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Opinion

To Save the MTA, Push ‘Fast Forward’ Ahead Quickly and Responsibly


mta subway action

(photo: MTA New York City Transit/Marc A. Hermann)


The fight to fix our ailing transit system took a significant step forward in May when New York City Transit President Andy Byford released his “Fast Forward” plan to dramatically accelerate comprehensive fixes to our city’s subways and buses. We, along with many other legislators and advocates, praised the plan and Byford’s work to create it. Fast Forward isn’t just a clear roadmap to a modern subway system; it’s also a very necessary roadmap to MTA reform.

Now it’s time for the MTA to take the next step toward transparency as the governor and Legislature begin the difficult work of finding sources for the billions of dollars necessary to pay for Fast Forward -- as well as the authority’s expected capital needs. While Byford estimates the cost of Fast Forward to be $40 billion, it is essential that the MTA provide a budget detailing the plan’s costs as well as its 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment. If state government is to do its job, we need to know what fixing our subways and buses will really cost. Without a detailed budget, the necessary revenue that must be provided to save our transit system will be unlikely to materialize and millions of riders will suffer the consequences every day.

The collapse of our subway and bus systems isn’t Byford’s fault. It is, in fact, ours. Decades of indifference, neglect, and underfunding from Albany has hamstrung our public transit and now threatens to irrevocably damage the fabric of our city. Make no mistake, without public transit; New York City ceases to be. So it is our duty to fix it.

Historically, Albany’s inaction has stemmed in part from the lack of a clear vision of how to fix public transit. Now that we have that framework in place, the final step still remains. The MTA must show us exactly how it plans to implement the plan and how much it will cost.

There have been many ideas for how to provide additional revenue to the MTA—congestion pricing, value capture, a millionaires’ tax, new corporate taxes—but not a single one of these proposals will ever gain enough support in the Legislature if lawmakers are in the dark as to the exact costs of the agency’s capital needs.

Time is of the essence. The governor will deliver the next State of the State on January 9 and the next preliminary budget a week later. The MTA cannot wait until then to submit to the Legislature its capital needs and a budget for the Fast Forward proposal. The costs of Fast Forward need to be factored into the governor’s executive budget long before its release, and the scope and importance of the Fast Forward plan requires that the Legislature is given ample time to review and hold hearings on the authority’s proposed costs well before budget negotiations begin in January.

Once the MTA shows us the numbers, then it becomes Albany’s task to make sure we raise the necessary revenues without unduly burdening already-frustrated straphangers. Unfortunately, Albany doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to securing real funds for the MTA.  The authority’s current capital budget, the 2015-2019 Capital Program, was only approved in 2016—sixteen months late—and of the $32 billion that was approved, the source of most of the state’s $8.3 billion share has yet to be identified. This type of delay and the lack of a clear identified revenue source cannot happen if we expect the Fast Forward plan to be successful.

Beyond submitting its Fast Forward and 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment budgets this fall, the MTA should submit future Capital Program budgets earlier, in order to demonstrate the need for dedicated, long-term revenue streams, the Capital Program should have a longer timeline than its current five years.

This year Assemblymember Carroll drafted and passed in the Assembly a bill, A.11094, which would have required the MTA to submit its capital budgets earlier than currently mandated—but the bill never came to a vote in the Senate. To facilitate long-term planning, the MTA should share the full cost of the 15-year Fast Forward plan rather than breaking it up into the five-year chunks.

The current system of temporary fixes is unsustainable and cannot continue. Without a budget and time for the Legislature to review it, the state will again fail to act on a concrete plan to finally fix and modernize our subway system. There might be some serious sticker shock in Albany, but it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and get the job done. If we don’t, then Fast Forward will remain Byford’s dream, while millions of riders suffer the daily nightmare that our subways have become.

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New York State Assemblymember Robert Carroll represents the 44th Assembly District which is comprised of the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Victorian Flatbush and Boro Park. Nick Sifuentes is the executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a transportation advocacy organization. On Twitter @Bobby4Brooklyn & @Nick_Sifu of @Tri_State.

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The Real Story of Cuomo’s Dominant Primary Win


Glaser Cuomo

Gov. Cuomo, right, & Howard Glaser, the author, middle-left (Governor's Office)


Findley Lake, in Chautauqua County, on the western edge of the state, is about as far as you can drive from the Bronx and still be in New York State. It’s as close to Cleveland, Ohio as eastern Suffolk County is to the Grand Concourse. Chautauqua is a big county, land-wise, 1,100 square miles -- about 25 times larger than the Bronx. People in Chautauqua are spread out among rolling farmlands and lakes, about 132 residents in a square mile. The Bronx crams 34,000 souls into the same mile. Chautauqua is also about as white as you can get, 94 percent, while the Bronx is New York’s most-black county, with 430 out of every 1,000 residents.

You could argue that there are not two places in the state more separated by geography, racial makeup, culture, and politics. Yet, in last week’s Democratic primary, one thing joined, however briefly, midwestern Chautauqua and urban Bronx: they both delivered overwhelming electoral victory to Andrew Cuomo.

The Bronx went for Cuomo by over 80 percent, his highest margin in the state. Chautauqua delivered 64 percent for Cuomo, not quite the stratospheric number of the Bronx but an even higher percentage than Cuomo’s otherwise crushing margins in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

You could conjure up pretty much any other divide from this diverse state and the result would be the same. Nassau, the state’s richest county (median or family income), just about matched the poorest county (Bronx again) with 77 percent for Cuomo. Union households and non-union households were on the same track, according to Siena’s polling. And voters under 34 were actually more likely to vote Cuomo than voters aged 35-54, confounding conventional wisdom about where newly energized young voters would go (Cuomo won decisively across all age groups).

It’s no secret that Cuomo was backed by New York’s real estate community. But he was equally backed by tenants -- 80 percent of Bronx households are renters. He won those fed up with high taxes in Suffolk in almost equal numbers with tax and spend Upper West Side liberals. He won minimum wage workers in New York City and dominated among small business owners in the North Country, where small businesses represent over 90 percent of total businesses.

All of this in as high turnout a primary election as New York has ever seen.

So what to make of this absolutely dominant showing by Cuomo?

