Tag Archive | "John Light"

Bill de Blasio Critiques Bloomberg’s Education Cuts

Bill de Blasio, public advocate, speaks outside City Hall criticizing Mayor Bloomberg's proposed budget (Photo/ John Light)

 

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HOST INTRO

Another potential 2013 candidate for mayor has blasted Mayor Bloomberg for his 2013 budget. The budget would cut the number of contracts awarded for after school and early child care programs by about half. In the week since the mayor unveiled his budget, educators and parents have taken to the streets to protest. And today, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio added his voice to the growing outcry. John Light reports.


JOHN LIGHT, REPORTER

At a press conference outside city hall, De Blasio said that Bloomberg’s proposed cuts are part of a trend that he finds unsettling. When the recession began, the public advocate said, there were more than 130,000 kids in after school programs and childcare programs.

BILL DE BLASIO

If this budget passes as it is, that combined figure will go to 53,000. 80,000 fewer kids.

JOHN LIGHT

De Blasio’s office has put together a report, called “Cut Now, Pay Later.” It argues that while the cuts may save money now, they’ll cost the city in the long run.

BILL DE BLASIO

We have a Harvard study that shows for every one dollar invested in early childhood education generates two dollars in economic activity.

JOHN LIGHT

Though De Blasio’s report looked to the future, some people in the crowd were focused on the next few weeks. Wanda Torres works at a daycare center in the South Bronx.

WANDA TORRES

We got a letter on Monday saying our contract wasn’t going to be renewed. So as of June 30th we’re no longer going to receive funds, and we’re going to be shut down.

JOHN LIGHT

Torres says that many parents who send their children to her daycare center are not sure where else they might be able to send their kids while they’re at work. She says … some parents have considered leaving their jobs or working part time, but for many, that’s not an option.

WANDA TORRES

If they leave their job, then who’s going to support their kids? So they were asking us if we have anything, but we’re just in the same place that they are. We don’t have any definite information as to what’s going to happen.

JOHN LIGHT

Educators across New York have rallied students and parents to protest the proposed cut since Bloomberg’s budget presentation last week. Just yesterday, Bloomberg announced a public information campaign — the largest ever of its kind — to address chronic absenteeism in public schools. Manhattan parent Elzora Cleveland finds Bloomberg’s focus on absenteeism ironic in light of his proposed cuts.

ELZORA CLEVELAND

It’s very interesting that he wants to target absenteeism at a time like now but yet he opts to close after school programs and early childhood education programs. I mean, that is going to have a ripple effect of more absenteeism.

JOHN LIGHT

When he presented the budget, Bloomberg admitted that he may not get all the cuts he’s asked for.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Well, number one, we work with the city council between now and June 30th. So we’ll see how all of that works out.

JOHN LIGHT

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who’s a likely candidte to succeed Bloomberg — will be overseeing any changes to the proposed budget. And Quinn vowed last week to reinstate funding to after school programs. Hearings on the cuts will begin Monday, May 14th.

John Light, Columbia Radio News.

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Subway Ridership Grows in NYC

A conductor on the "L" train checks the platform. Photo by Julie Jacobson, Associated Press.

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There are more people riding the New York subway today than at any time since 1950. More people live in the city and the newcomers choose to live outside of Manhattan.Reporter John Light took a look at how the subway system is handling the growing ridership.

John Light, Reporter:
The L train from Brooklyn into Manhattan is packed on a weekday afternoon.

FADE IN [doors]

By the time the train pulls up to the Bedford Avenue platform, the last stop before Manhattan, the cars are standing room only.

CROSSFADE TO SUBWAY AMBI

But Bushwick resident Aaron Schragg says this is nothing compared to rush hour.

Aaron Schragg:
The platform will be crowded — full — at eight o’clock, five after eight.

He lives near the Dekalb [De Cal B] Avenue L station in Bushwick, eight stops from Manhattan — or about 20 minutes, when trains are running.

Schragg:
Every once in awhile at rush hour, the whole thing will basically just shut down, almost with no explantation, and they’ll say basically good luck. Or at least that’s what it feels like.

John Light:
Sitting next to Schragg on the L train is Carla Cubitt. She’s also a Bushwick resident — and she says service on the weekend is particularly frustrating.

Carla Cubitt:
Then they have the shuttle bus, and then you like get off at Lorimer and then… sometimes I’ll just give up and go home if it’s not really an emergency.

John Light:
This crowding on the L line, and on other trains in Brooklyn in the Bronx, is a relatively new phenomenon.

FADE OUT SUBWAY AMBI

Historian John Tauranac has designed maps of the transit system for decades; he now teaches architectural history at NYU. He says the subways have played a major role in the city’s recent growth.

John Tauranac:
Population follows transportation. Build it — the it in this case being public transportation — and they will travel.

John Light:
Between 2010 and 2011, Dekalb [De Cal B] Avenue — that’s Aaron Schragg’s station — added 40,000 passengers. Other stations in Brooklyn and the Bronx experienced even larger increases in that time — up to twenty percent more riders. Cate Contino oversees a transit advocacy group, called the Straphangers Campaign — and she says the MTA has some planning to do.

