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Gustavo Rivera Slams Espada For Dodging Debate
August 30th, 2010

Gustavo Rivera, the man challenging Sen. Pedro Espada for his senate seat, is steaming mad that Espada finked out on a BronxTalk debate that took place at 9 p.m. today.

Here is the statement from Rivera’s camp:

Gustavo Rivera, candidate for the 33rdSenate District issued the following statement on Pedro Espada’s failure to attend tonight’s Bronx Talk debate:
“In two short years, scandal-ridden Pedro Espada has betrayed his fellow Democrats, taken money from slumlords to block tenants’ rights laws, and stands accused of stealing millions from Bronx health clinics. He has even stooped to challenging constituents to fistfights rather than talk to them.

Our community has lots of questions for Espada, and tonight we were supposed to get some answers.But instead of directly addressing his own constituents, Espada has let us down again.Espada declared he would debate me anytime, anywhere. But when the chance came, Espada decided to cut and run.

Espada can run from tonight’s debate, but he can’t run from the people of the Northwest Bronx. On September 14th, we will have a chance to make change and elect a Senator who put our community first.”

By on August 30, 2010, 11:52 pm
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Special Election Called for November
August 30th, 2010

As predicted, the special election to replace the late Thomas White on the City Council was called by Mayor Michael Bloomberg today for November 2.

Here is the release from the mayor’s office.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that a special non-partisan election will be held in the 28th Council District on November 2nd, the date of the regularly scheduled general election, to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Council Member Thomas White, Jr. Pursuant to the City Charter, the nomination of candidates in the election will be by independent nominating petition, rather than through a party primary.

The newly elected Council Member will serve until December 31, 2011. A second election to fill the remainder of the term will be held on Election Day in November 2011.

By on August 30, 2010, 4:35 pm
In category: City Hall,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Law,nextNY,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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Nunes Says Nothing Changes
August 30th, 2010

Candidate Lynn Nunes says he is sticking with his race for State Senate in district 10, despite the fact a seat he narrowly lost last year opened up in the council.

Nunes lost to the late Thomas White last fall by just four votes. White died last week after a long battle with cancer. No special election has been called yet to fill the seat, but observers say one could be held as soon as November 2.

nunes

We caught up with Nunes today to see if his plans have changed.

“We’re not focusing on losing,” Nunes said. “We’re gonna win. There is no need to worry about a plan b.”

For more on the race, go here.

By on August 30, 2010, 2:54 pm
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Weekly Web Wrap
August 27th, 2010

Group Picked for Living Wage Study Called Biased
(Bronx News Network)
Claim that America has Killed More than Islam is Fact
(The American Conservative)
Mosques Curb Domestic Radicalization
(The American Prospect)
Closest Senior Center May be a Mile Away
(IBO Web Blog)
Cartoonist’s Take on Legislators’ Office Spending
(Matt Davies)
Tennis Courts to Get Carbon Neutral Composting Toilets
(Inhabitat)
Reimagining “Towers in the Park”
(Urban Omnibus)
No Reason to Wait on Paid Sick Leave
(DMI Blog)
Men Die Younger than Women
(Health Department)
Albany’s 2010 Transportation Wrap Up
(Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
A Return of the Full Face Ballot Requirement?
(ReformNY)
Correction: No State Records on Bike-on-Pedestrian Injuries
(Streetsblog)

By on August 27, 2010, 9:54 pm
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Liu and de Blasio for Gustavo Rivera
August 27th, 2010

Gustavo Rivera, the man who is challenging Sen. Pedro Espada for his Bronx senate seat, has been racking up the endorsements as of late. The most recent come from City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

“Gustavo Rivera and I share the belief in equal opportunities and access to good schools, quality health care, and affordable housing,” said Liu. “Gustavo is a true champion of working families and will fight every day to put the people of the Northwest Bronx first.”

“It’s no secret that we need real change in Albany and I believe Gustavo Rivera is the kind of reformer New Yorkers need fighting for them,” said de Blasio. “He will be a strong voice for issues New Yorkers care about including tenants’ rights and for housing that is safe, secure and affordable. I am proud to endorse Gustavo’s candidacy for the State Senate.”

