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Chelsea Piers Leads NYC in Wind Power

These windmills in Fenner, New York provide power to facilities in NYC

By Valerie Lapinski, Colin Orcutt, Maureen Sullivan, Nicole Turso, and Brian Winkowski

New York: The New Windy City?

City officials on Thursday honored Chelsea Piers, the country’s biggest sports and entertainment complex, for converting to 100% wind power. Chelsea Piers made the switch in October, making it the biggest business in NYC to use wind energy – equal to taking 2800 cars off of the road, or offsetting the generation of 13,600 tons of green house gas emissions.

But although Chelsea Piers is perched on the breezy west side of the city, the windmill in front of the building is merely decorative. Instead of spending money in attempt to harness wind itself, the facility buys wind credits, which act as a pre-order on wind power being generated somewhere else.

“This is energy that has no supply line around the world, it’s generated here at home. It has no emissions, no climate change impact, and once the investment is made it has no fuel costs,” said Jorge J. Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions at Thursday’s event.

NYC Honors Chelsea Piers for Wind Power

Do-It-Yourself Wind Power

Some people don’t want to wait through this process–from wind farm to energy supplier–to get their energy, but still want to harness the power of the wind.

Energy2Green touts the idea that wind and solar power systems can be built right at home.

Gotwind.org also has a step-by-step guide on how to build your own wind turbine.

It turns out the city isn’t opposed to a little DIY engineering – last summer Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced support of windpower on skyscrapers, a sentiment consistent with his 25-year sustainability initiative, PlaNYC.

This recent piece in the New York Times profiles several buildings in the city that operate at least partially on windpower from installed turbines.

How Wind Credit Works

Wind power is the second most successful renewable source of energy after hydroelectric, or water-fueled turbines that create energy.

Companies like Chelsea Piers buy wind power credits from energy suppliers, including ConEdison Solutions, Accent Energy and Energetix, who buy power from wind farms located throughout the United States. Since some days are windier than others, it’s the suppliers’ job to make sure that their clients are getting the amount of power they’re paying for.

Jorge J. Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions, explains wind credit:

These farms send wind-generated power to the electricity grid that is then verified by an independent audit system and directed to homes and businesses. Customers can choose whether they will receive wind power, standard power, or a combination of the two. Here’s a handy graphic from the BBC that illustrates how wind energy gets to the power grid.

Wind power, however, does come at a premium cost—about two and a half more cents per kilowatt. In addition, customers can choose which wind they will receive—either nationally produced or regional, though regionally produced wind power is more expensive.

As for Chelsea Piers, facility directors think the environmental benefit is worth the extra investment.

“We were surprised to learn that the incremental cost of purchasing 100 percent green power was actually quite small,” Chairman Roland W. Betts said in a press statment. “We believe it will pay for itself in a few years.”

Posted in Business, Earth Day, Featured, Manhattan, Multimedia

Opening a Bar During Recession

By Damiano Beltrami, Aisha Al-Muslim, Anastasia Economides

Sometimes there are advantages to opening a business during an economic downturn. Holiday Haber, owner of P&G Café, a bar that opened two weeks ago at Columbus Ave and 78th Street, says there’s not as much red tape now. At a time when many business are closing or scaling back, she says everybody seems to be pulling for her to succeed and willing to help her get started.

“We just had to buy a chiller for beer lines and the gentleman is driving it himself from Pennsylvania”, Haber said. “And we’re getting it at about a third of its value.”

Bars and restaurant may not be recession-proof, but people don’t stop eating and drinking when times are bad. One big advantage during a downturn is that everything is cheaper. People, raw materials, office space. And suppliers, desperately looking for jobs, turn up on time and offer reasonable returns by providing discounts or special treatments.

“Some landlords are renegotiating their leases,” said Andrew Rigie, Director of Operations of the New York State Restaurant Association. “Restaurant [and bar] owners have more empty spaces to choose from.”

Some economists like Harvard Business School’s Tom Nicholas and Mike Southon, Financial Times columnist and entrepreneur mentor, recently suggested that a recession can be a good time to start a business.

During the last recession (1991-92) roughly 25% of downsized managers over 40 started their own company, according to the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, and the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that in the first six months of 2002, 11.4% of jobless managers and executives started their own businesses.

“Because small firms and self employed individuals are more nimble than large corporations and can capitalize on market opportunities during economic downturns, it’s not surprising to see self employment spike during recessions,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business.  “It’s a testament to the American entrepreneurial spirit.”

Former managers willing to get start-ups running and small entrepreneurs like Haber share advantages as well as the same big disadvantage in starting a business these days: the lack of credit.

“In these tough economic times investments are a problem,” said Cliff Schorer, a professor at the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School.

Haber used family savings and could count on a number of friends to help move furniture, paint walls and install electrical wiring. But she feels that the money is never enough.

