Paterson Urges Bloomberg to Accept Deal on Chancellor

With the candidacy of Cathleen P. Black, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s choice for the city’s next schools chancellor, suddenly in trouble, the Bloomberg administration is now considering its next moves.

But another New York City resident who is no stranger to controversial appointments on Wednesday urged the mayor to compromise: Gov. David A. Paterson.

Speaking on “The John Gambling Show” on WOR-AM (710), Mr. Paterson said that an advisory panel selected by David M. Steiner, the state education commissioner, had acted properly by voting on Tuesday to reject Ms. Black’s request for a waiver.

She needs such a waiver from Dr. Steiner because she lacks the education credentials required by state law to be in charge of the city’s schools. Ms. Black is the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines.

But Mr. Paterson also described as “very fair” a compromise put forth by Dr. Steiner that would grant the waiver, as long as an educator was appointed to a new post of chief academic officer that would oversee teaching, learning and accountability.

“There is a reason why there is a review of a chancellor’s choice,” Mr. Paterson said in his most expansive comments yet on Ms. Black’s nomination. “So I don’t think it will cost the mayor or Ms. Black anything to comply with the request and we can move on.”

The panel’s decision — four members said no outright, two said yes and two said that they were inclined to vote no, but were open to compromise — came as a surprise to many people in the political and education world. After all, several of the panelists worked either as top assistants in the Department of Education in the Bloomberg administration or for organizations that have had strong financial ties to the city or the mayor.

Neither Mr. Bloomberg nor anyone from his administration has commented on the panel’s vote. But speaking to reporters before the vote on Tuesday, the mayor repeated his belief that Ms. Black was the best candidate for the job.

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Fewer New Yorkers Get Health Insurance Through Employers

In the depressing-but-not-surprising category, a recent study finds that the percentage of New York state residents who get health insurance through their jobs has dropped considerably, from 69 percent in 2003 to 58 percent in 2009.

The study [PDF], released by the New York State Health Foundation, found that New York now lags the national average of 65 percent of workers covered through their employers.

While the fraction of employers offering health benefits has held steady at 70 percent, fewer of their employees are eligible — 74 percent of them, down from 85 percent in 2001. And those that do buy insurance are paying a lot more for it. The average employee contribution for family coverage, adjusted for inflation, jumped 87 percent from 2001 to 2009 and is now at $3,753.

Employers, of course, are feeling the squeeze of higher health care costs, too, with two-thirds of them reporting that they are struggling “a great deal” or “somewhat” to afford health insurance, and one in five firms reporting reducing benefits in the face of rising costs.

The study, released last week, was reported by The Associated Press on Thursday.

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Pale Male Takes a Star Turn

This meeting of the “fellowship of the bench” was called to order at 10:04 a.m. at the bench, facing Conservatory Water, the model-boat basin in Central Park.

Present were four people who had spent hours on the bench, staring at the Fifth Avenue buildings on the horizon and hoping for a glimpse of somebody they helped make famous: Frederic Lilien, a cinematographer; Janet Hess, who wrote the script for Mr. Lilien’s latest film; Marie Winn, who wrote a book about the central character in the film; and Rik Davis, a photographer who has followed the central character’s comings and goings for years.

A quorum was present, but the central character was not.

“Any sign of him yet?” Ms. Hess asked.

Ms. Winn shook her head and said, “He’ll show up.”

Let the record reflect that he did, 14 minutes later: Pale Male, the red-tailed hawk with the Fifth Avenue hangout and the worldwide following, soared over their heads. Pigeons scattered as he flew on a southwest heading. The pigeons did not want to end up being his brunch.

The main item on the agenda was to discuss Mr. Lilien’s film “The Legend of Pale Male,” which opens at the Angelika Film Center on Wednesday.

Pale Male did not take part in the discussion. He made a stopover in a tree a hundred yards or so from the bench. He was gone before you could lift your binoculars to your eyes. Mr. Davis, looking through a spotting scope, reported that Pale Male’s longtime companion, Lola, was perched atop the apartment building at 980 Fifth Avenue.

“The Legend of Pale Male” is about Mr. Lilien, who had worked as a messenger, a travel agent, a receptionist and the manager of an Upper East Side hair salon. Then he encountered Pale Male. They had lunch together, sort of — Mr. Lilien was eating a sandwich; Pale Male was eating a pigeon in a tree. Mr. Lilien, smitten, bought his first camera and went to the park every day, looking for Pale Male.

In the film, Mr. Lilien recounts all of this and says that Pale Male “took me under his wing.” It was he who also talked about the “fellowship of the bench” to describe the Pale Male regulars.