Rivera was also recently endorsed by former Mayor Ed Koch and Sen. Eric Schneiderman.

Espada has been endorsed by his close pal Sen. Ruben Diaz and a group of Hispanic ministers.

By on August 27, 2010, 3:59 pm
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Councilmember Tom White Dies
August 27th, 2010

Here is the statement from Council Speaker Christine Quinn regarding the death of Tom White: website_photo_9_02_08

My deepest sympathies go out to the family of Council Member Tom White; his mother Marie White, his children: Bryan D. White, Lucile Precious Middleton, daughter-in-law Seleste White and grandchildren Lamar White and Jacob. Tom spent most his life serving the people of Southeast Queens, working to support communities that faced great challenges. As chair of our Economic Development Committee he fought for programs that helped many of these neighborhoods on the path to recovery.

He searched for ways to break the cycle of poverty and violence. He fought for job training and placement programs, and investments in long term economic growth. He had a particular soft spot for women and minority business owners, pushing for additional resources to help them stay afloat and create good jobs for their neighbors.

Throughout a government career that spanned two decades, he balanced his work on the City Council with public service of another variety. As Executive Director of one of the largest substance abuse programs in the state, he cared for New Yorkers who have often been marginalized, forgotten, and incarcerated from an early age. He gave them hope, a shot at redemption, and a chance to build a better life.

Though Tom has left us, he remains present in the lives he touched and the impact he made on the face of our city. The thousands of New Yorkers he helped shepherd away from the jaws of addiction; the small business owner given a chance to build her own American dream here in the five boroughs; the working family that can now afford to stay in the home they built; the child who will grow up with cleaner air and safer streets.

The New Yorkers whose lives have been made better, in ways both large and small, thanks to the laws Tom sponsored and the causes he championed. It is through them that Tom White will truly be memorialized.

And from Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

My friend Council Member Tom White lost a long battle with cancer today, and on behalf of all New Yorkers, I want to express my condolences. Born and raised in Queens, Tom spent over 30 years trying to improve his Southeast Queens community, and not just through his work with the City Council. He was the executive director of J-CAP, which serves Queens with a recognized alcohol and substance abuse treatment program. He served as Chair of the Councils economic development committee, and because of his efforts, we were able to create programs that range from providing loans to help small businesses stay afloat and grow to helping New Yorkers avoid foreclosures. Toms legacy will live on in the results of his work, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.

By on August 27, 2010, 1:45 pm
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Coffey Gets More Endorsements
August 26th, 2010

Gotham Gazette’s Alana Horowitz filed this from Brooklyn:

As Sen. Eric Schneiderman added another name — Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer — to his rapidly growing list of endorsements for attorney general, fellow candidate Sean Coffey announced a few of his own.

Assemblyman Karim Camara and several members of the Brooklyn clergy convened at Brooklyn Borough Hall to show their support for the formal naval officer. Rep. Ed Towns, who endorsed Coffey earlier this month, also attended the event.

“He’s a man who comes in with a mind of reform,” said Camara, who stressed Coffey’s record as a litigator and a federal prosecutor. Coffey’s role in winning a $6 billion securities suit against WorldCom once earned him the nickname “Wall Street’s New Nemesis.”

Additional praise for Coffey included his commitment to creating affordable housing and fighting housing fraud.

“Sean Coffey knows the problems and pain that the people of Brooklyn are feeling and he has a plan to help relieve it,” said the Rev. Clinton Miller of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on August 26, 2010, 4:12 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Governing,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY | 1 Comment »

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Brodsky Releases Environmental Plan
August 26th, 2010

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, candidate for attorney general, has released an environmental plan. Here are the highlights from his office:

“Polluter Pays

Simply stated, the states laws should be enforced to assure that
taxpayers do not bear the burden of cleaning up corporate pollution,
citizens do not bear economic burden and the public does not bear the
health and safety burdens caused by such pollution. As a result, the
Brodsky plan proposes three main ways that polluters can be held
accountable by actions taken directly by the Attorney General:

Reforming the Oil Spill Fund and Empowering the DEC: The State Oil
Spill Fund was created to collect fines and penalties from polluters
that will enable the state to clean orphaned pollution sites without
the taxpayers being forced to foot the bill. Only the most vigorous
enforcement of the law will yield sufficient money to clean up these
sites, thereby protecting taxpayers. Richard will use the powers of
the Attorney Generals office to partner with the DEC to collect these
fines in earnest and ensure that the public is protected.

