Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

A sidewalk triangle in Greenwich Village

“Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes.” That’s the message on a tiled mosaic triangle inset in a sidewalk at Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street in Manhattan’s West Village. It hearkens back to a 1920s-1930s dispute over eminent domain, and stands as the enduring monument to a property owner who wouldn’t give in [Dan Lewis, Now I Know, who adds a note on the historic Kelo v. New London dispute]

Police unions roundup

  • Quite a story: “Las Vegas cop behind controversial killing now influential union leader” [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
  • Strife betwen NYPD union and City Hall long predates current NYC mayor [David Firestone, Quartz; Guardian]
  • “Report: Massachusetts police grant ‘professional courtesy’ to other officers caught driving drunk” [Radley Balko; earlier on cops’ refusal to ticket cops]
  • “Cleveland police union defends fired cop, saying others did far worse” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, earlier]
  • After cartoon ire, did union chief tell police departments not to give information to Bucks County, Penn. paper? [Jim Romenesko via Balko]
  • Oldie but goodie: “hit it with a flashlight until we gain compliance” [Officer.com]
  • Miami FOP: chief’s view of the Eric Garner case isn’t ours [Washington Post via Amy Alkon]
  • And for a contrasting view, check out the generally pro-police-organization site of Ron DeLord;

Forensics and evidence roundup

  • Radley Balko begins a four-part series on the flawed science of bite mark analysis [parts one, two with Jim Hood angle]
  • Federal judge Jed Rakoff “quits commission to protest Justice Department forensic science policy” [Washington Post]
  • Disturbing, but, to those familiar with the false-memory literature, not all that surprising: “People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened” [Psychological Science on new research]
  • Exposure of faulty fire forensics leads to another release after long time served [WHP, Harrisburg; James Hugney Sr. “maintained his innocence throughout” nearly 36 years in prison following conviction in burning death of sleeping son]
  • Courts struggle with evidentiary significance of emoji [Julia Greenberg, Wired] Rap music as gang-tie evidence: “The only value it has is to scare the hell out of white juries, and it’s effective” [ABA Journal]
  • Supporters of Brian Peixoto say his Massachusetts conviction typifies problems of shaken baby forensics [Wrongful Conviction News]
  • “Allegations that NYPD cops may have planted evidence, perjured themselves and engaged in cover-ups while investigating gun cases.” [New York Times via Balko; NYDN 2011 flashback]

Rikers Island and the correctional officers’ union

It isn’t just in California (here, here, here, here, here, here) that the political power of guard unions makes prisons hard to reform. In December the New York Times investigated the head of the guards’ union in New York City, Norman Seabrook, seen as “the biggest obstacle to efforts to curb brutality and malfeasance” at the city’s notorious Rikers Island, and noted that most elected officials are reluctant to be quoted discussing him by name, sometimes due to “fears about their safety while visiting Rikers” if they get on his wrong side. Seabrook has derailed investigators, reformers, and oversight officials for years:

Perhaps the most naked display of Mr. Seabrook’s power came on Nov. 18, 2013, when a Rikers inmate, Dapree Peterson, was scheduled to testify against two correction officers in a brutality case. Mr. Seabrook essentially shut down the city’s courts by sidelining the buses that ferry inmates to and from court, interviews and documents show. As a result, hundreds of inmates missed court dates, including Mr. Peterson, whose beating had been investigated and referred for prosecution by [deputy commissioner for investigation Florence] Finkle.

The blockage also caused 49 inmates to miss scheduled medical appointments at Bellevue Hospital Center.

Full story here. More: John McGinnis (despite personal tone of Times’s criticism of Seabrook, his actions respond to the predictable incentives of a union leader), Daniel DiSalvo, Washington Examiner (unions can win popularity by preventing discipline of misbehaving workers), Ed Krayewski, Kevin Williamson. See also our coverage of correctional officers “bill of rights” laws in Maryland, Pennsylvania, etc. here, here, here, and here.

