Archive for December, 2005

30th December
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, December 30, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

When the old Penn Station was torn down to make way for the new Madison Square Garden forty years ago, New Yorkers were justifiably outraged. A fine, historic public space was lost. Determined that buildings and even neighborhoods of historic architectural significance should not be casually destroyed, the city fathers set up legal protections to preserve our heritage. At the center of this is the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Like many initially good ideas administered by government, our preservation strategy has grown into a powerful bureaucracy,administered by individuals who often seem to want to protect every thing and any thing — and often for the wrong reasons. (more…)

23rd December
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, December 23, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The pointless, illegal strike by the Transport Workers Union is over. There was no gain won by the union that any rational person could point to, but a lot of pain for ordinary folks and for the city’s economy.As an example,the fellow who owns my local dry-cleaning establishment arrived at work late yesterday.

The contingency plan necessitated by the strike took what is normally a 15-minute commute from nearby Westchester into an hour-and-half nightmare. The New York Police Department set up a checkpoint at the city line, turning away cars with fewer than four passengers from entering the Henry Hudson Parkway. The police did not want to hear that the ultimate destination of the driver was the 232nd Street exit, well within the Bronx, and miles north of 96th Street in Manhattan. (more…)

16th December
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, December 16, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Those who care about academic standards in the state of New York got a bit of bad news late last week when the state’s Board of Regents voted to put off much needed reform of high school math standards for another year.

This is another example of the “can’t do” attitude that has infected the education establishment in the Empire State. What the educrats have managed to do is take New York, once looked on as the nation’s educational leader, and made us a backwater. The southern states, once derided for their low academic standards, are leaving New York in the dust. (more…)

9th December
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, December 9, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

On a winter night nearly two years ago, an operator in the city’s emergency response center received a desperate call for help. “We’re taking in water.…We’re on the Long Island Sound in a boat off the coast of City I … . Oh, my God,we’re going to die!”Then the operator lost the signal from the cell phone.

The call was made by 17-year-old Henry Badillo. Young Henry and three pals filched a rowboat from a City Island marina, and set off for nearby Hart Island.

The late night adventure ended tragically. The call faded out before enough information could be gathered to direct a rescue effort. It was 14 hours before it became clear what happened. Any hope of saving the boys was lost along with that call.Had young Henry been able to maintain contact for just seconds longer, the boys might have been saved. (more…)

2nd December
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, December 2, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

For two-and-a-half years Gotham’s teachers worked without a contract, as their union leaders struggled with the mayor and chancellor over terms for the new pact. The teachers were looking for a raise while the administration wanted to remove work rules that it claimed prevented the proper administration of the schools. As the mayor’s re-election campaign entered the final stretch, a politically expedient agreement was reached.

Both parties declared victory at a now memorable press conference that featured Chancellor Klein planting a kiss on the top of union boss Randi Weingarten’s head. But as the details now emerge it is clear that the union has, once again, outmaneuvered the mayor, who has no one but the chancellor to blame. (more…)