Citizen Suits: The Polluter Pays principal can also be asserted by
private citizens who seek to enforce state law when the state does
not. As Attorney General, Brodsky will re-introduce his Citizen
Suits legislation (A.4272) as a program bill legislation. This
legislation would provide private citizens with the right to seek
enforcement through the courts in instances involving violations of
those provisions of the ECL relating to protection of waters, water
supply, water power, drainage, solid and hazardous waste, freshwater
and tidal wetlands, pesticides and hazardous substances bulk storage.

Protecting Our Aquifers, Cleaning up Toxic Waste: There must be far
stronger and more efficient regulatory enforcement of the efficient
disposal of the waste products that were created my Manufactured Gas
Plants (MGPS)- which is a glaringly huge issue facing Long Island.
Currently, a NYS DEC consent order lists 23 sites on Long Island where
waste products containing numerous toxic and carcinogenic compounds
were recklessly dumped by MGPS over a 100-year period. Richard will
investigate, and if necessary, prosecute utility companies who are not
making the best possible effort to remediate this problem quickly and
effectively.

Brodsky said: As Attorney General, I will set a national standard for
the effective enforcement of environmental laws. Today, there are a
myriad of environmental laws currently in place that could go a long
way to holding polluters accountable, but are not adequately enforced.
Also, there are issues that need to be addressed that will need new,
aggressive statuary changes and I will lead the fight to implement
them.

A Constitutional Right to Clean and Safe Environment

Assemblyman Brodsky has led a national effort to enshrine in the
United States Constitution the right to a clean and safe environment.
This initiative, when first proposed in 1996, was supported by
legislative bodies in 5 states. He proposes that the New York State
Constitution be amended to contain the same right.

Brodsky said: The New York State Constitution has long been a vehicle
for principles that help new Yorkers live better, safer and happier
lives. There is no more basic right then the right to breathe clean
air, drink clean water and be safe from toxic pollution in our
communities.

Environmental Enforcement Initiatives:

Environmental Enforcement by the Attorney General is key to promoting
public health changes and improvements. Some of the key issues that
Richard will confront head-on upon taking office are as follows:

Fracking: The statewide debate about fracking has highlighted
potential long-term danger to drinking water in our state. While the
legislature continues to debate a moratorium on fracking, and while
DEC continues the regulatory process. The Attorney General has
particular responsibilities, which must be exercised. As Attorney
General, Richard will use existing powers to appoint a Watershed
Inspector General (WIG) who is thoroughly versed on this issue.
Richard will use the office of the WIG to make certain that New York
City’s drinking water is never compromised. The WIG needs to be a
central part of the statewide debate and to lead efforts to protect
water quality, as the direct employer of the WIG, Attorney General
Brodsky will make sure this happens.

Environmental Justice: For too long, there has been an inequitable
pattern in the siting of environmental facilities in minority and
economically distressed communities, which have borne a
disproportionate and inequitable share of such facilities. Brodsky
will continue to support his long-standing legislative initiative
(A.4245) that would require the state to factor in disproportionate or
inequitable burdens on minority communities or economically distressed
areas under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
Richard will launch investigations into incidences where this practice
is being alleged, and require the issuance of all Environmental Impact
Statements to take into consideration these issues, and also use the
Department of Healths Cancer Incidence Mapping System that Richard
created this year (A.199) to determine if the siting of environmental
facilities is linked to cancer incidences.

Environmental enforcement on Special Taxing Districts: All across New
York, local governments have created Special Taxing Districts which
have particular responsibilities to levy and collect taxes. In many
cases, such districts provide water and wastewater management services
and have often acted in ways that damage the environment-notably
because they are often unregulated by state and federal statutes, or
chose to disobey them. As Attorney General, Brodsky will not permit
this to continue, and will apply state laws in ways that they are not
currently being applied even as we seek federal reforms.

