When Eric Adams ran for mayor, one of his key policy proposals was to create a better website for New Yorkers to access government services. Concluding his 15th month in office, Mr. Adams has introduced the first phase of the website , which is called MyCity, calling the project “my baby” and “my dream.” Initially, it will allow people to apply for child-care assistance. Eventually, it will connect New Yorkers to additional programs. “It’s user-friendly, and you can do it all, even while you are holding your child on your lap — you can register for child care,” Mr. Adams said Wednesday at a news conference at City Hall. Mr. Adams, a Democrat, proposed the website as part of a “People’s Plan” that he volunteered as his one big idea during the mayor’s race. It included three components: MyCity, improved tax credits for poor New Yorkers, and free and low-cost child care for children under 3. The mayor has pursued all three policies as part of his efforts to help … [Read more...] about New York City Unveils ‘User-Friendly’ Way to Find Child Care Help
New York Trial Will Explore the Secret World of Mercenary Soldiers
Over the course of the next few weeks, a jury in New York will hear the story of a South African crime lord who dealt in guns and gold and the team of former military men he hired to do his dirty work. The panel may be told about a smuggling ship that sank one day in the waters off Manila or of plans to stage a rebellion in the Seychelles. There is likely to be testimony about safe houses in Africa, illegal pain pills trafficked out of Mexico and the murder of a Filipino woman who was shot in the face and then dumped from a van. Three men go on trial this week on charges connected to the murder, and the evidence is expected to tell a tale of international intrigue — one that resembles a James Bond movie, as one of the defendants was caught saying on a government recording. With its exotic locations and cast of violent characters, the trial, in Federal District Court in Manhattan, will also provide the jurors with a privileged glimpse of a rarely seen milieu: the covert world of … [Read more...] about New York Trial Will Explore the Secret World of Mercenary Soldiers
He Runs a New York Real Estate Empire. Did He Steal It?
Over the past dozen years, Sanford Solny has built a New York real estate empire, snatching up small residential buildings across the city that churn out hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent. His portfolio would be enviable but for one thing — much of it, prosecutors and homeowners contend, was stolen. In criminal charges and lawsuits, they have accused him of fraud: offering to help homeowners facing foreclosure by arranging to pay off their mortgages, while actually tricking them into signing over their buildings at bargain-basement prices. In nearly every case, the mortgage was never paid, leaving the homeowner with no property but a pile of debt. The practice is known as deed theft , and as city and state officials promised to crack down on it, they homed in on Mr. Solny. The Brooklyn district attorney, whose office has charged him with taking the homes of seven families, called his behavior “despicable.” In Queens, prosecutors accused Mr. Solny and his associates of … [Read more...] about He Runs a New York Real Estate Empire. Did He Steal It?
Will Ambitious Plans for a ‘New’ New York Get Crushed in Albany?
Since the pandemic began to wane, New York-watchers have stoked fears about an urban doom loop : Millennials like me — liberated from the chains of our desks — would abandon Midtown Manhattan and perhaps the city or state altogether in search of lower costs of living. The commercial tax base would be obliterated, leaving no funds to support essential services like the subway. To prevent this dystopian future, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams convened an expert panel that I served on, and they released the “ Making New York Work for Everyone ” plan (also known as the “‘New’ New York” plan) in December, a sweeping set of 40 proposals to keep the economy humming. The goals of the plan, broadly, are to reimagine the city’s business districts, to make it easier for New Yorkers to get to work, and to generate inclusive growth that positions the city to “lead the emerging industries of the 21st century.” But now, it is budget season in Albany. The proverbial “three men in a … [Read more...] about Will Ambitious Plans for a ‘New’ New York Get Crushed in Albany?
