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City Council

  • AARP Emerges as Key De Blasio Ally

    aarp ny

    AARP members pack City Council chambers (photo via @aarpny)


    There are about 800,000 AARP members in New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio has been arm-in-arm with them of late. The organization has come out in strong support of key pieces of de Blasio's affordable housing agenda and his plan to create a city-run retirement savings program for private sector workers.

    De Blasio has sought and embraced the support, frequently engaging with AARP members and regularly citing AARP's endorsement as validation for his housing plan, specifically controversial changes to the city's zoning

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  • The City Council's Complicated Budget Math

    MMV and colleagues housing hearing

    Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)


    Last week, the City Council’s finance committee voted to increase the Council’s operating budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, by $3.1 million, bringing it to a total of $64 million, a five percent increase over last year’s ...

  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 21

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight

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  • Report Propels Debate Over City's Welfare Reforms

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    CM Levin, left, & HRA Commissioner Banks (photo: William Alatriste)


    A new report on the city's reengineered public assistance system concluded, among other findings, that it's too soon to tell whether the wide-ranging reforms put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks are working. The updated analysis from the city's Independent Budget Office (IBO) not only leaves unanswered whether the Banks/de Blasio reforms are working, but how exactly to judge a system now geared towards long-term change rather than short-term

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  • City Criticized for Again Lowballing Elections Budget

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    When the city's new fiscal year begins in July, the Board of Elections will be readying to administer two elections before the close of the 2016 calendar year: September primaries and the November general, which will include the presidential contest. This, after running elections in April and June.

    To fulfill its duties and ensure smooth electoral processes, the BOE will need to hire and train thousands of poll workers, hold state-mandated voter registration drives and, given unforeseen circumstances,

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  • Sides Near Deal on Major Zoning Changes Aimed at Creating Affordable Housing

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    De Blasio rallies for his housing plans (photo: Demetrius Freeman, Mayor's Office)


    After months of public discussion and weeks of private negotiation, the City Council is on the verge of passing, with tweaks, two sweeping changes to the city's land use rules that are key to Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan.

    Sources familiar with negotiations say that some details are still being worked through, but that the major tenets of the controversial changes to city zoning text are all but set. A deal may be announced as early as Monday

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 14

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Mayor Bill de Blasio has reason to smile as this week begins. Through negotiations with the City Council and outside critics, de Blasio appears to have gotten just about everyone on board with his citywide zoning changes and they are all-but-certain to be passed through the City Council over the next two weeks - first through committee this week, then the full Council on March 22. The City Planning Commission has to

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  • City Council ‘Deletes’ One Committee, But No Further Reforms Planned

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    A scene at the City Council (photo: William Alatriste)


    At one of the shortest City Council hearings ever held, Council members from the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections approved on Wednesday morning a resolution to “delete” the Committee on Community Development.

    The decision to eliminate one committee relates to questions regarding the number of Council committees, how many committees each member sits on, and member attendance at committee hearings. Regularly, by the time members of the public testify at City Council

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  • Bill Requires More Vision Zero Data

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    Council Member Van Bramer at a Vision Zero event (DOT)


    A bill set to be introduced before the City Council on Wednesday seeks to codify the Department of Transportation’s data tracking under Vision Zero, the city’s program aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries.

    Two City Council members who have been integrally involved in the city’s rollout of Vision Zero, Jimmy Van Bramer and Ydanis Rodriguez, will introduce legislation to mandate DOT’s Vision Zero View portal,

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  • Bill Mandates Board of Elections Emergency Plan

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    City Council Member Mark Treyger, left (photo: William Alatriste) 


    New York City is no stranger to calamity, be it natural or man-made, and many city agencies have emergency response plans for varying levels of crisis. On Wednesday, City Council Member Mark Treyger will introduce a bill to ensure that the Board of Elections, which administers voting in the city, joins these agencies in formulating its own disaster-preparedness procedures for conducting the polls.

    "We have to make sure that democracy perseveres through a crisis," Treyger told

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  • Underfunded Conflicts of Interest Board Struggles to Meet Mandates

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    City Council Member Alan Maisel at Tuesday's hearing (photo: William Alatriste)


    The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board is struggling to retain staff due to the the agency’s inability to adequately compensate employees, according to Alex Kipp, director of the training and education unit. Kipp and other representatives of the COIB testified Tuesday at a City Council budget hearing, explaining their budget constraints as they work to ensure that a growing city workforce acts ethically.

  • Addressing NYC's School Overcrowding Crisis

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    Protesting school overcrowding in Queens


    All parents in New York City deserve the peace of mind that their children will be able to attend a school where they can thrive and grow. Unfortunately, following years of neglect from the Bloomberg administration, our city's school system is plagued by school overcrowding and excessive class sizes, where hundreds of thousands of our children simply don't have adequate space to learn.

    With education a top priority for the city, it's critical that our leaders take strong action to address the chronic underfunding of our city's school

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  • City Council Raises Provoke Questions About Staff Pay

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    Members of the City Council (photo: William Alatriste) 


    As New York City Council members voted on a package of legislation that increased their salaries from $112,500 to $148,500, aides to two Council members stood silently in the balcony of the Council chambers, wearing white t-shirts that read, “Paycheck to Paycheck, Pay Raises for All.”