Brodsky said: New Yorks various state agencies, public utilities and
local governments need to all work together to protect our environment
and public health. As Attorney General, I will enact sweeping reforms
and enforcement provisions that will enable us to jointly reach this
goal.”

By on August 26, 2010, 3:18 pm
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Ethics Hearing Minutes Released
August 26th, 2010

For your reading pleasure, the City Council released the minutes from the closed-door ethics hearing on Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez’s poking incident.

Here they are below.

Ydanis Minutes

By on August 26, 2010, 1:24 pm
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Rice Goes After Schneiderman's Past (Update)
August 26th, 2010

City Hall published an article today looking at Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s role as a deputy sheriff in Massachusetts. Schneiderman has claimed the role as a qualifying experience in law enforcement and said that he ran a drug treatment program.

Either Senator Schneiderman has lied to the public about his past and his qualifications to be attorney general or his campaign is lying about his work history now to cover his tracks,” said Eric Phillips, spokesman for DA Rices campaign.

Schneiderman’s campaign has had a monumental last few days–receiving endorsements from the New York Times, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Scott Stringer.

Update: The Schneiderman campaign is touting this statement from Schneiderman’s former boss.

STATEMENT FROM BERKSHIRE COUNTY SHERIFF CARMEN MASSIMIANO:

I can attest with 100 percent certainty that Eric Schneiderman was a Deputy Sheriff in Berkshire County in the late 1970s. When I took office on December 28th, 1978, Mr. Schneiderman was a Deputy Sheriff on the staff of the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, Jail and House of Correction, assigned to the Human Services Office, where he was instrumental in forming the first comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program at the jail and house of correction.”

By on August 26, 2010, 1:17 pm
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Koch Endorses Gustavo Rivera
August 26th, 2010

Former Mayor Ed Koch has come out in favor Gustavo Rivera the man who is thought to have the best chance to defeat Sen. Pedro Espada in the Democratic primary. Espada is listed on Koch’s NY Uprising site as a “hero of reform” because Espada signed Koch’s good government pledge but Koch has made his distaste for Espada pretty darn clear.

“Guys like Pedro Espada inspired the term ‘throw the bums out,’ and if there is anyone in Albany who deserves an early retirement, it’s him,” said Koch in a statement. “In order to make Albany truly work for our communities again, the reform movement needs partners like Gustavo Rivera in the legislature. I am impressed by Gustavo’s commitment to meaningful reform, to his community, and to the Bronx. He’s got the skills to get the job done and the integrity to get it done ethically, and next year his service will be needed in order to accomplish independent redistricting, responsible budgeting and ethics reform, as well as other substantive measures, and I look forward to working with him on these when he’s elected to the State Senate.”

Here is the entire release from the Rivera campaign:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on August 26, 2010, 1:00 pm
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Getting Your Say on Charter Revision
August 26th, 2010

Want to tell all registered voters what you think about the two ballot proposals approved by the Charter Revision Commission?

Here’s your chance.

The Campaign Finance Board is asking for pro and con submissions on the charter reform proposals to include in its voter guide.

To learn more, go here.

By on August 26, 2010, 12:04 pm
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Tale of Two AG Campaigns
August 25th, 2010

Assemblymember Richard Brodsky spent the morning in Brooklyn, campaigning at senior centers and bingo games. The assemblyman — and candidate for state attorney general — drove himself around the Bensonhurst area in a black Honda, his seatbelt unbuckled, the seatbelt warning signal beeping periodically, all while he made cell phone calls to arrange future campaign stops.

Over the course of the day he would storm into church basements where bingo games were taking place and, after being introduced by the local assemblymember, would announce semi-jokingly, “I am Richard Brodsky. I am a fantastic person and great politician and I am running for attorney general.” Seniors would cheer when he was introduced as the man who “fought the MTA.” At each stop he would end his speech quickly so the bingo games could resume in a speedy fashion.

Brodsky said the campaign has been humbling, because despite his many years in the legislature, he has to introduce himself to a whole new set of voters who are not familiar with his accomplishments.

