photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York
Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday December 18
TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:
1. Home-Stat: On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio unveiled a major new plan to track and combat street homelessness. The new program, called Home-Stat, will involve tracking the street homeless population in real time, canvassing Manhattan streets daily, expansion of a police unit dedicated to homelessness, and individualized case management for each person living on the streets.
2. 421-A Negotiations Reach Impasse: Discussions between labor leaders and real estate developers to extend the controversial 421-a tax abatement program meant to encourage affordable housing are at an impasse, with sources characterizing the discussions as “dead.” In June, State lawmakers decided to leave the future of the expiring program contingent upon an agreement between labor and business, yet there has been no movement in the negotiations for some time. [Read: Negotiations to Extend Important Affordable Housing Tax Break Said to Reach Impasse]
3. City Homelessness Chief Steps Down: Gilbert Taylor, New York City's top official in charge of homeless services, resigned on Tuesday following which Mayor de Blasio announced a comprehensive review of all homeless services agencies and programs. He is the second official overseeing homelessness programming to leave this year, after Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, who oversaw homelessness and health care, resigned this summer. HRA Commissioner Steven Banks is currently running HRA and DHS while working with First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris.
4. Cuomo FOIL Saga: Following the conviction of former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam last Friday, Governor Cuomo called for the state legislature to push ahead on ethics reform. But just hours later, he vetoed two bills which would have sped up Freedom of Information Law responses from the Executive branch and required the state to pay court costs incurred by FOIL users whose requests a judge finds have been improperly denied. After pressure from good government groups, the governor did quickly issue an executive order on Saturday, then held a FOIL meeting with those groups on Wednesday.[Read: Vetoing FOIL Bills, Cuomo Points Finger at Legislature, Issues Executive Order & Cuomo's FOIL Order Has More Limited Scope Than Vetoed Bills]
5. Ethics After Skelos, Silver: The convictions of two legislative leaders on federal corruption charges within a span of 13 days have spurred renewed calls for public ethics reforms. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said on Monday the convictions should result in widespread reforms, and that his office still has “lots of investigations open.” A new Siena poll finds a strong majority of New Yorkers want ethics laws passed to clean up corruption in the state government. [Read: Assemblymember Blake Decides Against New Consulting Job & Skelos Conviction Greeted With Calls for Immediate Action on Reform]
THIS WEEK'S NUMBERS:
- 3 troubled public schools in Brooklyn will be closed by the city at the end of the school year, the New York Times reports.
- 92% of city teachers earned high marks in the newest round of evaluations, Chalkbeat reports.
- $2.4 billion increase in State school aid requested by the state Board of Regents, the Times Union reports.
- $20,200 in campaign contributions to Mayor de Blasio from Glenwood Management, a real-estate firm involved in the corruption scandals involving two disgraced Albany legislative leaders, will be returned, the New York Post reports.
THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:
It was a good week for New York’s state judges, as a panel tasked with examining compensation levels approved a set of recommended pay raises that will boost their salaries for the first time in years.
It was a bad week for NYCHA leaders, as a series of revelations regarding the housing authority’s struggles were revealed, including a report showing that NYCHA had failed to screen those convicted of violent crimes, that there is at least one sex offender in one out of every four developments, a report from Comptroller Scott Stringer alleging that another natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy could leave nearly half a million people living in NYCHA developments at “extreme risk,” and a federal judge agreeing to appoint a special monitor to ensure that NYCHA finally deals with the toxic mold problem in its aging apartments.
- Around this time 75 years ago, on December 14, 1940, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia marked the opening of the Sixth Avenue subway during a ceremony at the 34th street station. The new line included F, B, and D trains and ran from West 4th Street to 50th Street.
- Around this time 144 years ago, on December 15, 1871, political boss William Tweed was indicted on more than 100 counts of fraud and misdemeanor charges for pocketing millions in taxpayer money.
- Around this time 13 years ago, on December 16, 2002, a major transit strike was avoided after the Transport Workers Union and the MTA spent days negotiating to reach a deal to keep the city’s transit system running.
- Around this time 115 years ago, on December 17, 1900, the immigration processing center on Ellis Island opened. In the decades that followed, millions of new Americans were processed at the center before beginning their new lives in America.
GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:
Assembly Reform Group Will Miss Own Deadline, by David King
Reforms to City Campaign Finance System Advance Ahead of 2017 Election Cycle, by Samar Khurshid
Cuomo's FOIL Order Has More Limited Scope Than Vetoed Bills, by David King
A Plan for More Senior Affordable Housing, by Bobbie Sackman (opinion)
New York Leads on Climate Action, by Heather Leibowitz (opinion)
MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:
On Friday, Mayor de Blasio appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to talk about the city's new initiative for combating homelessness, Home-Stat: Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams; and his first two years in office in sum.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show to discuss his office’s work prosecuting former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Skelos’ son and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In State of Politics, Zack Fink details former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' history of supporting, then reneging support for campaign finance reform, and discusses the potential for reforms in the upcoming legislative session.
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by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max