Monday, November 28, 2011

Knicks Reappear for Christmas

Manhattan will be the site of the first game of the 2011-2012 NBA season. Madison Square Garden has been improved, and, perhaps before the opening game on Christmas Day, the Knicks might improve themselves as well.

2011 - 2012 NBA Season Starts in Manhattan

After the NBA owners locked out the NBA players, delayed the season, and demanded that the players accept reduced pay, the players and the owners reached a tentative agreement last week that results in reduced pay for players but which is much better for the players than what the NBA owners had been demanding.

The tentative agreement paves the way for teams to start practicing on December 9th and for the first regular season games to occur on December 25th. The season would have 66 games instead of the usual 82.

The Knicks are currently scheduled to play in the first game of the season. They would host the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.

Perhaps every season should begin at MSG, and perhaps every season should have 66 games. Each game would mean more. Players would be less exhausted and banged up for the playoff, and the greatest city in the world would kick things off. This season could be a great model for a more permanent approach to the NBA scheduling challenges.

Irrespective of what happens in future seasons, the start of the 2011 - 2012 NBA season will help the NYC economy. In September, we discussed the potential economic harm that could be visited upon the NYC metro area by a cancellation of the 2011 - 2012 NBA season. By agreeing to have a 66-game season, the players and the owners will allow our area to avoid the economic losses that a cancelled season would have represented.

A cancellation of the 2011-2012 season carries major risks for our local economy. The travel industry will lose hotel revenue; restaurants will be harmed. Food vendors, sporting goods vendors who sell replica jerseys, and the cable channels that broadcast the games will lose revenues; advertising spending will decline.

It is likely that the Knicks and Nets are teams that are profitable. If they are, a cancelled season also eliminates the profits of two major local businesses.

In these difficult times, a cancelled NBA season is the last thing we need.

Thankfully, our Christmas gifts this year include a Knicks-Celtics showdown in Manhattan.

Madison Square Garden Upgrade

Madison Square Garden is in the midst of a $1 billion upgrade. MSG's owners call it a "transformation".

The upgrade will be complete before the 2012-2013 season (during the summer of 2012, the upgrade will be completed), and the fan experience will be amongst the best in the NBA (the NHL's NY Rangers will also play in Madison Square Garden's upgraded facility; Rangers fans will also have the best-in-class facility to enjoy).

The end of the NBA lockout gives Knicks fans a chance to enjoy the Knicks in the much improved MSG facility starting on December 25, 2011. A double Christmas present: the Knicks and the upgraded MSG. This will be a very special Christmas for Knicks fans, but it might be even more special if the Knicks' team is improved.

Chris Paul and the Future of the Knicks

The Knicks have added Stoudemire and Anthony in recent years, and, in the 2010 - 2011 season, they earned entrance to the post-season for the first time in a decade.

Now, former NBA Rookie of the Year and four time All-Star Chris Paul, who will be a free agent at the end of the upcoming NBA season, is being discussed as a potential addition to the Knicks. If Chris Paul is added, the Knicks will have three bona fide superstars on their roster, and they will be ready to make a run at an NBA Championship.

There is a chance that Paul could join the Knicks before the December 25th opening of the NBA season. That would be a triple Christmas present: The Knicks, the upgraded MSG, and the chance compete for an NBA Championship.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rangel's Support in Washington DC Strengthens

Last week, the Democratic leadership in the US House came out in full and strong support for Upper Manhattan's Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Fundraiser in Washington

At a $5,000 per plate fundraiser for Charlie Rangel last week, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and the rest of the US House Democratic leadership attended the event in a show of solidarity with Congressman Rangel. 

While Congressman Rangel may never again achieve the level of power and influence he attained as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he remains the dean of the New York Congressional delegation, and "he continues to play a significant role in Democratic Caucus politics and on the powerful tax-writing panel."

US House Ethics Committee Under Investigation 

We have argued that the Ethics Committee of the US House abused Upper Manhattan's Congressman when it pushed for his censure in 2010. The last member of Congress censured prior to Congressman Rangel had sexually abused young people under the care of Congress, while Congressman Rangel's problems were self-reported bookkeeping errors and similar missteps, all of which were corrected by Congressman Rangel. Many members of Congress had committed acts that were far more troubling and had faced lesser punishments or no punishment at all.

We have also pointed out that the US House Ethics Committee focuses its abuse on African American members of the US House. In fact, we noted that the Ethics Committee's investigation focused exclusively on African American members of Congress as of November 2009. In essence, the key to avoiding investigation was to be non-African American, and the key element of wrongdoing that the Ethics Committee embraced as punishable was "serving in Congress while Black."

Ironically, the US House Ethics Committee that brought ethics charges against Charlie Rangel and pushed for censure is now under investigation for misconduct by the Republicans on the committee related to the Rangel investigation. 

