has by far tested more of its population than anywhere else in the nation. And yet in New York State which has the highest testing rate in the nation, we’ve only tested between 2% – 3% of the population over the course of the past month. At this rate it would take three years to test the entire population of New York state. But work is afoot for an easier test with a faster read out, so stay tuned on this one.

There’s also been talk about contact tracing – whereby after one tests positive, the government would seek out those with whom the subject was in close contact. They’ve done that in countries in Asia, but many believe that’s not likely to go over well here, as it is considered a violation of privacy.

So what can we do now? Absent the tests, people can mitigate the spread by making sure they cover their mouths when coughing and trying not to cough in public. They can stay home when they feel ill. They can continue to social distance. They can wash their hands and step up their home cleaning regimen to sanitize or at least wash frequently used surfaces.

 

Getting Back to Work - SARS-CoV-2 - Clean the MTA

In the public sphere start with the public transit system [see photo at the beginning of this story done by a Brooklyn artist showing the bacteria he collected on the subway].

I’ve highlighted this in prior reports. Millions of New Yorkers use the subway on a daily basis. Just as there is no quicker way to move large masses of people around town, there is no quicker way to spread a viral agent than on public transit. The cleaning regimen of the subway system must be raised, and I would say – based on my frequent ridership of it – raised significantly. You clean up the subway system – really clean it and then regularly keep it clean daily – and you probably have won half the battle [along with other measures like social distancing, hands washing & cleaning in place except the store closings].

At least 59 MTA workers have died from SARS-CoV-2. That doesn't seem a coincidence.

We’re fortunate in that the warmer weather is here so more people can commute via bicycle or walking.

 

Getting Back to Work - Clean, Clean & Clean Some More

And at all places of business up the cleaning regimen especially for door knobs, light switches, table and desk tops, computer keyboards and mice, cell phones, tv clickers and all hard and smooth surfaces where the little SARS-CoV-2 might lie in wait.

Be advised that there's new information being published by the scientific / medical community nearly daily as we learn about the CoVid 19 virus which as mentioned above, is now technically called SARS-CoV-2.



Cuomo, de Blasio & YOU have been doing Great

New Yorkers Appear to Turn Corner on the Corona Virus Crisis

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 12, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

I hope you had a good Easter / Passover weekend.

Based on what I observed, albeit with very limited movement and anecdotally, New Yorkers appeared to stay at home, self isolating over the holiday weekend.

This sort of compliance with government guidance is what has enabled us to stem the spread of the - at times lethal - Corona Virus. And the levelling happened none too soon, as parts of the NYC hospital system were operating at full capacity - and in some cases over capacity.

Most of the metrics for the virus have been levelling off or even going down, while the only positive metric - daily discharges - continues to rise.

We appear to be transitioning from emergency management, to crisis management, and government officials are now even beginnning to look ahead at transitioning us back to what will be the new normal.

 

NYS & NYC New CoVid 19 Cases Level - Even Show Signs of Falling

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysNew CoVid 19 cases in NYS were down fairly sharply yesterday, based on the numbers presented by Governor Cuomo. But the drop may be due to weekend reporting discrepancies. In any case the number of new cases appears to have levelled off in both New York state and in New York City.

The key statistics that the Governor and the Mayor have been closely monitoring include new and net hospitalizations, new and net admissions to the Intensive Care Unit, and new and net intubations aka use of respirators. As you can see from the graphs, all have been falling. This data was collected from the Governor's daily press briefing, as well as from other media outlets such as the New York Times, on the days when the Governor didn't present all of the key metrics in his press briefing.


Riding the Rails During the CoVid Pandemic in NYC

Observations of a Blogger While Covering the CoVid Story

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 9, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

I've been covering the CoVid Pandemic since it began in NYC, starting in the first half of March. At first my attention was focused on the closures by the Governor and Mayor as they began shuttering social events, social interactions and ultimately the economy.

It wasn't long before I shifted my attention to the growing numbers of people testing positive for the Corona Virus in NYC and NYS. This was followed by photographing the efforts by the NYC Mayor and the NYS Governor to build out additional healthcare capacity, to accommodate the projected growth of sick people, resulting from the spreading pandemic. They had a very limited time frame to complete this build out, before the influx of new Corona Virus patients overwhelmed the existing NYC and NYS healthcare capacity.

Most recently I've turned my attention to the economic hardships currently being borne by New Yorkers, particularly in small businesses and the folks working in essential services.

I've witnessed many people thanking the folks working in essential services - including healthcare, public transit, grocery and pharmacy outlets, and first responders - and I want to add my own thanks for all of the work they do, to keep the rest of us moving.

The photo above was taken about a week ago. A little bit of natural beauty helps keep things in perspective.

 

Reporter Travelogue - Startling Beginning With Closures

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis is a travelogue about riding the MTA rails, along with essential workers, to do my part by providing independent first hand reports and context regarding what's happening here in NYC vis a vis the Corona Virus pandemic. Most of what I report is either not reported by the sensationalist, ratings-driven TV network news, or it's diminished in their reported accounts because it's contextual - not shocking.

The pandemic first hit my radar while I was covering a theater event at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. At that time I first heard that the Governor had started instituting surprising - and what at the time seemed draconian - measures designed to stymie the growing tide of CoVid 19 infections. In short order these actions were followed by the Mayor and it included shutting down restaurants and non-essential services.

The photo at right shows shuttered businesses along Court Avenue in Brooklyn during the NYC CoVid lockdown.

At the moment these governmental measures appear to be working, but I suspect maintaining discipline during the Passover and Easter holidays will be challenging. Afterall we have now spent over a month in communal isolation. But if people don't comply with the guidance provided by government officials, the pandemic will quickly resurge, and lengthen the time before we can all get back to the new normal. The Governor cited several examples from around the world including Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Influenza pandemic of 1918 in the U.S..


NYC Hospitals Operating at Capacity, CoVid 19 Curve Flattening, BUT ...

The Next Battle is to Stay Disciplined to Avoid a Resurgence

Will New Yorkers Comply during Passover & Easter Week?

April 6, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMany NYC Hospitals are reportedly operating at full capacity, and in some cases operating at capacity plus.

The good news is that the supply chain of personal protective equipment [PPE], respirators and gowns has been holding - albeit on a tight supply. And there are still anecdotal reports, generally by the alarmist TV networks, that indicate there are a few spot shortages. If true, these shortages are the result of distribution issues, rather than any out-of-stocks by the city and state.

Nonetheless, the needs for protective gear and life saving equipment remain high priorities for both the Governor and the Mayor, as the supply chain is on a tight turnaround and the CoVid pandemic continues, albeit at a slackening pace, in the city and parts of the state.

The good news, as previously reported, is that we may be approaching the apex. The social distancing appears to have thwarted the worst case scenario, and may even have contained the spread from reaching the middle case scenario.

But the danger persists.

The chart at right shows the daily CoVid deaths stabilizing. But a number of the morgues are over capacity, and some of the bodies reportedly had to be stored in refrigerated trucks, which are affectionately referred to as mobile morgues.

 

The Real Challenge this Week is Getting Through Passover & Easter without Breaking the NYC & NYS Healthcare System

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAnd the real test of it comes this week as both Passover and Easter come to play, when people generally come together to celebrate these traditional religious holidays.

To discourage people coming together in large numbers the Governor doubled the fine for violations of social distancing from $500 to $1000. Cuomo also extended the non-essential store closure policy for another two weeks - through the end of April.

In the Governor's daily press conference, he called upon local law enforcement to give tickets to people regardless of their religious affiliation, if they violate the call for social distancing. In doing so, Cuomo noted that not only are those who gather in such a manner putting themselves and their communities at risk, but they are also adding to the pandemic crisis, by putting first responders including FDNY, the NYPD, the MTA workers and the NYC / NYS Healthcare system workers at risk. A risk, which in many cases, ends up in death.

And given the hospital / healthcare system is operating at full capacity, if people start to break formation and begin disregarding the government social distancing guidance, they could potentially tip the balance of what seems a well managed pandemic crisis, into an all out disaster.

The chart above shows some good news, whereby the NYS daily CoVid hospitalizations are exceeded by the number of CoVid patients leaving the hospital. Remember - these numbers are driven up or down by our behavior as a whole community.


CoVid Testing Now Widespread, Growth Continues but doesn't Accelerate, Severe Cases Appear to be Levelling

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 4, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

It's been a while since we've had much good news. At right is a graph shown by Governor Cuomo at a press conference today. Over the past week or so, Andrew Cuomo appears to be moving toward one of the more optimistic scenarios. He expects that we may POSSIBLY hit the Apex sometime next week.

Mayor de Blasio also seemed focused on the immediate needs of next week, but the Mayor has not yet adjusted his long term view of what's needed. Perhaps the Mayor hasn't yet received 'the memo'.

 

New Daily Discharges Exceed New Daily Hospitalizations

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs you can see from the graph presented at right, the daily discharges at hospitals now exceeds the number of new daily admissions to the hospitals. Obviously that's a good sign, as more capacity is being freed up, as is being committed, providing breathing room for the entire system, which has been under some significant stress the past week or so.

Now be advised, the Network TV personalities are paid on the basis of their ratings performance - not keeping you properly and contextually informed - which is why you've been hearing that the sky is falling these past couple ofweeks.

To be sure, some hospitals that are under great duress. Elmhurst Hospital in Queens has been one of them, and I've heard, but haven't visited, Mount Sinai in Queens and Jacobi in the Bronx. But other hospitals aren't making the news because they're operating just fine. So bear in mind when you watch TV news you aren't necessarily getting the full picture - you're getting the ratings driven network TV news picture.

The bubbleheads on TV news seem to be paid on how well they read teleprompters, not on their intellectual or journalistic acumen.


NYC Curve Appears to be Flattening, NYS Numbers are Still Rising

Hospitalizations, ICU Patients, Intubations & Discharges

April 2, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Well, there seems to be some good news, and Governor Cuomo has started hinting at it in his daily CoVid press conferences. A week ago, the Governor was talking about NYS hitting the apex of the curve in 21 days, which is in late April. This week the Governor started hinting that we may hit the top of the curve within the week. The Mayor, meanwhile has been saying that next week could be the start of the apex / wave.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMy assessment differs from both the Governor's and the Mayor's. And while it's based on information provided by the Governor, I'm drawing a different, more optimistic conclusion. Part of that may be that I haven't been able to talk to anyone from the Governor's office who knows precisely what's in / not in the numbers the Governor has been providing. And it's also worth noting that both the Governor and the Mayor don't have the luxury of planning for the optimistic scenario.

 

Assumptions for the Analysis in this Report - Beware the Hype & Distortions of Anecdotal Reporting

Assuming the numbers hold and New Yorkers' behavior holds, NYC may have already hit its apex of the CoVid pandemic. Note that those are big assumptions, but they're assumptions based on current numbers and behaviors.

As I am sure you can appreciate, that's good news, as some NYC hospitals had reached their capacity in terms of beds and / or Intensive Care Unit beds with / without respirators. But while maxing out the capacity at some of the eleven hospitals that are run by the NYC Health & Hospital System - like Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and possibly Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx - it is not true for the privately run hospitals that represent a significant portion of the medical infrastructure of NYC. One exception may be Mount Sinai in Astoria, Queens which today was reporting that they're handling a lot of CoVid patients.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysOn Monday afternoon, March 30th, I spoke very unofficially to professionals from both Mount Sinai and also at Memorial Sloan Kettering - both in Manhattan - who told me at that time, that the operations at both of these hospitals were pretty much functioning somewhat normally.