Much of the post-primary press narrative went like this: "Cynthia Nixon lost but progressives won because she moved Cuomo to the left. Cuomo’s margin was due to Nixon being a flawed candidate and Cuomo’s significant outspending over Nixon.”

Those are nice and simple memes, but they don't explain the results in any way. The near run of the table by Cuomo suggests this: New Yorkers weren’t buying what Nixon was selling.

If anything, New York as a whole demonstrated that New Yorkers like their progressivism, but they like it tempered with fiscal reality, with experience, and the desire and ability to find common ground between Findley Lake and Pelham Bay. That’s not what Nixon was selling -- but its Cuomo’s whole brand.

Nixon’s poor showing can’t be explained by being outspent. Money counts most in elections when it’s used to define a lesser-known candidate or a barely-known opponent. The Cuomo-Nixon matchup was the polar opposite. Every primary voter knew exactly who Cuomo was and knew exactly who Nixon was. And Nixon’s campaign wasn’t exactly cash-strapped. Even in New York, $2 million is real money. Had she spent three times more and Cuomo spent a third of his final tally, the result wouldn’t have been significantly different. New York primary voters are as sophisticated as anywhere on the planet. To suggest that only 7 percent of African-Americans supported Nixon because they were duped by ads is insulting or worse. She got her message out and New Yorkers, across the board, rejected it.

Nor was she the ineffective campaigner that she’s widely been made out to be. Her performance in the debate was more than credible. She’s a gifted communicator who produced strong ads. And while her depth on specifics was clearly limited, she expressed a grasp of the issues that wasn’t significantly different from that of the average politician. Campaigns expose a candidate’s flaws, and this campaign was no different in showing both Nixon’s and Cuomo’s vulnerabilities. She made mistakes but nothing disqualifying, holding her own, especially for a novice campaigner. And New Yorkers still said ‘fuhgeddaboudit.’

But perhaps the biggest myth of the primary is the “Cynthia Effect,” the proposition that Nixon pushed Cuomo left. She won by losing, goes the logic, because the specter of Nixon rallying activist Democrats forced Cuomo to adopt more progressive positions than he otherwise would have. The problems with this bit of conventional wisdom are manifold.

First, the polling on Cuomo’s standing with the Democratic left has consistently shown this is his strongest base of support since he ran for governor in 2010. He didn’t need to move left to gain progressive support, progressives have been his for almost a decade. As Siena pollster Steve Greenberg told me in analyzing the post election results, “Liberals like him, they have always liked him, and they continue to like him.” So it’s not surprising Cuomo outperformed Nixon even among the most progressive wing of the party. Siena’s pre-primary poll gave Cuomo a commanding 65-24 lead among those Democrats who self-described as liberal. Cuomo polled identically with moderates, and only somewhat lower with conservative Democrats. In other words, a Cynthia Effect with no effect.

The argument that Cuomo’s support for progressive issues suddenly sprang out of nowhere only after Nixon announced her run is belied by the facts. Marriage equality in 2011, the gun restrictive SAFE Act in 2013, banning fracking in 2014, $15 minimum wage and paid family leave in 2016 — progressive touchstones brought home by Cuomo, all years before a Nixon candidacy was a gleam in the eye of the Working Families Party.

The outcome should also put to rest the internecine divide in the Democratic Party over the question of whether the path to victory for Democrats can rely alone on registering, rallying, and turning out progressives. The theory on the left has been that if the party focuses on turning progressives out in force, it can win without diluting purity of message by trying to win over moderates or, heaven forbid, conservatives. Thus, say some Democrats in the post-Clinton era, there’s really no need to reach out beyond the base, just turn out the base and sweet victory will ensue.

The Cuomo-Nixon primary is the highest profile race to blow that nonsense aside. Turnout in the primary was sky-high, shocking political pros from both ends of the party. Nixon, the “pure” progressive, scored a paltry share of that enhanced turnout. According to the Democratic left orthodoxy, those new voters we saw waxing enthusiastically in Brooklyn coffeehouses should have been enough to hand her a nomination. They weren’t, it wasn’t -- and it won’t ever be. Not in a state this diverse in political and cultural make-up. (And while typically a spike in turnout amid an influx of newly registered voters signals trouble for an incumbent, in this race it appeared to have only further bolstered Cuomo’s margins, another sign of Cuomo’s unusually broad coalition.)

By defining Nixon’s loss as purely a function of Cuomo’s political muscle or Nixon’s inexperience, members of the media, progressive leaders, and others take the wrong lesson from the results. No candidate from the Sanders/Warren/Nixon wing of the party has been able to equally appeal to black voters in Brooklyn, Latinos in the Bronx, moderates in the suburbs, blue collar whites in Buffalo, and farmers in Chautauqua. Without that ability, would-be progressive leaders are talking to themselves. They narrow their appeal while Cuomo, carrying a results-oriented progressive standard cabined by fiscal restraint, reached Democrats across the board.

It’s a big state where diversity of interests doesn’t end at the New York City border. The message for progressives out of this election is not to double down on talking to each other (hello, Twitter) but to talk to, listen to, and persuade the non-converted.

New Yorkers made a conscious choice to embrace Cuomo’s realpolitik progressivism and reject Nixon’s ‘progressivism only for progressives.’ Most importantly, you can’t win in New York, or for that matter in the nation, by utterly failing to win over black voters -- Nixon likely got less than one in ten African-American votes, a shameful showing. She likely picked up less than a third of women’s votes. These numbers should force some soul searching by progressive leaders. “Nixon won by losing” is a useful piece of self-delusion in the wake of utter repudiation. But it’s a complete misread of the lessons of Cuomo’s victory for a successful progressive coalition on a statewide -- or national -- basis.

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Howard Glaser has served in executive positions in the public and private sectors for 35 years. He served as Director of State Operations in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first term, and spent this past year teaching urban policy at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. On Twitter @hglaser1.

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What I’ll Tell My Kids About 9/11


oem ppl

(photo: NYC OEM)


I recently saw the 9/11 inspired Broadway musical “Come From Away.” The show pays tribute to the 9,000 residents of Gander, Newfoundland – a group of ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary situation. Faced with thousands of stranded airline passengers, the people of Gander opened their homes and their hearts to strangers from all walks of life and all religions.

