Ode to a Persistent Snow Mound

At first, it engendered a strange sense of pride: a three-dimensional symbol of the historic snowfall we had endured, a testament to the hard-working building staff that had shoveled it, a huge pyramid that screamed the insanity of this winter of 2011. The pile of white stuff in back of my apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, must have topped 10 feet, perhaps 15. When I read “The Snowy Day” to my twin toddlers, I thought to myself, this is the kind of human-made hill that Ezra Jack Keats imagined Peter climbing up and sliding down.

Then the ice came, and it was like an upside-down snow cone, only gray instead of red, blue and green. It had not snowed for days, maybe weeks, but there on Pacific Street, near the corner of Sixth Avenue, was still a little part of the sidewalk that was impassible, covered in a patch of slick ice between two of these makeshift mountains. It was no longer endearing. It was annoying.

More snowless days, but still the mound persisted. February turned to March; gray turned to black. Visitors from another planet would not imagine that this was snow: it looked like a rock. Volcanic rock, perhaps, left from another age. Granite, maybe, mined from the Atlantic Yards construction pit across the street. Landfill: there was a crushed can of Red Bull peeking out of the top. An art installation?

Rain came. A 60-degree playground day. Rain, again. But the mountain remains. It is maybe four feet tall now, more horizontal than vertical. This morning, the kids climbed it like Peter. But there was no sliding down. Ick.

This is hardly the only snow pile left in the city. Please send photos of yours to [email protected]. They should be horizontally oriented and taken in New York City this week. Thank you!

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Morning Buzz | A New Idea for Rescuing Failing Schools

Partly cloudy and in the low 40s Wednesday, with another major storm on the horizon. Rain, not snow.

The Department of Education and United Federation of Teachers are taking time from their busy schedule fighting over teacher layoffs to cooperate on a plan to turn around two failing schools. In fact, the process is called a turnaround — a school is not closed, but restaffed with new teachers and management. In this case, the Department of Education would retain control of two unnamed Bronx schools but replace the principals and much of the faculty with unionized teachers. The schools would be managed by Green Dot America, a charter school network with 17 schools nationwide, including a high school in the Bronx.

The plan would be the first of its kind in New York City and would represent a departure from typical plans for failing schools and for charter schools, usually staffed by nonunion teachers. In this case, teachers at the schools would have to reapply for their jobs, but those hired would have more flexible teaching contracts. [NYT]

People & Neighborhoods

Participants in Hoboken’s infamous, rowdy St. Patrick’s Day festivities may be putting the celebration’s future in jeopardy. After 34 arrests and a record 166 hospital admissions last weekend — plus a beer shower for firefighters and a nuisance in green boxers, according to police reports — the city’s mayor, Dawn Zimmer, plans to move the parade to a Wednesday to “reduce the amount of partying that occurs.” Besides drunken high jinks, the celebration yields real harm: two sexual assaults were reported to the police and nine assault victims were admitted to Hoboken University Medial Center. [NYT]

Changes to another area holiday parade — the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — will be made, as may be expected, for different reasons entirely. In 2012, the parade will be rerouted around Times Square because of construction expected in the area at that time, although sources said the move could be a power play by the broadcast licensee, NBC, looking to block CBS’s cushy spot broadcasting the parade from Times Square. [NYT]

Shudder to think, your next falafel may be financing a black market. The city’s increasingly competitive food truck scene has given way to an illegal underground of permit holders — the city gives out only 3,100 per year, at $200 each — selling off the right to serve streetside tacos and the like for exorbitant prices. [Wall Street Journal]

Steve Mandl, one of the most successful high school baseball coaches in the city, is adapting to life away from his team of 27 years at George Washington High School in Upper Manhattan. Mr. Mandl is serving a one-year suspension for, the Public Schools Athletic League ruled, influencing a young player to transfer to George Washington instead of attending the one he had been assigned to. [NYT]

A 14-month legal battle for a transgender Bronx couple looking to marry ended Monday, drawing an apology from the city clerk’s office. The couple’s attempt to obtain a marriage license was held up after the city clerk’s office asked for a birth certificate in attempting to identify them. [Daily News] (Also see The New York Post.)

Transportation

Park Slope, Brooklyn, continues its embroilment over a new bike lane along Prospect Park West that is now the subject of a suit against the Transportation Department. Opponents say the lane, installed between the sidewalk and parking lane, at the expense of a lane of automobile traffic, is dangerous and disruptive. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News and The New York Post.)

Spider-Men

The opening of the embattled Spider-Man musical, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” will be delayed for three months, and performances will be shut down for two to three weeks this spring, according to people who work on “Spider-Man” or were briefed on the producers’ plans. During the hiatus, the play could undergo a major creative overhaul that may involve dismissing its director, Julie Taymor. The $65 million Broadway musical, with its high-flying, and occasionally misfiring, aerial stunts, was scheduled to open March 15 and recently finished its 99th preview performance, the most in history. [NYT] (Also see The Wall Street Journal.)

Government & Politics

More fallout from the indictment of John F. Haggerty, the political operative accused of stealing more than $1 million provided to the Independence Party by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to pay for Election Day poll-watching. A justice in State Supreme Court froze about $200,000 of the party’s funds because it failed to monitor the money under question in Mr. Haggerty’s case, in which he’s pleaded not guilty. [NYT] (Also see The Wall Street Journal.)

Earl Andrews Jr., the vice chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, resigned Monday after using his official letterhead to write to a Florida judge asking for leniency in a child pornography case involving a friend’s son. [NYT] (Also see The Daily News.)

