Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/847 Tue, 21 Nov 2017 06:15:01 +0000 en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Attorney General Unveils Sweeping Voting Reform Package http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6752:attorney-general-unveils-sweeping-voting-reforms-package http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6752:attorney-general-unveils-sweeping-voting-reforms-package Schneiderman releases voting reform legislation

Attorney General Schneiderman with voting reform advocates outside Federal Hall (photo: @AGSchneiderman)


New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman unveiled an extensive voting reform package Wednesday that aims to streamline New York’s voter registration system, boost voter participation and increase voter turnout.

Standing with elected officials, good government groups, union members, and voting reform advocates outside Federal Hall in Manhattan, Schneiderman released the legislation, called the New York Votes Act. The bill contains provisions to update the state’s voting systems by adding early voting, automatic and same-day voter registration, consolidated primaries, shortened party registration deadlines, increased language access at the polls, online absentee ballots, and more. “Any law that makes it easier to vote is a good law; any law that makes it harder to vote is a bad law,” said Schneiderman, in a statement Wednesday. “New York has long been a bastion of democracy, but our state’s current system of registration and voting is an affront to that legacy.”

New York State has seen abysmal voter turnout for years. In 2014, the state ranked 49th of 50 in the country, with just 29 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots in the general election. While other states have tweaked their voting laws to encourage participation, voter turnout in New York has only grown worse, with just 19.7 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots in the 2016 presidential primaries.

Many of Schneiderman’s proposals grew out of the findings and recommendations from a December 2016 report produced by his office on the problems that voters faced during the presidential elections. The attorney general’s office was flooded with thousands of complaints of problems at the polls during April’s primary as well as hundreds during the November general election. These barriers, and the subsequent victory of Donald Trump, a historically unpopular president, have spurred renewed interest from New York’s top elected officials in modernizing the state’s electoral system.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a fresh push for reform in the weeks leading up to election day. On Wednesday, the mayor praised Schneiderman’s proposal, in a statement saying it would “help bring New York up to speed and ensure New Yorkers statewide aren't turned away from casting their ballots as a result of senseless roadblocks.” Governor Andrew Cuomo has also pushed strongly for voting reform, making it a key platform in his State of the State agenda this year.

Schneiderman’s bill, which encompasses both Cuomo’s and de Blasio’s voting reform proposals, will be sponsored in the state Assembly by Assemblymember Michael Cusick, a Staten Island Democrat who chairs the body’s election law committee. “This legislation, aimed to simplify the voting process and improve voter accessibility, will give citizens a better opportunity to participate in the democratic process by increasing voter participation across New York State,” said Cusick, in a statement.

In previous years, similar voting reforms were passed by the Assembly and backed by Senate Democrats, but were ultimately blocked by the GOP Senate Majority. Schneiderman’s sweeping legislation, however, appears to have gained an added push from the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) -- an eight-member body that has formed a ruling coalition with Senate Republicans. The legislation will be sponsored by IDC member Senator David Carlucci, and the body’s seven other members will co-sponsor the bill, IDC member Senator Diane Savino told the Staten Island Advance.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein commended the attorney general’s legislation in a statement, saying, “The Independent Democratic Conference has long been an advocate for making our election process simpler and more accessible for all New Yorkers."

Good government groups, many of which were represented at Wednesday’s news conference, applauded Schneiderman’s proposal to modernize the state electoral system. “New York ranks consistently as one of the nation's worst in terms of voter participation, driven by state laws that create obstacles to voting,” said Megan Ahearn, program director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, “Much of the rest of the nation has developed practices that improve voter turnout. The Attorney General's package relies on those best practices.”

Barbara Bartoletti, Legislative Director for the League of Women Voters of New York State urged the Governor and the Legislature to act on the reform as soon as possible to ensure that voters do not face barriers in future elections. “Laws that would allow for automatic voter registration, early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and consolidation of primary elections will empower voters and give greater access to the ballot,” she said.

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Attorney General Unveils Sweeping Voting Reform Package Thu, 09 Feb 2017 04:28:38 +0000
Successful Presidential Transitions Rely on Attitudes, Organization and Law http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6626:successful-presidential-transitions-rely-on-attitudes-organization-and-law http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6626:successful-presidential-transitions-rely-on-attitudes-organization-and-law trump obama from trump facebook

President-elect Trump & President Obama (photo: Trump on Facebook)


President-elect Donald Trump visited The White House Thursday to discuss transition planning with President Barack Obama. While the election was just decided and it was Trump’s first public move in shifting from the campaign toward governing, the transition process has been underway for months -- both in the Trump campaign and the Obama administration. The period from Election Day to Inauguration Day, January 20, is brief -- just 73 days this year -- and the next President must be able to move quickly during the transition period in order to smoothly take the reigns of the country’s vast government and military apparatuses.

Unlike the ideological and, to some extent, personnel continuity that a Hillary Clinton win may have afforded, the Obama to Trump transition will be drastic. But, there are protocols and practices in place, mandated by law and not, meant to make for a successful presidential transition. On both Wednesday and Thursday, President Obama sought to assure the country that his administration is doing everything it can to ensure a smooth transition of power, despite the differences between the president and his successor, whom Obama has called uniquely unfit for the position.

Speaking in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, the day after the election, Obama told the country, “I have instructed my team to…work as hard as possible to ensure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect.”

Obama reiterated the point on Thursday when he and Trump sat in the Oval Office, with the president saying that his team must do its best to make Trump successful, because if the president is successful, so is the country.

The task for Trump and his top advisors, including post-election transition chair and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, is immense -- many thousands of positions to fill, a daunting amount of information to absorb, and important policy and protocol decisions to make. President-elect Trump is under the microscope perhaps to a greater extent than others in his position might be because he heads to the presidency as the first in United States history with no prior government or military experience. Trump immediately set off alarm bells when his first two appointments included Steve Bannon, who has a history of anti-Semitic, white nationalist, and misogynistic behavior, as his top strategic advisor.

While all of Trump’s top cabinet posts will be deeply scrutinized, as they would with any president-elect, there is also the vast bureaucracy of both the White House and, to a larger degree, the federal government, that must be filled and managed. A sound presidential transition relies on the preparation and attitude of the outgoing administration, the organization and execution of the incoming administration, and the laws in place to aid in the effort.

Prior to September 11, 2001, a few laws were already in place to govern the transition process, and others have been added since. In 1963, recognizing the need for a formalized transition process in the face of a more technologically advanced and rapidly moving world, Congress enacted The Presidential Transitions Act of 1963, which set the precedent for transition funding, allocating $900,000 of federal funds per team. The 1988 Presidential Transitions Effectiveness Act increased funding, capped outside contributions to transition teams, and required that major donations be disclosed. Similar legislation, passed in 1998 and 2000, shortened Senate confirmation periods and addressed the digitalization of government records, but other than that, the scale and schedule of a transition was up to the two administrations.

"The national interest requires that such transitions in the office of President be accomplished so as to assure continuity in the faithful execution of the laws and in the conduct of the affairs of the Federal Government, both domestic and foreign,” reads the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. “Any disruption occasioned by the transfer of the executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people."

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the transition period was identified as one of national vulnerability. This led to the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. Comprehensive security briefings for incoming high-level personnel became mandated, as was extensive contingency planning, crisis management training, and background checks.

Under Obama, further attention was paid to transitions. In March of this year, he signed into law the 2015 Presidential Transitions Improvement Act, which requires the executive branch to establish two transition panels, one for the White House operation and one to oversee the process throughout federal agencies. The panels must be formed six months before the general election. Prior to that, the 2010 Pre-Election Presidential Act required the General Services Administration to provide each major party candidate’s transition team with office space, desks, computers, and phones within three business days of the candidate’s nomination for president.

With these laws in place, the Trump transition team has a lot of resources, but also a lot of work to do.

According to the president-elect’s transition website, the team is setting up Agency Review Teams for each federal agency, and has begun the vetting and hiring process for the approximately 4,100 presidential appointees. As reported by Politico in October, the Chris Christie-led pre-election transition team had compiled a list of 400 appointees to push through Senate confirmation after the election. Though few other details were made available by the Christie team, Politico also reported that the Trump operation was holding private explanatory meetings for big donors and financial services leaders. One such “look inside” charged $5,000 per person.

Shortly after winning the election, Trump announced that Vice President-elect Pence would replace Gov. Christie as the chair of the transition, and also named a larger transition committee. Top cabinet positions are expected to be filled soon, and other high-profile positions will also have to be determined. The policy focus, political orientation, government experience, and demographic diversity -- racial, gender, religious, and more -- of top-level appointments to key administration posts will give an indication of what type of presidency is being planned.

