New Yorkers Will Spend More than Half a Billion Dollars on Sucky Valentine's Day

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New Yorkers will spend around $566 million on Valentine's Day -- mainly on predictable, boring gifts such as cards and candy, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Using data from the National Retail Federation, the NYCEDC says that 60 percent of adults in the Northeast have decided to celebrate love with abject materialism, and plan on spending $146.30 apiece buying crap for their loved ones (who might be cheating on them).

They will spend around $22.71 on confections and $38.65 on bouquets this year -- supporting an industry that's said to employ 3,000 New Yorkers.

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City Panel Votes to Approve $128 Million FreshDirect Payoff (liveblog)

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Last Tuesday, the city Industrial Development Agency announced that it and several other city and state bodies planned to hand over $128 million in grants, tax credits, and assorted vouchers to FreshDirect, which would use the cash to move its headquarters to the Bronx waterfront ... all the way from Queens, where it's been rolling out half-baked bread since its founding in 2002. This morning at 9 am, following a single raucous hearing last Thursday and yesterday's plea by a Bronx councilmember to slow its headlong rush to subsidize, the IDA is set to vote on final approval of the FreshDirect deal. Liveblog of the proceedings below the jump; for those who want to follow along at home, here's the webcast link.

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Some People Are Not Happy With FreshDirect's Move to the Bronx

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It started as a take-that-New-Jersey story -- but now it's become not-in-my-backyard.

Ah, land use battles in New York City!

The central character in this debate is FreshDirect, the online grocer looking for a new home, having outgrown its location in Queens.

Last week, news broke that the company has decided to re-locate from its Long Island City headquarters to the Bronx, instead of New Jersey, which offered Fresh Direct $100 million in public benefits.


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Comptroller John Liu: City Unemployment in Double Digits For Youth and Minorities

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Comptroller John Liu, a possible 2013 mayoral candidate, released a report yesterday that highlighted the disparities in unemployment rates across the city. At the end of 2011, the rate of unemployment was in the double digits for young people, blacks, and Hispanics -- and the rate was nearly twice as high in the Bronx compared to Manhattan.

The comptroller (who recently made headlines when Bloomberg said that Liu was out of the race), recommended that the city enact policies that expand opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, which he said create jobs in area where they are most needed. (Liu has often focused on these kinds of enterprises, and when Runnin' Scared grabbed him for a few minutes after Mike Bloomberg's State of the City speech earlier this month, one of his complaints was that the mayor only had a "half-line" mention of minority and women-owned businesses).

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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman To Head Obama's New Mortgage Agency

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Last night's presidential address was all about the state of our great nation, but New Yorkers got a nod with the announcement that our very own attorney general will head a new task force charged with investigating abusive lending and risky mortgages. You know, all that fun stuff that led to the housing crisis and destroyed our economy...

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will chair the new unit, which Barack Obama discussed in his speech last night, saying the group will target Wall Street and the big, bad banks and mortgage lenders that messed everything up for the rest of us.

"This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans," he said.

A task that big requires a New Yorker like Schneiderman, who was formerly a state senator representing the Upper West Side before he became the state's top law enforcement officer.

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Mike Bloomberg: Remember, It Costs Money to Pay A Living Wage

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In his weekly radio show, Mayor Mike Bloomberg took the opportunity to remind everyone that he's not the biggest fan of a living wage bill. It's been one of the hot-button political issues this month that put City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a bit of a pickle. Basically, Quinn, a mayoral hopeful, needed to please folks with completely opposite views and tried to do so with this compromise: a bill that would require higher wages at city-subsidized developments ($10 an hour plus benefits, instead of the current $7.25 minimum hourly wage). The compromise was that direct employees of tax-break recipients would receive the higher wage -- but not their tenants.

She was navigating the competing interests of those who want higher wages (unions) and those who worry it would hurt businesses and cost the city jobs (her friend, Mr. Bloomberg). She managed to announce the compromise with reps from both sides of the argument standing with her.

But apparently, Bloomberg is still pretty wary.

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Staten Island Borough Prez Orders Staff to Add 'Buy American' Text to All Correspondence

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Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro has a new plan to inject some life into the American economy. He's told his staffers to affix the words "Buy American" to all constituent correspondence as part of a new "Buy American" campaign. This should work!

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Americans Are Spending More Money On Things Like Premade Cocktails

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In what appears to be a case of Carrie Bradshaw-onomics, the New York Times reports that, even amid these current financial straits, Americans have been buying more things they don't actually need over the past year. But this doesn't mean anything is actually getting better in the economy. It's just that people can't resist giving themselves little presents.

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The Big Words in President Obama's Deficit Reduction Plan

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The White House just sent out a Fact Sheet titled "Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future - The President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction." Here's a word cloud showing the repetitive language shown through out.

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Rent Too Damn High for St. Mark's Bookshop; East Village Institution Might Have to Close

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Local institution St. Mark's Bookshop is in danger of closing, and the Cooper Square Committee, a neighborhood group, has started a petition to try to save the independent bookstore. Rising rents and decreasing revenue have put the bookshop's future in jeopardy as the owners attempt to negotiate with their landlord, Cooper Union.

St. Mark's Bookshop moved to its current location at the ground floor of the Cooper Union residence building on Third Avenue and 9th Street around 18 years ago. Co-owner Bob Contant says that Cooper Union offered a 20 percent reduction on the rent in order to entice the bookshop to be its commercial tenant (the store was originally located around the corner on St. Mark's Place). This has come back to haunt St. Mark's Bookshop recently, as a little over two years ago Cooper Union raised the store's rent to $20,000 a month.

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