Several Face Charges in Killings of Gay Men Who Were Drugged and Robbed
Several defendants face charges in connection with murders and robberies at Manhattan bars that terrorized the city’s gay community, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The homicides last spring drew wide attention to a danger that has long stalked New York's nightlife: the use of easily obtainable drugs to incapacitate, rob and sometimes kill. John Umberger, 33, and Julio Ramirez, 25, were killed after they left bars in Hell’s Kitchen in what the medical examiner’s office ruled were murders committed in the course of “drug-facilitated theft.” After they died, the families of both men discovered that large amounts of money had been stolen from their financial accounts. Their assailants had unlocked their phones using facial recognition. As public knowledge of the killings grew, more victims came forward to say they too had been drugged at gay bars in New York, and then robbed and left for dead. The police department has said it is investigating a … [Read more...] about Several Face Charges in Killings of Gay Men Who Were Drugged and Robbed
Ex-Army Sniper Gets 20-Year Sentence in Murder-for-Hire Scheme
A former United States Army sergeant with the nickname Rambo who led a team to kill a federal drug agent and a government informer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday in Manhattan. The Army veteran, Joseph M. Hunter, 51, had worked as a sniper instructor and senior drill sergeant and was honorably discharged in 2004 after two decades. But a few years later, prosecutors said, he went to work as a mercenary for a shadowy South African businessman, helping to orchestrate murders and other violence before becoming ensnared in a sting operation run by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. In late 2012, as part of the sting operation, Mr. Hunter began assembling a security team for what he had been led to believe were Colombian narcotics traffickers but were actually confidential sources working under the direction of the D.E.A., the government has said. The following March, he told team members that they would have the opportunity to do “bonus work” — that is, … [Read more...] about Ex-Army Sniper Gets 20-Year Sentence in Murder-for-Hire Scheme
Former Army Sniper Pleads Guilty in Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy
A former Army sergeant with the nickname Rambo pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring to murder a federal drug agent and another man, in what the government has said was his post-military role as a contract killer. The former sergeant, Joseph M. Hunter, 49, who had been a sniper instructor, was arrested in 2013 after he and two other men were ensnared in a sting operation in which they agreed to kill an agent of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and one of the agency’s confidential informers for $800,000. During the sting operation, Mr. Hunter met with two government informers who were posing as Colombian drug traffickers and who discussed the possibility of Mr. Hunter’s serving as the head of security for their organization, a federal indictment charged. Mr. Hunter later told other men he had recruited that they would be working for a Colombian cartel and “could expect to ‘see tons of cocaine and millions of dollars,’ ” the indictment said. In May … [Read more...] about Former Army Sniper Pleads Guilty in Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy
Ex-Soldier Became Contract Killer, Authorities Say
His nickname was Rambo. He was a sergeant in the Army, and he trained soldiers to be snipers. But after leaving the military in 2004, the authorities say, he put his skills to work in a less honorable way: earning a living as a contract killer. This past spring, the onetime sergeant, Joseph Hunter, 48, and two other former soldiers agreed to murder an agent of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and one of that agency’s confidential informers, both in Liberia, for a total of $800,000, federal prosecutors said on Friday in Manhattan. The plot had been proposed by men who held themselves out as Colombian drug traffickers, an indictment says. “My guys will handle it,” Mr. Hunter wrote in an e-mail on May 30, responding to a question as to whether his team would be willing to carry out the killings, the indictment charges. In fact, the authorities said, the purported drug traffickers were confidential sources for the D.E.A. and part of an undercover sting … [Read more...] about Ex-Soldier Became Contract Killer, Authorities Say
‘The High Point Was Sitting on Our Grandmother’s Deck’
World’s Fair Dear Diary: In 1964 my parents allowed my cousins and me to go to the New York World’s Fair and spend the night at our grandmother’s apartment. She was not there. We were three girls: 16, 14 and 12. We dangled our feet in the Solar Fountain, discovered how we would look with different-colored hair at the Clairol pavilion and ate Belgian waffles. The high point was sitting on our grandmother’s deck and gazing at the lights of the city while trying to smoke some cigars we found in the apartment. We were all wearing baseball caps turned backward. — Caroline Heald The Aloe Plant Dear Diary: I was waiting for the bus in Park Slope, my hands in fists in the bottom of my torn red gloves. When I was 15, someone told me that your hands don’t get as cold if your fingers are together, connected, and I’ve always remembered that. There were two aloe plants on the silver bus stop seats, one at each end with the middle seat empty. A middle-age man in a … [Read more...] about ‘The High Point Was Sitting on Our Grandmother’s Deck’
Outlook for Bay Area home prices is changing. Here’s the latest data
While home prices are still expected to decline in the Bay Area over the next year, the outlook is improving a bit, according to new data — even amid ongoing economic pressures in the Bay Area. Projections by Zillow show that home values in the San Francisco metro areas will likely decrease 2.7% in the next year, compared with the 3.6% decline the real estate listings website was forecasting in December. That comes even as tech layoffs continue and amid the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the crisis at First Republic , known as one of the biggest local providers of mortgages. What’s driving the expectation of a smaller year-over-year decline? Notably, buyer demand started to rebound quite a bit after hitting near-historic lows late last year, said Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst for the Bay Area real estate group Compass. “We will know much more once the spring selling season, typically the most active of the year, really gets underway,” he said. “But … [Read more...] about Outlook for Bay Area home prices is changing. Here’s the latest data