The team that will be overseeing this work, Trump’s Presidential Transition Executive Committee, has just been announced. Under Pence’s leadership, committee vice chairs are Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Dr. Ben Carson, Christie, Senator Jeff Sessions, and retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.

The committee will also include Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Rep. Chris Collins, Tom Marino, Lou Barletta, and Devin Nunes, Rebekah Mercer, Steven Mnuchin, Anthony Scaramucci, Peter Thiel, Trump’s children Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, who was RNC chair and has been named Trump’s White House chief of staff, and Bannon, who was the campaign CEO for the home stretch after having led Breitbart News.

Rumors have started to fly about possible appointments for different cabinet positions, including some of the names from the transition team.

Along with the Bannon hire, there are other red flags being raised about the Trump transition, including the effects of the shift from the Christie-led team to the Pence-led team. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that “President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition operation plunged into disarray,” citing the resignation of key transition figures from the Christie team who had been integral to the process and a hold-up around Pence signing essential transition paperwork.

History, 2008, and Today
Smart, proactive transitions are the first step toward an effective presidency and begin long before the formal transition process that takes place between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Prepared candidates will often begin transition planning before the conclusion of their primary race, will have transition staffs in the hundreds, and can be expected to provide lists of presidential appointees as soon as they can be called president-elect. In 2008, the Obama transition operation consisted of 679 staffers and volunteers, and began before Obama had defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. 

Well-run transitions are important for several reasons. First, national security concerns necessitate a smooth handoff, a process that requires vetting and apprising new defense and high-level personnel well before they succeed their predecessors. The next-in-line officials must be brought up to speed on a wide variety of threats and operations. The President-elect is immediately briefed on the same information as the President.

Transitions are seen as a weak point in national security regardless of the quality of the transition, so it is expected that incoming and outgoing administrations will be as diligent and cooperative as possible. Ever since Harry Truman learned of the Manhattan Project a month into his presidency (which was not even by election, but by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death while in office), national security has been a foremost transition priority. Still, the events of September 11, 2001 dramatically increased the level of attention paid to national security generally and in transitioning. In the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, comprehensive security briefings for incoming high-level personnel were mandated, as well as extensive contingency planning.

Second, it is in the political interests of both incoming and outgoing administrations to oversee a smooth transition. From the outgoing perspective, it is politically expedient for a president’s reputation to include a well-executed departure from office. From the incoming perspective, a president’s early success hinges on his or her preparedness to take office.

“President Bush was very gracious to us during the transition,” President Obama’s former advisor David Axelrod recently told the New York Times, echoing a point Axelrod has stressed publicly in a variety of forums over the years.

Preparedness includes having appointees for all high-level positions ready for Senate confirmation, a working policy agenda ready to implement, and a set of priorities to follow. If appointees are not ready, then the confirmation process cannot commence, and agencies take longer to fully assemble. While the 2008-09 transition is heralded as the most successful in U.S. history, there were still hiccups, especially given the surrounding circumstances: a global financial crisis.

Because it was such a success, the Bush-Obama transition essentially serves as a template for the successful modern transition -- and it’s one that Obama has said his administration is working to repeat. Two hallmarks stand out when analyzing that transition: early and proactive planning from both sides; and dedication to conquering partisan concerns for the greater good of the country’s security.

In “The 2008-2009 Presidential Transitions Through the Voices of Its Participants,” Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University, provides a retelling of the transition based on interviews with several important players.

Recognizing the biggest obstacle to a fast and seamless transition to be the Senate confirmation process, the Bush administration set about reducing the length of FBI investigations into presidential appointees from 60 to 30 days. It also tasked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with performing investigations, so as to have more hands on deck. Though successful in making these reforms, the administration’s attempt to eliminate Senate confirmations for non-policymaking positions failed, Kumar explains. Regardless, it succeeded in streamlining the Senate confirmation process for the Obama administration.

Kumar outlines how the Bush Administration focused further still on personnel turnover, requiring that the transition teams from each federal agency collaborate to create a list of 150 crucial positions that needed to be filled as soon as possible. The list was then handed over to the Obama team after the election.

As mandated by the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the Bush administration began holding one-on-one meetings with the incoming Obama team as early as Election Day, Kumar explains. Incoming cabinet officers and agency heads sat down with their predecessors to go over contingency planning for each sector of government. By December 4, 2008, the core national security teams from the president and the president-elect had met several times, discussed the administration’s operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and had handed over most contingency and crisis planning.

The Bush team, Kumar writes, also made it a priority to leave behind a record of their work and experience to help guide their successors. Led by Steve Hadley, the National Security Advisor, the Bush White House compiled a total of 40 memoranda, divided into two sets; one addressing national security and foreign policy, and the other domestic policy. The memoranda contained difficulties that the Bush administration had faced, advice for avoiding such issues, information about particular countries of interest, and an account of all the interactions that had taken place between the U.S. and countries of interest.

To ensure that “midnight regulations” --  legislation passed in the last months of a presidency and which, intentionally or not, often burdens the incoming administration with tougher regulations and policy changes they oppose -- did not waylay the new Obama administration, Joshua Bolten, the Bush Chief of Staff at the time, declared that proposed regulations had to be submitted no later than June 1, 2008, and that regulations could not be issued after November 1, 2008.

Obama’s team has placed a similar level of emphasis on transition planning, something that the president has cited in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s victory, and at the meeting the two had at the White House on Thursday, November 10.

Taking advantage of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which states that presidential nominees may begin submitting names of personnel for national security clearance before election results have been determined, the Obama team, in the summer of 2008, began submitting names. Republican nominee Senator John McCain’s team submitted zero names, Kumar reports.

Around the same time, in August of 2008, Rahm Emanuel was informally appointed as Chief of Staff. Working with John Podesta, Obama’s transition director, Emanuel established several agency review teams to evaluate the state of each agency, gather information, and recommend appointees. Emanuel also cooperated with the Bush transition team on the personnel process to expedite the hiring process for the White House staff. Podesta, as the founder of the Center for American Progress, was able to draw from a wealth of experts for transition help and resources. They formed a core part of the transition policy team that identified executive orders that would be less complicated to prepare and sign, such as removing restrictions around abortion and stem cell research.

One of the pressing matters for Trump’s team is which Obama executive orders he wants to immediately undo, and which others of his own he may want to issue.

Though Trump himself is unpredictable and there is little clarity about how he will approach the job, the country is in many ways in a more stable place today than it was eight years ago when Obama was succeeding George W. Bush. At the time, the U.S. was in the midst of two wars and a financial crisis -- coordination between the incoming and outgoing administrations was paramount. Obama is often commended for having met repeatedly with then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Henry Paulson, Bush’s secretary of the Treasury. On issues such as the auto bailout and The Recovery Act, policy teams from both administration were influential in shaping the resulting stimulus package of 2009.

In “Presidential Transition Voices,” Kumar asserts that Obama’s relative success early in his presidency is largely attributable to his “early attention…to the need for transition planning and his assignment of experienced and knowledgeable people to handle studies of White House staff structure, agency operations, policy development, and staff selection.”

Despite their opposing views and past hostilities, Obama and Trump must now lead their best imitation of the Bush-Obama transition, putting aside their differences and holding the country’s safety and prosperity in the highest regard. As Obama put it, “the presidency is bigger than all of us.”

The 2016-17 transition will provide interesting insight into the style of the Trump presidency and will foreshadow the approach the new administration will adopt over the next four years. In his first public remarks after the election results were in, President Obama addressed the 2016 transition, saying he reached out to Trump “at about 3:30 in the morning…I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House...to talk about making sure there is a successful transition between our presidencies.”

Obama did not provide specifics, but he did reference the 2008 transition, saying he has instructed his team to emulate the “professional and gracious” approach taken by the Bush administration eight years ago.

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by Luke Foley, Gotham Gazette

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Successful Presidential Transitions Rely on Attitudes, Organization and Law Tue, 15 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
Bill De Blasio and the Presidential Election That Didn’t Happen http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6616:bill-de-blasio-and-the-presidential-election-that-didn-t-happen http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6616:bill-de-blasio-and-the-presidential-election-that-didn-t-happen clinton bdb inner circle appleton

Clinton & de Blasio at Inner Circle (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


Just two weeks before Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders stepped into the 2016 presidential election with his uber progressive proposals that would eventually pull the Democratic Party to the left, Mayor Bill de Blasio stuck his foot in the door. The mayor’s attempt to seize the moment for national change was borne from his own electoral success in New York City and began in earnest with a policy announcement outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., where de Blasio and his allies unveiled an agenda meant to influence the presidential race.