The show was a welcome reminder of the spirit shown by New Yorkers in the days and weeks following 9/11. It brought back memories of New Yorkers lining the streets to cheer on first responders and doing whatever they could to help one another during a surreal moment in our city’s history – a moment when our massive city felt a little more like small town Gander.

As the show brought 9/11 memories vividly back to life, I couldn’t help but note the reaction – or lack of reaction – of many around me. I assume that many in the audience were visiting New York from some faraway place, or perhaps were too young then to now remember that horrific day. While I tried to share in the joy of the musical and the positive story it told, I was struck at the lack of emotion many showed upon being reminded of the horrors of 9/11.

The next morning, I was taking my kids, 5 and 8, out for the day and reflected on the upcoming 9/11 anniversary. I’ve always told them how ground zero is a place that is very special to me but have only shared some of what really happened that day, and little of my personal story.

When my wife asked my son about 9/11, he shared what he knew, but when she pressed for more information, he simply said, “I don’t remember.”

At that moment, I was shaken. I could only wonder if I had failed as a parent. I wondered if I had failed as a New Yorker. And I wondered if I had failed those that made the ultimate sacrifice that day.

My wife insists that our kids are too young to know the details of what really happened, and perhaps she is right. Why ruin the innocence and joy of childhood with the reality of the evil that surrounds us?

knafo idBut, I couldn’t help but wonder. Should I have told them about the horror that we all experienced that day? Should I have told them how the world changed? Should I have told them my story and how 9/11 forever changed me?

How else could they learn the importance of remembering the lost. How else could they know to respect the police, the firefighters, and the EMS workers that keep us all safe.

How would they know that sometimes they should run towards danger to help others? And if not that, how else would they know that sometimes all you can do is try to help in whatever way you can – kind of like the people of Gander and all those New Yorkers who lined the streets to cheer on our first responders.

After 9/11, I used to wear a shirt with the logo “Gone, but not forgotten.” I remember every time I would put the shirt on, I would think: how could anyone ever forget.

But when I watched the reactions during “Come From Away,” I started to seriously question whether many had already forgotten - or worse yet, never known.

But it wasn’t until my son uttered those three words, “I don’t remember,” that I fully realized the meaning of “Gone, but not forgotten.”

Remembering 9/11 won’t just happen on its own. We all have a responsibility to share our stories and to teach those around us what happened when terrorists turned airplanes into weapons.

And as I thought about how we could better remember 9/11, I realized that’s exactly what the writers of “Come From Away” had done. They had told the story of 9/11 and in doing so, had helped to preserve our history. They made sure that we remembered those we lost and they helped honor those that did whatever they could to help.

“Come From Away” was also a good reminder that people from nearby as well as those far away suffered during 9/11. It was a reminder that many, many people have their own stories about 9/11. And it was a reminder that we must always tell the fully story of 9/11 – offering different perspectives, sharing the good, and, of course, sharing the bad.

Telling the story of 9/11 forces us to acknowledge the unthinkable things done to innocent people. But it gives us the opportunity to honor the heroes that raced into danger to save innocent lives – many becoming victims themselves. And yes, it allows us to share the stories of how we came together as New Yorkers and how we came together in Gander – wherever your Gander may be.

“Come From Away” helped me realize that there are many ways to tell a story. And with that, perhaps there are many ways to teach our children – to teach my children.

The irony of passing judgment on the “Come From Away” audience is not lost on me – I was quick to judge, but realize that just because the audience enjoyed the show, doesn’t mean they didn’t appreciate the significance of the story.

As a parent, I want to shield my children from life’s unpleasant realities, but I also want to make sure that their values are driven by our history...by my history.

I still don’t know how or when I’ll share the full details of 9/11 with my kids. My wife is probably right (she usually is) when she says they are too young to learn it all.

But while they may not be old enough to learn about terrorism, they are certainly old enough to learn what “Come From Away” reminded me – how love can, and did, conquer evil – in Gander and in New York City.

I’m going to start by teaching them that lesson.

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Larry Knafo served in the FDNY, was a founding member of the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and served as the First Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. After 9/11 he led development of the City’s Family Assistance Center, drove technology recovery efforts, and aided in the development of the City’s Emergency Operations Center.

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How ‘Independent’ Must the New York Attorney General Be?


tish dem convention cuomo

The state Democratic convention (photo: Gotham Gazette)


One thing is for sure about the four candidates in the Democratic primary for Attorney General: each wants to be thought of as “independent.” Witness these self-descriptions:

Leecia Eve: “An independent advocate for all New Yorkers”

Tish James: “I’ve been independent all my life”

Sean Patrick Maloney: “I think I bring true independence”

Zephyr Teachout: “An independent fighter for New York”

This independent streak all intensified when James, endorsed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, prevailed for the party designation at the Democratic state convention. To diminish her resultant electoral advantage, the other three candidates sought to portray her during the primary campaign that followed as dependent upon Cuomo politically and therefore less likely to attack the pervasive corruption in state government, corruption that has reached into the governor’s own office.

It seems logical enough. Unlike most other state department heads in New York, the state attorney general is elected by the voters, not appointed by the governor (thus the claim to be “the people’s lawyer”). Lots of statewide elected offices were eliminated or converted to appointed through constitutional change over the last century and a half. Meanwhile, the attorney general remained elected. There must be some rationale, people reasoned, for persisting in this way over all those constitutional conventions. Assuring the office’s independence seemed an explanation that fit the bill.

But independence for what?

New York’s constitution is almost entirely silent on the attorney general’s job. Its powers are rooted in common law and further specified in statute. Chief prosecutor is not among them. There are some exceptions, but since the early 19th century criminal prosecution has almost always been the work of locally elected district attorneys. Read the candidates’ own campaign literature. Mostly they are not promising to prosecute corruption in Albany using powers the office has now; they are promising to seek constitutional and legal changes that would give them the powers to do this.

Then there’s the attorney general bread and butter: representing the executive branch of state government in court and advising state agencies on legal matters. Attorneys general who aspire to be governor (all of them, lately) may use their independence to decline to represent the state when they differ from the governor on policy, as was the case at times for Robert Abrams during the administrations of Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo. This caused the first Governor Cuomo to exclaim: “No candy store can be run this way. You have this massive operation called an attorney general but you can never tell when he will be willing to represent you.”