    The $36,000 salary bump for Council members is about the same amount of money that many of their staff members make in a year. These are aides filling roles such as

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  • At First Council Budget Hearing, Concerns Over City Savings and State Cuts

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    CM Ferreras-Copeland & Dean Fuleihan of OMB (photo via Ferreras-Copeland's office) 


    Proposed cuts in state funding to New York City loomed large over the first of many City Council budget hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82 billion preliminary budget. At Tuesday’s hearing, the Council’s Committee on Finance heard testimony from several de Blasio administration officials, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and independent budget watchdogs.

    Throughout

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  • Supporters Launch Renewed Push to Pass Plastic Bag Bill by Earth Day

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    Council Member Lander & young people against plastic bags (photo: William Alatriste)


    “Last year, we said bag fees by Earth Day,” Council Member Brad Lander told Gotham Gazette, shortly before an unrelated committee hearing at City Hall. “I’m saying it again. Bag fees by Earth Day.”

    Even a year later, Lander is confident that the bill he is co-sponsoring with Council Member Margaret Chin to impose fees on single-use plastic and paper bags at grocery stores and bodegas will pass

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  • City Council to Begin Public Examination of Mayor's Budget

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    Mayor de Blasio briefs Council members on his FY17 budget (William Alatriste)


    On Tuesday, the City Council will hold the first of many preliminary budget hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial fiscal year 2017 spending plan, part of a months-long negotiation process that will end in June when the City Council and the Mayor must agree upon a budget for fiscal year 2017.

    First in general terms, then agency by agency, the Council will ask de Blasio

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  • A Closer Look at De Blasio's Neighborhood Rezoning Plans

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    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)


    See interactive map below

    Mayor de Blasio's housing plan is moving forward on a few levels. There are the citywide zoning proposals (Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability) being considered by the City Council in February and March. If passed, these will change the zoning rules for the entire city, including a first-time requirement that whenever a developer receives an upzoning for a

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  • Shut Down the Criminal Court

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    City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito should be commended for using her State of the City address, titled "More Justice," to call for criminal justice reform. She rightly observes that "we need more justice in the justice system" and ticked off some specific goals, including reducing the population at Rikers Island, creating civil procedures for minor violations, and improving the warrant process. However, the speaker

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  • Richards Puts Communities of Color at Forefront of Housing Debate

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    City Council Member Donovan Richards (photo: William Alatriste)


    "Why am I here?" City Council Member Donovan Richards asked rhetorically, speaking with energy beyond what you would expect from someone in the midst of chairing 20 hours of land use policy hearings over two days. The question wasn't Richards rethinking his career path or delusion brought on by testimony after testimony about zoning code, it was a way of punctuating his explanation that of course he had to put communities of color at the forefront of discussions about affordable housing in New York

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  • Voters to Fill Vacant Bronx Council Seat in Special Election

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    Rafael Salamanca meets voters before Tuesday's election (via @JohnJrBX)


    Residents of District 17 in the Bronx will vote for a new City Council Member on Tuesday in a special election to fill the vacancy left by former Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who resigned and the end of last year. As with all special elections for the City Council not held on regularly scheduled election days, it is a nonpartisan contest, meaning no candidate will appear on the major party ballot lines. Instead,

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  • Safe and Healthy Housing for All New Yorkers

    housing march parade

    (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    I just can't take the mice and the mold anymore.

    For years, I have lived in a Staten Island apartment in desperate need of repair. I live there with my daughter, and we've constantly struggled to get our landlord to fix the problems that make our home an unhealthy place to live.

    Over the past six years, we've frequently gone without heat and hot water, faced endless mold growing in our cabinets, and suffered rodent infestations that simply won't go away.

    We've asked the

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, February 22

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will see a new member of the New York City Council elected; further debate over the de Blasio administration's housing plans; a return to Albany for state legislators in the midst of budget season; a number of interesting conferences and panel events; and much more.

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  • De Blasio to Sign Higher Raises for Council Than He Previously Approved

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    Mayor de Blasio & Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    On Friday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign a package of legislation into law that will raise the salaries of all of the city’s elected officials, and reform the job descriptions of City Council members.

    The City Council held only ...

  • Planning Commission Sends Mayor's Zoning Proposals to City Council

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    Mayor de Blasio & Planning Chair Carl Weisbrod (photo: The Mayor's Office) 


    As expected, the City Planning Commission passed two major components of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan on Wednesday morning, sending the amendments on to City Council for public hearings on Feb. 9 and 10.

  • Reducing Organic Waste Without Increasing Costs

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    photo via NYC Sanitation


    Today, the New York City Council will hold an oversight hearing on the Department of Sanitation's organic waste program started in 2013. The focus on organic waste is merited by the size of the waste stream (more than 1 million tons annually) and environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gases through use of alternative disposal strategies, such as composting, rather than transport to distant landfills. The City plans to expand the pilot program citywide; however, ...