Fashioning himself a national progressive standard-bearer, de Blasio embarked on what would become a largely humbling journey in which he was at times a political pariah, a strong voice for liberal policies, a non-factor, and a loyal Hillary Clinton surrogate. It ended this week as de Blasio led get-out-the-vote rallies on New York City college campuses, cast his vote for Clinton and spoke in support of Clinton at the beginning of a rally outside her election night event, which itself turned from an optimistic coronation to a political funeral.

The journey took de Blasio from glowing appearances on the Sunday political talk shows to humbly door-knocking in Iowa; from an unglamourous afternoon speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to late-game weekend appearances at swing state churches where he vouched for Clinton in front of largely black audiences, representative of his base. And then to several CUNY schools where he rallied young voters in Clinton’s adopted home state, a voting booth at a Park Slope library, and the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side, where Clinton supporters expected a big night that never came.

With the 2016 election now behind him, the mayor may be relieved to next focus on his own reelection campaign. His first term, much like his involvement in the presidential election, has been defined by a lurching series of setbacks and accomplishments. He has been lauded for achieving key progressive policy goals, including the implementation of universal pre-kindergarten, expanded paid sick leave, and more affordable housing.

But among de Blasio’s failures, one that stands out -- and foreshadowed his 2016 efforts -- is his unsuccessful 2014 attempt to influence state elections and flip control of the New York State Senate to Democrats. Not only did de Blasio-backed candidates lose and the Senate, which stifles the mayor on policy matters, remain in Republican hands, but de Blasio’s efforts are under law enforcement investigation because of the campaign finance tactics used.

After the 2014 election cycle, de Blasio also went national, expressing his disappointment with results around the country in a Huffington Post op-ed, urging Democrats to stiffen their backbones and commit to “a bold, new approach” that acknowledged the need to address income inequality. The missive landed with a thud, somewhat like de Blasio’s efforts to influence the 2016 conversation and his delayed endorsement of Clinton.

It is widely acknowledged that de Blasio’s progressive credentials are indeed strong, but his attempts to push his principles at the national stage faltered, even while his preferred policies took center stage in the Democratic debate. It would be Sanders, not de Blasio, who was the left-wing star of 2016. The mayor’s past proximity to Clinton, whom he once served as a political operative and who attended his 2014 inauguration as Mayor, seemed to encourage his audacious attempts at influencing her policy positions.

The highs and lows that followed de Blasio’s initial non-endorsement of Clinton, over 18 trepidatious months, also captured the relationship, which has since been placed under the microscope following the release of stolen emails from the hacked account of Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.

The first blow to the mayor and New York City’s role in the presidential election came early, in February 2015, when the city lost its bid to host the Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn. Some said that although logistics and security were stated reasons why the Democratic National Committee chose Philadelphia, which is in a swing state, part of the problem was New York’s status as a heavily liberal haven, and a sure thing for any Democratic nominee.

That April, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” de Blasio declined to officially endorse Clinton’s presidential run. “I think like a lot of people in this country, I want to see a vision,” he told host Chuck Todd, insisting that he wanted to first gauge Clinton’s policies on income inequality. What followed was not surprising. The Clinton campaign, already keeping the mayor on the periphery, shunned him almost entirely.

De Blasio’s initial offers of unsolicited advice went largely ignored, the emails revealed by WikiLeaks showed, and the campaign’s attitude turned almost hostile as the race continued. In private, campaign staffers derided him, with one aide even calling him “a terrorist” for his refusal to attend Clinton’s kick-off rally on Roosevelt Island and a compliment paid to Sanders, her chief primary opponent.

In May, as the mayor continued to hold off on his endorsement, he unveiled the Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality, a nonprofit organization and 13-point policy platform, at a news conference outside the Capitol. Signatories included former and current elected officials at various levels and a number of advocates and celebrities, but not the Clinton campaign. “It’s time to listen to the people all over this country, to listen to their hunger for a change,” de Blasio said at the announcement, according to the New York Times. “It’s up to us to answer their call — their strong demand, in fact — that we create a more just nation.”

Prior to the announcement, the mayor travelled to a number of states to promote a conversation around income inequality, earning him much criticism at home for focusing his attention away from the city -- he had been in office a year and a half.

The Progressive Agenda group made no concrete difference and slowly faded away, particularly after a failed attempt to host a bipartisan presidential forum in Iowa. The forum, slated for December, was called off in November after none of the candidates committed to attending.

De Blasio’s official endorsement of Clinton had come in late October, six months after his initial refusal, and was met with shrugs, the expected development that it was. Politico New York reported at the time on the mayor’s coordination of the endorsement with the Clinton campaign. Emails recently revealed by Wikileaks showed this and more, with communication around the mayor’s press appearances before the endorsement.

“The candidate who I believe can fundamentally address income inequality effectively and has the right vision and the right experience and ability to get the job done is Hillary Clinton,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talk show. “I have seen her vision and her platform develop over five months, I am extremely pleased with what she has put on the table,” he said.

Besides the reception from Clinton’s team -- the two did not appear together and Clinton’s team released a lukewarm statement  -- the mayor was peppered with questions over the reasons for his delayed endorsement and the apparently failed calculations involved.

The weekend before the February 1 Iowa caucus, the mayor sought to make amends by personally travelling to the state, with no invitation from the campaign, to knock on doors and urge people to support Clinton. Clinton and de Blasio did not appear in public together and the trip seemed to have little political payoff for either. It played more as a symbolic mea culpa on the mayor’s part, particularly after the New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign had rejected a previous offer by him to campaign in the state.

The relationship slowly thawed in the next few months. The mayor’s effort to push Clinton left was virtually over, though since she did take more liberal positions on a number of issues, the mayor saved some face and later took some credit. He also regularly praised Senator Sanders, and continues to do so -- acknowledging, at least tacitly, that the Vermont senator had the impact the mayor was aiming for when he organized the Progressive Agenda.

In April, Clinton and de Blasio finally made a joint appearance at the annual Inner Circle dinner in New York City. But even that event turned sour after the two participated in a racially-tinged joke that referenced de Blasio’s reticence in endorsing Clinton. After a week or two of critical headlines, however, both emerged unscathed.

Clinton went on to debate Sanders for the last time in the Democratic primaries at an event in Brooklyn that de Blasio attended, then won the New York primary on April 19. At her victory celebration, the mayor was among those who spoke to the crowd -- months before stolen emails were released that showed him critiquing some of her debate performance.

De Blasio eventually became an active Clinton surrogate, taking to the road to campaign for her across the country. He went to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in just the last few weeks of the general election campaign.

“I’m very comfortable with the fact that I pushed the Clinton campaign to take a more progressive stance,” de Blasio said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show on October 14. “And even if that meant holding out for a while I think that is part of the political process and that is how I am going to comport myself.”

This past weekend, the mayor visited multiple churches across the five boroughs to stump for Clinton. And on Monday, he rallied with college students at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, LaGuardia Community College in Queens, Baruch College in Manhattan, and Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

On Tuesday morning, amid a five-borough get-out-the-vote blitz, the mayor arrived with First Lady Chirlane McCray in their old neighborhood to cast their ballots at the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Speaking to reporters outside the polling site, they took stock of the “historic moment.” “I signed in my bubble slowly to savor the moment,” said McCray.

“There’s something amazing happening today,” said the mayor, who was on his way to several rallies across the city before attending Clinton’s election night event at the Javits Center. “I really believe this is the day we’re going to elect the first woman president of the United States of America. And as a Democrat I’m particularly proud. Just eight years ago we elected the first African-American president, today we’ll elect the first woman president. This speaks volumes about the values of the Democratic Party…It’s a powerful day for change in America.”

But, it was not to be. Clinton lost to Republican Donald Trump in one of the most stunning moments in United States history -- seemingly putting de Blasio’s hopes for more progressive federal policy on hold, and inserting in the White House someone who has forcefully criticized the mayor’s leadership.

De Blasio was scheduled to discuss the election results on WNYC radio Wednesday morning, but his appearance was bumped due to Clinton’s concession speech.

Instead the mayor addressed the election results at City Hall, where he expressed his disappointment in the results, but said, “I congratulate the New Yorker who won the election, Donald Trump, and I honor the New Yorker who won our city’s vote and the popular vote nationally, Hillary Clinton.”

De Blasio called on New Yorkers to “move forward together, resolute and determined to protect and preserve the city we love and the values we cherish.” He listed some of the key policies that he’s implemented in New York and wants to see nationally.