Mr. Lilien remembered the day little hawks’ heads poked out of their nest on an apartment-building window ledge high above Fifth Avenue. He remembered the protests that followed the co-op board’s decision to have the nest taken down. “We had known for some time that some residents had wanted the telescopes, the nest, even Pale Male to disappear,” he said.

“The Legend of Pale Male” is different from Mr. Lilien’s first film, “Pale Male.” In “Pale Male,” the narrator was Joanne Woodward. In “The Legend of Pale Male,” the narrator is Mr. Lilien himself.

“We felt like we were Pale Male’s biographers,” said Ms. Hess, who wrote the script. “We tried for two years to start the film with the protest” against the removal of the nest, she said. “I was trying to make ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for Pale Male, leading up to the moment where George almost jumps off the bridge.”

Mr. Lilien, who is Belgian, said he had arranged “a deal” with a Belgian waffle maker — anything to promote the film. He and Ms. Hess said the trailer was on iTunes and had received 400,000 hits in four days. Ms. Hess said someone called from Taiwan. “They had translated the trailer themselves, and put that up,” she said.

Then someone on the bench mentioned Charles Kennedy, a naturalist who died in 2004. Someone else said he would have described Pale Male as the Cary Grant of wildlife heroes: “He’s urbane, he would look impeccable in a suit, the girls loved him and the men wanted to be him.”

The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 a.m. Pale Male was long gone.

Respectfully submitted.

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The Chancellor’s Official Job Description: What a Difference 8 Years Make

Last week, in asking the state education commission to give Cathleen P. Black a waiver from the state law requiring that school district leaders have certain education credentials and experience, the Bloomberg administration had to file a description of the chancellor’s job she has been tapped to fill. City Room compared that job description, basically a list of bullet points, to the one City Hall submitted in 2002, when it asked for a similar waiver for Joel I. Klein.

A quick side-by-side inspection of the two-page documents, which are reproduced below, reveals a few key differences.

For starters, the 2010 document lacks a key introductory phrase from 2002: “The Chancellor acts in a position of public trust.’’ The 2002 section that listed 12 necessary qualifications including “high ethical standards and integrity” and “conviction and fortitude in the face of controversy” has been omitted. And a statement noting that the chancellor’s powers shall include “recruiting, retaining and managing senior managers’’ is likewise gone.

Rather than getting updated, hard numbers, like a reference in the 2002 document to a $12 billion budget and 1.1 million students in the school system, have been purged, as was a statement noting the chancellor’s duty to intervene in districts or schools “in which there exists a state of uncontrolled or unaddressed violence.”

The 2010 list of “powers and duties” has some new things, too, like this bullet point, the third: “promote a parents association or parent-teachers’ association in each school under the chancellor’s jurisdiction,’’ which gets higher billing than items like creating standards to maintain fiscal integrity and the appointment of community superintendents.

The expectation that the chancellor will “promote the involvement and appropriate input of all members of the school community,’’ was fourth from the top eight years ago. In 2010, it is the last of 20 items.

For all the apparent edits, one change is particularly curious and makes us wonder if the next chancellor might want to check on what sort of staff her office will have on hand to watch her back. Item No. 9 on the 2010 list of powers and duties, which reads “establish uniform procedures for record keeping, accounting and reporting throughout the city district,” also happens to appear verbatim as Item No. 17.

City Room readers are invited to post their own observations below.

Dueling Job Descriptions

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Choicest venues for virtual offices in Orange County

Orange County has continued to be a prominent entrepreneurial heart for the state of California. The place has been the core for greater ideas pertaining to business- one among them being the virtual offices. Virtual offices are an off-site live working space, which stands as the alternative for the cutting down the traditional cost overheads that comes from running a business. Virtual offices have become the obvious solution for the modern-day businesses and especially in the current state of the economy where owing a business comes with greater overheads. These virtual offices act as the key to the some of the prominent industries such as that of insurance, real estate, networking groups, accountants, law firms as well as therapists.

Orange County has stood out as the top location for the setting up of virtual offices than any other place in California. Owing to the low costs and the flexibility that the location renders to the new businesses, over the years, virtual offices have flourished well in the county. Furthermore, the county also offers appropriate business space solutions for almost all of the prominent industries and fields that continue to boost the popularity of this small county. Some of the prominent venues that have become popular for the virtual offices in Orange County include the following:

Anaheim Hills

This community in Orange County caters to the business needs of the key industries. The companies in this region offer unfurnished as well as furnished offices combined with a high-class image that works wonders for the businesses. The services in this region include the full time secretarial as well as professional receptionist services that also include multiple conferencing rooms, caf and lounges for the employees, along with the state-of-art equipments. Furthermore, the region is also regarded as a good option owing to lower lease rates and flexible terms.