So I think it's important for people to bear in mind, a shortage or over-capacity in one hospital, doesn't mean there's a shortage system-wide. The flip side of that coin is that we may have more capacity and supplies than is needed - but it might not be available in the places where it's most needed.


The CoVid Curve Appears to be Flattening

Growth in Daily Hospitalizations & ICU Patients Appears to Slow

March 31, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Please note I tried to contact the Governor's Office for comment on this and have not yet heard back from them. I know they're busy, and we're not from the MainStream Media.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysNearly three weeks ago, Governor Cuomo issued an order for social distancing, by initially limiting social gatherings to fifty people or less. Mayor de Blasio supported the move that same day. As such most of the cultural venues in New York City suspended normal operations and events pending further notification or some future date. That was nearly three weeks ago.

That action was subsequently followed by further actions, limiting social gatherings to ten people and eventually just immediate households. On March 15, 2020 Mayor de Blasio issued an order asking bars and restaurants to close their doors except for deliveries / take out. That was more than two weeks ago.

A week ago while I was out photographing the empty, eerie NYC landscape, I noticed somewhat casually that somewhere between 10% - 25% of retail outlets were still open in Manhattan / Queens. Just a few days ago, while making another sweep through a couple of neighborhoods, the percent of those open had dropped to ghost town levels of 10% and less.

The bad news is that there's been a near stop to 'non-essential' life here and that there's an economic reckoning most folks are facing tomorrow on April 1st as bills come due.

The good news is that I've been tracking the numbers provided by Governor Cuomo and the curve does appear to already be flattening. The Governor has hinted at this by noting that the hospitalization rate had gone from doubling every 2 - 3 days at the outset a few weeks ago, to doubling every six days as of about a day ago.

But the good news goes beyond that. A couple of days ago, the Governor changed what numbers he was releasing to the public.


It's a Corona Virus Weekend NYC III

CoVid 19 Pandemic Continues to Keep Life in NYC & NYS on Hold

The Following Includes a Compendium of Closures & Expected Activity Resumption Dates [Subject to Change]

Updated March 29, 2020 from 3/27/20 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysWeather. The Temperature highs will be in the high 60's Friday, dropping to 50 on Saturday and rising a bit to the mid 50's on Sunday. The temperature lows will be in the mid to high 40's all weekend. There is an 80% - 100% chance of a half inch of Rain on Saturday mid to late afternoon [3 - 5 pm] and a bit more than a half inch early Sunday morning [before 7 am]. Winds will be 5 - 10 mph all weekend. The Humidity will be rise from the mid 20% range Friday, to 60% Saturday and 80% Sunday. Click for NYC Weather.

MTA / Public Transit / Click here for the MTA Weekender.

The photo at right shows a man in Bryant Park last weekend enjoying a rare moment of solitude in the middle of a very densely populated city during the CoVid 19 shutdown.

 

On Thursday, March 26th, I headed toward CitiField to photograph it on what was supposed to be opening day. Major Leaugue Baseball was to begin that day with the Mets playing Washington at home, while the Yankees were to play Baltimore away.

 

Elmhurst Hospital is the Epicenter of Queens, which is Epicenter of NYC, which is Epicenter of NYS, which is Epicenter of the America

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysOn my way I stopped to visit Elmhurst Hospital which had been labeled the CoVid epicenter of Queens that same day. Queens had become the epicenter of NYC by reporting the most cases in the city, and New York City is the epicenter of NYS, which is the epicenter of the U.S.

I visited Elmhurst Hospital just as they had closed the testing tents, which ran from 6 am - 4 pm. I spoke to one of the healthcare professionals there, inquiring as to whether they thought that there had been an overreaction to the spreading virus.

I was told that the virus was new, mutating, very contagious, and more lethal than the flu - so it should be taken seriously and managed in accordance with the general health risks it poses. Within the prior 24 hours thirteen people had died at Elmhurst Hospital.

On the subway the number of people wearing masks over their faces had grown significantly. I also noticed, for the first time, that a number of people were also wearing plastic gloves. Not long from now, everyone will be wearing Hazmat suits.

Well, at least it was easy to get a seat, and even easy to maintain the social distancing.

The photo above shows the testing tent outside of the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Thursday. In the prior 24 hour period 13 people reportedly died.

 

Small Businesses Have Closed or are Closing - Nothing's Moving

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysOn my way home I stopped at a few small businesses I generally frequent. One had completely closed its doors for the past couple of days because business had been softening. I imagine staying open just wasn't worth the effort and expense. Another small business had shortened their hours, as business there had also softened, but there was still business moving. And at the third place I stopped, the owner told me they were going to close for a while, until things started moving again, as there just wasn't much / any business moving.

When I arrived at my own personal self quarantine station - which I used to think of as my apartment - I flipped on the tube. There in front of me were so many people, talking endlessly and saying so, so little. So I turned it off to restore a sense of calm.

What follows is a compendium of some of the major closings and announcements made over the past couple of weeks, as well as the anticipated time they plan to resume activity, but all subject to change.

The photo at right shows the business district on 82nd Street in Jackson Heights Queens during the middle of the day. As you can see, most businesses had closed.


CoVid - The Virus Everyone is Talking About

Ghost Town: One of Every 200 New Yorkers has been Tested

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMarch 23, 2020 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Last weekend I headed into Manhattan to take a few photos of what I expected to be a ghost town. While some folks were moving about - relative to normal activity - Manhattan seemed empty. With this report are a few of the photos. I'll include more of them in the upcoming weekend update.

I've also been fairly closely following Governor Cuomo's daily press briefing. The numbers, as mentioned in my last report, that I've been keeping a close eye on are the number of infections vis a vis the number of tests completed. The reason for this is that I have not yet heard anyone explain how they can truly ascertain the transmission rate, without being able to separate out the growth in the number of people who have tested positively, from the growth in the number of people they have tested.

 

NYC & NYS CoVid 19 Testing Metrics vs Infected Numbers

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo I put together a chart, in which I had to make a few estimates using the data the Governor provided, as I had not captured all of it. Friday, March 20, 2020 is the starting point, where Cuomo reported 32,427 tests completed in NYS, of which 44% or 14,386 were completed in NYC. At that time there were 7102 and 4408 infected in NYS and NYC respectively, which means that 22% of those tested in NYS were infected, while 31% of those tested in NYC were infected.

In the briefing today, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 there were an estimated [my copy of Cuomo's NYS total number was unreadable] 94,289 tests completed in NYS, of which 41% or 38,390 were completed in NYC. At this time there were 25,665 infected in NYS, of which 14,904 of the infected were found in NYC. This translates to 27% of those tested in NYS being infected, while 39% of those tested in NYC were infected.

What does this mean? Actually since this virus is new, we don't really know for sure. What we do know is that about 26,000 people in NYS are infected, of which 15,000 of them live in NYC. And, according to Cuomo on Monday, the testing per capita in NYS is higher than anywhere else in the world including South Korea [see fact check correction below].


It's a Corona Virus Weekend NYC II

Even more than Last Week, the Corona Virus Pandemic Shuts Down NYC

* March 20, 2020 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

* Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the mid 70's on Friday, dropping to 50 on Saturday and the mid 40's by Sunday. The temperature lows will be in the mid 40's on Friday, dropping to the mid 30's Saturday, rising a bit to the high 30's on Sunday. There is a 40% chance of a minuscule amount of Rain on Friday afternoon, for which the peaking probability is at 5 pm. Then no rain for the rest of the weekend, but cloudy Saturday morning. Winds will be 10 - 15 mph all weekend. The Humidity will be around 70 on Friday dropping to the mid 40% range for the rest of the weekend. Click for NYC Weather.

* MTA / Public Transit / Click here for the MTA Weekender.

 

A Racist President Applies a Demagogue Label to CoVid

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysUnfortunately we have a president, who oftentimes makes situations worse, because of his ignorant and childish behavior. The Donald seems to be trying to label the Corona Virus the China virus and quite frankly, is doing more to confirm some of the labels given to him - like he's a racist - than convincing anyone other than his Fox 'News' toadies - to go along with his not-helpful-in-addressing-the-CoVid-crisis ploy.

It seems that our babyman president, won't even act like an adult, even in the midst of what appears to be the world's worst pandemic in this millenia.

A demagogue is

"a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument."

 

MTA Sanitizes Subway Cars and Buses

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe NYC MTA moves between four and six million people daily. That's a mind boggling figure when you think about it. But last week ridership began falling significantly. And by this week, about a million or more people, had found some other way to get around, or were staying home. Thus the MTA is seeking federal funding to the tune of about $4 billion to help it shore up the lost revenue. And the ridership reductions are expected to continue for a while.

The MTA stepped up its cleaning regimen effective March 3, 2020. It now santizes its subway cars and buses on a rotating schedule every three days. Have the subways ever been so clean? In spite of the effort folks are still encouraged to practice social distancing meaning keeping six feet apart from others when possible. Anyone who is ill is asked to stay home.

The photo above right shows a placard on the subway, artistically depicting the diversity of our city. We live at the crossroads of the world, which means we are both the beneficiaries of that intellectual and cultural diversity, but also carry risks which are associated with that openess, because of our societal exposure. Like everything in life, we must strive to find the right balance of cultivating our openess, while managing and minimizing the associative risks. Data, science, education and discipline can help us strike the right balance.


It's a Corona Virus Weekend

This Weekend Many Events Cancelled & Many Institutions Closing Doors for a Couple of Weeks due to the Corona Virus Pandemic

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMarch 13, 2020 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the high 60's on Friday, dropping to the high 50's on Saturday and low 50's by Sunday. The temperature lows will be around 40 on Friday & Saturday, dropping to the low 30's by Sunday. Rain is in the forecast for Friday ONLY, likely gone by 11 am. It will be cloudy later in the day on Saturday only. Winds will be 15 mph on Friday, dropping to between 5 - 10 mph for the rest of the weekend. The Humidity will be around 70 on Friday dropping to about 40% for the rest of the weekend. Click for NYC Weather.

MTA / Public Transit / Click here for the MTA Weekender.

The photo at right shows some folks riding the subway this week who've taken the precaution of wearing surgical masks to prevent getting infected by the Corona Virus - see details below.

 

Corona Virus - A Brief History of Growing Awareness

The Corona Virus outbreak was first reported by the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan in China.

By January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the Corona Virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

On Saturday, March 7, 2020 Governor Cuomo called a NYS State of Emergency in an effort to get out ahead of what at the time was the Corona Virus epidemic, as there was a rapid spike in the number of reported cases in NYS. At the time NYC had reported about a dozen known cases.

On March 10, 2020 Governor Cuomo ordered a quarantine of a neighborhood in New Rochelle.

On March 11, 2020, Mayor de Blasio followed suit, and declared NYC in a State of Emergency in an effort to get out ahead of what was called a pandemic by the World Health Organization on the same day.

And today, March 13, 2020, last but not least, Donald Trump declared a State of Emergency in the United States in order to accelerate the nation's slow response to the evolving public health crisis.

 

Corona Virus Precautions - Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

By now you'd have to be blind, deaf and mute not to have heard that you should thoroughly wash your hands and not touch your face without having cleaned your hands.

In a March 11, 2020 report, the Sacramento Bee, which is a well respected news outlet run by McClatchy Newspapers, informed us that the National Institute of Health conducted a study that shows that the Corona Virus can remain alive for up to three days on some surfaces under the right conditions.