“It’s no secret that I have profound political disagreements with President-elect Trump,” de Blasio said, before promising to work with the new administration “positively and constructively.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Bill De Blasio and the Presidential Election That Didn’t Happen Wed, 09 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
Donald Trump Elected President in Big Night for GOP http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6615:donald-trump-elected-president-in-big-night-for-gop http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6615:donald-trump-elected-president-in-big-night-for-gop Trump election night 2

President-Elect Donald Trump


On a huge Election Day for Republicans, Donald Trump won the presidential election, the GOP kept control of both houses of Congress, and, here in New York, Republicans have increased their margin in the state Senate, the party’s last stronghold of statewide power.

With a stunning show of support across the country, Trump and his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence won more states than expected and Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Reports came in around 2:40 a.m. that Hillary Clinton had called Trump to concede, and soon after, Trump took the stage at the New York Hilton to declare victory.

It was less than an hour after Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said that several states were “too close to call,” that the campaign was going to see every vote counted, and that it would have more to say on Wednesday.

But as more votes came in, the Associated Press called the race for Trump and reports came in of Clinton’s call. Trump called for unity and promised to be a President for all Americans. He repeated campaign promises of investment in infrastructure and jobs for Americans. He did not mention several of his other promises from the campaign trail, like building a wall on the Mexican border and getting Mexico to pay for it, nor did he use disparaging nicknames for his opponent or lash out at critics, as he had throughout the primary and general elections. Trump did not threaten key pieces of the U.S. Constitution as he had over the course of his campaign.

The President-elect spoke calmly and graciously, thanking many members of his team for their work and support, and he thanked Hillary Clinton for her service to the country. There is a great deal of uncertainty about how he will handle the transition of power and the Presidency once inaugurated on January 20, 2017. He is the first person ever elected U.S. President with no government or military experience.

The popular vote count is very close, and Clinton could very well win that but lose the Electoral College and thus the presidency. Trump pulled out a variety of swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Financial markets in the U.S. and around the world tumbled as Trump’s win became more apparent.

In the U.S. Senate, where Republicans held a 54-46 advantage coming into the elections, during which 34 Senate seats were being voting on, Republicans appear to have lost just one seat, in Illinois. However, as of 3 a.m., there were two races still not called. It appears likely that the Senate split will be 53-47 or 52-48. New York Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat who won reelection easily, is on track to become Senate Minority Leader.

Republicans will also maintain control of the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were on the ballot and the GOP came into the elections with a 247-188 advantage. Democrats appear to be picking up a handful of seats to slightly narrow that gap.

Here in New York, congressional races contributed to those House results. Despite several hotly contested races, mostly on Long Island and the Hudson Valley, the New York delegation to the House will remain the same in terms of party representation. In the most watched race in the state, if not the country, Republican John Faso defeated Democrat Zephyr Teachout to replace retiring GOP Rep. Chris Gibson.

In the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, Democrat Tom Suozzi has defeated Republican Jack Martins. Other Congressional results include wins for Republicans Lee Zeldin, Peter King, Dan Donovan, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney, Thomas Reed, John Katko, and Chris Collins; and for Democrats Kathleen Rice, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Adriano Espaillat, Joe Crowley, Jose Serrano, Eliot Engel, Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Louise Slaughter, and Brian Higgins.

All of the seats in the New York State Legislature were also on the ballot this year: 63 Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. Democrats will maintain a healthy majority in the Assembly. The Senate math is more complicated, but Republicans appear to have ensured they will have at least a bare majority of 32, including Senator Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the GOP. As of 3 a.m. there were two races too close to call, though, which will influence the final margin and could give the GOP more cushion: Republican Sen. Michael Venditto and Democratic challenger John Brooks and Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino and Democratic challenger James Gaughran are locked in tight battles, both on Long Island.

There is another key piece to the state Senate puzzle, of course: the soon-to-be seven-member Independent Democratic Conference and the GOP are likely to continue to align in a power-sharing coalition. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan indicated in an Election Night press statement that the GOP-IDC partnership would continue in 2017. It is not immediately clear what this means for the Albany agendas laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as they discussed what they hoped to see next year if Democrats took the chamber.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Note: this story has been updated with additional information.

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Donald Trump Elected President in Big Night for GOP Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:00:00 +0000
Could ‘Third Party’ Candidates Swing the Presidential Election? http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6464:could-third-party-candidates-swing-the-presidential-election http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6464:could-third-party-candidates-swing-the-presidential-election Jill Stein

Green Party candidate Jill Stein (photo via Facebook)


With the Republican and Democratic parties having nominated presidential candidates with record-high unfavorability ratings, this election cycle is turning out to be a choice between a rock and a hard place for many voters. Some, though, are looking elsewhere and still-early polling shows that this November could yield near-record voting for so-called “third party” candidates.

Those who oppose Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton say she’s an untrustworthy, calculating politician with cozy ties to corporate interests and Washington insiders; opponents of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, see him as a sexist, fear-mongering, racist xenophobe with authoritarian tendencies. Though the United States has a political system dominated by two parties, Clinton and Trump aren’t the only choices, much to the relief of a number of voters. What that number winds up being could determine the election, the next President, and much of the future of the country and the world.

The third-party candidates in the 2016 race for the White House are the Libertarian Party’s nominee Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s candidate Dr. Jill Stein, both of whom ran in 2012 and are now going all out to woo those disaffected voters who believe that neither Clinton nor Trump is a viable choice for President of the United States. While no expert would argue that either Johnson or Stein will be the next President, voters choosing one or the other on November 8 could determine whether the next President is Trump or Clinton.

This year’s presidential election is likely to once again come down to several key swing states, and polls in some of those states, like Ohio and Florida, show a close race between the two leading candidates. (In at least one national poll, Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, polled in double digits, but in other polls both he and Stein were in single digits - a candidate needs to hit an average of 15 percent in five national polls to be invited to a debate.) There is concern for some that one or both of the third-party candidates could be a spoiler for Clinton in a swing state or two and skew the election in Trump’s favor. While the likelihood is minimal, experts say, it not entirely implausible.

A Real Clear Politics poll average has Trump at 41.5 percent in Florida, against Clinton’s 41.3 percent while Johnson takes 4.5 percent and Stein takes 2.5 percent of the vote. In 2012, President Obama beat Mitt Romney by just 74,309 votes or 0.88 percentage points in Florida. In Ohio, Clinton bests Trump by 1.4 points on average thus far; Johnson gets 6.4 percent and Stein gets 3 percent. In 2012, Obama won by 2.98 points in the state. In New Hampshire, a four-way contest has Clinton and Trump tied at 37 percent according to a WMUR Granite State poll; with Johnson at 10 percent and Stein at 5 percent. Obama won the state in 2012 with 52 percent of the vote, against Romney’s 46.4 percent.

Both Stein and Johnson have been encouraged by the high unfavorable ratings of Clinton and Trump. A Gallup poll conducted July 18-25 found that Clinton and Trump had equal favorability marks: 37% favorable and 58% unfavorable. Some believe the 2016 dynamics could create a situation similar to the 2000 presidential election, when famous third-party candidate Ralph Nader took votes away from Al Gore in Florida, the state which gave George W. Bush the presidency with a razor thin margin.

Nader addressed those concerns in a recent interview with the New York Daily News, insisting that a third-party candidate shouldn’t unjustly be termed a “spoiler” and laying the blame instead on the media, the voters, and the candidates themselves. A Florida-like situation is exactly what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was trying to avoid when he abandoned plans of running for president as an independent earlier this year. He didn’t want to run the risk of helping elect Trump, he said, something he affirmed by speaking at the Democratic National Convention in favor of Hillary Clinton and calling upon independents to vote for her.

The most recent CBS News poll had Clinton at 41 percent and Trump at 36 percent, with Johnson receiving 10 percent of the vote. Stein was not mentioned in the poll. Among independents, however, Clinton trailed Trump by 2 points, and Johnson received 15 percent of the vote.

A new CNN/ORC poll taken after the close of the Democratic National Convention shows independents favoring Clinton, with a 37% plurality, Trump with 33% of independents, Johnson wiht 16% of independents, and Stein with 8% of independents.  

Gallup polling shows that 42 percent of registered voters identify as independents. While at this juncture in the election cycle about one-third of independents may say they favor a ‘third-party’ candidate, support for such candidates tends to drop as the general election gets closer. (The latest Real Clear Politics polling data averages put Johnson at 7 percent and Stein at 3.2 percent.)

“One primary struggle in a year like this,” said John Hudak, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, “is not that voters are in love with third-party candidates. They’ve fallen out of love with the major party candidates.” Hudak contrasted Ross Perot’s insurgent candidacy in 1992, when he ran as an independent. “Perot did quite well because people liked his message. He was inspiring people. Stein and Johnson are not providing any inspiration for voters.”