Cate Contino:
We all know that the city’s population is increasing over the next 20 years. All the projections show that. So the MTA will be forced to think pretty critically in the near future about how to meet those rising demands. [cut stammers]

John Light:
But the MTA has been struggling. In 2010, it made deep service cuts, eliminating 5 bus routes and scaling back service on some train lines. The same year, the G train added five stations in South Brooklyn — but that service could end in 2013. At a press conference earlier this month, New York City public advocate Bill de Blasio railed against that plan.

Bill De Blasio:
[full] This is where the New York economy is going.

John Light:
The existing subway system is big enough, says Cate Contino with the Straphanger’s Campaign. But she says the MTA needs to improve the infrastructure. For instance, the signal system could be computerized. That would allow more trains to run closer together. But Contino says that would take government funding that the MTA doesn’t have right now.

Cate Contino:
Overhauling the signal system is going to be a multibillion dollar project that’s been pushed off for dozens of years at this point. The majority of the signals in the system date back to the earlier part of the twentieth century.

John Light:
Historian and mapmaker John Tauranac suspects that, eventually, the transit authority will have to expand. But he thinks the MTA won’t feel enough pressure until all of Brooklyn, and the Bronx, have the clout Manhattan does.

John Tauranac:
Money is power. The moment that neighborhoods start being gentrified, they will exert power on politicians, and on the MTA, et cetera, to improve service.

John Light:
The MTA did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But in March it released a report online saying that around eighty percent of trains arrive on time. And a press release acknowledged the growing ridership figures, beginning with the line: “Everyone knows there is no better way to navigate the city than riding the subway.”

John Light, Columbia Radio News

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MTA Employees Cope With Deaths on Tracks

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BY JOHN LIGHT

Around 7 percent of New Yorkers who take their own life do it in a subway-related way. Many lie on the tracks, or jump in front of oncoming trains. The MTA code for it is 12-9. John Light reports that memories of these incidents stay with train operators throughout their careers.

INTRO
Around seven percent of New Yorkers who take their own life do it in a subway-related way. Many lie on the tracks, or jump in front of oncoming trains. The mta code for it is 12-9. John Light reports that memories of these incidents stay with train operators throughout their careers.

JOHN LIGHT, REPORTER
It was early on an August morning, about two years ago, when Jermaine Dennis had his first 12-9. He was driving an A train, approaching the Aqueduct Subway platform, near JFK airport.

JERMAINE DENNIS
As I was coming into that station, um, a lady had jumped right in front of my train. And I applied the emergency breaks on the train. Four cars went over her. I was in a state of disbelief at the time. I couldn’t believe what had occurred.

JOHN LIGHT
Dennis stepped from the train. The woman was still alive. He asked some people on the platform to speak with her.

JERMAINE DENNIS
She said to leave her alone and let her die in peace …After watching her being taken up from underneath the train and then hearing about her passing in the hospital… it took a toll.

JOHN LIGHT
The New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported last month that around 40 New Yorkers kill themselves this way every year. They looked at other methods of suicide as well. More than 400 people hanged themselves, poisened themselves, shot themselves, or jumped from a building – but subway-related suicides were the only method that had an unwilling participant. After a 12-9, subway drivers often take a few months off and seek psychological treatment. Psychologist Howard Rombom runs a practice on Long Island that has treated hundreds of mta workers after 12-9s.

HOWARD ROMBOM
We need to understand that these kinds of trauma undermine the patient’s fundamental sense of safety and predictability. We try to help train operators understand that they didn’t really kill anyone themselves, the train did.

JOHN LIGHT
Rombom says that in most cases, train operators suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Acute Stress Disorder – both of which have the same symptoms. Train operators also tend to feel isolated after a 12-9 — Rombom tries to help them ovecome that.

HOWARD ROMBOM
One of the things we have our patients do is sort of push themselves into social situations and also explain themselves to their family and friends, so the family and friends don’t perceive it as much as being rejection as much as this is what’s happening to me because of this.

JOHN LIGHT
Jermaine Dennis said he too felt isolated. He drifted away from family events, like evening game nights with his wife and six kids. But Dennis also had recurring dreams.

JERMAINE DENNIS
During my sleep she would come in a white gown, the lady who had jumped in front of my train. She would come in a white gown. Especially when there’s lightning, moreover, that’s when I would see her. So that was something I had to cope and get over with the psychologist who helped me.

JOHN LIGHT
Rombom says that most mta employees are able to return to work after a few months, and have recovered from post-traumatic stress disorder within a year. On Dennis’s first day back at work, he said he approached stations very, very cautiously – and he still does. It ended up being helpful a year later, when another person laid down on the tracks in front of his train. Dennis stopped in time. John Light, Columbia Radio News.


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Background Check of Job Applicants on Facebook

ACLU of Maryland wants a law prohibiting employers from logging in to job applicant’s facebook pages.

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BY JOHN LIGHT

The ACLU of Maryland is working with that state’s legislature to pass a law prohibiting employers from logging in to job applicant’s Facebook pages. The bill has passed the state senate, and is being considered by a committee in the house. John Light spoke with Melissa Goemann, the legislative director of the ACLU of Maryland. Light asked her, first, to explain the scenario that peaked the ACLU’s interest in social media privacy. Goemann told him the story of a man named Robert Collins.

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Newscast – Bottom of the Hour

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John Light brings us the news at 5:00 p.m.

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