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LAURELS & DARTS- Opinion from the Editors: Wednesday, November 27

LAUREL to the PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE for partnering with Brooklyn College to find a cheap and eco-friendly solution to the park’s toxic algae blooms. The problem occurs when the park’s shallow ponds heat up, creating a stagnant pool that’s the perfect temperature for the microorganisms’ growth. The algae is toxic to dogs when ingested and has even been known to kill them. While expensive filtration systems and even a large quantity of Clorox have been proposed as possible solutions, the park is instead partnering with Brooklyn College and NOAA on an experimental natural filtration system involving sand, clay, a system of pipes and some native plants. If the pilot program shows a meaningful reduction in the harmful algae, it could become a model for urban parks worldwide. 

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DART to NYCHA, for requiring a federal monitor in the first place, and for agreeing to pay that federal monitor $594 an hour. Bart Schwartz is a former federal prosecutor who was appointed by Mayor de Blasio to straighten out the notoriously mismanaged housing authority. The city is paying for Schwartz’s oversight, although NYCHA receives extensive federal funding. His salary alone could cost New York City taxpayers as much as $350,000 over the next 10 months, higher than the salary paid to Mayor de Blasio ($258,750) or to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, ($250,000), THE CITY reported. It should come as no surprise that NYCHA is wasting money even in its efforts to learn how to stop wasting money, but the steep rate is galling nonetheless. 

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DART to AMAZON, for running one of the most dangerous warehouses in the country on Staten Island. The fulfillment center, JFK8, opened last fall and employs 3,000 workers. Unfortunately, those jobs come with an alarmingly high injury rate, higher than the average sawmill or steel foundry, a recent report from OSHA found. According to the report, workers at the facility sustained cuts, sprains and other injuries, but continued working, exacerbating their conditions and leading to more serious and lasting injuries over a sustained period of time. Combined with long hours, few breaks and high fulfillment quotas from Amazon, conditions appear to be grueling within the warehouse, which tracks with widespread reports of dismal conditions in other Amazon facilities. Bringing jobs to New Yorkers is admirable, but those jobs shouldn’t come at the expense of workers’ health and safety. 

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DART to Mayor DE BLASIO, for failing to extend diplomacy to our new robot overlords. After a swarm of FedEx delivery bots appeared overnight in Manhattan and began rolling autonomously through town last week, the mayor sent a sternly worded letter to the company, demanding the bots’ removal. “You are hereby directed to immediately cease and desist operating your SameDay Bots on the streets and sidewalks in the City of New York,” the letter signed by DOT Deputy General Counsel Susan Pondish reads, in part. Although FedEx has not yet responded publicly, it’s safe to assume the robot army knows what we’re up to, and it remains unclear whether our city officials are actually capable of defeating them. 

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