Assembly Member Proposes Finance Reform as Funding Mechanism for Affordable Housing
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou: “When you go shopping in New York City, how much extra do you pay for sales tax? This transfer tax of one-half of one percent is less than one-sixteenth of what you pay. But it would raise billions for public housing.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that planning must begin immediately for how to rebuild the wreckage of the economy, once the health crisis brought on by the pandemic cononavirus has abated.
“We have to start to plan the pivot back to economic functionality,” he said during a press conference at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s west side, where he announced the start of construction on a temporary hospital. “You can’t stop the economy forever.”
The clinical and the financial upheavals both appear likely to get significantly worse before they get better, but the aftershocks from the latter may linger longer than those of the former. In this context, one Albany legislator representing Lower Manhattan has an idea for how to reform the financial industry in a way that could also help fund affordable housing throughout New York State.
Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou is proposing a small tax on corporate stock buybacks, with the funds raised in this way earmarked for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), as well as other affordable housing agencies in regions throughout New York.
“This is part of a 15-bill package,” she explained at a February 23 meeting of the New Downtown Democrats, referring to a bundle of proposed legislation that she is sponsoring. “It would impose a tiny, small tax of one-half of one percent when companies repurchase their own stock.”
“When you go shopping in New York City, how much extra do you pay for sales tax?” she asked, to which the assembled crowd answered “eight percent.” (The effective levy on most items subject to sales tax in New York City is 8.75 percent.) “So this transfer tax of one-half of one percent is less than one-sixteenth of what you pay.”
“But it would raise billions for public housing,” she observed. Indeed, if this formula is applied to the more than $1.1 trillion spent by publicly traded corporations to repurchase their own shares in 2018, it would yield a windfall of $5.5 billion for the public treasury.
“And this wasn’t even legal for companies until the 1980s,” she reflected. This was a reference to the fact that, for half a century following the onset of the Great Depression, regulators took the position that stock buybacks were a violation of federal law, because they amounted to a barely disguised form of share-price manipulation. But in 1982, the Securities and Exchange Commission did an abrupt about-face, and gave its blessing to the practice.
More recently, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by Goldman Sachs, during the 2010s, publicly traded corporations became the largest buyers of their own shares — dwarfing all other categories of investors (including hedge funds, mutual funds, private equity funds, institutional endowments, insurance companies, and individuals) combined.
Critics lament two kinds of self-dealing they see as inherent in corporate stock repurchases. First, they amount to a kind of bribe to stockholders, because the reduction in the number of outstanding shares for a given company usually delivers a jolt (albeit, often a temporary one) to the price of that company’s shares remaining on the market. And second, this increased share price often triggers gargantuan compensation packages for senior management. Both shareholders and executives are thus enriched, even if the company hasn’t increased earnings or improved performance in any way. (On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that companies often resort to share repurchases to disguise or cushion lackluster business results.)
All of which gives rise to serious policy questions, because the billions of dollars that corporations use to speculate in their own shares might otherwise be allocated to priorities such as research and development, expanding output, creating jobs, paying employees a living wage, or other more productive uses.
In one context, Ms. Niou’s proposal can be seen as a moderate, compromise position. During this year’s Democratic presidential primary contests, multiple candidates called for outright bans on stock buybacks, and frontrunner Joe Biden recently proposed that corporate chiefs voluntarily commit to a moratorium on the practice for the remainder of this year. Elsewhere, several Congressional leaders are calling for the distressed companies (and entire industries) now lining up for public bailouts to be permanently barred from speculating in their own shares.
For Ms. Niou, the upside of a levy (rather than a ban) is closer to home. “With the money this small tax would raise,” she said, “we could fully fund NYCHA, and begin investing again in affordable housing again all around New York State.”
Going to the Mattresses
Lower Manhattan Hunkers Down, as Coronavirus Crisis Grinds On
Multiple residents of Lower Manhattan have now tested positive for the pandemic coronavirus, including one tenant at Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City, who has been hospitalized and is breathing with the assistance of a mechanical ventilator, according to a range sources with direct knowledge of the circumstances.
In a separate development, a resident of Battery Park City died on Saturday after plunging from the 16th floor of his building at 400 Chambers Street, in an apparent suicide.
On a more encouraging note, a teacher at P.S./I.S. 276 (also located in Battery Park City), who exhibited symptoms that warranted a test for coronavirus, has been confirmed to be free of the disease.
to let us know how you are managing during these trying times.
To the editor,
I went down to lower Manhattan on Monday to take photos of Pier 15 on the east side and Pier 25 on the west side for a photo assignment.