Interestingly, Eliot Spitzer as attorney general did just the opposite. At some political risk, he felt obligated to represent the state in court in defense of its then-ban on same-sex marriage even though he opposed this ban as a matter of state policy. But the point is this: “independence” may be a convenient excuse for the attorney general to decide not to do his or her job for personal or political reasons. Yet the state still must be represented; if the attorney general steps away, other lawyers must be hired to do the work.

Most New York attorneys general returned to relative obscurity after their time in office. Of the 56 who’ve served, two of the three with recognizable names (at least to the political cognoscenti) prior to the current era were attorneys general before the office was elective: Aaron Burr, later vice-president, and Martin Van Buren, later president. The third was Jacob Javits, the longtime U.S. Senator.

The office became a stepping stone to the governorship only lately, after Spitzer rediscovered the attorney general’s extensive powers under the Martin Act, passed in 1921 to counter rampant securities fraud. Because New York is an international financial capital, the state’s AG is uniquely situated to be a major player in policing the national economy. Here’s one place where independence does count. Spitzer’s aggressive pursuit of abuses by big Wall Street brokerage houses and investment banks under the Martin Act, followed by Andrew Cuomo’s and Eric Schneiderman’s after him, made the New York attorney general a nationally important figure.

Because Donald Trump is a New Yorker, the state’s attorney general is also uniquely situated among his or her peers to hold Trump accountable for his pre-presidential personal and professional financial practices. One result is the current lawsuit seeking the dissolution of the Trump Foundation for persistent illegal practices over at least a decade.

A strength of the American federal system is that it always provides a base of power in some states for the party out of power in Washington, D.C. Those who designed this system could not have imagined the complexity of our current intergovernmental federal arrangements, nor the degree to which public policy is now decided in the courts. Modern federalism has been further transformed through the use of these courts by state attorneys general to advance policy agendas.

Here again independence is key. State attorneys general of the party out of power in Washington have again and again joined in collaborative class action suites to challenge national policy and its implementation. Republicans sought to undo Obamacare, and are still at it. Democrats, with the New York attorney general in the lead, continue to litigate to block Trump administration actions on such issues as immigration and environmental regulation.

So as we New Yorkers choose an attorney general this year, we must be mindful that we are choosing a national leader to fight for New Yorkers on the key questions that face the state and the nation.

And also that we are picking a likely future candidate for governor.

As we do this we are already sure to make history, if only because every major candidate, including the Republican, Keith Wofford, is in a class protected by law against discrimination -- female, African-American, gay – from which we have not yet elected a person to hold either of these statewide offices of governor and attorney general. (Governor David Paterson, who is African-American, was not elected, but gained office by succession from the office of Lieutenant Governor after Spitzer’s resignation.)

But we need something more. We need an attorney general who makes history not just by who he or she is, but through doing the job -- with passion, energy, and the right balance of collaboration with and independence from the governor.

Don’t forget to vote.

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Gerald Benjamin is director of The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz.

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A Path to Reduce Building Energy While Preserving Affordable Housing


affordable housing align green climate

photo via the Urban Green Council


When it comes to combating climate change, the stakes have never been higher. The Trump administration’s failure to address this crisis means progressive urban leaders must do much more to reduce carbon emissions – especially in large apartment buildings that contribute so heavily to climate change.

One of the greatest challenges to addressing carbon emissions in residential buildings is ensuring that crucial energy efficiency upgrades don’t trigger rent hikes for low- and middle-income tenants living in rent-stabilized apartments. Rent-stabilized units account for a significant percent of large multifamily building space, so it is important to find a way to address this situation.

The good news is that we and dozens of other organizations have joined forces on a new proposal that would tackle this challenge – among others – by reducing carbon emissions at 50,000 New York City buildings while providing a plan to avoid hitting rent-stabilized tenants with the bill.

The new Blueprint for Efficiency by the Urban Green Council’s 80x50 Buildings Partnership – of which we and other organizations in the Climate Works for All Coalition are members – lays out a roadmap for cutting large building energy use by 2050.

As the Blueprint notes, city and state law currently allow the cost of many “major capital improvements” (MCIs) – including some efficiency measures like boiler replacements – to be passed on to tenants in rent-stabilized apartments. These costs then become permanent rent increases. They can also push units toward deregulation: above a set rent threshold, the units are forced out of stabilization. For too many tenants, MCIs mean higher rents they can’t afford, or even losing an apartment for tenants who are already stretched to the limit, rather than benefiting from lower energy bills and a healthier, better-maintained home. Additionally, taking apartments out of rent stabilization reduces the affordability of our housing overall.

So as part of this proposal, we are recommending new rules promoting low-cost, energy-saving measures for the rent-stabilized sector that do not qualify as MCIs, and oversight to ensure that if measures cause rental increases, action is taken to change the rules. We also believe there should be support and incentives provided so that the rent-stabilized sector can achieve the same kind of efficiency gains as market-rate buildings.

This kind of approach allows us to achieve significant energy reduction goals across the board, while protecting rent-stabilized tenants at every turn.

Beyond the rent-stabilized market, affordable housing owners and nonprofits often face thin margins and financing challenges, so efficiency upgrades are rarely a priority. The Blueprint recommends helping them through greatly expanded support programs, incentives, improved access to financing, and coordination with state-level programs that help reduce energy use.

Working with stakeholders who don’t often find themselves in the same room together we came up with these recommendations based on robust discussion and consensus-building.

Alongside all the Buildings Partnership members, we look forward to working as quickly as possible with the City Council and the de Blasio administration to translate our broader proposal into new legislation that can be advanced this year.

This would be a real win-win for all New Yorkers who care about combating climate change and preserving affordable housing across our city.

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Maritza Silva-Farrell is Executive Director of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York & Stephan Edel is Director of New York Working Families. On Twitter @MaritzaSf and @GreenJobsNY.

