15 January 2009

Notable NYC News: 15 Jan. 2009.

January 15, 2009 3:43 PM
Original Post: ABC News

US Airways Jet Crashes Into Hudson River off New York City

Flight 1549 Went Down After Being Struck by Birds.

Some 150 people aboard a US Airways plane en route to Charlotte, N.C., from New York City were rescued today in a lightning-fast effort following the jet's crash into the frigid waters of the Hudson River off the West Side of Manhattan.

All passengers and crew aboard were reported safe after New York City firefighters and ferries rushed to the aid of the US Airways jet, which floated in the river near the historic aircraft carrier The Intrepid.

US Airways flight 1549, an A-320 manufactured by Airbus, was carrying as many as 148 passengers and five or six crew members, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Only 30 seconds after takeoff at 3:26 p.m. ET, the pilot reported two bird strikes and said he wanted to return to LaGuardia Airport.

Controllers began giving him directions for return, but the pilot requested to land at the nearby Teterboro airport over New Jersey. The tower reportedly lost contact soon after that last transmission.

Commuter boats in the area were seen fishing people from the river, and rescuing passengers standing on the plane's wings after the crash.

ABC News' Robin Roberts, who saw the plane crash from her apartment window, said it appeared to be a controlled landing.

"It completely just hit the water full force, never bounced or anything like that, and came to a relatively quick stop," Roberts said. "But… it didn't skim along the water. There was very little trauma to the aircraft. It was… I'm still… can't believe what I saw."

The water temperature in the river was reported at 40 degrees, just above freezing.

John Ostrom of the Metropolitan Airports Commission out of Minneapolis chairs the Bird Strikes Committee, which advises the aviation industry on wildlife management to eliminate possible hazards.

"There's a variety of ways a bird can take down a plane," he told ABC News today. "There have been instances where birds the size of robins bring a plane down, all the way up to Canada geese."

Birds can fly into plane engines, shutting them down, or cause pilots to lose control of the plane by penetrating the windshield. And there's not much pilots can do to avoid bird strikes, which happen "every day," according Ostrom.


January 15, 2009 8:33 AM
Original Post: Cranes NY
Photograph: A. Golden, eyewash design, c. 2005.

Riders to hold mock funeral for Z subway line.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing to eliminate the subway line as part of an effort to combat a billion-plus budget deficit for 2009.

(AP) - New York City transit advocates are planning to hold a mock funeral for a subway line that could be eliminated under proposed budget cuts.

A bagpiper is expected to join members of the Straphangers Campaign on Thursday as they place a memorial wreath for the Z line at the Fulton-Broadway-Nassau station in Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing to eliminate the subway line as part of an effort to combat a billion-plus budget deficit for 2009. It has also said it would substantially raise fares.

More than 300 people crowded showed up at the Hilton New York Hotel for a public hearing Wednesday night held to talk about the proposals.

Members of the crowd protested the fare increases, especially a plan to double fares paid by Access-A-Ride disabled riders.


January 15, 2009 8:21 AM
Illustration: A. Golden, eyewash design, c. 2007.

Mayor Bloomberg to reveal news jobs plan.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's nine-point plan to create 400,000 jobs is one of several ideas he will present during a State of the City Address, Thursday.

(AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg was to outline a six-year plan to create 400,000 jobs during a State of the City speech focusing on economic recovery from the city's fiscal downturn.

The nine-point plan is one of several new economic ideas the billionaire former chief executive officer would present Thursday, according to people familiar with the speech. Themes of the annual address were described to The Associated Press on Wednesday by officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the speech had not been given.

The job creation plan includes efforts to help small businesses, support for projects that create green jobs and a focus on capital investments that will yield work for residents.

Mr. Bloomberg on Wednesday spoke in broad terms about the city's dismal economic state and what the city would hear from him during the speech, which was expected to last more than an hour.

"We can't pray our ways out of this," he said. "We can't hope our ways out of it. We can't depend on things always breaking the right way to get us through it. We're going to have to have some reserves in case things don't go the way we think, in case things are worse."

Mr. Bloomberg has staked his campaign for a third term this year on his financial expertise and ability to guide the city through tough economic times.

He said Wednesday that he would not be unveiling any flashy new spending but would stick to initiatives that don't cost a lot of extra money.

Independent city budget analysts forecast in a report last week that the city will lose 242,700 jobs through the end of 2010. The report also projected that the budget gap for next fiscal year, which begins in July, has ballooned to $4.3 billion. In November, Mr. Bloomberg's prediction was $1.3 billion.

Among the points of the job creation plan is a proposal to reduce or eliminate the unincorporated business tax, helping ease the burden for 17,000 small business owners citywide, the officials said.

Aides said Mr. Bloomberg would seek to rise above the theme of doom and gloom in his speech on Thursday, instead turning to ways the city can get through the financial mess.

There will be plenty of time for bad news. The mayor will follow his State of the City address at the end of the month with a new budget plan, which is expected to contain new cuts and tax hikes.

"It will be very sobering to lay out the realities," he said Wednesday.


January 15, 2009 11:42 AM
Photograph: A. Golden, eyewash design, c. 2005.

Most New Yorker's don't want 'Fat Tax' on soda.

A Quinnipiac poll reports 64% of registered New York voters oppose the governor's plan to help combat widespread obesity through an 18% tax on sugary drinks.

(AP) - Most New Yorkers are balking at Gov. David Paterson's proposal to impose a "fat tax" on sugary drinks, but an even larger majority wants millionaires to hand over a bigger share of their earnings to the tax collector, according to a new poll.

Quinnipiac University reported Thursday that 64% of registered voters oppose the governor's plan to help combat widespread obesity among children and others through an 18% tax on sugary drinks containing less than 70% real fruit juice. The poll shows 32% favor the soda surcharge.

"One month after Gov. David Paterson rolled out his fat tax proposal, and one week after he gave it a big push in his State of the State message, opposition is growing weightier instead of slimmer," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

That compares with 60% opposition and 37% support in a December survey. Quinnipiac said it surveyed 1,664 voters from Jan. 8-12 and the new poll has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

"One out of every four New Yorkers under 18 years of age is obese," Mr. Paterson said in his State of the State address last week. That blights their futures and creates a significant economic burden, he said, with New York spending $6.1 billion annually to treat obesity-related health problems.

Mr. Paterson's plan would ban trans fats in restaurants and junk food sales in schools. He would require chain restaurants statewide to post calorie content and establish a revolving loan fund to get healthy food markets in poor communities.

But the part of his plan that would add the surcharge on sugared drinks lacked poll support even among New York voters who prefer diet sodas, with 62% opposed and 35% in favor. Opposition was higher among those who drink sugared sodas, 72% against and 26% in favor.

Support for raising taxes on those with annual income more than $1 million a year stood at 80%, with 16% opposed. That drops to 73% support for higher taxes on incomes more than $500,000 a year, and 55% for incomes more than $250,000.

"We'd like to tax millionaires and even half-millionaires," Mr. Carroll said. "But the support begins to erode when we drop the high-tax level to $250,000, too close to home for many voters."

Mr. Paterson's 2009-2010 budget proposal would establish 88 new or higher fees or taxes, but he declined to embrace the Assembly Democrats' proposal to increase the income tax rate on New Yorkers with incomes $1 million or more a year.

The Quinnipiac survey found 53% of voters approve of the job Paterson is doing, with 25% opposed. They split 42-43% on his handling of the state budget, up from 40-46% last month.

Only 20% said they thought state lawmakers have the courage to make unpopular budget decisions, while 71% said they thought it would be "business as usual" in Albany.


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