Showing posts with label NY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NY. Show all posts

March 28, 2017

Men Who Seem Gay Entrapment Prey For Port Authority Cops

Port Authority cops target men who seem gay or androgynous and arrest them on false charges of public masturbation and exposure at the city’s bus terminal, a new class-action lawsuit claims.

The cops have been falsely arresting men for years to increase “quality of life” arrest statistics, says the suit, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday.

Cops spy on men who seems “gay or non-gender conforming” through the slats in the privacy dividers in the man’s bathroom and then lie and say that the men are touching themselves, according to the suit and plaintiff attorney Ross Kramer.

“It’s an absolutely unacceptable use of police power,” said Kramer. “They go into public restrooms and have plainclothed officer stare at people and then accuse men who they believe to be gay of engaging in lewd behavior. It pads their arrests stats by preying on a vulnerable group of people.”

One man who was arrested says he even heard other officers congratulate the cop who busted him, calling him “the gay whisperer” because of the large amount of seemingly homosexual men he cuffed.

The Port Authority cops look for men who seem gay or effeminate based on the way they carried themselves or clothing or jewelry believed to be “non-masculine,” the suit says.

The practice goes back to at least 2004, when Port Authority cops arrested Alejandro Martinez, accusing him of masturbating in public. Martinez was found not guilty and was awarded “substantial damages,” but the cops still continue the practice of arresting men for lewdness without probable cause, said Kramer.

“We want an injunction against this unlawful and unconstitutional practice that’s been going on for years,” said Kramer.

The attorneys are still collecting evidence, but they believe that “many, many men” have been targeted for false arrest by Port Authority cops, said Kramer.

Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo declined to comment on the suit, saying the agency doesn’t talk about pending cases.

October 17, 2016

Rochester, NY Perfect Score for Non Discrimination

 By the looks on this picture it looks like a big city with the typical resident on a big city. Too smart and too cold. Not Rochester! The city is cold in the winter but the people are the warmest, polite, educated people.

Rochester received a perfect score Monday from a prominent national gay-rights group for the city's non-discrimination policies.

The 100 score for the city was the third year in a row it has received the top ranking from the Human Rights Campaign, the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

The group is pushing cities to install stronger anti-discrimination laws, scoring 506 cities across the nation, including 10 in New York.

The average score for cities in New York was 87 out of 100 points. The national average was 55.

[[ When my company gave me a choice of a few cities were they were moving in and my choice of which one would I have to pick to open a new outlet, I asked for Rochester because I wanted to stay in New York State, knowing that New Yorkers tend to be go getters and hard workers. Even outside of New York City. I ask other managers if that sense was true for upstate New York and others thought the same way. So Rochester it was and I found myself in a small city with a strong grass roots community in civil affairs and proud motivated gay residents. I never expected to find a gay bar yet there were several, nor did I expect gay couples yet I found many that did not seem to be too concern about what people thought. Couples that had been together for many years. As a matter of fact everybody seemed to be partnered just like I was at the time.  The single ones seemed to be closeted or transplants from other places.

The residents of this town are extra nice particularly if you come from a big city like NYC but finding gays born there and also transplanted there attracted by this beautiful city with its small but interesting work-thriving downtown area. There were guys from cities along the notheast and even from Puerto Rico which surprised me plenty. I am glad to see they still maintain that good sense of community and good gay neighborly ways. I am sure there are girls too but my experience was with guys. I still think how much fun I had in that little town. I even made it to the Jerry Lewis Telethon and was on TV to give a check from my company. I never forget coming back home after a night out on a snowy sunday evening. As I was cutting thru the center of town trying to avoid the thruway because of the snow I got a flat tired by hitting the side of the sidewalk making a turn which I did not see because of the snow collected there. A police car approached with blue lights on. I figured he saw me make the turn (there was a left turn sign which I did not see) and now was a ticket time. The police officer was about my age, which made him young and was very neighborly and polite. Trying to make conversation and trying to give an excuse I told him I was new in town and I did not know the roads too well. I gave him a business card so he would know I was no bs’ him. He ask me for the tools to change the tired and started changing the tire himself. I felt so bad I told him not to bother, he said I was well dressed and he did not want me to get dirty. I never had a better encounter with a cop nor with another motorist ever before nor after as far as that is concern. That was Rochester. I was only there less than a year before they send me to Buffalo. I always miss Rochester and proud to have lived there.  Adam Gonzalez, Publisher]]
"I’m not surprised that the city of Rochester was able to score a full 100. The city has a long history of really doing the right thing on behalf of the LGBTQ community, and in making sure the right systems are in place," said Scott Fearing, executive director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.

LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and either queer or questioning. Queer used to be considered a derogatory term, but the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that lobbies for LGBT rights told USA Today in 2015 that people now use the term because it is not specific to sexual orientation or gender identity and is more of an umbrella term that can encompass a lot of people.

There have been times that the Gay Alliance, one of the nation's oldest LGBTQ advocacy groups, had to help prod the city government forward. It took months of lobbying before the city agreed to extend benefits to domestic partners, as it did in 1994, and to improve police relations with the gay and lesbian communities. The group also had to sue in the early 1990s to force the city to accept its nonprofit status.

Fast-forward to recent times. "I have been very impressed with the city in all different aspects, in all different departments. We have good relations with the police," said  Fearing, who has worked with the Gay Alliance for seven years and been executive director for three.

Rochester was one of four cities in New York to get a perfect score and one of 60 nationally.

Albany, New York City and Yonkers were the others in the state. Buffalo got a 95, and Syracuse received a 94.

“This year, dozens of cities across the nation showed they are willing to stand up for LGBTQ people in their communities even when some state governments are not,” Chad Griffin, the Human Rights Campaign president, said in a statement.

In 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature legalized same-sex marriage, the largest state at the time to do so.

After opposition in the Republican-led Senate, Cuomo took executive action last year to put in place regulations to protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination.

The report said that in many states, however, local governments and cities have more progressive laws on gay rights.

The group deducted points from cities that have laws prohibiting individuals from "using public facilities consistent with their gender identity" and added points "to recognize cities that are offering transgender-specific city services."

Rochester fared well because of its non-discrimination laws; "transgender-inclusive insurance coverage;" elected gay officials, as well as a LGBTQ liaison in the city.

One of the main differences between Rochester and its other upstate cities is that Rochester has a LGBTQ police liaison or task force, which Buffalo did not, the report said.

The other difference is that Syracuse didn't reported 2014 Hate Crimes statistics to the FBI, while Rochester did, according to the report.

Fearing noted the state Senate's refusal to pass the transgender non-discrimination law, and said it might be helpful for Monroe County to adopt such a measure. He said the county government generally has not been supportive of LGBTQ rights, and a decade ago engaged in a high-profile legal fight to deny benefits to same-sex spouses of county employees who had been married in other states before New York legalized such unions.

"Maybe we need to try to get the County Legislature to look at transgender protections," Fearing said. "We hear from them regularly, (transgender) people who are neither employed in nor citizens of the city of Rochester proper."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren also cited the city's traditions in response to the latest ratings.

“Rochester has a long history of being a diverse and welcoming city,” Warren said. “I think Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass are proudly looking down at us, knowing that when it comes to modern day issues of equality and social justice, the city that they loved still leads the way. I would like to thank the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for recognizing Rochester as a city that values equality.”

Joseph Spector is chief of USA TODAY Network’s Albany Bureau. 

If you are reading this in Rochester, just say hi on the comments. Alright?

June 25, 2016

When Gay Marriage Came to New York 5yrs Ago

 Gov.Cuomo proudly signs NYS Gay Marriage into Law

 Five years ago, Michael Sabatino spent day after day in the dark and humid halls of the state Capitol pressing for the state legislature to legalize same-sex marriage.

On one side of the hall outside the Senate chambers were gay-rights supporters. On other side, religious groups urged senators to vote no.

When the bill was approved June 24, 2011, Sabatino and other gay-right activists in the Senate chamber broke into cheers and tears, with chants of “USA, USA” spontaneously breaking out in the chamber.

“The feeling of having fought for that at that point for 11 or 12 years, it was just an exhilarating feeling,” said Sabatino, now a Yonkers city councilman, who led a lawsuit seeking gay-marriage rights in New York.

Five years after New York became the largest state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, the Senate vote that late Friday night still resonates across the state with gay couples who have gotten married.

The vote carries extra meaning, too: A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the nation, and just two weeks ago, an Orlando shooter killed 49 people at a gay club.

“It’s a reminder that there’s still work to do — that our community still needs to remain vigilant,” said Scott Fearing, executive director of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.

“We need to keep safety issues in our mind, because the work isn’t all done.”

June is also Gay Pride Month, and the PrideFest parade is Sunday in Manhattan.