As such you should also step up your cleaning practices, specifically with respect to things and places that you touch regularly - like the TV clicker or your mouse and keypad and cell phone and keys.


Staten Island National Lighthouse Museum & Bill Millers Floating Palaces SI | national lighthouse museum staten island historic sites si st george neighborhood staten island things to do staten island nyc national lighthouse museum staten island bill millers floating palaces si
Staten Island National Lighthouse Museum & Bill Millers Floating Palaces SI

National Lighthouse Museum Staten Island

Bill Miller Presents Floating Palaces - Tales of the Great Transatlantic Ships & Sea

March 12, 2020 / St George Neighborhood SI / Staten Island Things To Do NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

 

National Lighthouse Museum - A Staten Island Treasure

At the end of January I made my way across the NYC harbor to the St. George Ferry Terminal. After just a few blocks walk to the east, along the St. George / Staten Island waterfront, I came upon my destination - the National Lighthouse Museum.

The National Lighthouse Museum is one of the oldest and yet newest cultural treasures of Staten Island. While the National Lighthouse Museum only opened on Staten Island in 2015, it is housed in buildings of the old St. George Coast Guard Station, which was built shortly after the American Civil War in the late 1860's.

The photo at right is one of the slides shown by Bill Miller in his informative lecture about transatlantic travel during the 20th century. Most of the photos that follow were taken at the lecture.

 

Bill Miller's Ocean Liner History - An NYC Treasure

Tonight we would listen to Bill Miller tell the tales of a century long history of transatlantic luxury ships and cruises. Miller's love of the cruise ships started while he was a youngster, watching the ships docking along the west side of Manhattan from across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

staten island national lighthouse museum si bill millers floating palaces transatlantic liners staten island things to do st george siBill Miller is shown in the photo at right standing in front of the room at the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island.

It wasn't long before Miller was crossing the Hudson himself, looking for adventure along the west side piers. Tonight he shared his lifelong passion with us, complete with details delving into the lives of the rich and famous, the food, the designer interiors and the ship engineering of the transatlantic cruise ships, which he affectionately calls Floating Palaces.

The photo at right shows Linda Dianto, Executive Director of the National Lighthouse Museum [at left] and guest speaker Bill Miller, aka Mr. Ocean Liner [at right] in late January 2020 speaking to the audience in attendance at the Floating Palaces lecture at the Staten Island museum.

• CLICK here to read the rest of our report, including a short video, about Bill Miller's Floating Palaces lecture at the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island.



Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Staten Island NYC | Staten Island St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island
Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars, Restaurants & Irish Pubs

Staten Island St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

February 26, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Holiday Events / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

St Patrick's Day is on a Sunday this year, meaning that it's going to be an extended party weekend.

At a later date we'll add a bit of history of St. Patrick's Day.

While St. Patrick's Day is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like New Years Eve, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of some of the Staten Island St Patrick's Day bars, restaurants & Irish pubs - Staten Island NYC.



Staten Island Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend - Events Staten Island NYC | staten island things to do presidents day weekend staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, presidents day weekend things to do staten island manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island things to do presidents day weekend staten island nyc
Staten Island Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend - Events Staten Island NYC

Presidents Day Weekend Things To Do on Staten Island NYC

Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend on Staten Island / Events

February 10, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods NYC / Things To Do on Staten Island NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Presidents Day Weekend Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the mid 30's on Friday, dropping to the high 20's on Saturday and rising into the 40's on Sunday and Monday. The temperature lows will be in the low teens Friday, the mid 20's on Saturday, rising into the 30's Sunday and Monday. Precipitation - There's a small chance [30%] of a small amount of precipitation [way under an inch] later Sunday and early morning Monday. Winds will be around 15 mph Friday, dropping into the single digits for the rest of the long weekend. The Humidity will be in the high 30% range on Friday & Saturday, rising to about 60% on Sunday and Monday. Click for Staten Island Weather.

The image at right shows a picture of the American colonial representatives, John Adams and Ben Franklin, meeting with a British general at the Conference House on Staten Island, in September of 1776, in an effort to preempt the American Revolutionary War. This occurred just a few months after the colonists declared their independence and as history would have it - they failed.

Presidents Day is a time to reflect on the performance of our current presidents and legislators, and how they stack up against their historical peers. And in that reflection it's worth asking ourselves what we've done to contribute or detract from the national conversation.

Brief History of Presidents Day Holiday Staten Island NYC

staten island things to do presidents day weekend things to do staten island presidents day weekend events staten island nycA day commemorating Lincoln's birthday was first passed in Buffalo, New York in the early 1870's. Presidents Day originated as Washington's Birthday which was a holiday narrowly prescribed for federal government offices in Washington, D.C. in 1879. The holiday was dedicated to honoring the memory of the first American president, George Washington who was born on February 22, 1732.

In 1885 the holiday was expanded to include all federal government offices around the nation. In 1951 there was a push to create a Presidents Day holiday [vs a George Washington's birthday holiday] to include President Lincoln whose birthday is February 12, 1809 and was also celebrated by localities, but it didn't pass.

In 1971 the holiday was moved off of George Washington's birth date to being the third Monday in February. Thus while it never falls upon Washington's birthday 2/22, the official name of the holiday remains Washington's Birthday. But today, most folks refer to it as Presidents Day and to recognize the presidents who honored the U.S. Constitution and served the interests of the people.



Staten Island Valentine's Day Restaurants - Romantic Restaurants Staten Island NYC | staten island valentines day restaurants staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, romantic restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island valentines day restaurants staten island nyc
Staten Island Valentine's Day Restaurants - Romantic Restaurants Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Valentine's Day Restaurants

Staten Island Valentine's Day Romantic Restaurants in or near Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

February 5, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Restaurants / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away. It's a good time to let your loved one know you care. Flowers, gifts and dinner are always welcome treats, and / or some thoughtful gesture that shows that the lady [or man] you're with, still means a lot to you.

It's generally hard to make restaurant reservations on short notice at a romantic Bronx restaurant on Valentine's Day, and sometimes it's difficult to make them for the weekend preceding Valentine's Day. So if you're thinking about doing something this Valentine's Day for dinner in or around the Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh or South Beach neighborhoods; it's best to do your research early, and call a week or at least a few days ahead to make the reservations.

The photo at right shows the bar in the Staten Island Ferry station in the St. George neighborhood.

Romantic Restaurants on Staten Island - A Brief History of Valentine's Day

The origins of Valentine's Day are not well documented. It's believed to have been named after Saint Valentine who was apparently a Catholic martyr who died over 1500 years ago. Today the holiday is not associated with religion so much as flowers, candies, cards and romantic dinners. And the holiday spokesperson is now Cupid, a Roman god of desire, and quite a mischief maker.

Click here to read more about our round up of Valentine's Day restaurants on Staten Island - Valentine's Day on Staten Island.



Closure of Rikers Island Moves Another Step Forward

In Oct 2019 NYC Council Designated Neighborhood Jail Locations in Four Boroughs

Community Board One in Astoria Only Approved the Closure of Rikers Island

rikers island closing rikers island correctional facility history rikers island development astoria queens rikers island hunts point bronxJanuary 26, 2020 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / Bronx Politics & Government / Queens Buzz NYC & Bronx Buzz NYC.

A week ago, on Tuesday, January 21st I attended the Community Board One meeting at the Astoria World Manor where the board was asked to approve the closing of the Rikers Island Detention Facility effective sometime before the end of the year 2026.

The photo at right was taken from an airplane while landing at LaGuardia in a prior year. Rikers Island Correctional Facility is a stone's throw away from LGA.

 

Queens Community Board One in Astoria Votes on Rikers Closure

The presentation consisted of two slides. One highlighted the social / moral blight that Rikers Island had become. The second slide simply proposed the request in very limited terms - the closing of Rikers Island and the conversion of it to a ‘public place’. The presentation to the Committee was done by a team lead by Dana Kaplan, Deputy Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.

So please note that the Community Board had no role in the placement of neighborhood jails, nor did they sign off on anything that may become of Rikers Island going forward. They only approved the closing of the Correctional Facility and the allowance of use for it as a "public place".

I spoke with CB1 District Manager Florence Kolouris after the meeting about what exactly that meant. She told me that there isn’t any definition, per se, given for public place – but a couple of examples of prior public places include Lincoln Center, Fort Totten and Queens Borough Hall.

The Community Board approved the measure with a recommendation that CB1 be kept in the loop throughout the closing process, including any demolition. Plenty of questions followed regarding what would become of the 400 acre island. Nothing concrete was proposed at this time, but the audience was assured that any changes would have to come through the Community Board via the ULURP process [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure].

 

The Bronx & Queens - Rikers Island Community Jurisdiction & Prison Population

rikers island closing rikers island correctional facility history rikers island development astoria queens rikers island hunts point bronxIt’s worth noting that technically Rikers Island is a part of the Bronx – not Queens – even though the only road traveling onto the island originates in the Astoria / East Elmhurst neighborhoods of Queens. In addition to Queens Community Board One, Bronx Community Board Two, representing the Hunts Point neighborhood, also has influence over the island. Since the Dinkins Administration in the 1990's, there's been a floating barge facility that's docked in Hunts Point, that is considered a part of the Rikers Island Correctional Facility.

Currently there are an estimated 7,000 plus inmates on Rikers Island. At its height, in 1991, Rikers Island held an estimated overcapacity inmate population of nearly 22,000. By the time the facility is to be closed in 2026, the inmate population is expected to have declined to between 3,000 and 4,000.

The photo at right shows the Rikers Island Correctional Facility which will be closed by the end of 2026.


The Conference House - Historic Sites on Staten Island in Tottenville Neighborhood NYC | conference house staten island historic sites si tottenville neighborhood staten island things to do staten island nyc
The Conference House - Historic Sites on Staten Island in Tottenville Neighborhood NYC

Ye Olde Conference House in Tottenville on Staten Island

Benjamin Franklin & John Adams Met the British Here in Effort to Avoid the Revolutionary War

January 20, 2020 / Tottenville Neighborhood SI / Staten Island Things To Do NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

I had the opportunity to visit the Conference House in Tottenville this past September. Unfortunately I arrived about a week after the historic site signature event - the 1776 Peace Conference Commemoration.

The Conference House Peace Commemoration event includes a reenactment of the September 11, 1776 peace conference meeting between Benjamin Franklin and John Adams on the American side and Colonel Christoper Billop representing the British side.

The photo at right shows a painting depicting the Conference House Meeting on September 11, 1776.

Although Billop was born on Staten Island, he was a British colonel and loyalist to the British crown. Billop reportedly initiated the meeting, which as we all now know, was unsuccessful in averting the war. The commemorative event generally happens every second weekend in September.

I found it ironic, that the event took place on 9/11 some 243 years ago. And it's worth mentioning that William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's illegitimate son, was the last British Governor of New Jersey and a British loyalist throughout the conflict. Benjamin Franklin reportedly acknowledged him as his son, but disowned him for not siding with the colonists.

Colonel Billop's father was Captain Billop [also named Christopher aka senior] who came to America in 1674. Billop Sr. built the Conference House, which was a grand home of the time, overlooking the point where the Raritan River flows into the Raritan Bay at Arthur Kill, which is the body of water that separates Staten Island from New Jersey. It was a well built stone house, which has held up well since it was built circa 1680, about 340 years ago. At the time it was considered a pretty fancy home.

Originally the site was a campground of the Lenape Indian tribe. In the late 1600's both the Dutch and the British were adventurous seafaring nations, which sent many ships, sailors and immigrants across the Atlantic in search of a better life. As such, when the ruling royalists were succeeded by heirs, their religion mixed with politics and also war.