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New Approach to Low-Level Offenses is Working


mayorsoffice police

(photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


How should police respond when someone is drinking a beer in the street, dropping litter, or engaging in other minor offenses? Up until a year ago, a criminal summons was the only answer, and if the person didn’t show up in court, he or she could be arrested on a warrant.

As a result, New Yorkers had as much contact with the system for low-level offenses as for serious crimes.

Consider that in the first half of 2017, there were 112,000 criminal summonses compared to 98,000 misdemeanor arrests and 50,000 felony arrests. The summonses practice had a snowballing effect on the justice system: over its history of this practice, many people failed to take a day off of work or find the time to settle the criminal summons.

More than a million warrants accumulated.

Last year, that all changed.

In city legislation called the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA)—passed by the City Council under then-Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio—police now have the option to issue a civil summons instead of a criminal summons, which can be handled like a ticket in the city’s administrative law court, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, known as OATH.

Under the CJRA, if the summons is filed at OATH for the hearing, the punishment is a fine. If a court date is missed, it does not result in a warrant and arrest like it could in criminal court.

And if found in violation after a hearing, the option is available to pay the fine or do community service. Community service at OATH is instructive and aimed at preventing future offenses instead of solely requiring the performance of menial tasks.

The effect of the law has been dramatic.

Since June 2017, criminal summonses and warrants for CJRA-eligible offenses are down 89 and 94 percent, respectively. Over the same period, serious crime fell 13 percent.

Warrants issued for failure to appear in court for a small set of low-level offenses—for example, drinking in public, entering a park after dark, unreasonable noise, and public urination—could reach as high as 5,000 in a single month. Now they are around a few hundred.

During this time, the Mayor's Office and the City Council also worked with the NYPD, district attorneys, the courts and other partners to clear more than 644,000 warrants for minor, non-violent offenses that were 10 years old or older.

There are, of course, exceptions to the new enforcement option for low-level offenses. Someone may still be directed to criminal court if he or she has two or more felony arrests in the past two years, has three or more unanswered OATH summonses in the past eight years, is on probation or parole, or if there is another legitimate law enforcement reason.

The success of CJRA is not just that police now have more options. Nor is it just that there is more proportionality in how we enforce the laws, though that is important. It is also that more people are attending to their summonses.

In May of 2017 appearance rates on criminal summonses were at 64 percent. In April of 2018 that number had risen to 71 percent—which is also a credit to the multiple partners, courts, police, district attorneys, and others who helped develop a redesigned summons form, to make directions more clear, and sending text message reminders that alert people of their upcoming court dates.

Enhanced appearance rates are not happenstance. One thing we know well, both from research and from everyday experience, is that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe that they are treated fairly and that the system is responding appropriately. When the punishment for low-level offenses is out of step with the seriousness of the offense, New Yorkers lose confidence in the fairness of the system as a whole and are less likely to comply.

It is one reason why the NYPD had already been issuing fewer criminal summonses even before the CJRA, considering new approaches to low-level offenses, and has expanded neighborhood policing, which emphasizes building partnerships with the community.

We do not know for sure whether this is the dynamic that is changing behavior but we have asked the Misdemeanor Justice Project at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to do an evaluation of the effects of the CJRA and hope to learn more in the year ahead.

We know this will not fix everything. Racial disparity still persists and we have work to do. However, this dramatically lightens the volume and weight of the system’s touches on New Yorkers who commit low-level offenses.

We are hopeful that this approach that relies on residents to live cooperatively with their neighbors while ensuring compliance through proportionate measures will create a virtuous cycle in which rules are followed because they are fair and just.

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Elizabeth Glazer is the Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. On Twitter @CrimJusticeNYC.

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Reimagining the Brooklyn Democratic Party


voting brooklyn

(photo: Gotham Gazette)


The New York Times recently published a story about the Queens Democratic Party and how it stacked its Democratic County Committee with at least 21 people who had no idea that they were running for the position. One of the “candidates” actually lived in Florida. The Times article said, in part: “it is not entirely clear why the party would want to populate the committee with people who did not know they were on it.” In Brooklyn, it is totally clear.

For background, the Kings County Democratic Committee has a general membership of approximately 3,000 people. Every two years, in the September primary, each Assembly District elects both a male and female District Leader (officially called a “Member of the State Democratic Committee”). Collectively, the District Leaders make up the executive committee of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Like Queens, the general membership of the Brooklyn Democratic Party is filled with people who are unaware they are party officials or who have no interest in serving the Party. The leadership of the Brooklyn Democratic Party exploits this ambivalence by holding County Committee meetings in hard to reach locations, inaccessible by public transportation, and then telling members that they can skip the meeting if they give the County Chair their proxy votes.

By collecting proxies from uninterested or unaware members, the Party leadership gets the votes they need to maintain full control over the direction and agenda of the Party. It gives the Party leadership the numbers it needs to beat back any reform efforts and to deny grassroots Democrats a voice in the selection of the Democratic nominees for State Supreme Court or to fill a legislative vacancy.   

The specific problems that exist in Queens have somewhat receded in Brooklyn. To his credit, when Frank Seddio took over as Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party, he agreed to adopt incremental reforms being pushed by the Brooklyn Reform Coalition. Many of these reforms are the ones that Queens reformers are still fighting for today. While there has been some improvement, Brooklyn still has a long way to go.

In the short term, the Brooklyn Democratic Party must end proxy abuse. No person, whether the County Chair, a District Leader, or a general member, should be allowed to hold more proxies than the number of County Committee members serving in their Assembly district.

Likewise, the Party currently will only pay for the County Chair to send a proxy solicitation to all members of the County Committee. District Leaders have no budget and lack the financial resources to individually send a similar solicitation. This imbalance can be cured by allowing proxies to be submitted electronically or by the Party funding a mailing for each and every District Leader who wants to solicit proxies.

The long-term goal, however, is to end governance by proxy.

There are over 1 million Democrats in Brooklyn. Certainly we can find a few thousand who are committed to building a vibrant, transparent, and inclusive Brooklyn Democratic Party. Every board or committee I have ever sat on had a rule against missing too many meetings. The same needs to be true with the Brooklyn Democratic Party. At the same time, to ensure a diverse and inclusive party, meetings need to be held at a variety of times and locations so that no one is excluded due to a serious obligation, such as working at night or childcare responsibilities.