Outside New York City, at least 10,000 same-sex couples were married between 2012 and 2014, records from the state Health Department showed, representing nearly 6 percent of the total marriages in the state over those three years.

The number of gay marriages spiked at 4,031 in 2013 and dropped to 3,193 in 2014. There were 2,796 in 2012, the records showed.

New York marriage licenses do not require people to write down their sex, so the same-sex marriage figures aren’t exact.

Fight in Albany

New York was the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, and many others soon followed.

But getting New York there was a fight, and it remains one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature moments of his six-year tenure as governor so far. The bill initially failed in 2009 in the Senate.

The Democratic governor was able to persuade four Republican senators to vote in favor of the bill, giving it the 33 votes to pass the 62-seat chamber controlled by the GOP. The Democratic-led Assembly had easily passed the measure for several years.

There was political fallout: All four of the Republicans subsequently lost their seats over the next few years.

Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County, decided not to seek re-election in 2012, and Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, lost in a three-way race that November.

Sens. Roy McDonald, of Saratoga, and Mark Grisanti, of Buffalo, also would later lose re-election bids.

Rarely in Albany has a vote carried such suspense: Typically, bills are brought to the floor of the Assembly and Senate predetermined to pass.

With the same-sex marriage vote, it wasn’t clear the bill would pass to just moments before Saland spoke on the Senate floor and expressed his support.

“It was a real statesmen thing for many of the legislators who stepped up to the plate and said, ‘What’s right is right, and we need to act on it,’” said Frederic Mayo, who heads the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, based in Kingston.

Saland reiterated Tuesday he’s proud of his vote.

“It was an extraordinary moment — unlike any I had witnessed in my 30-plus years in the legislature,” he recalled.

After losing re-election, he essentially retired from politics, except for some part-time consulting work. He was named Friday to the state Thruway Authority board.

“I look back at that point and place in time with enormous pride,” Saland said. “And if I had to do it all over again, even well-knowing the consequences, I would have done the exact same thing.”

Some businesses have sought to attract gay couples and weddings to their venues. The Rochester visitor’s association has ads that try to reach gay couples and families, for example.

“We really see ourselves as the place for LGBT families to visit,” said Rachel Laber, spokeswoman for Visit Rochester.

Couples recall marriage

Wanda Martinez-Johncox, 37, recalled growing up in Puerto Rico and wondering if she’s ever be able to get married.

But after moving to Rochester as an adult and meeting her spouse a year ago, she was able to fulfill her dream.

“When it was passed, it was very exciting because I never thought I would get married. It was a step forward,” she said.

Other gay couples offered similar sentiments.

Lance Ringel, 64, of Poughkeepsie, had been with his husband for 25 years when same-sex marriage in New York passed.

They got married in New York two months after the law was on the books.

“When you’ve been together that long in some ways, it felt to us that it was going to be an afterthought,” Ringel said. “But it was really a positive experience — both for us and seemingly everyone who came. They still talk about it.”

Richard Skipper, 55, and his husband, Daniel Sherman, 62, of Sparkill, Rockland County, were one of the first 100 people to get married at Manhattan City Clerk’s office on the first day same-sex marriage was recognized in New York.

Skipper said he and his husband, who have been together for 26 years, saw the New York bill as an opportunity to finally receive equal spousal benefits, among other things.

The law gave equal rights to gay couples, affording them the same rights as straight couples, such as when it comes to health insurance, hospital visiting rights and income taxes.

“It sheds a light and an awareness of the fact that, for the most part, we are just like any other married couple,” Skipper said. “We deal with the same issues ...We have the same ups and downs that any other couple has had.”

Gay-rights groups in New York said they are still fighting for some rights in New York, such as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act that hasn’t passed the Republican-led Senate.

Opponents of gay marriages, particularly conservative groups, continue to lobby at the Capitol to block additional measures.

As a result, Cuomo last fall put into statewide regulations a measure that prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria.

“New York has always been a beacon for the country on LGBT rights,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time. “We started the movement at Stonewall, we led the way with marriage equality, and now we are continuing to show the nation the path forward.”

Also, the massacre in Orlando offered a stark reminder that equal rights is an ongoing battle, said Scott Havelka, director of programs at the The LOFT: LGBT Community Services Center in White Plains.

“In times of tragedy the LGBT community has always come together to show its resilience,” he said in a statement. “We see this resilience now as we gather for local vigils, raise funds for the survivors, and renew our commitments to visibly demonstrate the many facets of our community pride. Orlando will make us stronger as a community.”