“The costs are always far beyond what planned,” she said.

A BAR STOOL FOR A BARGAIN

At a time when bars and restaurants are closing down and sell their furniture to second hand stores, the ones who want to open a business can pick and choose.

The heaven for third and fourth hand stools and tables is the Bowery, an area dotted with dozens of these shops. They are facing hard times, but are a boon for entrepreneurs.

Posted in Business, Featured, Multimedia

Angry Americans Protest Wall Street – Good Therapy, Poor Politics, say Experts

by Igor Kossov, Lindsay Lazarski, Mike Reicher and Kate Zhao

As April rain fell on Wall Street, employees at Bank of America stood between potted plants in their second floor offices and looked down at the angry crowd below. The people in the crowd waved plastic-draped signs, chanting “shame” and “bankers come out.” The bankers smiled, took pictures on their cell phones, but did not come out. The crowd moved on to yell at others.

Why Individuals Decide to Protest
SLIDESHOW: Why Wall Street Protesters RageSLIDE SHOW: Stories from Wall Street, April 3, 2009
Listen to New York University finance professor Kenneth Froewiss explain why Americans are angry so at Wall Street bankers:

[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/04/professor-froewiss_1-2.mp3|titles=Professor Kenneth Froewiss, NYU]
Major U.S. Protests During Current Financial Crisis

TIMELINE: View Major U.S. Protests During Current Financial Crisis

Americans are clearly mad – at greedy bankers, Wall Street bank bailouts and others – but their protests haven’t reached a critical mass and unity of message that would effect meaningful political change, experts say. Instead, they’re really just venting.

“I see it as a bunch of angry people,” said Darrell West, the vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute, a liberal Washington think tank. “It’s more catharsis as opposed to people following a coherent political strategy.”

Most U.S. protests of bank bailouts, for example, have been limited to several hundred people per event – as in the case of a September 25, 2008 Wall Street demonstration and March 19, 2009 rally in the Financial District of San Francisco.

Maybe the rain was a drawback on April 3, when fewer people than expected (hundreds, not thousands) protested the Federal bailouts of Wall Street banks and the $165 million of American Insurance Group bonuses. Experts including historian Howard Zinn called the rally, along with similar ones throughout the country, a mild response.

The rally also lacked a clear focus of the anger. Protesters chanted about bailouts but also complained about mistreatment of Guantanamo prisoners anr Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The mixed messages may have diluted the rage.

This unfocused approach has little meaningful effect on policy and doesn’t really spark the anger some Congressmen have displayed in recent weeks, according to Robert Reich, former U.S. labor secretary and professor of public policy at University of California Berkeley. Reich wrote on his blog (http://robertreich.blogspot.com) that Congressmen responded to a wave of mail and phone calls rather than people taking to the streets.

“In the short run, the government ignores political protests – hoping it will go away,” said West from Brookings. “They need to reach a critical mass in terms of numbers and visibility.”

In Europe, the numbers of people protesting the recession have been substantially higher. In February, over 100,000 people brought central Dublin to a standstill. Around 35,000 showed up to the G20 protest in London (though many were anti-capitalists before the recession). And in France, millions took to the streets in January and March.

U.S. citizens are much more likely than Europeans to go directly to their elected officials rather than express their rage in the form of a protest, wrote Reich on his blog.

Click Below to watch RAW FOOTAGE from the April 3, 2009 Wall Street protest:

Posted in City Proposals, Featured, Health Care, Multimedia, Politics, Video

AIDS Activists Flunk New York City Health Care Services

D. D-minus. F.

Those are the grades that HIV and AIDS advocates gave to New York City’s health care services.

To mark President Obama’s 50th day in office on Wednesday, March 11, AIDS and HIV prevention advocates from around the country issued a health care report card grading the nation’s progress in finding a cure for the epidemic. The “End AIDS Report Card,” compiled by the activist organization Campaign To End AIDS, failed the city across the board on the services such as housing and medication distribution.


Housing Works Rally Video
Harlem, New York

“We need a national strategy to end AIDS,” said Charles King, CEO of Housing Works. “Twenty five years into the epidemic and we still don’t have a coherent national strategy on prevention or on treatment services and care. There has to be a strategy that involves every single state and every single locality doing its fare share.”

According to a Housing Works representative, the “End AIDS Report Card” was based upon information provided by various AIDS advocacy groups that lobby for AIDS-related funding and services at city, state and federal level.

Activists and supporters, like local entities Housing Works and Harlem United Community AIDS Center, gathered at various locations across the country, such as New York and Washington D.C..

Protesters staged a rousing, speech-filled rally. They displayed large, color billboard report cards detailing their negative assessment of the city’s health care missteps. And they distributed educational pamphlets, orange stickers and free contraceptives – – all in an effort to bring awareness to the issue.