CLICK here to view the rest of our report on the Conference House historic site on Staten Island.



Staten Island Things To Do - Martin Luther King Weekend Staten Island NYC | staten island things to do martin luther king day weekend staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, mlk weekend things to do staten island manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island things to do martin luther king day weekend staten island nyc
Staten Island Things To Do - Martin Luther King Weekend Staten Island NYC

Martin Luther King Weekend Things To Do on Staten Island NYC

Things To Do on Staten Island over the MLK Day Weekend

January 15, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods NYC / Things To Do on Staten Island NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Weather. The Temperature highs will range between 30 and 40 throughout the three day weekend. The temperature lows will be in the low 20's throughout the weekend - except on Saturday when the low will be in the high 30's. Rain or Snow is forecast on Saturday, but NOT on Friday, Sunday & Monday. Winds will range from 10 - 15 mph all weekend. The Humidity will be around 50% throughout the weekend, except on Friday when it will be in the low 30% range. Click for Staten Island Weather.

Brief History of Martin Luther King Holiday in NYC

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist Minister who became the leading voice for African Americans' non-violent civil rights movement beginning in the mid 1950's through to his assassination in 1968. In 1983, the third Monday of every year was set aside to honor Martin Luther King for his service to the nation. The third Monday was chosen, as it was the nearest Monday to the anniversary of King's birthday, which was January 15, 1929.

Martin Luther King Day has grown to take on an even larger meaning, as it is oftentimes referred to as a day on, versus a day off. Organizations around the city and nation have used the day to call people into action to address the needs of the community through volunteering and service.

Martin Luther King Holiday Special Events in the Staten Island NYC

martin luther king day weekend staten island nyc things to do mlk day weekend staten island nyc

On Monday, January 20, 2020 at the Conference Park House Visitors Center from 9.30 am - 12 noon there's an MLK Day of Service in the Tottenville neighborhood on Staten Island.

The nearby Biddle House is hosting an art event featuring local artist Donna Napoli who has captured scenes of Staten Island for ten plus years. From 1 - 5 pm also on Monday.

On Monday the Staten Island Children's Museum at 1000 Richmond Terrace, located on the grounds of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, there's free admission from 10 am - 5 pm [all day] in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.

From 11.30 am - 3 pm the Port Richmond High School at 85 St. Josephs Avenue is hosting its first Cultural Celebration and Day of Service. It's free and it features music, dance and business.

2019 OLD _ TBD _ CHECKING _ There's an MLK Day of Service on Sunday at the Greenbelt Nature Center from 1 pm - 3 pm on Staten Island. Participants will have an opportunity to work with the NYC Parks Department to improve the quality of public green space by making them cleaner, greener and healthier.



Michael Bloomberg's Real Record as NYC Mayor

This Contains the Part of Bloomberg's Record You Won't See in His Ad Campaign

michael bloombergs record as nyc mayor mike bloomberg accomplishments mike bloomberg record mayor nyc record of mayor bloomberg while mayor nycDecember 16, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

I started reporting for Queens Buzz in the second half of 2007, in anticipation of the website opening in 2008. At the time, politics wasn't in the docket. But over time, as I watched government and political events unfold, I couldn't ignore the huge gap between what was happening - versus what was reported to be happening.

Thus over time I began reporting on NYC, NYS and eventually national politics, doing in-depth research along the way, so that I could provide our readers with a fresh point of view, based on facts and knowledge, with scant pandering to the politicial spin.

While I only began tuning into NYC politics as a reporter during Michael Bloomberg's third term, I had picked up information about him prior to that as an aware NYC resident / voter. My first glimpse into Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-democratic tendencies came about in 2004, during the Republican Presidential Convention, when Bloomberg appeared to illegally lock up people protesting the wars and policies of then president George W. Bush. But before I delve into that aspect of Bloomberg's performance, I want to highlight a few others.

 

Disdains Democracy: Overturns Mayoral Term Limits

michael bloomberg mayor bloomberg corruption bloomberg record as nyc mayorIn 2008, just a year before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was about to be term limited out of the Mayor's Office, he convinced the NYC City Council to override the plebiscite that term limited his time in office as the Mayor.

Thus Michael Bloomberg sought and won a third term - which he essentially bought - by funding his campaign with nearly $100 million of his own money, to defeat an relatively unknown candidate, retiring City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Thompson was not given much support by the Democratic Party in that election, likely because they didn't believe he would do anywhere near as well as he did, and they were competing with a billionaire who could / would and did greatly outspend the competition. The final vote was 50.7% for Bloomberg and 46.3% for Thompson.

 

Did Former Mayor Bloomberg Override Term Limits in Order to Cash In NYC's Municipal Real Estate Holdings?

The deals on the Bronx Terminal Market, Hudson Yard, Hunters Point South & Flushing Meadow Corona Park were all begun in 2007. So were the two multi-billion dollar [each] subway line extension projects - the Q and the #7.

All of the real estate developments and the two major subway infrastructure projects seemed to greatly benefit one person - Stephen Ross and his privately held Related Companies. Stephen Ross went from not being counted as a billionaire at the beginning of Bloomberg's Mayoralty, to becoming the richest real estate developer in New York City within a couple of years after he took office.

It's worth noting that Bloomberg's net worth during this period shot up too. And that Bloomberg LLP, the company he founded, also operates in NYC and is also privately held.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Real Record as Mayor

The Real Record of Mike Bloomberg's Accomplishments as Mayor - Doubling of Homelessnes, Taxpayer Funded but Privately Owned Luxury Apartments, Massive Public Land Giveaways to Friendly Developer, Massive Public Transit Spending Benefitting Same Developer, Privatization / Profitization of Many Public Schools, Failure to Negotiate with Unions, City Time Scandal & Racist Stop N' Frisk Policing Program

The report includes:

michael bloombergs record as nyc mayor mike bloomberg accomplishments mike bloomberg record mayor nyc1) HOMELESSNESS: Bloomberg had a horrendous record on homelessness which broke all records & doubled during his Mayoralty.

2) AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Bloomberg sold the public on funding 'affordable' apartments that rented for $48,000 per year. These were publicly funded but privately owned apartment units that Bloomberg sold to the public as 'affordable' in order to gain passage of the bills authorizing them.

3) PUBLIC LAND GRAB. Four huge real estate developments appeared to be given to Stephen Ross & Related Companies which are now worth billions. The public lands reportedly sold for $1 apiece include Hudson Yard, Hunters Point South and the still pending Flushing Meadows Corona Park development. I'm not sure but Bronx Terminal was also transferred in a sweet deal to the real estate developer Stephen Ross & Related Companies.

4) PUBLIC SPENDING BENEFITTING FRIENDLY DEVELOPER. Bloomberg pushed two subway line extensions that seemed to disproportionately benefit Stephen Ross & Related Companies. The subway line extensions were 1) the #7 subway line extension that supported Stephen Ross & Related Companies Hudson Yard development and 2) the Q subway line extension which greatly enhanced the value of Stephen Ross and Related Companies Upper East Side properties.

5) PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Bloomberg's privatization of a significant portion of the NYC public school system which appeared to tear apart the NYC public school system by enabling for profit private charter schools, disproportionately favoring Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy, to recruit the best students of the NYC public school system, while leaving the rest behind in the hands of the public and unions;

6) UNION BUSTER? Bloomberg's failure to sign a single major union contract during his 12 year administration and the

7) GIULIANI / BLOOMBERG CORRUPTION. City Time corruption scandal.

8) RACIST POLICING POLICY. Presided over racist Stop N' Frisk policing policy.

CLICK here to read the rest of our report on the part of the Mike Bloomberg's record of Mayor. The part of the Bloomberg record you won't see in his $33 million ad campaign to convince Democrats to vote for him. Billionaire Bloomberg, like the billionaire President, seems to have an inclination to distort the truth.


Staten Island Holiday Markets Shopping & Events - Staten Island NYC | staten island holiday shopping holiday markets staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, holiday events christmas lightings menorah lightings manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island holiday markets shopping staten island nyc
Staten Island Holiday Markets Shopping & Events - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Holiday Markets, Holiday Events, Christmas Shopping & Holiday Things To Do

Staten Island Christmas Tree Lightings, Staten Island Menorah Lightings Hanukkah, Staten Island Holiday Markets & Holiday Shopping

December 8, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / NYC Shopping / Staten Island Buzz NYC.

The holidays are a special time of the year. In ancient times there were harvest celebrations to give thanks and enjoy the bounty after a long growing and harvesting season aka a year of work.

THESE HOLIDAY EVENT & HOLIDAY MARKETS ARE ORGANIZED

1. BY NEIGHBORHOODS OF STATEN ISLAND

2. And BY DATE

Watch carefully as some locales have multiple dates, and all dates for a given locale are shown at the time the venue is first listed.

And there were also winter solstice celebrations to commemorate the end of the darkening of the skies. Some cultures celebrate with a festival of lights, and in Christian cultures the holidays are marked with holiday lightings including tree lightings and candle lightings - as well as the celebration of giving through the most well known and most generous man in the world - Santa Claus.

Meanwhile, back on Staten Island we celebrate in a number of ways, which carry on some of these ancient traditions. The following provides the dates / times / locales and some details regarding many of the various Staten Island holiday celebrations and Staten Island holiday markets and shopping for folks to enjoy between now and the end of the year.

Click here to read our report about Staten Island Holiday Events / Holiday Things To Do & Staten Island Holiday Markets & Shopping.



Staten Island Halloween Parties - Staten Island Halloween Restaurants & Parades - Staten Island NYC | staten island halloween parties staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, halloween restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island halloween parades staten island nyc
Staten Island Halloween Parties - Staten Island Halloween Restaurants & Parades - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Halloween Parties & Events 2019

Halloween Events & Halloween Parties in the North Shore Neighborhoods, the Great Kills area, Historic Richmond Town and Other Neighborhoods on Staten Island

October 31, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods NYC / Staten Island Restaurants & Bars / Staten Buzz NYC.

Halloween occurs on a Thursday this year. The Staten Island Halloween party celebrations begin as early as Saturday, October 26th running through to Halloween day itself.

Halloween is one big costume party, where the theatrical side of people, is given a small opening. Halloween provides people the opportunity to create and play roles they have wanted to play, that the day-to-day role playing keeps submerged. On Halloween is it the Doctor side or the Jekyll side - or something in between that emerges? Any which way it can sometimes be very scary : )

In the photo at right are NYC Halloween partiers in an earlier year. While professional actors are paid to assume and perform roles, on Halloween it's an unpaid, all-amateur, theatrical free-for-all ... and the chaos of creativity is also what makes Halloween so much fun.

Click here to read more about our round up of Halloween parties on Staten Island 2019 - Halloween restaurants Staten Island.



Italian Festival at Mount Loretto

The Italian Festival at Mount Loretto included Food, Shopping, Live Entertainment & Games

October 21, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Things To Do / Staten Buzz NYC.

Just over a week ago, I headed to the southern Staten Island neighborhood of Charleston to attend the Italian Festival at Mount Loretto. The event ran all weekend in a large sprawling field in front of the cathedral. There was a large stage, live entertainment, a number of food vendors, many serving hot food out of food trucks, somewhere between a half doze and dozen different shopping boutiques offering clothing, cutlery, skin products, jewelry and more.