The hot issue of the day was the building of the Islamic center near ground zero. A number of seniors approached Brodsky and demanded to know his stance. Brodsky told them what he has been saying since he was asked the question months ago at an ABC debate: “The mosque being built in that area is offensive to me.” Brodsky told the seniors that if elected attorney general he would defend the right of the mosque to be there, but he would rather it was built somewhere else.

“They are trying to build the thing on a graveyard,” said Murray Redlitz, who was enjoying the music and lunch at the Sephardic Multi Service Senior Center on Kings Highway. “If we had recovered all the bodies it would be different,” he said. Brodsky told Redlitz he found the mosque plan “distasteful.” Afterward, Brodsky said his stand on the matter differentiates from the pack of Democratic candidates.

While Brodsky seems to be playing more of the moderate, one of his opponents, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, has been touting his own credentials as a progressive.

Earlier this evening Schneiderman stood on the steps of City Hall and received the endorsement of Rev. Al Sharpton. Schneiderman has been directing the voters’ focus to his role in reforming the Rockefeller drug laws, his stance on illegal guns, his legislation that counts prisoners where they live instead of where they are imprisoned and his slogan: “equal, progressive and independent justice.”

On Monday, Schneiderman spoke at a forum on gun violence in Albany and talked about forming a coalition to combat the gun lobby.

On the mosque issue, Schneiderman has stood with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in supporting the developer’s right to build the mosque in the current proposed location.

By on August 25, 2010, 8:12 pm
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Sharpton for Schneiderman
August 25th, 2010

The endorsements for Eric Schneiderman continue. Just a few minutes ago, Al Sharpton announced on the City Hall steps that he “unequivocally” and “enthusiastically” backed the state senator for state attorney general.

Apparently the announcement had been slated to take place later but Sharpton is about to leave to prepare for Saturday’s Reclaim the Dream march in Washington so made his declaration today.

By on August 25, 2010, 5:27 pm
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The Graduation Gap
August 25th, 2010

Now that the city’s scores on the state’s standardized tests no longer look quite so rosy, Chancellor Joel Klein has started touting other figures — the National Assessment of Educational Performance (which he once largely shunned) and the high school graduation rate. Weve closed the achievement gap with respect to graduation rates, Klein told Brian Lehrer last month.

A new report by the Schott Foundation, though, might give Klein some pause. The study looks particularly at the graduation rate for black males and finds, that in New York City, only 28 percent graduated with Regents or advanced Regents diplomas in 2007/8. The gap between black and white young men in New York City is less than it is nationally but only, the report says, because of the “low graduation rate of white male students.”

On the National Assessment of Educational Progress for reading, black fourth grade boys fare better in New York City than in the nation as a whole and in eight grade they are about on a par. The New York fourth graders also outperform the national average for math.

But by eight grade, New York black males have fallen behind the national level in math. More than half — 53 percent — of the students score below basic in math, leading one to wonder how they will fare with the math Regents tests in high school.

In all instances, the national and city achievement gap persists. In the nation as a whole, for example, 78 percent of white males graduated from high school in 2007-8; for black males, it was 47 percent. In the city, half of white males got Regents or advanced Regents diplomas that year, compared to 28 percent of black male students.

To look at the graduation gap another way, as this table on Gotham Schools does, about 53 percent of black and Asians — male and female — graduated in 2009, compared to slightly over three quarters of whites and Asians, for a gap of 22.5 percent.

By on August 25, 2010, 4:06 pm
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Rodriguez Loses Chairmanship (Update)
August 25th, 2010

Newly minted Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez will be officially stripped of his chairmanship of the Higher Education Committee this afternoon after the council’s Standards and Ethics Committee found he had poked a staff member during an argument over the budget.

rodriguez

Rodriguez did not appear at the final hearing on the matter this afternoon, but he sent a letter accepting the punishment, a council spokesperson said. Earlier this month, Rodriguez asserted his innocence, and said he would lobby other members to vote the ethics committee’s recommendation down.

Daily Politics reports the councilmember just wants to put the matter to rest.