Joseph Spector, | @gannettalbany

May 9, 2015

NYC Restaurant Basher( alleged) is Sought by Police

 This is the chair attacker identified as “trade’ (closeted gay or the closeted gay partner) and is known in gay partying circles. Police still looking for him as of the edition of this report.
So as it was suspected all along the chair throwing dude is a closet gay. That will explain why he is hiding and has not come fourth to plea his side of the event. Some black witnesses accused the “white media” say what??? 1969 again? of making this guy throw the chair…no Im not sorry making this guy a homophobe. Gay or straight Im sorry to say (maladjusted or sick person) can be a homophobe: As a matter of fact study after study shows that most homophobes are afraid of gays because they are one!
This is not a complicated case and it happens more often than anybody would admit. A fight between closet gays and out gays. Both sides can recognize each other without saying any words and thus bias towards the other has a lot to do in these cases. I picked this story out to highlight the situation between the principals I just mentioned and because there was a chair involved which could have easily been a knife or gun had “trade” been packing or the other parties involved. Once you use a weapon any outcome is possible. I also live in NYC and even not a bar person I am well versed on our community and don’t like to pass on on stories that need another point of view or not being reported at all. In this case there s a lot of opinions particularly about “black bias” that has no call here. Not every time you have a white and non white at each others throat is bias and if it is it runs on both sides.  
The thing I could not understand right away was why “trade” was not coming fourth and explaining his side but then when a person identified him as gay everything was clear to me. Imagine the fear of being outed for ’trade’ is worse than the fear of being on the run from the police and being arrested. 
I am sure that by now all the parties involved are feeling bad about this and probably thinking it was not worth it. Given the history of gay bashing particularly in NYC, cases that look as gay bashing are better given the benefit of the doubt than ignored. The message has to be out that a basher is a basher. One cannot claim self defense when insulted or even punched and the response is overkill with a weapon. That Im sure “trade” either knows already or will soon find out if he is charge with assault even though I see this being plea down to something that carries not jail. How do I know? Many years back, someone used a bat (karate stick?) on my head and though initially charged with aggravated-assault, the only jail time they did was the  24 hours when they were arrested. After that it was a fast stairway down the plea bargain all the way to 1 yr. probation. It took a year of court continuances to come down to that. Every case is different but the wheels of justice in NYC run slow and it takes many decades to even move an inch in direction of change.
Police have released new surveillance video of the suspect in the alleged bias attack which took place at a Dallas BBQ in Chelsea earlier this week. 
The Hate Crimes Task Force are investigating the attack on Jonathan Snipes and his boyfriend Ethan York-Adams, who were celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday when they ended up in a brawl with another patron who they say repeatedly called them gay slurs, and hit them over the head with a chair
Republished using Grist as source:

The two men had accidentally knocked over a drink as they were leaving the restaurant, which led to a verbal confrontation with the other table, which then became physical. "A table near us audibly started making pretty gross comments about the two of us like, 'White f----ts, spilling drinks,'" Snipes told DNAInfo. "I don't let anyone talk to me like that. I went over there and asked, 'What did you say about us?'"
The NYPD describes the suspect as "a light complexioned male black, wearing a black blazer and a white shirt." Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
While the police are still trying to track down the suspect, it seems there are many people online who are already aware of his identity. A counter-narrative has sprung up to Snipes's account, alleging that he was the aggressor, and the suspect is a gay man himself. Waddie Grant Jr. writes on G-List Society that the man who filmed the fight, Isaam Sharef, told him that Snipes "struck one of the Black men first which kicked off the entire brawl." More Grant Jr.’s G-List story, headlined “Gay Hate Crime Or White Gay Privileged Media Manipulation On NYC’s Chair Throwing Fight?”

May 8, 2015

Gay Bashing Attack over Spill drinks at NY Bar

 This Man is Wanted for attacking a gay couple with chair while yelling gay epithets
On Tuesday night, a diner at Dallas BBQ in Chelsea was hit over the head with a wooden chair in an alleged bias attack. The Hate Crimes Task Force says they are now investigating the attack on Jonathan Snipes and his boyfriend Ethan York-Adams, who were celebrating Cinco de Mayo when they ended up in a brawl with another patron who they say repeatedly called them gay slurs.

