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  • How We Got Here: New Law Aims to Increase Transparency and Diversity at the FDNY

    fdny medal day

    2015 FDNY Medal Day at City Hall (photo: @FDNY)


    "Diversity is strength – and the world's greatest fire department will grow even stronger when it more closely resembles the city it serves." -Mayor Bill de Blasio, June 2, 2015

    On June 2, 2015 Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law Intro. 0579-A, allowing for greater transparency into the New York City Fire Department application and hiring processes by requiring that an annual report be made with regard to the racial and gender makeup of applicants. The bill,

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, June 1

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Welcome to June! A city budget is due by the end of the month. The state legislative session is due to end mid-month. And, it's both Gun Violence Awareness Month in New York City (legislation in 2013 declared it the first city in the United States to have a month dedicated to the cause) and LGBT Pride Month. Look for events and legislation related to each this week and as the month continues.

  • Education Upheaval in Albany is Backdrop to DOE Budget Hearing

    farina via levine

    Chancellor Carmen Farina testifying Thursday (photo: @MarkLevineNYC)


    With an eye on Albany, it was time Thursday morning for New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to again testify in front of the City Council about her agency's proposed fiscal year 2016 budget and key education issues facing the city. The heightened level of concern with events in the capital comes amid shakeups in state leadership, important legislation on the negotiating table with deadlines looming, and recently passed controversial state teacher evaluation laws.

  • Cuomo Seizes on Wage Issue as Legislature Sits Paralyzed by Scandal, Partisanship

    Cuomo

    Gov. Cuomo at a minimum wage rally (Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)


    "Do we have any members of labor in the house today? I can't hear you!" Gov. Andrew Cuomo shouted to a crowd of union members holding signs touting the "Fight for $15." Cuomo held a large rally in Manhattan's Union Square earlier this month as he announced he had instructed his labor commissioner to empanel a wage board to consider upping the minimum wage for fast food workers.

  • Through Committee, Bill to Create Office of Civil Justice Heads Toward Law

    MMV Levine and co

    Mark-Viverito, front, & Levine, behind her, are the lead sponsors (photo: William Alatriste)


    New York City is one step closer to having a new Office of Civil Justice. On Tuesday, the City Council's Committee on Courts and Legal Services unanimously passed a bill that would create the office, to be tasked with assessing, coordinating, and helping reform the civil legal services available to low-income New Yorkers. Among the most pressing concerns are ensuring legal representation for immigrants facing deportation

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  • Now Law, New York to Create City Cultural Plan

    BdB Van Bramer Levin

    Mayor de Blasio signs the cultural plan bill into law (photo: @JimmyVanBramer) 


    New York may be the considered the country's cultural capital, but the city has never had a comprehensive plan to outline its immense cultural assets, identify areas of need, and chart a path forward. A new law, passed by the City Council and signed on Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will change that.

  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 18

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    EMAIL SUMMIT ANYONE? The much-anticipated, long-awaited e-mail deletion policy summit organized by the Cuomo administration is set for Friday in Albany - will it happen? Will anyone go?

    WAGE BOARD: Happening on a much faster timeline is

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  • Next Steps for Two Soon-To-Be-Vacant City Council Seats

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    CMs Weprin, left, & Ignizio, right, are both leaving the Council (photo: William Alatriste)


    City Council member Mark Weprin, a Democrat who represents part of Queens, announced on Monday that he will step down from his seat to join Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration as Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs, making him ...

  • At Chaotic Time, Cuomo Hires Weprin to Assist in Deal-making

    mark weprin via alatriste

    CM Weprin, right, has accepted a position in the Cuomo Administration (William Alatriste)


    A legislature plagued by scandal; two new, inexperienced house leaders; a governor facing the lowest approval ratings of his tenure; and only a few weeks to get anything done. This is the setting for Mark Weprin's return to Albany, where he'll be tasked with fostering dialogue, brokering deals, and making progress in a new role.

  • Resolution Calls for Constitutional Amendment Negating Citizens United

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, will introduce a resolution at Thursday’s full-body Stated Meeting calling on members of the United States Congress to commit to a constitutional amendment that would limit independent expenditures in election campaigns. It is a move aimed at reducing the “dark money” spent during political campaigns and to counteract the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United ruling.

  • Progressive Caucus Responds to De Blasio's Executive Budget

    rosenthal and co 

    CM Helen Rosenthal is a vice chair of the Progressive Caucus (@TenantPowerNY)


    In response to his recently unveiled fiscal year 2016 Executive Budget, the City Council’s 18-member progressive caucus sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday outlining an eleven-point “advancement framework.” In the letter, which alternately praises the mayor and requests additional funding for specific priorities, the council members outline “legislative, fiscal and advocacy goals” for a “more equal and more just New

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  • The Flanagan Effect: What the New Senate Leader Means for the De Blasio Agenda

    Flanagan oath Facebook

    New Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (photo via Facebook)


    ALBANY - Republican John Flanagan assumed the mantle of Senate Majority Leader on Monday during an unprecedented time of upheaval in Albany, brought on by the arrests of both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on multiple federal corruption charges. Scandal unearthed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has exposed the backroom dealings of the state's largest political donor and the men who control the flow of legislation. As he

