Queens Convention Center
Governor Cuomo is planning to play a major role in New York City's economic development. One of the first steps was unveiled in his State of the State Address last week. That step would be the building of the United States' largest convention center in New York City's Queens Borough and demolishing the existing New York City convention center - the Javitz Center on the West Side of Manhattan.
The project appears to already have funding from outside of the United States. The Malaysian-based operator of the Aqueduct Racino (Racetrack and Casino) has pledged $4 billion for the project. Cuomo and the Port Authority seem ready to grant land to the project and to alter the mass transit infrastructure to facilitate the success of the project.
On the one hand, the idea seems silly. There is a major surplus of convention space in the United States right now, and Queens does not seem to be the preferred destination for conventioneers.
On the other hand, having $4 billion from on outside investor should reduce the burden on tax payers and make the project more likely to succeed. The gambling and the two nearby airports might actually make the Queens destination viable. Assuming that there will be non-stop shuttle bus service to a few key Manhattan destinations, one can imagine conventions that schedule "Manhattan Time" on the agenda. Maybe this is a great idea masquerading as a silly idea.
From a Manhattan perspective, Governor Cuomo's approach creates opportunities to dream big on the West Side of Manhattan. Affordable housing with Hudson River views, entertainment, recreation, fitness, and other ideas will flood in, but the best part of the plan is the large space and the opportunity it represents.
Though the Mayor has demonstrated a resentment for the participation of Governor Cuomo in New York City projects, Mayor Bloomberg (along with Assembly Speaker Silver) was forced to agree that the Governor's plan for development on the West Side deserves support, particularly if it can attract significant private sector capital.
Fingerprinting for the Poor
Mayor Bloomberg's devotion to requiring food stamp recipients to be fingerprinted is resulting in a growing opposition to his approach, and that opposition called on Governor Cuomo to force Mayor Bloomberg to end the practice.
Governor Cuomo spoke out against Mayor Bloomberg's approach in the State of the State Address:
In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Cuomo took a hard line against the practice, which was stopped in most of the state in 2007 but maintained in the city at Bloomberg's request. "One of the things we do now and makes the stigma actually worse and creates a barrier for families coming forward to get food stamps is we require fingerprinting. I'm saying stop fingerprinting for families,” said Cuomo, a sentiment backed by many hunger and welfare advocates.New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, one of Mayor Bloomberg's closest allies and the leader of the effort the transformed the City Charter to allow Bloomberg to serve a third consecutive term as Mayor, spoke out against the Mayor.
“In these tough economic times, we need to help New Yorkers get the federal services they qualify for, not put obstacles in their way. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg and I couldn’t disagree more—fingerprinting food stamp applicants is a time consuming and unnecessary process, which stigmatizes applicants and has prevented 24,000 New Yorkers from getting the help they deserve. The State has the authority to eliminate finger imaging in New York City, and the Mayor should not even think of challenging Governor Cuomo’s decision.”Perhaps this particular attack on poor people by Mayor Bloomberg will be thwarted, at long last, by Governor Cuomo. Perhaps Cuomo deserves the high approval ratings he is currently enjoying.