Local News January 2011

MANHATTAN — For the first time in four years, the Martin Luther King Day Parade will take place in New York City. Last held in January of 2006 the parade, which had become a staple of New York City events, had been bypassed by the city's planning council due to infrastructure damage and concerns over security. A push by Mayor Sylvia Lockheart last fall allowed for parade organizers to begin preparations for the 2011 parade. Mayor Lockheart stated to the press earlier this week her feelings on the nature of the parade and what it means to New Yorkers.

"Martin Luther King was a visionary, a man who helped bring together a racially divided country with a message of hope and unity. New York, America, and even the World could benefit from remembering Doctor King's words and his legacy. The people of New York could use a reminder of the importance of cooperation, understanding and community in a time when our relations, our families, and our very way of life is threatened by ignorance, intolerance and strife."

Critics of Mayor Lockheart have called this move a publicity stunt in order to raise her approval rating among the Evolved and Pro-Evolved demographics of the city, which she has consistently been received poorly in for her staunch support of the Linderman Act and the relocation efforts taking place on Roosevelt Island.

STATEN ISLAND — Reclamation efforts of the formerly abandoned Staten Island are progressing faster than predicted according to a Department of Housing and Urban Development report from December of last year. The report, which covered the infrastructural repair and reclamation of Staten Island's vast acreage has cited a twenty-five percent higher area of functional real-estate than originally predicted at the beginning of 2010 by the department.

Credit for this push is being put on the actions of the Department of Homeland Security, in specific operations director Jason Pierce who has been working closely with local and state law-enforcement and the US Military to establish law and order in a once lawless region of the city. According to new estimates publiced in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's January 2011 projections, fifty percent of Staten Island will be deemed safe for rehabitation by year's end, which is believed to be a conservative estimate by inside sources in Washington.

However despite the progress made in reclaiming Staten Island, few residents have taken the initiative to venture out and re-settle the Island. Secretary Martin Landers of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has refused comment on the issue, citing that coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Department of Evolved Affairs will address this issue in the months to come.

The ultimate fate of the Outer District and its residents has yet to be determined, but speculation by New York City residents indicates that whatever change may be happening on Staten Island is likely to be a vast improvement over the four years of criminal activity that has plagued the island since 2006.

HARLEM — Martial Law and early curfew are being blamed for the shaky financial situation of Harlem's high-class night life scene. Once opulent night clubs like Rapture have become mired in debt and seen increasingly smaller patronage over the last year and a half. Rapture owner Eliot Ford spoke briefly with the Times about the club's financial dire-straits but avoided issues concerning the club's legal troubles and allegations that staff at Rapture were knowingly participating in drug trafficking during operational hours.

Smaller clubs up and down Harlem have already permanently closed their doors, and rumors persist that the cultural icon of the Apollo theater may be finding itself in foreclosure in the coming months, though representatives of the Apollo theater declined to comment about the club's financial situation.

Business owners of typically late-night entertainment are blaming what is being called an "excessive" curfew for this decline in business. Compounded by a steady drop in tourism to New York City over the last four years and rising concern of violence on the streets, smaller businesses are struggling city-wide, though the impact in a neighborhood as steeped in vibrant nightlife as Harlem was once known for is all the more evident.

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