Irvine is another of the popular venues for the virtual offices owing to the credentials associated with this city. It has a considerably lower crime rate and was also named the fourth most proficient place for living. The offices present in this region bring forth a number of solutions for virtual business offices such as that of proficient secretarial services, internet access, telephone and other communication facilities, as well as refurbished conference rooms. Moreover, employees also have services such as that of lounges, parking, and other common office amenities that makes this region no less than a real office environment zone.

Newport Beach

This metropolitan city is one among the prominent and wealthiest cities in the Orange County region. The city is also the home to large investments making it a popular destination venue for the virtual offices. Offices in this region include some of the standard support services along with a few optional add-ons. The standard packages include the facilities such as that of mail handling, telephone services, meeting, and the conference rooms, along with the receptionist services. The additional services include the air conditioning and heating equipments, along with video conferencing that vary as per the need of the business. Overall, Newport Beach stands as a good venue option.

Orange and Margarita

Both these places offer prestigious services for the virtual offices along with customized plans that add to functionality of these cities.

David Nikolic is the owner of United Virtual Office which provides Virtual Office Services to business owners making a prestigious address affordable with all conveniences of a traditional office. These Virtual Offices are equipped with the latest technology updates and live phone answering services.

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Moving to Europe for work – enlist the help of international removal experts

Big businesses operate in a truly global capacity these days. So if you work for a big multi-national, chances are you might end up taking a placement overseas for at least a year or two. Despite more uncertain trading conditions, key European economies continue to remain strong and thrive. So if you’re a high flying executive, you may well find yourself moving to Germany or moving to Switzerland.

Moving to continental Europe is a great adventure, whether you’re from the UK, the USA or maybe down under. Wherever you end up, you’ll find an expat community and support network, but you need to gear yourself up for a big change. Moving by itself can be stressful and unsettling, never mind taking on the challenge of an entirely new country with its language barriers and strange customs and traditions. However don’t be put off. Once you’ve made the initial adjustment, you’ll have a great experience that you will remember forever.

If your employer has an office in Europe and they want you to relocate by moving to Germany or moving to Switzerland, there are plenty of different options for your living arrangements. If you don’t have family ties, you might want to be in the heart of a thriving city like Berlin or Geneva. If you’re brining your family, then the suburbs or the countryside might suit you better.

Moving your belongings and possessions to a new country can seem daunting and if you don’t shop around for the best deal, it might turn out to be pretty costly. Do your research and try to find a company that offers their services at a reasonable rate and can help you with the whole move from start to finish. Otherwise you might have to find several companies to help you with each stage of our move, which is bound to be expensive. Specialist international removal companies are experts in transportation, packing and customs regulations. Stick with the experts and your move will be smooth and hassle free.


The Article is written by providing Moving To Germany and Moving To Switzerland Services. Visit for more information on Products & Services

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For Jet Fans Who Left Early, Regrets and Recriminations

It was utter euphoria for New York Jets fans after Mark Sanchez drove the team downfield with less than a minute remaining and pulled out a miraculous victory over the Houston Texans at the new Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday.

But when cameras showed the cheering crowd, it seemed that most of the fans had already given up on the team. After all, the Jets had blown a big lead in the fourth quarter before snatching back victory with seconds remaining.

“We had this feeling that, if we stayed till the end of the game, we’ll only have our hearts broken, not to mention that it’ll take us forever to get out of the stadium,” recounted one fan who left early, Richard Giraud, 49, of Hazlet, N.J. “We said, ‘Yeah, it’s not worth it,’ and we decided to leave.”

Mr. Giraud and his friend, who had seats that cost $120 each, did not get out unscathed. One fan used obscenities in essentially calling them “fair-weather fans,” he said.

The whole issue of fans leaving early struck a nerve among Jets fans after the game, and was a hot topic on fan sites such as and

On, threads appeared devoted to the topic, such as the one named, “I have never – nor will I ever – leave a Jet game early.”

One commenter composed the following stanzas:
“Why have you spent thousands – tens of thousands on seats?

To beat the traffic home?


Another commenter wrote: “Those fans that left, SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED BACK IN. In fact, they should be ESCORTED OUT by Security. … ”

One commenter on The Fifth Down. a New York Times blog, reacted to such criticism by writing that, “to accuse me of not being a true Jets fan because I left early is disgusting.”

“I left that game because I could not bear the misery of those final two minutes,” the commenter wrote. “Yes they won, yes it was amazing, but 99 times out of 100, that doesn’t happen especially to the same old jets.”

