Senators Agree on Coalition,
But Will Power Sharing Last?
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Since the inception of New York Civic ten years ago, no governmental issue has loomed larger than the failure of the New York State Legislature and some of its leaders to live up to reasonable standards of both official and personal integrity. The legislature has been the subject of particular negative attention since 2004, when the New York Public Interest Research Group or one of its tentacles called our legislature the most dysfunctional in the fifty states. Whether or not that conclusion is precise, it is widely assumed that New York is not far from the bottom of state legislatures in efficiency, productivity and significance of legislation adopted.

For many years, this condition has been blamed, at least in part, on the perennial dichotomy in control of the two houses in Albany, which is the result of assiduous gerrymandering. The Senate is generally controlled by Republicans, while the Assembly is firmly in Democratic hands. This political division has led to a substantial number of "one-house bills," in which a bill is passed in one house but is doomed in the other. This way each party can claim credit for approving constructive legislation on a variety of subjects without fear that any reform will actually take place.

NY Civic Asks for Your Views
On Specific Internet Articles,
Seeking Dialogues on Issues
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

We live in what is called the information age. All kinds of information, true or false, can be transmitted openly, publicly and instantly to anyone who wants to see, hear, or read it. One must only press the right buttons in the right order to gain access to more data than one can usefully employ in a lifetime.

In a free country like the United States, the right to give and receive information is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, cornerstone of the Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There is an enormous wealth of facts, alleged facts and fiction which is available to the public.  Most people encounter only a small fraction of it in their personal or professional lives. A great deal of excellent and informative material is published in an unending stream, and freely offered to the world. It requires increasing expertise and judgment to find pertinent information on the internet and to evaluate it wisely.

Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In 1978 Isaiah Scheffer and Allan Miller hosted a marathon concert of Bach music on the Upper West Side in what had been a dreary, run-down movie theater. Soon after, guided by Mr. Sheffer's vision, the surrounding community pitched in, volunteering their own labor and donating money, and transformed the once derelict space into one of the city's most popular cultural centers.

Symphony Space became known for rich and diverse productions including those of music, dance and traditional theater, though it is most recognized for the original series "Selected Shorts," which began in 1985. Utilizing thespian talent from stage, screen and television, Mr. Scheffer curated and hosted programs in which actors perform readings of three similarly themed short stories or literary excerpts, often with the authors co-hosting. "Selected Shorts" enjoyed a resurgence in popularity when it embraced the podcast format, reaching millions of new listeners on the go and regularly ranking as one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunes.

America Has Not Decided
In Which Direction To Go
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, November 9th, 2012

 

The 2012 national election had been described by both parties as a clash of competing ideologies; the politicians said it would be an Armageddon whose outcome would determine America’s course for decades.

Like so many political predictions, that one turned out to be wrong. The 50% - 48% split between candidates Obama and Romney did not show a national consensus. Although the results taken individually were somewhat better for the Democrats, the Republicans kept control of the House. There was no mandate to either expand the safety net or to weaken it. Polls showed a majority of the population favored a lesser role for the government in economic affairs, while at the same time they voted for Obama, who held the opposite view.

This election turned out to be a victory for moderation. Candidates who ran primaries on the far right moved towards the center in the general election if for no other reason than that is where the votes are. However, there was not enough time to pirouette twice and a few Republicans were caught with their snakeskins still molting.

Largest Gift in Park's History
Will Preserve Central Park
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, October 26th, 2012

This week we celebrate the largest gift ever made to a New York City park– probably to any park in the world. On an overcast early-fall morning at Bethesda Terrace, the architectural centerpiece of the park, Mayor Bloomberg announced a $100 million donation to the Central Park Conservancy.

John A. Paulson, who grew up in Queens and made his fortune by predicting the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, deserves credit for his extraordinary generosity which will benefit New Yorkers forever. The gift is unprecedented in its size and scope. It will not primarily be spent on buildings, but on landscape, horticulture, maintenance and playground restoration and upgrades.

Central Park, a spectacular green oasis in a concrete jungle, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Such a large area, 843 acres, could only be assembled when the price of land was dirt cheap. In the 1850’s the area where the park is located was miles north of the built up section of Manhattan. By the 1900’s the park had become enveloped by apartment houses.

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