Monday, March 18, 2013

Women and Minority Owned Businesses Left Out of NYC Contracting

New York City awards only 5% of its spending to women- and minority-owned firms, and the city's population has achieved an all-time high.

Rising Certifications

Bloomberg's reign as Mayor has resulted in a growing number of minority-owned and women-owned firms that are certified to earn business from New York City. In fact, the Bloomberg Administration says that more than 3,500 such firms have been granted certification during the Bloomberg Era.

Unfortunately, certification provides only the possibility of earning business from NYC and provides no guarantee of revenue.

Lack of Contracts

Manhattan Borough President (and candidate for NYC Comptroller) Scott Stringer issued statements focusing on the need to turn certifications into city contracts for women-owned and minority-owned firms.
In the last budget year, only 5% of the $10.5 billion the city spent on contracts — for everything from construction projects to paper clips — went to firms owned by minority-group members or women.
“The good news is the city has done a terrific job boosting these certifications,” said Stringer.

“The bad news is we’re still falling short where it counts — which is getting contracts into the hands of the minority- and women-owned businesses.”

Stringer said those businesses complain about often-confusing applications, the lack of notice about contracting opportunities and fees charged by some agencies to view bidding documents.
Large, well-established companies have years of experience navigating the process. But for fledgling businesses — which are more likely to be owned by minority-group members or women — the process can be overwhelming, Stringer said.

“The city is not doing enough to help the businesses navigate the bid process, which remains too complicated and too time consuming,” Stringer said.
In our country's largest city, the lack of revenue for women-owned and minority-owned firms is heartbreaking. Let us hope that the next Mayor makes a priority of bringing these firms into the flow of the spending of our tax dollars.

NYC Population Growth

Our city's population grew significantly since the 2010 Census and now stands at more than 8.3 million.
The city's population has grown by more than 161,500 people since 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated. The increase is more than the entire population of Kansas City, Kan.; Savannah, Ga., or Hartford, Conn.

Mostly, New York City's growth is due to a widening gap between the numbers of births and deaths as life expectancy increases, according to city planners' analysis of the census estimates. But an influx of foreign immigrants in the last two years also played a role by outdistancing the number of New Yorkers who left town.

Brooklyn saw the biggest growth among the city's five boroughs, gaining more than 60,000 residents, as people flocked to a borough increasingly seen as having all the cachet of Manhattan – if not more – with less of the cost.

Manhattan's population growth was second only to Brooklyn, and the luster of Manhattan continues to drive NYC to greater heights.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bloomberg Soda Ban Fizzles Out In Court

Earlier today, a New York State judge invalidated Mayor Bloomberg's ban on large sugary soft drinks.

Judge Tingling Invalidates Bloomberg Soda Ban

From the NY Daily News:

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling Jr. declared the ban “arbitrary and capricious,” agreeing with several soda and business groups that had challenged the prohibition in court.
The ruling was a stinging setback for the mayor, whose administration enacted the regulation in the face of criticism that he was turning the city into a “nanny state.”

The Bloomberg-backed city Board of Health approved the regulation last year, calling it a crucial tool to attack obesity. The rule forbid restaurants and certain other businesses from serving sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces.
In striking down the regulation, Tingling noted that the rule would have applied to all food-serving businesses regulated by the city, such as restaurants and movie theaters — but not to state-regulated establishments, like 7-11 convenience stories.
“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule. It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city” and because it applies to some sugary drinks but exempts others, the judge said.

 The judge also said that only the City Council, not the Board of Health, had the power to approve the ban.

“One thing not seen in any of the Board of Health’s powers is the authority to limit or ban a legal item under the guide of ‘controlling chronic disease,” the judge wrote.

Because the Board of Health approved it, and not the City Council, the “rule would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it,” the judge said.

Businesses groups that filed the legal challenge hailed the decision. “The court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban,” said Chris Gindlesperger, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, one of the plaintiffs.

Matt Greller of the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State said the group was “elated” by the ruling.

“This issue was never about obesity, nor about soda. This was all about power. The court rejected the Mayor’s attempt to unilaterally tell New Yorkers what to drink, and where to drink it. We are pleased that the Court’s decision shows that serious problems like obesity cannot be addressed by the imposition of an arbitrary and porous Mayoral fiat,” he said.