Hudak doesn’t expect that the third-party candidates will have a significant influence and that people disillusioned with Clinton and Trump will more likely stay home on Election Day than vote for Stein or Johnson. Even in swing states he said the effects of a third-party candidate would be difficult to attribute and would likely have minimal impact on the outcome.

No one discounts, however, the strong possibility that third-party candidates will get a higher vote share this year than past elections. Stein appeals to Democratic voters, particularly former Bernie Sanders supporters who felt betrayed when the Vermont senator dropped out of the race and endorsed Clinton. Last week, outside the Democratic National Convention, she made attempts to win over ‘Bernie or Bust’ protesters who had walked out of the main arena. She has proposed a “Green New Deal,” a platform that skews closely to Sanders’. It includes single-payer health care, forgiving student loan debt, transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy, breaking up the big banks, and fighting income inequality, to name a few main planks. Stein has also built some name recognition. She ran in 2012 and received about 469,000 votes, which she’s hoping to build on this year. There were a few more than 129 million votes cast that year.

Gary JohnsonAlthough Libertarian Gary Johnson (pictured) has been seen as more of a threat to Trump, on social issues his policies correlate closely with Sanders, again perhaps offering a home for voters supportive of Sanders but not attracted to Clinton. Johnson, who also visited Philadelphia during the DNC, favors legalizing marijuana, is pro-choice on abortion, and supports marriage equality. In a recent interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Johnson said of Sanders, “On the social side, we’re simpatico.” Johnson has also received more media attention than Stein and has a record as former (Republican) governor of New Mexico. When he ran for president in 2012, he received about 1.28 million votes.

Johnson’s other policies are far flung for Democrats. As a Libertarian, he wants smaller government that has a minimal role in people’s lives, not just on social issues like marriage and abortion. He wants to get rid of the entire tax code and institute a consumption tax nationwide. He wants to cut the Department of Education.

Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, told Gotham Gazette that Johnson is an easy choice for voters as the “honest guy” running against a “bigot” (Trump) and a “liar” (Clinton) who are historically unpopular. He’s not concerned that Johnson could pull votes from Clinton and hand Trump swing states. Although if that should happen, he said it falls at the feet of the voters and not the third-party candidate. “You’re supposed to vote for who is best for the office,” he said. “Not who you hate more or less.”

Part of the struggle for both Johnson and Stein, neither of whom was made available for an interview for this article, will be getting on the debate stage, which is crucial for third-party candidates to build name recognition and get media attention. The Commission on Presidential Debates, however, only allows candidates polling 15 percent in national polls to participate in the debates. So far, Johnson seems more likely to hit the mark. “They’re going to have a very hard time getting sufficient attention to register with voters,” said Micah Sifry, executive director of Civic Hall and an expert on third-party candidacies, in a phone interview.

Sifry doesn’t think the election will be as close as the 2000 race and doesn’t see a high likelihood that a third-party candidate could give the election to either Trump or Clinton. At best, he said, Stein and Johnson will split 6 percent of the vote between them. He does see Johnson receiving votes from disaffected Republicans and from the 10 percent of Sanders supporters who “were probably never Democrats in the first place.” He also said Stein could do better in strong “blue” states, which are overwhelmingly Democratic and “where people feel it’s a safe protest vote.”

Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute, echoed Sifry’s views on the debates. “The name recognition on the national stage that access to the debates provides can be transformative,” he said, pointing out that Ross Perot in 1992 had only 7 percent of the vote in the polls before the debates and jumped to nearly 19 percent. Perot was added to the debate roster because George H.W. Bush’s campaign insisted on it, which Healy said was in hopes of tilting votes in Bush’s favor. “It can really rocket a former unknown into contender territory,” Healy said.

Healy said it was “certainly plausible” that third-party candidates could affect swing states since Trump and Clinton, “are the most widely reviled major party candidates in the history of polling.”

Should Johnson and Stein make themselves better known between now and November, they may at least drive voter turnout and encourage alternative discussion of issues on the campaign trail. “That’s part of a healthy phenomenon,” said Sifry. “You want people to have more choices. You want the major parties to fight for their votes. They shouldn’t take people for granted.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Could ‘Third Party’ Candidates Swing the Presidential Election? Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Can Trump Win New York? Inside the Numbers http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6449:can-trump-win-new-york-inside-the-numbers http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6449:can-trump-win-new-york-inside-the-numbers Trump Pence GOP 2

Donald Trump & Mike Pence (photo via @GOP)


Donald Trump’s nomination for President at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was the culmination of a primary campaign that overturned precedent and defied expectations of the political class. Now, as he shifts his attention the general election, Trump has set his sights on another lofty goal, one which has been out of reach for Republicans for over two decades: winning New York, his home state.

Recent polls, voter enrollment data, and primary turnout patterns indicate that defeating presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New York would require near-unanimous support from both Republican and independent voters—a feat that Trump does not seem poised to accomplish.

Trump’s campaign announced in May that it will focus on 15 states in the general election, including traditional swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia, as well as Democratic strongholds like California and New York. Since then, Clinton has maintained a comfortable double-digit lead in New York polls, with the most recent from Quinnipiac University released on Tuesday giving her a 47 to 35 percent advantage - a slightly smaller margin than the prior poll, however. Election-modeling publication FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 97.1 percent chance of winning here.

But Trump and other members of his party seem undeterred by polling trends, instead touting his overwhelming win in the New York primary in April as evidence that the state is in play for the general election. Trump is clearly not to be underestimated, they say, and there are months until Election Day.

“If we carry New York by the margin we should, we will have changed American history...If you can break the city then you have the state,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Monday at a breakfast for the New York Republican delegation in Cleveland. Along with his primary success across the country, including in New York, Trump’s New York pedigree and presence in the city’s public life for decades appear to be giving him and his supporters added confidence.

“The win in New York really helped set the momentum,” Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican who represents the 27th Congressional District in Western New York and was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, told State of Politics. “New York is in play.”

Collins refers to Trump’s decisive victory in the New York Republican primary, in which he received 60 percent of the vote and won every county but Manhattan, Trump’s home turf, which went to Ohio Governor John Kasich. This was a slightly larger percentage than Clinton - who also calls New York home - won in the Democratic primary, where she earned 58 percent of the vote while facing just one opponent (there were four Republicans on the ballot: Trump, Kasich, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, who had dropped out before the vote).

Winning a vast majority of New York Republicans, however, will not be enough to secure a Trump victory here. Even though he won a higher percentage, Trump won half as many raw votes in the primary as Clinton, securing 525,000 to her 1 million. Had he secured 100 percent of Republican primary voters, Trump would still have trailed Clinton in New York primary votes.

As of April 1, there were 5.8 million Democrats and 2.7 million Republicans enrolled across the state, according to the New York Board of Elections, with New York City voters comprising 3.1 million of the Democrats and 460,000 Republicans. There are another 2.5 million “unaffiliated” registered voters, otherwise known as independents, and another 705,000 voters registered with smaller parties, like the Green Party or the Independence Party.

Trump statewide via CUNY graduate centerA total of 2.9 million New Yorkers voted in the presidential primaries this year (2 million Democrats and 922,000 Republicans). For a glimpse of the increase to anticipate in November, the last time there was a non-incumbent presidential election, in 2008, 7.6 million New Yorkers voted in the general election (4.8 million voted Democrat and 2.8 million voted Republican).

The Democratic enrollment advantage is expected to continue to favor Clinton this year as voter turnout surges for the general election, though Trump supporters are planning to attract many voters not registered as Republican. According to Steven Romalewski, mapping service director for the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center, the last time there were both Democratic and Republican primaries in New York, in 2008, the number of Republican voters jumped from 670,000 to 2.75 million between the primary and general elections, while Democratic voters lept from 1.9 million to 4.8 million voters.

Clinton statewide map via CUNY graduate centerRomalewski said the increase in voters between the primary and general election was especially prominent within the New York City area. This does not bode well for Trump, who, according to the Quinnipiac poll, leads among upstate voters 48 to 36 percent, but is behind among New York City voters 63 to 20 percent. Trump and Clinton are neck-and-neck among suburban voters.

“If the turnout surges even by half the amount [it surged in 2008] from the primary to the general on the
Democratic side, it’s going to be really hard from a number of perspectives for the GOP side to overcome this,” Romalewski said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette.

To win New York, Trump will likely need at least 2 million more voters than the 2.75 million Republican Senator John McCain received here in 2008—a total that Romalewski said would require winning all Republican-registered voters as well as nearly all independent voters. As of April 1, there were about 2.5 million unaffiliated, or independent, registered voters in New York, and new voters will be able to register until Oct. 14.

Trump and Clinton could, however, face a radically different electoral map than McCain, in part because of the unpredictable nature of this year’s election.

