Ben & Jerry's Co-Founder Ben Cohen Is Stamping His Balls Off to Get Money out of Politics

Categories: $$$, Union Square

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Raillan Brooks
Parked on Union Square West, in front of a nondescript NYU dorm, sits a truck painted in primary colors. There's a carnival awning on it. It's high noon, and the shade seems like a nice place to get out of the swelter.

A modest crowd is gathered, less frothing political rally and more absent passersby watching older men tinkering with a Rube Goldberg machine on the back of a car. By 12:30 the crowd is mostly people who heard some white guy was passing out dollar bills.

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Kenneth G. Langone, Controversial NYU Trustee and Citizens United Provocateur, Is Major Lhota Backer

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Kenneth Langone's latest political investment.
On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people, too. The Citizens United ruling unleashed a new wave of influence in American elections; one that still has modern democracy reeling, as the last presidential election witnessed billions of dollars coming in from all over the country. Mega-millionaire Kenneth G. Langone, 78, was (and still is) at this frontline of legal corporatism, and his ties are everywhere, including NYU's much-talked-about loan compensation program and the wallet of the Republican frontrunner for City Hall, Joe Lhota.

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The MTA Is Raking In Serious Cash From Your Wastefulness

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Wikimedia Commons
It's been almost exactly two months since the fare hike for our city's public transportation went into full effect. Overnight, straphangers' wallets were a little heavier, facing a permanent $2.50 per ride fee as well as bumped-up prices for weeklies and monthlies. And presumably, no one was happy.

But there was another roadblock we'd now have to face collectively as commuters: a $1 fee if we decided to buy a new MetroCard instead of replenishing the value on our old one.

Naturally, it's a pain for those who've lost their golden tickets but the measure was an incentive snuck into the fare hike to discourage New Yorkers from wasting plastic (by the thousands). You would think we'd think twice about tossing our MetroCards into the trash once their lives ended. Turns out we didn't... and now the MTA is making much more money than expected from the tiny provision.

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Governor Cuomo Asks Con Ed to Freeze Executive Bonuses

Categories: $$$, Con Edison

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WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com) via Compfight cc
Last week, the New York Times published a searing piece revealing that Con Edison, which is currently undergoing an investigation for its handling of superstorm Sandy, was paying its top executives more than $600,000 in extra bonuses for 2012.

"In our judgment, the company performed in exemplary fashion," Con Ed compensation committee chairman George Campbell Jr. told the paper, despite the fact that it took the utilities company four to seven days to fully restore power to 1.1 million of its customers in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Both Governor Cuomo and City Council Speaker Quinn have criticized Con Ed for its executive reward system and Sandy dysfunction, but today the governor asked Con Ed to suspend its bonus payout. "No ratepayer should pay a single penny for bonuses given to senior utility executives, especially for bonuses awarded for their performance during Sandy," the governor said in a statement.

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CHARTS: Mayoral Candidates' Incomes, Minus John Catsimatidis

Categories: $$$

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Johnny Vulkan via Compfight cc
Several of New York City's mayoral hopefuls released their tax returns or reported their 2012 income this week to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Below is a quick breakdown of what the candidates made in 2012 by sector, though the figures for Sal Albanese, Anthony Weiner (who hasn't formally announced his candidacy), and Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr. are actually total household income, including spouses' earnings.

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John Raskin Has a Plan to Make the G Train Less God-Awful

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Wikimedia
G is for greenbacks, baby.
It's been a long, mean winter for the MTA. In 2010, the agency's budget woes led to a 7.5 percent fare increase, 1,000 lost jobs, and draconian service cuts across the boroughs. In 2011, Governor Cuomo reached an agreement with unions to freeze wages, and 2012 got by, barely, without cuts or hikes.

But now for some good news: 2013 is looking way, way better. And as the Voice's John Surico mentioned last month, there's even a little unexpected cash involved--the 2013-2014 budget passed in Albany surpassed the MTA's expectations by some sweet $40 million. Now, the obvious question: How the hell do we spend it?

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Nearly Half of New York City Lives in or Near Poverty

Categories: $$$

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Who said the recession was over?

Coming off the news that New York City's homelessness population is at Great Depression levels, the Bloomberg administration released a report this weekend that hammers that whole neo-Gilded-Age income disparity issue home. In 2011, the population of the city living in or near poverty levels rose three points from 2009, reaching an astounding 46 percent. That means that nearly 3 million inhabitants come within 150 percent of the poverty threshold. This was two years ago.

And that imbalance is so clear that you can see it in the subways with a recent infographic provided to us by the New Yorker. Almost half of the greatest city in the world lives in or near poverty levels.

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The 'Anyone But Quinn' Campaign Paints Speaker as Bloombergian Nightmare

You might've already seen this little snippet released by New York City Is Not For Sale 2013 (that's a mouthful).The video opens to a "smoke-filled room" with four stools in it, where the viewer would assume the City Council Speaker makes shady deals with business-type folk. She's charged with a pseudo-liberal appeal that is more rhetoric than substance.

It's a part of a million dollar "A.B.Q.--Anybody But Quinn" campaign, which has been put together by the union forces left over from Bloomberg's 2009 re-election. It'll be on major cable networks in the days to come as the first notable attack campaign launched thus far (and this early) in the mayoral race. Also, it represents the political landscape of a City Hall race post-Citizens United, where money and politics are two sides of the same shitty sword.

The electoral aim of the video is Quinn's worst fear: to be painted as Bloomberg Jr.

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Obama Team to Support Gov. Cuomo in Campaign Finance Reform Battle

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In January, Gov. Cuomo reiterated a point in his State of the State address that he's made since his first day on office: New York needs to completely overhaul its campaign finance system ASAP.

"We must enact campaign finance reform because people believe that campaigns are financed by someone else at exorbitant rates," he told the audience. Except, in a modern political landscape where voices are heard through dollar signs, his plan has not made it out of the rhetorical stage.

But maybe a boost from a victorious White House team will help a bit.

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Democrats Worried About Other Democrats With Bloomberg's $12M Ad Blitz

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Yesterday, we reported on Mayor Bloomberg's announcement to spend $12 million on a campaign set forth by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns to counter the NRA in battleground states. The move is the largest yet from Hizzoner to translate ideology into action on the topic of gun control and, in effect, will provide enough monetary fodder to keep up with the notorious Second Amendment group.

But this is probably the last reaction the mayor expected to see.

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