All over the country, local Democratic Parties are vibrant, active, and impactful. They meet regularly, have subcommittees with important party-building responsibilities, and develop and promote a political platform. Brooklyn is the largest local Democratic Party in the country and does none of these things. Instead of being national leaders, we are lagging far behind. Implementing the reforms I’ve outlined here will allow us to grow into a national model of what a fighting Democratic Party can accomplish.

These are not revolutionary ideas. This is what local Democratic Parties do all over the country. Once Brooklyn’s rank-and-file Democrats demand these changes, these ideas will be impossible to stop and we will finally have the Democratic Party that Brooklyn wants and deserves.

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Doug Schneider is a candidate for Member of the Democratic State Committee/District Leader in the 44th Assembly District in Brooklyn. On Twitter @DougSchneiderBK.

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Labor’s Unsung Heroes


healthcare workers sign

(photo: The Governor's Office on flickr)


A tribute to America’s workers, Labor Day has evolved beyond a day of parades and festivals duly celebrating the achievements of workers to one emphasizing the economic realities and civic significance of the unsung heroes responsible for the prosperity of our country.

Of these everyday heroes, no one is more unsung than the women of color and immigrant women who, in the main, bear the responsibility for raising their families while at the same time working outside the home.

All groups of women earn less than white males across communities and job categories, but the discrepancies vary greatly by race and ethnicity. White women earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by white men, Asian women earn 63 cents, black women earn 55 cents, and Latina women earn 46 cents. To put it in perspective, given the current pay gap, black women must work about an additional 200 days to make what white men earn in a year.

Here in New York, women of color and immigrant women form the bedrock of the labor force. They are frequently both the main or sole caregivers and main or sole wage earners in their households. They supply the bulk of the paid caregiving services, on which so many other New York households depend and account for a major share of the retail and restaurant sector workforce that drives our economy.  

Yet the progress of women of color and immigrant women has not historically been a top priority for anyone, even philanthropies. Less than 7% of foundation funding goes directly to supporting programs for women and girls.

Today, there are determined, grassroots organizations forging strong approaches to expanding the economic security and well-being of women. The Business Center for New Americans and the Damayan Migrant Workers Association provide shining examples.

The Business Center for New Americans promotes the American dream of financial independence and home ownership, providing refugees, immigrants, women, and other New Yorkers with the information, counsel, and support needed to thrive financially. They advance entrepreneurship through microlending, combined with training and technical assistance, and homeownership through down payment assistance, training, and access to incentives.

The Damayan Migrant Workers Association empowers low-wage workers to fight for their rights by building leadership at the grassroots level to eliminate labor trafficking, fight labor fraud and wage theft, and to demand fair labor standards to achieve economic and social justice.

The New York Women’s Foundation is proud to support and salute these organizations, and our other grantee partners in this space, for their efforts to secure a better future for the thousands of women of color and immigrant women in our workforce. They, and those they assist, are our heroes on Labor Day and every day.

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Camille Emeagwali is vice president of programs at The New York Women’s Foundation.

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Remembering John McCain, Campaign Finance Reformer


john mccain campaign

Late Senator John McCain (photo: Gage Skidmore)


There are precious few genuine heroes left in public life in America. That’s why the passing of John McCain last weekend felt like such a huge loss for many of us whose lives are devoted to the practice of politics and government.

Despite his flaws, Senator McCain leaves behind a deep and unique imprint on American history. Among his most important legislative achievements was the enactment of the most significant national campaign finance reform measure since the post-Watergate years.

As a young press secretary to Congressional Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) in the late 1990s, I had the opportunity and privilege to work with Senator McCain and his staff as part of the legislative coalition fighting for reform on Capitol Hill. Though there were many good men and women whose efforts were necessary for success, there was no question who was leading the charge.

The issue of reform was a personal one for McCain. As one of the “Keating Five,” he was rebuked by the Senate for exercising poor judgment in meeting with bank regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, a long-time campaign donor and chair of a failed savings and loan institution. McCain described the incident as a low point in his career. He openly admitted his mistakes, apologized to his constituents, and began a relentless push to transform the campaign finance system.

The proposition that McCain and his colleagues advanced was a simple one: the same laws that applied to the way that candidates raise funds should apply to political parties and other campaign groups. No more corporate shakedowns for the party leaders—they would need to follow the same “hard money” restrictions as candidates. Interest groups trying to swing elections with campaign commercials disguised as “sham” issue ads (i.e. “Call Senator Smith and tell him to keep his hands off our guns”) would have to play by the same rules.

This was a stance that put him in direct conflict with the leaders of his party—Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell in the Senate, and Tom DeLay in the House—who collected the dough and held the purse strings. The McCain-Feingold legislation was a direct threat to their way of doing business.  

Party leaders on both sides routinely approached corporate leaders for six-figure donations, often as they were considering Congressional action on their priorities. They distributed the proceeds to help their colleagues in close races. By withholding campaign funds, they could—and often did—exact retribution on those who stepped out of line.

The forces arrayed against the reform effort were powerful. Unlike today, there was no urgency from the grassroots in either party to address the corrosive power of money in politics.

Yet through the sheer force of personality and will, McCain pushed reform onto the national agenda. I recall long-serving members of Congress, as cynical as they come, whose faces would light up like school-kids in the presence of the senator from Arizona. Invariably, they would leave our coalition meetings giddy to follow him into battle.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)--known as McCain-Feingold after the bill’s sponsors--took an extraordinary route to passage, one that seems no longer possible in today’s hyper-partisan environment. In the House, dozens of Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues to sign their names to a discharge petition that forced the bill onto the floor against the wishes of Speaker Dennis Hastert. In the Senate, 11 Republicans joined with the Democratic caucus to give the bill a filibuster-proof majority.

In taking on their party leadership, many of the moderate Republicans at the time were embarking on what could have been a political suicide mission. But McCain believed his party should succeed through the power of its ideas, not through the force of its fundraising efforts. By word and deed, he inspired his colleagues to follow his lead.

As we embark on a new conversation about campaign finance reform here in New York City, there are a few lessons to be drawn from the experience.

