The Horsies Go To Albany! Cuomo & Co. Reach Deal On NYRA Takeover

Those ponies are in need of some serious government red tape.

The Voice reported yesterday on the legislative free-for-all going on in Albany right now, which includes the cyber-bullying law and the teacher evaluation publicity argument, as the session deadline on Thursday approaches. But the Governor and the rest of his statesmen are not stopping there: the next target will be pointed at the race tracks.

According to the Daily News this morning, a deal is in the works to hand over the New York Racing Association, the private agency in charge of Saratoga, Aqueduct and the glorious Belmont (Still trying to watch the Stakes? Here's the post time!), to New York State. As of now, the three tracks are overlooked by a board made up of 25 "insiders" in the horse-racing world. 

If the deal that was submitted Saturday night is passed, these guys will be replaced by a 17-member commission, carefully picked by Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. The racing industry in New York will only be run by the state for three years.

Is there such thing as socialized horseback riding?
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Mike Bloomberg Is Out to 'Fix' Our Drinking Problem

You know how our dear Mayor Bloomberg went after our soda-chugging habit, and how, on the occasion, we enjoy delicious trans-fat-full French fries, and how much salt is in our food? He also made us stop smoking in public places, one after the next, and installed giant calorie counts on the menus of various restaurants so that instead of getting the potato skins we order a sad little piece of boiled chicken and poke it around with our fork before going home to bathe in our own tears. Step by step, he has destroyed much that is bad for us in this world, creating a subset of humans so healthy as to be insufferable -- and another subset bent on getting the unhealthy stuff, whatever the cost. He is at it again, and this time, the ante is upped. He wants us to stop drinking so much. Mayor Bloomberg, you are not the boss of us! And we will sneak out if you ground us, we will.

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The Taxi and Limousine Commission Has Turned Into Your Mother

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Buckle up, young man.
Upset or perhaps personally just really offended that a majority -- 65 percent! -- of yellow cab passengers are not doing the barest minimum to keep themselves safe, and did we really raise you this way, I don't think so, put your goddamn seatbelt on when you're riding in a cab, you don't know how that stranger is going to drive, sorry, we know you're a grownup now, but could you take a little better care of yourself? -- the TLC has announced it will run reminder ads on taxi TVs to "convince" passengers to buckle up.

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City's First 20 mph 'Slow Zone' Implemented in the Bronx

New York City's first "Slow Zone," a residential area of several blocks with maximum marked speeds of 20 miles per hour, has been unveiled in the Claremont section of the Bronx. The Daily News reports that 46 people were injured or killed in the Community Board 3 neighborhood, which includes Claremont, between 2006 and 2010. In fascinating yet morbid statistical information, if you're hit by a car going 20 miles per hour, you have a 95% chance of surviving, which drops to 30% if the car is going 40 miles per hour.

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'Safety Managers' Are Monitoring NYC Bridges to Help With Cyclist-Pedestrian Relations

Did you bike or walk across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Williamsburg Bridge today? Did you see guys, or gals, in yellow vests, stationed there to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from encroaching upon each others' territory, possibly wounding, or simply being rude to one another? If you didn't today, you probably will. The Daily News calls them "baby-sitters to make sure cyclists and pedestrians play nice"; they'll be there until November 26 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The makeshift school crossing guards are not supposed to physically "interfere" with people but will instead alert them to stay in their areas with their yellow-vested presence.

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Smoking Is Dead; Long Live Smoking!

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New Yorkers, brave New Yorkers, have largely kicked that old, nasty, but sometimes oddly seductive habit of putting semi-flammable cancer-causing objects in their mouths and lighting them. Today Mayor Bloomberg said that the number of smoking New Yorkers is down to 14 percent. Back in 2002 the city counted 22 percent of puffing stalwarts among its ranks! There are 450,000 fewer adult smokers in New York than nine years ago, and also, even teens -- teens! -- aren't smoking. This along with the news that nobody does cocaine anymore could really mess with a person's belief in getting a nice unhealthy buzz on now and again. What are we, a land of wimps?

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Nanny Sarah Swymer Talks About Reviewing Manhattan's Parks

Sarah Swymer isn't just a nanny; she's a blogging nanny on a mission to review every park in Manhattan before the end of the summer. As she explores the borough's parks with her two charges, Lexi and Annie Lee, she posts some information and a rating between one and five "slides" on her site, New York City Park Hopper. Swymer spoke with us on the phone yesterday about her blog and her new venture, Sarah Poppins Tours. Check the interview after the jump.

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Only One Person Has Been Ticketed in New York City's Great Smoking Ban

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New York's new smoking ban in parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas has been in effect for a little more than a month now. You can discuss how effective it's been based on the news that a single, solitary soul has been ticketed during that time. And that person was a newspaper photographer "who had been goading officials to issue a ticket," reports the Wall Street Journal. The lack of ticketing is not because no one's smoking in the out-of-doors, but instead due to lax enforcement of the ban, which city officials said would be the case all along, hoping that civilian smoking narcs would step up and pressure law-breakers to stop. But instead, everyone just seems to think the smoking ban is a joke.

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Smoking Ban in Parks, Beaches, Anywhere You Want to Smoke to Go Into Effect

You have two weeks to smoke freely in the outdoors. Starting May 23, the city-wide ban on smoking in parks and beaches goes into effect. That means you can no longer smoke in Central Park, the Brooklyn Heights promenade, the Coney Island boardwalk, even the horrid pedestrian plaza outside of Macy's, where if ever a cigarette were needed, well, it's there. You can, however, smoke while tucked away in your own personal human containment bubble, inside your apartment, presuming no one smells it and reports you to your "non-smoking building" owners. Plus, that might be a fire hazard. You should probably just quit. It's a nasty habit, anyway.

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Life Just Got Less Fun at the New York City Health Department

"Life in a cubicle village."
The New York City Health Department has unleashed a whole new slew of rules for its employees, who apparently need quite a lot of instruction on how not to have any fun, not even one bit, in the office. Among the guidelines in "Life in the Cubicle Village," which was sent to employees prior to the office's move to their new headquarters in Queens, are a ban on French fries at lunches, wearing products with "noticeable odors," and decorating offices with anything that might be deemed offensive.

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