Things To Do Staten Island Columbus Day Weekend - Staten Island Events Columbus Day SI NYC | staten island things to do labor day weekend SI nyc staten island events calendar labor day art exhibitions film theater live music comedy dance sports social events classes staten island things to do labor day weekend nyc si events things to do staten island neighborhood events si nyc things to do staten island si nyc
Things To Do Staten Island Columbus Day Weekend - Staten Island Events Columbus Day SI NYC

Things To Do Staten Island Columbus Day Weekend 2019

October 7, 2019 / Staten Island, NYC / Staten Buzz.

This report contains a listing of some of the things to do in the neighborhoods of Staten Island including art museums, theaters, live music / comedy & dance venues, sports social events, classes, and restaurant reviews [TBD] for Staten Island NYC. More Columbus Day events coming Friday of this weekend.

The photo at right was taken from the open space of the new shopping mall adjacent to the St. George Ferry Station, with the tip of Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Click here to view the Things To Do In Staten Island NYC this Columbus Day Weekend.



Snug Harbor Fence Show on Staten Island

69th Annual Art Show Organized by the Staten Island Museum

October 1, 2019 / Randall Manor Neighborhood Staten Island / Things to do on Staten Island / Staten Buzz NYC.

I attended the 69th Annual Snug Harbor Fence Show on Staten Island on Saturday. The show included about 150 exhibiting artists, primarily from Staten Island, but also neighboring NYC boroughs and New Jersey. There were food and beverage vendors, an accomplished jazz group - the Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble - as well as plenty of interesting artworks that ranged from ceramics, to clothing and jewelry, to all sorts of art on canvass and other materials. The crowd the show attracted was also an eclectic group of art lovers, art exhibitors and curious Staten Islanders [it's free admission]. See video to take in a couple of minutes of the ambiance of the show.


Casa Belvedere and the Festa & Motori D'Italia

9th Annual Festa & Motori D'Italia Keeps the Engine Running on All Cylinders

September 23, 2019 / Silver Lake Neighborhood Staten Island / Things to do on Staten Island / Staten Buzz NYC.

I attended the Festa & Motori D'Italia at the Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere on Staten Island. The following video captures most of what I experienced - save for the delicious aromas floating in the air.


FDR Boardwalk: One of the Best Beaches in NYC

September 16, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods NYC / Staten Island Things To Do NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Last weekend I had an opportunity to visit South Beach along the FDR Boardwalk on Staten Island. The following video provides a one minute glimpse of the FDR Boardwalk and the views of the water and Verrazzano Bridge.


Things To Do Staten Island Labor Day Weekend - Staten Island SI NYC | staten island things to do labor day weekend SI nyc staten island events calendar labor day art exhibitions film theater live music comedy dance sports social events classes staten island things to do labor day weekend nyc si events things to do staten island neighborhood events si nyc things to do staten island si nyc
Things To Do Staten Island Labor Day Weekend - Staten Island SI NYC

Things To Do Staten Island Labor Day Weekend 2019

August 28, 2019 / Staten Island, NYC / Staten Buzz.

This report contains a listing of some of the things to do in the neighborhoods of Staten Island including art exhibitions, films, theater, live music, comedy, dance, sports social events, classes, and restaurant reviews for Staten Island NYC.

Click here to view the Things To Do In Staten Island NYC this Labor Day Weekend.



Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island

The Jacques Marchais Museum is Home to an Eclectic Art Collection

historic richmond town staten island nycAugust 22, 2019 / Lighthouse Hill Neighborhood SI / Art & Culture Staten Island / Staten Buzz NYC.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. It's located in the Lighthouse Hill neighborhood on Staten Island, which isn't far from Historic Richmond Town. Historic Richmond Town is a popular destination that puts on a number of public programs, so it's easy to include the Jacques Marchais Musem as a second destination if you're interested in Tibetan culture and art.

Ironically Jacques Marchais never visited Tibet, but she was an avid art dealer / collector, and over time she developed a collection of Tibetan art and culture in her art dealings. So much so, that when I had an opportunity to visit, I was struck by the resemblance to the some of the architecture and feeling of being there, as it reminded me of a month long trek I had done in Nepal many years ago.

We'll have more on this interesting destination on Staten Island over time. Stay tuned. Om.


Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants - Moms Day Restaurants Staten Island NYC | staten island mothers day restaurants staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, mom's day restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island mothers day restaurants staten island nyc
Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants - Moms Day Restaurants Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants

Staten Island Mothers Day Restaurants in or near Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

 May 9, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Restaurants / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Mother's Day Sunday, May 10, 2020. It's a good time to let your loved one know you care. Flowers, gifts and brunch or dinner are always welcome, as is any thoughtful gesture that provides some measure showing your appreciation of your mother or the mother of your children. After all, without mothers, we would all cease to be.

Normally it's best to book a restaurant reservation for Mother's Day brunch, as on Mother's Day on Staten Island, many restaurants are full. So if you're thinking about eating out at a restaurant this Mother's Day in or near Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach neighborhoods; it's best to do your research early, and call ahead to book Mother's Day restaurant reservations - BUT this year reservations, per se, are not an option. But delivery and take out are.

Mother's Day History - Restaurants on Staten Island

The origins of Mother's Day in the United States began with the efforts by Anna Jarvis in honor of her own mother. According to Wikipedia, Anna began the campaign in 1905 - the year her mother died - and in 1910 West Virginia was the first state to adopt it as a holiday. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson made the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Click this link to view a brief guide of Mother's Day restaurants on Staten Island where you will find links to Staten Island restaurants we've researched, visited in the past or have reviewed. The restaurants we've reviewed include a mix of high, medium and budget priced restaurants that are spread throughout the borough and offer a large variety of ethnic cuisines. Enjoy.

We've identified only a few Staten Island restaurants that are doing take out / delivery on Mother's Day on Staten Island. Enjoy.



Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Staten Island NYC | Staten Island St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island
Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars, Restaurants & Irish Pubs

Staten Island St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

February 26, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Holiday Events / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

St Patrick's Day is on a Sunday this year, meaning that it's going to be an extended party weekend.

At a later date we'll add a bit of history of St. Patrick's Day.

While St. Patrick's Day is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like New Years Eve, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of some of the Staten Island St Patrick's Day bars, restaurants & Irish pubs - Staten Island NYC.



Staten Island Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend - Events Staten Island NYC | staten island things to do presidents day weekend staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, presidents day weekend things to do staten island manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island things to do presidents day weekend staten island nyc
Staten Island Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend - Events Staten Island NYC

Presidents Day Weekend Things To Do on Staten Island NYC

Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend on Staten Island / Events

February 10, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods NYC / Things To Do on Staten Island NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Presidents Day Weekend Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the mid 30's on Friday, dropping to the high 20's on Saturday and rising into the 40's on Sunday and Monday. The temperature lows will be in the low teens Friday, the mid 20's on Saturday, rising into the 30's Sunday and Monday. Precipitation - There's a small chance [30%] of a small amount of precipitation [way under an inch] later Sunday and early morning Monday. Winds will be around 15 mph Friday, dropping into the single digits for the rest of the long weekend. The Humidity will be in the high 30% range on Friday & Saturday, rising to about 60% on Sunday and Monday. Click for Staten Island Weather.

The image at right shows a picture of the American colonial representatives, John Adams and Ben Franklin, meeting with a British general at the Conference House on Staten Island, in September of 1776, in an effort to preempt the American Revolutionary War. This occurred just a few months after the colonists declared their independence and as history would have it - they failed.

Presidents Day is a time to reflect on the performance of our current presidents and legislators, and how they stack up against their historical peers. And in that reflection it's worth asking ourselves what we've done to contribute or detract from the national conversation.

Brief History of Presidents Day Holiday Staten Island NYC

staten island things to do presidents day weekend things to do staten island presidents day weekend events staten island nycA day commemorating Lincoln's birthday was first passed in Buffalo, New York in the early 1870's. Presidents Day originated as Washington's Birthday which was a holiday narrowly prescribed for federal government offices in Washington, D.C. in 1879. The holiday was dedicated to honoring the memory of the first American president, George Washington who was born on February 22, 1732.

In 1885 the holiday was expanded to include all federal government offices around the nation. In 1951 there was a push to create a Presidents Day holiday [vs a George Washington's birthday holiday] to include President Lincoln whose birthday is February 12, 1809 and was also celebrated by localities, but it didn't pass.

In 1971 the holiday was moved off of George Washington's birth date to being the third Monday in February. Thus while it never falls upon Washington's birthday 2/22, the official name of the holiday remains Washington's Birthday. But today, most folks refer to it as Presidents Day and to recognize the presidents who honored the U.S. Constitution and served the interests of the people.



Staten Island Valentine's Day Restaurants - Romantic Restaurants Staten Island NYC | staten island valentines day restaurants staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, romantic restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island valentines day restaurants staten island nyc
Staten Island Valentine's Day Restaurants - Romantic Restaurants Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Valentine's Day Restaurants

Staten Island Valentine's Day Romantic Restaurants in or near Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

February 5, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Restaurants / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away. It's a good time to let your loved one know you care. Flowers, gifts and dinner are always welcome treats, and / or some thoughtful gesture that shows that the lady [or man] you're with, still means a lot to you.

It's generally hard to make restaurant reservations on short notice at a romantic Bronx restaurant on Valentine's Day, and sometimes it's difficult to make them for the weekend preceding Valentine's Day. So if you're thinking about doing something this Valentine's Day for dinner in or around the Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh or South Beach neighborhoods; it's best to do your research early, and call a week or at least a few days ahead to make the reservations.

The photo at right shows the bar in the Staten Island Ferry station in the St. George neighborhood.

Romantic Restaurants on Staten Island - A Brief History of Valentine's Day

The origins of Valentine's Day are not well documented. It's believed to have been named after Saint Valentine who was apparently a Catholic martyr who died over 1500 years ago. Today the holiday is not associated with religion so much as flowers, candies, cards and romantic dinners. And the holiday spokesperson is now Cupid, a Roman god of desire, and quite a mischief maker.

Click here to read more about our round up of Valentine's Day restaurants on Staten Island - Valentine's Day on Staten Island.



In Historic Richmond Town the Past Comes Alive

Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island Preserves a Bit of America's Colonial & 19th Century Past

historic richmond town staten island nycMarch 2018 / Historic Richmond Town Neighborhood / Staten Island Culture & History / Staten Buzz NYC.

Earlier this month I visited Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island. I got off the train at Oakwood Heights and along with a visiting South Korean visitor, ubered the half to one mile inland to visit historic Richmond Town.

We were dropped off in a large parking lot adjacent to the main building, which turned out to be the rear of the site, and walked in. It was less than two hours before closing time and on this cold March day, things were pretty quiet.

In the museum gift shop we Lou Maira who manages it. The visiting South Korean took off on his own, while I struck up a conversation with Lou. He told me that we were in the Court House, which was the County Seat for Staten Island in 1837. The Court House also served as the prison. He told me that this late in the day, on the off season, wasn't really the optimal time to see the place, but he accommodated my unscheduled inquisitiveness anyhow.

Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island lies on 100 Acres of Colonial & 19th Century History

historic richmond town staten island historic richmond town nyc colonial history nysLou told me that there were 15 buildings in Historic Richmond Town. He informed me that tours are given regularly by knowledgeable guides and that they take about an hour and fifteen minutes. The whole town lies on about one hundred acres. At some point in the conversation, one of the tour guides whose name I apparently didn't write down [please send it to me if you read this], joined us, and we continued conversing about Historic Richmond Town. In the photo at right is one of the tour guides of Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island.