Crime

An off-duty correction officer shot and killed a 77-year-old man at a Brooklyn barbershop Tuesday, the police said. [NYT] The two men were neighbors whose families had been feuding for decades. [New York Post]

A former American Apparel employee filed a $250 million suit against Dov Charney, the clothing company’s founder, alleging several episodes of explicit sexual harassment. The plaintiff, Irene Morales, contends that the harassment began in 2007, when she was 17 and working at an American Apparel store in Chelsea. [New York Post] (Also see The Daily News.)

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade Getting in Line With Others

When the New York Police Department announced early last year that all parades would have to be shortened to reduce police overtime costs, several parade organizers cried foul. The 2010 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for which the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, happened to be serving as grand marshal, ended up being given an exemption from the new rules (the Police Department said the parade had not been given enough advance notice).

But this year, the luck of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has clearly run out.

The March 17 parade, which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, will begin at its traditional starting point of Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, ending at East 79th Street. Not only is this route seven blocks short of its standard finish line of East 86th Street, it is about a block shy of the American Irish Historical Society, which marks the event as the highlight of the year.

“I can’t think of a similar circumstance with one of the other parades, where you would stop short of the only relevant cultural institution on the parade route,” said Christopher Cahill, the society’s executive director. “Other than the cathedral.”

The cathedral Mr. Cahill was referring to is, of course, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the symbolic heart for many Irish in New York, a totem to Ireland’s patron saint.

The historical society hosts a daylong event every St. Patrick’s Day, inviting between 300 and 400 people to its ornately decorated and hushed halls to celebrate and watch the parade, Mr. Cahill said. The society weathered another blow last month when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, evoking a well-worn Irish stereotype, described the society as a place where, on March 17, “there are a bunch of people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window, waving.”

Mr. Bloomberg soon apologized, and the society shrugged off the slight. As it happens, the parade will now disperse right by the mayor’s townhouse on 79th Street.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said the parade cuts were expected to save the department $3.1 million in overtime costs, though he said it was too soon to say whether that projection had been met. First to be affected last year was the Tartan Day Parade, which celebrates Scots and gamely trimmed its length to 10 blocks from 13. The Puerto Rican and gay pride parades were also cut, though the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade maintained its traditional length, because, Mr. Browne said, it was held on a Thursday, traditionally a high staffing day, and because the organizers needed a large space to blow up the giant balloons.

March 17 is also a Thursday, but the St. Patrick’s Day Parade did not get a pass. John Dunleavy, the chairman of the parade, said that while the change pained him, he understood the need to cut costs. He said he expected the parade to end around 4 p.m., barring strong headwinds. “If it goes longer than that, I shake my head,” he said, “because then we’re interfering with the business of the City of New York.”

Despite the shortened route, Mr. Cahill said on Tuesday that he believed the parade would nonetheless pass in front of the society, even though parade organizers and the Police Department said otherwise. “This is not inside knowledge,” Mr. Cahill said. “It is my opinion and belief.”

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Cuomo’s Right to Holy Communion Is a Private Matter, Bishop Says

ALBANY — One of New York State’s leading Roman Catholic bishops said on Tuesday that it was not appropriate for church officials to comment on whether specific elected officials should be allowed to receive holy communion.

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, the leader of the Albany diocese and a member of the executive committee of the New York State Catholic Conference, made his comments at a news conference after meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion to discuss the state budget, same-sex marriage and other issues.

Mr. Cuomo was criticized last month by a consultant to the Vatican’s highest court, who called for the governor to be denied communion because he lives with his girlfriend without being married to her.

But when Bishop Hubbard was asked if he agreed with the consultant — Edward N. Peters, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit — he said that such matters were between officials and their pastors, much as they are for private individuals.

“There are norms for all Catholics about receiving communion and we have to be sensitive pastorally to every person in their own particular situation,” Bishop Hubbard said. “And when it comes to judging worthiness for communion, we do not comment on either public figures or private figures. That’s something between the communicant and his pastor personally. It’s not something we comment on.”

Bishop Hubbard also distanced New York bishops from bishops in other states who have sparked controversy in recent years by calling publicly for communion to be denied to elected officials who disagree with church teachings on issues like abortion or same-sex marriage.

“Some bishops have done that but not all bishops have done that,” Bishop Hubbard said. “Quite frankly, there is a disagreement among bishops about using the communion line as a place for a confrontation. And I don’t think that the bishops of New York State feel that’s appropriate.”

Professor Peters’s criticism followed similar remarks made by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, a former archbishop of St. Louis and the head of the Vatican court, who is known for his criticism of President Obama and of Catholic politicians who support abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Bishop Hubbard appeared with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and several other high-ranking bishops who had lunch with Mr. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion on Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said: “The governor enjoyed his lunch meeting with Archbishop Dolan and the bishops from the Catholic Conference. He looks forward to continuing to work closely with them during his administration.”

The meeting was closely scrutinized because Mr. Cuomo had previously said he would be unable to meet with Archbishop Dolan on Monday due to a scheduling conflict, a move some in Albany suggested was an intentional snub by a governor unhappy with the public criticism of his living arrangements. But Tuesday’s lunch was quickly scheduled and a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said on Monday that no snub was intended.

Archbishop Dolan said on Tuesday that he had accepted Mr. Cuomo’s explanation and that the issue had not arisen during lunch.

“Thank God it didn’t, because it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot,” the archbishop said. “We were just happy to be there, and he obviously was, too.”

He added that the rescheduled meeting had had another benefit.

“We got lunch out of it,” Archbishop Dolan said.

, who a Vatican consultant for

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