The former staff director of the House Ethics Committee accused two top committee lawyers last year of secretly communicating with Republicans on the panel regarding the investigations of Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel, raising concerns over whether the long-running inquiries were compromised by key staffers.
Blake Chisam, the former staff director, wrote in a late 2010 memo to then-chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that attorneys Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign improperly shared information in the Rangel case with Republicans on the committee — a move that “would have so tainted the proceedings that there would have been no option but to move to dismiss.”
The Ethics Committee is now under investigation for unethical behavior. The charges against Congressman Rangel should have been dismissed. Perhaps there will be an apology one day. Or, perhaps one day, "serving in Congress while Black" will not be considered an ethical violation.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NYC Education Tragedy

Tragically, New York City is failing to educate its youth and prepare them for college. Amazingly, the New York City Mayor is now criticizing New York State for its suggestion that our city's education efforts be geared toward preparing students for college.

City Schools Failing

Mayor Bloomberg has had control of our city's schools for a decade, and the results have been very disappointing.

Last week, we learned that New York State's Department of Education has listed 640 of our city's 1,700 schools as "in need of improvement". Many of those schools have received a score of A or B from our city. The disconnect is scary. While the Mayor claims success in education, more than one-third of the schools under his control fail to meet the minimum standards of our state and of our country. Indeed, these 640 school risk forced closure by the state if they do not improve.

The New York Daily News focused on the state's view of our city's lack of success in education.
Our state's Board of Regents Chancellor, Merryl Tisch said the state’s new list of troubled schools offers more proof of the city school system’s dismal performance.
“This is just further evidence – as if we needed any – that we must move forward to reform our schools and change what is happening in our classrooms,” said Tisch, adding: “If student performance doesn’t improve, schools must be held accountable.”
Indeed, only 21% of New York City high school students graduate in four years prepared for college.
The Mayor's response was even more troubling than the damning assessment by New York State.

Bloomberg's Lower Standards

Mayor Bloomberg reacted to the negative assessment of the state's education leadership by stating that the state's standards are too high.
“Some kids will never get to the level for college but will have great careers,” the Mayor said. “There are lots of skills that you can have that make you productive.”
He challenged the state's notion that students should be prepared for college by their high schools, and he called Ms. Tisch "misinformed."

It is a true tragedy that approximately 40% of our city's schools are not meeting the minimum standards set by our state for performance. 

It is a disgusting reality that only 21% of our students graduate prepared for college and that only 28% of Black young men graduate from high school at all in our city.

Mayoral control under Bloomberg has been a Mayoral tragedy of enormous proportions, and the Mayor seems to have abandoned any efforts to improve the situation. While his approach continues to destroy the futures of many talented young people in our city, the Mayor is focused on redefining his failed performance as "good enough" for our youth. Our youth deserve better.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NYC Marathon Created the Modern Marathon

As we witnessed a new record at this year's NYC Marathon, we are reminded that the NYC Marathon is the model for all modern marathons.

New York Road Runners

The New York Road Runners, a non-profit founded in 1958, organized the first ever NYC Marathon in 1970. That pioneering effort created the modern marathon. The New York Road Runners organization has more than 60,000 members and continues to produce the NYC Marathon each year along with many other races.

In the first NYC Marathon, only one woman started the race, and she did not finish.Fifty-five men finished that race. By 1978, the race had 9,000 participants. Last year, 47,000 people finished the NYC Marathon. The growth and development has been impressive and influential.

NYC Marathon

This year's marathon was yet another tremendous success. The men's champion set a new course record, and the women's race was the second closest in history. The second place finisher on the women's side was a competitor from the Bronx. A record number of runners, 47,107, participated in this year's New York City Marathon.

The NYC Marathon is the model for all modern marathons. Here is an except from the NYC Marathon web site.
Around the world, the word "marathon" evokes images of New York City. Before the New York race began, marathons were modest events run by a few athletes and followed by a few fans interested in the limits of human endurance. Today many marathons are huge media events that take over entire cities around the globe. None is as prominent as the ING New York City Marathon, but all city marathons are modeled on it. Modern marathoning owes its start -- and its world-class status -- to New York.

While the marathon has always been a focus of community spirit, with more than two million New Yorkers lining the streets to support the runners, that aspect of the race was most apparent in November 2001. Less than two months after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the New York City Marathon became a race of hope and renewal for participants, spectators, and all New Yorkers, and patriotism ran high as the marathon hosted the men's and women's USA Marathon Championships.

New York has continued to lead in race management. In 2002, New York Road Runners ("NYRR") created a separate start for the professional women as a way to highlight the most competitive women's field in race history. In 2003, ING became the title sponsor of the race and joined with NYRR to fund grassroots running and fitness programs among the city's youth through the ING Run for Something Better program. NYRR hosted the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials -- Men's Marathon in Central Park on the same weekend as the ING New York City Marathon 2007. In 2008, the marathon was successfully staged with three wave starts. The 2009 race was the marathon's 40th running and hosted the USA Men's Marathon Championship. In 2010, the marathon expanded its reach to friends, family, and fans with the I'M IN theme.

Forty years after its start, the ING New York City Marathon continues to grow in size and to be the leader among marathons around the world.