Achieving reform is about the art of the possible. It requires compromise and coalition-building. For all his legendary stubbornness and temper, McCain was an extraordinarily practical legislator. He was no purist—while protecting the soft-money ban at the core of his signature bill, he built his winning coalition by negotiating and embracing amendments offered by his colleagues. Some stand today as essential elements of every national campaign—if you are familiar with the phrase “I’m John Smith, and I approve this message,” you’ve felt the impact of McCain-Feingold.

The passage of McCain-Feingold stands as the high-water mark for reform in the post-Watergate era. While McCain himself moved on to other issues of great import and a second run for President, the federal campaign finance system rather quickly reverted to the norm. Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has rolled back many the gains made by Congress under McCain’s leadership.

While the parties are still prohibited from cashing big corporate checks, McCutcheon expanded the parties’ ability to raise big money from wealthy individuals. And Citizens United eviscerated BCRA’s common-sense limits on fundraising for campaign advertising by independent groups. Unlimited funds from corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals are freely available to SuperPACs and political non-profits, many of which can evade even disclosure of their funding sources. With long-time reform opponent Mitch McConnell as majority leader of the Senate, efforts to reclaim that progress seem unlikely.

The rollback of McCain’s victories at the federal level makes it plain that reform is hard work. No lasting reform is a one-and-done effort. Successful reform takes patience, persistence, and constant vigilance. In New York City we have a campaign finance program that is the envy of reformers across the nation because we persist in the work of keeping the program strong.  While the matching funds program has long helped candidates from diverse backgrounds run for office without relying on support from big business, unions, or wealthy individuals, questions about the role and impact of bundlers and large contributors in New York City’s system are proof that the work of perfecting reform is never done.

Indeed, the Campaign Finance Board is required to report after each election on the program’s impact on city elections, and issue recommendations to strengthen it. The Board’s report on the 2017 elections is out this week, and I urge you to take a look. The City Council has taken up many of these proposed reforms over the years, and this year’s Charter Revision Commission has advanced proposals that align with some of the Board’s recommendations. It takes many hands, working together, to transcend political divisions and to achieve lasting success.

Perhaps, in his passing and through our remembrances, John McCain can remind all Americans what is possible when our leaders are willing to put their allegiance to city, state, and country before their partisan or personal interest. Achieving reform doesn’t require heroism, but it does require sustained, selfless, and practical leadership.

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Eric Friedman is Assistant Executive Director for Public Affairs, New York City Campaign Finance Board.

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Being Labeled the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ Isn't Enough


tish congress steps

Letitia James, the author (photo: Gotham Gazette)


Wall Street malfeasance has had devastating consequences in New York State. It precipitated the foreclosure crisis, in which tens of thousands of families lost their homes, others faced an unrecovered loss in property values, and many jobs were lost. Ten years later, the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress are weakening oversight by federal agencies by watering down the Dodd-Frank Act and undermining the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Today, Wall Street securities valuations are, by all accounts, exceedingly high, corporate borrowing is excessive, and monetary policy still encourages risk. Fueled by predatory companies, student debt, and institutional greed, United States household debt has now grown to $13.39 trillion. Corporations are issuing debt again with fervor, and dark pools for trading securities still proliferate. We once again see flawed stock research, mortgage backed securities and other collateralized debt with sophisticated and troubling capital tranches. High-speed trading is prominent, and illegal front-running practices are still threats to our markets and society.

In this current booming economy, the Trump Administration has shown unsurprising short-sightedness and a remarkable short-term memory. The economy will inevitably ebb and flow, yet instead of bolstering safeguards, the federal government is rolling back the very protections and regulations established after the Great Recession. In taking aim at the protections--like the Volcker rule--contained in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act, the Republican Party is once again proving that it cares more about appeasing corporations than it does about protecting Americans from another financial crisis.

Fortunately, in New York, we have the most important prosecutorial power in the nation to stem malfeasance, protect our markets, and hold those who violate the law accountable: the Martin Act. The Martin Act grants investigatory and enforcement powers to the New York Attorney General, who is entrusted to enforce our state’s banking laws. Everyday, many millions of Americans rely on our state’s Attorney General to fully and judiciously use laws like the Martin Act to hold bad actors accountable and to prevent firms from defrauding the public.

As the next New York Attorney General, I will aggressively pursue these cases, and will use the Martin Act to the fullest extent possible.

Using the tools of the office, including subpoena power, I will investigate and watch over Wall Street. I will conduct data-driven investigations. I will bring cases, and seek injunctive relief to protect consumers, seek restitution for New Yorkers who have lost hard-earned money, and fight for wholesale policy changes.

I will stand up to the Trump Administration that seeks to pre-empt the Martin Act, protecting a critical power that fights Wall Street malfeasance. I will work collaboratively with the state Legislature to re-establish a six-year statute of limitations that recently was limited by the New York State Court of Appeals, ensuring that bad actors don’t go unpunished simply because the clock runs out. I will also work to increase criminal penalties for violations of the Martin Act, to mandate sentencing of perpetrators as larcenies of up to 25 years in prison. I will ensure that the Investor Protection Bureau has the necessary resources and support to expand.

Not since the time of Attorney General Jacob Javits in 1955, when criminal penalties were added by the Legislature, will there be a more committed champion of change. I will be the Attorney General conceived of in law, not just rhetoric.

For everyone on Wall Street to Main Street, let me be clear: as New York State Attorney General, I will use the considerable power of New York state laws to scrutinize those practices and industries that have benefited from deregulation under Trump, and those that are currently posing a significant threat to our economy. Unfettered greed that results in foreseeable losses that devastate the lives of ordinary and sometimes unwitting investors is actionable, and New Yorkers can count on me to take legal action.

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Letitia “Tish” James is the New York City Public Advocate and a Democratic candidate for New York Attorney General. On Twitter @TishJames.

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Running for Attorney General, James Takes Strong Atlantic Yards Record Too Far


tishjameshoriz license2007 jjbarkeyatyahoo

James at a 2007 press conference announcing a lawsuit challenging the environmental review of Atlantic Yards - she was not a plaintiff or attorney in the case (photo ©Jonathan Barkey)


A May Politico profile of New York City Public Advocate Letitia (Tish) James, the front-runner in the upcoming election for state Attorney General, noted that “she has occasionally shown a flair for exaggeration, which has periodically raised questions about her credibility.” Cited were statements about her age and her claim of credit for a New York Times series on homelessness.

