Archive for September, 2009

A Meeting in a Hallway
September 30th, 2009

It wasn’t unexpected, but it happened in a back staircase of City Hall.

Councilmember John Liu, the victor of last night’s runoff for the office of comptroller, was explaining to a small crowd of reporters the significance of being the first Asian-American to land the Democratic ticket for citywide office — pretty much a guarantee for victory in November. The council’s stated meeting was starting in the chamber, and Liu was urged to join his colleagues to vote on the day’s agenda (which included the rezoning of Sunset Park).

“I never intended to be the first Asian American elected member of the City Council,” explained Liu. “I honestly wish I was like ninth or tenth… but that happened to be the case eight years ago. It was never my intention to be the first Asian American to run for citywide office here in New York City. That happens to be the case.”

He continued.

“I suppose it secures my place in history, but again that was never my goal or objective.”

While Liu was speaking, Councilmember David Yassky, his comptroller runoff rival who lost by more than 10 percentage points, strode up the stairs. He waited patiently for Liu to finish. Then, Yassky offered his hand.

“I just wanted to say congratulations again,” Yassky said, shaking Liu’s hand. “When I announced last night that I was supporting you in the general and encouraging my supporters to do the same, it was clear they were. Good luck.”

“Thank you,” Liu said.

The two men then entered the council chamber to vote at the body’s stated meeting — now numbered for both of them.

By on September 30, 2009, 3:54 pm
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Governing,nextNY | Comments Off on A Meeting in a Hallway

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A Push for Charter Schools
September 30th, 2009

In the wake of a study finding charter schools help close the student achievement gap, Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced a series of steps to expand and otherwise bolster charter schools in the city. (We’re not sure why this announcement came from his campaign and not the mayor’s office or the education department but it did.)

Much of the plan suggests proposals that charter proponents have sought for a while: lifting the cap on the number of charter schools, giving the schools chancellor the power to grant charters (an authority that now rests with the State Board of Regents) and streamlining the charter review process.

But the statement also provides additional evidence of the mutual back scratching between the Bloomberg administration and the Harlem Children’s Zone and its founder, Geoffrey Canada.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 30, 2009, 2:38 pm
In category: Education | 2 Comments »

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The Runoff Results
September 30th, 2009

Given that only about 230,000 people are thought to have voted in yesterday’s Democratic runoff, the result may not tell us much beyond the obvious — that Bill de Blasio is almost certain to be the city’s next public advocate and John Liu the city’s next comptroller. (Both face Republican opponents in November.)

But a few threads do emerge. To find out what they are, go to the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 30, 2009, 8:32 am
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | Comments Off on The Runoff Results

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Mayor Reviews Own Report
September 29th, 2009

In very typical Bloomberg administration fashion, the mayor released a review of his annual report, which reviews city agencies’ performances.

Only in the Bloomberg administration can they release a review of a review and make news.

Nonetheless, the Wonkster took a perusal. Within the plethora of measurements, which were divided into six categories, negatives are few and far between.

There are a few though. Here is the raw data:

Construction related incidents (New Category): 214 (FY06), 543 (FY09)
Construction related injuries (New Category): 87 (FY06), 233 (FY09)
Parks rated acceptable for overall condition: 85 percent (FY01), 87 percent (FY05), 82 percent (FY09)
Average time to resolve elevator complaints in public housing (hours): 9.6 (FY06), 11.4 (FY09)
Food service establishments that require reinspection: 13.9 percent (FY01), 17.5 percent (FY05), 24.3 percent (FY09)
Percent of active cash assistance caseload who are placed into jobs (New Category): 32 percent (FY01), 26 percent (FY05), 24 percent (FY09)
Children in substantiated investigations of abuse/neglect with repeat substantiated investigations within a year: 8.9 percent (FY01), 11.5 percent (FY05), 14.7 percent (FY09)
Children who re-enter foster care within a year of discharge to family: 8.6 percent (FY01), 8.7 percent (FY05), 14.1 percent (FY09)
Families placed in permanent housing who return to DHS shelters within a year: 2.70 percent (FY01), 1.00 percent (FY05), 3.30 percent (FY09)
Construction Jobs filed for New buildings: 5,047 (FY01), 7,602 (FY05), 3,039 (FY09)
Construction Jobs filed for Alteration I (major renovation): 6,083 (FY01), 8,185 (FY05), 4,924 (FY09)

The full document is below.

422-09 (MMR 8-Year Review)

By on September 29, 2009, 5:37 pm
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Where is the Plan?
September 29th, 2009

Gov. David Paterson has repeatedly been the bearer of bad news about the economy and the budget. Just last week at a leaders meeting Paterson dropped his latest bombshell: the news that the budget deficit could be $3 billion.