Guyon Tavern in Historic Richmond Town

One of the buildings is Guyon Tavern, which may be found about a block and a half away on Richmond Road. The Court House lies at the top of a small hill where Center Street and Court Place meet. Guyon Tavern hosts tavern nights in March and April, where a thirsty 19th century American could and still can get a bottle of ale.

Historic Richmond Town - Things To Do on Staten Island

Historic Richmond Town also hosts other events. In the May / June timeframe there's a program entitled On Court, which I was told is a fairly large festival that includes live entertainment, beer and wine and food. And in September there's a pretty huge festival, it's Historic Richmond Town's signature event, called the County Fair.

The houses in Historic Richmond Town range in dates from the 1600's, 1700's and into the 1800's. The houses built in the 1700's date back to the time of the American Revolutionary War.

I'll add more to this, including more photos, at a later date. But suffice it to say it's worth at least one visit and likely many more. You can find out more about it and their events at https://www.historicrichmondtown.org


Staten Island Farmers Markets - Staten Island Green Markets - Staten Island NYC | staten island farmers markets staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville farmers markets on staten island nyc
Staten Island Farmers Markets - Staten Island Green Markets - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Farmers Markets

Staten Island Farmers Markets are not far from - st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville neighborhood on staten island nyc

May 5, 2020 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Buzz NYC.

This is a work in progress and should be completed by Friday, April 24, 2020.

Click here for Staten Island farmers markets - green markets on Staten Island NYC.



Staten Island Neighborhoods - Staten Island NYC | staten island neighborhoods staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville neighborhood on staten island nyc
Staten Island Neighborhoods - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Neighborhoods

Staten Island Neighborhoods covered include - st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville neighborhood on staten island nyc

August 1, 2019 / Staten Buzz NYC.

Click here for Staten Island neighborhoods in Staten Island NYC.



Public Advocate Candidates - 1482 SB

NYC Public Advocate - NYC Special Election 2019 - NYC Candidates Summaries Public Advocate NYC

NYC Public Advocate Candidates in Election 2019

Melissa Mark-Viverito, Jumaane Williams, Daniel O'Donnell, Rafael Espinal, Eric Ulrich, Nomiki Konst, Ron Kim, Michael Blake & 9 Others are Running for this Office

February 25, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 a few New Yorkers will go to the polls to select the next NYC Public Advocate.

Brief NYC Public Advocate History

The position was created in 1993, by renaming the office of the President of the City Council, which up until 1989, had held a seat on the New York City Board of Estimate until it was abolished that year.

The Public Advocate has a relatively small budget [under $4 million per year], a small department as measured by headcount and no voting power except in the cases where a deciding vote needs to be cast in the City Council. The real power of the Public Advocate is in that person's ability to influence the conversation regarding policy priorities and urgency.

Second in Line to Mayor de Blasio

And with Mayor de Blasio considering a run for the presidency - while quite a long shot at this point - the Public Advocate would be next in line to succeed him. There have been only four Public Advocates since the post was created, starting with Mark Green who made a run for Mayor and lost. Betsy Gotbaum followed Green, and she was followed by Bill de Blasio who managed to use the position as a spring board to win the Mayoralty. Letitia James succeeded de Blasio and she is now the NYS Attorney General. The City Council Speaker has been the interim Public Advocate since James took office in January 2019, and will give up the post following this election.



Mayor de Blasio announces a run.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Delivers State of the City Address 2019 | state of the city address 2019 by mayor bill de blasio state of New York City address symphony space upper west side manhattan nyc january 10 2019
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Delivers State of the City Address 2019

De Blasio Delivers State of the City Address 2019

The Mayor Recounts a Year of Accomplishment & Seems to Push the Envelope

January 22, 2019 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / NYC Government & Politics / Manhattan Neighborhoods NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.

On Thursday, January 10th, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his fifth State of the City Address at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side. To date the Mayor has delivered the address in three of the five boroughs, and this was the third delivered in Manhattan [at Apollo Theater in Harlem in 2017 and Baruch in 2015]. He delivered the third address in 2016 at Lehman College in the Bedford Park neighborhood of the Bronx and his fourth at Kings Theatre in the Flatbush Ditmas neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2018. Queens and Staten Island have yet to host the Mayor's State of the City Address, but he has a couple more years in which to make that happen, should he choose to do deliver his address in all five boroughs.

I arrived on a cold January morning. There was a crowd lined up outside, waiting to pass through security, even though it was well over a half hour before the address was to begin. Inside there was a large crowd mingling, and eventually it looked like it was a full house.

There were the usual warm up speeches and performances, including the Invocation by the NYPD Chaplain, Rabbi Alvin Kass, the singing of 'God Bless America' by NYFD vocalist Regina Wilson and an introductory speech by the First Lady Chirlane McCray.



Staten Island Things To Do - Staten Island Events - Staten Island NYC | staten island things to do staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island events staten island nyc
Staten Island Things To Do - Staten Island Events - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Things To Do

Staten Island Things To Do not far from - st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville neighborhood on staten island nyc

October 28, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Buzz NYC.

Click here to view our Staten Island Things To Do / Staten Island Events or Staten Island street fairs.

Click here for Staten Island farmers markets - green markets on Staten Island NYC.



No IDC NY Wins Big & Cuomo Buys Back In

No IDC NY Supported Candidates Won Six of Nine Senate Contests & Cuomo's Donors Spent $21 per Vote

2018 democratic primary in nyc nys elections voting booth photosSeptember 14, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYS Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Staten Buzz NYC.

Andrew Cuomo and his wealthy corporate backers appear to have won him a third term as NYS Governor. The win reportedly cost them over $21 million – thus reducing the the return on their political investment by requiring a significant upfront payment.

But you needn’t worry about Cuomo or his wealthy corporate backers, as campaign contributions are reportedly very good investments, providing returns that range from modest to excessive. Do a search for studies conducted in 2004 by Harvard University, and in 2017 by Kellogg Graduate Business School at Northwestern for greater detail.

The photo at right shows voters on Thursday evening, September 13th, signing in to cast their votes.

Cuomo Defeats Nixon - Voting Interest Nearly Triples vs 2014

governor andrew cuomo nys governor photoWith 99% of the precincts reporting, Andrew Cuomo won 975,552 votes to Cynthia Nixon’s 511,585 votes – that’s 65.6% for Cuomo and 34.4% for Nixon. Nixon won many of the counties surrounding Albany, Tompkins County and Lewis County near Syracuse.

Cuomo won the rest of the state, but won by smaller margins in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while winning by wider margins in the other boroughs. Please note that the September 13, 2018 election totals and percentages shown in this story were reported by the New York Times this morning. The contextual and historical figures and percentages were reported by a multitude of other generally reliable sources.

In the photo at right is Andrew Cuomo marching in the June LGBT parade in the West Village of Manhattan in a prior year.

Had Cuomo only won as many votes as he'd secured in the 2014 primary against Zephyr Teachout, Nixon would have trounced him. In 2014 Andrew Cuomo received 327,150 votes to Zephyr Teachout's tally of 180,336 votes, with the percentages reflecting about the same as this year [64% / 36%] - but the ad spending by the Cuomo campaign was up significantly and so were the vote tallies on both sides. Thus in 2018, almost three times as many voters showed up at the polls during the primary election, but as you will see below - that's still only about 10% of the total potential electorate.

Cuomo Outspends Nixon by 8:1 - Pays $21 per Vote

Andrew Cuomo’s campaign reportedly spent over $21 million this year, versus Cynthia Nixon’s $2.5 million. Thus Cuomo outspent Nixon by over eight to one. And Cuomo's campaign spending in the primary of 2014 was reportedly under $10 million, thus translating into a doubling of what corporations and wealthy donors must pay to keep Cuomo in office.

Campaign Contributions by the Rich Few, Beat the Multitude of Small Contributions of the Middle and Working Classes

cynthia nixon campaigning with jumaane williams in nyc nys 2018Nixon reportedly received donations from 43,000 individual contributors [reportedly a state record], while Cuomo received donations from well under 4,000 contributors. This is why campaign finance reform will never happen with the same people in office [regardless of whether they are Democrats or Republicans] – because while the system may not be working for the people, it is certainly working for the pols and their donors.

The way things work today - pols appear to receive campaign contributions from corporate / wealthy donors who appear to essentially ‘buy’ the office. And then the corporate / wealthy donors appear to be able to pass or block legislation with the help of the pols they supported. As for the government by the people and for the people – well that only happens if the people pay attention to what’s going on, get involved in the political process, and show up to vote.

A quote that was attributed to Jefferson, appears to have originated from Reagan, seems appropriate here: A people that believes they may be ignorant and free, believes in something that never was and never will be.

In the photo at right are Jumaane Williams, candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Cynthia Nixon, candidate for Governor at a June rent rally on the steps of the NYC Public Library on 5th Avenue just south of 42nd Street.

The Real News is How Few Participate in our Democracy

Approximately 1.5 million New Yorkers showed up to vote yesterday – in a state with a population of nearly 20 million. In the 2016 census report, 15.7 million New Yorkers were eligible voting age citizens – so about 10% of the potential electorate decided this electoral primary outcome. Honestly it’s shameful, especially when you take note of the fact that people in Russia and China are literally risking their lives / freedom to enable people participation in the process of choosing those who make the laws, establish and enforce public policy and control the government apparatus.

NYS Lieutenant Governor Race - Hochul Defeats Williams - Upstate Beats NYC

The Lieutenant Governor’s race was closer, as Jumaane Williams put in a solid performance winning 640,530 votes to Kathy Hochul’s 731,459 votes. Hochul won 53.3% of the vote to Jumaane Williams’s 46.7% of the vote. Williams won big in Brooklyn [his home], Manhattan, Columbia and Tompkins Counties, losing the rest of the state.

What I found surprising here, is that the Bronx which is mostly Latin and African American, went for Hochul instead of Williams who is an African American. I surmised that this was likely made possible through the efforts of the establishment Democratic party apparatus, which is controlled by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

NYS Attorney General Race - James Defeats Teachout & Maloney who Split the Upstate White Vote

letitia james attorney general candidate 2018 photoLetitia James won the Attorney General position, beating out Zephyr Teachout and Sean Patrick Maloney. James received 578,412 votes to Teachout’s 441,567 votes and Maloney’s 356,602 votes. The percentages were James with 41.6%, Teachout with 31% and Maloney with 25% of the vote. James won all of the boroughs of New York City, the two counties on Long Island, as well as Westchester and Rockland counties [the latter two counties are suburban outreaches of NYC].

Teachout won most of the eastern part of the state running from north of Westchester to the Canadian border – including most of the counties around Albany, while Maloney won most of the western part of the state, and a couple of counties just north of Westchester. Teachout and Maloney appear to have split the upstate White vote.

In the photo at right, Letitia James, candidate for NYS Attorney General at a community function in Queens, earlier this year.

No IDC NY Candidates Trounce Most of the Former IDC Members

zephyr teachout candidate for attorney general photo w/ alexandria ocasio-cortez astoria queens bronx nyc teachout photo ocasio photoOne of the big issues to be decided during this primary season was the fate of the nine Democrats who had caucused with the Republicans, thereby giving the Republicans majority control of the NYS Senate. Eight of the senators became members of the Independent Democratic Caucus [IDC] which was founded by Bronx NYS Senator Jeffrey Klein, only a year or two into Cuomo’s first term. The creation of the IDC was said to be with the tacit approval of Andrew Cuomo, so that the NYS Governor could prevent the Democratic agenda from becoming too progressive.