Same Old Jets: This is an expression among Jets fans that refers to the team’s propensity to fold. It is often simply referred to as S.O.J., a shorthand for that deep-seated feeling of doom in many Jets fans that somehow, the team in green will find a way to blow the game and the season.

The phrase keeps cropping up, even though the Jets are 8-2 this season and have had a string of thrilling, last-minute victories. It surfaced on Sunday after Sanchez threw a late interception and the team trailed by four points with little time left. Many of the 78,843 ticket holders left at this point and never saw Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes to put the Jets ahead for a final 30-27 score over the Texans.

Even fans watching on television turned away. Joe Ford, viewing the game at Charlie Meaney’s pub in Valley Stream, N.Y., grew frustrated at the Jets and walked out of the bar after Houston scored to make it 27-23, because he was “certain that there was no chance of a comeback,” he wrote in an e-mail message on Monday.

Another fan, Christian Budiarjo, 27, an electrical engineer from Patchogue, N.Y. had come to the game with his father, Luhur, who has a habit of turning away from Jets games because he cannot bear to watch.

During the legendary “Monday Night Miracle” game in which the Jets staged an incredible comeback to beat the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 23, 2000, the father turned off the game and went to sleep. And on Sunday, Luhur Budiarjo insisted upon leaving in the final minutes, his son said.

“He didn’t want to see the Texans celebrate on the field,” said Christian Budiarjo.

As they stood to leave, a group of Texans fans mocked them, the son recounted.

“I convinced him to stay, and he wound up thanking me all the way home,” Christian Budiarjo recalled.

Many fans on message boards blamed the new stadium for the decision to leave early, which they said clogs easily with large crowds trying to exit.

Sean Deegan, the founder of, said that leaving a couple of minutes before the game ends can save a 45-minute bottleneck walking out of the stadium and trying to drive out of the parking lot.

Mr. Giraud said the walk out of the stadium was slow, but it allowed them to watch the final play live on a monitor while descending to the exit.

“We still wound up watching it with a bunch of Jets fans, jumping up and down,” he said. “We still felt that sense of camaraderie.”

“And I was home by 5:10,” he added.

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Plan to Bring Ship to West Side Hits Snag

New York City might not be the next home port for the S.S. United States, a historic luxury liner, if a casino development plan unveiled Monday in Philadelphia comes to pass.

A group that has been raising money to restore the 58-year-old ship had considered moving it from Philadelphia to Manhattan and converting it into a hotel and tourist attraction. But on Monday, the group proposed making the ship part of a plan to open a casino complex along the Delaware River.

The first casino in Philadelphia opened in September, but no progress has been made on a waterfront site where another casino was supposed to be developed. The ship, affectionately known as the “Big U,” has been tied to a pier near that site for years, while the members of the S.S. United States Conservancy sought a way to pay for its rehabilitation.

Incorporating the ship into a casino complex could simultaneously solve the riddle of how to save what once was the world’s fastest ocean liner. But the ship’s most ardent fans have not yet abandoned the idea that the United States could wind up at a pier on the West Side.

Dan McSweeney, the executive director of the S.S. United States Conservancy, said Monday that he was still seeking private investors who might help pay for a move to New York.

“We are enthusiastic about discussing possible plans for the ship with potential stakeholders in New York, as well as Philadelphia.” Mr. McSweeney said.

The ship, which at 990 feet is longer than the Titanic was, made 400 ocean crossings before it was retired. It was saved from the scrapyard this year when a Philadelphia philanthropist, Gerry Lenfest, donated $5.8 million. The conservancy used that money to buy the ship from Norwegian Cruise Lines, which had decided to sell it for scrap, and to keep it afloat long enough to devise a big idea for reviving the Big U.

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On a School Rooftop, Hydroponic Greens for Little Gardeners

Shakira Castronovo stood in a classroom at the Manhattan School for Children on West 93rd Street on a recent afternoon and hushed a squirming group of kindergartners perched around a blue carpet.

“Where do you think I picked this?” she asked, pinching a leafy-looking thing between her index finger and thumb. “It was picked fresh just few minutes ago.”

Someone wondered if it had come from the recess yard. Maybe from a farmers market? A minute later, a little girl in pink came up with the answer. “Greenhouse!” she shrieked as her hand shot into the air.

“This is called mizuna,” Ms. Castronovo said, enunciating the new word. “And we are finally ready to harvest some of our lettuces.”

Mizuna? “It’s the kind of thing that adults put with other lettuces when they have a salad,” she explained. “But you can still take a nibble.”