Rodriguez will be allowed to resume his chairmanship once he apologizes to the staff member and completes an employee relations program.

The letter is on its way, and we will be posting it shortly.

UPDATE — Here it is:

Rodriguez Letter

By on August 25, 2010, 1:27 pm
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More on Winning the 'Race'
August 24th, 2010

It’s official.

New York is among nine states and the District of Columbia that won funding in the second round of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition, the department has announced.

Although the budget is not yet final, New York state will get about $700 million. That money, though, cannot go to reverse budget cuts but instead will pay to implement some 27 initiatives set forth in the state’s plan, such as helping troubled schools and developing a statewide curriculum. For better or worse, the money will go to expand or extend some programs adopted by the city — including some that have been controversial, such as the Leadership Academy for principals and the ARIS data system,

The city anticipates that it will get $250 million to $300 million.

After last month’s dismal news about inflated test scores and cavernous achievement gaps, politicians raced to hail this success — and claim credit for it.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, issued a statement saying the award is “a testament to what weve accomplished in our city schools over the last eight years.”

By on August 24, 2010, 4:20 pm
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Schneiderman's Surge?
August 24th, 2010

Sen. Eric Schneiderman was in Albany last night to take part in a discussion on gun violence. Schneiderman discussed a number of social justice issues with the crowd that gathered at the main branch of the Albany Public Library. Schneiderman was not his normal hyperactive self. He seemed a bit tired–ready for a Red Bull.

But Schneiderman’s campaign for Attorney General received a gigantic shot in the arm on Friday when the New York Times endorsed him.

“People who I haven’t spoken to in the last six months found my number again,” Schneiderman joked last night, before noting that he was proud of the endorsement and felt it would be followed by a lot more support.

Today the Citizens Union (whose sister organization publishes Gotham Gazette) endorsed Schneiderman, as did the United Federation of Teachers.

Here are the releases from Citizens Union:

CITIZENS UNION
BACKS STATE SENATOR ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN
IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL

Long-time Advocacy for Reform and Independent Political Experience Make Schneiderman the Best Choice in a Talented Pool of Candidates

Citizens Union today announced its support for Eric Schneiderman by “preferring” him over the four other strong and appealing candidates in the September 14th Democratic party primary for the Office of New York State Attorney General. Schneiderman, a state senator representing parts of Washington Heights and Riverdale in Manhattan and the Bronx, is an independent reform leader in state government who has the most suitable experience and presents the most compelling vision for how he would serve as attorney general.

“Eric Schneiderman has been a consistent and independent force for change in state government, regardless of whether he was in the minority or majority party in the State Senate. A champion for a more transparent and accountable government that treats all New Yorkers with dignity and respect, Senator Schneiderman has not just talked about reform these past few years, but forcefully – and at times successfully – challenged the status quo, even when there were political risks,” said Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey. “Schneiderman exercises independence, is politically experienced, and possesses integrity. His strong command of the issues and ability to seize opportunities in seeking change make him the most qualified of the five Democrats running for attorney general,” concluded Dadey.

Citizens Union is impressed with Schneiderman’s experience as a state legislator in which he has built coalitions and navigated the legislative process. That experience will help him effectively exercise the authority of the office of Attorney General to further advance a needed agenda of change and reform in Albany. He was the first among the candidates to raise with Citizens Union the importance of pushing the current governor to grant original jurisdiction to the attorney general to investigate and prosecute political corruption cases, a prerequisite for creating a better ethical climate in Albany.

Citizens Union views favorably Schneidermans plans to place a public integrity officer in each regional office of the attorney general to root out local wrongdoing, which seemed the most workable of other proposals suggested. His proposals to more aggressively use the False Claims Act, which Schneiderman strengthened in the legislature this past session, and engage whistleblowers to hold those accountable who defraud state or local governments also held appeal for Citizens Union. Schneiderman intends to push many reforms Citizens Union advocated for in the legislature through the attorney general’s bully pulpit and the office’s ability to introduce program bills, including public financing of campaigns and giving the attorney general the ability to permanently enforce election and campaign finance law.

