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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, February 29

New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Are you ready for some budget crunching? If not, get ready - the City Council starts its preliminary budget hearings on Tuesday, at which Council committees will examine Mayor Bill de Blasio's $82 billion spending plan in general, then department by department.

Meanwhile, state budget negotiations continue in Albany - or maybe we should say start, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that he and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate majorities have yet to meet to discuss his spending plan. Still, the Legislature has held a series of budget hearings in the capital. And on Monday, good government group Citizens Union will spotlight "elements of the budget that are inscrutable, decided behind closed doors by a handful of political leaders, and beyond the reach of the public" through its new "spending in the shadows" report. The report will also include recommendations for making the budget and budget process more transparent.

For his part, Cuomo has been touring the state pushing his plans to raise the minimum wage and enact paid family leave. Much less has been said about ethics reform, in part because Senate Republicans, who control that chamber, have indicated they don't see a need for more reform to limit legislators' outside income, close the LLC loophole, or take other measures to prevent corruption. There is still talk about moving on pension forfeiture so that lawmakers convicted of corruption are not able to collect a pension - both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate President Dean Skelos, each convicted on federal corruption charges - has filed for a pension and will receive it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has said his conference is looking at a variety of things related to ethics. Assembly Democrats have been slowly moving towards announcing possible reforms of the workings of their chamber. These reform proposals have more to do with democraticizing the workings of the Assembly and making its business more transparent - a group Heastie tasked with coming up with recommendations has shared its ideas with the larger conference. A public look at this list is due any week now.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.***

The run of the week in detail:

The state Assembly will not be in session Monday, the previously scheduled session was canceled so that Assembly members can attend funeral services for Assembly Member Barbara Clark, who passed away Feb. 22. The state Senate is in session on Monday in Albany.

On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will attend the viewing of Assembly Member Barbara Clark. Then, at 1:45 p.m., de Blasio and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez will host a press conference in Washington Heights on tenant protection. At 7 p.m. de Blasio will host a town hall meeting in Bayside, Queens.

At 10 a.m. Monday via video conference, Citizens Union will release its latest “spending in the shadows report” analyzing “opaque funds in the state budget” and calling for greater transparency.

At the City Council on Monday:

  • 10 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Governmental Operations to consider several bills related to elections and voting.
  • 10 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Transportation to consider several bills related to the taxi industry.
  • 11 a.m. oversight hearing of the Committee on Housing and Buildings on “The Mitchell-Lama Program.” The hearing is off-site, at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
  • 11 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Land Use.
  • 1 p.m. meeting of the Committees on Civil Rights and Women’s Issues to consider “Ensuring fairness in physical testing.” The bill being considered “would require the Equal Employment Practices Commission to specifically audit and evaluate any physical testing utilized by any city agency, either for hiring or promotional purposes. The Commission would be permitted to use outside resources to complete its audits and evaluations.”
  • 1 p.m. meeting of the Committee on Consumer Affairs on a bill “Establishing protections for freelance workers.”
  • 2 p.m. oversight hearing of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services “Examining Speedy Trial in New York City Criminal Courts.”

Ahead of the 1 p.m. Consumer Affairs committee hearing, there will be a noon rally outside City Hall in support of the freelancer-protection bill: “gig workers rally behind bill to stop NYC's nonpayment epidemic, pass "Freelance Isn't Free" Act,: including “representatives of NYC's 1.3 million freelancers, including wage theft victims,” the Freelancers Union, Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin and Rafael Espinal; unions including the United Federation of Teachers and SEIU 32BJ, and other advocates.

On Monday at noon in Tarrytown, "There will be a special business meeting of the New York State Democratic Committee tomorrow to officially nominate U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer for U.S. Senate. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will deliver remarks." City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will also attend and deliver remarks.

At 1 p.m. Monday, “City Council Member Mark Levine will join New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery on a tour of the pre-k program at PS 153 in West Harlem. The visit will highlight the upcoming March 4 deadline to enroll kids born in 2012 in a pre-k program beginning in the fall of 2016.”

At 2 p.m. on Monday, “Public Advocate James will release the findings of an investigation her office has conducted on programs within the City’s Housing and Preservation Development (HPD).” The release will take place at 1344 St. Marks Avenue in Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m. Monday, the City Council will host a Lunar New Year celebration. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will give remarks.

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Tuesday in Albany.

Preliminary budget hearings begin Tuesday at the City Council. At 10 a.m., the Council Committee on Finance will kick things off. Testifying will be: The Office of Management and Budget (Capital Budget, Expense Budget, Revenue Budget); The Department of Finance; The Department of Design and Construction; Comptroller Scott Stringer; The Independent Budget Office; and members of the public. [Read: City Council to Begin Public Examination of Mayor's Budget]

On Tuesday at 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is hosting a competition to help promote the plastic bag bill in the City Council. The event is a “best elevator pitch” competition, where contestants will make their brief cases for the bill aiming to limit the use of carryout bags at city stores. City Council Member Brad Lander, a lead sponsor of the bill, will be on the panel of judges, along with environmental advocates. BP Brewer will give opening remarks.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will lead a town hall for school district 31, on Staten Island.

On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., “Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars, with Samuel I. Schwartz, a.k.a. “Gridlock Sam,” former NYC Traffic Commissioner and one of the leading transportation experts in the United States today.”

Both houses of the state Legislature are in session on Wednesday in Albany.

On Wednesday at the City Council, two preliminary budget hearings:

  • 10 a.m., transportation.
  • 2 p.m., higher education.

On Thursday at the City Council, two preliminary budget hearings:

  • 10 a.m., housing and buildings.
  • 10 a.m., parks and recreation.

On Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in Albany, the Assembly Standing Committee on Libraries and Education Technology will hold a hearing on “The Use of 21st Century Technology in Libraries.”

Friday and the weekend
On Wednesday at the City Council, one preliminary budget hearing: at 10 a.m., the Committee on Aging with the subcommittee on Senior Centers.

On Friday at 5 p.m. at NYU, “Storytelling with Open Data,” featuring Ben Wellington of I Quant NY and the Pratt Institute and Meredith Broussard of NYU School of Journalism.

On Friday at 6 p.m., the Historic Districts Council will host its 22nd Annual Preservation Conference at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will deliver the keynote address and share her "insight on current issues and trends in land use planning and policy."

On Saturday at 9 a.m., The NYC School of Data will host a civic technology and open data conference. The conference aims to enrich lives and communities through technology, data, and design, as well as improve New York City’s data ecosystem.

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Leanna Carroll and Ben Max

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