Prior to the beginning of the 2018 primary season, an all-volunteer group formed, calling themselves the No IDC NY. The No IDC NY set as its mission, to dislodge those Democrats who had caucused with the Republicans. The No IDC NY effort proved fairly successful, as six of the nine Democrats who had caucused with the Republicans, were defeated. The following is a short tally of those races.

In the photo at right, Zephyr Teachout endorsing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just as Teachout was making her candidacy for the office of NYS Attorney General known.

Queens NYS Senate Races

In the NYS Senate in Queens. No IDC NY supported candidate John Liu defeated incumbent Tony Avella in Queens with 53% to 47% of the vote. No IDC NY supported candidate Jessica Ramos trounced incumbent Jose Peralta with 55% to 45% of the vote.

Manhattan NYS Senate Races

In the NYS Senate in Manhattan. No IDC NY supported candidate Robert Jackson handily defeated incumbent Marisol Alcantera in the Washington Heights / Inwood area with 56% versus 39% of the vote.

Bronx NYS Senate Races

In the NYS Senate in the Bronx. No IDC NY supported candidate Alessandra Biaggi decisively defeated the IDC Founder incumbent Jeffrey Klein winning 54% of the vote to Klein’s 46%.

Brooklyn & Staten Island NYS Senate Races

In the NYS Senate in Brooklyn & Staten Island. No IDC NY supported candidate Zellnor Myrie defeated incumbent Jesse Hamilton 54% to 46%. But both incumbent Diane Savino of Staten Island and incumbent Simcha Felder of Brooklyn handily defeated their No IDC NY supported challengers. Incumbent Savino won 67% of the vote to No IDC NY supported candidate Jasmine Robinson’s 21% of the vote and incumbent Simcha Felder won 66% of the vote to No IDC NY supported candidate Blake Morris’s 34% of the vote.

Upstate NYS Senate Races

In the NYS Senate in Upstate NY. No IDC NY supported candidate Rachel May won 52% of the vote to incumbent David Valesky’s 48%. But incumbent David Carlucci held onto his seat with 54% of the vote to No IDC NY supported candidate Julie Goldberg’s 46%.


Jeff Klein's IDC: Republicans Running as Dems?

The Independent Democratic Caucus Aligns with Republicans which Enables Republicans to Control the NYS Senate

Updated September 7, 2018 / March 21, 2018 / Bronx Neighborhoods & Bronx News / Bronx Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Bronx Buzz NYC.

IDC independent democratic caucus NOIDCNY no independent democratic caucus bronx brooklyn manhattan queensThere's an NYS State primary election this month. The primaries will be held on Thursday, September 13th; instead of on Tuesday, September 11th, in recognition of 911. And the general election will be held on Tuesday, November 6th.

As in any year, the elections are important, but perhaps made more so this year, by what appears to be the anarchistic destruction and disrespect, for our government institutions and processes, by Republican President Donald Trump.

Trump Republicans: Debt Bomb Deficits Levied on America's Children to Enrich the Richest?

The Donald passed a stimulus tax bill that is expected to increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, and there are some pundits who put the figure higher. He and the Republicans passed this budget busting stimulus tax bill, while the economy was operating at levels considered above a full employment economy [5% unemployment is considered standard / normal] and at a time when wages were rising over 2%.

Inflation above 2% is considered to be detrimental to economic stability by the Federal Reserve, so stimulating the economy while it's at full employment with rising wages is about the opposite of what makes sense, especially when you consider the funding for it is coming from America's children and most of the benefits for it are going to the wealthiest people on the planet. We posted a report analyzing the Trump Tax Reform Bill slightly before it was finalized, which includes a lot of facts and figures to help provide context to better understand what was in the bill they passed.

The Independent Democratic Caucus Aligns with NYS Senate Republicans & Gives Them Control

In 2010 / 2011 NYS Senator Jeffrey Klein broke away from the Democratic Party and formed the Independent Democratic Caucus which aligns with the Republican Party, thereby giving them control of the NYS Senate. The effect of this is that bills passed by the Democratic controlled NYS Assembly are indefinitely tabled, or in lay man's terms pretty much killed, in the Republican-controlled NYS Senate. The Republicans control the NYS Senate, because eight NYS senators who run as Democrats [IDC Independent Democratic Caucus], either vote with or kill bills with the Republicans.

Democratic NYS Assembly Bills Effectively Killed by IDC

According to the Democratic Senate Conference, the Republican controlled NYS Senate - with the help of their Republicans running as Democrats allies - have effectively killed one education bill providing full day kindergarten funding, three wage / leave bills, four voting rights bills including the allowance of early voting, four immigration bills including one related to the DREAM Act, four housing bills including several pertaining to NYC rent laws that help renters, three criminal justice bills including creation of correctional ombudsman and sealing of marijuana possession records [as marijuana is rapidly being legalized in states across the country], one related to LGBTQ issues, and six regarding healthcare, several of which pertain to women's reproductive rights.

The IDC Deception: REPUBLICANS RUNNING AS DEMOCRATS?

The net effect of this is that Democrats are, in a sense, cheated or tricked out of their majority by what appears to be Republicans running as Democrats. The Independent Democratic Caucus or IDC includes Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx, who founded the IDC, David Valesky of Oneida and Madison Counties in upstate New York, David Carlucci of Rockland and Westchester Counties, Diane Savino of Staten Island / Brooklyn, Tony Avella of Queens, Jose Peralta of Queens, Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn, and Marisol Alcantera of Washington Heights / Manhattan. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn also runs as a Democrat and caucuses with the Republicans.

The following is a list of challengers, eight of which I obtained off the NoIDCNY.org website. For some reason Blake Morris - Simcha Felder's challenger - was not included on their website. I have just contacted them to find out why.

  • Jessica Ramos is challenging Jose Peralta in District 13 in Queens.
  • John Liu is challenging Tony Avella* in District 11 in Queens.
  • Robert Jackson is challenging Marisol Alcantera in District 31 in Washington Heights / Inwood / Manhattan.
  • Alessandra Biaggi is challenging Jeff Klein in District 34 in the Bronx.
  • Zellnor Myrie is challenging Jesse Hamilton in District 20 in Brooklyn.
  • Blake Morris is challenging Simcha Felder in District 17 in Brooklyn.
  • Jasmine Robinson is challenging Diane Savino in District 23 in Brooklyn / Staten Island.
  • Julie Goldberg is challenging David Carlucci in District 38 in nearby upstate New York.
  • Rachel May is challenging David Valesky in District 53 in upstate New York.

* A Word About NYS Senator Tony Avella as He Appears to be a Real Independent

Of all of the IDC candidates listed above, NYS Senator Tony Avella deserves special consideration. NYS Senator Avella CHALLENGED Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens Country Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley when both of these men, and many in their parties, supported real estate developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz took a position that appeared somewhere between supportive of the developments to - at best - indifferent.

NYS Senator Avella advocated on behalf of the community to thwart billionaire and mega millionaire real estate developers from grabbing Queens parkland - AND WON. In doing this, NYS Senator Tony Avella, appears to be more like a Maverick or Independent, resembling legislators like deceased U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican) and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Democrat), both of whom have charted their own path through party-dominated politics.

Avella is an important independent voice in the Queens, NYC and NYS community, which the Democrats in his district will have to decide whether or not to keep.


NYC Landlord Harassments Continue

NYCCM Helen Rosenthal Hosts Housing Clinic to Inform Renters of Their Rights

manhattan things to do nycMay 29, 2018 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan Real Estate / Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan Buzz NYC.

On Wednesday, May 25th I went to the Goddard Riverside Community Center on Columbus Avenue at 88th Street to attend a housing clinic designed to inform renters of their rights.

***The following introduction is based on prior research done by me, and was not information provided at the housing clinic. I'll let you know when I segue out of my preamble and into the housing clinic.***

Over the past decade landlords appear to have become increasingly aggressive in trying to wriggle out of NYC and NYS rent stabilization regulations, that govern the rental payments under which about two million New Yorkers live.

It is my understanding that the government contributed land and / or financing to build or repair the buildings governed by NYC / NYS rent stabilization laws in exchange for the pricing rights on rent stabilized units. Many of the new landlords who have acquired rent stablized buildings, may possibly be in violation of approaching their business contract(s) in good faith, as the definition of good faith according to Wikipedia is:

"In contract law, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is a general presumption that the parties to a contract will deal with each other honestly, fairly, and in good faith, so as to not destroy the right of the other party or parties to receive the benefits of the contract. It is implied in every contract in order to reinforce the express covenants or promises of the contract. A lawsuit (or a cause of action) based upon the breach of the covenant may arise when one party to the contract attempts to claim the benefit of a technical excuse for breaching the contract, or when he or she uses specific contractual terms in isolation in order to refuse to perform his or her contractual obligations, despite the general circumstances and understandings between the parties. When a court or triar or fact interprets a contract, there is always an "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing" in every written agreement."

What is at stake, throughout the city, is literally hundreds of millions and more likely billions of dollars in - rental benefits or rental income streams - depending on which side of the struggle you're on. The landlords appear to be trying - using the torturtous side effects of construction including noise, health risk dust [inhalation], privacy loss and apartment functional loss - to wrest away the billions of dollars of rental pricing rights benefits from tenants to be pocketed by the landlords themselves. Given the high dollar value of what's at stake - including people's homes - this seems like attempted grand larceny, especially in cases where landlords are breaking the law to achieve their goals.

This will be continued at a later date. Including the segue into the information provided by the Housing Clinic to inform tenants of their rights.

Tenants' Rights March & Rally - June 14th Midtown at 4.30 pm

P.S. There's a March & Rally scheduled for June 14th, beginning at 4.30 pm, at the NY Public Library at 5th Avenue and 40th Street. They plan to march to Governor Cuomo's office at 3rd Avenue and East 41st Street. For details contact info@realrentreform.org or call 212.979.6958. All but one of the No IDC NY senatorial candidates have been invited to participate, and there's a possibility that NYS gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon will be there too - as this seems to coincide with her reasons for challenging Governor Cuomo.


IDC Challengers' Rallies Sunday

Challenging Republicans Posing as NYS Senate Democrats?

April 28, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / Staten Buzz NYC.

nyc politics nyc government no idc rallies tru blue rallies nycI just received an email notifying me of simultaneous rallies which will be held by IDC [Independent Democratic Caucus] member CHALLENGERS within the NYC Metro area. The members of the IDC, who these challengers are rallying against, have been caucusing with the Republicans since 2010 / 2011. By caucusing with the Republicans, the IDC Democrats have provided Republicans with a majority in the NYS Senate. Thus the IDC members appear to be Republicans running as Democrats on the Democratic ticket.

The IDC CHALLENGER rallies are intended to inform the electorate as to how their IDC electeds have been (mis?) representing them - as well as how the challengers would like to represent them - should they be given the chance.

"In an unprecedented show of strength and unity following the release of their joint statement about their agenda, the candidates will set forth their visions for their districts and will enlist those present at the rallies in registering voters, canvassing, and the like in preparation for the Thursday, September 13, 2018 primary election."

"The rallies will explain the need to replace the former IDC members with true blue Democrats whom we can trust not to turn their backs on the people who elected them. The IDC may have rejoined the Democrats for now, but they've been willing to ally themselves with the GOP since 2011 - and they've claimed to return to the Democratic fold before. The damage is done and we will not forget. New York deserves REAL Democrats who stand for progressive values, not Trump Democrats."