“It’s especially hard this year to look back for similar situations in presidential campaigns and kind of use those examples to predict or expect what might happen this time,” Romalewski said. “On the other hand, when you look at the math, it seems highly unlikely that the Republican candidate will be able to pull it out.”

To predict election outcomes, FiveThirtyEight uses an algorithm that weighs polling trends and demographic data. Its New York forecast begins with a strong Clinton lead indicated by polls which is then slightly widened when demographic data is taken into account. The website now predicts that Clinton will win about 54 percent of the vote in New York and that Trump will win 37.5 percent.

Currently, Trump’s progress to unite the bulk of non-Democratic New Yorkers has wavered according to polls. Trump performs poorly with independents in New York, as evidenced by Tuesday’s Quinnipiac Poll revealing a 41 to 35 percent advantage for Clinton among independents (most respondents said they did not know enough about Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein to support or oppose them).

Further, Trump has not yet won unequivocal support from Republicans—nearly 10 percent of Republican New Yorkers do not support him; five of the state’s 10 Republican U.S. Congressional Representatives have endorsed his bid for presidency. By contrast, all 18 Democratic Representatives and both Democratic Senators from New York have endorsed Clinton.

The last time a Republican presidential candidate won in New York was 1984, when incumbent President Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale -- Reagan won every state but Mondale’s home state of Minnesota that year.

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by Aaron Holmes, Gotham Gazette

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Can Trump Win New York? Inside the Numbers Thu, 21 Jul 2016 04:00:00 +0000
New Yorkers, Including the Presidential Nominees, Head to the National Party Conventions http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6439:new-yorkers-including-the-presidential-nominees-head-to-the-national-party-conventions http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6439:new-yorkers-including-the-presidential-nominees-head-to-the-national-party-conventions RNC banner

The RNC approaches (image via @GOPconvention)


The next two weeks will see the formal nominations of the two major party candidates in the contest to succeed Barack Obama as President of The United States. First, this week, Republicans are expected to nominate Donald J. Trump, who on Saturday morning introduced Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. On Saturday, Trump promised “we’re going to have an incredible convention.” The theme of the convention is "Make America Great Again," which has been Trump's campaign slogan.

All eyes will be on Cleveland Monday through Thursday as the Republicans convene, with New York delegates front and center at the convention given that the presumptive nominee calls the Empire State home. Americans are also bracing for protests and many are hoping that there is no violence outside or inside Quicken Loans Arena.

The same goes for Philadelphia, where the following week, that of July 25, the Democrats are set to name Hillary Clinton their nominee for President.

Clinton also calls New York home, and there are many New York angles to the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions. These include the delegations traveling to Cleveland and Philadelphia, which for the Democrats will include both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, among many other high-profile New Yorkers.

Aside from officially nominating their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, the conventions will also see formal adoption of the official party policy platforms. These decisions are being made by the thousands of delegates from across the country who attend each convention - an assortment of current and former elected officials, prominent party members, activists, businesspeople, and others - in part as dictated by the voting that occurred in each state.

As the Republican convention kicks off, it appears that any last-ditch efforts from within the party to keep Trump from the nomination have been scuttled. The speakers list for the convention fit with Trump’s campaign as an anti-establishment outsider and is largely devoid of major party figures - there will be no appearance by prior presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, or a variety of Republican governors, senators, and others who are prominent in the party. Home-state Governor John Kasich, of Ohio, one of Trump’s rivals for the nomination, is not scheduled to be part of the proceedings.

There will be a full slate of speakers, of course, including Trump’s four adult children, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, GOP Chair Reince Priebus, and others. Pence will be the headline speaker on Wednesday night, while Trump will give the convention's final words on Thursday evening.

With some time still before the Democratic convention, the big news everyone is waiting for is Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential nominee. Many are calling Virginia Senator Tim Kaine the frontrunner, but nothing official has been announced. Unlike Trump’s convention, Clinton’s will feature a ‘who’s who’ of major party names - Democratic National Convention speakers will include President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and others. Like Trump, Clinton will see her adult child, Chelsea, speak.

As the conventions kick off there is much to watch for over the next two weeks; they also signal the start to the final three-and-a-half months of the campaign, leading to Election Day on November 8: the final stretch of speeches, platforms, polls, ads, debates, and more.

Here’s what New Yorkers need to know and should be watching for as the national conventions arrive:

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, July 18-21

When and Where is the RNC?
The 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held July 18-21 (Monday-Thursday) in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena. After a tough and controversial primary season, the RNC is an opportunity for more party healing and unity. In the lead up, most discussion of a coup to replace Trump with another nominee has quieted. Trump said on Saturday that one reason he chose Pence as his running mate is “party unity.”

Trump, who has been a media and reality TV star, told the Washington Post that he intends to put his own “showbiz” spin on the convention’s proceedings, though the official list of speakers is looking lighter on sports and entertainment legends than at one time thought.

Who Are the Delegates?
Though the exact process varies by state party rules, delegates to the RNC generally fall within three categories. Each state gets ten at-large delegates, plus delegates awarded based on that state’s Republican electoral success in the past (for instance, having a Republican Governor). Each state is allocated delegates based on congressional districts and each state’s Republican National Committeeman, Committeewoman, and State Chair all attend as delegates.

Following this formula, New York will have a total of 95 delegates, including 27 from New York City, 54 from around the rest of the state, and 14 at-large. In a change of long-time state party rules, New York’s GOP delegates this year were selected by the State Republican Committee and several mini-committees for each of New York’s twenty-seven congressional districts, rather than having many determined by the presidential candidates on the ballot. The switch was intended to reward long-time party loyalists over the candidates’ friends and family, who were often favored in the past, according to Syracuse.com.

Jessica Proud, spokesperson for the State Republican Party, considers the new delegate selection process a welcome shift from a “top-down” to “bottom-up” approach.

“It's considered a coveted role to be a delegate,” she said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette, “so this was a way to help reward the people that have really been the stalwarts of the party, helping to elect our candidates and grow our party every year. They were really pleased with it.”

Currently, 89 of New York’s delegates are pledged to Trump, while 6 remain bound to Kasich (who won Manhattan), though the Ohio governor officially suspended his campaign on May 4.

The New York Angle
“In a lot of ways, New York was the catalyst to help Trump seal in the nomination,” Proud recalls.

“It was the first time he had gotten over 50 percent of the vote, and then right after that was Indiana, and then Cruz and Kasich both dropped out,” Proud said. “So it all came together in New York; he won every demographic. It was the first time he really proved that he could go outside a larger box than he had in previous primaries and caucuses.”

Trump came out of New York’s April 19 primary with a large lead over Kasich and Cruz and the writing was all but on the wall. While Kasich did squeak out New York County (aka Manhattan), Trump dominated the rest of the state, winning 60.4 percent of the total vote.

This success, plus Trump’s extensive New York networks, both personal and professional, means this year’s RNC will be dominated by New Yorkers.

At-large delegates include Chair of the state GOP Ed Cox, state party Finance Chair Arcadio Casillas, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and Wendy Long, who is challenging Senator Charles Schumer in November.

On Friday, Cox released a statement praising Trump’s choice of Pence as a running mate, saying, in part, that "Mr. Trump has once again demonstrated the leadership skills required to make the changes necessary to put America on the right track."

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been publicly backing Trump and is set to speak at the convention. He is a delegate to the convention, pledged to Kasich. City Council Member Joseph Borelli, of Staten Island, is a Trump delegate. Borelli has been a frequent Trump surrogate on TV for many months. He travelled to Ohio with his successor in the state Assembly, Ron Castorina, and former Council Member Vincent Ignizio.

Other prominent GOP delegates include Alfonse D’Amato, former U.S. Senator; Carl Paladino, honorary co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign and 2010 gubernatorial candidate; Tom Dadey, first vice chairman of the state GOP and co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign; and state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan - several other state senators will be in attendance: Golden, DeFrancisco, O’Mara, Croci, though DeFrancisco is the only delegate among them (he is pledged to Kasich). Assembly members Kolb and DiPietro are delegates. Assembly Member Bill Nojay, an upstate Republican who in the past played a significant role in attempting to push Trump to run for New York Governor and helped lay the groundwork for Trump’s presidential bid, will not be attending.

New York State Senators are hoping to maintain or expand their slim majority through the November elections and Trump’s candidacy may pose challenging for some candidates running in more moderate districts.

Rubye Wright will also attend to vote for Trump - at 94 years of age, she is the oldest delegate heading to the convention, according to amNewYork. A Harlem native and lifelong Republican, Wright has attended every national convention except one since 1968. A complete listing of New York GOP delegates can be found on Ballotpedia.