The Bloomberg administration vowed to appeal “as soon as possible.”

“This measure is part of the City’s multi-pronged effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic, which takes the lives of more than 5,000 New Yorkers every year, and we believe the Board of Health has the legal authority – and responsibility – to tackle its leading causes,” said Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.

Hours before the judge’s ruling, Bloomberg had touted the ban as a national model. “Everybody across this country should do it,” said Bloomberg. And, he suggested, the crusade should not stop there. “In fact, obesity is a problem around the world,” he said. “It’s getting to be as serious if not more so than smoking.” He said tough moves are necessary because the obesity epidemic will “bankrupt” the healthcare system - and, he suggested, because fat people can’t do their jobs as well as those in better shape. He cited an economic hit because of “people who come to work and because they’re overweight just can’t perform as well as people who might be in better shape. Physical activity requires you to be in good shape.”

Bloomberg released new data Monday showing that the neighborhoods where people consume the most sugary drinks also have the highest obesity rates. Most of the neighborhoods are poor.
“If you go back to the 20s, you see these pictures of the old robber barons with their big stomachs out there - that was a sign of success,” Bloomberg said.

“Today those people are doing pilates and running in marathons and triathlons and if you look at where obesity is in the country, it tends to be in the people at the lower end of the economic ladder who don’t have the ability to take care of themselves as well, and if anybody will get helped by this, it’s them.”

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sequester Comes to NYC

Last week, the Sequester began. Now, We look at the impact on New York.

What Is the Sequester?

The federal government has implemented across-the-board spending cuts totaling $85 billion in 2013 and $109.3 billion a year from 2014-2021.

The 2013 sequester includes these items.
  • $42.7 billion in defense cuts (a 7.9 percent cut).
  • $28.7 billion in domestic discretionary cuts (a 5.3 percent cut).
  • $9.9 billion in Medicare cuts (a 2 percent cut).
  • $4 billion in other mandatory cuts (a 5.8 percent cut to nondefense programs, and a 7.8 percent cut to mandatory defense programs).
Here are examples of specific program cuts in 2013.

  • Aircraft purchases by the Air Force and Navy are cut by $3.5 billion.

  • Military operations across the services are cut by about $13.5 billion.
  • Military research is cut by $6.3 billion.
  • The National Institutes of Health get cut by $1.6 billion.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are cut by about $323 million.
  • Border security is cut by about $581 million.
  • Immigration enforcement is cut by about $323 million.
  • Airport security is cut by about $323 million.
  • Head Start gets cut by $406 million, kicking 70,000 kids out of the program.
  • FEMA’s disaster relief budget is cut by $375 million.
  • Public housing support is cut by about $1.94 billion.
  • The FDA is cut by $206 million.
  • NASA gets cut by $970 million.
  • Special education is cut by $840 million.
  • The Energy Department’s program for securing our nukes is cut by $650 million.
  • The National Science Foundation gets cut by about $388 million.
  • The FBI gets cut by $480 million.
  • The federal prison system gets cut by $355 million.
  • State Department diplomatic functions are cut by $650 million.
  • Global health programs are cut by $433 million; the Millenium Challenge Corp. sees a $46 million cut, and USAID a cut of about $291 million.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is cut by $55 million.
  • The SEC is cut by $75.6 million.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is cut by $2.6 million.
  • The Library of Congress is cut by $31 million.
  • The Patent and Trademark office is cut by $156 million.

  •  New York Impact

    The impact on New York State is not insignificant, and some parts of the budget will face meaningful challenges. As Governor Cuomo has stated, however:
    "Financially it will not be as impactful on the state government as it would be on individuals because it’s more assistance that goes to individuals"
    Education cuts
    The sequester would cut $42.7 million from primary and secondary education in New York. About 590 teachers and aides would lose their jobs and 120 schools would lose funding. Special education would also lose $36.3 million, according to White House numbers. Special education would also lose $36.3 million.

    Meals for senior citizens
    Government-provided meals for senior citizens would see $1,447,000 in cuts in New York.

    Job cuts
    Up to 100,000 workers in the state could lose their jobs due to the sequester, a study from George Mason University estimated.

    Public housing cuts
    The New York City Housing Authority reported that sequestration could lead to a 9 percent loss of funding and a $110 deficit, reducing services by 20 percent.