Ghost Bike

Adi Talwar

On September 21, 2019, while riding his bicycle, Astoria resident Mario Valenzuela (14) was killed in a crash with a private sanitation truck at around 2:00 p.m. near a railroad crossing on 11th Street close to Borden Avenue in Long Island City, Queens.

Over the past 364 days, City Limits published more than three dozen major investigative stories—which seems like a lot, although in a city of more than 8 million, we feel like we just scraped the surface. With that in mind, we’re already working on the first investigations of 2020.

Even as that work rolls on, it’s interesting to look back at some of the work published in the year that ends tonight. Some of it brought new depth and clarity to issues, like Amazon and subway policing, that dominated the headlines Other stories shined light where it was absent before.

Most common to the stories—and most important—is that, like all good reporting, they raised just as many new and pressing questions as they addressed.

Here’s to old acquaintances that have been forgotten, world peace, and the next 365 days of tracking down the next round of answers.  Until then, here’s a look at 19 of our favorite investigations from 2019:

Bronx Hospital Faced Potential Federal Sanctions After Multiple Suicides in 2016 and 2017

January 9: Montefiore Medical Center appears to have fought off a threatened loss of federal funding after multiple suicide attempts, several successful, during a two-year period. But the hospital wouldn’t answer detailed questions about whether problems identified by federal inspectors have all been corrected.

City Council’s Appointments Skew Toward Whites, Manhattanites

January 14: The early statistics on Speaker Johnson’s appointments mirror the record on the other side of City Hall, where Mayor de Blasio’s hiring practices indicate major racial disparities.

NY’s Leaders Pledged to Support ‘Innovation’ to Get Amazon Here. What Exactly Does That Mean?

January 18: The mayor and governor have promised to make New York’s policy environment as friendly as they can for the corporate giant. What do the company’s lobbying disclosures say about its agenda?

Does Less Policing = More Fare Beating on New York City Subways?

January 30: The MTA says turnstile jumping exploded when the NYPD pulled back on subway arrests. But critics doubt the numbers.

Why do Some NYC School Kids Still Eat Lunch Before Some of Us Have had Breakfast?

February 6: The teacher reminded some restless students to focus during the last 15 minutes before lunch. Standard directions for students feeling antsy before the mid-day meal. Except it was 9:25 a.m.

NY Program is Uneven in Supporting Those Caring for Aging Parents

February 13: The state’s paid-leave law is helpful, experts say, but cannot fully close the gap between what family caregivers can provide and what older New Yorkers need. But, unlike most states, at least New York is trying.

Free Parking: Is it the Secret Ingredient in NYC’s Traffic Problem?

February 21: In a city with crowded streets, a rising population and soaring land prices, most New York City parking is free. Experts say that contributes to a shortage of spaces that generates traffic, obstructs deliveries, slows buses and drives motorists crazy.

Brain Waste: Many Immigrants Come With Dreams—and Advanced Training—but Can’t Find Jobs

March 5: An orthopedic surgeon tosses pizza dough. An engineer with a doctorate drives for Uber and Lyft. They are among thousands who arrived here with advanced educations but can only find low-skill work.

In New York, Where You Live Can Determine How Hard it is to Vote

April 25: In the 2018 election and many before it, New Yorkers faced a voting hurdle unlike voters in most other major cities: a relatively low number of polling places, scattered unevenly through the city.

‘Vision Zero’ Failing to Stick? Many Drivers Escape Penalties for ‘Failing to Yield’

June 12: A majority of summonses issued under the city’s ‘failure to yield’ law end up getting dismissed after hearings, a City Limits investigation found, and victims rarely learn the outcome of those cases.

Seven Years After Sandy, Slow Moves Toward Resiliency in High-Risk Nabes

July 1: There has been some progress toward making New York City as a whole—and the Resilient Neighborhoods in particular—safer. But much remains undone.

The Disappearing 3-Bedroom: Larger Families Have Few Affordable Options in NYC

July 2: The housing market is shedding three-bedroom units, and the mayor’s affordable-housing plan is producing few of them, leaving larger families in cramped quarters.

Data Shows Lackluster Results for City Hiring Program

July 9: HireNYC gets a lot of hype from the de Blasio administration, but four years in, 80 percent of applications through the initiative are listed as ‘pending.’

Hundreds of NYCHA Evictions Raise Questions About Process

August 14: The cash-strapped authority needs to collect rent. But there are concerns about lagging repairs, vulnerable tenants and a new program that’s spurred a spike in evictions.

NY’s Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Raise Concerns About Quality of Care

August 26: In New York City’s worst-staffed homes, nursing home residents get fewer than three hours on average of direct nursing care each day—below the recommended amount. City Limits found that those gaps have serious consequences for residents.

Shortage of Sign Language Interpreters in City Courts Creates Delays

September 23: Postponed hearings, delayed arraignments and miscommunication are caused by the limited number of interpreters, making the already high-stakes, onerous process of navigating the legal system even more challenging for those who rely on such services.

City Campaign Finance System Charts Path—and Highlights Challenges—for State Reform

October 9: A look at some recent races illustrates the many successes of the New York City campaign finance system, as well as limitations that the new state system will also have to deal with.

What’s Behind NYC’s Mounting Cyclist Death Toll?

December 16: Cycling advocates see promise in recent city initiatives but say they’d like to see the administration take more aggressive action overall when it comes to transforming New York’s streets.

What Climate Risks Mean for NYC’s Food Supply

December 20: A changing climate could mean challenges for the global food supply. It could also bring storms that impact major distribution centers, or your corner supermarket.

January 26, 2018: Dan’s Supermarket Corner of 207th Street and Vermilyea Avenue. (Commercial “U”, Inwood).

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