Bloomberg seeks to redo building code in Sandy’s wake
NEW YORK - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed major changes to New York City’s building code on Thursday, saying Hurricane Sandy showed that both commercial and residential properties needed additional safeguards to withstand severe weather.
At a news conference, Bloomberg unveiled the work of a task force that he and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, convened after the hurricane that is recommending some of the most significant revisions in the building code in years.
“Sandy clearly underscored why we need to protect our buildings,” Bloomberg said in the lobby of a 520-unit residential cooperative in Long Island City, Queens, that had flooding from the East River during the hurricane.
The rules would require that doors and windows in new buildings be wind-resistant. They would mandate backup power so that stairwells and hallways were lighted during blackouts. They call for single-family homes to have control valves to prevent sewage backflow into basements.
The costs of the new regulations are expected to vary widely but could reach into the millions of dollars for new commercial projects.
—Mireya Navarro, The New York Times
Two former interns sue Condé Nast over wages
NEW YORK - Two former interns filed a lawsuit against Condé Nast on Thursday, saying the company failed to pay them minimum wage at their summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker, and asked that it be approved as a class-action suit.
Lauren Ballinger, who worked as an intern at W Magazine in 2009, and Matthew Leib, an intern at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, said in the suit that Condé Nast, which owns the magazines, paid them less than $1 an hour.
According to court papers filed Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Leib was paid $300 to $500 for each summer he worked. During that time, he was asked to review pieces for submission to the “Shouts and Murmurs” section and proofread and edit articles for the “Talk of the Town” section. Leib, a cartoonist, also helped maintain the online cartoon database, did research in the cartoon archives and coordinated the work of cartoon artists, the suit claims. He worked three days a week from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
—Christine Haughney, The New York Times
Colorado wildfire destroys hundreds of homes
^(This article is part of TIMES EXPRESS. It is a condensed version of a story that will appear in tomorrow’s New York Times.);
DENVER - A wildfire burning north of Colorado Springs exploded overnight, destroying hundreds of homes in its path and forcing nearly 40,000 people to flee the area.
Driven by searing temperatures and sharply shifting winds, the fire in the suburb of Black Forest within hours became the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history. At least 360 homes have been reduced to rubble since it started burning Tuesday.
With the wind direction shifting unpredictably, firefighters from local and federal agencies have struggled to contain the fire, which nearly doubled in size overnight to about 15,000 acres and has been roaring through the pockets of thickly forested communities here with increasing intensity.
—Dan Frosch, The New York Times
Democrats quietly renew push for gun measures
WASHINGTON - Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House renewed their push for gun legislation on Thursday, just months after it was defeated in the Senate, amid delicate talks on a new background-check measure that advocates hope could change enough votes from no to yes.
But those negotiations met a warning from Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader, who said he would not accept any bill that is substantially weaker than the one defeated in April.
“The bill that passes the Senate must have background checks, and not a watered-down version of background checks,” Reid declared in the Capitol, flanked by the families of Newtown, Conn., school shooting victims.
Quiet talks between Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., officially do not exist. Both senators voted no in April, and aides to both deny the existence of negotiations or legislation.
Other senators, however, are openly acknowledging and encouraging the effort and say the talks are building momentum. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said a new version of the gun bill would most likely enhance prosecutions of those who violate existing gun laws and further clarify that new legislation would not and could not lead to a national database of guns or gun ownership.
Other Democrats said the defeated background check measure, written by Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., would probably be amended to exempt more rural sales and person-to-person sales from mandatory checks.
“We have to give them a credible and commendable way to change their votes,” Blumenthal said of a handful of senators who could be persuaded, starting with Begich and Ayotte. Such modifications do not have to weaken the bill substantially, he added.
Americans remain broadly supportive of legislation that expands background checks on gun purchases but are growing skeptical that such a bill will pass. A New York Times/CBS News poll released this month found that 69 percent support passage of a measure to expand such checks, but 56 percent say that significant change to gun policy is not likely this year.
—Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times