Paterson insists that his flagging poll numbers are a result of a simple case of shooting the messenger. According to Paterson, its not just his warnings of fiscal doom that have lost him cool points with the electorate, but also his get-tough approach to cutting spending.

That, however, is a message that a number of observers, including financial pundits and legislators, are finding tougher to swallow.


Because while Paterson has warned of the state’s budget gap, he has failed to present an actual plan to address it. Paterson stated that he wanted to the legislature back in Albany this fall for a special session to deal with the budget, but they dismissed the idea, wanting to see a more substantive plan before returning to Albany. They also want to be sure they know what sort of deficit they are dealing with. As Paterson noted, the $3 billion figure might turn out to be too high, or the gap could be even worse.

Paterson and legislative leaders agreed to have their staffs meet to address the budget gap and to reach a consensus on what the gap will actually be. And today business leaders are meeting with Paterson and Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch to discuss their ideas for closing the gap and next year’s budget.

But as E.J. McMahon, director of the Empire Center for New York Policy, recently pointed out in a NY Post editorial “California, Here We Come”, Paterson has had months to meet and formulate a plan. In fact, that is his job. Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 29, 2009, 11:47 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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Weeklyn Web Wrap
September 25th, 2009

  • Is the Terror Plot Really Shut Down?
  • Most Stalled Developments are Residential and in Brooklyn
    (IBO Weblog)
  • Cartoonist’s Take on Obama’s Message to Paterson
    (Matt Davies)
  • Another Cartoonist’s Take on Obama’s Message to Paterson
    (Adam Zyglis)
  • Before Google Maps, the City Had OASIS
    (Urban Omnibus)
  • Region’s Transit Sets Record in Gas Saved
    (Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
  • How is the City Doing on the Greening Front?
    (Sallan Foundation)
  • A Musing on Governor’s Island
  • A Harlem Model for Neighborhood-Based Approaches to Poverty
    (The American Prospect)
  • Why the City is Greener Than Vermont
  • It’s Good that Gehry isn’t Designing the Atlantic Yards
  • Putting Civilian Review Back into the Complaint Board
    (Huffington Post)
  • Brooklyn, the Most Frugal City
  • How Best to Accelerate New York Startups?
  • Mark Griffith to Campaign on Working Families Party Line
    (City Hall)
  • Committee Reports Would Help Courts’ with Legislative Intent
  • By on September 25, 2009, 2:29 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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    Comptroller Candidates Go at It
    September 25th, 2009

    With four days before Tuesday’s runoff election, the politesse that had characterized much of the campaign for city comptroller largely vanished last night as the two candidates debated at NY1 — and assailed each other’s integrity. In what figures to be their final face-off, Councilmembers John Liu and David Yassky spent far less time discussing the issues than each other.

    (To see it for yourself, go here.)

    Yassky was first to the attack, helped by a debate format that began by showing two television ads: one by Liu highlighting his “life of struggle” and work in a sweatshop as a child — a resume that news reports have called into question — and the other by Yassky assailing Lu’s integrity.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 25, 2009, 8:12 am
    In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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    Newtown Creek, Here Comes the EPA
    September 24th, 2009

    Six months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started exploring a Superfund designation for Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, they have launched a second investigation into Newtown Creek.

    Today the agency announced it has nominated the creek for the controversial Superfund title, which will kick off a series of public hearings and discussion on the drawbacks and the benefits of being named a Superfund site. Already, several representatives of the area support the designation, including Reps. Anthony D. Weiner and Nydia Velzquez.

    We covered the story of Newtown Creek (and other potential superfund sites) here.

    In a prepared statement, Weiner said, “I am pleased to see that while the oil companies lag in their cleanup responsibilities and put the health and safety of Newtown Creek’s residents at further risk, the EPA has decide to take action and hold these companies responsible for their negligence. Newton Creek is the single most polluted waterway in New York City, a legacy left by more than a century of heavy industrial activity.

    Just approximately 5 miles north of the Gowanus, Newtown Creek is the site of the country’s largest coastal oil spill, dating back to the 1950s when the site was the home of a refinery operation by Standard Oil — Exxon Mobil’s predecessor. Still, oil companies line its shores and putrid stenches typically overpower the adjacent neighborhood of Greenpoint.

    When a site is designated as a superfund, the federal government officially takes over the cleanup of the area. They hunt down the responsible parties (in this case most likely oil companies) and make them pay for the entire cleanup. Most often, this means years of lawsuits.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 24, 2009, 11:09 am
    In category: City Hall,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Housing,nextNY,Parks,Waterfront | 5 Comments »

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    Runoffs for Some But Not For Others?
    September 24th, 2009

    This post was written by DeNora Getachew, director of public policy and legislative counsel for Citizens Union Foundation, which publishes Gotham Gazette.