SUNDAY Rally Details:

  • Blue Wave Rally for Jessica Ramos, April 29, 2 PM, 31-04 Ditmar Blvd., Intersection at 31st Street Astoria, Queens.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Alessandra Biaggi, April 29, 2-3 PM, Memorial Grove in Van Cortland Park, Bronx. Memorial Grove is located in Van Cortlandt Park, near West 246 Street between Broadway and the Van Cortlandt Mansion - see map above.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Robert Jackson, April 29, 1:30-2:30 PM, at Bennett Park, W 183rd St & Fort Washington Avenue, Manhattan.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Rachel May, April 29, 2-3 PM, State Office Building, 301 East Washington Street, Syracuse.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Zellnor Myrie, April 29, 2-3 PM, at the Prospect Park subway stop, on Lincoln Avenue between Flatbush and Ocean Avenues, Brooklyn.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Jasmine Robinson, April 29, 2-3 PM, at Tappen Park, Staten Island (near the Stapleton SIR stop).
  • Blue Wave Rally to Make NY True Blue in SD38, April 29, 2-3, at 20 South Main Street, New City, NY
  • Blue Wave Rally to Make NY True Blue in SD21, April 29, 2-3 PM, Bell Boulevard at 73rd Avenue, Oakland Gardens, Queens

Press contacts:

  • Rise and Resist: Claire Ullman, 917-679-7120
  • True Blue NY: Lisa DellAquila, co-leader, 917-991-0605
  • Jackson campaign: Harris Doran, 917-797-6180
  • Myrie campaign: Andre Richardson (campaign manager), 201-892-5829, andrerichardson@gmail.com
  • Robinson campaign: Jane Nixon Willis, 914-584-2833; improvised3@gmail.com
  • Ramos campaign: Monica Klein, 917-565-0715, monica@seneca-strategies.com
  • Biaggi campaign: Dominique Shuminova, Deputy Campaign Manager, 917-821-7700
  • Avella protest: Judy Kirschner from Rise and Resist, 917-270-2705
  • Carlucci protest: John Gromada from Rockland Citizens Action, (845) 323-9896

Scroll down for related story or click here for the full story about the Independent Democratic Caucus & members.


NY Real Estate Expo

NYC Professionals Discuss Manhattan & NYC Metro Real Estate

April 23, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / Manhattan Real Estate NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

manhattan real estate manhattan nyc real estateI attended the 10th annual NY Real Estate Expo at the New York Hilton last week. The event was well attended by hundreds of real estate, development and financial professionals from the NYC and metro area. Anthony Kazazis, Director of the event, had organized a series of panels to discuss key aspects affecting the real estate market ranging from software platforms, to financing, to NYC real estate market assessments.

Generally the mood was upbeat, but not without some concern about the future, given changes in the tax laws, foreign interest in NYC investment, interest rates forecasts and technological challenges facing the industry. But, I thought, that is why everyone is here. To find out what's going on so they can navigate the market changes - rather than be surprised by them.

While I had intended to stay only a short while, I found the topics and panelists too interesting to leave, so I stayed most of the day. I started with a discussion of a new information technology platform called Blockchain, which is intended to serve as an information clearing house, and it includes some artificial intelligence capability. I then found my way into a discussion about New York City versus Silicon Valley with respect to attracting large technology companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google. And I ended my visit after listening in on a discussion by NYC and metro area realtors discuss the residential real estate market in Manhattan and outer boroughs.

Sound like an interesting NYC real estate conference? It was. In the photo above you can see the audience at the well attended panel discussions at the NY Real Estate Expo this year.

I'll have more on this later in the week.


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The Past Comes Alive: Historic Richmond Town

Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island Preserves a Bit of America's Colonial & 19th Century Past

historic richmond town staten island nycMarch 2018 / Historic Richmond Town Neighborhood SI / Staten Island Culture & History / Staten Buzz NYC.

Earlier this month I visited Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island. I got off the train at Oakwood Heights and along with a visiting South Korean visitor, ubered the half to one mile inland to visit historic Richmond Town.

We were dropped off in a large parking lot adjacent to the main building, which turned out to be the rear of the site, and walked in. It was less than two hours before closing time and on this cold March day, things were pretty quiet.

In the museum gift shop we Lou Maira who manages it. The visiting South Korean took off on his own, while I struck up a conversation with Lou. He told me that we were in the Court House, which was the County Seat for Staten Island in 1837. The Court House also served as the prison. He told me that this late in the day, on the off season, wasn't really the optimal time to see the place, but he accommodated my unscheduled inquisitiveness anyhow.

Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island lies on 100 Acres of Colonial & 19th Century History

historic richmond town staten island historic richmond town nyc colonial history nysLou told me that there were 15 buildings in Historic Richmond Town. He informed me that tours are given regularly by knowledgeable guides and that they take about an hour and fifteen minutes. The whole town lies on about one hundred acres. At some point in the conversation, one of the tour guides whose name I apparently didn't write down [please send it to me if you read this], joined us, and we continued conversing about Historic Richmond Town. In the photo at right is one of the tour guides of Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island.

Guyon Tavern in Historic Richmond Town

One of the buildings is Guyon Tavern, which may be found about a block and a half away on Richmond Road. The Court House lies at the top of a small hill where Center Street and Court Place meet. Guyon Tavern hosts tavern nights in March and April, where a thirsty 19th century American could and still can get a bottle of ale.

Historic Richmond Town - Things To Do on Staten Island

Historic Richmond Town also hosts other events. In the May / June timeframe there's a program entitled On Court, which I was told is a fairly large festival that includes live entertainment, beer and wine and food. And in September there's a pretty huge festival, it's Historic Richmond Town's signature event, called the County Fair.

The houses in Historic Richmond Town range in dates from the 1600's, 1700's and into the 1800's. The houses built in the 1700's date back to the time of the American Revolutionary War.

I'll add more to this, including more photos, at a later date. But suffice it to say it's worth at least one visit and likely many more. You can find out more about it and their events at https://www.historicrichmondtown.org


NYC Crime Continues To Drop, Breaking Records

Mayor de Blasio & NYPD Discuss City Safety & Ongoing Improvements

February 7, 2017 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Government / Staten Buzz NYC.

public safety nyc crime rates queens crimeThis just came in on the heels of our coverage of the Public Safety discussion below. Mayor de Blasio and NY Police Commissioner O'Neill spoke in the Bronx regarding ongoing efforts and results in improving safety in the city. The following are some of the crime statistics noted in their meeting taken directly out of a press release sent by them.


Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot Shea, NYPD: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon, everyone. As you’ve heard, we have begun a strong start to 2017 in terms of overall crime reduction. Strategies that have been put in place to address repeat offenders, illegal gun possession and gangs are having the desired effect. We’re building on the momentum of the last few years.

  • So, some of the highlights for crime statistics from this January – overall index crime is down 0.2 percent for the month of January. When you carry it over to this morning, we are now down 2.7 percent in overall index crime in New York City.
  • To note – with the overall index crime, January marks the tenth consecutive month of reduced index crime. That’s the momentum we’ve been talking about. Currently, four out of five boroughs in New York City – all but Queens – are down to start the year.
  • Homicides – we recorded 20 homicides in January. That’s down two from 22. That 20, as the Mayor alluded to, is the lowest January that we have ever recorded going back a minimum into the 1960s.
  • Shooting incidents – down 1.7 percent in January. Last January we hit the modern mark with 59 shooting incidents. We came in with 58 this January.
  • Talking about momentum again – nine of the last 13 months we’ve had a reduction in shooting incidents. Nine of the last 13.
  • Three months in a row we’ve had a reduction in shooting incidents in New York City. We have now, when you look at New York City as a whole, we now have 24-hour periods where we do not record a shooting incident in New York City. That kind of thinking was impossible in the not too distant past.
  • This is the new normal. We want to build on it and we feel that we will build on it but there’s still plenty of work to do.
  • Stabbings and slashings for January – down 7.2 percent.
  • Robberies – down 7.5 percent. Lowest January robbery number we’ve seen.
  • Felony assaults in New York City – down 5.4 percent.
  • Burglaries tied the lowest mark set last year.
  • Transit crime – down 1.4 percent.
  • And housing crime – not to be outdone – down 1.9 percent.
  • Clearly, a wide breath of crime across New York City – property and violent crime, down.

    But there is, I alluded to, there is still work to do – three categories we saw increases in January.
  • Rape was up 8.9 percent.
  • Grand larceny, specifically, credit card related skimming and forging of checks – those two drove grand larcenies. And grand larceny was up for the month of January 4.7 percent.
  • And lastly, rounding out the crime totals – stolen vehicles which we have seen drop to unprecedented lows saw an increase of ten cars for January. So, that’s 480 versus 470 – a two percent increase.

Commissioner O’Neill: Okay, thanks, Dermot. We’ll take your questions.

Question: Do you think it’s possible, really to keep driving crime down further at this point? And how could you achieve that?

O'Neill's response was yes, with some added context.


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Staten Island Farmers Markets & Street Fairs

Staten Islanders Enjoy being outside Spring, Summer and Fall

staten island street fairs staten island si nycMarch 23, 2019 / Staten Island Farmers Markets / Staten Island St Fairs / Staten Buzz NYC.

A few Staten Island farmers markets may be open year round, but most of them are seasonal. Some of the seasonal Staten Island farmers markets usually begin opening in May, with the rest of them opening in June or no later than the first couple of weeks in July. Click here to view the schedules of many of the farmers markets in Staten Island.

Staten Island street fairs, on the other hand, are entirely seasonal. Some of them hit the streets as early as April. The number of Staten Island street fairs rises during the late spring and continues through the dog days of summer [July / August], including into the late part of the Fall. By late October / the end of November the Staten Island street fairs go on hiatus, with a few returning as early as April. Click here to view a full schedule of the Staten Island street fairs.


Click here for Brooklyn tile stores.


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Update: LaGuardia Airport Development Project

First Phase Moving Along with Second & Third Phases About to Begin

April 24, 2017 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Real Estate / Staten Buzz NYC.

laguardia airport construction redesign LGAI attended a Community Board One meeting at the Astoria World Manor on Wednesday, April 19th. People representing the LaGuardia Airport development project were scheduled to provide the community with an update regarding several of the multi-billion dollar renovation projects associated with LaGuardia Airport, that are either currently in the works or nearing the end of the planning process.

The presentation was split into three parts: 1) LaGuardia Airport development project construction updates, 2) traffic mitigation efforts and 3) community outreach including job opportunities related to the projects.

Click here to read our report on the LaGuardia Airport development project & expansion, related job opportunities, its possible impact on travel times to the airport and the public hearing details on May 3rd, 2017 in Flushing. We have also included a small bit of history about the airport and the fight over the property and development in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The graphic at right was created as part of the LaGuardia Airport development project.


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Staten Island New Years Parties - Staten Island New Years Eve Restaurants - Staten Island NYC | staten island new years parties staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, new years restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island new years staten island nyc
Staten Island New Years Parties - Staten Island New Years Eve Restaurants - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island New Years Eve Parties & NYE Restaurants 2020

Staten Island New Years Eve Parties in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

December 29, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Holiday Events / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

New Years Eve occurs on a Tuesday this year. While the celebrations may begin early on the weekend, the big events will all be held on New Years Eve, thus ending the year.

While New Years Eve is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like St. Patrick's Day, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of New Years Eve parties on Staten Island - New Years Eve restaurants Staten Island.





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