Snipes spent hours with detectives yesterday going over the events of the assault: the two men had accidentally knocked over a drink as they were leaving the restaurant, which led to a verbal confrontation with the other table, which then became a physical one. "A table near us audibly started making pretty gross comments about the two of us like, 'White f----ts, spilling drinks,'" Snipes told DNAInfo. "I don't let anyone talk to me like that. I went over there and asked, ‘What did you say about us?’”
View image on Twitter
 Witnesses described the fight to CBS: "He was on the floor being stomped — like he was stomping to kill," Isaam Sharef, who captured video of the assault, told them. "Like, it was violently dangerous. It was out of control to even see it...In all my years, I had never seen anything like that. I had never seen somebody crack — 
I mean like, you could hear the wood break; like, that heavy, thick wood upside that man’s head." Snipes wrote on Facebook: “ than and I want to extend our most heartfelt thanks and gratitude to everyone for their support.                                                                                                               
We are in better spirits and believe that our assailants will be found and brought to justice. We live in the finest city in the world and have the VERY BEST police officers to match! I am humbled and immensely thankful for their help. Even in the midst of turmoil we feel so blessed to have been shown such compassion.                                                                                                    
Thank you all again. Please have a safe and happy evening."Corey Johnson, the councilman who represents Chelsea, said in a statement that such attacks are intolerable: "The fact that this attack took place in the neighborhood of Chelsea, a place known around the world for its acceptance of all people, is particularly outrageous."No arrests have been made in connection with the assault.
pic: CBS Gothamist

April 24, 2015

The Plan in NY to END AIDS will Save $4.5B by 2020 in Medicaid Alone

$4.5 Billions  $4.5 Billions

NY Plan to End AIDS Will Save $4.5B in Medicaid by 2020, Says Report

If New York State implements all the recommendations of a blueprint created to end the AIDS epidemic, it will save a net $4.5 billion in Medicaid costs by 2020 and an additional $120 million through improving the lives of HIV-positive New Yorkers who are homeless or in unstable housing, according to a press release and report by the Treatment Action Group (TAG) and Housing Works.

Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo formed the Ending the Epidemic (ETE) Task Force, which was made of HIV/AIDS experts, including members of TAG and Housing Works. The group’s goal was to create a blueprint to end the epidemic in the Empire State by 2020. Specifically, this meant reducing new infections from the 3,200 cases in 2013 to fewer than 750 a year by 2020. It included the goals of identifying undiagnosed people and linking more HIV-positive New Yorkers to care and helping them remain undetectable, as well as providing more access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to HIV-negative people.

This January, the task force completed its blueprint to attain these goals. According to the press release, the plan requires the state to invest an additional $2.5 billion in Medicaid spending between now and 2020—but that investment will result in a net savings of $4.5 billion for that program alone.

The fiscal report released this week from Housing Works and TAG focuses on the costs and savings of the plan, specifically in terms of the New York State Medicaid program, because it covers half of people with HIV in the Empire State.

“[The blueprint] will pay for itself because the number of averted infections will be so great it will save billions of dollars,” Mark Harrington, TAG’s executive director, told The Associated Press. “Which then can be spent on treatment, and on housing, and on many other services we need for people living with HIV.”