According to the New York Post, the State GOP has considered offering Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., the ceremonial role of announcing New York’s 95 delegate votes. Trump Jr. will be attending the convention as one of Manhattan’s high-profile district delegates, and has been actively involved in his father’s campaign. Convention organizers may also position Trump Jr.’s announcement so that the New York delegation’s votes send Trump over the majority threshold to secure the nomination. Both details have yet to be confirmed.

“We certainly would love to have him in that role,” Proud said of Trump Jr., who will speak at the convention, “but the logistics are being worked out between the campaign and the State Committee.”

New York City’s only Republican member of its House of Representatives delegation, Daniel Donovan, will attend the convention. In an interview with the Staten Island Advance, Donovan said, "It's going to be exciting for our state.” Looking ahead to November, he said, "Traditionally, Republicans don't win New York, but we have a New Yorker as the Republican nominee for the first time in a very long time."

Role of the Delegates
Unlike the Democratic Party’s superdelegates, most of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC are technically bound to vote for a certain candidate. According to the Associated Press, only 95 delegates are unbound and can vote for whomever they choose. Trump amassed 1,542 pledged delegates, which puts him over the majority threshold of 1,237 to secure the nomination. According to Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan Republican Party and a New York congressional district delegate, Trump’s nomination is nothing short of guaranteed; “We're having an infomercial kind of convention, not a brokered convention. Everyone's going as a Trump delegate.”

With calls for a “Dump Trump” movement subsiding, the 112-member Convention Rules Committee finished its business without changing things to aid the naming of a different nominee. At least a few opposing Trump may continue fighting. "Whether you supported Donald Trump along the way or not: He. Is. Our. Nominee," said RNC Rules Committee Chairman Bruce Ash on Tuesday, according to CNN.

Delegates at the convention must vote on the party’s official policy platform. Members of the Platform Committee finished the draft platform while Trump himself took a hands-off approach, according to the New York Times, which cites discrepancies between the conservative language of the Republican platform and Trump’s more moderate views on issues such as LGBT rights.

According to the Times, moderate Republicans pushing for amendments to be made “secured enough signatures on Tuesday to demand a vote on their proposals from all 2,475 delegates,” so there may be some concessions made on the convention floor Monday before the final vote.

See You in Cleveland
For all aspects of the convention, New York will be front and center. “There'll be a big spotlight on us,” Proud noted, referring to the New York delegation as a whole.

“New York is already prominently featured, but the fact that our nominee is from the state really adds a whole other level of excitement and anticipation. It's definitely evidenced by the volume of requests that the state party has had of people wanting to attend. We've had way more requests than tickets that were given to us. The downside is you can't accommodate everyone, but from a party standpoint, it’s very encouraging that so many people wanted to be there and that people are very excited.”

DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION, July 25-28

When and Where is the DNC?
The Democratic National Convention will take place July 25-28 (Monday through Thursday) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though Brooklyn was seriously considered to host the convention amid a strong push from Mayor Bill de Blasio and others, Philadelphia won the honor.

How are the Delegates Allocated?
There are three types of delegates for the Democrats: pledged delegates, who petitioned in order to get on the ballot and become a delegate, and are legally bound to support a particular candidate; at-large delegates, chosen by the state Democratic Party, who pledge to vote for a particular candidate; and unpledged delegates, otherwise known as superdelegates, who are prominent party leaders not bound to any candidate. There are 345 representatives of the New York State Democratic Party heading to the convention, according to the party.

There is no drama expected at the Democratic convention in terms of delegate allocation as Bernie Sanders has conceded and endorsed Hillary Clinton, so the types of delegates are unlikely to be a factor.

As more signs were pointing to a Clinton win by a solid margin, she won her home state of New York on April 19. Throughout the race, Clinton accumulated an overwhelming majority of the superdelegates, known party insiders always supportive of her over Sanders, who has not been an establishment Democrat. This led to some of the calls from Sanders and his supporters of a ‘rigged system.’

The Democratic Party Platform
Sanders and his supporters, plus the national Democratic tilt leftward, have had a significant influence on the party platform being adopted this year -- progressive influence throughout the primary season as well as recent, more explicit demands. Two issues are emblematic: calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage and standing against capital punishment in all circumstances. The party platform has stepped to the ideological left of Clinton, who has spoken in favor of a $12 federal minimum wage (with states going higher per their judgement) and capital punishment for certain crimes.

Dr. David Birdsell, a professor and dean at Baruch College, does not believe that Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton is enough to dissipate all of the tension within the Democratic Party.

“The Sanders endorsement – and he did use the word ‘endorse’ – of Clinton will go a long way toward reducing contention and controversy in Philadelphia,” Birdsell said in an interview. “[However,] there will still be some tension; Hillary Clinton is too polarizing a figure to expect an entirely smooth process. But chances are good at this point that Democrats will come together and unite for the fall campaign - barring further repercussions from the FBI’s decision not to prosecute [Clinton, regarding her email scandal], but that’s a general election problem, not a convention problem.”

Birdsell also believes that the concessions that the Democratic Party has made will be the only ones for a while.

“I suspect the concessions made to date are the end of the story, at least through the convention. Could there be a rear-guard effort to get TPP language in the platform? Yes, but given the deep affront that would pose to the sitting President, who is and will remain through November the Party’s principal asset, I think anything public highly unlikely.”

The New York Angle
Basil Smikle, executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, is excited about the amendments to the party’s platform. Smikle sees them as an expansion of New York values to the rest of the nation. “I think New York has been in this conversation and led it for a long time,” he said.

“I think the state and the party has had a tremendous impact on the platform itself, and going to the convention with the leadership of the Governor is certainly carrying the work that Hillary Clinton has done for New York and the Senate, and what she's been able to accomplish and discuss on the campaign trail,” Smikle continued. “Those are New York values, and we are thankful that they've been able to influence other states, other delegates, and certainly the platform itself."

The Democrats released only the headline speakers as of Sunday, July 17, which includes the top-level names mentioned earlier: both Obamas, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders. It is unclear whether Gov. Cuomo or Mayor de Blasio will have a speaking role.

Smikle, a Cuomo appointee, confirmed that Cuomo has not yet been selected to speak at the convention. “We haven't gotten a schedule of speakers from the DNC yet, so that may still be discussed by the folks at the DNC at this point...I would love for [Cuomo] to have a speaking role. I hope he does."

“I’m sure I’ll have some role, but I’m also sure it’s not about me,” Cuomo said in late June, according to New York State of Politics.

Cuomo has been selected to chair New York state’s delegation at the DNC - a choice that caused Sanders supporters to protest. Delegates backing Sanders have refused to recognize Cuomo’s authority as the chair, and have said they will “file a legal challenge to the nomination of Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the chair of New York’s delegation.” It’s unclear if this controversy has subsided in the wake of Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton and the approach of the convention itself.

Other notable New York Democratic superdelegates include former President Clinton, Senators Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mayor de Blasio. De Blasio said on Wednesday that nothing around his speaking role had been decided. The same was true for City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has been a frequent Clinton surrogate and campaigner this election season and will be part of the delegation to Philadelphia.

Other members of the New York Democratic delegation include Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, much of the state’s Democratic House delegation; City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Rafael Espinal, and Richie Torres, Public Advocate Letitia James, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

According to Smikle, this year’s delegation “brings a tremendous sense of pride for us as New Yorkers.” He cited work New York leaders have done to move progressive policy and their impact on national politics.

“I think what New York broadly and the delegation specifically brings is that a lot of what's in the platform has been discussed and implemented in New York for quite some time, so I do think members of our delegation have had an incredible impact,” he said.

A complete list of the 345 New York DNC delegation is available here, courtesy of the State Democratic Committee.

See You in Philadelphia
Asked on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show if he was attending the DNC, Mayor de Blasio said on June 29, “Of course. I’m a delegate, and I’m looking forward to going there and voting for Hillary.”

***
by Amanda Sherwin and Rebecca Oh
@GothamGazette

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New Yorkers, Including the Presidential Nominees, Head to the National Party Conventions Sun, 17 Jul 2016 04:00:00 +0000
After New Hampshire: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6160:after-new-hampshire-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6160:after-new-hampshire-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york vote nyc boe

image via NYC Board of Elections


On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won their respective Democratic and Republican New Hampshire primaries by wide margins. This, after Sanders lost narrowly to Hillary Clinton and Trump lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa. On the Democratic side, there are only two candidates - Hillary Clinton came in second to Sanders in New Hampshire. For the Republicans, John Kasich came in second, adding a sense of momentum to his campaign.

Now, there are 48 more states and the District of Columbia to vote before the primary season is over. New York will be the 37th state to hold a vote when April 19 comes around.