    As New York City Democratic voters get ready to vote in the upcoming runoff election on Sept. 29 for their party’s nominees for comptroller and public advocate, you may be thinking, why do I have to vote again only in these two citywide races?

    As is often the case, the answer to such questions can be found by consulting the law. Specifically, New Yorks election law requires a runoff “when no candidate for the office of mayor, public advocate or comptroller receives 40 percent or more of the votes cast by the members of a political party for such office in a city-wide primary election.” This law dates back to the early 1970s, after the 1969 election for mayor when a candidate who was considered outside of the mainstream won the Democratic primary with only 33 percent of the vote. The change to require a runoff election if no citywide candidate secures 40 percent of the vote was intended to prevent fringe or less mainstream candidates in a multi-candidate race from winning an election without necessarily proving broad-based support. Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 24, 2009, 10:23 am
    In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 3 Comments »

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    The Last Word
    September 23rd, 2009

    In closing statements, Mark Green goes first:

    “It has to be about the next New York — a 21st century city. It has to be about your future and your families, who you can best trust to be on your side fighting for you… A known trusted advocate should hold the advocate’s job not just a skillful politician.”

    Bil de Blasio had the last word. He said, “Is it going to be about protecting those among us that are vulnerable… I want to be a strong public advocate who can stand up to the mayor, whoever that mayor is. There is a lot to do in this city, and we need a lot more democracy.”

    By on September 23, 2009, 7:03 pm
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    Caught in the Act?
    September 23rd, 2009

    When asked about his contract with Data and Field Services, the for-profit get out the vote arm of the Working Families Party, Bill de Blasio defended his relationship with the group.

    He said if the relationship was suspect, he wouldn’t have received the most amount of public financing from the Campaign Finance Board.

    Technically, he’s wrong.

    De Blasio has received $2,217,153, while David Yassky, a runoff candidate for comptroller, got $2,242,515 — a difference of more than $25,000.

    By on September 23, 2009, 6:54 pm
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    Questions Go Around
    September 23rd, 2009

    It’s the interrogation round.

    Mark Green goes after Councilmember Bill de Blasio (again) on his outside income. De Blasio says he was working on electoral reform around the country and worked for $6,000 a month for the Working Families Party-affiliated consulting firm.

    “Mark your definition is wrong and your facts are wrong,” said de Blasio. “The work I was doing was electoral work around the country. It is not what your characterizing it as.”

    De Blasio took Green to task on his position on the mayor’s proposal to restructure senior centers, alleging that Green was not involved (and didn’t know the details) of the proposal.

    Green said, “[The mayor] was wrong and he was overridden by the City Council. You don’t save money on the budget by cutting a chunk of senior centers.”

    Then, we move on to the lightening round.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 23, 2009, 6:41 pm
    In category: City Hall,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | Comments Off on Questions Go Around

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    Who's Around
    September 23rd, 2009

    If it’s about endorsements, said Mark Green at tonight’s debate, Councilmember Bill de Blasio has more. If it’s about record, he added, he will win.

    “Because of my public history and my work this decade… that’s a breadth of experience that I would happily match up against council member de Blasio,” Green said.

    Just today, de Blasio said, he was endorsed by former candidate Eric Gioia, who placed third in the primary.

    “I truly respect what Mark did in the 70s, 80s and 90s,” said de Blasio. “I am trying to focus on what has happened in this decade.”

    By on September 23, 2009, 6:26 pm
    In category: City Hall,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | 3 Comments »

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    Public Advocate Debate Live
    September 23rd, 2009

    It’s a different night. A different race. A different setting.

    They’re sitting down.

    In the final runoff debate for public advocate, candidates Mark Green and Councilmember Bill de Blasio will trade barbs in what could be the final exchange of a heated contest. See what they say here.

    The first question goes to Green, asking about his recent attacks on de Blasio, which include criticizing his outside income from a consulting firm affiliated with the Working Families Party and for taking campaign contributions from groups he gave discretionary funding to.

    Green says he ran an “extremely positive” campaign in the primary. “My whole life I’ve been writing and advocating about positive ideas.” The first person that went negative was de Blasio, Green says. “These are public criticisms about public income.”

    In response, de Blasio said, “Mark obviously has a long history of negative attacks as part of his campaign.”

    In response to questions on his outside income, de Blasio said he ok’d the work with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board. “I don’t pretend to know better than the New York City ethics board… I did that work for five and a half months. And then ended that work.”

