Life In The Big City

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Agudath Israel Advocates for “Level Playing Field”
in School Safety for Yeshivot

On April 14th, at a school safety rally sponsored by the New York City Council, and then at a City Council hearing, Agudath Israel leaders advocated for
Introduction 65, a proposed amendment to the New York Administrative Code. This legislation, if passed, would require the New York Police Department (NYPD) to assign school safety officers, upon request, to nonpublic schools. Currently, these assignments are only mandated for public schools.

At the rally, held in front of City Hall, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel, addressed a crowd comprised of nonpublic school representatives, council members and community leaders. He said that Introduction 65 levels the playing field in safety for nonpublic schools by giving them equal access to school safety officers who are trained by the NYPD. These officers, while unarmed, work in full uniform and are in direct radio communication with the NYPD. Having them on premises may deter potential attackers, or give the school an edge in combatting an attack in progress.

Later that day, as one of several invested community leaders, Agudath Israel representative and Education Affairs Associate Dovid Tanenbaum, testified at the City Council hearing in favor of Introduction 65. He stated, “There is no legal or constitutional basis for denying this protection to the close to 250,000 children, or almost 20 percent of New York City students, who attend nonpublic schools.”

Introduction 65, sponsored by Councilmember David G. Greenfield, enjoys strong support from council members, with 46 out of 51 members already signed on. The hearing was a joint meeting of three key committees – the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the Committee on Education, and the Subcommittee on Non-Public Schools – and it gave community advocates the opportunity to air their concerns, share ideas and demonstrate their endorsement of the amendment to these legislators.

NY State Police Launch Safety Campaign Aimed
At Teen Drivers

New York State Police launched a weeklong traffic safety campaign this past month aimed at minimizing crashes involving teen drivers. The campaign was run under the name “The Empty Chair,” referring to high school seniors who were tragically killed in road accidents and will thus not be present on graduation day.

The campaign targeted specific laws regarding speeding in school zones, the use of seat belts and child restraints, cellphone use while driving, underage drinking and impaired driving.

Troopers used both marked State Police vehicles and
unmarked cars.

According to figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2,524 teenagers between ages 13 and 19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2013 in the United States. The fatal crash rate per mile driven for drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 or older.

Hikind Calls For Immediate Remedy To Dangerous Potholes On Ocean Parkway

Assemblyman Dov Hikind
(D-Brooklyn) says he’s a
great fan of the NYC
Department of Transportation,
but wonders how they could have skipped Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway when making
post-winter repairs.

“It’s like a mine field,” said Hikind, whose office has been receiving complaints from constituents about the seriously dangerous conditions on Ocean Parkway in Midwood. “We’re looking at a potentially disastrous situation out there. These potholes are causing drivers to suddenly move over into adjoining lanes to avoid the potholes, creating the likelihood
of accidents.

“It’s already been several weeks since the snow ended and Ocean Parkway is a major thoroughfare, so I urge the DOT to continue their good work and take care of Ocean Parkway expeditiously. We appreciate all of the DOT’s hard work after a particularly tough winter, but we need to get this taken care of.”

Hikind’s staff members visited the areas where the potholes were reported by constituents and photographed them to make it easier for the DOT to immediately locate the most dangerous spots.

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Report: Brooklyn Bridge
Repairs Exceed Budget by $100 Million

Records show that repair work on the Brooklyn Bridge is
$100 million over budget and the completion date has been pushed back again, Newsdayreported.

The Daily News says engineers discovered over 3,000 new structural problems on the span, including cracks in steel beams and fraying cables. These unanticipated expenses will increase the repair costs to more than $600 million.

The paper cited documents obtained via a Freedom of Information request.

The 132-year-old bridge had been set to reopen last April but was delayed for a year. The city Department of Transportation now says the work won’t be completed until sometime in 2016. The project was started in 2010.

Records show that many repairs, such as widening and refurbishing the span’s crumbling approaches and ramps, have already been completed.

New York’s Exploding Manhole Covers Pose Unexpected Winter Hazard

Manhole “events” have become all too common in New York City, Yahoo News reported. In the snowy first week of February, Consolidated Edison Inc., the local utility, tallied about
600 “smokers,” fires and occasional explosions involving manholes, part of a seasonal surge that plagues New York every winter.

Manholes are entry points to a labyrinth of electric cables, many of them aged and decaying that snake underneath the city streets. During winter, melting snow mixed with de-icing salt can seep through, causing frayed low-voltage cables to fail. That can trigger fires, smoke and explosions that can send manhole covers flying.

Cables have an expected lifespan of about 40 years, and, according to a 2014 analysis, five percent of low-voltage distribution cables in Manhattan were installed before 1930. It is the oldest electrical system in the nation. Overheating and even gnawing rats can hasten the deterioration.

New York has 2,100 manhole incidents a year, or nearly six every day, Con Ed estimates.

The problem is so much larger in New York than elsewhere in part because the city has the country’s largest underground electrical system, with its 98,000 miles of cable and 264,000 manholes and service boxes.

Most manhole incidents are relatively harmless “smokers,” but about 10 percent in the first week of February were more dangerous. In one incident caught on video, a smoking manhole exploded in Brooklyn, sending a worker scrambling for safety. On the same day, a parked Mazda was torched after a manhole beneath it started spouting fire.

The problem has begun attracting attention. Donovan Richards, chair of the New York City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, is considering legislation to push Con Ed to spend more on modernizing its underground infrastructure. Con Ed invested $1.3 billion in 2014 in modernizing its electrical infrastructure, including the installation of nearly 1,600 miles of underground electric cable. But that is just a fraction of the tens of thousands of miles in the system.

The utility has also been installing vented covers that allow for trapped combustible gases to dissipate more easily.

Con Ed has teamed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University to develop a tool that predicts manhole incidents through statistical modeling, taking into account factors such cable age and failure history.

 

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