Friday News Links

Despite the fact that the city faces a $5 billion loss in revenues and has decided to layoff 2-thousand employees, the City Council has not reduced pork barrel spending one cent. Next year's budget includes more than $48 million in "discretionary spending." Most of this money goes to worthy non-profits, but a lot of people see the "discretionary" pot as a political slush fund – and it's been plagued by scandal this year. LES Council Member Alan Gerson is not the worst offender. He's in the middle of the pack, with 30 discretionary items. This year's champion: Inez Dickens (149 items).  The Council votes on the budget this afternoon.

The city reports that major crimes (such as murder, rape and robbery) declined 9-percent in the public schools in the past year.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn (with Mayor Bloomberg's support), wants to relax certain city regulations to help ease the financial burden's on small businesses. The Daily News likes the idea. So does the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, but not surprisingly, they want to see more steps taken.

Curbed has new details about the hotel ("Stories_NY") going up at 163 Orchard, which may or may not be in compliance with the LES's new zoning rules. The hotel apparently includes a "lot-through outdoor terrace with a bar on the second floor."  Make you nervous?

Tomorrow at noon, at the Bowery Poetry Club, "The Bowery: Past, Present & Future." The presentation and discussion is a fundraiser ($6 minimum) for the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.