There was very little activity on the east side promenade. The west side looked like a normal day in paradise. People were out and about like nothing was going on. The amount of people around Pier 25 included families with babies in strollers, young kids were in the skateboard park, children in the playground and children and adults playing on the all purpose field. You also had hundreds of people walking, jogging and biking along the esplanade.
I tried to keep myself from everyone that came my way, saying to myself, “Do these people really take this situation seriously?” I fully understand that people need to get out and distract themselves from this unique situation, but hopefully now when they do go out, they will use their discretion when they approach these areas and see large groups of people and look for another location that doesn’t.
To the editor,
This following is a letter written by my 10 year old daughter. It was part of her online school at Pine Street School last week. All of her 5th and 6th grade classmates had to write one.
How are you?
Actually I don’t really care how you are doing. You must feel so powerful ruining people’s lives, making the whole world go crazy. Have you even heard of social distancing? Probably not. By the way, you know the people on this earth they don’t like you. They’re not your friends. They hate you.
Now let me tell you how I’m doing.
First, luckily I’m healthy. My parents are healthy, my nanny and her kids are healthy and my family is healthy but that still makes me worried. Listen Coronavirus – I’m a swimmer and all my swim practices and the pools are closed so what if I’m not the best swimmer I can be. Also as you know my family is healthy but who knows what can happen.
Next, I’m very sad because I love going to school. I know that’s weird but I do. I also like my classmates and my teachers. We were close and now we have to do online school and I’m not good with technology. And It’s not fun having to see my classmates online sometimes glitching. Also I miss my swim team friends who are a big part of my life.
Also, why now? You made my champion swim meets disappear. Now I have no more swim practice, no more school and next you could make me have no family. Again Coronavirus why now?
But this virus also has some benefits. You bring my family together and I finally understand the talks at the table. I get to be in sunshine because of you so you also bring some surprises. You also let me sleep in a bit longer and I get to take really good looks at my house. And surprisingly I also notice nature now just from looking at my window and I see all the bright colors.
Lastly, Coronavirus – I have two bugs and a wish:
It bugs me that you ruin everything around me and it also bugs me that you are causing people to die. I wish you would go away.
To the editor,
I’ve lived in lower Manhattan for almost 20 years. During that time, it has become an increasingly popular place to live, work and visit. And while it is far from being one of the loudest spots in NYC, as many residents know, there is a fair amount of “background noise” at virtually all hours: traffic from the West Side Highway, buses and delivery trucks passing thru the local streets, the occasional motorcycle, intermittent chatter of people walking around (from the hallways of my residential building and outside), skateboards and the kids who belong to them rumbling by, dogs being walked, comings-and-goings from nearby stores and the school across the street, in addition to ferries and other boats on the Hudson river, and helicopters overhead.
Tonight, as we ate dinner by an open window in our apartment (how is it already the first day of Spring??), my family and I paused at the same moment, looked at one another and whispered “listen” — the only sound to be heard was the chirping of birds, nesting in a tree that is several floors below our apartment. We sat, wide-eyed and silent, for several minutes — listening to a song that is more often heard in a suburban backyard than in the midst of one of the biggest cities in the world.
During the years that I’ve lived here, I’ve grumbled many times about how noisy the neighborhood has become, and how much I crave some quiet in NYC. I never thought about how or why that quiet would be delivered, nor did I ever really believe that my wish for quiet would be granted — and certainly not due to a global pandemic, with its new rules and awkward vocabulary: social distancing, sheltering in place, and self-quarantine.
The bird finishes its song, and the sound of a police siren in the distance breaks the beautiful yet haunting silence of this March evening. I exhale, and begin to clear the dishes from the table — telling myself that someday soon, it will be lively around here once again. The rhythms of life will resume, along with the accompanying noise of this amazing city — and when those familiar sounds return, I will no longer complain about it.
Battery Park City
Battery Park City’s parks are open for passive use
and solitary recreation only.
Governor Cuomo is urging all New Yorkers to stay home
as much as possible.
Beginning Monday, March 23, for the safety of all parks users and help to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is implementing the following measures:
BPC’s park lawns will begin opening on a rolling basis. When outdoors please be sure to practice good social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet apart from others. If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, please return another time.
To reduce density, BPC’s athletic courts, sporting fields, playgrounds, dog runs, and public restrooms are closed until further notice
BPCA Programs are canceled until further notice
The Community Center at Stuyvesant High School remains closed until further notice
Click here for additional guidance on how to protect yourself when enjoying the outdoors BPC Parks.
We appreciate your support and patience as we navigate this public health crisis together.