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 11

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to look for this week in New York politics:

    SKELOS WATCH: The fallout from Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' arrest on federal corruption charges continues, with Skelos facing increased pressure to step down from his leadership post. The Legislature is back in session in Albany on Monday, it seems that it is only a matter of time before Skelos takes the path indicted Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took after his arrest:

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  • De Blasio's Executive Budget: What We Know So Far

    BdB City Hall Alatriste

    Mayor de Blasio at City Hall on Wednesday (photo: William Alatriste)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio will outline his Fiscal Year 2016 Executive Budget on Thursday afternoon at City Hall. The mayor will also release his administration's first iteration of the city's 10-year capital plan. While there may still be a few surprises, we already know quite a bit about the changes the mayor has made from his preliminary budget to his executive budget.

    The budget presentation will build off the mayor's $77 billion

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 4

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Albany arrest watch: "Federal prosecutors are expected to announce criminal charges against New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos imminently, possibly as soon as Monday, in connection with a continuing corruption investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter," ...

  • Community Board Reform Bills, Including on Term Limits, to Be Heard

    dromm kallos

    CMs Dromm, middle, and Kallos, right, have intro'd reform bills (photo: William Alatriste)


    At a hearing of the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations Thursday, issues of community board function will be taken up through bills to introduce term limits for board members and to add professional urban planners to board staff.

    The term-limit bill, introduced

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  • City Includes $1 Billion for Overtime in 2016 Budget

    bdb budget 

    Mayor de Blasio presenting his preliminary budget (photo: @NYCMayorsOffice)


    Some of the most prominent city agencies will again spend considerable portions of their budgets on employee overtime in fiscal year 2016, set to begin July 1, 2015. The allocation of $1 billion toward personnel overtime raises questions around optimal staffing levels and balancing cold fiscal calculation with whether understaffing might impact performance and well-being of employees.

    City officials argue that staffing levels are mostly

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  • Awaiting the Next Storm: Staten Island Balances Long-Term Planning, Short-Term Needs

    SI FEMA

    Staten Island after Sandy; Nov. 9, 2012 (photo: Walter Jennings via FEMA)


    Just over half of the deaths caused by Superstorm Sandy, 22 to be exact, occurred on Staten Island's East and South shores, as the storm's waves battered homes and swept some off their foundations.

    Now the island is in a race against time to prepare for the next major coastal storm. Multi-million dollar resiliency projects are coming to Staten Island, from a sea wall on its East Shore to the expansion of innovative "natural drainage corridors."

    The

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  • Council Members Ask De Blasio to Invest in Farmland

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    (photo: Steve Poses)

     


    A group of New York City Council members sent an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday, asking him to invest funds to conserve regional agricultural land in the Hudson Valley and around the city.

    The letter, signed by 14 council members in an effort led by Dan Garodnick, requests the mayor dedicate at least $5 million each year for the next ten years

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  • Council Bills Aimed at Clarity, Improvement Around School Discipline and Support

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    CM Ritchie Torres at a recent event (photo: William Alatriste)


    At a joint hearing of the City Council's Committees on Public Safety and Education on Tuesday, council members will discuss and hear testimony on three bills addressing school safety.

    One bill, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would require the city Department of Education

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  • City Council Unveils 'Council 2.0' Digital Engagement Plan

    council tech plan alatriste

    Council members unveil Council 2.0 (photo: William Alatriste)


    NEW YORK - City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and several council colleagues released today a civic technology plan aimed at making the legislative body more transparent while facilitating direct engagement with constituents.

    The "public technology plan," dubbed Council 2.0, is being touted as a new "roadmap to digital inclusion and open

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 13

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Hillary Clinton is running for President. You probably heard. The former New York Senator has her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn and will be looking for a strong boost from her New York base of supporters, including her 2000 senate campaign manager New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio was on Meet the Press Sunday morning and said that he is eagerly waiting to see a progressive vision from Clinton. Since

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  • Experts Target Influence of Big Money, Voter Apathy

    bric panel

    Panel at BRIC event (photo: Ben Max)


    BROOKLYN - An expert group was called together Thursday night in Brooklyn for a town hall on the influence of big money on politics and to answer questions about what can be done to fix a system that virtually all in attendance agreed is broken.

    Hosted by

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  • Mark-Viverito's 'Justice for New York City' Means Changes to Criminal and Civil Systems

    MMV April 10

    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: Ben Max)


    NEW YORK - Lamenting a "simply unsustainable" status quo, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito outlined changes she's pursuing to the city's criminal and civil justice systems in a speech Friday morning at New York Law School.

    Attended by about 125 lawyers, law students, community activists, and civic leaders, the breakfast event provided Mark-Viverito an opportunity to reiterate some of the key proposals she and many of her council colleagues believe will create "justice for New York City," as her talk was

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 6

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    It appears to be a fairly quiet week, as it can be this time of year with schools on vacation and the City Council following suit, and the state Legislature adjourned until April 21 in its post-budget, pre-legislative session hibernation. It's promising to be a very busy legislative session as so many key policy issues ...