    Green counters: “It’s controlled by and created by the Working Families Party and ACORN,” he said of the consulting firm. “The Working Families Party and ACORN put $30,000 in his pocket while they lobbied him at the City Council.”

    By on September 23, 2009, 6:16 pm
    In category: City Hall,Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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    PA Debate Tonight
    September 23rd, 2009

    Don’t forget to tune into the final Campaign Finance Board sanctioned public advocate debate tonight at 7 p.m. on NY1.

    Visit the Wonkster too — We will be there blogging live.

    By on September 23, 2009, 4:06 pm
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    Tight Contests
    September 23rd, 2009

    David’s Yassk’y latest spot (see below) airs on the same day that Quinnipiac University issued a poll showing Liu with a slight edge in the race. He leads Yassky 49 to 43 percent among likely Democratic primary voters with 9 percent undecided. With so few people likely to vote, though, polling director Maurice Carroll cautioned that even a minor thing (a negative ad, perchance?) could tip the balance.

    The same polls find the race between Mark Green and Bill de Blasio for public advocate deadlocked with each getting 46 percent of likely voters and 7 percent undecided.

    For more on the run-up to Tuesday’s run off, see The Next Round.

    By on September 23, 2009, 12:16 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Tight Contests

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    Yassky's New TV Spot
    September 23rd, 2009

    Comptroller candidate David Yassky’s first post-primary TV spot takes on John Liu insinuating he is a liar.

    “Would you hire an accountant who doesn’t tell the truth?” the commercial asks. It then goes on to reference Liu’s claim he returned campaign contributions from people he gave discretionary funding to, his discovery of MTA fraud and his alleged history working in a sweatshop.

    This is the third day in a row where the race has gone negative — a stretch from the primary when these candidates were calling one another friends.

    By on September 23, 2009, 11:10 am
    In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY | Comments Off on Yassky's New TV Spot

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    Paterson Staying Put
    September 23rd, 2009

    Gov. David Paterson shot down rumors today that he might step down now that the legality of his appointment of Richard Ravitch is no longer in question.

    ” I didn’t appoint Lieutenant Governor Ravitch so that I could resign and then he wouldn’t have a lieutenant governor. I mean, that makes absolutely no sense,” Paterson said.

    Talk about the possibility of Paterson’s resignation heated up after word leaked that the Obama administration had expressed that Paterson should reconsider running in 2010.

    Paterson staying put does not mean that Ravitch won’t be a busy man. The LG now has his hands full heading up talks on how to reduce the escalating budget deficit.

    By on September 23, 2009, 11:05 am
    In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Paterson Staying Put

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    The $3 Billion Question
    September 23rd, 2009

    Gov. David Paterson told legislative leaders this morning that he thinks the budget gap will soon grow from an estimated $2.1 billion to $3 billion. That is not a hard number,” Paterson said. “That is basically my estimate. Itmay not be as grave as what I just described. It may be worse.”

    Paterson wants the legislature to reconvene as soon as possible for a special session to address the funding gap. Paterson noted that legislators did not seem interested in returning to deal with the budget gap earlier this year.

    Leaders took their turns speaking about the deficit:

    Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said his conference is ready to make “tough choices.”

    Sen. John Sampsonsaid his conference isn’t interested in “government by guesswork.”

    Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos said that his conference’s suggestions had been dismissed during budget talks earlier this year.

    Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said that his conference had been ready to address the gap all Summer.

    Paterson then tried to gauge whether the leaders could agree on the size of the deficit. Silver and Kolb indicated they could. Sampson and Skelos were less forthcoming.

    It was agreed, however, that Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch should oversee a meeting of budget staffs in an effort to come to a consensus on how to cut the budget before calling the legislature back into session. Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 23, 2009, 10:30 am
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    The Education Campaign
    September 23rd, 2009

    With the mayoral campaign officially only a week old, education has emerged as a key topic, and a torrent of studies give both sides ammunition.

    Already Mayor Michael Bloomberg has sent out a campaign mailer contrastng his education record as mayor with Democratic opponent William Thompson’s accomplishments as president of the now defunct Board of Education in the 1990s. And as Thomspson prepared to deliver an address on education yesterday, Bloomberg continued to sound that theme.

    In that speech, during which he called for smaller classes and more parental involvement in the schools, among other things, Thompson questioned the administration’s reports of widespread progress in education. “The failure of the administration to tell the truth over the last eight years has undermined our faith in their claims of progress, while putting the school system at serious risk, Thompson said.

    Statistics bolster and counter both sides. Just in the past week, three studies have appeared on three key education topics. Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 23, 2009, 9:04 am
    In category: Education,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Measuring UP | Comments Off on The Education Campaign

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    Gotham Gazette the Place for Politics and Policy

    Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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