Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sandy, Federal Help Drying Up

Plan to shield city from flooding with ‘Big U’ series of berms

New York Plants Curbside Gardens to Soak Up Storm-Water Runoff(NYT)

Sandy Fed $$$ Misspent 
HUD audit found New York City officials improperly used some of $183 million in federal grants for hospital rebuilding after superstorm Sandy. The money in question is a piece of a grant awarded to the city Health and Hospitals Corporation, was used to help pay officials’ salary and fringe benefits and other “unreasonable and unnecessary expenses,” and city officials failed to monitor exactly how the money was spent, the audit showed. The city used Sandy aid money to pay salaries, fringe benefits and utility costs at both Bellevue and Coney Island Hospitals, two of the hospitals hardest hit by the October 2012 storm.
More on Sandy 

City Agency Faulted for Handling of Sandy Contracts

  • De Blasio Cites Progress on Rebuilding After Sandy

    Plan to shield city from flooding with ‘Big U’ series of berms

    Flood-prone sections of lower Manhattan would be ringed with berms, bridges and public spaces that look like a futuristic High Line under a new plan to protect the city from...


      * After Superstorm Sandy the New York City Department of Homeless Services could not show auditors it had adequate contractor oversight, leaving the city vulnerable to fraud and abuse, according to a city comptroller audit: http://goo.gl/mzut4W

    Cuomo Signs Bill Preventing Tax Hikes on Sandy Affected Homes(NY1)

    These Designs Could Save NYC And Other Cities From Another Hurricane

    * Cuomo, alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, signed a bill to provide nearly $4 million in tax relief for Superstorm Sandy victims who made repairs to their homes, DNAinfo reports: http://goo.gl/6R61yO

    * 19 months after Superstorm Sandy New York City mostly continues to look backward and needs to focus on a forward-thinking climate adapting strategy that includes enhanced social resiliency, preparing citizens to adjust to the changing world, not just buildings that can sustain through storms, Marcia Bystryn writes in AMNewYork: http://goo.gl/BeJ0AW

    2 States Getting More Money for Storm Recovery Efforts(NYT)

    The federal government has drawn up plans to send an additional $2.5 billion in aid to New York and New Jersey to help pay for the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, officials said.

    Federal Sandy Funds Fall Short, Officials Say(WSJ)

    Just 10 businesses have benefitted from a $42 million pot of federal money the city is supposed to dole out to mom-and-pop shops hit by Hurricane Sandy, officials said Wednesday. Small Business Services Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer conceded it was a low number but did point to one bright spot: It was only seven a couple of weeks ago, writes our Jennifer Fermino. The problem, she told a City Council hearing, is that the program requires the city to wait until eligible small businesses have exhausted all their other avenues for relief, including private insurance.

    To Save the Shore, Putting Hope in the Sand(NYT)
    Volunteers recruited by the parks department are planting beach grass in the Rockaways to strengthen the replenished dune system against another Hurricane Sandy.

    City sitting on Hurricane Sandy money for small businesses

     HUD May Make NYC Compete for Sandy Aid (WNYC)

    Tear down this law(NYDN)
    Loss of $1B in federal Sandy aid could mean 9500 city homes not rebuilt: report

    Schumer, Menendez Fight Proposal That Could Allocate Sandy Funds For Nationwide Use(WCBS)

    An inconvenient irony for progressive, pro-labor Bill de Blasio: One of the biggest threats to the mayor’s ambitious affordable housing and Sandy rebuilding plans is a union-beloved law.

    Eighteen months after superstorm Sandy, more than a thousand families in New Jersey and New York are about to lose federal rental assistance that has helped keep them afloat.

    Sandy Money Promised by the Mayor Not Applied For Yet
    Mayor Bill de Blasio can't fulfill his pledge to reallocate $100 million in federal money to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy until he gets federal approval, which hasn’t even been formally applied for, Capital New York reports:

    * New York City Office of Recovery and Resiliency Director Daniel Zarrilli discussed the de Blasio administration’s approach to previous resiliency planning, coastal communities and climate change in an interview with Gotham Gazette: http://goo.gl/JjuaDG

    NYU Langone Reopens Emergency Room That Was Closed by Hurricane Sandy   

    * Politicians and billionaires celebrated the re-opening of NYU Langone Medical Center’s emergency department, which was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy nearly two years ago, the Daily News reports: http://goo.gl/d3cLcp

    Sandy Promises Without Politics 
    The Media Covers the Mayors to Fix Sandy and Not the Feds Who May Cut Millions of Sandy $$$

    Tuesday Update New York City Area Officials Blast Potential Loss of Sandy Funds (WSJ)New York and New Jersey officials Monday vowed to fight any move to divert federal disaster money to other states until all the needs from superstorm Sandy are met.

