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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for March, 2008

Congestion pricing passes


The New York City Council approved congestion pricing tonight. Now it is up to Albany.

Here is what Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say:

“It has the support of New York City’s organized labor leaders, who today strongly urged quick action on congestion pricing.

“It has the endorsement of business groups and newspaper editorial pages across the state who have urged Albany to enact this piece of legislation which will give us $354 million in federal money and a recurring, dependable source of funds to work on mass transit improvements which we sorely need in this city.

And also to improve the quality of air that we and our children are breathing and to help unclog a city that is really getting stifled by the inability to get across town in the business day from one side to the other.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Bosnian girl comes forward


Last week I wondered when Emina Bicakcic would surface. She was the young Bosnian girl who greeted Hillary Clinton at the airport in Tuzla where Clinton later claimed to have dodged snipers.

Well today Bicakcic did — on the front of the “New York Post”:http://www.nypost.com

Bicakcic, now 20, tries in the words of the Post “to be diplomatic about Clinton’s embarrassing 1996 gaffe.”

“I was surprised when I heard this,” she told the Post.

Clinton has since said she misspoke.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 5:23 pm |

Elizabeth Edwards prefers Clinton health plan


Elizabeth Edwards said neither she nor John McCain would be covered under McCain’s health care plan.


Read more about it on the “health”:http://health.lohudblogs.com/ blog.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
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Eileen Fisher honored


The clothing designer Eileen Fisher became the 24th woman to be inducted into the Westchester County Women’s Hall of Fame today.

I write about Fisher for tomorrow. Her first designs were cut on the floor of her Manhattan loft; today the company is based in Irvington and has sales of more than $350 million.

The clothes are the core of her business — because if customers don’t like them, her other efforts won’t matter. But those other efforts are worth noting.


On the company’s “Web”:http://www.eileenfisher.com site, you can find a copy of its most recent Social Accountability Progress Report with entries in these areas: human rights, wellness, environment and community.

The section on human rights, for example, notes that the clothes are produced in China, Uruguay and the United States. The company monitors the factories it uses for adherence to Social Accountability 8000, an internationally recognized workplace standard that covers child labor, forced labor, health and safety and other measures, and works with those that fall short.

The award to Fisher honored her work for women. Plus the lunch today was expected to raise more than $130,000 to fund 35 scholarships.

PHOTO: In this file photo, Eileen Fisher adjusts one of her dresses being worn by Irvington resident Rebekah Fio Rito before a benefit fashion show. ( Seth Harrison / The Journal News May 15, 2002 )

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Congestion pricing hearings begin


The New York City Council began hearings on congestion pricing on Monday, but did not vote on the plan.

Several members questioned its fairness, according to Bloomberg News.

For the plan to become law, the state Legislature and the City Council must approve it. And for New York to receive $354 million in federal funds to pay for mass transit improvements, the lawmakers must act by April 7.

The state Senate and Assembly took up discussion on Monday.

Sixty percent of New Yorkers would approve of congestion pricing provided the revenues are used to improve mass transit, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
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Clinton under fire


The bad press Hillary Clinton is getting over her exaggerated version of landing in Tuzla, Bosnia, shows no signs of letting up.

Clinton had been saying that she landed under sniper fire and ran to a waiting car without any greeting ceremony.

Now the conservative talk show host Rusty Humphries has broadcast an interview with the pilot who said he flew Clinton into Tuzla.

“Not only weren’t there bullets flying around, there isn’t a bumble bee flying around,” recalled the pilot, Retired Colonel William “Goose” Changose.

Who will show up next? The 8-year-old girl who greeted Clinton at the airport? She would be about 20 now.tjndc5-5jb05n8azw0165130o6p_layout.jpg

Clinton’s speechwriter Lissa Muscatine, who was on the plane, posted on the Web that the group had been told the welcoming ceremony might be cancelled because of sniper fire.

But you only hope for Clinton’s sake that another video surfaces — one that includes real sniper fire.

You know the fun Republicans are having with this. Their candidate, remember, was a real prisoner of war.

PHOTO: In this Monday March 25, 1996, file picture, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton kisses Emina Bicakcic, 8, from Sarajevo who dedicated a poem to her shortly after her arrival at the Tuzla Air Base. Chelsea accompanied her on the one-day visit to U.S. troops. Clinton says she made a mistake in claiming that she came under hostile fire when landing in Bosnia as first lady 12 years ago. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 4:41 pm |


Off today


I’ll post again tomorrow.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
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Congestion pricing battle


New Yorkers remain split on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing scheme. Here’s a new poll from Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — Half of New York state’s voters oppose congestion pricing — but some say they’d change their minds if they were convinced the traffic fee would be used to improve mass transit, according to a poll released Monday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just a few weeks to persuade the City Council and state Legislature to approve the plan, which would charge motorists $8 to enter Manhattan’s most congested area.
Supporters say the plan would reduce traffic and raise several billion dollars for mass transit; critics say the burden would fall unfairly on working class families.
When asked if they supported or opposed the plan, 50 percent of those polled said they opposed it, while 33 percent supported it, according to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
When asked if they would support congestion pricing if the money was used to improve mass transit, 60 percent said they would while 30 percent said no.
But 50 percent of respondents also said they thought it not too likely or not at all likely that the money would be used for that purpose; only 42 percent thought it somewhat or very likely the money would go toward mass transit.
The New York City Traffic Mitigation Commission proposal would charge fees to use streets south of — and including — 60th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday except on certain holidays.
On another issue, an overwhelming majority of those polled, 77 percent, supported a proposal to raise the state income tax paid by people who earn more than $1 million a year, while 19 percent opposed it.
The poll, conducted March 16-18, surveyed 1,528 registered voters in the state. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, March 24th, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Who are the pope’s children?


At the beginning of the week, I wrote about The Pope’s Children by Irish author David McWilliams.

I forgot to explain the title.


It refers to the 620,000 young Irish men and women, those born in the 1970s and now between 25 and 35.

They are what McWilliams calls the creative dynamo of Ireland who are shaping its economy, attitudes, politics, art and literature.

As for the origin of their name, the Irish baby boom peaked nine months after the pope visited Ireland. Who can explain that?

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, March 21st, 2008 at 8:14 pm |


Iraq anniversary


Five years in Iraq — from “Reuters.”:http://iraq.reuters.com/


How do Americans feel about the war?

A new poll from CNN found that 7 out of 10 Americans believe government spending on the war is partly to blame for our economic problems.

Two thirds said they opposed the war; only about a third supported it.

And about two thirds said that the next president should remove most U.S. troops from Iraq “within a few months of taking office.”

More “here.”:http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/03/18/poll.iraq.economy/index.html?eref=rss_politics

PHOTO: Iraqis walk past the ruins of the former Iraqi army air defense headquarters in central Baghdad yesterday. The buildings were destroyed in the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign in the early stages of the U.S. led invasion on Iraq in March 2003. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 2:13 pm |

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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