November 7, 2012

NY {} Lets Start The Great Work Sandy Warned Us About

  By Kevin Baker 

The great thing about living in New York used to be that you didn’t have to give a damn about the natural world.
Sadly, those days seem to be gone. Even in my neighborhood, which was lucky enough to be high and relatively dry, things began to resemble a zombie movie by last Wednesday. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, hordes of Upper West Siders staggered about the sidewalks, searching for brunch instead of brains: “Rrrrrr … smoked fish … rrr … hollandaise!”
Now, it seems, we’re all ready to give ourselves a big pat on the back for how we weathered the storm.
Not so fast. Yes, the firemen, cops and emergency workers deserve all the gratitude their weary bones can carry. Yes, plenty of average New Yorkers helped their friends and neighbors.
But as for the institutional response, public or private … Sorry, but 85 dead and counting, over $60 billion in damages, a subway system still not fully operational a week after it shut down, massive blackouts throughout the region, days of gas-line fistfights and raging fires in Queens just doesn’t add up to a good response. (Note to ConEd: when a piece of equipment that’s absolutely vital to keeping the lights on blows up in the first hours of a storm everyone was predicting for days … you’re not doing your job.).
New York has been under assault, human or otherwise, pretty continually for almost 20 years now. And yet the response of our leaders remains basically reactive.
Yes, it’s nice that FEMA is now run by people with detectable brain patterns, and that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have become staunch believers in climate change. But more needs to be done—much more. And it is probably up to us to do it.
IT’S NOT THAT NO ONE could see this coming. Scientists have been talking about global warming for a generation now. The dean of the city’s investigative reporters, Wayne Barrett, warned five years ago that Bloomberg deputy Dan Doctoroff was deliberately and grossly minimizing the possible effects of hurricanes and rising sea levels in putting together the administration’s much-vaunted blueprint for the future, PlaNYC.
Nonetheless, the Bloomberg administration did all it could to promote massive new developments in nearly every part of the city that ended up underwater last week: the West Side of Manhattan, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, the Queens riverfront, Red Hook, the Rockaways. And plenty more is coming. Remember watching the flood waters sweep over Coney Island? Thanks to an elaborate masquerade the city played with developers, Coney was rezoned two years ago to allow the development of 30 30-story buildings. That’s enough luxury condos to spark a financial crisis as well as an environmental one.
And while global warming is new, New York has been bedeviled by similar weather patterns throughout its history. In the past, we generally managed to learn something from them. The question is if we’ll do so again.
Back near the end of the last Little Ice Age, fierce winds off the Atlantic frequently combined with cold fronts from Canada to batter the city. The “hard winter” of 1779-1780 brought snowdrifts 18 feet deep and a record low temperature of 16 degrees below zero, and froze the harbor solid for five consecutive weeks. New Yorkers adjusted by harvesting the waterways for ice to get them through the summer, and turning them into roadways to get out of town. In the winter of 1821, they even set up makeshift taverns on the Hudson to attract the foot traffic crossing to Jersey.
In March of 1888, a cold front combined with—surprise, surprise—heavy winds off the ocean to suddenly turn a warm spring rain into a howling snowstorm. “The Blizzard of ’88”—or as it was known at the time, “The Great White Hurricane”—became shorthand for natural disaster. In the city, some 40 inches of snow fell, and severe flooding and conflagrations swept New York. The fires alone caused $25 million worth of damage, or more than $600 million in today’s money.
When temperatures dropped to 6 degrees—the coldest ever recorded here in March—the region came to a standstill. New York’s vast webs of telegraph and telephone wires were encased in ice and its many elevated railroads ground to a halt. More than 200 New Yorkers died, some of them freezing to death in the street.
In response, the city began to bury its wires, cables and trains, and professionalized its street-cleaning department. But today, the city’s underground is more vulnerable than ever.
So what to do?
The good news is that many very smart people have already spent a good deal of time thinking about this. Some of their ideas were all over last Sunday’s New York Times, ranging from gigantic, high-tech solutions—vast barriers or gates to seal off much of the city at key chokepoints—to incredibly inventive, low-tech solutions, such as “absorptive streets,” or natural barriers of marshes and oyster beds.
The bad news is that they require leadership and money to be implemented. Neither is likely to come from Washington anytime soon. So we’ll have to do it ourselves. A special tax on, say, stock transactions, or luxury items, or the very highest incomes might raise enough cash—though the usual suspects are likely to balk at a tax for even such an urgent and worthy purpose.
So here’s another idea. Once upon a time, when no government would shell out the money for a pediment on which to place the Statue of Liberty, a newspaper started a campaign to raise the money through thousands of individual donations. In exchange for donations of as little as a penny, Joseph Pulitzer would print their names in the pages of the New York World.
Maybe some newspaper today could start the “Keep Lady Liberty’s Head Above Water Fund,” dedicated to not only preserving our city and region, but also to making it the hub of global climate research and solutions. (Then again, maybe someone else should take this on, given how busy newspapers are trying to keep their own heads above water.)
Our local universities could be persuaded to open new climate change centers, in exchange for the vast amounts of land and legal support we’ve given them lately. Abandoned or underused facilities, such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard or Governor’s Island or the Kingsbridge Armory could be devoted to this purpose. The unemployed could find work building these wondrous new projects. The Bloomberg administration could finally find a reason for its third term.
Of course, simply getting their names in the paperwould hardly suffice for people today. The enterprise I have in mind would operate as an investment fund. As the new technologies, devices and clean energy solutions we produce are put into place around the world—as they surely would be—each investor would get a return on his dollar, once the city’s safety is secured.
New York has been reacting to storms for almost four centuries now. It’s time we got ahead of the next one.

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