“Whether challenging legislative leaders to achieve the most significant reforms to empower rank-and-file legislators or bringing together members from both sides of the aisle to ensure all senators exercise ethical conduct that sets a high standard, Eric Schneiderman has been one of those who has led the way in battling the dysfunction that plagues Albany,” said Peter Sherwin, Chair of Citizens Union’s Board of Directors. “He possesses the commitment and conviction to fight public corruption and continue advocating for reform on a larger stage and with the greater authority that comes with the Office of Attorney General.”

The preference of Citizens Union for Schneiderman in the primary was decided by a lengthy evaluation, full discussion and vote of the Board of Directors following interviews of all candidates by a team comprised of board members and members of Citizens Union’s Local Candidates Committee. The evaluation included a thorough review of a broad ranging questionnaire completed by the candidates, and an assessment taken after all five participated in the candidates debate held by Citizens Union last month.

John Horan, Chair of the Citizens Union Local Candidates Committee said, “Citizens Union was impressed with all the candidates in the race, each of whom brought their own unique skills and strengths. The committee felt that any one of them would serve the state well, and the challenge became choosing the candidate whose combination of skills and experience would best fit the office and the serve the people of New York. We believe we do that in supporting Schneiderman.”

The evaluation committee was especially stirred by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s creative and innovative vision for the office, and his ability to foresee unique ways in which to leverage the power of the office to maximize change. Brodsky’s record of enacting reform of seemingly impenetrable institutions like the state’s many byzantine public authorities and tackling complex processes like energy pricing made Citizens Union consider supporting his candidacy very seriously. He is one of the strongest candidates among an exceptional group, but Citizens Union feels his experience in building coalitions and advocating for our broader reform agenda is exceeded by Senator Eric Schneiderman. Should he not win election as attorney general, Albany will be all the poorer for not having Brodsky in the legislature, where he is a natural talent and effective reformer.

Eric Dinallo showed impressive knowledge of the inner workings of the Office of Attorney General, having creatively used the Martin Act while serving as Assistant Attorney General under Eliot Spitzer, that would serve him and the state well. His efforts to obtain original jurisdiction in public corruption cases for the office from the governor has been second to none. With a track record in leading an agency as Superintendent of Insurance during a time of great financial tumult when a smart mind and steady hand were needed, Dinallo also possesses significant management skills that would also serve him well should he win.

Sean Coffey is a newcomer to running for office, but nonetheless is a dynamic and focused candidate. Citizens Union is pleased with the way he has embraced the reform agenda and prioritized it in his campaign, and by extension made it more visible in the public debate. His service to the country, work as a trial lawyer, and grasp of the issues suggest he could be a strong attorney general. Citizens Union’s decision not to prefer Coffey was due in part to our concern over the disconnect created by him and his firm’s involvement in making legal political contributions to comptroller candidates across the country and in New York – some of whom later awarded state contracts to his firm – and his pledge to reduce the influence of money in politics in Albany.

Kathleen Rice, the district attorney for Nassau County who has implemented innovative programs, impressed the committee with her ability to connect her experience and accomplishments to how she would be a successful attorney general. Rice also gave a very thorough account of what the Office of Attorney General would look like under her leadership. Citizens Union saw firsthand how her clarity and sense of purpose has helped her become a successful prosecutor. Citizens Union, however, found it difficult as a good government group to back her given her absence from voting throughout much of her adult life. Her answer to why she did not vote for eighteen years did not dissuade us of our belief that a candidate for statewide office should be setting a strong example for consistent civic responsibility. We also felt there are other candidates in the race who expressed a stronger commitment to seek and obtain from the governor the power to handle public corruption.

Citizens Union’s preference is only for the Democratic Party primary election. It will re-examine the race when the Democratic nominee is selected by the voters and faces off against Dan Donovan, District Attorney for Staten Island and Republican nominee for attorney general, making a final decision regarding whom to endorse in the General Election in mid-October.