Indeed, I’ve witnessed such exaggeration. Perhaps it’s carelessness, coupled with confidence in her undeniable charisma. Perhaps it relates to James’ alternative career choice of the ministry (as she once told an interviewer), in which parable can trump precision. But as James moves up the professional ladder, such hyperbole gets more hazardous, especially as she asks voters to make her the state’s top legal officer.

So it was surprising and dismaying to hear James during two recent appearances inflate her significant and often brave record opposing the Atlantic Yards project, the arena-plus-towers development announced in 2003 when she was representing the 35th City Council District in Brooklyn.

As the project’s leading political opponent, she asked tough questions at City Council hearings, sponsored an alternative plan for the Vanderbilt Yard, and stood up for residents threatened by eminent domain or denied promised construction jobs. She doesn’t need to overstate her role challenging the political firmament. (Her campaign, informed of examples to be outlined in this column, declined to comment on the record.)

James’ new posture seems politically expedient, since, as I wrote in May 2016, James actually has taken a softer stand in recent years, willing to call a reporter after being nudged by the original project developer, the politically powerful Forest City Ratner. (The project was in 2014 renamed Pacific Park.)

Taking Atlantic Yards to the U.S. Supreme Court?
At the August 15 Democratic attorney general candidate forum sponsored by Indivisible Harlem (at about 55:20 remaining on this video) James responded to a question about the city’s investigation of yeshivas said to be offering an inadequate secular education and got on a riff that segued to Atlantic Yards.

“Lastly, let me just say that I’m the only individual on this stage that’s actually taken a major developer all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and almost bankrupted him, is Letitia James. We took a developer [who wanted] to build a basketball arena for the worst team in the NBA, and engaged in foreclosing upon homes. And I’ll always remember, as a City Council member who looked in the eyes of someone who was a Holocaust survivor”—

The moderator intervened, reminding James that the question concerned yeshivas.

James was unbowed: “So it’s about yeshivas, and about a Holocaust survivor. And that Holocaust survivor said, ‘Tish, stand up and fight back.’ We’ll fight back and make sure yeshivas are educating individuals and we’re going to fight back against abuses by developers in the city of New York and the state of New York. And we’re going to stand up against corruption in the state of New York.”

Hold on. The federal eminent domain case, Goldstein v. Pataki, which James helped herald at an initial press conference, was rejected at the trial court and appellate court levels. Then the plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to hear it; the Court refused, as it does most petitions. (A companion case was then filed in state court.)

So, while the case was brought to the Supreme Court, it wasn’t heard by the Supreme Court. More importantly, Council Member James as an individual played, at best, a supporting role. She was neither named plaintiff nor participating lawyer.

Checking a few details
Did that case “almost bankrupt” Forest City Ratner and developer Bruce Ratner? That’s a bit of a stretch, though Atlantic Yards -- conceived in optimistic times before the recession -- certainly caused major financial pain.

Also, neither Forest City Ratner nor Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project, were "foreclosing on homes," or taking homes from borrowers in default. James would better have said that, with the threat of eminent domain, the developer was squeezing—and buying, with significant public dollars—people out of their homes.

A Holocaust story
What about that Holocaust survivor? James at least once has dubiously expanded that reference, as I wrote in September 2012, as the Barclays Center was opening, about a TV interview with James.

"The issue is really about standing up and advocating for your community...against the abuse of all is right,” she said. “This woman I know, and I'll always remember her, lived in footprint, she was a Holocaust survivor. She wanted to die in her home. She was 89 years old. She should've been allowed to die in her home and not suffer under the stress of being subject to eminent domain for a basketball arena."

I checked with two people who should know, and was told the elderly Holocaust survivor who was stressed by eminent domain was a commercial tenant, not a residential one. No one remembers -- and I asked again this week -- a residential tenant who was a Holocaust survivor.

Yes, an elderly woman in the footprint, Victoria Harmon, didn't want to move, and did end up dying at home, but she wasn’t a Holocaust survivor.

Repeating the eminent domain claim
This past Tuesday, during a Democratic attorney general candidate debate that aired on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, James brought up Atlantic Yards again.

“I took that [eminent domain] case all the way to the Supreme Court," she said at one point, soon amending the claim to “We."

As I wrote on Twitter, James deserves credit for promoting or participating in several Atlantic Yards cases, such as the environmental review case (in the photo at top), but not the claim as stated.

She was a named plaintiff in two lawsuits: one challenging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s willingness to relax a deal with developer Forest City Ratner, and another challenging the state’s 2009 re-approval of the project, which ultimately led a judge to criticize Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing the project, and to order a new environmental review.

Was my criticism, as one James supporter tweeted, “strangely nitpicky”? I don’t think so, especially if it’s part of a pattern.

A Prospect Park fable
James also exaggerated in her statement at a April 30 public hearing concerning a controversial two-tower project near Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn called 80 Flatbush.

“So, we should not block the clock,” said James, referring to the widespread belief that the towers—one stretching 986 feet tall—would block views of the four-sided clock of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, now known as One Hanson. (Neighborhood opponents say the clock will be blocked from the west; the environmental review says it won’t.)

“We should respect the lady, the Williamsburgh Bank building, which is an icon,” James continued. “And again, as someone who was born and raised in Brooklyn, when I would get lost in Prospect Park, I would always look to the Williamsburgh Bank building for direction and purpose and a sense of who I am and what I believe in.”

Really? The landmarked tower rises 512 feet. You can’t see near it from the biggest clearing (the Longmeadow) inside Prospect Park; that intersection is just too far away. The places where one might be lost, even in decades past, would further scotch sightlines. (By the way, if you walk up Flatbush Avenue a few blocks today and look northwest toward the bank, the clock is already blocked by a tower flanking the Barclays Center, 461 Dean.)

James had ample reasons to be wary of 80 Flatbush, notably what Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery have called the request for an “unprecedented” tripling of allowable density. But James went beyond criticism to fable.

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Norman Oder is a Brooklyn journalist who writes the watchdog blog Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report. On Twitter @AYReport.

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