NYC: ADA complaint mill could close punk-rock landmark

“Manitoba’s, one of the last punk rock dive bars in New York’s East Village, owned by former Dictators frontman “Handsome Dick” Manitoba, could be headed for a premature end. Its would-be executioner is not rising rents or gentrification, but the hefty cash settlement of a lawsuit” over disabled access, one of many filed by a Rye, N.Y. man in connection with the law firm of attorney Bradley Weitz [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Overlawyered readers have met Weitz before, here (earlier client sued over Soho pedicure station although having no feet) and here.

Labor and employment roundup

  • Obama wants Hill to force paid leave on employers. What, his rule-by-decree powers didn’t stretch that far? [RCP, USA Today] Department of Labor, using funds taxed from supporters and opponents alike, happy to act as frank advocate for legislation [its blog]
  • Employers brace for salaried-overtime mandate, wrought by unilateral Obama decree [KSL, earlier at Cato]
  • Related: “Employers To Face More Litigation In 2015 As Plaintiff Lawyers Swoop In” [Daniel Fisher on Gerald Maatman/Seyfarth Shaw report] Here come more NLRB decisions too [Tim Devaney, The Hill]
  • Krugman on minimum wage: two economists in one! [Donald Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek via Coyote, @Mike_Saltsman (“Min wage in France is closer to $12/hr US. But Krugman still being inconsistent bc he’s also backed $15 US minimum”)]
  • Five pro-de Blasio unions — SEIU/1199, teachers, hotel workers, doormen/building staff, CWA District 1 — help enforce NYC mayor’s agenda [NYDN]
  • Testimony: “worst-kept secret” in Philly ironworkers’ union was that you could get ahead through violent “night work” [Philadelphia Inquirer; earlier on Quaker meetinghouse arson here and here, related here]
  • Loads of new compliance burdens: “Changes in California Employment Law for 2015″ [Baker Hostetler] And it wouldn’t be California without many more employer mandates pending in legislature [Steven Greenhut]

NYPD’s tactic: strike while still getting paid

When police begin to behave as an armed force unaccountable to civilian authority, it presents something of a moment of truth for many conservatives and Republicans who must decide which comes first for them, being pro-police or pro-rule-of-law.

Turning its back on elected and appointed civilian authority, New York’s paid constabulary has unilaterally reduced its writing of traffic tickets and minor summonses by 94 percent [New York Post] The job action hits New York City government in the pocketbook by stopping the lucrative flow of tickets, a tactic that has also been observed in other cities’ police labor disputes [Glenn Reynolds] It comes at a time when the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is angling for higher pay from the city [NYDN on an earlier stage in the tensions], and, even more remarkably, when unions have been pushing a bill that would further insulate cops accused of wrongdoing from city disciplinary authority [E.J. McMahon, New York Post] “It amounts to a public act of extortion by the police,” contends the New York Times in an editorial [via Scott Greenfield, who also comments].

Does the ticketing strike endanger the city public? The answer could be embarrassing for the police unions either way: either it does, in which case the police have put public safety at risk as a bargaining chip, or it does not, which would tend to support Reynolds’ comment that much of “‘law enforcement’ is really just a system designed to squeeze money out of the citizenry.” [Conor Friedersdorf, who argues that conservatives in particular should spot what’s wrong with “an armed, organized army rebelling against civilian control”]

In the past Republicans have tended to give police unions a pass for political reasons, but that may be changing [Lucy Morrow Caldwell, National Review; David Brooks, New York Times; Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast; Coyote] James Taranto at the WSJ recalls how some Wisconsin police refused to enforce the law against occupiers intent on taking down Gov. Scott Walker. Amity Shlaes, whose books include a biography of Calvin Coolidge, recalls Coolidge’s role as governor of Massachusetts in breaking the Boston police strike, which made him a national hero.

Earlier on unions’ role in impeding oversight of excessive-force claims. In 1992, protesting NYPD officers “blocked Brooklyn Bridge, tramped on cars, and assaulted reporters” [New York Times via @nickconfessore] while in 2011 some of their ranks attacked cameramen trying to cover ticket-fixing arraignments. Also from Memory Lane: the time Mayor Bloomberg, in one of his most irresponsible moments, urged police to strike to force policy changes.

A different view: Talking Points Memo hears from a self-described progressive cop in suburban New York. [edited shortly after posting to add new introduction] More: NPR (blue flu, “depolicing”, “rulebook protest”).