The grown-up lettuce came from what its founders say is the first hydroponic laboratory greenhouse on a New York City public school roof. The garden will officially open Dec. 6. But plants are already sprouting, making their way into classrooms.

There’s no soil in a hydroponic greenhouse, which captures and recirculates rainwater to the roots of plants. In capable hands — though maybe not in 5-year-old hands — the 1,400-square-foot structure can produce up to 8,000 pounds of vegetables every year. It is an experiment in environmental education its founders hope will be replicated in schools citywide.

Two mothers at the school, Sidsel Robards and Manuela Zamora, founded the greenhouse, inspired in 2008 by a trip to the Science Barge, a floating urban farm docked in Yonkers. They got New York Sun Works, the nonprofit green-design group that built the barge, interested enough to execute the greenhouse, a bright, open and wheelchair-accessible space, covered by glass and entered from the school’s third floor, that is essentially the Barge on a roof.

It includes a rainwater catchment system, a weather station, a sustainable air conditioner made of cardboard, a worm-composting center and solar panels. In the center of the room is a system resembling  a plant-filled hot tub: an aquaponics system home to a community of tilapia, whose waste is converted into nitrate. The system loses water only when it evaporates to help cool plants, consuming only a tiny fraction of the water that a field of conventional dirt does.

“You basically can have this closed system, this symbiotic thing going on, where plants are eating food, creating waste, you’re converting it and then the plants are taking it up,” said Zak Adams, director of ecological design at BrightFarm Systems, which designed the greenhouse and the barge. 

Including everything from permits to teacher training, the project cost about $800,000, most of which came from outside the school community. City Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer and the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, provided grants.

Ms. Robards and Ms. Zamora, working in partnership with New York Sun Works, hope to spread the gospel of hydroponic farming to other city schools and are working to build a greenhouse at Public School 89 in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.

The food produced at the Manhattan School will probably go to a farm stand in the lobby, a nearby shelter or to cooking projects in the classroom and cafeteria. But its founders are careful not to think of it as a bona fide food production system.

“It’s important to remember that it’s a science lab and we want the kids to be able to fail, too,” Mr. Robards said.

At its heart, the project is about making science both accessible and exciting “in a natural way,” said Ms. Castronovo, the school’s science teacher. Explosions always grab attention. But how many kids voluntarily eat something weird and green and leafy? (“We really, really, really loved the leaf,” one kindergartner said near the end of the mizuna lesson.)

In the summer, the center will be used for teacher training programs. But during the school year, it is Ms. Castronovo’s classroom. When the kids get inside, she said, she plans to lead scavenger hunts to help familiarize them with the room.

“I want it to be a place that they respect,” Ms. Castronovo said, “but I also want it to be their home.”

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Legislator Says Panel Member Should Be Removed

State Senator Eric Adams on Monday called for the removal of a member of the education panel evaluating Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s choice for the next city schools chancellor.

Mr. Adams, a Democrat, called on the panel member, Louise Mirrer, to recuse herself from the deliberations because of her many close ties to Mr. Bloomberg, which she did not appear to have disclosed.

“She should not sit on the panel,” said Mr. Adams, who represents Brooklyn. “The mayor has great influence on her vote.”

Ms. Mirrer did not immediately respond to an e-mail message on Monday seeking comment.

Ms. Mirrer was appointed last week to an eight-member panel that will weigh whether the mayor’s nominee for chancellor, Cathleen P. Black, should be exempted from a state law requiring that the leader of the city’s school system have certain educational credentials. Ms. Black, a magazine executive, lacks those credentials.

However, Ms. Mirrer has close ties to Mr. Bloomberg, who is lobbying for Ms. Black to obtain the exemption. Among other things, she runs the New-York Historical Society, a museum to which Mr. Bloomberg has personally donated nearly $500,000, and she has lobbied the Bloomberg administration on behalf of the museum. She also won an award from Mr. Bloomberg two years ago and was honored at Gracie Mansion.

Mr. Adams is a longtime critic of mayoral control of schools in New York City —and at times a mayoral foe — but he said his worries about Ms. Mirrer are unrelated to those objections.

He faulted Ms. Mirrer for not disclosing her close ties to Mr. Bloomberg, and the state’s education commissioner, David M. Steiner, for not asking about them.

Mr. Adams has introduced legislation that would allow the State Legislature to reject a New York City schools chancellor nominee who lacks the educational background required by state law.

The bill’s prospects are unknown — it would have to pass in the Senate and the Assembly and be signed by the governor — but Mr. Adams said that at least 10 of his Senate colleagues have asked to become co-sponsors.

A spokesman for Dr. Steiner could not be reached for comment.

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