It is unclear whether there will still be a race on either side of the aisle when voting comes to New York. The Republican field has a lot of winnowing to do and the two remaining Democrats could be in for a long slog - but, April 19 is a long way away.

Next up, South Carolina and Nevada take center stage. More debates are on the horizon, too, of course. The Democrats are set to debate on Feb. 11, March 6, and March 9. They're also scheduled to debate once in April and once in May, with dates and locations to be determined.

On the Republican side, there are debates set for Feb. 13 and 26; as well as for March 10. There could always be others added, of course.

As for the votes to take place leading up to New York, 34 states will have held either caucus or primary votes for both major parties, while two states - North Dakota and Kentucky - will have only held their Republican vote, with their Democratic vote coming later in the spring. The calendar is below.

Keep in mind that there are actually four election days in New York this year: presidential primary on April 19, followed by congressional primaries in June, state-level primaries in September, and the November Election Day.

The presidential primary calendar (if no party is noted, both major party votes will occur the same day):

Feb. 20
Nevada caucus (D)
South Carolina (R)
Washington caucus (R)

Feb. 23
Nevada caucus (R)

Feb. 27
South Carolina (D)

March 1
Alabama
Alaska caucus (R)
Arkansas
Colorado caucus
Georgia
Massachusetts
Minnesota caucus
North Dakota caucus (R)
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Wyoming caucus (R)

March 5
Kansas caucus
Kentucky caucus (R)
Louisiana
Maine caucus (R)
Nebraska caucus (D)

March 6
Maine caucus (D)

March 8
Hawaii caucus (R)
Idaho (R)
Michigan
Mississippi

March 15
Florida
Illinois
Missouri
North Carolina
Ohio

March 22
Arizona
Idaho caucus (D)
Utah

March 26
Alaska caucus (D)
Hawaii caucus (D)
Washington caucus (D)

April 5
Wisconsin

April 9
Wyoming caucus (D)

April 19
New York

April 26
Connecticut
Delaware
Maryland
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island

May 3
Indiana

May 10
Nebraska (R)
West Virginia

May 17
Kentucky (D)
Oregon

May 24
Washington (R)

June 7
California
Montana
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Dakota caucus (D)
South Dakota

June 14
District of Columbia 

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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After New Hampshire: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:01:07 +0000
After Iowa: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6135:after-iowa-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6135:after-iowa-debates-a-voting-dates-until-new-york cuomo votes elections

Gov. Cuomo votes (photo via The Governor's Office on flickr)


"There's a lot of states ahead," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC late Monday night from Iowa, where he spent the weekend campaigning for Hillary Clinton in her bid to become the Democratic nominee and next President of the United States.

And de Blasio is right - there are 49 more states and the District of Columbia to vote before the primary season is over. New York will be the 37th state to hold a vote when April 19 comes around.

As de Blasio spoke, it was still unclear if Clinton or Bernie Sanders had prevailed in the first vote of the primary - Iowa caucus goers split down the middle between the two - with Martin O'Malley garnering a few votes and deciding to suspend his campaign.

On the Republican side, Ted Cruz won, with Donald Trump coming in second and Marco Rubio third.

It is unclear whether there will still be a race on either side of the aisle when voting comes to New York. The Republican field has a lot of winnowing to do and the two remaining Democrats could be in for a long slog - but, April 19 is a long way away.

Next up, New Hampshire. Primary voting there will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Before the New Hampshire primary, though, each party will hold another debate - the Democrats on Thursday, Feb. 4 and the Republicans on Saturday, Feb. 6. The details of the Democratic debate are still being negotiated as it was a late addition to the schedule - the Democrats have been criticized for a limited number of debates and for holding several on weekend nights.

The Clinton and Sanders campaigns have reportedly agreed to add four additional debates to the two that still remain on the original schedule (those are still set for Feb. 11 and March 9). Other than this week's in New Hampshire, the other three have not been given dates.

On the Republican side, there are debates set for Feb. 6, 13, and 26; as well as for March 10. There could always be others added, of course.

As for the votes to take place leading up to New York, 34 states will have held either caucus or primary votes for both major parties, while two states - North Dakota and Kentucky - will have only held their Republican vote, with their Democratic vote coming later in the spring. The calendar is below.

Keep in mind that there are actually four election days in New York this year: presidential primary on April 19, followed by congressional primaries in June, state-level primaries in September, and the November Election Day.

The presidential primary calendar (if no party is noted, both major party votes will occur the same day):

Feb. 9
New Hampshire

Feb. 20
Nevada caucus (D)
South Carolina (R)
Washington caucus (R)

Feb. 23
Nevada caucus (R)

Feb. 27
South Carolina (D)

March 1
Alabama
Alaska caucus (R)
Arkansas
Colorado caucus
Georgia
Massachusetts
Minnesota caucus
North Dakota caucus (R)
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Wyoming caucus (R)

March 5
Kansas caucus
Kentucky caucus (R)
Louisiana
Maine caucus (R)
Nebraska caucus (D)

March 6
Maine caucus (D)

March 8
Hawaii caucus (R)
Idaho (R)
Michigan
Mississippi

March 15
Florida
Illinois
Missouri
North Carolina
Ohio

March 22
Arizona
Idaho caucus (D)
Utah

March 26
Alaska caucus (D)
Hawaii caucus (D)
Washington caucus (D)

April 5
Wisconsin

April 9
Wyoming caucus (D)

April 19
New York

April 26
Connecticut
Delaware
Maryland
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island

May 3
Indiana

May 10
Nebraska (R)
West Virginia

May 17
Kentucky (D)
Oregon

May 24
Washington (R)

June 7
California
Montana
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Dakota caucus (D)
South Dakota

June 14
District of Columbia

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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After Iowa: Debates & Voting Dates Until New York Tue, 02 Feb 2016 05:49:34 +0000
More Cities Should Do What States and Federal Government Aren't on Minimum Wage http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6090:more-cities-should-do-what-states-and-federal-government-arent-on-minimum-wage http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6090:more-cities-should-do-what-states-and-federal-government-arent-on-minimum-wage de blasio minimum wage announcement crowd

Mayor de Blasio at his recent minimum wage announcement (photo: Michael Appleton)


Early this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a guaranteed $15 minimum wage for all city government employees by the end of 2018. This is a big win for over 50,000 workers across the city struggling to provide for their families.

Unlike in Seattle and Los Angeles, where city officials are empowered to raise the minimum wage for the entire workforce in their cities, Mayor de Blasio is unable to unilaterally raise wages for all New York City workers. That power lies with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature. The governor's efforts to lift the minimum wage to $15 are being hampered by a Republican-controlled state Senate.

De Blasio's decision to raise wages for city employees is a crucial independent step towards a more equitable city - and should be seen as an inspiration for cities around the nation. It also reflects the power and momentum of a groundbreaking worker-led countrywide movement demanding higher wages.

Even as state and federal administrations drag their feet on the inevitable question of a decent minimum wage for working families in the United States, de Blasio's gutsy move shows cities can and should take matters into their own hands.

The mayor's minimum wage raise closely follows his announcement last month giving six weeks paid parental leave, and up to 12 weeks when combined with existing leave, to the city's 20,000 non-unionized employees. The mayor has now moved to negotiate the same benefits with municipal unions. Again, New York City private sector workers must look to Albany or Washington, D.C. to move on paid family leave for all.

Mayor de Blasio's recent actions support his goal of lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty over ten years. More than 20 percent of the city's population lives in poverty, a huge swath of a city commonly associated with extraordinary wealth.

The last couple of years have seen unparalleled momentum from workers themselves - from New York City to Los Angeles and Chicago - calling for livable wages, resulting in minimum wage raises for fast food workers and other groups.

Workers are not waiting patiently on government officials – they are organizing in an unprecedented way. Progressive mayors like de Blasio are responding with sound policy, while less responsive officials are being put on notice. Cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago are paving the way, showing that it is possible to act independently of state and federal governments.

In addition, laws raising the minimum wage to more than the pitiful federal standard of $7.25 an hour have passed in a number of states. There are now campaigns to raise the floor and standards for workers being led in 14 states and four cities. This momentum is building into a crescendo that will have deep implications for the 2016 presidential election.

Nearly half of our country's workers earn less than $15 an hour and 43 million are forced to work or place their jobs at risk when sick or faced with a critical care-giving need. Now is the time for cities to listen to their workers and override state and federal passivity to allow millions of hard-working Americans to provide for their families.

***
JoEllen Chernow is minimum wage and paid sick days campaign director at Center for Popular Democracy. On Twitter @popdemoc.

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More Cities Should Do What States and Federal Government Aren't on Minimum Wage Thu, 14 Jan 2016 19:46:39 +0000