Repurposing of Rivington House Might Help Meet Need for Clinical Capacity Arising from Pandemic
Rivington House on the Lower East Side
A Lower Manhattan building steeped in controversy may become a lifeline for people infected by the pandemic COVID-19 virus. In a story first reported by Crain’s New York, Rivington House is being considered as a possible treatment site.
The Lower East Side building (located at 45 Rivington Street, near the Williamsburg Bridge) served for decades as an HIV/AIDS care facility. But in 2014, the structure was acquired by real estate speculators, who paid a fraction of its market value, because a deed restriction that committed the building to use as a clinic. To read more…
NEWS FROM PREVIOUS EDITIONS
OF THE BROADSHEETDAILY
Cases of Corona Virus Reported in Lower Manhattan
Two employees of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on Wednesday, leading that facility’s owner, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), to announce that it will shutter the building on Monday, March 23, moving to all-electronic trading. In a statement, ICE said, “the decision to temporarily close the trading floors represents a precautionary step to protect the health and well-being of employees and the floor community in response to COVID-19.” This statement did not acknowledge that two NYSE employees have been confirmed to be infected, nor did it specify when the Exchange might reopen.
In a separate development, a teacher at P.S./I.S. 276, in Battery Park City tested negative for the virus. (P.S./I.S. 276, like all New York City public schools, is closed until at least April 20.) To read more…
Meditations in an Emergency
Our Hometown and the Myth of Eternal Return
You tell yourself that you’ve seen this story before, and more than once: edifices falling; waters rising. And you reflect that the worst situations are not those that can’t get any worse. The worst situations are the ones that are going to get worse before they get better. So you hunker down.
You recall the Old Man deciding, a lifetime ago, that since you were too old for fairy tales, you were perhaps old enough for true confessions. To read more…
A Lifeline for Mom-and-Pop Shops
Amid Coron-Apocalypse, City Offers Loans and Grants for Struggling Small Businesses
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has inaugurated a program to aid small businesses that have experienced financial hardship because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Firms with fewer than 100 employees, which have undergone sales decreases of 25 percent or more will be eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit. The City’s Department of Small Business Services is also offering small businesses with fewer than five employees a grant to cover 40 percent of payroll costs for two months, to help retain employees.
Lower Manhattan Goes Quiet in Response to Corona Virus Pandemic
Tourists on Broadway and Wall Street
The local impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continued to widen over the weekend. Multiple new confirmed cases of infection were reported, including at the office of the U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York (One Saint Andrews Plaza, next to Police Headquarters), the Hebrew School of the Jewish Community Project (146 Duane Street, between Church and West Broadway), and New York Law School (185 West Broadway, at the corner of Leonard Street). To read more…
Downtown Community Notices
Schools south of Chambers Street are distribution centers for grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches. Currently pickups for breakfast and lunch are from 7:30a to 1:30pm
The decision has been made to close Church Street School’s in-person programs at both onsite and offsite locations through the end of March, when we will reassess the situation. We are planning to initiate our online program offerings beginning Monday March 23rd, and you will hear more about that in the coming days.
Lisa Ecklund-Flores, PHD Executive Director, Founder
Church Street School for Music and Art
As news has developed, our leadership team has determined that the best course of action for the immediate future is the following:
Our community center is closed and all our offices are closed!
All our programs are closed until we figure this out.
Bob Townley, Founder and Executive Director
Fraunces Taven Museum
The Museum will be closed through March 30.
New York Public Library
After carefully considering a multitude of factors and the rapidly changing situation in New York City around novel coronavirus (COVID-19),all New York Public Library locations will be closed to the public through, at least Tuesday, March 31.
All late fees will be suspended and due dates extended during the closure period.
The Library is working to expand access to e-books and increase awareness of our vast array of online resources. All branches will be sanitized before they reopen.
Anthony W. Marx
President, The New York Public Library
Poets House is postponing all public programs scheduled throughout the rest of March. The library will be closed until further notice.
The decision was made to suspend March programs. We are setting up live-streaming options for programs moving forward and we already have online learning options for adult language and literature classes for our spring semester starting on April 6. Kids classes will follow.
South Street Seaport Museum will close to the public for at least two weeks.
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian will close to the public starting Saturday, March 14. We appreciate your understanding at this time. The museum staff and I look forward to welcoming you back when we reopen.
Kevin Gover (Pawnee) Director
Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
The majority of our public programming, including the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art’s gallery hours,is posgtponed until March 31.