    Federal officials are considering spending more than $1 billion of the remaining rebuilding aid—money New York and New Jersey are counting on to complete Superstorm Sandy repairs—on disasters other than Sandy, The Wall Street Journal reports: * The Daily News writes that while the question of if Mayor Bill de Blasio is up to running a big city has persisted, he now has a chance to prove his command and competence by straightening out the Build it Back program. “Mayor de Blasio has talked a big game, but four months in, the persistent question remains: Is he up to running a big city?” the Daily News asked in an editorial on Hurricane Sandy rebuilding. “Now, de Blasio has the chance to prove command and competence by straightening out the shamefully failed program to help New Yorkers recover from damage suffered during Hurricane Sandy.”

    Mayor Pushes Sandy Fix
    Cuomo’s MTA contract triumph also a costly one(NYP) The average transit worker can expect to earn above $75,000 with this $6,000 or so raise — and will only have to pay $400 more in annual health-care costs in return. * As part of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s new Sandy Oversight Unit, he is launching an audit of the Build it Back program, which has served few Superstorm Sandy victims Sandy * The de Blasio administration is aiming to build support at the state level for property tax breaks for Superstorm Sandy victims who have to rebuild or repair, though there are just six weeks to get something passed before property tax bills go out Sandy * Mayor Announces 'Major Overhaul' to City's Sandy Rebuilding Efforts(NYO) * Mayor Bill de Blasio released a sweeping report examining the Superstorm Sandy recovery and said that New York City will start reconstructing 500 homes by the end of summer, CBS Local reports * For the second time, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio held a Sandy-related event on Staten Island, and for the second time, Rep. Michael Grimm did not attend. * Mayor Details New Hurricane Sandy Aid Reforms * Sandy Recovery Still Lagging(NYT Ed) Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to attack the neglected program to rebuild communities with an urgency and more money * Editorials  The New York Times writes that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promises to improve Superstorm Sandy recovery are a start, but making the city more resilient is no less important than cleaning up the current mess * De Blasio Vows Fixes for Sandy Aid(WSJ) *De Blasio Promises 500 Sandy Reimbursement Checks By Summer's End(DNAINFO) The planned Sandy rebuilding changes were included in a report released Thursday.
    More on the Sandy Fix 


    NYC refuses to release seized bikes in Sandy damaged building(NYP)

    Mayor Promotes Property Tax Cut for NYC Homeowners at Post-Sandy Conference in Albany

    City Controller Scott Stringer launching audit of Build it Back Hurricane Sandy home re-building program (NYDN)After only six homes have been rebuilt with 20,000 Hurricane Sandy victims on the program’s waiting list, Stringer plans on putting the Build it Back program under the microscope.

    * The de Blasio administration is aiming to build support at the state level for property tax breaks for Superstorm Sandy victims who have to rebuild or repair, though there are just six weeks to get something passed before property tax bills go out\

    Mayor Looks for Ways to Show He is Engaged In Fixing Sandy's Housing Repair Program
    City Department of Investigations monitoring Build it Back, Hurricane Sandy housing recovery program(SI Advance) "DOI has worked successfully with integrity monitors on large-scale city construction projects, instilling safeguards that close corruption gaps and identify areas of concern on the front end," a spokesman for the department said. Now, the same monitoring is being used to keep an eye on Build it Back, the housing recovery program that has been allocated hundreds of millions of dollars but has yet to hand any of it to homeowners -- much to the homeowners' frustration.*  Appoints His Sandy Recovery Team | New York Observer * NYC mayor appoints Sandy rebuilding team: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing a new team to lead ...(Fox 5) *De Blasio Announces Push for Hurricane Recovery(NYT) Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed three officials to lead the effort and said New York City would allocate $100 million in funds to assist homeowners. * SUPERSTORM SAVE: Homeowners hit by Sandy to receive $100 million in repair funds(NYDN)
    More News on Sandy



    Council scolds administration over Sandy aid to businesses(Capital)

    Startling numbers for NYC Sandy recovery: 18 months out, 6 new homes under construction out of over 20K applicants:

    NYC program to rebuild homes destroyed by Superstorm Sandy has begun construction on only three houses:

    Sandy Help
    De Blasio Taps Former Construction Aide to Lead Sandy Rebuilding Efforts via * Amy Peterson, president of Nontraditional Employment for Women, is expected to be named to lead New York City’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, the Times reports: * Ex-Development Official to Direct Hurricane Sandy Recovery(NYT)

     Bill de Blasio‘s Hurricane Sandy rebuilding event yesterday was a little short on specifics. As the Staten Island Advance noted: “[T]he mayor didn’t offer many specifics about parts of the program he liked or didn’t like, or about what he’d like to see happen. He did ask people frustrated by the delay to wait a little longer to see his plan.”
    Residents Question Why State's Sandy Rebuilding Program is More Effective Than City's

    Head of Sandy reconstruction program steps down, marking 2nd top recovery official to depart in month:

    Sandy Rebuilding Effort Falling Short: Report
    Disabilities and Sandy 

    New York’s Emergency Plans Violate Disabilities Act, Judge Says
    A federal judge ruled that New York City was not prepared to evacuate disabled residents during emergencies, including Hurricane Sandy, in a blow to the Bloomberg administration, WNYC reports: 
    A federal judge ruled that NYC is not prepared to evacuate disabled residents during emergencies.
    *Disability Lawsuit Goes Against City(WSJ)
    A federal court ruled that New York City has violated the rights of about 900,000 disabled residents by failing to to come up with an evacuation plan that accommodates their needs, the New York Times writes: * New York City has violated the rights of about 900,000 of its residents with disabilities by failing to accommodate for their needs during emergencies, a federal judge ruled.*
    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is testing hatches that can seal off ventilation grates when a storm approaches, and demonstrated the devices for federal officials last week, hoping to win federal funding for installation, A Grate Fix for Flooding(WSJ) * Lessons From Hurricane Sandy Being Applied to Election Planning  *NYC gets $104M more in Sandy recovery aid(NYDN) * New Building Codes Passed After Lessons From Hurricane Sandy(NYT)  * U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act that protects thousands of flood insurance policy holders throughout the state from big premium hikes as a result of new flood mapping, The Journal News writes:

    Sandy Repairs and Beach Access
    A New Jersey Senate panel took a step Monday toward ensuring that state taxpayers whose money is used to repair beaches can actually use them.
    Sandy Fraud

    Lights Slowly Come Back in a Storm-Crippled Park(NYT)

    Salt water that surged into the park during Hurricane Sandy dealt a big blow to the infrastructure. The federal Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, responsible for identifying fraud in the nearly $58 billion superstorm Sandy aid package, says it is struggling to track grants, loans, and contracts most vulnerable to misuse, Newsday reports:* More than a year after superstorm Sandy, the mounting frustration illustrates a broader dilemma for policy makers in New York City and Albany: Is it better to invest in pricey measures that protect the many or to help those hardest hit immediately? * Hundreds of photos salvaged from the debris in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island after Sandy are now on a Facebook page for their owners to identify.* Gov. Cuomo announces $50M project to protect Hurricane Sandy-battered nabes in Queens from future storms(NYDN) * Sandy Victims Frustrated By NYC Rebuilding Program

    Sandy Fix Up Patronage
    While Storm Victims Wait, Troubled Brooklyn Housing Complexes Secure Millions in Aid from Empire State Relief Fund
    EXCLUSIVE investigation: Gov. Cuomo's Sandy Charity Benefits Private Equity Investor Cronies * A Superstorm Sandy charity relief fund organized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo donated money to housing projects managed by a Wall Street firm while storm victims wait for government assistance


    The New York Times Magazine looked at how the MTA managed its operations under Hurricane Sandy: “As weather forecasters were hemming and hawing about European versus American climate models and Mayor Bloomberg was debating whether to evacuate flood areas, New York City Transit was working on its own hurricane plans.”
    Four charities that had been under fire for sitting on millions of dollars of Sandy relief funds have agreed to pony up $10 million to aid victims of the storm * Bloomberg Says Somebody ‘Will Write a Book’ About City’s Sandy Response(NYO) * Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway: To prepare for the future we have to remember Sandy as we plan ahead(NYDN) *Schumer: $6.3B coming to New York for hurricane relief(NYP)

    Liberty Open

    NYS Pays the Bill to Open the Statue of Liberty

     he Statue of Liberty Will Reopen Tomorrow
    Deal Will Reopen Statue of Liberty - NYTimes.com
    Amid the government shutdown, New York State will pay National Park Service personnel to reopen the popular attraction this weekend.* Gov. Cuomo Reaches Deal to Reopen Statue of Liberty(WSJ) * Gov. Cuomo, Feds Reach Deal To Re-Open Statue Of Liberty During Federal Government Shutdown (New York Daily News) * Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, other national parks to reopen ...(NBC) * Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore to reopen(CNN) * Statue Of Liberty Reopens Under State Funded Deal (NY1)

    Sandy One Year Later

    The long climb back following Sandy(NYP) * Feds sending $1.3B more in Sandy relief to NYC(NYP)
    One year after Hurricane Sandy, officials acknowledge that the consequences of the storm will be felt for years, mostly in the form of persistent service disruptions across New York City’s subway system, the Times reports:  * MTA still clawing back from Sandy’s historic devastation(NYP) * Turning Hurricane Sandy’s Scars Into Badges of Survival(NYT) * For Subway Riders, Fallout From Hurricane May Last Years(NYT) * Ellis Island Welcoming Visitors Once Again, but Repairs Continue(NYT)

    MTA shows off anti-storm equipment(NYP) Cuomo and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority used the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy to showcase techniques and equipment to combat flooding in Lower Manhattan, including a 30-foot tunnel plug and subway entrance cover,* Natural Allies for the Next Sandy(NYT) * On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the Times praises Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s program to buy out damaged or destroyed homes, but charges that it is moving too slowly.




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