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The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 18-22


week in review bus readers

photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday January 22

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: City Council Members and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, via @ydanis; City Council Member Donovan Richards, Gov. Cuomo, Bronx BP Diaz Jr., via @drichards13

cms schneiderman peace

richards diaz jr cuomo rebny

TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:
1. $82 Billion Budget: On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio unveiled his $82.1 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1. De Blasio didn’t outline any major new initiatives, but rather stressed fiscal responsibility, building reserves, and warned of possible trouble ahead, citing concerns over the stock market and the possibility of losing state aid. The budget includes over $740 million in new agency spending, mostly for programs de Blasio previously announced, like plans to address the homelessness crisis. [Read: De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget & What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins]

2. 421-A: Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio seem to have found something they agree upon after stakeholders failed to reach a deal necessary to renew the 421-a tax abatement program, which incentivizes affordable housing development. After 421-a expired last Friday, Mayor de Blasio said he is “deeply disappointed” and intends to push the issue in Albany this session. Cuomo has also expressed disappointment over the expiration and agrees that it was critical to the city’s affordable housing plan, though many blame Cuomo for its end. [Read: De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor]

3. Grocery Worker Retention Act: On Tuesday, the City Council passed the Grocery Worker Retention Act, which requires new owners of large grocery stores to retain the workforce that existed under the store’s previous ownership for 90 days. The bill, which passed 40-7, sparked a rare level of dissent on the City Council floor, with several Council members explaining their opposition to the bill during the vote. [Read: Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent]

4. Horse-Carriage Controversy: On Sunday, the Mayor and the City Council Speaker announced an agreement with Central Park horse-carriage drivers to reduce the number of horses and restrict them to Central Park, where they will eventually be housed in stables created by the city. Yet the plan has been met with widespread criticism, with pedicab drivers (whose area of operation would be restricted under the deal) protesting outside City Hall, carriage drivers vowing to fight the plan, and park advocates criticizing the use of park land to build stables for a private industry. The City Council held a lengthy and contentious hearing on the new plan on Friday, with even the carriage drivers now saying they are unhappy with the deal as written - its future is unclear.

5. Cuomo’s Ethics Package: In Albany on Tuesday, leaders from three good government groups (Citizens Union, New York Public Interest Research Group, and Common Cause) gave their evaluation of ethics proposals Governor Cuomo included in his State of the State and budget address last week. They called for follow through and pushed the governor to add budget transparency to the list. [Read: Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package]

THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS:
$82.1 billion preliminary budget unveiled by Mayor de Blasio on Thursday, Gotham Gazette reports.

231 people killed in traffic crashes in 2015, down from 257 in 2014, DNAinfo reports.

95 horses will remain in Central Park under the much-debated deal between the city and the carriage-drivers union, down from about 220, the New York Times reports.

$176 million in federal funding will be given to New York City to build a new flood protection system around lower Manhattan, the New York Times reports.

$79,223 yearly pension is still being collected by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, despite being convicted on federal corruption charges last November, the state comptroller's office confirmed Wednesday.

$5 million has been given to Governor Cuomo from contributors over the past six months, all while he continues to call for closing the “LLC loophole,” the Times Union reports.

THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:
It was a good week for Westchester County district attorney Janet DiFiore, who was unanimously confirmed as the new chief judge of the state Court of Appeals this week.

It was a bad week for Success Academy Charter Schools leader Eva Moskowitz, as the parents of 13 children have filed a lawsuit against the city’s largest charter school network, claiming Success Academy discriminated against students with disabilities and pushed some students out of the schools. it is the 22nd lawsuit filed against Success Academies, Moskowitz said Friday morning during a speech.

THE FLASH:
Around this time 232 years ago, on January 21, 1784, the state legislature met for the first time at City Hall. New York City remained the state capital until 1796, when Albany was chosen as the new capital.

Around this time 108 years ago, on January 21, 1908, New York City passed the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public places. One woman spent a day in jail for breaking the law after refusing to pay the fine. Two weeks later, Mayor George McClellan Jr. vetoed the measure.

GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK

'Dangerousness' Aspect of Cuomo's Bail Plan Troubles Reformers, by David Howard King

De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget, by Ben Max

Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform, by David Howard King

De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor, by Ben Max

Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days, by Meg O’Connor

Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent, by Ben Max

Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package, by David Howard King

What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins, by Samar Khurshid

Overdue DOE Capital Plan To Be Released, by Samar Khurshid

Cuomo’s Preparatory Commission Should Prioritize Fixing ConCon Process, by J.H. Snider (opinion)

New York's Education Policy in Historic Disarray, by Bruce W. Deartsyne (opinion)

The Wisdom of Primaries, by Theodore Hamm (opinion)

DOE Language Access Expansion Builds Bridges to City Families, by Steven Choi (opinion)

Move Martin Luther King Day to November, by John Martin (opinion)

Stand Against Racism, Protect Asian-American Women's Health, by Margaret Chin and Miriam Yeung (opinion)

MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:
On the anniversary of Citizens United, Senator Liz Krueger and Anthony Cresswell, an organizer with the New York for Democracy Coalition, appeared on the Capitol Pressroom on WCNY to make the case for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and related cases.

Continuing the conversation on the rising number of reported rapes in New York City and what the city can do to prevent sexual assault, Kathleen Basile of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to discuss the “buddy system” and other, more effective methods of assault prevention.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and City Budget Director Dean Fuleihan spoke about Mayor de Blasio’s $82.1 billion budget proposal with Errol Louis on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

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NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here. And have a great weekend!

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by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max



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