7/17: NY’s Public Library, Gridlock Sam, Public Pensions, Summer Meals

July 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

On this edition of MetroFocus, New York Public Library CEO and President, Anthony Marx, outlines the plans for the NYPL now that plans to transform part of the Fifth Avenue flagship building into a circulating library were withdrawn. As Marx tells guest host Jack Ford, the NYPL plans to renovate the Mid-Manhattan Library, the institution’s largest circulating branch, and expand storage space into a vast space underneath Bryant Park. The New York Public Library serves over 18 million people every year in over 80 neighborhood branches around the city.

The Long Island Rail Road is one of the busiest commuter railroads in North America with over 700 daily trains traveling from Montauk to New York City’s Penn Station. Strike or no strike, the LIRR’s union workers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have issues and commuters have complaints about service. Transportation expert Sam Schwartz, also known as “Gridlock Sam,” talks to MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman about what the region’s transit system can handle and what it can’t, past strikes and the future of the metropolitan region as its transit system tries to keep up with demand.

Steve Malanga, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, join Pi Roman for a closer look at public pension funds in the tri-state region. At the end of Fiscal Year 2013, New York State paid $9.5 billion into its pension funds, a little over 7% of the total state budget. New York City paid $8.06 billion into its pension funds, more than 11% of the city’s total budget and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided not to make the required payment to his state’s pension fund.

School meals are a vital need for millions of students and a key part in academic success. But what happens when school is out? In New Jersey, the federally-funded Summer Food Service program provides up to two meals a day for 76,000 children. NJTV News reporter Lauren Wanko takes us to Seaside Heights, New Jersey where elementary school children enjoy sandwiches and snacks all summer long.