In Harlem, King singled out Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn because of proposed cuts to city services. “The City has received close to 2 billion dollars in new money as a part of the stimulus package,” King said. “There is absolutely no excuse for the City to be cutting vital service to the health care of those with AIDS and HIV.”

Without commenting on the city’s future funding for HIV-related services, a spokesperson for the city’s health department cited their recent AIDS prevention efforts through condom distribution, syringe exchanges and voluntary testing. The City Council is currently holding hearings on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010, which at this time includes cuts of nearly $2 million in case management staff for HIV/AIDS, among other related reductions.

King said, however, the Mayor must employ new fiscal strategies in order to remedy this situation. “Frankly, I don’t think this notion that all cuts are somehow equal and that everyone has to take their share of the pain even makes sense,” King said. “I have to run an organization and I have to administer a budget. And one of the things I know is that some cuts actually cost you more to make. This is one of those cuts that will cost the city in the long run.”

“We are in a financial crisis, right,” said Housing Works employee Lynan Saperstein. “So what’s happening to the people at the bottom? They’re getting ignored and they were already suffering.”

Click here to see the United States’ AIDS report card.

Click here to see New York State’s AIDS report card.

Click here to see New York City’s AIDS report card.

New Yorkers Living with HIV Speak Out

Frederick Taylor, 51 (originally from Sacramento, CA)
Frederick Taylor, 51, who works at a Housing Works thrift store, fears that cuts to funding may endanger services like public housing and non-pharmaceutical treatment offered to HIV-infected people.

Click the arrow to play.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/03/f_taylor_bounce.mp3]


Rodney Robinson, 45, a senior peer educator at AIDS Service Center, explained why he thinks it’s especially problematic for New York City to cut HIV/AIDS services.

Click the arrow to play.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/03/rodney-robinson2.mp3]

(Contributors to this report are James Flood, Valerie Lapinski, Alex Green IV, Heather Chin and Nicholas C. Martinez.)

Posted in Featured, Health Care, Manhattan, Multimedia, Politics, Video

The Big East Experience: Basketball, Fans and Scalpers

By Kate Nocera, Michael Preston, Collin Orcutt, and Maya Pope-Chappell

Big East Tournament at Madison Square Gardens

Tournament tickets are always a hot item for the Big East Tournament, but they’re harder to come by this year because there was no general public sale.

A change from previous years, tickets were reserved for only the 16 conference schools and were allocated in blocks of 500 to each team. The lack of a public sale has exponentially increased the traffic of online individual ticket sellers, street scalpers, and middleman brokers like Stubhub.com.

As throngs of fans, bands and teams packed into Madison Square Garden on March 11, many were left out in the cold, including ticket scalpers.  The sounds of buyers and sellers could be heard from 34th Street to 38th street, from 8th Avenue across town to 5th. “Buying tickets? Selling tickets? 60 bucks, 40 bucks, good seats!”

“It’s totally ridiculous,” said Jarryd Knouse, 25, a longtime Syracuse fan who has been attending the tournament for the last eight years. “There are so many people who want to go who can’t, and the ticket prices are totally inflated. I paid $30 last year for awesome seats, and $75 this year for ones that are a quarter as good.”

Knouse said that guaranteeing all the schools tickets lowered the number of seats that would have otherwise been available.

“The extra schools they invited will be out in a day, so that’s 2,000 tickets that are either going to go to waste for the remainder of the conference or are going to be sold illegally.”

Knouse was at the Blarney Rock, across the street from Madison Square Garden, drinking with a few hundred other Syracuse fans before the much- anticipated early round Syracuse and Seton Hall game. He purchased

To see a slide show of the sights on the street the days of the tournament, click on the photo.

his tickets on Craigslist, but was anticipating what would happen the following day.

“If ‘Cuse wins, I will most definitely be out there talking to some scalpers,” he said.

Scalpers huddled for hours outside the bar, attempting to broker quick ticket deals. A scalper, who would only identify himself as Dan, said the quantity of tickets drove up the prices this year.

“A face value of the ticket is around $30, so last year when there were tons of tickets we could sell them at $40 a pop for the first few rounds and still make a profit,” he said. “Now we’re trying to make more money off of fewer tickets, it’s around $60 tonight.”

Syracuse is always a hot ticket because of the large fan and alumni base in New York City, but some local fans hadn’t anticipated the extra difficulties in securing tickets for this year’s tournament.
Others like Bill Jones, made the trip down from upstate New York to Madison Square Garden, with tickets in hand.

“I’ve been a ‘Cuse fan since ’74,” Jones said. “I saw them win in 2003, and we had no problem getting tickets. I got them two weeks ago because I always come see them play, and I paid $30 bucks for them, so I don’t know what everyone is whining about.”



Big East Tournament Fans on Vimeo.

Posted in Featured, Manhattan