Lower Manhattan Property Values Catch the Flu
Wall Street’s Bear Market Extends to Condominium Prices
The pandemic Covid-19 virus and stock market meltdown are accelerating a trend that was already gripping Lower Manhattan: declining property values. The prices for condominium apartments Downtown peaked in late 2017, and have never since recovered their previous highs. To read more…
Child’s Play at the Battery
Local kids help break ground for the Battery Playscape
Joined by elected officials, Lower Manhattan leaders, and a couple of excited Downtown kids, the Battery Conservancy broke ground on March 12 for the Battery Playscape, an unusual playground for children of all ages and abilities. To open in Spring of 2021, the Battery Playscape will feature resilient design that evokes five geographical zones created when water shapes land: bluff, marsh, dune, meadow, and riverbed. Each of the zones will offer unique play elements, such as large granite slides; multilevel, interconnected playhouses, including an ADA-accessible treehouse; and an improv/puppet theater.
The Battery Playscape is designed by BKSK Architects and Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, and is located across from the SeaGlass Carousel. On March 12, three-year-old James Callegari and his one-year-old friend Cecilia Petrilli, helped shovel dirt at the construction site. “James didn’t want to stop shoveling!” noted his mom Angela Callegari before she whisked him off for a thrilling ride on an iridescent fish in the SeaGlass Carousel.
Photos courtesy Angela Callegari
Eyes to the Sky
March 16 – 29, 2020
Find Orion and tell “Globe at Night”
March 16, through next Tuesday, March 24, when the moon is dark, known as new moon, there will be only morning crescents during the early hours before sunrise. This period is optimum for stargazing and for contributing in a small but significant way to astronomical research. Astronomers need eyes in the field all over the world to learn about stargazing conditions beyond their observatories – including hearing from cities. This is an easy and enlightening assignment. It can be fun to share with family and friends, too.
Church Street School of Music and Art could not have made it to its 30th birthday without the support of families like the Kleimans of Battery Park City. This year, in celebration of 30 years of music and art making, the school honored the Kleiman family on March 10 at its annual fundraiser, The Event.
CB1 Mulls Tolling Plan, While Albany Feuds with Washington
Dr. Betty Kay: “The bottom line is tolls must generate $1 billion per year. The idea is to encourage people not to bring their cars in.”
A recent meeting of the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1 became the forum for a heated discussion about the merits of the congestion pricing plan that is slated to bring tolls to vehicles entering Lower Manhattan (including those of residents) as soon as next January. To read more…
Due to the COVID19 Pandemic, the cruise ship industry has cancelled cruises through the middle of April and possibly longer.
The Staten Island Advance reported that a 2-year-old tested positive for the virus while aboard the Norwegian BLISS, above. The vessel left New York on Tuesday and will linger off Bermuda for the time being.
Today In History March 24
1664 – Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island
1721 – Johann Sebastian Bach opens his Brandenburg Concerts
1765 – Britain enacts Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers
1832 – Mormon Joseph Smith beaten, tarred and feathered in Ohio
1883 – First telephone call between New York and Chicago
1898 – First automobile sold
1900 – NYC Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck breaks ground for a new underground “Rapid Transit Railroad” that would link Manhattan and Brooklyn.
1910 – 83°F highest temperature ever recorded in Cleveland in March
1944 – 811 British bombers attack Berlin
1947 – John D Rockefeller Jr donates East River site to the United Nations
1955 – First seagoing oil drill rig placed in service
1958 – Elvis Presley joins the army (serial number 53310761)
1989 – Worst US oil spill, Exxon’s Valdez spills 11.3 mil gallons off Alaska
1999 – Mont Blanc Tunnel Fire: 39 people die when a Belgian transport truck carrying flour and margarine caught fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel
John Harrison holding his H-4 Chronometer
1693 – John Harrison, British clockmaker (died on his 83rd birthday in 1776).
A self-educated clockmaker John Harrison invented the marine chronometer, solving the centuries-old problem of determining with reasonable certainty the longitude or East/West position of a ship at sea.
With that knowledge, the world opened up as long distance travel became possible. Isaac Newton doubted that such a clock could ever be built and favoured other methods for reckoning longitude, such as the method of lunar distances.
Newton observed that “a good watch may serve to keep a reckoning at sea for some days and to know the time of a celestial observation; and for this end a good Jewel may suffice till a better sort of watch can be found out. But when longitude at sea is lost, it cannot be found again by any watch”. John Harrison spend his life working to solve this problem and by the time he perfected his time piece known as H4. His difficulty was in producing a clock that was not affected by variations in temperature, pressure or humidity, remained accurate over long time intervals, resisted corrosion in salt air, and was able to function on board a constantly-moving ship.
1733 – Joseph Priestley, England, Birstall England, clergyman/scientist who discovered oxygen)
1874 – Harry Houdini, [Erich Weiss], Budapest, magician/escape artist
1886 – Edward Weston, American photographer (d. 1958)