Resign yourself to the fact that Donald Trump is going to be the topic of conversation at Thanksgiving dinner.
He should be. This week, we’ve begun to see the tip of Trump’s iceberg-sized conflicts of interest, from Scottish wind farms to construction in India. His cabinet picks already include some disturbing choices, including retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn who incorrectly thinks Sharia Law is enforced in America. Meanwhile, supporters of white nationalist groups raise Nazi salutes at events celebrating Trump’s victory.
All news worth talking about at the dinner table.
If you need a break, however, here are four NYC stories without a Trump focus. They don’t even have to do with how much Trump’s security costs NYC (more than $1 million a day) or the likely shut down of JFK’s tarmac before every Air Force One landing (15 minutes long, plus cascading delays).
Ready for some stuffing? Moving on.
Asking Mom and Dad for Money
One way or another, MetroCards will be more expensive come spring.
The MTA announced two proposals for fare increases last week, which the agency says are necessary to keep the system running. One proposal raises the cost of a swipe to $3; the other keeps it at $2.75, but fiddles with the bonus structure when loading lump sums onto your card. Either way, unlimited cards will get more expensive: an extra $4.50 for the 30-day card and $1 for the 7-day. Fifty-two percent of rides come via unlimited cards.
The MTA will hold eight hearings on the subject, starting on Dec. 5 at York College in Queens. It’s possible, though unlikely, the proposals could change after those hearings, depending on how the public responds.
Meanwhile, advocates such as the Community Service Society and Riders Alliance are urging Mayor de Blasio to use city money to subsidize fares for city residents living in poverty (the MTA, on the other hand, is a state-run agency). For those New Yorkers, the argument goes, fares are rising faster than salaries, putting transit out of reach for low-income residents. Other city politicians have signalled their support for this idea.
An Ongoing Fight
Sophia Wilansky, a Bronx resident, had been an active participant in local social-justice work, from issues of police brutality to environmental action. That brought her west, where she lent support to the ongoing #NoDAPL protests attempting to halt the Dakota Access oil pipeline’s construction. The demonstrators, who identify themselves as “water protectors,” say the pipeline runs over land that some Native American groups see as sacred, in addition to being dangerous for the environment.
At demonstrations over the weekend, which included water cannons (in freezing temperatures) and pepper spray deployed by the police, Wilansky was hit by what demonstrators say was a concussion grenade. Wilansky is currently in the hospital and has undergone extended surgeries, according to Michael Basillas, a friend and fellow activist.
In a news conference, Morton County police said they had not deployed explosives. A spokeswoman suggested the blast may have come from protesters. There hasn’t yet been independent verification on the scene.
Wilansky struggles toward recovery — early statements from her father said she was in danger of losing use of her arm — and the protests continue. A Columbus Circle rally in NYC in support of Wilansky and the NoDAPL protest is scheduled to take place Wednesday night.
Regular Dinner Partners
The Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) and the NYPD are old adversaries.
PROP puts out regular reports concluding that broken windows policing focuses overwhelmingly on black and brown New Yorkers. Then the NYPD dismisses the group’s findings — a recycled statement, sent to reporters at least twice, misspelled the name of PROP’s director and used the uncommon spelling “marihuana.”
The numbers aren’t actually disputable — PROP gets them from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service, who receive NYPD statistics. And they are disturbing, if repetitive: this week’s report shows that over the first three quarters of 2016, approximately 90 percent of misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests and over 86 percent of misdemeanor arrests were of minority New Yorkers.
The NYPD has a different perspective and says “we fight crime where we find it” and where 911 calls and community complaints ask. PROP says the NYPD is fighting crime where they’re currently deployed more heavily to look for it, in predominately minority communities.
And, there’s another election we can talk about
Mayor Bill de Blasio has been racking up endorsements for his 2017 mayoral run, including big hospitality and service workers’ unions and the city’s sanitation workers, as well as influential supporters like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who has said he plans to run for mayor in the future. It’s a bold attempt by de Blasio to knock out any competition and come into the campaign season strong.
Will an outsider to the left or (more likely) right jump in and spoil de Blasio’s plan? What are the odds?
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amExpress will be suspended Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25 in observance of Thanksgiving. We will resume normal service on Monday, Nov. 28.