Here is the release from Schneiderman’s office regarding the endorsement by the UFT:

UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS ENDORSES
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL

Demonstrating Growing Momentum, 200,000-Strong Union Becomes the Latest In A Slew of Recent Endorsements for Eric Schneiderman

NEW YORK CITY – In the wake of endorsements from the New York Times and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) today endorsed Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General, demonstrating the growing momentum propelling the campaign. With 200,000 members, the UFT becomes the latest in a growing list of over 100 progressive leaders, labor unions and grassroots organizations that are supporting Schneiderman for Attorney General.

“We need an Attorney General who will be an advocate for equality and justice for all New Yorkers,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Eric Schneiderman is that advocate. Eric has spent his entire career fighting for everyday New Yorkers, showing an unparalleled commitment to working people, progressive justice and public education. He’s the right choice for teachers, and the right choice for New York.”

“I am honored to be endorsed by New York’s teachers,” said Eric Schneiderman. “I will have no greater priority as Attorney General than to fight every single day for equality and justice for all New Yorkers. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been proud of the diverse coalition of progressive leaders and advocates that has come forward to support my campaign. Together, we will build a safer, stronger and more prosperous state.”

The UFT represents approximately 200,000 people, 87,000 teachers and 19,000 classroom paraprofessionals, along with school secretaries, attendance teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, education evaluators, nurses, laboratory technicians, adult education teachers, 28,000 family day care providers and 53,000 retired members.

With widespread support from a broad and diverse coalition of progressive New Yorkers and the unanimous endorsement of the state’s largest labor union, 1199/SEIU United Healthcare East, the largest private-sector union, 32BJ, NARAL Pro-Choice New York and Citizen Action, momentum is growing for Schneiderman’s campaign to be the state’s next Attorney General.

To date, Schneiderman has earned the endorsement of over 100 progressive leaders, including U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke, Jerry Nadler and Jose Serrano and a host of prominent community activists, and grassroots organizations.

By on August 24, 2010, 3:47 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Ballot Proposal Language Completed
August 24th, 2010

This just in from the city Charter Revision Commission.

Here are the exact questions that will appear on the ballot this fall. All of the proposals have been consolidated into two questions — which has been the subject of some controversy.

Enjoy!

City Question 1. Term Limits: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:
Reduce from three to two the maximum number of consecutive full terms that can be served by elected city officials; and
Make this change in term limits applicable only to those city officials who were first elected at or after the 2010 general election; and
Prohibit the City Council from altering the term limits of elected city officials then serving in office.
Shall this proposal be adopted?

City Question 2. Elections and Government Administration: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:
Disclosure of Independent Campaign Spending: Require public disclosure of expenditures made by entities and individuals independent from candidates to influence the outcome of a city election or referendum;
Ballot Access: Generally reduce the number of petition signatures needed by candidates for city elective office to appear on a ballot;
Voter Assistance and Campaign Finance Board: Merge voter assistance functions, including a reconstituted Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, into the Campaign Finance Board, and change when Campaign Finance Board member terms begin;
Conflicts of Interest Law: Require all public servants to receive conflicts of interest training, raise the maximum fine for a public servant who violates the Citys conflicts of interest law, and allow the City to recover any benefits obtained from such violations;
City Administrative Tribunals: Authorize the Mayor to direct the merger of administrative tribunals and adjudications into the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and permit the Department of Consumer Affairs to adjudicate all violations issued by that department;
City Reporting Requirements and Advisory Bodies: Create a commission to review requirements for reports and advisory bodies and waive the requirements, subject to City Council review, where the commission finds they are not of continuing value; and
Map for Facility Siting: Include in the Citys facilities siting map those transportation and waste management facilities operated by or for governmental entities, or by private entities that provide comparable services.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

By on August 24, 2010, 1:13 pm
In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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At the Top
August 24th, 2010

It won’t be official until noon but the Daily News is reporting that New York State is a winner in the competition for federal Race to the Top education funds. This means the state — and city — will get some share of $4 billion in federal funds.

Sen. Charles Schumer said the award reflects the “strong strides” the state’s schools have made toward excellence.

The state had stumbled in the first round of funding but then made changes in its education law — raising the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, for one — and in its proposal, which originally asked for funds for furniture.

By on August 24, 2010, 11:30 am
In category: Education | Comments Off on At the Top

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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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